Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Bush: Ridge Out

Officials: Ridge Resigns Homeland Post

WASHINGTON (AP) - Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has informed the White House and department staff that he has resigned, U.S. officials said Tuesday.

In an e-mail circulated to senior Homeland Security officials, Ridge praised the department as "an extraordinary organization that each day contributes to keeping America safe and free." He also said he was privileged to work with the department's 180,000 employees "who go to work every day dedicated to making our company better and more secure."

A news conference has been set for 2:45 p.m.

Who'll replace him? Eventually Bush is gonna run out of incompetent White House insiders he can foist on the country for these important posts. Maybe Barney's dog-walker is in line for the job? And if they're a minority, they can cow the Democrats into a weak-kneed confirmation for them too!

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Before George Was President

Dana Carvey and Will Ferrell in an SNL skit before George W. Bush was elected for his first term.

Father And Son Go Hunting [A picture and transcript only, if there ends up being a video link I'll add it.]

Too bad SNL and the Daily Show are the only "media" that give Bush the treatment he deserves. Oh, ad of course this is a little less funny (and more tragic/scary) now that this idiot has been re-elected.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Bush: In or Out? National Security Edition

I might have used the old "Who's Hot/Not" format, but Ezra at Pandagon sums it up like this...
In or Out? National Security Edition

In: Condoleeza Rice
Accomplishments: National Security Advisor during first stateside attack since Pearl Harbor. Had been preparing to give a speech on 9/11 declaring a national missile shield the country's number one defense priority. Did not catch the Niger uranium lie (See Hadley, Steven). Characterized the August 6th PDB as a "historical document".

Out: Colin Powell
Accomplishments: Enormously popular and experienced public servant. Deeply respected by the Europeans. Discomfort and warnings re: Iraq now seem prescient.

In: Alberto Gonzalez
Accomplishments: Loyal to Bush. Judged the suspension of the Geneva Conventions legally justifiable and desirable, thus helping America down the road towards its greatest national embarrassment in recent memory.

Out: John Ashcroft
Accomplishments: Excellent singer, crafted the PATRIOT Act. Was amenable to Russ Feingold's civil liberty concerns, but overruled by the White House.

In: Stephen Hadley
Accomplishments: Told by Tenet that the Niger claims were weak and shouldn't be used by the President. Neglected to tell either Bush or Condi.

Out: Dick Armitage
Accomplishments: Extensive overseas combat experience, both in Vietnam and Iran. Oversaw diplomatic and negotiating missions with Europe, the Soviet Union and the Middle East.

Kind of makes you understand how the guy traded Sammy Sosa, doesn't it?

Yup. Luckily the Rangers were only armed with bats and 90mph fastballs.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Bush: The Grand Plan

Andrew Sullivan's got it figured out:
But the real genius of the Rice appointment is domestic. She will become the second most powerful African-American woman in America. And she will become that as a Republican icon. That has to have an impact on the way at least a small minority of black voters will view Bush (and not a few other minority voters). Add in Clarence Thomas as Supreme Court Chief Justice, and you have a diversity record in top appointments that puts every previous Democrat to shame. That's partly what Bush is doing. He won't admit it, of course. But then it only works if he doesn't.

The finale he doesn't mention is that Rice will be on the ticket in 2008. Bank on it.

Politics: Liberalism Urbanism?

Salon.com has an interesting piece on what the alternatives are to liberals and the blue states...
[...] As the South knows well, there are interim measures between splitting the nation and submitting to a culture pushed by a hostile federal government. Having lost any say in how the nation is run, liberals may be about to discover states' rights -- for better or worse.

[...] Liberals have long opposed the growth of state power, and for good reason. The century's most significant clashes over federalism have been over civil rights, with the national government forcing the South to submit to desegregation. Since then, fights over everything from abortion to school prayer have pitted Northern liberals, who want to use the federal government to enforce individual rights, often in the face of hostile majorities, against Southern conservatives, who believe that communities should be free to set their own norms.

Now, though, it's liberal enclaves that feel threatened by the federal government, and who will likely need to muster states' rights arguments to protect themselves from Bush's domestic policies.

On the other side, conservatives stop advocating for states' rights as soon as they get their hands on the levers of federal power. It's an interesting reversal.

In the article, they link to a feature in The Stranger, a Seattle alternative weekly, which advocates a more scorched-Earth (or scorched-rural) approach. A new "urbanism" that seeks to consolidate the Democratic ideals in the cities and discards the rest of the country. An extreme, but interesting idea...

It's time to state something that we've felt for a long time but have been too polite to say out loud: Liberals, progressives, and Democrats do not live in a country that stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Canada to Mexico. We live on a chain of islands. We are citizens of the Urban Archipelago, the United Cities of America.

[...]An overwhelming majority of the American popuation chooses to live in cities. And John Kerry won every city with a population above 500,000. He took half the cities with populations between 50,000 and 500,000. The future success of liberalism is tied to winning the cities. An urbanist agenda may not be a recipe for winning the next presidential election--but it may win the Democrats the presidential election in 2012 and create a new Democratic majority.

Those are the demographics they base the argument on. I'm not sure it jibs with population trends (away from cities?). Though Kerry won urban areas by a whopping 60 percent--that actually represents a 15 percent drop in urban support from 2000 when Gore won the election. So there might be something to it. Here are the policies/plan they advocate...
To all those who live in cities--to all those depressed Kerry supporters out there--we say take heart. Clearly we can't control national politics right now--we can barely get a hearing. We can, however, stay engaged in our cities, and make our voices heard in the urban areas we dominate, and make each and every one, to quote Ronald Reagan (and John Winthrop, the 17th-century Puritan Reagan was parroting), "a city on a hill." This is not a retreat; it is a long-term strategy for the Democratic Party to cater to and build on its base.

Sounds good to me. Here's where they start to get a little bit "fuckthesouth.com"...
To red-state voters, to the rural voters, residents of small, dying towns, and soulless sprawling exburbs, we say this: Fuck off. Your issues are no longer our issues. We're going to battle our bleeding-heart instincts and ignore pangs of misplaced empathy. We will no longer concern ourselves with a health care crisis that disproportionately impacts rural areas. Instead we will work toward winning health care one blue state at a time.

When it comes to the environment, our new policy is this: Let the heartland live with the consequences of handing the national government to the rape-and-pillage party. [snip] But if West Virginia wants to elect politicians who allow mining companies to lop off the tops off mountains and dump the waste into valleys and streams, thus causing floods that destroy the homes of the yokels who vote for those politicians, it no longer matters to us. Fuck the mountains in West Virginia--send us the power generated by cleanly burned coal, you rubes, and be sure to wear lifejackets to bed.

Wal-Mart is a rapacious corporation that pays sub-poverty-level wages, offers health benefits to its employees that are so expensive few can afford them, and destroys small towns and rural jobs. Liberals in big cities who have never seen the inside of a Wal-Mart spend a lot of time worrying about the impact Wal-Mart is having on the heartland. No more. We will do what we can to keep Wal-Mart out of our cities and, if at all possible, out of our states. We will pass laws mandating a living wage for full-time work, upping the minimum wage for part-time work, and requiring large corporations to either offer health benefits or pay into state- or city-run funds to provide health care for uninsured workers. That will reform Wal-Mart in our blue cities and states or, better yet, keep Wal-Mart out entirely. And when we see something on the front page of the national section of the New York Times about the damage Wal-Mart is doing to the heartland, we will turn the page. Wal-Mart is not an urban issue.

Of course much of this is antithetical to true liberalism. White Jews from New York (among others of course) went down to the South in the Civil rights Era to fight for the rights of blacks they would never otherwise meet or know. Long has the liberal movement been predicated on rights for all disenfranchised or downtrodden. Why else would one care what happens in South Africa? But what do you do when those in red-states vote (and choose) that life. And viciously reject you and your concern in the process. This is what many refer to when they say these red-state voters voted against their own interests. I don't agree with that entirely. Religion and culture are their interests and in this election they decided it was the priority. We might disagree with that decision, but the article contends they should live with the consequences and we should not feel bad about it. I am tempted to agree. Call me elite enough times and I'll start acting like it...

There is something to this plan. I love Austin and San Antonio. I'm sure Boulder is wonderful. I don't want to cast these places off to wallow in the seas of red hell that surround them. This plan offers a "life raft plan", if you will.

I live in Ann Arbor, one of a few blue islands in an otherwise pretty red state. Greenbelt initiatives, medical marijuana, these are addressed at the local level, and contribute to the quality of life in this city. Our entire County voted the "right" way, even resoundingly rejecting the Prop 2 / Gay-bash amendment. Politics really is local, and this takes it back to that level.

How many times do you need your helping hand slapped (or bitten) before you stop offering it? You start pulling your fingers in and before you know it, you've got a fist.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Politics: kos Nails It

[I'm not going to link directly to the post because it has over 720 comments, and I know that it always bogs down my browser when a thread gets that big. Go to the homepage and just read the post, then enter the comments if you dare.]

Here are the highlights:
I always, always laugh when I hear one of these insiders talk about the "disaster" that a Dean chairmanship would wreak on the party.

I mean, disaster compared to what? Being shut out from all levers of government? From the White House, Supreme Court, House, Senate, majority of governorships and majority of state legislatures?

How about the disaster of three straight losing election cycles? That's not a freakin' disaster?

Dean means reform. Simon Rosenberg means reform. There are probably other dark horse candidates out there who would mean reform.

And that's what we need. Reform, not status quo. The status quo is untenable. I'm tired of losing, and that's the only thing the current gang has delivered.


So don't be fooled by this "centrist" versus "liberal" scare tactics you'll hear from Lieberman and other party "leaders". It's scare tactics. The real battle is not ideological. It's between those who would rather keep the current system intact, regardless of its flaws, and those who want to scrap the darn thing and rebuild a stronger, more vibrant party.

I've been meaning to write more about my support for Dean as DNC chair. Kos just summed it up perfectly and I don't have mudh to add right now.

Plenty of people were on board with the Dean gets to replace McAuliffe as DNC Chair plan assuming Kerry would win. They were happy to credit Dean for the spine injection he gave the Party. Since Kerry lost, the firing squad is now looking to blame the left-wing of the Party and the stop-Dean movement has begun. Or the "Anybody But Dean" movement. And we all see how well those turn out...

Politics: Cheney Profile

The last Esquire had a good profile on Dick Cheney by Walter Russell Mead. I'm not sure if that link will work or not. The site says premium content for subscribers only, but I could read it and I haven't gotten Esquire in years. Try it. The article is long but worth reading.

Bush: How "Quaint" [updated]

Yeah, I've been out of the loop for a few days, so I have some studying up to do on Gonzales. There plenty of reasons why he is a bad appointment for AG (or anything else). Going back to his days with Bush in Texas preparing the Execution "Cliff Notes" for Governor Fucking Lazy Ass, or his job as lawyer representing Enron. Neither of which are strong qualifications in my book. Let's not forget the right-off-the-bat conflict of interest of the President's lawyer now heading up the White House / Valerie Plame investigation...or Lieberman's Enron probe. The Justice Department will play a big role in those matters, and the democrats need to ask him on the record in confirmation hearings how he'll handle them as AG.

We all knew Bush had bigger plans for Alberto Gonzales. He's been loyal, and in this Administration that matters more than any possible qualification or accomplishment. He's a good story (migrant roots and all, plus the first Latino to this post or higher) and it will be tough for Dems to fight his eventual promotion. I can hear the Sunday morning race-baiting already...

But when it's all said and done, somehow I'm thinking we'll wish Bush saved Gonzales for a Supreme Court nomination instead...

UPDATE: Some places to read up on Gonzales: The Atlantic Monthly (subscribers only - which I am, but I need a mailing label to register. I'll do that and post some excerpts, if worthy), a 2002 profile in The New Republic which drives home the point that Gonzales would likely be a better SC Justice (think Souter) than WH counsel or AG. This Slate piece is full of links. Josh Marshall weighs in, Matt Yglesias counsels "Opposition, Not Obstruction" and Atrios agrees. So do I.

After reading all of the above, I'm still in the same spot. Bush was going to nominate/appoint Gonzales to something, and he's going to get confirmed.

Gonzales' track record indicates he does his best work (as well as independent and suprisingly moderate thinking) in a different branch of government than his benefactor. He was actually a pretty good Texas Supreme Court Justice (for a Republican in a state like Texas appointed by a guy like Bush). If he were to reach the Supreme Court and the safety of a lifetime appointment, I think he would turn out to be the best Justice we ever could have gotten out of Bush. I've read it somewhere that "Gonzales is spanish for Souter." His nomination to the Court would be a risk I'd happily take. Especially if we trade up from Renquist for a relative moderate like Gonzales. Instead, Gonzales will be "lost" at Justice, and we'll be treated to the much more idealogical Miguel Estrada (or worse) for the Supreme Court.

As White House Counsel and A.G., he will still answer to the President (and more importantly be subject to the religious right's pressure on the White House) and be a bad combination of Ashcroft and Gonzales' own incarnation as Bush's lawyer. That's unfortunate for Gonzales, who I'm sure would rather have the spot on the bench and be happier doing that job unencumbered, and for the country, which would be far better served with Gonzales on the Supreme Court than whoever is eventually nominated.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Politics: The Trouble with Harry

[Note - 11/15: I wrote most of this on the 5th, but a discusion over at the Baseball Crank made me come back, finish and post it. I dated it the 10th so it wouldn't get buried beneath last week's long-ass "liberal media" screed.]

Not an encouraging first step for the recovery of the Democratic Party. Harry Reid is the new Senate minority leader. But what's worse is Harry Reid is the also the new Tom Daschle...

After all the misery and mourning I've done over the last few days, not one second of that time was spent feeling bad for Tom Daschle or his loss. If we're giving away Senate seats by the handful, I'm fine with his being one of them. Sure, I'd rather've won the Senate and held his seat, but I was done with him as leader a long time ago. Good riddance, Tom.

Tom Daschle may have been a procedural master. He might have been a nice guy. He might even have been a great Senator. But he was a shit leader (Majority and Minority). His mealy on-camera persona was the very embodiment of the Washington politician people don't like. His responses to the Republicans whiny and weak. Basically he came off like a (try as I might to find a different word...) pussy. And in this age of "the Democrats are weak on morals and weaker on defense" I've got no use for guys like that being the public face of the Party.

Long before 9/11, under Daschle's "leadership" the Senate Democrats were led like a pet dog into the car by Bush's promises of a ride to the park, when every one of them should have known they were going to the vet to be "fixed". After 9/11 they were completely neutered. And muzzled. And then tied out behind the garage. Every once in a while Bush would call them up to the porch to beg for scraps, and then laugh as he kicked them back down to the dirt.

No more. I wanted a real debate for a real opposition leader for a Party that was going to try and function as best they could in an unenviable position to try and put a brake on this out of control radical agenda we'll be facing.

What does the caucus do? Quickly rush selection of a new leader with little or no debate. Who do they pick? Another "nice" guy from a red state. Yeah, Reid just won re-election, but he had to support the Patriot Act, Partial Birth Abortion ban and other non-Democratic platform issues to do it.

Durbin, Schumer, hell, even Kerry would all have better choices for personality as well as having completely safe seats so they could oppose the Republicans without regard for covering their own ass. In fact, not only would they be free to push a more progressive position, they'd actually be representing their contituency in the process.

Politics: Liberal Media, My Ass

At what point will everyone acknowledge that there is no such thing as a liberal mainstream media anymore...
The media gives Bush a mandate
Falling to its knees in record time, the press predicts the president will be a uniter this time -- really.

- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Eric Boehlert

Nov. 10, 2004  |  With a dead-even race that featured nearly endless possible Electoral College configurations, Election Day promised to bring a certain number of surprises. But perhaps none was as unexpected as the notion that President Bush, the most conservative and polarizing president of his generation, would come through the other side of the campaign as a moderate with a mandate. Yet in the days immediately following the historically close vote, that's how the political press corps often portrayed the president.

[...] When not busy describing Bush as a would-be centrist, White House aides were anxious to claim a sweeping mandate from the close election. And as liberal media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting documented, it worked. USA Today headlined a Nov. 4 story "Clear Mandate Will Boost Bush's Authority, Reach," which said that Bush "will begin his second term with a clearer and more commanding mandate than he held for the first." (The first being when he lost the popular vote to Al Gore.) The Boston Globe asserted that Bush's victory grants him "a clear mandate to advance a conservative agenda over the next four years," while MSNBC's Chris Matthews insisted, "To me the big story is the president's mandate. The president has a mandate."

But as Al Hunt noted in the Wall Street Journal, Bush's victory was "the narrowest win for a sitting president since Woodrow Wilson in 1916." (Presidential reelections in recent decades have all come with comfortable margins of victory attached.) In fact, Bush's final margin was almost identical to Jimmy Carter's win over Gerald Ford in 1976, when there was very little discussion of a mandate for the Democrat. And it's hard to imagine that if Kerry had bested Bush 51 percent to 48 percent and collected just 15 more electoral votes than needed to win, the press would be so liberal with talk of a mandate.

Some journalists, dwelling too much on 2000's unprecedented election model, seemed to confuse winning an uncontested election with receiving a mandate. "In capturing both an electoral majority and the popular vote, Mr. Bush lays claim to another four years in the White House with a newly minted mandate," the Dallas Morning News wrote, as if winning both the popular and Electoral College vote were somehow unusual in American politics.

In its Nov. 4 editorial, the Columbus Dispatch stated that "President Bush won reelection decisively in the Electoral College tally." Decisively? In the past 80 years, only three times have presidents been elected with fewer than 300 electoral votes. Bush accounts for two of the three anomalies; in 2000 he won 271 electoral votes, and in 2004 he captured 286. (Carter is the third example, with 297.)

[...] And the press's now familiar deference toward Bush was on display in the New York Times over the weekend in a news story addressing a confirmed string of serious election mishaps in the crucial state of Ohio. "The way the vote was conducted there, election law specialists say, exposed a number of weak spots in the nation's election system," the Times reported. Yet before stating that fact, in its very first sentence, the Times article made the blunt assessment that "voters in Ohio delivered a second term to President Bush by a decisive margin" (emphasis added). Bush won Ohio by 2 percent. In fact, of the 30 states Bush carried last week, only two were won by slimmer margins than that in Ohio -- Iowa and New Mexico, which Bush won by 1 percent. Yet the Times, in an article documenting the shortcomings in Ohio's voting process, seemed to go out of its way to suggest, erroneously, that the too-close-to-call state voted for Bush by a "decisive margin."

Not content to misrepresent the Election results, the press also has to work overtime giving Bush a pass on his campaign-without-substance and get an headstart on carrying the Administration's water for the second term

[...] Meanwhile, press accounts subsequent to the election have been filled with reports about Bush's second term and his "very ambitious agenda," as the Associated Press described it. However, during the campaign very few journalists pressed Bush on his unusual decision as a sitting president not to articulate his vision for the future, beyond stump speech lines about lower taxes and less government. As NBC's David Gregory noted, after the election, "It's the agenda that Bush rarely if ever laid out in detail during the campaign."

For instance, Bush's sudden announcement last week that he planned to move aggressively to privatize Social Security may have caught some voters off guard. As Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson (professors at Yale and the University of California at Berkeley, respectively) noted in the New Republic, "On Social Security, administration officials have had four years to develop specific proposals. They have held back precisely because once an actual proposal is outlined it becomes clear what a dreadful deal it will be for most Americans." (Recent polls indicate a majority of Americans oppose the idea of privatizing Social Security.)

The administration obviously "held back" in blatant ways on other contentious initiatives, and met little or no questioning from the press. Few journalists addressed head-on the decision by Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist -- a political ally of Bush's -- to issue what now appears to be a deliberately misleading statement about his health, just one week before the election. More important, the all-out assault on Fallujah in Iraq, which some experts believe will include the heaviest fighting U.S. soldiers have faced since Vietnam, was finally launched, less than a week after the election. On the same day, the Iraqi government declared a 60-day state of emergency for most of the country. The two long-pending moves were likely put off until after the election for the simple reason that they could have potentially hurt Bush at the polls.

In fact, since Election Day some journalists have acknowledged that certain sensitive topics were deemed off-limits by the White House, or taken off the table for purely political reasons. "In Iraq, the American forces have been poised to make a major assault on Fallujah. We all anticipate that that could happen at any moment," said NBC's Tom Brokaw on Nov. 4. Addressing Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski, Brokaw asked, "What about other strategic and tactical changes in Iraq now that the election is over?" (emphasis added). Miklaszewski confirmed the obvious: "U.S. military officials have said for some time that they were putting off any kind of major offensive operation in [Fallujah] until after the U.S. elections, for obvious political reasons."

Appearing on CNN's "Reliable Sources" over the weekend, former CNN Washington bureau chief Frank Sesno, now a professor at George Mason University in Virginia, talked about Bush's second term: "How is the press corps going to react to the president? Are they going to see the wind at his back and feel all the pressure from conservatives and others, and become a sort of chorus press corps? [Or] are they going to become an attack dog press corps?"

Judging from the very early returns, the White House doesn't have to worry about any pit bulls in the press corps.

Indeed. The only thing wrong with the whole column is that, at the beginning, Boehlert claims it's a "surprise" that this would happen. There's no fucking "surprise" about it. It's been happening since Bush ran the first time, all the way through his first term, and hasn't let up since.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Politics: It's Fun to Be Elite...


Yup, it's exactly what you'd expect. And it's damn funny.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Politics: Mr Not-Nearly-As-Furious As Steve G.

Steve Gilliard makes me look like Mary Poppins.

Some good stuff scattered throughout the rant...

Misc: Bad week for candidate's families

Watch out if your dad/husband runs for President:
Howard Dean's daughter injured in wreck
NORTH HAVEN, Connecticut (AP) -- The daughter of former Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean and four other young women were taken to a hospital Sunday after their sport utility vehicle rolled over on Interstate 91, state police said.

She was treated and released along with three others, so it seems she'll be fine. They are all lucky to essentially walk away from a rollover accident. When will people stop driving SUVs? It never would have happened in a regular car...

I neglected last week to offer my best wishes (I don't pray) to Elizabeth Edwards as well. I hope she makes a full recovery. I suppose it is somewhat of a relief to the Edwardses not to have anything else on their plates at the moment...

Misc: Leave Me Alone!

Got an email today...
A directory of cell phone numbers will be published soon. (which is good)
This will open the door for solicitors calling our cell phones using up our minutes. (not good)
The Federal Trade Commission has set up a do not call list.
You must call FROM the number you wish to register.
The number is 1-888-382-1222,
OR you can click on the link below to register your cell phones on line.

Register Online

Unfortunately, the Do Not Call list won't solve the problem of my cell phone being one number off from the local Lowe's...

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Misc: Lt. Bush Reporting for Duty?

Perhaps the President figured he'd make up some of that Air National Guard time he owes...
Fighter jet strafes New Jersey school
Friday, November 5, 2004

LITTLE EGG HARBOR, New Jersey (AP) -- The target was an object on the ground well within the confines of the Warren Grove firing range, a 2,400-acre scrub pine expanse used by the military to train pilots in bombing and strafing techniques.

But when the heavy gun in the left wing of an Air National Guard F-16 fighter jet fired Wednesday night, it sent 25 rounds of 20mm ammunition smashing through the roof and zinging off the asphalt parking lot of the Little Egg Harbor Intermediate School 3 1/2 miles from the range.

Military investigators are trying to determine how it could have happened.

Oops! Maybe the military investigators will want to start with asking why the Air National Guard practices strafing runs in the middle of the night, from 7,000 feet and why the hell the pilot was nowhere near the range.

Kinda glad I don't live anywhere near a military base (that I know of...)

Friday, November 05, 2004

Politics: Howard Told Us So

Reading the whole Juan Cole/gay marriage thing reminded me about why I supported Dean so strongly. Now this isn't going to be a "Howard Dean would have been better than Kerry" post. I'm not saying Howard Dean wouldn't have gotten his ass kicked if he were the nominee, he probably would have. He couldn't pull it off in the primaries and he wouldn't have in the election, but he has been proven correct every step of the way over the last two years.

This gay marriage issue is just another specific thing that Howard Dean had right a year and a half ago. Dean really had the whole government/marraige point exactly right. Dean believes pretty much just what Cole outlines below, and used it as the basis to legalize civil unions in Vermont.

He was also right that the Rebulicans would use "God, gays and guns" as a wedge to win the election. He was right about the War, the capture of Saddam, you name it. Too bad the guy who could see the landscape best ended up marginalized...

Any flaws as a candidate are stellar traits for the new Democratic Party Chairman, and he should get the job.

Politics: Sounds Like a Plan

Brilliant strategy from the second smartest person here in Ann Arbor*:
[The Democrats] also need to start defusing deadly cultural and "moral" issues that have been so effective for the Republicans. And they need to be sly about it.

For instance, a lot of Democrats would like to see gay marriage or at least civil gay unions passed into law. This is a matter of equity, since gay partners can't even get into a hospital to see an ill partner because hospitals limit visits to close family.

This issue scares the bejesus out of the red states.

But if Democrats were sly, there is a way out. The Baptist southern presidential candidate should start a campaign to get the goddamn Federal government out of the marriage business. It has to be framed that way. Marriage should be a faith-based institution and we should turn it over to the churches. If someone doesn't want to be married in a church, then the Federal government can offer them a legal civil contract (this is a better name for it than civil union). That's not a marriage and the candidate could solemnly observe that they are taking their salvation in their own hands if they go that route, but that is their business. But marriage is sacred and the churches should be in charge of it.

If you succeeded in getting the Federal government out of the marriage business, then the whole issue would collapse on the Republicans. You appeal to populist sentiments against the Feds and to the long Baptist tradition of support for the US first amendment enshrining separation of religion and state.

But the final result would be to depoliticize gay marriage, because the Federal government wouldn't be the arena for arguing about it. The Federal government could offer gays the same civil contract status as it offers straight people who want to shack up legally but without the sanction of a church. As for gays who wanted a church marriage, that would be between them and their church (remember, the Federal government is not in the business, but would go on recognizing church-performed marriages as equivalent legally to the Federal civil contract). The Unitarian Universalists could arrange it for them. The red states' populations can be hostile to the UUists all they like, it wouldn't translate into a victory at the polls for a Republican president.

The final outcome would be both more progressive (the Federal government should not in fact be solemnizing a religioius ceremony like marriage) and also advantageous to the Democrats, and it would leave gays actually better off.

There are other such strategies that could be adopted. But it seems clear. In 2008, the Democrats have to find a way to get back a couple of big red states. They can't do that unless they find canny ways to defuse the cultural issues the Republicans have been deploying so effectively.

This is a perfect example of the kind of thing the Republicans have done to us. Use of language, hot issues, and referendums. Turn it around on 'em. What religious chump would argue with "strengthening the church?" this plan's so crazy it just might work!

Before getting into the gay marriage thing, Juan Cole analyzes who wins Presidential races for the Dems and surmises we need to find "a southern governor with a southern accent who is a Baptist" to run for President. I'm not sure that's 100% true or who that "dream candidate" might be, but I agree with Prof. Cole, her name isn't Hillary.

* Oh, and the smartest person in Ann Arbor? Not me. I'm an idiot. But my wife's pretty damn sharp.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Politics: This Fucking Sucks.

It doesn't look good for Kerry. Even if he wins.

It's 2:00 am and it really looks like we won't have a definitive answer until 11 days from now. I can't believe that's the case, but unless Bush picks off a few (4 of 6?) of the remaining non-Ohio states, no one gets to 270 and they cannot declare the winner.

Even if Kerry wins "electorally" this country is fucked. Republicans strengthened holds on the House and Senate, and will thwart him at every turn. President Kerry will take office after losing by 3% and over 3 million votes. He will be given no grace period or leeway at all. Hell, even I have to admit that's some pretty good grounds for "sore loser" status.

I'm going to sleep totally depressed. The electorate of this country just overwhelmingly approved the worst President of our lifetimes. The damage done to the environment and the Supreme Court will be decades-long. We are laughing-stocks (or worse) on the global stage. Here in Michigan, ignorant voters (I'll call 'em ignorant, because the initiative was so misleading, and the alternative is that they are hateful bigots) overwhelmingly approves constitutional discrimination for an entire class of citizens.

My wife has to drive through Canada to go to New England next week, I'll have her keep an eye out for a nice '20s bungalow...