Sunday, November 30, 2008

Jumps and Stuff About Stuff

Nobody has said they hate the "Jumps" so I'll continue to use them on long posts when I'm posting regularly. If you hate it, for Pete's sake, let me know.

Posts have been scarce lately, I've found myself a bit disinterested. It isn't just that readership is off - again - it is also that the news either has been disinteresting or about something I know little about. I don't know a darn thing about Mumbai's disasterous attacks and to judge from the news about all anybody actually does know is that a bunch of terrorists shot the place up. I do have an opinion - that really sucked - aren't you glad I told you?
With 50 or so days to go to swearing in, the news is really strange. Obama isn't President and the stock market seems to like him talking. Bush is out of sight and people wonder what he'll do to screw the incoming administration. People don't know what to make out of appointments Obama hasn't made yet and, of course, drama surrounds Hillary - pointlessly boringly. Banks continue to get bailouts and GM's workers get slimed with lies about wages - $77 per hour versus the reality of $28 plus benefits to about $35 so that class warfare can continue unabated before that Obama guy gets in office and the Republican spin (lie) machine can get going on him with a head start. Republican Congressmen act as though they had no hand in the looting of the Treasury and take preemptive shots at Obama, the socialist. It certainly is amazing how loss of Presidency and any large role in Congress frees them to be the asshats they'd like to be.

Thanksgiving came and went with Chuck gimping around with a sprung back and short on Thanks. My wife and I had T-day dinner at a really nice place we'd tried a couple years ago and been unimpressed and gave another chance to this year - so we could be unimpressed all over. You'll note I don't name it and since I'm not a reviewer and buffets aren't their thing I'll be fair and not name them. This also was the last time around for that idea.

Not much for Thanks? Well, GWB isn't gone yet, his economy is going to linger, and there's little chance Obama can do much about what has become virtually endemic - war on the worker. I've got my health...sort of, hopefully Monday I can stand to work. I'll make this last month's house payment - late, and other bills are problematic. My wife has stayed out of doctor's offices so what I owe them hasn't gotten any worse - just later. I'm wondering if I can hang on, and wondering what I'll have to sell and how bad a beating I'll take on what it is actually worth. Kinda like selling stocks in a bad market, except that's not something I have to worry about - anymore than the winning lottery tickets I don't buy. One kid is my parent's revenge on me and the other is clear across the continent, no more than a couple hundred miles short of how far you could get in the lower 48. Sarah Palin keeps infecting my news, so Thanks for her going away are yet to happen. Gus, the 150# Pyrennese has turned into a shedding machine and I can't find a market for all that high quality fur and my wife is giving me ugly looks daily for the white fur rugs. Nothing wrong with him, I take a gallon bucket of compressed hair off him and there's a lot left, every time I comb him. Yes, comb - a brush is pointless so I use a horse mane and tail drag comb. He likes it for awhile (never the tail) and then he doesn't want to cooperate and that's a hell of a lot of uncooperative dog so we stop.

I've been playing Xbox 360 Oblivion - The Elder Scrolls, for about the third time. Every once in awhile I can put it on the HD big screen with massive surround and that is really cool, otherwise I use the 15yr old rear projection 48" with Hughes stereo. Odd how effective the sound is with the speakers within 48" of cabinet. That game has hundreds of hours of play time available in one game so trying it in different scenarios isn't boring. Over the years I've lost most of my interest in TV shows other than news and occassionally movies.

Blogging still interests me in the aspect of putting my thoughts down in writing, though I'm not interested in trying the "great American novel." I've found that commentary and analysis fit me better than out and out creative writing. Short story writing bored me after I realized that I was writing what I'd already read done much better by others and a novel would just be a very long version of the same exercise. Besides that, it's nice to have somebody read what you've written. Blogburst picked up several of mine last week, one in Reuters and two in Chicago Sun-Times, went from a month of zeroes to 18K impressions in one day, nothing newer than a week old. As I noted, readership is down again and so the viscous circle starts up of losing readers, losing interest in amusing a handful and not posting and readership declining from that lack and... If nothing else I've stayed in BNN OR top 20 Most Influential the last couple weeks.

I'm not feeling sorry for myself, I'm a bit pissed to be in a shit economy and getting hammered despite a reputation for quality work and good pricing. Readership will be what it is, maybe better if I do work deserving it, but I need to do stuff I can respect and maybe that's what it just will be. Anyhow, there's one new one up and I'll see what I can do to keep stuff regular.

Oh yeah, a belated Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

Political Religion And Secular Pragmatism

I'll open with a disclaimer, I belong to no organized religion and advocate no position on religious beliefs or unbeliefs whatever - publicly or privately.

The Bill of Rights First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The Amendment's position on religion is more clear than some people care to recognize. The Establishment clause is pretty broad in that it refers to "no law" and the generic "religion". While there is no statement specifically calling for a "wall of separation" the language is clear that such a wall exists concerning laws. The verb "establish" per Merriam Webster:

Main Entry: es·tab·lish
Pronunciation: \i-ˈsta-blish\
Function: transitive verb
Etymology: Middle English establissen, from Anglo-French establiss-, stem of establir, from Latin stabilire, from stabilis stable
Date: 14th century
1: to institute (as a law) permanently by enactment or agreement
2obsolete : settle 7
3 a: to make firm or stable b: to introduce and cause to grow and multiply
4 a: to bring into existence : found b: bring about , effect
5 a: to put on a firm basis : set up b: to put into a favorable position c: to gain full recognition or acceptance of
6: to make (a church) a national or state institution
7: to put beyond doubt : prove

The definition is pretty clear, what isn't quite as clear is what is religious and what isn't when referring to law.

The sticking point is what law is about. One would take this on the surface as being pretty easy, defining what you cannot or can do under the force of the state. There is a huge "but" included in that. Is law about morality or is it about order? This dispute has been going on since, it seems, time immemorial. The stance of the religionists is that morality is the question. This view has a lot of precedence and has been practiced in the US - generally as complete failures. The huge rub is the idea that you can institute morality under threat of force. This is what law means, the state's view of a behavior is enforced, that is backed up by its full resources, including guns and bars. Once you get to the core of it you find that morality and law plainly are not congruent. In reality what law is about is social order.

Social order is a recognition that the disparity in human motivations result in behaviors that must be regulated in order for us to live in close proximity to each other. It is a fact that humans kill each other and the state has separated that behavior into categories from acceptable and approved to levels of disapproval. Soldiers are encouraged and trained to do so, people in general are discouraged. They are discouraged from doing so because unrestrained killing in a society leads to chaos because it leads to more killing. The state's interest in the morality of the act is disposed of by its sanction of it in its own interest, soldiers, and the levels of constraint including allowance for the citizenry. Killing ranks at the top of the morality scale concerns and yet the state does not disapprove in certain conditions. Morality is absolute, it certainly recognizes trade offs and conditions, but it is degrees of wrongness. Stealing to feed your family is still stealing and is still wrong, but a difference is seen in the motivation. For an example: a Catholic would still be required to confess this as a sin but the penalty the priest would apply would recognize the motivation. The law has no such quibble, the judge might consider it but is not legally induced to do so.

Here is where the crunch occurs, there are a lot of behaviors that religions or moral structures many people hold simply don't allow for. Two of the current big ones are homosexuality and abortion. These actions are disapproved of strenuously and vocally by a large number of voters. Homosexuality, where it regards consenting partners, is not much of a moral issue, it is primarily a religious and psychological question. If you take homosexuality as simply a behavior and remove all questions of religion and feelings from it, as a matter of social order it is immaterial. The question of love, sex, and gender is meaningless to social order, there are no economic or social impacts, beyond the issue of stability regarding homosexual marriage which is positive. The fact of homosexuality may bother people on an emotional level but it has existed as a matter of fact for all of recorded history. Being bothered on an emotional level may be annoying, but it scarcely rises to the level of law. It is a fact that many religions proscribe the practice and push to have their view enforced. It is the legal enforcement of a socially harmless activity that creates harm. It creates harm not only to government by putting it in a position counter to its mandate but also to the religion itself.

Backlash against the Mormon church for organizing millions of dollars and thousands of man hours of volunteerism to back California's Prop 8 is occurring within the Church. Outside the Mormon church people who have held no particular regard for it are finding themselves offended by their aggressive campaign. Being offended by Mormonism is no different than being offended by Lutheranism, silly behavior about a personal issue. It is entirely another issue to be offended by the actions of a religious organization, in this case Church of Latter Day Saints, and I am offended. I am offended enough that I will not purchase from a Mormon controlled corporation, such as Safeway. I don't care in the least about their views of homosexuality, I find that entirely their business, but I am outraged by their behavior within the legal sphere. It is an unacceptable legalization of their religious views and since legal punishment seems out of the question, economics becomes the tool. They need to be punished severely enough to dissuade them from going there again. Let me be very clear, this is about the Church not individual Mormons.

The issue of abortion is much more complex since it is not only a matter of religion and psychology, it is matter of a lives. Here there is a collision of religion, morality, ethics and social good that has explosive arguments scattered all through all of these. It is a simple matter to argue that it is a matter of reproductive freedom, but that argument taken fully would hold that at anytime previous to delivery an abortion is acceptable. This stance does not have any real support so the argument descends into arguments about the start of life, another logical dead end. Once a sperm has penetrated and egg and cell division has started life has begun, whether the body can take it forward or not. This is the crux of the explosiveness of the arguments, taken to their logical ends the results are counter to social order and sensibility and create huge uproars over procedures misnamed partial birth abortions or morning after pills. The Catholic Church disapproves and this leads to matters regarding Barack Obama like this:

"If you are one of the 54 percent of Catholics who voted for a pro-abortion candidate, you were clear on his position and you knew the gravity of the question, I urge you to go to confession before receiving communion. Don't risk losing your state of grace by receiving sacrilegiously," the Rev. Joseph Illo, pastor of St. Joseph's, wrote in a letter dated Nov. 21.

Political activity is punished within a religious organization and while this example concerns Catholicism it certainly is not limited to that. It is certainly acceptable religious behavior to proscribe an activity itself to its practitioners, it is another to proscribe a vote to allow others to engage in it. This stance is that the views of the Catholic Church must be applied to all and any dissent is punishable, an assumption of governmental powers by a church.

One cannot nor should expect that the religious views or moral construct of a person do not carry into the body of government with them. While it probably has little to do with their capacity to participate in governmental activities, it should do no more than inform their personal choices. The measure of political success for society involves the order of that society. It is important to note that certain aspects of societal order are removed from the government's hands, freedom of speech is a glaring example. This is also the case with the Establishment clause, the government is proscribed from such religion based behavior and that would include gay marriage or abortion. In each the measure should be its effect on social order and how best to deal with it - secular pragmatism.

The Establishment Clause makes it clear the the institution of religion through law is prohibited and religion is composed of its beliefs and tenets. The fact that a religion's tenets may comply with a law, theft for example, is not evidence that the law is based on that consideration. The fact of religious or moral proscription of theft does not affect the social order considerations, it may reflect religious dogma that it is a social order consideration. Secular pragmatism would ignore the religious and moral considerations of a law and attempt to order society in the least intrusive manner congruent with the success of that society.

It is very tricky business where something like abortion is concerned. The balancing act is extreme, abortions are going to happen with social costs incurred whether they are legal in some degree or not. The job of government in this case is to try to minimize the negative outcomes of the inevitable. No government is capable or qualified to legislate morality, there is entirely too much of its function that is not moral for it to do so. The government can certainly instruct in what is congruent with social order and take legal action to help encourage orderly behavior. Reliable and available birth control, applicable sex education and adoption support do more to lower abortion rates without governmental interference than all the confessions for a vote ever will.

Secular pragmatism would look at the social outcomes of gay marriage and measure the costs and benefits to society. Stable relationships and legal structures for inheritance and responsibilities are net gains whatever the sexual orientation of couples; the social order negatives involve the discomfort for some of Mr. & Mr. or Mrs. & Mrs. as titles. Confusion about the role of government in marriage does not exist when secular pragmatism is used, the state's view of marriage and the religious aspect are not congruent nor interfered with. The First Amendment bars the government from interfering in the "free expression" of religion, which obviously bars it from forcing religions to acknowledge gay marriage, or especially forcing them to perform one. Marriage is one of those issues where there is a similarity between government's interests and religion, but that similarity should not be confused with congruence. Government's interest is purely social order, divorced (if you will) from the religious aspects of marriage and the outcomes are not the same. The government allows divorces for rather simple reasons for social considerations, regardless of any religion's views of divorce.

Because government's aims are of an entire secular nature, it is dangerous for both institutions to become intimately involved with each other. It is impossible for the government to hand out money without attached strings - it is taxpayer money and responsibility is demanded. When religious tenets are legally instituted on the basis of that fact, religion is granted a place in government that it should not have and society is allowed to object, in very strong terms. This places the onus for law on religions, see Mormonism above. When the citizenry rightfully revolts from the institution of religious law the religious will be made to suffer. When religion usurps the function of government is will be made to pay the costs and success at that endeavor of instituting religious laws encourages further attempts which will elevate the level of resistance. Theocracy is incredibly dangerous for the members of religion, at some point they will be made to pay. JFK's Presidential endeavor was hampered by the assertions of Papal interference. Mitt Romney's chances for elective office votes with some segments of society that might have supported him before became nil with this activity. His religion has rightfully become a measure of his electability, simply because it is demonstrably officially an advocate of theocracy. Their business activities become targets for the same reason, if you object to theocracy then its advocates must pay.

The sad part of this is that it has become a measure of a religion's success to interfere in the secular behavior of the government. This very success undercuts its appeal where it needs to have it, within the community of the religious and others who are informed by religious thinking. It is indubitable that religions have had success within social thinking, churches were a large part of the Civil Rights campaign, but that success is undermined by the enforcement of their dogma. Enthusiastic atheists frequently point to the disasters of the influence of religion, particularly in governments. The problem for religions is that the arguments are good and compelling and speak to those who might become members otherwise. Those whose own behavior and sensibilities are congruent with a religion's find themselves confronted with that religion imposing those views and are offended, rather than joining.

The Framers of the Constitution and Bill of Rights understood that a line between government and religion was to the benefit of all concerned. Government functions better by staying in its actual role, religion is not interfered with, and the citizenry is free to choose as it will and finds it easier to obey laws with sense behind them.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Commissions? We Don't Need No Steenking Commissions,

It has been reported in numerous places that Democrats would like to institute something resembling the 9/11 Commission to investigate torture by the Bush Administration. Newsweek's Michael Isikoff reports that:
"At a minimum, the American people have to be able to see and judge what happened," said one senior adviser, who asked not to be identified talking about policy matters. The commission would be empowered to order the U.S. intelligence agencies to open their files for review and question senior officials who approved "waterboarding" and other controversial practices.

Obama aides are wary of taking any steps that would smack of political retribution. That's one reason they are reluctant to see high-profile investigations by the Democratic-controlled Congress or to greenlight a broad Justice inquiry (absent specific new evidence of wrongdoing). "If there was any effort to have war-crimes prosecutions of the Bush administration, you'd instantly destroy whatever hopes you have of bipartisanship," said Robert Litt, a former Justice criminal division chief during the Clinton administration. A new commission, on the other hand, could emulate the bipartisan tone set by Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton in investigating the 9/11 attacks.

There is, somehow, the idea that the rule of law is disposable where Bush & Co are concerned. A commission is a very good way to look very busy and bury something so that it is never acted upon. If there is an idea that some commission's findings would prevent torture with new recommendation a hole immediately appears in the logic. It is entirely unnecessary to find ways to prevent torture, it is already illegal and waterboarding has been a war crime for a very long time - as a specific example. What exactly are the needed steps a commission would find? To make illegal what is already illegal? If illegality was insufficient to prevent torture, perhaps the conviction of a few criminals would get the idea across.

What ever you may think of GW Bush's intellect, he does have a few effective lawyers working for him. Being lawyers, the technical aspects of law are what counts. You might like to consider this from the Wall Street Journal:
The White House isn't inclined to grant sweeping pardons for former administration officials involved in harsh interrogations and detentions of terror suspects, according to people familiar with the situation.
Some Republicans have been pushing for President George W. Bush to grant pre-emptive clemency to officials who fear being investigated by Democratic critics. White House officials have countered that such pardons are unnecessary, these people say. The officials point to Justice Department legal opinions that supported the administration's methods of detaining and interrogating terror suspects.

If you want to read through all the so-called reasoning behind this, knock yourselves out. Illegal is illegal no matter how many memos you write, they have no force of law. Bush can't acknowledge the illegality by issuing pardons but more to the point is that lack of being pardoned.

It is a point of law that we hold to pretty darn firmly that the accused cannot be forced to testify against himself. Those directly involved don't have any reason to talk and if Congress were to compel them to, the Ollie North mess is the outcome. At these levels you have to have some direct testimony, the actual criminal torturing scum are those who ordered it. This doesn't involve the usual criminal action of some Spec 4 soldier, it involves bureaucrats experienced in isolating themselves from fallout. You need documents and you need the testimony of direct participants, people with every reason to not cooperate.

Once GWB has made it clear that criminal penalties have not been taken off the table, the only alternative is for Congress or DOJ to start taking them off the table to get that "Commission" testimony. GWB avoids pardoning and puts the onus on the Democrats. This leaves the incoming administration with some rather uncomfortable options. They can take the actual dissuasion for torturing - its illegality - off the table or they can get involved in messy and difficult prosecutions that will be labeled by the usual suspects as partisan foul play.

If you're willing to sit on or promote such a Commission, here's the deal, you ought to have to spend a week getting the treatments. If you have in mind the concept that political considerations trump the existing laws, you should get to experience the previous trumping of existing laws. There is exactly no need whatever for a Commission to exist until after a DOJ prosecution of those involved. You do not promote avoidance of behavior by OKing it. If you propose to keep future administrations from playing at torture then there has to be a cost for doing so. Otherwise they will simply look at history and note the outcome for the Bush Torturers and figure, "hell, why not?" Law is a deterrent if it is perceived as functioning and applied, it is not some moral guide post - if that were the case no jails would be built, everybody's morals would keep them from acting up.

Don't hold your breath; the political class is reluctant to kick its own around and particularly to jail them. It seems that having administrations investigate and prosecute the malfeasance of previous ones exposes them to the same when they become previous. There also is a little matter of Congressional votes in regard to this issue and a few others. Can't have people held responsible, now can we?

Kari Chisholm, founder of Blue Oregon and Mandate Media, from comments:
What about a South African -style Truth and Reconciliation Commission?

Basically, the idea is that if you testify completely, answering all questions truthfully, then you're immune from both criminal prosecution and civil lawsuits.

I do think that one key here is the civil liability issue. The DOJ may wind up uninterested in prosecuting people, but they won't be immune from losing their house.

Seems to me that as much as we'd like people to go to prison, it can be more valuable to turn them into pariahs and render the verdict of history.

And then, we can change the law to ensure that Presidents are never again able to issue executive orders to undermine basic human rights and American principles against wiretapping, torture, and the rest of the atrocities.

11/26/2008 05:10:00 PM

The verdict from history is safe, convictions in hand it is even safer. What is it that is proposed to be fixed? This is extraordinarily simple, it is against the law. This is not a question, there may be some mechanics of charging whom with what that gets a little sticky - GW Bush is up to his pie hole in it - but it is simply against the law and has been against the law for a damn long time. The fix for those who would ignore the law is for the law to not ignore them. This is an entirely political bullshit proposition to avoid the nastiness of prosecuting goddamn Republicans. If those pricks want to operate within the laws of a somewhat civilized nation called the US then playing bipartisan is just fine, but outside tha line your ass is the law's.

No, it will not happen. It will not happen because this country is in such a damn mess that Democrats will fall all over themselves to keep from kicking their teeth in. Somehow, if the President does it, it is not illegal. The idea being to avoid truly messy transitions and specious charges being brought at regime changes. The thing about it is that this is egregious, it is not specious, it is not politically motivated, it is and has been against the law and people have been jailed for long periods to doing it. There is exactly one way for people to get over the idea that "I'm from the government," grants carte blanche and that is for not to. Go ahead and try this shit as a private citizen and see what happens. There it is, exactly.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Contradictory Republicanism

Republicans sell a pretty simple message, smaller government, less intrusive government, lower taxes, fiscal responsibility, moral behavior -family values. They've sold that bill of goods with success for 30 years. Maybe what works is the short punchy "platform." What surely doesn't work is lining this stuff they say up with what they do.

Smaller government, you know the Reagan line - the scariest words are I'm from the government and I'm here to help. Once you're not the Federal Government you are a smaller entity, much smaller even in large states. There are things that are just out of the reach of smaller entities - a Katrina is out of their league. What is it that the Republicans think you do about issues that span the nation? If it's gay marriage...

There it is, intimately involved in their small government idea, a less intrusive government, but what is they mean by less intrusive? Certainly they mean all this governmental mucking about with environmental issues and regulating greed. That stuff has to go, the current booming economy shows why. Ah, yes, less intrusive government, someone might ask Michael Schiavo about less intrusive when the Republican Congress set its sights on him and Terry - alone. The Republicans seem to think that a Constitutional Amendment is required to define marriage - their way. That would be an amendment to a document that worked very hard to keep concentration of power out of single hands and tyranny away from the majority. The Republicans lock stepped with GW Bush on his version of a Presidency and stripping of Constitutional guarantees to the citizenry, somehow warrantless wiretapping seems intrusive.

They tout the concept of States Rights as the cooking pot for innovative public policy, the Fed shouldn't interfere...not as long as the cooking pot is churning out RNC ideas. When a state like Oregon comes up with a State policy regarding Assisted Suicide it becomes a criminal matter. What this comes down to is that States should do what they want in that regard as long as it hews to the RNC line and their idea of family values.

Family values is one of those terms that gets flung about with little regard to how it reads if any real attention is paid. Family values in their context amounts to Bible values and there to a narrow reading of the Bible and more about traditions than actual words. They don't get real specific about what immodesty involves, or actually modesty. Evidently burkas aren't quite required, but then the Romans were pretty lax in their "dress codes," so apparently historical references don't play. Oddly enough, Janet Jackson's titty moment occurred at half time in a glorification of organized mayhem and violence called football. The Christ they keep dragging into the national dialogue seemed to have a bit of a thing about violence, in the regard of not liking it. There is something family about outlawing abortion and approving death penalties. It is a bit more troubling that their isn't anything family about a living wage or a guaranteed health care plan. Somehow it is family to have babies and let them suffer from easily treated maladies because of the sound of socialized medicine. Somehow taking sentencing discretion out of judges' hands enhances the families who lose a member to extended prison stays.

Lower taxes are something to be desired, by all of us. The problem with lower taxes is the disconnect between low taxes and services provided. There certainly is waste in government, there is waste in any endeavor involving humans and if politics is thrown into the mix that is amplified. There has to be a connection between low taxes and societal benefit from programs. One certain measurement of cost benefit analysis comes down to a simple question, do the problems addressed by the tax payments cost more or less over time if addressed or not. This can get pretty involved but there is a direct relationship between quality of education and earnings. Low earnings, beyond having lower tax returns, generate a whole host of directly measurable costs and some that are speculative but fairly acceptable. Rotting infrastructure drives up costs, potholes alone cost a fortune much less closed bridges or ones that collapse. Everyone in the nation pays for the increased maintenance caused by potholes alone. If one proposes to have a superior military force and then use it, an astronomical cost is incurred. There is a inherent assumption that it is in the nationally interest to do so, and yet it is not the nation's responsibility to actually pay for that?

It may be counter to the theme of contradictions to bring up the reasonableness of a progressive tax, but there is a Republican mantra of taking from the producers of wealth through tax that is virtual nonsense. Somehow their economic model postulates that personal wealth constitutes national productivity. In this scenario the top one percent of income creates the economic security of the nation. It certainly takes a sizable investment to build a factory, but there is a great gaping hole in the idea that the factory creates productivity. The factory is pointless without purchasers for the products and to be a purchaser one needs funds, coming from working. Wealth exists due to the efforts of the masses, not the other way around. The structure of the managed capitalist system is to enable wealth to exist and prosper in a socially stable environment. Wealth can exist in a fairly peaceful environment because the system is structured to allow it and the primary beneficiaries of that system are the wealthy. It is not unreasonable for those who take the most out of a system to pay the most back into its maintenance.

Thirty years of propaganda have had an effect on the national viewpoint, and the failures of the system of "thought" behind that propaganda are not laid at its feet. There is always an excuse for its failure and the sad part is that there seems to be national amnesia when it comes to that. The dangerous part is if the left starts to think that winning elections based on not being the other guys means the dialogue has shifted.

Monday, November 17, 2008


In an effort to compact the blog and still keep a couple days posts up, I've started using a jump feature. If this isn't working out or other issues with some recent changes are a PIA - let me know. I've added some features from Blogburst and its parent Pluck as well as Blogger. None of this has slowed my load time or otherwise interfered, but that's only known on my end.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Problem Isn't GOP Ideas

I suppose one has to take Sen Jim DeMint (R-SC) kind of seriously - look here, hemorrhoids aren't real funny - when he says that Sen John McCain (R-AZ)(R-Excandidate) is not Republican enough. You will bear with me while I roll around on the floor laughing my *** off. Now CNN doesn't explain why the Republicans thought it was a good idea to let the media into their little shindig at Myrtle Beach, SC where they discussed the future of the GOP, and I'm pretty sure there are good reason's they shouldn't have, like this from DeMint:

"We have to be honest, and there's a lot of blame to go around, but I have to mention George Bush, and I have to mention Ted Stevens, and I'm afraid I even have to mention John McCain,"

"McCain, who is proponent of campaign finance reform that weakened party organizations and basically put George Soros in the driver's seat," DeMint said. "His proposal for amnesty for illegals. His support of global warming, cap-and-trade programs that will put another burden on our economy. And of course, his embrace of the bailout right before the election was probably the nail in our coffin this last election. And he has been an opponent of drilling in ANWR, at a time when energy is so important. It really didn't fit the label, but he was our package."

You won't mind if I send him letter of support so he'll continue to

described how the party had strayed from its own "brand," which, according to DeMint, should represent freedom, religious-based values and limited government.

I'm very much in favor of this approach, in fact I'm so much in favor of it that I'm dedicating an entire article to it in the hopes that my scorn will encourage them, lash them on - as it were. You do understand that is lash in the religious-based values sense not the ... well you know closeted Republican ... well, you know.

"Americans do prefer a traditional conservative government," he said. "They just did not believe Republicans were going to give it to them."

I strongly endorse this line of thinking for that Party, it will be particularly easy to point at all their successes. Every time the Democrats have to come in and clean up after their party they start all over again about how good their ideas are and how they were done wrong and it's just not their fault, and, and, oh hell.

"One of our principles is that power corrupts, and you need to disperse it," DeMint said. "And if our own party allows ourselves to be destroyed by this idea, and are not willing to stand up, then we have to change everyone at the top."

Isn't it wonderful to have a quote like this in hand? For six years these guys had full run of the Federal Government and the results are in hand. Their problem isn't their execution, it is the basic philosophy that screws them. A Katrina isn't a dispersable problem, it has to be a federal problem, no single entity outside Uncle Sammy can deal with it and these dipshits were fundamentally incapable, because they define the capability as the problem.

These people are fish in a barrel and if you ain't loaded up with a big bore don't waste my time. There's an entire comments form down there for you to deconstruct their bullshit and I'll take any ideas I can get. I've got a County Party to hold together and rebuild and a 64/32 R/D vote split to address in Oregon. And there are people all over this country that need to be doing the same thing because "Wow, we won!" isn't going to get anything done. Take names and kick ass will, post-partisan my ass, ask them about that.

They aren't talking about working together, they want to ram their theocratic vision down your throat. Look at DeMint's bugaboos, George Soros for god's sake and etc. How short is your memory that you forget their gloating about out-raising Democrats by multiples? You thought maybe you'd heard the expression "free market" over the past dozen years? Well then, get ready for a real assault on your ears. God and Christian are going to be nouns you'll wish were never invented by the time they get done with them.

They're going to make great big fat targets of themselves because they can't help it. They don't want to fix what's wrong with that Party, they want to win elections however they can and building demons is one thing they're good at. That and creating failure and if they can do that for Obama they won't count the cost to the nation. I'll tell you again, "Country First" is the name of a plutocratic bank not their sentiment. Don't insult your Republican friends and neighbors, deconstruct the myth, show them, ignorance is curable. But bring good solid hits with you because 30 damn years of propaganda do have an effect.

The New and Improved Comments Policy

If you want to write something into the comments, I certainly encourage you to do so. However, in the face of absolute stupidity I have modified the policy. If you want to come around here and write something completely stupid I encourage everybody else to just kick the snot out of you, if you want to cuss like sailors, well, your mother might see you do it and that's your look out. This isn't now and never was intended to be for the faint of heart or weak of spirit and if you can't play, go elsewhere.

Because this blog gets published into newspapers and other places I'll probably keep a fair rein on my articles' language, but that is a publishing decision taken article by article. The comments section isn't my playground, it's yours. What I will not tolerate is publishing personal information or porno or hate site links and I have no edit feature so the whole thing goes.

If I get a particularly good comment I may bring it up onto the main, Carla gets the first one:
If pigs fly out of my ass....

in response to complete stupidity regarding Birth Certificate.

Wishful thinking ought to have a category of its own, Phil proves it:
Open season on ratbastards, no bag limits?

regarding, obviously, ratbastards.

Speaking of open season, no limits, if you think this election does more than crack a door open you're engaging in wishful thinking. If we want to get somewhere from here, we set the agenda, we set the conversation, we make the message. And take exactly no prisoners from the loon fringe. If you've got verifiable stupid from real leaders of the right I want it and my email is right here, tell me, links, sourced quotes, I don't give a damn except I will not be caught out passing bad information, ever.

If you want to write an article I'll publish it if you send it to me in either MS Word or MS Outlook. Same rules, verifiable sources, I'll edit for misspellings or simple grammar and credit you though it'll still publish under my "byline".

If you've missed it, I'm sick of being a punching bag for a bunch of failures from the right and hearing their stupid propaganda stated as fact. It's not for later, it is always now, that is where we're at, now. Do now and the future takes care of itself.

There is a TZ that you want to be careful about picking fights with, he's good at it, lots of practice because he likes it. He's fun, though. He announced his intention to nose around here.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bail Outs, Wealth, Cronyism, and Rightwing Stupidity

It's late and I'm a tad tired, but I'm also beginning to get well and truly pissed off. A bunch of greed head ratbastards wrote $60T of paper on $6T worth of mortgages and when that paper pyramid fell apart everybody acted surprised and since that kind of 'fall apart' exceeded the nation's ability to absorb it Uncle Fed rode to the rescue. Well, kind of. The idjits in charge of that fiasco take those Fed ducats and write themselves bonus checks for their fine performance and buy banks. Yes, we're not only financing failures buying solvent banks, we're giving them a great big tax break to do it. How in the hell I expected BushCo to look the devil in the eye and flinch from being his crony I don't know, but I backed this mess - or at least the idea of keeping the show going. There isn't any money back in the system, they're eating it for their gain - a real big goddam surprise consider the ongoing criminal enterprise in charge of our government. They've made a socialistic expenditure dwarfing all the third rate countries they scoff at and turned it into a wealth welfare program. You've gotta love it - even as you think murderous thoughts - the absolute hubris is so astonishing that a novel written with it as a premise would be laughed off the shelves and would be too sad to make the humor section.
PJ O'Rourke was funny at one time. Karla at BlueOregon pretty much blows a gasket at PJ's "We Blew It" article offering up her behind for some rightie kissing. PJ is a child of privilege and a high class education and he's wasted a fair intellect on comic book versions of Ayn Rand's pot boiler novels based on a surface understanding of the right. Ayn has an excuse, compared to her experiences of the failures of Communism even a shallow understanding of capitalism looks better. A high school freshman all stoked up on self-indulgent egocentricism will immediately get the hots for the unexplained but glorified characters and hopefully get over it well before graduation. If not they'll vote for a third term for GeorgeII because he looks soooo masculine in a flight suit and talks soooo tough. Never mind that historically every shot this bunch has at it leaves things in some degree of ruin to be fixed by the other side until a recurring memory lapse happens and they do it again. In PJ's world the only thing worse than the people who messed up the good idea is the people who oppose it - and they really are a mess. Just never goddam mind that those people kept telling them that you can't do it like that with getting a mess, nope - ask Rush as he calls this the Obama Recession/Depression or read one of the right-tard blogs where they ask how to prove the left set this off to win the election. Really, no damn kidding and no I won't link to them and give them credibility. PJ was funny once, a very long time ago, but his outfit has so damaged humor that all PJ is left with is the Don Rickles version of rude insult. How can he do irony with the Rush statements standing there? How can he exaggerate into satire in the face of right-tard idea that the evil liberals set off this economic whirlwind to win an election? Honest to god the right should leave humor alone, it isn't that there's no talent, it's just that their material can't match their own stands for humor.
***bn at P3 deconstructs poor PJ in a fitting manner.***

Here's the deal, things are going to get worse and a lot of people who shouldn't be at risk are going to find themselves going under. They'll have worked real hard and gotten a little ahead and be sunk because some wealthy assholes couldn't get richer fast enough that they could pay attention to what they were doing. Years ago financial planners were warning that derivatives were real risky not understood by more than a handful of people, so between them and swaps built on them they ran up ten times the value of the assets and exploded it in our faces. Not theirs. Ours. The ones walking away will be wealthy and the ones staying are gaming the Fed to get wealthier. I suppose you think you ought to have recourse? Maybe political or criminal? Make me laugh. There's recourse alright, but it's frowned upon and illegal because they don't issue ratbastard tags...there'd be a hell of line if they did. That's flatly the damn truth and you can get along with it or you can go howl at the moon because either will do as much to fix it.

Am I advocating burning them out of their homes and hunting them down like rabid skunks? It's a fun sort of thought in a very dark way, but it'll get you into a lot of trouble and ensure that their ilk institutes a really repressive government that GWB only dreamed of and half-assedly instituted. Expecting Barack Obama to actually fix what's broken is like thinking you can plug the Hoover Dam's turbine chutes with your index finger. Remember where Insurance Companies put their money and then think you're going to see actual health care reform and yes it is named single payer universal coverage and called socialized medicine by the beneficiaries of this bail out.

Some of you get pretty limited sympathy from me, you engaged in magical thinking regarding the stock market and the housing market. Prices are going up so they have to keep going up, even though you could see that it was buying pressure that was driving the prices rather than the actual assets. There's no end, the right assured you, free market rules and it isn't wrong. But there was your mistake, you listened to their horseshit about a market that has never, ever existed. Not once, not even in Adam Smith's own writing because he stated clearly that unfettered capitalism would eat itself through killing its own market. If you have pretty pictures of Dickens's Industrial Revolution or our Robber Barons then you have to love the right's ideas because that is them in operation. You like children in rags working 14 hour days for starvation wage while gold plated mansions are built for their exploiters you'll love trickle down economics because there it is in operation. Not St Ronnie's goddam fantasy world, in real concrete terms that is how it works. Or maybe you'd like something contemporary? Fine, Monday morning's financial news ought to give you something to chew on.

Sure, I'm kinda pissed off. Twenty years of clean and sober working like a pig doing quality work and this will probably sink me. What? You're surprised that people aren't spending money on big ticket items? You have some idea that the roof replacement that is needed isn't going to get put off, oh yeah, most people have several thousand dollars laying around that isn't doing anything and they aren't spooked. You own a car dealership and you can't sell a car because nobody can get a loan so you have me temporarily fix that roof and we both know it's not adequate but $30K just isn't there and so he prays I can keep him dry by nickle and diming it. Those nickles don't cut it on my end, there aren't enough of them and and my insurance companies and bonding agencies don't give a rat's patoot if I make a dime this month, they need their payment and it ain't small. Let's not even think about building a house...

The Republicans are starting to fight over whose going to run their Party. The Christianists have both hands on its throat and they will have their theocratic agenda flogged. They've paid their dues and now you goddam heathens are gonna get right with their god or they're gonna know why. You betcha. You can take your damnable science and stuff in a heterosexual way because you going to get along with the idea that dinosaurs were ridden by people six thousand years ago and that devil's cheat of millions of years is strictly a test of your faith. And if you get funny ideas about what goes where or who does what to whom you're going to learn better. Where you ever got this misguided notion that this isn't a Christian nation isn't just open to question, you'll be shown the errors of your ways. You'll find out that any policies that reduce abortions like good sex education and access to contraception are the devil's handiwork and just banning them is how it's done. Private education will fix your socialist notions, god will see to it, and oddly enough the corporate wing isn't all enthused about being stuck with ignorant savages for technical positions, though it's not such a bad idea on the work floor. These are the folks that are in competition for the electorate and they wonder what the problem is.

The world watched us stomp Iraq and a big chunk went, "What the hell?" and they'll shout, "Victory!" and have not the least damn clue what it is supposed to be. So we burn and spend our dedicated and professional military as though it were cheap fuel. Lies be damned, the world will recognize our Christian greatness and bow down to the light. Or maybe hate us like poison? They don't talk about fixing what's wrong with them, they talk about how evil the "left" is and how to beat them. There's nothing wrong with what they think, it's just that they didn't get it quite right - again. Goddamned again, and this election was won by six points, not twenty. That is the hold this half assed lie has on the electorate, that and hate and fear. What ever you think of the rapt attention of some Obama people it holds no comparison to the spit flecked rage of a Palin orgy. Now just what the hell do you propose to do with that? The people who just brought you the world's biggest socialization program scream socialist at Obama.

You betcha, this is going to be one big exercise in singing Kumbayah. My friends, you're not even real Americans, oh there's a lot of names for you but none that have anything to do with that red-blooded god-fearing American dream of the right. Republicans are having a fight, I keep thinking of ways to help them amp it up real good because this bunch isn't going to fix themselves until there's a hell of smash up.

Oh yeah, I'm pissed off. I'm not going to do well out of this but a lot of people are going to get it a lot harder and that's just multiples of more wrong and me more pissed. Here's the real pisser, you've got Boehner and Cantor in leadership just champing to screw the works as much as possible because the exact and only hope they've got is a disaster and with power in the balance you could measure how much they care with a very small thimble.

But hey, we won...

SoS Hillary...

Hillary may have been at the bottom of my preference list of Presidential candidates, but this is a bit different though I am reminded of "the cat that came back." I don't find the media frenzy odd, I do find the "leak" odd. This serves somebody's interests, but I'm pretty darn confused as to whose. Hillary Clinton has a power base to be envied, it is spread across the nation in the electorate, it is in the halls of Congress, it is in Agencies, it is in think tanks, it is in the media, and it is in the money heavy movers and shakers. A Cabinet position would separate her from all that, those officials do the will of the President in a manner he approves or they find another job. The President is your power base, you may have allies to make your case in persuading the President but they won't keep your job safe or advance you. Where do you go from SoS during an Administration? There is no upward mobility.

Hillary Clinton is the Junior Senator from New York and as far as titles go SoS is a step up. That step up ignores political realities, effectively Hillary can wield more power than Schumer. Her broad appeal can mean a lot more than seniority in the Senate, if she makes use of it. Laws with your name on them are a more lasting monument than an SoS can leave.

The question that is begged in this, is what is it that appeals to Hillary most? Real power for her lies in the Senate, but it may not be power that it is about. If her desire is to affect the policies of an Administration through direct input, SoS is the ticket. It certainly means she's in competition with Joe Biden in making her voice heard, but it is a seat right at the table, not from down the street.

For Barack Obama having her in the SoS would bring her into his orbit, in the end it is his will that would be carried out. In the Senate she is a free agent, within realistic limitations. I don't care to make an analysis of what she brings to the office versus others, she has the tools and that isn't what this article is about. This is politics being played at the very top of the scale and somebody or somebodies take benefit from this even being discussed. The PUMA/Hillary supporters thing is a dead issue, Barack Obama is going to be President for four years and if he does a respectable job, for eight. This isn't about electioneering, it is about something else. I don't like not being able to see clear benefits to both parties, I see a very mixed bag. Hillary is not the person to be satisfied with a limited role, not with the Senate as an alternative, and that could pose some rather large distractions. There is a difference between hiring someone with good ideas and a willingness to call BS and hiring someone who prefers to be the boss. None of these people are something other than ambitious, you don't get anywhere near these positions without a large dose of that, but there is a bit of a difference between, say, Bill Richardson's campaign and Hillary Clinton's both in outcomes and conduct. Rahm Emmanuel is a powerhouse player and no shrinking violet, but he wasn't making obvious moves for the top job. The 'chutzpah' involved in going after that particular ring is immense and I don't care if your name is Barack, Hillary, or John.

I want to watch how this unfolds very carefully because I'm missing something I should see. Now since these people don't consult with me, there may be factors I'm completely unaware of, but these people live pretty public political lives. I'm not in the least interested in the celebrity of the people involved, I'm interested in the "why" of it. It may be my mechanical background, I'm interested in how the gears fit together and why a particular solution was chosen over another. I know how a small thing can lever a large result and it counts to see it before it happens.

It is certainly possible that this is nothing more than a media driven tempest in a teacup and there really is nothing there other than noise. It's possible, but all that discipline demonstrated by the Obama operations make me wonder. I think this one is going to be fun.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Homeland Joe, I Think No

I'll blame GWB for as long as the name Homeland is attached to any official agency for the hair standing up on the back of my neck every time I see it. I have very nearly the same reaction to Joe Lieberman keeping his chair of the Senate Committee bearing its name.

I approve of politicians acting on the basis of their conscience rather than votes or personal gain. I don't have a problem with politicians disagreeing with their Party, frequently the most effective resistance to stupidity comes from inside. It has automatic validation as sincere. It is something to have attention paid to it and it is fairly rare.

Anyone who paid attention to politics and foreign affairs over the past six years knows where Joe Lieberman stands on Iraq and over the past four years where Obama stands and they are opposed. Lieberman supporting McCain on the basis of Iraq alone wouldn't be a surprise and shouldn't have been. Given Joe's views, it was the right thing to do, a lot of important aspects of that issue were heavily weighted by who won. So far, so good.

Then the train runs off the track. A former Democratic VP nominee, a Senator supported by Obama in his contested Primary - which he lost - and an Independent caucusing with Democrats and holding an important Chair not only criticizes that Party's nominee on that issue, but goes on about experience and the security of the nation in very negative terms. Once you've gone past disagreeing about a policy to questioning the very patriotism of your Party's nominee you've signalled your complete opposition to your Party's President Elect and your determination to harm him politically.

There is absolutely no reason for the Democratic Party Senators to give such a platform and such power to an avowed opponent. If you are to excuse his McCain backing on the basis of principle then you cannot discount his vote on the issues you'd expect him to support as a part of the Democratic Caucus simply because he shifts to Republican Caucus. If he is so childish as to switch his social issues positions over that Chair, then he is a dangerous ally. If he is that untrustworthy and unprincipled there is no forgiving his Election behavior. Supporting him in his quest to keep his Chairmanship is not rational thinking, it is wishful thinking to avoid a conflict which is inevitable in either scenario.

I have respect for Evan Bayh but his position that avoiding this conflict helps to keep Lieberman's vote within the Caucus' positions is poor thinking. This needs to be resolved cleanly and quickly, there is no reason to leave a scab to be picked at. I'm real sure a bunch of Senators have been waiting with bated breath for my analysis...

Birth Certificate Still?

I have been a member of this email list since the late 90s, it's primarily about cars though frequently is more like some pals sitting in garage BSing. I haven't included the responses agreeing with me. During the election politics were pretty much treated as banned, out of general agreement to preserve friendships.

>From: Marc
>Is he really American? He was born in Kenya then moved to Hawaii.

Kruk wrote:
>I thought you had to be born in America to be
>President? That is why Arnold could not run for
>Pres. And he did not say he would be back either...

>A person has to be a natural born citizen of the
>United States to be President of the United
>States. There is a legitimate debate as to
>whether or not Obama is a natural born citizen of
>the United States. For whatever reason, he is
>doing nothing, at this time, to end the issue by
>releasing his original birth record.


So, Chuck gets testy:

OK, let's have a legitimate debate about whether the sky is blue since I say
it is green and I've talked a couple people into buying it because they
don't like the blue. Anything else your dislike compels you to bring
forward? We already know he's a terrorist loving Muslim Marxist baby killing
scary black person who will teach your 5 year old to screw and disrespects
the flag. Not to mention he and his thugs stole the Primary and he's a
complete mystery who couldn't find his butt with both hands and has caused
the Obama Recession/Depression - 'cause Rush says so.

Here's the deal, in about 2 months GWB is gone, a new Congress takes office
and Obama takes office. McCain lost, fairly big, and is done this time
around. Sometime after that Congress and the President will have done
something and you'll have something to cheer or jeer. He was not appointed
by the Supreme Court; there is nothing in the vote margin to allow for
cheating or question. Now if you really want to pursue this stupidity why
don't you explain how it is that the current Republican administration with
all its police powers did not catch this and make it an issue? It is a
Federal Crime, after all, and they're not without resources; nor a strong
desire to not see Obama as President and McCain was pretty much their pal.

The fact that a conspiracy freak made an issue on right wing blogs and they
had a feeding frenzy doesn't make something reasonable. It certainly means
that some people REALLY don't like Obama. I expect to see a lot of ugliness
from that crowd, simply because they're already up to it. You don't like
the way the election worked out, tough shit, it's done. What you chose to
do with that is entirely your look out, but if you want to make a stink
about bullshit, I have no problem telling you so. You've chosen to play at
being an asshole in public, this is what happens. You knew exactly what you
were up to when you typed this crap.

Chuck Butcher

I don't care about politics or ideology on this one, I'm not going to be polite or nice about it. This kind of crap should not be tolerated or ignored on the basis of any relationship.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Getting The Gloat On

The last few days have been full of stories of cataclysims, tsunamis, and catastrophes of a political nature. The Republican Party is dead, the country has gone left, a lot of pretty exaggerated themes. Yes, a 6% loss and decreased electoral country isn't good and neither is having a party starting fractures over versions of itself. But let's not get crazy thinking the other side is dead and gone and we're seen as America's saviours. We get to have a chance to do well and if we don't we'll get handed our heads. The Republican propaganda of 30 years hasn't suddenly ceased to have resonance with very large percentages of the population. The Republicans have had a fairly simple presentation they've made over that time, it isn't complex and it isn't involved. (sure, you may find it complex to get from less governmental interference to say who can get married) Advertisers will tell you that simple messages work best, even better if you can mix sex or fear in. Democrats don't have such a simple message to sell.

It looks as though the House Republicans are going to go with the Cultural Warriors theme - Boehner, Cantor, and Pence, not surprisingly. If they do it without gettiing all caught up in hypocrisy again they'll hang onto that 23% that still loves Bush, the self-identified Evangelicals. Now you can scoff at that, but it is a pretty solid base that will turn out and will raise money. It won't win a national election, but there are areas where it is nearly sufficient, in itself. If you toss on top of that dedicated base an electorate subject to the 30s years of Republican sales pitch you have something unpredictable. The difference between dead and stunned is real meaningful whether you're dealing with a bear or the Republican Party.

Starting any action on the basis of false or misleading information is a sure route to failure or worse. The House Republicans may be in a very minority position but that doesn't begin to keep them from making mischief or taking their case to the media. The Senate Republicans are almost sure to keep enough seats to preserve the fillibuster option, particularly with Democrats ability to fracture on issues. Everything the Republicans think about and try to do will involve regaining power. Even with the 'Country First' rhetoric, don't count on it.

Democratic organizations and activists should look to every success and every situation as an opportunity to spread a message. It is important to cement gains and important to find new areas to gain in. Areas that look hopeless in two years could be possible in four or six. Howard Dean's 50 State model was not aimed at short term gain, it was a long view strategy. Looking at this last election as a huge success encourages the idea that the long term is less meaningful. The Republicans may have proved they have no idea how to govern in the long term, but they have certainly shown that they know how to set a long term narrative. That is what we have to look at. The ability to win in the 10,500 electorate of Baker County may not be meaningful in a national or even state wide election, but it is meaningful in terms of the success of messaging.

Knowing what to do with government is important, damn important as proved these last eight years, but in order to put that into effect you need to win. You need to have a winning narrative so that you can continue to win, not just now and again when situations favor you. You cannot continue to win when you are simply an alternative, the "not the other guy." If that is the case, the moment things straighten out, you are disposable.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

So, We Won...And Now?

I've been watching the media and reading blogs and thinking about this earth shattering win we had Tuesday. I'm under-impressed with what I'm hearing. I'm not for one second implying that the Republicans aren't in disarray, they certainly are. I wonder how powerful these folks gloating would have called the Democratic Party a few days after Kerry's loss. Not very is my guess.

This is one election and it is one with a lot of unique features and while it says a lot, it says it mostly about itself - not the future or even the status of electoral politics presently. There are factor after factor in this election that returned to a more normal status would seriously affect the looks of all this analysis that is making so much of this election. The unity of the black vote and the turn out levels are not something to take as repeatable. On the other hand the "other" factor this candidate fought is not necessarily present in another contest. Economic meltdown just prior to an election is not something to look for or forward to. There are things that evidently don't work, being a cranky mean old man didn't, running an obnoxiously unqualified VP choice didn't work, jumping from tactic to tactic without an overarching strategy didn't work. Frankly, most of that could have been easily enough predicted. Is that something to count on?

The idea going around is that this is an electoral tsunami of huge effect. I disagree. I do not discount the vote or even the electoral split, but I'm unwilling to take them as meaningful beyond this particular election. I believe the Democratic Party has had a door cracked open for them. This is an epic opportunity, not some sort of mandate or validation. If one pre-supposes successful policies from the Obama administration and Democratic Congress a tool is presented to us. Thirty years of Republican propaganda can be countered with a dedicated campaign of pointing up the successes and contrasting them to the current failure of the right. People will not move from an established point of view because they're just told "we're better," that's been said by us for quite awhile. They will move when we demonstrate we've got the goods.

Baker County, Oregon went to McCain by 64/32 and that isn't all about racism. This county was a Democratic stronghold up until about 30 years ago and it wasn't the Dixi-crat version. The people are philosophically conservative, they don't take new or change as being good in itself. The "New and Improved" on the box doesn't mean much to them, what means something is that the clothes are clean. We have got to show them, and a whole lot of others like them, that the clothes do get clean with our New and Improved.

I'm not raining on the parade, I'm as pleased as any other Democrat. I'm calling for action, for a plan to move on this cracked open door. I'm not satisfied, not even close to it. I don't care if Bill Clinton is a hero to you or not, what did not happen during his administration was a roll back of the Republican frame of politics and we're damn fools if we don't do it this time. You want to keep winning and to move this country left of where it is today, then be ready to work for it. We have as a gift from the Republicans two wars and a broken economy and a new Congress and new Executive Branch and whatever success we have has to be drilled into the voter's head and the dirty sock of right wing failure rubbed under their noses.

If you've got some idea that we did real good in this election, I'll tell you what real damn good would have looked like. Obama would have won by a 20 point margin, the electoral count would have been over 400, and he'd have won Baker County; Jeff Merkley would have kicked Gordon Smith not only through the goal posts but out of the stadium. I wouldn't be worried about minimizing the damage on this side of the State, I'd be working on turning out the vote. Go ahead and celebrate, we've got a couple months until Inauguration and a bit past that before we've got things to point to. But once that's done you better have a plan in place on how to press the message and how to reach out with success. Self congratulatory exercises feel good, but they aren't productive - planning and setting up mechanisms is productive. You win because you do the work and you work smart, not because you got lucky once. You capitalize on luck, not count on it, not congratulate yourself for being lucky.

By the way, YAHOO, YIPPIE KIYAY WE WON. There, I said it, now plan on how to keep winning.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Palin Hilarity Continues

If you want to take seriously the anonymous reports from the McCain camp that Sarah did not know that Africa is a continent or what countries make up NAFTA you can. There is the saga of clothing, how much spent, by whom, and where it has gone. It has been said that the McCain camp had figured out the Couric questions and Sarah refused briefing. It may say something that it is even in question.

I don't think Sarah Palin is very intelligent, nor well informed, nor at all analytical. I'm not sure she is competent to be Governor of Alaska. I also think this stuff is more interesting in what it says about Republicans than about Palin. Remember what her role was, she was to bring the base over. This was to be the anti-intellectual, religious, blue collar, plain folks appeal. They found someone without the baggage that accompanies political experience, things like thought, compromise, and fairly broad interests. What they got was a woman who greatly resembled the constituency she was to appeal to.

It is one thing to go to that base every two or four years, it is another thing entirely to put actual power in their hands. McCain and camp McCain surely expected to outlast Sarah in the White House, there was no idea in their heads that she would actually be President. These people are to seem to have their interests addressed during election and then they are cast aside. What they actually want, theocracy, would cause both Supreme Court backlash and an actual revolt amongst the populace - so they are only to think they are important. Sarah Palin breaks that rule. You can be sure nobody told her about it or made any sort of intimation that there is such a rule and that it is to be followed.

If you think this is an exaggeration, check out her defenders - right wing talk radio and loon fringe bloggers. Faux News is participating in the gutting of the Alaskan fish. The noise factor wasn't let in on joke, you had better believe that Murdoch not only was in on the joke, that he is one of architects of it. The sad part is watching people vote directly counter to their interests in search of that which is only a chimera.

What's Wrong With The Republicans

This question is running rampant through Republican ranks, what's wrong with us that we took this kind of beating? Along with the question are multitudes of answers, a lot blaming the McCain campaign, a lot blaming GWB, a lot blaming the economic crash. There is talk of branding, of traitors, of media, of cheating, of a darn near endless number of excuses, complaints, and blame. There is breast beating about who is the base, what does the base mean, about principles, about opposition tactics, and there is a lot of name calling - particularly Democrats and their agenda.

Rep Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) says:
The fastest way to reassert our relevance is to focus on the basics. This must start with the size and scope of government and fiscal responsibility. The conservative vision of small government is effective only if that government is simultaneously competent, accountable and responsive.

There's a lot more about opposing the coming entitlement tsunami and broken Obama promises, but there is this idea.
George Will not too surprisingly points to St Ronnie as the answer:
The conservative ascendancy that was achieved in 1980 reflected a broad consensus favoring government more robust abroad and less ambitious at home -- roughly the reverse of Tuesday's consensus. But conservatives should note what their current condition demonstrates: Opinion is shiftable sand. It can be shifted, as Goldwater understood, by ideas, and by the other party overreaching, which the heavily Democratic Congress elected in 1964 promptly did.

It is my view that the Republicans have two choices, they can be the Party of Cultural Warriors or they can be the Party of Conservatism. The marriage is way too uncomfortable. The social warriors will insist on playing on the ground of anti-intellect and anti-science and theocracy, which is horrid for economic growth. When you place thought and technological innovation on top of American drive and determination you have economic success brewing within a reasonable framework. Business knows this, ignorance and superstition are alien to their model. Pragmatism rules successful businesses, nothing in the business world's environment is more critical than an ability to adjust to new trends and demands.

Social warfare is social conservatism in operation. Change and newness are the enemies. There are 'long' established ways things are done and that makes them right and proper. This explains the pre-eminence of certain Biblical books or passages from other's books to the exclusion of the entire message. This piece of the puzzle will not ever gain great influence in the country at large. It is anti-intellect and anti-science and scares the snot out of huge swathes of the nation. It does gin up tremendous emotional response, that is a very large problem for the movement - those emotions are in operation on both sides of the issues. Thinking that only a "base" will turn out is a mistake.

The laisse faire economic wing does have an intellectual basis beyond sheer greed, their difficulty is how it works in operation. When the facts on the ground flatly contradict your intellectual assertions your credit takes a beating. I do note that the advocates of small government have not actually ever had their ideology tested in full measure. Their difficulty is that the accrual of power seems to drive them into the direction of more governmental interference - with a different emphasis.

I offer the Republicans no advice, I am confident in their ability to eat themselves for awhile and I find that prospect entertaining as well as fruitful. Some Republicans are going to find ground they can work with Obama on, their future in their Party is open to question. Politics is a hard edged game, but there is also a measure that needs to be taken - who are your opponents and how to approach them. These are individuals and taking a hard line on the basis of a (D/R) guarantees mistakes of consequential effect.

It has been a Republican refrain that they are the Party of ideas and decency, the problem is that they keep proving to be neither. I am sure they can simply wait for the Democrats to become arrogantly overweening, but in today's Democratic Party that could take awhile. They can continue on the path of division, hate and fear driven politics - it is risky, it tends to bite back. Working on the basis of ideas puts them into the problematic position of there already being a Democratic Party. At this point I can't find it in me to with them well - not while we're going to be this busy cleaning up after them.

Just So You Understand

Sultan Knish may be a loon but his loonism gets links, and I've just added to it. You need to understand that the voting may be done but that doesn't add up to reconciliation or anything that begins to resemble it. This isn't to suggest that these people have an importance beyond their self-assigned idea of it, what it is to suggest is that this stuff is going to be boiling around underneath the Republican politics.
But we are a long way from surrender. The battle is over, the war begins. The United States government now falls into the hands of the enemies of this country and civilization for a time or forever. And that is part of what the war is about. The country has been in the hands of people we disagreed with, but never in the hands of people whose views are as diametrically opposed to ours as anything in the Third Reich or the Kremlin. In their hands Federal power becomes enemy power. The more ineffective and tied up they are, the less damage they can do.

Boehner doesn't like Rahm Emanuel, not even a little bit. He didn't like him in the House and he likes him less as WH Chief of Staff. Emanuel is a hard edged pragmatic partisan politician of great ability. Mistaking him for a rigid ideologue is a mistake. The RNC calling this a broken promise two months before Inauguration might be called a Partisan Attack. But one has to be understanding that they are standing in the ruins of political aspirations to a "permanent majority." Oh, the hell with that, they've earned it, they deserve it, and their credibility talking about broken promises is nil.

The House Republicans are pretty much a lost cause looking for cooperation, fortunately the Senate rolls are renewed on a rolling two year cycle so some responsible Republicans are still home there. If the Republican Senators are offered something of import that is not an absolute kick to the ideological crotch and don't want to play; it might be important to have someone just like Rahm Emanuel on hand. It isn't hard to imagine a scenario where Rahm points out to a Republican that he's been given some political cover, that this is important, and that the Obama election lists and credibility have not gone away and that it is entirely possible to make their political life short.

It is important to remember that there are the "sultans," the Boehners, and also reasonable and responsible Republicans. It pays to remember that two years ago Boehner sent around a memo stating that their entire purpose was to obstruct Democrats for political advantage. Boehner is one of those Republicans and in general politicians who seems unable to avoid make unnecessary enemies out of opponents. Lindsey Gramm actually finds Emanuel a good choice, something which points up the distances involved in Republican politics.

These are the shoals President Obama will have to negotiate. There is a noisy lunatic fringe, the politically ignorant element in Congress, and possible shifting alliances. Sweetness and light is not on the horizon, but careful politics may allow this country to move forward. Just don't expect it to be peaceful.

Congratulations Senator Jeff Merkley

From Northeast Oregon we send our congratulations to our newest Democratic Senator. We are finally done with the fake moderate Republican years of Gordon Smith. If you start with the Senator Elect's childhood story as the son of a mill worker and first college graduate in his family and move through his experience in the Dept of Defense, Habitat for Humanity, and finally as an Oregon legislator and House Speaker you have a recipe for competent Oregon style political action.

It would be easy enough to view my enthusiasm as being through the lens of partisanship, and yes I am considerably more left than Gordon Smith. But that can be set aside when taking a clear look at Jeff Merkley, rather than the quiet go-along get-along do-nothing behavior of his predecessor you can look for Merkley to take an active part, to actually legislate. I have no idea if Gordon Smith was disinterested in the law writing process or just not competent to do it, but you really have to compare Smith to Wyden and wonder, "what????"

It isn't unfair to compare Gordon Smith unfavorably to a popular and exceptional Senator. He had 12 years and most of that time with a Party majority to act in the interest of Oregonians and the nation and these interests are not mutually exclusive. If you take a real look at the mix of industries and lifestyles within Oregon you have a virtual microcosm of the US. Jeff Merkley is a different breed of politician from Gordon Smith and I am glad to have this change.

Thanks for making this run, Jeff. It was a tough race, in political terms and in personal cost. I am intimately familiar with the size of this state and the challenges involved in running and I appreciate your sacrifices on behalf of the citizens of Oregon and commend you for that. Our citizenry needs to have an appreciation for what it means to make this kind of commitment.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Night '08

Baker County Democrats are meeting up at Mad Matilda's on Main Street in Downtown Baker City, OR. I'll be somewhat live blogging throughout the evening and posting pictures and what ever crosses my little mind. It is right this minute 4:30 PST. If you expect real serious election coverage, well this ain't it, mostly this is about having some kind of record.

Mad Matilda's is the upper picture. Below is Elliot Averet who is 16 and chaired the local Obama organization, quite ablely. Folks are coming in at this point.

CNN a few minutes ago called SC for McCain, with about 6% of the vote, not a surprise to anyone - apparently.

This is how we're going to watch this and they just called NH as Obama's. Mark Warner (VA) was just called. Nobody is cheering yet. But Warner looks to have had a blow out, John King says the VA Republican Party will be having a serious talk with itself.

5:40 CNN says PA goes to Obama. That got cheers. People are starting to look happier. My seat mates just admitted to being more relaxed. 5:54 NC Kay Hagen beats Dole - Hagen is actually outperforming Obama. Boy that got an Oregon cheer.

The Halloween star minus the outfit and make-up.

The gang, some more of, Peggi Timm long time Democatic activist and communityheavy hitter is left foreground, left in rear is Marilyn Dedeck, Baker Co Democrats Chair. This is minutes after a couple pretty Democratic happy news events.

We're watching on CNN and Bill Bennett is a panel member, I keep hoping to see him cry.

Baker County Commission candidate Randy Joseph sporting a confident and capable expression. Randy is currently a member of the County Planning Board and a great advocate of renewable and efficient energy within Baker Co. He was one of the earliest and is the most informed and dedicated advocate for using Mason Dam at Phillips Resevoir for hydro-electric through the county.

CNN says at 16 % reporting that Ohio goes to Obama, as you can imgine that got eheers. I think 16% in that state is a bit soon, but...

6:45 New Mexico to Obama. David Gergen looks not only self-assured but pleased with how things are going. Ah Bennett, I'd say bitch-slapped is the best description of his expression and tone. It hasn't quite gotten to a whine...gads I loath that prick.

So at 8PST Obama has 279 and I think Democrats are happy. Still a lot of results that matter to Oregonians.

Marilyn Dudeck Baker Co Democrats Chair is pretty happy.

The scene from Chicago is astonishing. That is just flat out a lot of people, happy people. Damn...

McCain's concession, is graceful - on his part. This is a tough audience to do that with, that problem is of his own making. The audience certainly likes Sarah, that is their problem as well. Boos are no suprise for Joe Biden or for Barack Obama, I think John is not pleased by this.

Bruce Raffety, Chair Emeritus who took us through the tough sad times, gets to cheer. Finally.

We're waiting for Barack to speak and for the Oregon results to come in. The Merkley/Smith competition is a big deal. A whole lot of us are sick of the Faux moderate Smith, not to mention what it means in the Senate. And here come the NEXT President of the USA. I cannot imagine how excited Michelle is. Do you have any doubts what is possible in this country? "we are and always will be the United States of America," an elected President who can say this is such a Change.

Compliments to John McCain are answered with cheers, muted to be sure, but not a boo I could hear. The difference is marked.

The President elect. A man with the nerve to use his winning speach to tell the crowd and the TV that things will not be just fine, that we will have to work together. I do have to say, "Wow." That was a kick ass speach, thanks to everyone who voted, no matter for whom, thank you.

It is fun to win for a change.

I think I'll go home and wait for Oregon to finish.

By the way. if you look at my picture on the sidebar you'll notice quite a bit of grey. One of the consolations is that I have a clear memory of a good understanding of why three civil rights workers wound up buried in a dike and I have within my life seen this country move from that to this.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Election Predictions

I've been pretty good at this without any fancy tools, but this time I'm a bit nervous. I've told my nervous Democratic friends Obama by 5-7% and that large margin doesn't scare me. It's too wide as a prediction, so I'll cough up with one, Obama by 7%. Not only will I go there, but I'll call the Electoral College at 340 and frankly expect to miss by being low. The electoral college is a number that can explode with small vote shifts, the thing could go to the 400 neighborhood depending on no more than a few thousand votes in a few places.

Jeff Merkley is going to beat Gordon Smith by 3% unless E OR surprises me and pushes that number up. We've done what we could to limit the damage, we'll have to see.

Don't be surprised to not see a lot of other names here. Most of the other races are too far out of my political radar to do more than guess which is pointless. Our state wide Democrats should take all their races and that's as far as I'm willing to go. Kurt Schrader shouldn't have any problems putting away Erickson, but I won't hazzard a guess.

Feel free to toss in your $0.02 in the comments. I can take public ridicule for going out on this limb.

Revisonist History Leads To Firing?

In some countries writing seriously stupid falsehoods regarding history and a nation's action can get you fired from the government, unlike the US where saying it can work to make you a credible candidate for the Presidency. The NYT reports that Japanese Air Force Chief of Staff was fired for:
General Tamogami wrote that Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941 and thereby drew the United States into World War II after being caught in “a trap” set by President Roosevelt.

“Roosevelt had become president on his public pledge not to go to war, so in order to start a war between the United States and Japan, it had to appear that Japan took the first shot,” he wrote.

He denied that Japan had invaded China and the Korean Peninsula, arguing that Japanese forces became embroiled in domestic conflicts on the Asian continent.

“Even now, there are many people who think that our country’s aggression caused unbearable suffering to the countries of Asia during the Greater East Asia War,” he wrote, using the term favored by Japan’s right to refer to World War II. “But we need to realize that many Asian countries take a positive view of the Greater East Asia War. It is certainly a false accusation to say that our country was an aggressor nation.”

Around these parts somebody like John McCain gets to claim that he knows how to win wars on the basis of claiming success well before it happened and predicting that we'd be greeted as liberators. He also was a part of the Republican attack on Clinton over Kosovo and the war he actually took part in was Vietnam - not exactly a raging success, not that he held any position of authority there or in any conflict in a manner other than as a less than senior politician. He gets to claim, in the face of any evidence to have been tested in regards to the Presidency. He gets to claim in the same sentence that we've won in Iraq and that Obama wants to surrender in Iraq. Funny how it is the right that plays these games. You will note that the Right seems to claim that the US has never gotten up to...poor behavior.

History books written by someone a bit more credible than Gen Tamogami will be scornful of BushCo but will probably save the real unkindness for McCain by making him the footnote to BushCo failure. He will be McMaverick who caved in until he became invisible. Yes, this article pre-supposes an Obama victory, in fact it pre-supposes a Republican bloodbath with McCain at the helm, the McCommander. I already voted, if you haven't - take care of business -that outfit needs to be sunk deeper than whale poop.

The Actual Racism Campaign

Throughout the two years of the Obama campaign racism regarding blacks has been a constant undercurrent. There has been some dogwhistling type from opponents and some just plainly ignorant word choices that pass as racism but at management level the opposition campaigns have done a pretty fair job of leaving black out of the equation. That doesn't mean there hasn't been racism, just the targets weren't the commonly expected ones.

Awhile ago John McCain came into some praise for telling a woman that, "No, he's not an Arab, he's a decent family man..." Now I'm not sure that it was intentional to counterpose Arab and decent, but given the McCain camp's insistence on playing the terrorist association theme I'm not confident either. That doubt was ramped up the other day with the charges by that campaign that Obama associated with a PLO spokesman and other bad things Palestinian named Rashid Khalidi. Professor Khalidi is American born (NYNY) of Arab descent and the director of the Middle East Institute at Columbia University. He was an advisor to the Palestinian delegation during the peace talks in the Bush I administration.

The last I checked, not giving Israel a free pass for anything it gets up to isn't anti-Semitic nor is it unpatriotic. Last I checked, Israel has not been exactly blame free in its relationship with Palestinians. And the last time I checked, despite Republican whining, getting diverse opinions on important subjects before making decisions is a good idea. But there, in one pile, is the biggest difference between the authoritarian mind set of the Republicans and actual thought. Yes, I just did accuse the Republicans of an inability to think. There is to be no diversity of thought in the Republican world, just emotional talking points predetermined for us. This is where the Pro/Anti American theme comes from, this is where calling Palin out on bullshit is an attack on the First Amendment, it is where BushCo could actually state that you were either for them or against us. An absolute crock of unmitigated ignorant jingoism put in front of the American public as, no kiddng, policy.

The mere fact of the man's name and his refusal to toe some line makes him suspect. Dare we say it? An uppity sand nigger? Understand this, ideology is one thing, this is another altogether. It is the act of despicable people in desperate circumstances brought on by their own actions. The Party of Personal Responsibility uses scapegoats left and right and is not only eating its ownself but the fabric of a nation of immigrants. Khalidi is suspect and someone for Obama to be ashamed of because he is the wrong descent. I'm trying to figure out why these people shouldn't be slapped into next week - and I don't mean figuratively. These idiots are using a national platform to paint a damn bullseye on people's backs, literally.

This is the bunker mentality that led to the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII and the wholesale round up of Arab Americans post September 11. It provided the campaign theme for Mr Noun, Verb, and 9/11. It makes the fact of Arabian sufficient for large portions of the populous to believe Saddam Hussein had a hand in 9/11. It is the stupidity and xenophobia of BushCo come home to roost. Is it some kind of surprise that a theocrat like Sarah Palin cannot separate her Christianist position from the reality that Muslim is not inherently bad? In her narrow stupid world there are good Christians and everybody else and she'll pray for them as she crucifies them. The ultimate irony is that they don't want to be President/Vice of America, they want to rule in a world that exists only in their fantasies.

There is a very closed circle within many Republican's world that includes them and excludes everyone else. Us or them is the only meaningful distinction. Gay, non-Christian, non-Republican, non-white are the other, treacherous and dangerous. It isn't that liberal is a dirty word, it is code for 'the other' - change that label to progressive and it still is 'the other.' Otherness is the sin, the original sin, the one unforgivable sin. What these bigoted prigs don't realize is that in this nation of 300 plus million they are 'the other' and they are losing ground fast. That doesn't make them less dangerous, in fact it makes them more so. As the evidence of their failures piles up they will react, and the reaction will bear less semblence of reason as the evidence gets deeper. Do not expect them to go quietly into the good night.