Tuesday, December 05, 2006

U-Turn Coming!

It appears that Dear Leader is preparing for one of his trademarked long-overdue U-turns. Having bad judgment as a part of his fundamental nature, the President has often had to reverse his initial wrong positions. Lots of folks have to make frequent corrections to their views owing to mistakes out-of-the-gate, and it’s to their credit that they do so.
But the Current Occupant manages to couple this U-turn habit with a stubborn hubris that makes them long-overdue as well as a condescendingly dismissive attitude towards those who try to point out the error of his ways.
So folks, as we all await anxiously the release of the ISG report, let me tell you What To Think.
Bush has never hesitated to abandon previously held positions, even (especially?) when they were held with seeming certitude that he would never abandon them. Here’s some quick examples, many from this excellent list:

CHIP Program (Texas Governor)
Patient Bill of Rights (Texas Governor)
Nation Building
Protecting Social Security Surplus
Steel Tariffs
Clean Air Standards for Power Plant Emissions
Storage of Nuclear Waste at Yucca Mountain
Assault Weapons Ban
McCain Feingold Campaign Finance Reform
Creation of Homeland Security Department
Creation of a 9/11 Investigation Commission
Testifying before 9/11 Commission
Rice Testifying before 9/11 Commission
Giving 9/11 Commission deadline extension
Creation of WMD Investigation Commission
Finding WMD’s in Iraq
Iraq connection to 9/11
Winning the War on Terror
Friendship with Enron CEO Ken Lay
Need to Capture Bin Ladn
Power of Intelligence Chief to control intelligence budgets
UN Approval of Iraq Invasion
Federal Government regulation of marriage
“Jawboning” OPEC to lower oil prices
Staying the course in Iraq
Warrants for Wiretapping

So one thing seems certain: Bush will almost certainly reverse course on Iraq. If I’m wrong, there are plenty of folks who can cry “I Told You So.” And my guess is that Bush will go into his “Stem Cell Decidin’” mode: he’s getting lots of advice from the best people, and will soon tell the press he is going to make a Decision, and he’ll go on national TV and announce that he has no intention of reversing course and anyone who says he does is a dirty liar, and then he’ll announce a series of steps that, taken together, amount to reversing the course.

We’ll see what happens. The move might even revive his flagging popularity. It's hard to believe -- as much as one might want to -- that a President's approval ratings could be so low for so long. But you never know.

And that, my friends, is What to Think.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Day After

Whew. My faith in my fellow Americans, sorely tested these last years, is restored. Our democracy lives. Maybe "survives," in light of the many blows it has taken.

The evil cretins who have control of the Republican party will always be with us. When I was younger, we referred to them as "John Birchers," and the Red States were called the "Bible Belt." These people are at the end of the day our fellow Americans, and will be with us moving forward.

When their influence is on the wane, we can progess. We they are ascendent, we go backwards. Their day, for now, has come and gone.

Sure, they'll continue to blame everything on Nancy Pelosi (funny how they didn't demonize Majority Leader Reid), Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton. But their attacks won't work if Americans don't buy into their schtick.

And after this cycle, it seems clear that Americans are looking to move beyond the politics and fear and hatred that have marked our politics for the last 10 years.

A corner has been turned. We move forward from here.

Monday, November 06, 2006

What to Think...About the Election

Let it not be said ("Nay! Nay!") that I did not commit to electronic form my predictions for tomorrow's midterm elections. So, before they go into the mayonnaise jar on Funk & Wagnall's back porch, here are the Answers in Advance(tm):
1. Eppes, in Sc-5th Senate, cruises to easy election. Frank's good humor and great common sense will be evident to the 97% of voters who have either met him or seen him from a distance, up to 1/4 mile depending on visibility. A win for the good folks of the SC's 5th Senate District. And a great relief to Frank's law partner, who will now have several good days a month in the office to himself.
2. The US House of Represenatives, where the good Dems will net gain 26 seats to re-claim the majority. This will allow Republicans a good chance to blame every thing that goes wrong -- including Alex Rodriguez' lack of clutch hitting -- on the Democratic House. Soon, everything that is not Bill Clinton's fault will be Nancy Pelosi's fault. Welcome to Scape-goat Land, Speaker Pelosi.
3. US Senate -- Repubs hang on by a thread. The brave and true Dems will pick up just 4 seats here, with Tenn and Mo (as well as Ariz) staying red.
4. NY Comptroller -- Alan Hevesi beats with several points of margin Republican Non-Criminal Chris Callaghan. I heard Mr. Callaghan this morning on WNYC, and he is in so far over his head it ain't funny. I'd prefer the vaguely comeptent criminal to the hubris, naivete and incompetence of Saratoga County's proudest fiscal officer.
5. Studio 60 -- Sorry, Charile, but this show's toast. An interesting and noble effort from Mr. Sorkin, but Sports Nite it ain't.

Well, I think that's enough, don't you? Stop by tomorrow and witness the amazing accuracy of my Answers in Advance(tm).

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Home Stretch

The die is likely already cast. Even a fake dust-up over john Kerry's typically obscure remarks is unlikely to make a difference.

The House seems in the bag at this point. As for the Senate, it seems that it's coming down to 3 races: Virginia, Tennessee and Missouri (Webb, Ford and McCaskell). We would need to get all three to win, barring an unforeseen upset elsewhere.

Even so, no doubt a Dem victory in the House will allow conservatives a wonderful opportunity to re-load. For the last six years, everything bad has been more or less Bill and/or Hillary Clinton's fault: 9/11, recession, stock market crash, poor job growth, the coddling of North Korea, Iran and Iraq, global warming, etc. But starting next Wednesday, everything can be the fault of Speaker Pelosi and the Obstructionist House.

So, we'll have all new vitriol and all-new hyperbole. Let's remember, even if we get the White House and the Senate in 08, these clowns will continue to bitch and moan that everything we are and everything we do is wrong, un-American, etc. They did that when they were the kooky John Birchers, and they'll do that long after George W. Bush has been unanamously elected Worst President Ever. It's what they do. It's our challenge to ignore them and marginalize their impact as much as we can.

P.S. This November 7th, lucky residents of SC's 5th Senate District get the honor of casting their votes for the estimable Frank Eppes. Those lucky dogs!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I've Just Got To Say This...

You may fool all the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time.

-- A. Lincoln.

Doesn't this explain perfectly the implosion of the conservative movement that is underway? The whole thing is a con job, and it can work on some people all the time (the 30+5 who will always think GWB is a great man), and it can even work on all of the people some time (all those who voted for the movement these past five years), but at the end of the day, the body politic ain't that stupid and will wake up.

I've long maintained that when this movement failed it would be all at once, in a kind of "emperor has no clothes" moment.

That moment may be at hand. (It may not.) But the forces of light, reason and righteousness will have their day, and in the end, as ever, will triumph.

Now if we could just get this idiot Tom Kean Jr. to lose...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

God Lives!

From today's Greenville News:

Eppes, who took 534 votes, for 91 percent, said he expects the runoff to bring more attention to the race, but his campaign is about getting out and meeting the voters. He said he doesn't have "time to fret about the opposition." He said education is the most important issue.

So you see, there is a God. Now let's see what happens in the general election.

Monday, September 18, 2006

A Giant Strides onto the Political Stage

The Greenville News continues it's coverage of the great Frank Eppes' drive to the South Carolina State Senate. Here's my favorite bit:

Democratic candidate Frank L. Eppes said he believes in "putting people in front of politics.

"One of the reasons I'm running for office is that I get so doggoned annoyed with people who just do lock-step stuff for their party that they know is bad because they say, 'Well, if I don't, the party leaders are going to fuss at me.' Well, that's absurd," he said.

"It's not what you're elected to do. You're elected to use your judgment and do what's best."

Frank Eppes. Strongly doggoned annoyed with those that fuss at him. And my hero.

And get a load of the other guy seeking his party's nomination, Charles Winfield (who I'm 99% certain was never on MASH). Just a few short months ago, he seemed pretty certain he was a Republican:

Eppes faces one challenger in the Democratic primary. Charles E. Winfield ran as a Republican in the June primary for the Greenville County Council seat being vacated by Mark Kingsbury, losing to Willis Meadows. Previously, he ran against Tommie Reece in the non-partisan school board elections, finishing third in a three candidate race. Now he has filed to run as a Democrat. The odds would appear to greatly favor Eppes in the primary, but he says he’s taking nothing for granted.

That's right: finished thrid in a field of three for school board. Now that's hot stuff. Surely the future of South Carolina, right there.

If you can legally vote in SC's 5th Senate district tomorrow, do the Right Thing and send Frank one step closer to the Senate. And don't forget to send him some money -- it's what makes campaigns go.

Friday, September 08, 2006

What have I learned from/since 9/11

Monday we celebrate the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. The media is awash in efforts to mark the occasion with something of meaning. I hear lots of “ordinary” Americans weighing in with how 9/11 affected them. One, not so ordinary, I suppose, is the President, who keeps saying the attacks changed fundamentally how he looked at the world. He says it gave him a new appreciation for the dangers that threaten us (I guess from abroad). The President’s rhetoric on this seems to me to be essentially a mask for the huge wave of guilt that must wrack his bones every day, knowing that this not only happened on his watch, but was in no small part due to his flippant attitude toward this threat. It speaks volumes to me that he shows no trace of humility, just hubris, condescension and thinly-veiled contempt (redirected away from himself, I’ll bet).

I hear other people talk about how 9/11 affected them mostly by making gas more expensive, or their business or jobs less stable or secure. I hear people say they, like the President, have a new-found fear of violence. Others profess a new-found hatred for Islam, or Arabs, or “extremists” or foreigners.

It seems the time has come once again for me to tell you What To Think, so here goes.

9/11 will be seen as a watershed event in both American and world history. (The two strains of history to undoubtedly merge at some distant point, much like Mercian and Cambrian history is now just early British history.) However, the effects caused by the terrorists – the deaths, injuries, damage – are negligible compared to the effects caused by our own fearful response. Perhaps the fate of thousands of Iraqis was sealed in November of 2000 when the US Supreme Court awarded the Presidency to George W. Bush. There’s a considerable body of evidence that he planned a military toppling of Saddam Hussein long before he was appointed to office. It may be that had 9/11 never occurred – had an alert security guard made a lucky call, had an FBI supervisor made an extra call, had a conspirator chickened out and gone state’s evidence – Mr. Bush would have found some other pretext for invading Iraq. And perhaps it was always part of his thinking that Afghanistan would have to be invaded also to ensure their cruel regime was a threat no more. Truly, a what-if scenario ripe for a talented alternative-history author to exploit.

I have learned since 9/11 that many of my fellow Americans can be cowardly, self-centered, childish and utterly rule by fear. I have learned that the deaths of thousands of innocents count for nothing if they are far away, not white, and not presented visually. I have learned just how far Ronald Reagan’s Culture of Me has permeated huge swaths of our society.

I have learned that the fundamental lessons of life – for individuals as well as societies – must be continually relearnt. We have allowed the powerful free rein in ordering our society’s affairs, with the not-too-surprising result that their share of our wealth has risen steadily at the expense of everyone else.

I have learned that powerful and corrupt people can use people’s natural fears as a most unnatural tool to deprive them of their security. And I have learned that resisting these people is a struggle without end.

I have also learned that terrorism is fundamentally a police matter. It is combated not through invasions or rockets or tank battalions. It is fought via intelligence, interrogations, taking precautions.

As grave a threat as terrorism is, it is on a par with other crimes – serious indeed, but no basis on which to organize our society. I write from Lower Manhattan, blocks away from the New York Stock Exchange. It’s fears for its security has led it to turn several blocks around it into an armed encampment. A variety of barricades block the streets and sidewalks. Meantime, the effects of 9/11 in this neighborhood are apparent in the nearly empty sidewalks, many fewer lunch spots, the surplus of seating in the parks.

And the future is being built, make no mistake. Under the guise of “re-building,” the ancient transport infrastructure is getting a face lift and a series of undistinguished office buildings are being built. A huge memorial is planned, that will add even more dead space to a part of our town that is already swimming in memorial spaces. The design of the "towers" says nothing to me so much as “cowering.” Where once the height of an office building was an unabashed metaphor for a society’s dreams, now the height of the office building is a signal that we must not raise our heads above the crowd for fear that a terrorist will lop it off.

In yet another alternative universe, our political or business leaders (remember when captains of industry had moral force in society?) would have stoutly called for defiance in the face of fear. “Letting the terrorists win” would have meant building exactly the kind of demure buildings we are now planning, and not failing to keep your Visa card near it’s maximum, as Mr. Bush has it.

By our ignorance and apathy, we have come, once again, to live in a dangerous time. Politics seems to so many of us an a minor annoyance, kind of like sports but not as engaging. But the truth is the actions of state actors like Mr. Bush and his Russian, British, Iranian, Afghani, Pakistani, Israeli and Iraqi counterparts are the stuff of which conflagrations are made. It is not the actions of murderous crooks like Osama Bin Ladn, or the man who killed Crown Prince Ferdinand almost a century ago, that cause massive devastation and tragedy.

We live in a democratic nation, as do many others around the world. We are often reminded that we have a civic duty to vote and read the paper. It’s kind of like the cajoling to eat healthier and exercise more: it’s undeniably good advice, but failing to heed it has consequences that are quite remote and quite easy to dismiss. But like the oft-ignored health advice, our failure to adequately supervise our government can over time have disastrous, even life-threatening, consequences.

What I’ve learned since 9/11 is that too many of my fellow Americans seem unprepared for the awesome responsibility of self-government. It may be that the ominous storm warnings will be enough to bring enough of them around to create a kind of tipping point. Our history has been, however, that Americans allow the government to get too far away from them before asserting their will, with fairly uniformly disastrous consequences. I’m just not sure that the disaster level is kicked up high enough for enough Americans to reassert their authority. Come this November, we’ll find out.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Frank Eppes for Senate - SC - 5th Dist.

The great Frank Eppes is finally running for office. The fates have smiled on him and given the incumbent state senator a dibilitating condition, forcing his untimely resignation. And creating an open seat. Frank has swung into action and is the favorite to win the Democratic primary, and given good odds in the general. The retiring incumbent switched from "D" to "R" in 2000, so Frank's win would swing this conservative district back into the blue.

I've found some background on Frank's campaign in "Metrobeat," a section of the "Upstate Beat." Political writer and comumnist James Shannon provides good background in this August 22 piece:

According to Ecclesiastes, for everything there is a season – and our eyes and ears tell us this is so. When athletes remain on the field of play as their abilities wane, we suffer along with them. Visions of a hobbled Joe Namath in a Los Angeles Rams uniform or a depleted Willie Mays in the New York Mets outfield were all the more painful because we so vividly remembered them in their prime.

The same holds true in politics. Recall the final years of Strom Thurmond’s career in the US Senate, when as a colleague gently observed, he was “no longer mentally keen.” Another long-running political career ended recently when state Sen. Verne Smith of Greer resigned his seat after a storied career in the General Assembly that began when Richard Nixon was president. This was no long goodbye, however. Through the 2005 legislative session, Smith remained a force in Columbia. 2006 was a different story, as illness kept him away from the daily business of the Senate. Although his term would not expire until 2008, he decided to step down.

A special election will be held to pick his successor, with Democratic and Republican primaries on September 19. The winners will face off on November 7. Verne Smith often said his role in government “was to help the raggedy-ass children and frail elderly.” They can only hope whoever wins the seat has the same commitment to those without access to the corridors of power.

He leaves some big shoesto fill, and not just because he was a large man in physical size. In a political arena increasingly populated by narrow ideologues and self-interested sycophants, Verne Smith was a giant. This lends added importance to the choice voters will make in the Fifth Senate District, and an examination of the candidates reveals some curious undercurrents.

On the Republican side, Rep. Lewis Vaughn would have to be considered the front-runner. He has served in the House since 1989 and chaired the Greenville County delegation when he announced earlier this year that he would not seek reelection. His “retirement” quickly ended, and he announced he would seek the Senate seat on the day Smith resigned. Vaughn’s ambitions for higher office are no secret. In 2003, when Jim DeMint indicated he would give up his seat in Congress to run for the US Senate, Vaughn publicly said he wanted to run but garnered no real support despite a reputation as a rabid GOP partisan.

Expect to hear a lot between now and November about candidates embracing the legacy of Verne Smith, but one area where Vaughn and Smith part company concerns vouchers that transfer public money to private schools. Smith was a strong supporter of public education, while Vaughn was perhaps the leading promoter of “school choice” in the General Assembly. Although the initiative called Put Parents In Charge went down in flames in 2005 and was pulled off the legislative agenda in this election year by Gov. Mark Sanford, it has not gone away. Campaign finance records confirm an avalanche of cash flowing into the Sanford and Karen Floyd coffers from out-of-state voucher advocates, and there is a reasonable expectation that Vaughn will ride that same gravy train. In a district with excellent public schools in Greer, Travelers Rest and Blue Ridge, it will be interesting to watch Vaughn try to convince voters that tax money needs to be removed from those schools in favor of affluent private schools and Christian academies.

The other Republicans running in the primary have taken notice of Vaughn’s presumed front-runner status, and appear to be attempting to move even further to the right – if that’s possible. Kathleen Jennings Gresham describes herself as the first female prosecutor in the Upstate, but she was disbarred in 1996 following numerous allegations including misrepresentation and forging a signature on a document. She is waging an aggressive campaign, taking Vaughn to task for failing to sign a pledge not to raise taxes. This is a gimmick frequently trotted out by ultra-conservative candidates trying to put their opponents on the spot. Gresham’s yard signs contain the slogan “Share the Vision,” although what that vision is remains unclear. Her radio commercials emphasize her gender, asserting she is not part of the “old boy” network. Hey, she’s a woman.

Also on the ballot is Timothy Macko, described as an accountant and graduate of Bob Jones University. It turns out Macko has experience in elective office, serving six years in the New Mexico legislature. On the one hand, the Bob Jones connection should not be discounted, especially in a GOP primary in the Upstate. On the other hand, New Mexico may as well be France to more provincial area voters.

The fourth GOP candidate in the race is Michael Meilinger, reportedly a certified public accountant. Meilinger did not participate in a recent debate of GOP candidates at Greenville Tech, and no further information had surfaced at press time. Beyond Vaughn’s built-in advantage as a well-known incumbent who has secured the support of virtually all the establishment Republicans in the district, the primary race is difficult to handicap. But after 18 years in office, Vaughn has undoubtedly made some enemies. If Jennings or Macko can assemble enough malcontents and wing-nuts to push Vaughn into a run-off, then all bets are off. But Lewis Vaughn looks like a safe bet in the GOP primary.

Things get a little more complicated on the other side of the aisle, not least because Verne Smith was a Democrat until 2001. When he changed parties, the Senate was evenly divided among Republicans and Democrats, with Republican Lt. Gov. Bob Peeler holding the tie-breaking vote. Although many Democrats – reportedly including Smith’s son Jeff – disagreed with the decision, he believed he could more effectively serve the people of his district as a Republican. Verne Smith did not change his beliefs, only the letter after his name.

What makes this discussion interesting is the emergence of a Democratic candidate making his first run for public office who vows to implement a “pro-education, pro-business agenda that shuns partisan, political game-playing and puts people first.” His name is Frank Eppes, a well-known attorney and the son of former Circuit Court Judge Frank Eppes. The funeral of Judge Eppes in 2002 has been described as one of the watershed political events of the decade, as the meek and the mighty gathered in large numbers to pay tribute to a man who touched countless lives. “My father loved people, and he loved helping people,” says Frank Eppes. “If it was in his power to help them, he’d do it whether he knew them well or not. I hope I can live up to that legacy.” The wild card in this election is that voters may have a chance to choose a successor who embodies the core values of the man they seek to replace. “Strom Thurmond and Verne Smith shared one important trait that I always admired,” recounts Eppes. “When someone asked for their help, neither man ever applied any kind of litmus test or asked about political affiliation. An effective legislator shares our values, speaks our language and understands the things that matter most to us. An effective legislator does what is best and right for people because it is best and right. While no one will be able to fill Senator Smith’s shoes, we certainly have the right model to follow.” Eppes faces one challenger in the Democratic primary. Charles E. Winfield ran as a Republican in the June primary for the Greenville County Council seat being vacated by Mark Kingsbury, losing to Willis Meadows. Previously, he ran against Tommie Reece in the non-partisan school board elections, finishing third in a three candidate race. Now he has filed to run as a Democrat. The odds would appear to greatly favor Eppes in the primary, but he says he’s taking nothing for granted.

Should Eppes and Vaughn win their respective primaries, expect the November election to focus on the issues – especially education – to give voters a real choice. According to Eppes, “Public education is the most important function of state government. I support our public schools and the dedicated teachers, principals and parents who serve our children so tirelessly. Using tax dollars to fund private school vouchers steals from our public schools, which hurts our children and our future.”

Eppes is an imposing man, standing 6’10” tall and solid as a rock. But it is the solidity of his convictions that make him a worthy candidate to succeed Verne Smith in the South Carolina Senate. It’s not easy to fill the shoes of a giant.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Digby reminds us that the media are a part of the problem, and asks how do we fix it. My answer?

We ARE fixing it.
The media are easily led. Hell, even dopes like Dick Nixon and Karl Rove can do it.
It starts by constantly calling BS on them. Unfortunately, a bunch of bloggers aren't adequate to the job: we need elected officials to be on board. And that's why, just like the conservatives did starting the in 60s, we progressives are taking over the Democratic party. People like Biden and Clinton and Kerry and Edwards have been called losers so often they've started to believe it themselves. We need a new class of elected Dems who think of themselves as the next generation of American leadership. And they're on the way. (Ned Lamont, I'm talking to you!)
The other thing we have to start is to push a narrative that has nothing to do with the RNC's narrative. If we can get some elected Dems to start pushing our own talking points, the press will come along. How about a press conference with every Democratic governor, where they all pledge to deliver health care access to all their citizens? Or a group of Decocratic senators put out a press release calling for the implementation of a college education tax credit? And that's all they talk about for a while...coverage will come around at some point.
And the good news is that we are doing all these things already! We look around and see darkness and despair. But if we just look ahead a little, there is light and hope. The movement we're building is accelerating fast. The progess we've made -- the blogs, Air America, the tidal wave of smart liberal books, etc., etc. -- is paying off already.
Victory will not long be denied the righteous. Just ask President Lincoln.
The always wonderful Digby posts this today:

I think that until we grapple with the fact that this is the real nub of the problem we will get nowhere.

The question recurs, what will satisfy them? Simply this: We must not only let them alone, but we must somehow, convince them that we do let them alone. This, we know by experience, is no easy task. We have been so trying to convince them from the very beginning of our organization, but with no success. In all our platforms and speeches we have constantly protested our purpose to let them alone; but this has had no tendency to convince them. Alike unavailing to convince them, is the fact that they have never detected a man of us in any attempt to disturb them.These natural, and apparently adequate means all failing, what will convince them? This, and this only: cease to call slavery wrong, and join them in calling it right. And this must be done thoroughly - done in acts as well as in words. Silence will not be tolerated - we must place ourselves avowedly with them. Senator Douglas' new sedition law must be enacted and enforced, suppressing all declarations that slavery is wrong, whether made in politics, in presses, in pulpits, or in private. We must arrest and return their fugitive slaves with greedy pleasure. We must pull down our Free State constitutions. The whole atmosphere must be disinfected from all taint of opposition to slavery, before they will cease to believe that all their troubles proceed from us.

So too, today, we must ask the question, "what will satisfy them?" Will it be to ban gay marriage? Outlaw abortion? Destroy the public schools? Institute mandatory prayer? Deport all non-English speakers? I don't think so. It certainly will not be enough to nominate a conservative, born again southern Democrat. We did that. His name was Jimmy Carter. Here's what they are still doing to him even 25 years later. We nominated a son of the "New South," modern, moderate and pro-business. They impeached his ass.

I think this analysis is wonderful, and parallels my own thinking in many ways. But the premise is not thought-through quite to the most basic level, namely that the reason our Red friends have this overpowering sense of resentment is not because they sense our disapprobation. It is because they sense their errors in themselves. It is they who insisted on the aristocratic electoral college/senate compromise as the price of admission. It is they who brutally oppressed a race of their fellow humans (don't think they were unawares, or believed for two seconds their fig leaf justifications). And now, it is they who don't educate their children, who don't refrain from child-bearing until later, who tolerate crushing poverty amongst their fellow citizens. And they get to be reminded every night when they watch tv or a movie that those of us in Blue America are better educated, have nicer homes, live better, etc. And their entirely understandable reaction is this sense of defensiveness, this way of projecting their feelings of inferiority onto us as a claim that we are lording it over them.
The reason why this is important is that it shows a key -- maybe even THE key -- to a successful strategy of getting them to join us in moving the nation forward. We must show empathy for their challenges. We must never gloat or lord it over them (as so many blog readers seem to). We must never, ever forget that there is no moving forward without these people. They are our friends and our colleagues. They are our loud brother-in-law at Thanksgiving. They are our, at the end of the day, our fellow citizens and our partners in building a national life, and we must respect them.
Which means respecting them enough to call bullshit on those that exploit them -- the Bushes, the Dobsons, the Robertsons. These people are cynical abusers of our fellow citizens, and we do them no favors by either emulating them by pandering, nor ignoring their crimes by being silent.
A successful national progressive candidate does not need to be from the South. He or she simply needs to be 100% free of any sense of condescension, and must demonstrate total empathy for the challenges of all Americans.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Preznit on Border Security?

Sheesh. The Preznit goes on tee vee to Explain How Immigration Works. And we are treated to what I understand is a RNC infomercial. Shameless mugging for the racist ranks. And many in the press see right through the dog and pony show.

Oh, but not the NY Times' own Elisabeth Bumiller. She has ingested some powerful kool-ade. For her, not an effort to mend fences with the racist base. Oh no. To Elisabeth, the talk "reflected the subtle approach of a man shaped by Texas border-state politics and longtime personal views. reflected the subtle approach of a man shaped by Texas border-state politics and longtime personal views. "

Oh. I see. Not shameless pandering at all. Just reflective talk from the nation's deep thinker.

And here I thought he was an idiot. Thanks to the NY Times and Elisabeth Bumiller for clearing that up.

Monday, May 15, 2006

What To Think on Immigration

The President is a big fat lying faker.

There. I've said it. But how do I know it's true?

"Bush budget scraps 9,790 border patrol agents"

Instead of 2,000 new agents a year, the Preznit decided to cut 1,790 of them in his 2006 budget. And no commitment for the remaining 8,000.

So, sending a few coupla thousand National Guardsmen only partially restores his previous cuts.

Of course, expect plenty of media coverage of this interesting tidbit. (The foregoing statement was intended as a joke.)

So tonight the Preznit will explain to us How Immigration Policy Works. Should be entertaining.

And truthfully, it ought to help with his polling numbers. If it doesn't have much of an impact, or if it impacts him negatively, then Americans is large numbers will have arrived at this place I've been for a long time: they just can't stand the sight of the man.

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Deal on Colbert

All right already, I'll tell you What To Think about Colbert's massive diss of the Preznit. The video is available here.

If you make fun of a fat guy for being fat, it's may be funny-ish, but the yuck is tempered by the awkward feeling. If you make fun of a smart guy for being dumb, we can all enjoy the vitriol and hyperbole. Colbert is an American hero. I hope one day one of my grandchildren graduates from Colbert High. And I'm dee-lighted to say that he was not perceived as funny in the room and was terribly awkward.

He was making fun of the fat guy for being fat -- or, the dumb guy for being dumb. He spoke the truth to these people, and they knew it. They felt ashamed, deservedly so.

It may be that his performance is as close to a Have you no sense of decency, sir? moment as we are likely to ever get.

I do believe, for the 329th time in the last four years, that a corner has been turned culturally. The Preznit's little dog-and-pony show won't work any more. The next scary evil monster -- from Mexicans to a reprise of the evil Ruskies -- is likely to be met with incredulity.

And we can thank the valuable role of ridicule, sarcasm, satire and humor for some of this change in our culture. Dave Letterman banging away at Bush. Stewart, Colbert, the same.

The truth has always been a powerful ally, and we are seeing it in action once again.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Me again...

I've taken a significant hiatus from telling you What to Think, largely due to an overall cooling of the fires of the creative muse. I've been writing other things (none of your business, thank you) which are essentially non-political.

On the great wide swath of Public Affairs, my fires have been cooled somewhat by the apparent scales-falling-from-the-eyes of millions of Americans.

Perhaps the most frustrating newly enlightened Americans are those who voted for Bush in 04, and now regret it. I'm thrilled of course that they now regret supporting these people, but what were they thinking? It's not like there's a whole new side of Bush we've seen since the campaign. His ickiness was on display for all to see. The fact that so many Americans just didn't care enough to pay attention, or thought that Kerry was effete, or really truly believed that Bush was this strong silent type, is plenty troubling. Basically, we're wasting 8 years of our nation's life because some relatively small number of us didn't care enough to pay even the scantest attention. Americans. Sheesh.

So I think the worm has really truly turned. The insupportable foundations of the modern Republican movement are finally beginning to give way. A party can't harbor bigots and those they hate for long, nor practice economic warfare on the vast majority of voters and expect them to never react.

I feel like ranting about the President's cravenness no longer has any point. I am now only interested in things to do moving forward. Like providing health care, economic justice, basic civil rights, genuine concern for the environment, and while we're at it, using the English language in its original, non-Orwellian sense and believing in both science and the separation of church and state.

You know I'm an idea guy. Got a million of 'em. Here's one: there's no question that the first thing a Democrat president would do is call for a new Kyoto accord. (In truth the original had some fairly serious problems, though the right solution was to fix them rather than disparage the entire undertaking). So here's the idea: why wait? Why doesn't the Democratic party organize and sponsor a global conference for government officials from around the world to come together and hammer out a workable solution that we can all sign onto -- and the federal government can sign onto January 21, 2009.

Gotta show the leadership, folks. Can't just play defense.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Comedywise is on the air. In the air. On the internet. Whatever.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A 0:22 clip of train riding with James last summer with Uncle Bob and Uncle Tom in beautiful Lancaster County.

Click the play button to enjoy!

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Happy Tuesday Everybody!

Tuesday dawns here in NYC, where it’s a bit cooler and decidedly rainy.

The news continues unremittingly bad. I now have to find office space within the next 30 days or so. Affordable office space in NYC – should be easy. Cheap, too.

But wait, there’s more. Oh, so much more. It turns out I have a new landlord. A very rich company, supposedly from Kentucky, has purchased our building. I’m sure it’ll be a matter of weeks before we’re faced with a rent increase or eviction. Neat.

Monday, January 23, 2006

You’re Shi***ng Me.

I like to think I’m running a family blog here, but now and then there’s something a bit ****** up that gets through.

For all of the harping we do, we spend relatively little time imagining what the future will look like. One of the fun daydreams I indulge is the one where furry-browed Senators are interrogating middle- aged people (white, well-to-do people) about their former association with the Republican Party: “Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Republican Party?”

Here’s another. A tape from Osama bin Ladn is released. It contains a screed against the US and offers to open peace negotiations. A Republican operative is trotted out to comment on CNN, say the Vice President. After having the tape described by the reporter, the Vice President says, “Well, see, what’s sad is that this shows how the Democrats are actually on the same side as al-Quaida.”

At which point, the reporter would utter with dripping disbelief: “You’re sh****ng me.”

And then launch into a tirade to the effect of, “You’ve just seen America’s Most Wanted, the supposed mastermind of 9/11, taunt the US, and what you come up with is how this shows liberals are fools? Come on.”

See, the day that happens is the day the forces of evil will be on the run. Until then, we’ll get Wolf Blitzer saying, “Oh, I see, Mr. Vice President. Why do you think the Democrats are so out of touch with our all-new post 9/11 world?”

Friday, January 13, 2006

Machine Guns!

If we had Dem leadership, we wouldn't have hesitated to have some group turn the Alito nomination into a referendum on guns.

Does anyone think that the Repubs would hesitate to smear our candidate were the tables turned?

Oh my God! Alito is in favor of machine guns!!!


It's hard not to be depressed over the lame handling of the Democratic response to the Alito nomination. As much as we need to be fighting the good fight against the forces of evil, we also need to fight to reclaim our party from the current moribund leadership.

Alito struck me in the hearings as a nominee squarely in the mold of Bush himself. Deeply conservative, yet reluctant to reveal that conservatism except through pap and meaningless platitudes. Strangely uncurious about the world around him. (Evidently, Mr. Alito seems to be one of the only Americans not to have given the current warrant-evasion scandal any thought.) He seems to specialize in explaining the obvious as a way of avoiding giving any detailed views -- indeed, he seems free of detailed views altogether. His record on the bench suggests that the most complicated set of facts will be reduced by him to a simple, predictable outcome: privileged, powerful interests yes, poor, defenseless interests no. Easy.

While I agree that a woman's constitutional right to choose is a transcendingly important issue, I think there will be many other issues that come before the court where we will see just how conservative the court will have become.

So that's the big picture. Of much more immediate concern is our side's pathetic response. We have succeeded by our efforts in further entrenching our opponents. They have had a chance to show the public that they are putting forth someone who is broadly acceptable, and the only warts on him are that extreme liberals grouse that he isn't sympatheic enough to the plight of the common man, and some beleive he's against Roe v. Wade.

We have shown that we have no point of view with any meaning. We took the nominee's plain dissembling on his membership in CAP and managed to make it seem like a quarrel about a line under "interests and hobbies" on a resume 20 years ago. Instead of making it seem like a brazen act of perjury, which is what is was.

We came off as picyune and petty for chastising Alito for not honoring his previous commitment not to hear Vanguard cases. (Instead of making him seem like someone who didn't take his commitment to the Senate seriously.) We failed to construct a meaningful narrative about this guy that anyone could relate to.

I hope at least the next generation of Democratic leaders will be able to use these proceedings to allow President Boxer the right to choose the most wild liberals imaginable. These days, "shoe on the other foot" comparisons seem to be somehow rude (think farting in an elevator), but the truth is that the more these clowns build up their power, the more power we'll have when we return.


Let's all look forward to Hillary Clinton's heartfelt speech about her serious -- serious, I tell you! -- concerns about the nominee, in which she will concede that he is smart, honorable and distinguished. Heck, maybe she'll even vote against him! Ah! Our leadership in action.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Death of Outrage

I can't get over the gap between the nation's reaction to not only the tragic deaths of twelve miners in West Virginia, but also to the bungling of the communication about those death, all on the one hand, and the death in the last 48 hours in Iraq of almost 150 people. In a country of about 28 million, 150 deaths would translate to 1,500 in the US.

And we can't (and shouldn't, of course) shut up about 9/11.

Iraq suffers a 9/11 tragedy at least monthly. Imagine if they were Swedes or Brits!