Archive for May, 2006

Peter Beinart’s Cold War Liberal Problem

Wednesday, May 31st, 2006

Peter Beinart has been running around hawking his new book The Good Fight : Why Liberals—and Only Liberals—Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again.

It’s a call for a “muscular foreign policy” in the Truman and “Americans for Democratic Action” tradition, the “Cold War liberalism” that dared to attack the foreign threat of Communism and cut ties with the Communists in the US en route to their model of Liberalism.

All of which is sort of good, as far as it goes. Maybe. You will remember, or you will learn here, that the ADA was constitently attacked as being proto-Communists by the Right and Joe McCarthy types. The lesson being that even if you decide to take a “hawkier than hawk” stand against foreign menaces, you will not be innoculated by the charges of weakness.

Next I invite you to consider the problem with Peter Beinart by way of Iraq. He advocated the war in Iraq. He suggested that the opponents were weak-kneed surrender monkeys. He was unable to see the perils of attacking Iraq. Today, he’s sort of come around on Iraq, believing it was a mistake, while at the same time continuting to suggest that the opponents of the War in Iraq are… weak-kneed surrender monkeys.

The problem here is that his “Liberal Hawk” “hark back to the Cold War Liberalism” positioning more or less predisposed him to reflexively stand for a War in Iraq. A similar case may go for, say, Hubert Humphrey — the type of Cold War liberal Beinart is suggesting we emulate, on Vietnam.

Actually the Truman case is pretty interesting as well. After a number of years in Korea where the Cold War Liberalism and the reflexive desire to … keep… going… we turned to Eisenhower to do a “Nixon goes to China” and just call the whole thing off, saving us from one morass before we embarked as a nation on a completely different morass.

What I’m suggesting here, if Peter Beinart is aware of such problems, is that the idea that you can have two competing thoughts in your mind, and shift a bit from time to time, in your assessment of “knowing what you believe”. The Cold War offers many lessons, and one of them is that sometimes it’s better not to reflexively fight and it’s not a good idea to venomously attack the peaceniks.

Meanwhile, in Prosser

Wednesday, May 31st, 2006

Dateline Prosser, Washington: Big Rodents Overrun Washington Seniors

Residents say the oversized rodents are swarming through the 75-unit development of manufactured homes near the airport of this Eastern Washington town, burrowing under homes, fouling front porches with their droppings and _ according to some unconfirmed accounts _ attacking people. […]

“Can you imagine what they’d do to cats?” asked Dick Bain, 78, a Wine Country resident who dispatched two of the animals with a shovel Friday. […]

Concerned about the droppings, which Bain said often are tracked indoors “even though you think you’ve cleaned it off,” residents say officials in the Benton-Franklin Health Department have told them there’s nothing the agency can do because the animals pose no public health risk, including the spread of infectious disease.

Police add that town ordinances prohibit residents from shooting the critters.[…]

The marmots are going to go on to Grandview and Benton City, and they’re going to Sunnyside and Mabton and Granger and Toppennish. And then they’re going to Washington, D.C. to take back the White House! Yeaaaaagggggh!!!

Gordon Allen Pross is in the HOUSE!

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

Hm. This is funny. Google up the images for “Gordon Allen Pross”, and you will find an animatronic Sean Hannity, Jimmy Carter, Ken Jennings, Keith Olbermann, Clyde Lewis, Elmo makes two appearances, Strom Thurmond, assorted paraphenilia…

… somewhere around there you’ll see Gordon Pross.

I’m wondering about Gordon Allen Pross. What’s he running for this time around? Surely he’s running for something. He was the 1998 Democratic candidate for Doc Hastings’s seat, a textbook lesson in what candidate a party will end up with if they choose to totally abstain from a district. He ran in the Republican primary in 2000 and 2002 for the seat. And in 2004 he moved on to the Senate.

His platforms, ladies and gentlemen.

The second question I’m wondering is… how many Gordon Allen Prosses have pulled through victories to the US House and various high office general election races for the 2006 cycle? Actually I want to see if I can find them. Consider it the “Gordon Allen Pross Project”. These candidates are the gluons in the American political scene.

… Huh? Signs across the city

Monday, May 29th, 2006

I don’t understand it. I watched a guy put a Sketchers shoe up on a fire hydrant, then crounch down, and using his cell phone take a photograph of the Sketchers Shoe on a fire hydrant. Somewhere there’s a phograph of the scene online? Or a whole slew of Sketchers shoes on fire hydrant photographs?

Never mind. That’s something that’s been jiggling in my mind for a couple weeks now. More political in nature are these notes left all over the city — unusual for these things, about a third of a page — saying

“Impeach Bush.
Vote Democratic.”

Surely you jest. Two things: this is not on the Democratic agenda. I’m not saying anything one way for or against such a notion, but even when Russ Feingold came out for a “Censure”, the Democrats avoided the notion like the plague. What’s weird is that the Democrats seem to be a bit dancy around the notion, Nancy Pelosi settling on the “Subpena power” jab, read the article in the New Yorker. Which you can read as either\ a sop for the most rabid “Impeach him” part of the constituency or a practical matter of fact “technically you can’t prejudge the case” tact.

Leaving aside that, I’ll grant you that if there is a Democratic Congress, there is a greater chance that President Bush could be impeached. Unless you believe that Dennis Hastert’s buns are bursting in a bigger bunch over William Jefferson’s office being raided (There’s a Constitutional Crisis you say, Hastert?). But how does this work from this location? I guess there is actually a state by state mode of Impeaching a President. That is, for all practical purposes, as slim as it seems, the better chance in the signs telling you to “Vote Democratic” to “Impeach Bush” than the re-election of Representatives Wu and Blumenauer. To put it simply: those are the two districts I see these posted to. Two safe Demcrats. Wu may theoretically be vulnerable sooner or later (though it seemed like he should have been last time, and yet he won by 20 points). A vote is meaningless in changing Congress. The signs do not compute.

2006 won’t be like 1992, we promise.

Saturday, May 27th, 2006

For whatever it’s worth:

The last time the state Republicans convened here — in 1992 — the ultraconservative side of the party prevailed with a divisive platform that some said cost votes. The platform, which amounts to the party’s identification card, railed against homosexuality, sex education, witchcraft and the United Nations, to name just a few hot-button issues of the day.

Interesting to use “ultraconservative” in a straight news story like that. It denotes some kind of bias, though I won’t quite go so far as say “liberal bias”. Maybe “Sensible” bias? I’m brought to the puzzlement of seeing the words “Witchcraft” and “Hot button issue” in related fashion.

A quick bit of googling shows me that the Washington State Republican Party Platform of 1992, crafted out there in Yakima, Washington, also called for the criminilization of Yoga classes.

But this time one theme will prevail, said Diane Tebelius, state party chairwoman. “Unity,” Tebelius said in a telephone interview.

Harmony notwithstanding, Tebelius said the Yakima convention will be lively, even though this isn’t a presidential election year. No hot topic is automatically off the agenda, she added.

Good. We get to hear the witches and the witch-burners go at it about whether we should keep Yoga legal or not. That should keep the Republicans busy.

The Accidental Speaker Faces down Executive Power

Friday, May 26th, 2006

Dennis Hastert swaggers, or staggers, into the Capital Building. He casts a long shadow, in the same way Ariel Sharon casts a shadow over Israel, in the same way William Howard Taft does over American history, in the same way…

Okay. None of that is fair. I could care less about Dennis Hastert’s girth.

Maybe there is something a bit off about an agency tucked into the Executive Branch peeling its way into the Legislative Branch. See, there’s this sham in our political system. Close your eyes and I can almost make the case that the very act of Representation in Government is a Corrupt enterprise, which means that there are 435 Corrupt House members. It’s easy enough to pry one loose if an executive branch so desires, and open up a bit of light to the Legislative Sausage Creature.

None of them, save one, are William Jefferson of Louisiana, who is a product of Louisiana politics which goes like this:

I am not going into any kind of tirade on this but from my youth [in the south] to my middle years [sometimes in the south] to my old age [in the south], this subject has always been one of those constants of Nature; Louisana + politicians = corruption. Never any middle ground, always the same, day in and day out, year in and year out; they are bought and sold like a not-so-cheap Commodity such as corn, sugar, soybeans, bananas, etc, and it is always only too easy to find one waiting somewhere with his hand out. Speaking of their ethics and honesty is about on the same level as speaking of a woman who is a little bit pregnant; somehow you know the very statement itself is rediculous as a use of words. In no way does this speak to the honesty and ethical conduct of any other politician, it is just that in Louisana it is so open and notorious that one wonders how it even made the front pages in Washington DC.

I imagine if you want to make sure to ensnare and entrap a Democratic politician, you go to two places: Chicago and New Orleans. But I suppose there are always short interims where a short-lived backlash temporarily breaks the Machine, and at this precise moment I’d hope someone else can slide into place: the ravaged city of New Orleans does not William Jefferson representing them at this time. The Congressional Black Caucus’s defense of him notwithstanding.

As per Dennis Hastert’s cries of foul, he douth protesteth too much. All of a sudden this weirdly cohesive Republican tightly wound Federal government cracks a bit. And to what? Dennis Hastert chooses this moment to make a stand against Executive Power? THIS? William Jefferson’s corruption? There was a commentator on CNN the other day who mused abot this: they’re keeping the phone records without a warrant ordinary citizens and you defend that — but with a warrant they go after a Congressman and then — then you cry foul?

Sure. ABC News says he’s implicated and under investigation. Hastert wants a retraction. We go from there.