Archive for April, 2006

On Portland Elections

Sunday, April 30th, 2006

Biddley boo — the Eastside Guy. My opponents hate cars. Just listen! “I hate cars.” Paid for my Biddley Boo — The Eastside Guy. You are the Majority!

Hm. I don’t drive a car. Biddley boo is dividing car drivers from non car drivers, as well as — East and West, as per Biddley Boo’s statement that he is the “Eastside Guy”. (As opposed to his two opponents who are, evidentally “West-side”). I’m not really paying attention to the geopolitics of Portland, Oregon: do the Westsiders hate cars and the Eastsiders love them? My guess is Biddley boo wants to make an issue of Erik Sten’s botched-from-the-start Tram Project. To do that, he denigrates all of public transportation instead. To wit, I say: Screw Biddley boo.

James Webb Conundrum Part Two

Sunday, April 30th, 2006

I have this sense of weariness, trying to open up the political fissures of different political fissures in this nation. For such a thing as the Democratic Party, there is a “Montana Miracle” in the works, a product of strong leadership of Brian Swietzer and a general sense that the Democratic Party can win a meaningful election in a state full of cowboys.

Virginia always looked like another fulcrom. A Mark Warner wandered in, something of a technocrat, received overwhelming approval ratings when he left, and left behind a Democratic gubernatorial replacement.

And the man to continue that re-beat is… James Webb.

I’ve read that Webb was a Dem until 76, and when Reagan ran for Pres. he brought A LOT of disenfranchised Dems to his side. We should welcome Webb back to the party (he supported Kerry in 04) and look at the vision and leadership he’d bring to the table. He has not been in bed with Republicans for the last 10 years, Harris (anti-American worker)Miller has.

I note an interesting debate between the two Democratic hopefuls over Affirmative Action. Webb says that the racial element should be dropped and affirmative action should be used as a means for the lower socio-economic groupings to have a better means of upward mobility. Miller maintains that other government programs (the Hope Grant, Medicaid) work for that end, and Affirmative Action was devised specifically for blacks and minorities. When I hear the argument from an opponent of Affirmative Action cry out, “At what point would society have ‘fixed’ the problem of racism and sexism such that you’d end it?”, I’d reply with a “Thwamp!” and “In an ideal world, it would become a mechanism for the poor to have better access to upward mobility.” As it is, I don’t know where I’d come out on this debate. I’d think it would end up covering some of the reconstructive work that came with … um… the refusal of our government to carry out Reconstruction — but I don’t really know.

Over the years Webb has made impolitic pronouncements opposing women in combat and warning that some affirmative action had become “state-sponsored racism.” Today, Webb endorses affirmative action but not for mere “diversity” reasons. He says that as secretary of the Navy he tripled the number of women in “operational billets” and that he has been endorsed by the only woman to make it through the Special Operations course.

All that said, in consideration of this George Will column, a few footnotes are in order:

Webb, who says he was “pretty much” a Democrat until President Carter “pardoned the draft evaders,” (1) endorsed Allen over Democratic Sen. Chuck Robb in 2000 (2), after supporting Robb – another Marine veteran of Vietnam – in 1994. In 1992, Webb supported the presidential campaign of another Vietnam veteran, Nebraska Democrat Sen. Bob Kerrey, who now is national finance chairman of Webb’s campaign. Webb says, “I wouldn’t shake John Kerry’s hand for 20 years” because of Kerry’s anti-Vietnam activities (3) but “I voted for him” in 2004.

(1) He left the Democratic Party of Jimmy Carter for the wrong reason, then. Actually this deserves some further explication. Later post. Reference the one part of Kevin Phillips’s new book that I read which refers to the South’s attitudes toward Presidents Truman, Johnson, Carter, and Clinton as, in the end, Carpet Baggers.
(2) I understand why James Webb, even if you more fully import him into Republican-land, rejected Senate Candidate Oliver North. But George Allen?
(3) This was a cultural touchstone for the fall of the Democratic Party, in the South especially. Somehow the excesses of the anti-war movement fall onto John Kerry’s soldiers. James Webb ends up with the same crowd as the Swift-Boat Campaigners.

Back to Will’s column.

Long convinced that invading Iraq would “empower Iran, the long-term threat,” Webb thinks the administration’s neoconservative nation-builders “are so far to the left they seem to be on the right.” His challenge will be to harvest financial support, much of it from outside Virginia, from anti-war liberals, without forfeiting his appeal to Virginia’s moderate Democrats and many military families. He is being endorsed by some of the retired generals now denouncing Don Rumsfeld. And he will attract attention if he continues to charge that the Bush administration is “deliberately miscounting the casualties in Iraq,” minimizing them by “counting only those evacuated out of theater.”

Webb says, “I’m pro-choice, pro-gay rights, pro-Second Amendment.” Two out of three might not suffice, given that Democratic primary voters often have little tolerance for heterodoxy. And he says, “I’m not saying what anti-war people want to hear – ‘Get out last Tuesday.’ “

Will is likely overstating the “two out of three” (which may morph into “two out of four” if he expect it to drag into the “How to extricate from Iraq” — though perhaps Will realizes the Democratic mixed mind on the subject which ends up as “Just so long as they realize we have to leave sooner or later”). But Virginia’s Democratic primary voters. They own guns, don’t they? My vague awareness of Virginia geopolitics is that you have Suburban Washington DC — Yuppie form of Democratic Blue — and you have … the rest — Republican Red. Except, the last governor ripped through the rural red area by referring to Jesus in every other sentence — William Jennings Bryan would be so proud, as might Tom Franks. Doesn’t this supposed “Jacksonian Democracy” uprising that Webb and Webb’s supporters believe him to be helping foster include Two Guns in Every Garage?

“Jacksonian Democrat” was a code-word used by Segregationist Democrats from the end of FDR’s tenure on through the dawn of the political realignment that gave the South to the Republicans. Perhaps there are some things to be gained with it — surely the absolute most onerous part of Jackson’s legacy is no longer even possible. As it were, Jackson lead a rowdy crew into the white house to break John Quincy Adams and company’s dinner plates, as the aristocratic figures of the John Quincy Adams administration looked on and sneered at the “rabble”, and it is for that that we celebrate the legacy of Andrew Jackson.

Referring to James Webb’s book “Born Fighting”, the vision is that the Ivory League Intellectual proponents of “Political Correctness” are the Aristocrats that have been thumping their nose at the the Redneck fans of NASCAR, evidentally all Scotch – Irish Americans. In the strange celebration that Webb has written, thumb their nose at the hyphenated markers that come with “political correctness”, though this doubles back on itself as something that is a source of pride for a group that should assert itself — and I can make out two hyphens in the group listing.

The Ned Lamont Challenge

Sunday, April 30th, 2006

From a newspaper in Connecticut — the Hartford Courant — this letter to the editor:

Does The Courant’s April 23 encomium to Ned Lamont [Page 1, “Out Of The Political Shadows”] have to be reported as a campaign donation? Too bad, but even a puff piece like this contains some hard truths about the aspiring senator. His style (hiding his luxury car, his Greenwich mansion, his Phillips Exeter past) reminds me a lot of another Greenwich “how can we fool ’em today?” pol, Lowell Weicker.

Seriously, Ned should step back and do a self-check: Anyone who advocates abortion, socialized medicine, amnesty for illegals and surrender in Iraq need not be “unsure where he falls on the political spectrum.” He is a leftist, just like his Uncle Corliss, who wanted to hand over U.S. sovereignty to the United Nations. To deny it is an act of mendacity or foolishness.

John Lankford

The term “leftist” is something of a joke, and there are those in this nation that have the habit of wrapping the political “left”, liberalism, right up to “Moderate” Republicans into one giant grouping.

I take more forceful aim at his suggestion of Ned Lamont hiding his wealth. Actually, to the legions of Ned Lamontites, the wealth is a great attraction. He has money to spend in his bid to unseat the reviled Joseph Lieberman. The sad fact that the Senate is a Millionaire’s Club means that Ned LaMont would be joining the company of 99 (give or take one or two) other Millionaire Senators, hiding their luxury cars, mansions, and privileged backgrounds when attempting to appeal to the voters as one variety of “populist” or other. This game works across the party aisles.

But somehow or other this gets through to the media. Witness today’s Washington Post article:

Mild-mannered and thoughtful, Lamont has a pedigree that blends old money with noblesse oblige. His great-grandfather Thomas W. Lamont, a chairman of J.P. Morgan & Co., commuted to Wall Street by yacht and helped to negotiate the Treaty of Versailles. His family tree also includes Corliss Lamont, a socialist philosopher and civil libertarian, and an assortment of ministers and adventurers. Lamont served as a Greenwich selectman during the 1980s and lost a 1990 state Senate bid.

In his official biography, Lamont describes the lively, politically charged family dinner conversations that punctuated his childhood. “The underlying theme was public service,” he recalled.

That is how the party of Roosevelt and Kennedy tend to frame their rich pedigree: “Service”. I suppose this is the “limousine liberalism” that gets people tied up in knots — how very paternalistic those bastards! Those with more humble backgrounds, John Edwards — whos background is not quite as humble as he makes it out to be, but we work with him nonetheless, Bill Clinton — and the most humble backgrounds of them all — Dennis Kucinich — can play that other role. (The most aggravating thing I ever heard about Bill Clinton was “I like him, because he’s like an ordinary man.” But at least it wasn’t as annoying as hearing “I like George W Bush, because he’s like an ordinary man.”)

The bizarre trick up Ned Lamont’s sleeve is to use his business pedigree to show him as not terribly a leftist firebrand at all that is supposedly the fire-breathing bloggers’ driving aim — someone who is not playing out Cindy Sheehan’s role — contemplator of a more symbolic primary fight against Dianne Feinstein — but seriously meaning to become Connecticut’s next Senator, and once there, governing.

The trouble with Lieberman:

With nearly $4.8 million of campaign funds in the bank as of March 31, Lieberman rolled out two statewide ads about a week ago, including one that directly confronts the war. “I already know that some of you feel passionately against my position on Iraq,” Lieberman says in the ad. “I respect your views, and while we probably won’t change each other’s minds, I hope we can still have a dialogue and find common ground on all the issues where we do agree.”

is that, by definition, you are already at common ground on “all the issues we do agree” with.

Lowell Weicker sits on the sidelines:

“It appears Weicker has not gotten over the loss to Lieberman 18 years ago, and he’s still trying to get some measure of revenge for that,” said Lieberman campaign manager Sean Smith.

Smith was then quick to clarify that he does not lay all the blame at Weicker’s feet.

“I want to be clear,” Smith said. “Sen. Lieberman has taken on some controversial positions and he knows that some of the discontent out there is due to positions that he himself has taken.” He then added: “It does appear also that Lowell Weicker is still trying to get back at Joe Lieberman for taking away his Senate seat in 1988.”

Which either misses the mark or it doesn’t. It’s a sub-plot for the chattering classes of Connecticut to yammer on about, of no consequence to anyone other than them and a few Political Insiders.

As heard on the Rick Emerson Show, and seen by legions of Portlanders with myspace accounts

Saturday, April 29th, 2006

There’s a bit of discomfort in seeing this less than ideal teen’s online presence (“[lovely] IS LEGAL IN 6 DAYS” — not the last words you’d want, and would be any responsible parents’ worst fear.)

against the backdrop of


Well, every parenting guide I’ve ever seen tells you that your teenagers wear many hats…

Somewhere she’s here:

A repository of dead teenagers. Um. Hm.

“Oh where, or where did my baby go?” Or is “Leader of the Pack” or “Patches” more appropriate? Someone — Write a new Dead Teen Heartbreak Song NOW!!!

Phil Hendrie — RIP

Friday, April 28th, 2006

Phil Hendrie has decided to retire from radio and pursue his acting career on a full-time basis. The last live broadcast of the syndicated “Phil Hendrie Show” will be June 23. Hendrie currently appears on the NBC television sitcom, “Teachers.”

Hendrie stated, “I have taken my show as far as I can in the present climate of terrestrial radio. I’ve been doing these characters for 16 years, and believe it’s time for me to take them from behind the microphone and present them in front of the camera.” […]

SVP Comedy Programming, NBC Universal Television Studio Shelley McCrory stated, “While this is a huge loss for radio, it’s a big win for television. We’re thrilled with the work Phil’s doing on our comedy series ‘Teachers,’ and look forward to a long future with him.”

Yes. Phil Hendrie is going to join the exciting and burgeoning world of … Network Television Sitcom Television… a place that just shouts out “Freshness”. “Teachers” looks like a horrible television show.

Ah well. That sucks. Rest In Piece, Phil Hendrie. I enjoyed you from 1998 onward, and now you fade into nothingness, leaving a blank on the dial. You had a bit of a miss when you slowly brought in your boisterous political discussions, (Hawkish on War), and at times in the last three years it spilled into your schtik (never a good arena for political points)– prior to that you had the one problem of devoting a full hour of your show to talking about how wonderful you are. But I could ignore all that and turn you off to wait for something better. But I am now set to prepare to think about you in the Past Tense. “Remember Phil Hendrie? Yeah, he was funny once upon a time. I liked it when he aped that midlevel Laker Player and talked about his German player as smelling like Cheese.”

“The Sam and Joe” Show?

Friday, April 28th, 2006

From the latest issue of “Mental Floss” magazine, a profile on eccentric (is there any other type) Mathematician, Paul Erdös.

During much of Erdös’ childhood, his father was imprisoned in a Russian internment camp in Siberia, having been captured during World War One. But when he returned to Hungary in 1920, he brought his son a very special gift — The English Language. Unfortunately, said language arrived a little damaged. Lajos Erdös taught himself English by reading books in prison. Having never actually heard the language, the pronunciations he taught his son were, to say the least, imaginative. Years later, Paul Erdös’ speech was still so unintelligible that a documentary featuring him provided subtitles. To make matters worse, Erdös peppered his speech with self-created slang few people outside his circle of friends understood. In Erdös- speak, “wine, women, and song” became “poison, bosses, and noises”; “epsilon” referred to a child or any small object; and international news, particularly when it focused on the Cold War, became “The Sam and Joe Show”.

I like that name.

Transcendental Meditation

Thursday, April 27th, 2006

Yesterday, at the public library, I read the “Events today” paper next to the Events conference room. Apparently there was something about an introduction to “Transcendental Meditation / Peace” that the public at large could attend.

This is a shadow government. Kind of. There was a political party based around Transcendental Meditation — that old joke of the Natural Law Party. The premise is that to solve the world’s problems, you sit around and do nothing, saying “Oom” a lot. I have my doubts about this approach — our current president seems to have a part of that in his philosophy (without the oom) and I can’t say I like the results. Anyways, when the party dissolved in 2004, the erstwhile leader of the party, John Hagelin, converted the key pieces to a “US Peace Government” — which, I guess, would be the very definition of “Shadow Government” (Definition Number Two in a would-be dictionary) in the sense that it shadows the actual government. Which, I guess is the marker for the word “Peace”.

I did not touch this thing with a ten-foot pole.

Something I note at the library: as per the Dewey decimal system, there’s a large selection of books on the Republican Party at the library. Followed by a large selection of books on the Democratic Party with a decimal .2 degrees apart. The two book selections for this that are worth a gander are obviously published as a set: Grand Old Party : A History of the Republicans and Party of the People : A History of the Democrats. The most interesting parts of the books, apart from noting the differences in how the books end up dividing up the years according to the era and sub-eras of the two partys’ histories, are for the Democratic Party the years in exile between 1920 and 1932 and for the Republicans the years in exile in the decade of the 1930s.

Anyways, the next decimal number has one sole volume. A Reason to Vote by Robert Rot, a book promoting… the Natural Law Party.

I smirk “Wow. A while Decimal point for the Natural Law Party!” But I know better. The Communist Party of America gets a whole tenth of a decimal; the Natural Law Party doesn’t. This is a dirge of third party material, and this is the only book the library has here.