Monthly Archives: December 2004

Live By The Sword In Florida, Die By It In Washington

I think the title says it all… but I think that there should be a rule that no Republican should ever be allowed to ask for a re-vote, ever. The people have spoken, etc. etc. How can Rossi pretend that there will be questions about Gregoire’s term when everyone sure shut up about President Bush pretty quick?

Comedy. It just goes to show you that as good as the Republicans look right now, they are completely myopic. Just imagine, not being able to contest election results with a straight face, and having to turn over the Senate one day to Democrats with no filibuster anymore.

"Preserving Christmas"

Read this article on Yahoo, entitled “Christians protest actions that play down Christmas’ religious nature.” Except that’s not at all what they are trying to do.

The correct headline should read “Christians protest separation of church and state.”

Because none of the actions listed in the article accomplish anything in terms of restoring the religious nature of Christmas. They really want the Nativity scene back in front of City Hall. They don’t give one shit about the idolatry of Santa Claus (especially ironic for Protestants who don’t venerate Saints) or the consumer capitalist orgy that has done far more to damage the spirit of Christmas than any order of any court.

The Mass of Christ

There is one day of a year that not only celebrates the birth of Jesus, but celebrates the bastard essence of today’s Republican party. Christmas now celebrates the twisted marriage of consumer capitalism and religion. In a disgusting irony missed by almost everyone, to celebrate the birth of the man who had a tizzy at the money changers’ expense, we mimic the visit of the Magi (who visited Jesus not on the day of his birth, but on the Twelfth Night) by raising our children on brazen lies (Santa Claus) and a narcotic like addiction to material possession.

First, the symbolism of Christmas is blatantly pagan. The trees, holly, mistletoe, eating of ham, yule logs, and even the timing of the event derive from the pagan Yule.

Santa Claus is another apostasy. Saint Nicholas of Myra was a 4th century saint. The Dutch took the myth into the origins of the form we now have. (St. Nicholas’s feast day is December 6, roughly a month before the visit of the Magi.) In addition to Santa Claus’s eclipsing of Jesus in the minds of just about every Christmas celebrant, many people who engage in this deception don’t even venerate saints. Even still, this has to be breaking at least one Commandment.



Aside from the psychic trauma many children who take it too seriously may feel, it seriously interferes with the religious aspect of the Feast and only underscores the consumerist part. What Would Jesus Think? (Just another reason South Park’s original short Santa versus Jesus is genius.)

If we’re looking for an ecumenical, secular way to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the man who told us to turn the other cheek, to give Caesar what was his, and to heal the poor and downtrodden– why not give gifts, if any, to the less fortunate.

Erase Presidential Term Limits.

Scared of a third Bush term? I’m not. I’m more scared of his lame-duck second term, because he has nothing to account for. Democratically (or something like that) elected leaders need to have the big check and balance on them at all times.

Of course, we’d have to enable it for Bush to get it passed right now, probably with the Ahhnold Amendment too. I say go for it.

If it goes into effect tomorrow (impossible, I know) the President will have to start thinking about the meaning of what he does not what he wants to do.

More later.

Richardson/Dean: The Ticket to Victory in 2008

Rather than trying to reclaim the South the future of the Democratic Party lies in the West. Adding Mountain West states to the West Coast and Northeast base would give Democrats a near electoral-lock on the Presidency. {For more please scroll down and to my post “Go West Old Party!”}

On paper the best man to establish the West/Northeast Democratic Party in 2008 is Bill Richardson, the Governor of New Mexico. He possesses a unique and eclectic background that hits every note in the chord that I surmise will resonate with America in 2008 (Ugh, that was a brutal metaphor, but whatever).

First off Richardson almost automatically brings New Mexico, one of the three Mountain West states the Democrats need, into the fold. Unlike most Governors Richardson has meaningful foreign policy experience. When he served in the House (19883 – 87) he led several diplomatic missions that resulted in the release of American prisoners in Iraq and North Korea. He also was the US Representative to the United Nations from 1997 – 1998, so he has ample diplomatic experience. Most of America does not hate the UN as much as Republican wingnuts do, so this need not be a demerit.

Richardson was unanimously confirmed to head the Department of Energy in 1998 and appears to have done a competent job “reforming” the agency and advocating alternative energy use.

Richardson ran for governor of New Mexico in 2002, a Republican year nationally, and won with 55% of the vote. Although a cursory search has not revealed any poll numbers, every article I have read about Richardson describes him as “popular” in New Mexico.

As a Hispanic, Richardson appeals to the burgeoning Hispanic population in the Southwest not because of shared heritage, but because he recognizes that Hispanics care about more than immigration and affirmative action. Richardson also has the solid support of American Indians, another crucial Southwest constituency.

Most importantly he is comfortable in the folksy, jeans and cowboy boots style that seems necessary to win rural Westerners. He has been able to hammer out compromises between development and conservation on issues like oil and gas exploration in Ostera Mesa that are agreeable to all parties. It is this sort of natural resources compromise that is important for rural westerners, more so than for the over-hyped rural Southerners.

Oh, and he has been nominated for four Nobel Peace Prizes.

It remains to be seen how Iowa and New Hampshire will take to Richardson and if he has the druthers to respond to the Conservatron Hate Machine. It will be interesting to see how Richardson handles unimportant but colorful, pithy “Maureen Dowd column” issues that dominate a presidential campaign. For instance, New Mexico is one of the only states that still allows cock fighting. Richardson has no official position on the issue, although he has told the Hollywood PETA brigade to buzz off. These are the sort of blanks that will have to be filled in on the national stage to determine Richardson’s fitness as a national candidate. (New Mexico has actually dealt with this issue in precisely the way I feel that “moral” issues should be handled. Cock fighting has been banned in several counties, but remains legal in others. But I digress…)

As for Dean for Veep: With the slight exception of Clinton/Gore (who were cut of essentially the same DLC cloth), every winning presidential ticket since 1976 has featured a VP who is loyal to the party faithful and a Presidential aspirant who is more likely to attract swing voters. Thus there is Carter the moderate Georgia Governor, and Mondale the liberal, classic Democrat; Bush II the “compassionate conservative” and Cheney, the big business, insider, consrvatron cockroach. As for Reagan/Bush, the GOP establishment was still the New England aristocracy in 1980 and they viewed Reagan as an exotic, Bush connected Reagan to the familiar party. Similarly, Dan Quayle had strong conservative credentials to tether the more moderate Bush I to the conservative GOP establishment in 1988 even if, otherwise, he was just a non-entity chucklehead.

Having the presidential candidate as the party standard bearer and the VP vying to win swing voters was another small but crucial mistake that Kerry/Edwards made. Edwards’ yeoman work reaching out to rural, Southern voters did not pan out. Neither did Jack Kemps’ attempts to win moderate urban voters for the GOP in 1996.

Like Cheney, Dean has a strong nationwide fundraising base. He also has enthusiastic support amongst the younger “MoveOn” wing of the Democratic Party. Rather than disappear into small markets as Edwards did (or was ordered to do) Dean has the perfect temperament to trade sound byte barbs with his GOP counterpart on national TV. His pugnacious personality is precisely what Democrats need to keep the faithful knocking on doors and e-mailing contributions.

If Dean becomes Democratic Party chair, then Joe Biden (D-DE) would be another able VP.

Richardson/Dean is the perfect match of West/Northeast, Moderate/Progressive, Populist Persuasion/Partisan Punch.

A lot can happen in four years and Richardson needs to get reelected in 2006 before the prognosticating gets too precocious. Still, reading the tealeaves, it is Richardson/Dean for victory in 2008.

Global Warming Litigation Begins

Read in the paper today that the 155,000 Inuits in the Canadian arctic will seek a ruling from the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights that the United States, by contributing substantially to global warming, is threatening their seal-hunting subsistence existence. Although the comission has no enforcement power their ruling could serve as a basis for the Inuits to sue the USA in international court, or to sue private companies in Federal court.

Becuase the US government has officially admitted that human factors are certainly driving global warming even industry lawyers feel that the Inuits legal strategy could prove to be successful.

This story will disappear from the press and will perhaps pop up like a prarie dog every now and agina until suddenly, one day, the USA and its industry are being sued and drastic, long overdue, changes in how almost every aspect of this economy is operated are needed.

As is so often the case, my question is: Where are the Democrats? Where is the politician who is willing to say that grappling with global warming is an economic issue and not just a manifestation of the “save the whales” mentality, and that adjusting our economy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions does not mean that everyone will have to ride a horse? Rather, by changing government incentives that pervert the market – especially for energy – we could meet the challenge of global warming with minimal disruptions. Where is the Democrat who can tell traditionally Republican industries that adjusting to global warming now – an ounce of prevention – will forestall difficult changes in the future – a pound of cure? And where is the Democrat who is willing to say that the officals who are distorting markets to stiffle innovation and let old, clumsy industries retain their prevalence through government welfare rather than ability are the Republican leadership from Bush and Cheney on down.

A market-incetive response to global warming is the perfect combination of environmentalism, old-fashioned populism and Clintonian pragmatism. Speaking out about this now, rather than mumbling inchoate platitudes about “green” issues, may not pay off immediately, but it would lay the groundwork for Democrats being the “Solutions Party” for these issues when the rising sea-level comes home to roost. Oh, and its the right thing to do too.

NHL

So, there’s some kabuki movement in the NHL labor dispute. How silly is this.

Since the beginning, I’ve been for the owners. Not because I love the owners, but because I recognized that the current CBA was causing the players to receive abusively high salaries (like Bobby Holik) and causing too much movement and had absolutely destroyed the trade process from a player focussed process to a money process.

The counter-arguments from pro-labor commentators, like Larry Brooks yesterday, is that the teams that are suffering are the expansion teams Bettman added. What does that have to do with anything? The union isn’t going to agree to a contraction, is it? That would cause the loss of NHL jobs for potentially hundreds of their members, if the reduction went back to pre-Bettman levels.

Plus, the problem isn’t the bottom teams as much as it is the top ones, that feel they have to outbid each other to stay competitive (not that I’m against contraction).

The solution is, as it ever was, simple. The owners open their books. If they’re even close to being honest about their problems, then the players should agree to a cap based on a percentage.

You see, if the players really weren’t worried about contraction, they could say, fuck it let these teams go bankrupt, then they would be the ones making an impasse.

Also, don’t shed a tear for the players. They could easily start their own cooperative league, buy out the few players still under contract, and split their own profits. Why they don’t, I haven’t a clue. If they’re stupid enough to continue to play for the owners, then they have to make sure the owners stay in business.

[UPDATE: Larry Brooks, the only pro-union author to set foot in the New York Post, (and only, I think, because taking a pro-union position somehow defends the Rangers) suggests today that the league fire Bettman. Yes! Fire him. Now, he’s gone. Tell me again how that fixes the fiscal situation or the talent pool dilution? It may keep it from getting worse, but it doesn’t fix it.

Put teams back in Winnipeg and Quebec City, put one in Hamilton and forget Nashville, Atlanta, and Carolina. Duh.

Oh, and the strong US dollar was a problem that cause a lot of these teams to move. The USD is down FORTY CENTS since 2003.

The Bear Is Back

And I don’t mean in the markets.

When I heard on NPR yesterday that Yuschenko was in the hospital in Austria because he may have been poisoned, it sent chills down my spine. The reaction was closer to my stomach when I read that he was in fact poisoned.

Bushies criticize Clinton for not being engaged enough with terrorism. Clinton, at least, was engaged with Russia. Except for nodding and winking at each other’s behavior, Bush has not been adequately engaged with Russia and the ex-Soviet Union. Except for the Baltics, the fate of the ex-USSR has been total disaster at worse, and status quo ante at best. In the Asian Republics, tinpot dictators engage in personal vendettas with each other, line their pockets with western money, and rename days of the week after themselves. Byelorus shot down the balloon guy, for God’s sake. And now, Russia, headed by a former KGB leader, has poisoned to pro-Europe leader (after stealing the election from him) in Ukrania.

If I was a Polish, Estonian, or Czech leader, I would be beefing up my military, because, I think today, a new cold war might be starting between Europe and Russia.

Frankly, as scary as September 11th was, it paled in comparison to the nightmare scenarios we dreamt of in the Cold War era.

The good word

The sky was falling and streaked with blood

I heard you calling me, then you disappeared into dust

Up the stairs, into the fire

Up the stairs, into the fire

I need your kiss, but love and duty called you someplace higher

Somewhere up the stairs, into the fire

May your strength give us strength

May your faith give us faith

May your hope give us hope

May your love give us love

May your strength give us strength

May your faith give us faith

May your hope give us hope

May your love give us love

You gave your love to see, in fields of red and autumn brown

You gave your love to me and lay your young body down

Up the stairs, into the fire

Up the stairs, into the fire

I need you near, but love and duty called you someplace high

Somewhere up the stairs, into the fire

May your strength give us strength

May your faith give us faith

May your hope give us hope

May your love give us love

May your strength give us strength

May your faith give us faith

May your hope give us hope

May your love bring us love

May your strength give us strength

May your faith give us faith

May your hope give us hope

May your love bring us love

It was dark, too dark to see

You held me in the light you gave

You lay your hand on me

Then walked into the darkness of your smoky grave

Up the stairs, into the fire

Up the stairs, into the fire

I need your kiss, but love and duty called you someplace higher

Somewhere up the stairs, into the fire

Go West Old Party!

“To those who say that we are rushing this issue of civil rights, I say to them we are 172 years late! To those who say… this civil-rights program is an infringement on states’ rights, I say this: the time has arrived in America for the Democratic Party to get out of the shadow of states’ rights and walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights!”

- Minneapolis Mayor Hubert H. Humphrey at the Democratic National Convention, 1948

“[Better to see civilization] blotted out with the atomic bomb than to see it slowly destroyed in the maelstrom of miscegenation, interbreeding, intermarriage, and mongrelization.”

- Senator Theodore Bilbo (D-Mississippi), 1947

The ideological fissure between these two statements is irreconcilable. Indeed, it is astounding that these two sentiments could coexist in the Democratic Party for as long as they did. Mr. Humphrey’s speech at the 1948 Democratic National Convention began the process of prying apart these two ideologies and LBJ’s Civil Rights acts of 1964 set them permanently asunder. Lyndon Johnson was the wiliest, most skillful politician of the twentieth century, and he was prescient in positing that the 1964 Civil Rights acts would lose Democrats the South for a generation.

We are living in the middle of that generation right now. Democrats can take pride in the fact that they are the party of Hubert Humphrey’s progressive idealism and not of Theodore Bilbo’s hateful racism. In the sixty-six years since the 1948 Convention, history has proven Mr. Humphrey’s ideology to be correct. While the Southern Strategy of every Republican since Nixon has been successful, it is small historically.

Still, moral victories are for losers; however, examining the underpinnings of the shift of power away from Southern Democrats and to Southern Republicans can point the way towards a progressive and victorious future.

Republicans are currently the party of the “shadow of states’ rights” and this is why they now have an iron grip on the once Democratic South. No, not every Republican or Southerner is a racist (and several exemplary Democrats have been elected from the South since 1964), but it is not for nothing that Reagan made that trip to Philadelphia, Mississippi to talk about “states rights” in the same town that two Civil Rights activists had been murdered in the 1950s. As the famous saying goes, in the South the past isn’t even past; in the forty years since the 1964 Civil Rights acts Republicans have taken on the mantle of states rights including all of the racial baggage contained in that phrase. Trent Lott’s vague conclusion that “we wouldn’t have had all of those problems” had Strom Thurmond been elected President in 1948 shows the power of the Republicans’ amorphous coded racism. Obtuse concepts like “family values” and “morals” are meant to combat “all of those problems.” Many people who voted based on “values” were earnest in their concerns – but the kernel of all of this still goes back to 1964 and fears of “mongrelization.”

While a favorite son Democrat like Bill Clinton is still capable of winning in the South, his gains do not have any staying power as was demonstrated in 2000 and especially in 2004 when even the presence of the telegenic Southerner John Edwards on the ticket did not allow Kerry/Edwards to come close in any Southern state with the exception of Florida whose large immigrant communities and liberal northeastern “sun birds” make it an exception to the rest of the South. Otherwise, Kerry/Edwards only got within single digits in Arkansas and Virginia (where they lost by 9%).

While the media has generated lots of noise about the Democrats’ losses in the south, they have failed to notice that the Republicans are faltering in the West. Remember that Orange County, California was the epicenter of the “Reagan Revolution” and that Nixon and Reagan were both Californians. Loretta Sanchez, a Hispanic Democrat, now represents Orange County, once the den of the wacky archconservative Robert “Mad Bomber” Dornan, in the House. Oregon and Washington have been Democratic strongholds since 1988, and California has since 1992. This shift is almost as substantial, albeit not as dramatic, as the South’s migration from Democrat to Republican since 1964. The data indicates that this trend is slowly creeping from the coast to the interior Mountain West. In 2004. the most meaningful gain the Democrats made in a competitive statewide race was in Colorado where Ken Salazar defeated the Aryan beer magnate Peter Coors. Although Kerry/Edwards barely faltered in New Mexico (where Gore had won by 366 votes in 2000) they gained ground in Nevada and Colorado. Moreover, Democrats won the governorship and several legislative seats in Montana and already own the Governorships of Arizona and even Wyoming.

The Mountain West briefly became more conservative in the early 90s as many right-wingers moved there from the increasingly liberal West Coast. Many of them settled into the exurbs of the booming cities. As these cities grew they attracted people from across the country and numerous immigrants, especially Hispanics. As the suburbs around places like Denver mature the demand for cosmopolitan features such as mass transit is growing and the ethnicity of the cities is becoming more mixed. In short, the metropolitan regions are becoming increasingly large and increasingly Democratic.

In the West politicians such as Salazar and former Oregon Governor Tom Kitzhaber have been at the forefront of establishing creative solutions to issues surrounding natural resources that are key in rural areas. If Democrats become known as the party of solutions to energy and natural resource dilemmas then the can embark upon a “Western Strategy” of adding Mountain Western states to their West Coast and Northeast base thereby equaling the Republican base of Southern and Great Plains states. Elections then, would be decided on the battlegrounds of industrial Midwestern states and Florida.

Rather than trying to regain the past North/South magic of Roosevelt/Garner and Kennedy/Johnson Democrats should try to establish a West/North electoral lock. Kerry/Edwards lost the 19 electoral votes of Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado by approximately a combined 135,000 votes; conversely, they lost the 19 electoral votes of Arkansas and Virginia, their two closest non-Florida Southern states, by approximately a combined 369,000 votes. Had Kerry/Edwards garnered the 135,000 votes necessary to win Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado then they would have won 271 electoral votes and the presidency WITHOUT Florida, or Ohio, or Iowa. Winning those 135,000 votes and then Arizona, and then Montana (and then Idaho, where Boise has elected a Democratic Mayor, and Wyoming) should be the short and long-term goal of the Democratic Party, not trying to win a “states rights” fight with the South – that is an argument that cannot be won for another generation.

To do this will require a candidate who is comfortable being folksy, is knowledgeable about American Indian issues, appeals to Hispanics and delivers the loyalty of ultra-liberal city dwellers while remaining true to libertarian rural dwellers by crafting empowering solutions to natural resources and energy issues. Luckily, just such a man exists in the Democratic Party right now. Perhaps you know who he is. More on this to come.

Amen, brother.

Enough already with the we’ve gotta do this or we’ve gotta do that. There is a first-principles level failing in American liberalism. It simply does not make sense. Here’s a great example of why from (shock) The Nation

IN AN ERA IN WHICH MOST US POPULATION GROWTH is occurring in the South, West and heartland, American liberalism is defined by people in the Northeast. At a time when rising tuitions are pricing many working-class Americans out of a college education, the upscale campus is becoming the base of American progressivism. In a country in which most working-class Americans drive cars and own homes in the suburbs, the left fetishizes urban apartments and mass transit and sneers at “sprawl.” In an economy in which most workers are in the service sector, much of the left is obsessed with manufacturing jobs. In a society in which Latinos have surpassed blacks as the largest minority and in which racial intermixture is increasing, the left continues to treat race as a matter of zero-sum multiculturalism and white-bashing. In a culture in which the media industry makes money by pushing sex and violence, the left treats the normalization of profanity and obscenity as though it were somehow progressive, making culture heroes of Lenny Bruce and Larry Flynt. At a time when the religious right wants to shut down whole areas of scientific research, many on the left share a Luddite opposition to biotech. In an age in which billions would starve if not for the use of artificial fertilizers in capital-intensive agriculture, the left blathers on about small-scale organic farming. In a century in which the dire need for energy for poor people in the global South can only be realistically met by coal, oil and perhaps nuclear energy, liberals fantasize about wind farms and solar panels. And in a world in which the greatest threat to civilization is the religious right of the Muslim countries, much of the left persists in treating the United States as an evil empire and American patriotism as a variant of fascism.

American progressivism, in its present form, is as obsolete in the twenty-first century as the agrarian populists were in the twentieth. If you can’t adapt to the times, good intentions will get you nowhere. Ask the shade of William Jennings Bryan.

POLEMIC, of course, is a project to fix these problems with liberalism, and it has been since the beginning. Some things that drive me to drink that are mentioned in here would be: (1) the race issue: try harder to hide your contempt of white people! (2) the Luddite/Poor hypocrisy. Much of what liberals oppose in Luddite fashion are triage measures for poverty. The author here cites energy and food (of course it’s the Republicans who oppose Kyoto in this fashion…)

I almost got sneered out of my college on several occasions for suggesting that deforestation in Brazil will continue as long as poverty there does… as if there are legions of evil Brazilians looking to destroy the planet. Sure, corporate money is in there somewhere–it’s everywhere–but you really want to have people starve? How is that liberal? That sounds like textbook conservative Social Darwinism to me.

Of course we do need to develop energy and organic food sources, but until we can feed the world that way, we can’t just snap our fingers and do it.

This is because there is a deep, deep, deep denial about the state of things now. Until we restore a measure of equality of opportunity–that means middle-class sustaining jobs, manufacturing or no–there won’t be enough non-proletarians to feel motivated (it’s the game theory, see…) to solve problems like population and energy, the environment and civil rights.

One thing that author didn’t mention. Remember the Murphy Brown thing? The left is anti-family sometimes. The right is anti-family by opposing gay marriage, but the destruction of this social atom is really in fact responsible for a lot of social ills. We need to protect it and make it thrive, in all forms, by blood and marriage, gay and straight — even groups of friends who live together.

And one more thing to add to the “just admit it list: (from the above and TNR) muslim terrorists are bad.

Things to admit.

The elections over, so there’s no more sense putting on a face. Let’s admit these things and move on.

• Kerry was a bad candidate.

• Tereeeeza was annoying.

• Dan Rather sucks.

• Bill Clinton isn’t going to save us.

• Hillary isn’t going to win in 2008.

• Identity politics perversely cause people to divide, not unite.

• Just about everyone on Air America except Al Franken is annoying and ignorant.

• NPR is for liberals

• Eric Alterman is annoying (though definitely not ignorant).

• You sound silly if you want to ban meat and legalise drugs.

• You are about 1,000,000 kids who forgot their Prozac & clad in black away from stopping globalization

• Criminals are bad

• Joe Conason is a hack

• Michael Moore isn’t credible to most Americans

• Not everything is Orwellian

• Michael Kinsley is a failure so far as Editorial Page Editor for the LA Times

• Bob Scheer needs to chill

• Arianna Huffington always seems to be right in hindsight

• Arnold is not a terrible governor

• Chaffee, Snowe, Collins, and McCain are not all going to switch parties.

Oh, and finally — this is especially important for people in Ohio: we lost.

(None of the above changes the fact that Bush is a terrible president, Rush Limbaugh is a drug-addicted hypocritical idiot, the environment is being destroyed, and global security is threatened, but you have to focus. Defending Dan Rather is trivial in the face of a potential war with Iran.)