Archive for November, 2006

Conservative Democrats then versus Conservative Democrats Now

Thursday, November 9th, 2006

I heard something yesterday that I found striking, and in the context of some jelling conventional wisdom something that punches back.  The oncoming Democratic Majority in the House is the first House Majority that is not shored up by, or as the case may be held up with, a majority of the seats in the South.

Working through that information, I can extrapulate even further back.  With two exceptions, this is the first House Majority of that type since the year 1930, when the Democrats took over Congress after the Great Market Collapse and the onslaught of the Great Depression.  The two exceptions are the famous “Do Nothing Congress” of the Republicans, elected in 1946 due to Truman fatigue and tossed aside when Truman won his improbable election by mercilessly attacking Congress, and the four year period following the 1950 election to the 1954 election.  The Democrats had complete control over the Solid South, which switched party control in terms of majority when the Republicans won Congress in 1994.

Keep that in mind as we consider the late punditing that the Democrats’ victory came with a batch of conservative victories of politicans who are aping Republicans, befitting the hopeful spin from Republicans that the Democrats remain losers.

Looking down the list of the nine new Democratic Senators, and this doesn’t make sense at all.  (Actually, strike that.  Eight new Democratic Senators and one… SOCIALIST, which adds to the point.)  I suppose you have Bob Casey, Jr, famously recruited as a sop for social conservatives.  Beyond that, you look at Jim Webb square-eyed, but I am hard-pressed to pick out a hot-button issue of a liberal litmus test variety that Webb is on the other side on.  (He defends gay marriage in Virginia, for crying out loud.)  The punditing keeps landing on the issue of gun control, and I guess bully for an issue that hasn’t been pushed in over a decade.

You have better luck with this premise in the House.  Indeed, a handful of “blue dog Democrats” have been elected.  As have all the other varieties of Democrats.

I owe this thought to a blogger from dailykos, a little bit of historical perspective.  The current Conservative Democrats have nothing to the old Democratic Conservatives, also known as “Dixiecrats”.  If the current “blue dog” Democrats put a lease on what our liberal Democratic committee chairs can do, consider what the positively Reactionary Democrats (who chaired those committees) put a leash on up to — oh, I don’t know — 1964.  Start with stopping a piece of anti-lynching legislation in 1938 and go from there to curtailing  and watering down forward-stepping civil rights legislation in the 1950s.

Example: Ellison D. “Cotton Ed” Smith of South Caarolina who stormed out of the Democratic Convention in 1936 because a black minister was delivering an invocation, shouting “By God, he’s as black as melted midnight.”

The current coalition differs substantially from that coalition, and one has to say that’s a lot better deal.

Mess with Texas

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

I remember clicking past Rush Limbaugh’s television show on election day 1994, which was broadcast opposite one of the halves of David Letterman, if I recall.  It was filmed earlier in the day — I think just after his radio program, so he did not have any way of knowing just how big a night it would be for his team.  He focused in on some visual and audio mockery of Texas Governor, and endangered Democratic incumbent Ann Richards, throwing spitballs out of her stump speeches.  She would lose the election to George W. Bush.

I made sure to catch him the next night, out of a sense of curiosity.  Limbaugh was wearing a formal three-piece suit.  Really, it was a minimalistic performance on his part — all he had to do was read various election results, and let the studio audience cheer.

In 1998, my high school Civics teacher had the question on the daily current events quiz “Who, in general, won?”  The answer was “Democrats”.  In going over the answers, and the news, he made the comment “Actually, it really was a good night for them; it really was.  You can’t say it had anything to do with them, though.”  I disagreed and continue to disagree with the first part of that equation: it was a marginally good night for the Democrats.  They won a few House seats.  1994 was a good mid-term election night for a political party; this — granted, bucked a historical trend, but didn’t really sway either way the relative power-relationship between the two parties.  The Democrats chipped away a few House seats for 1996, under the leadership of Dick Gephardt, did so again in 1998, and again in 2000.  The trend slid the other way from there.  I came to think that a political party really never going to win and re-win the House by slow chipping aways of seats — they’d have to have an election result such as 1994, or as it turned out, 2006.

NPR had two political pundits — the Democrats represented by EJ Dionne and the Republicans represented by somebody from The Weekly Standard.  It was obvious from the start that The Weekly Standard pundit had to churn harder to come up with a spin.  “I don’t see a trend yet.  It’s too early to notice a spin”, he said after the first few states came in with several results favoring the Democrats.  He had to find some solace in the Lieberman — Lamont race.  “It’s interesting to note that Lieberman’s victory came with people who attend church regularly.”  Sure, why not?  “There seems to be something here in Connecticut where Lieberman has coat-tails that are bringing in the moderate Republicans, who are hanging in there.”  And then the kicker came when Nancy Pelosi was announced to be, mathematically speaking, the new Speaker of the House — the number of Democratic pick-ups stood at 17.  “The two endangered Democrats in Georgia might bring it down to 15.”

I’m sure he strained a lot less in 1994 to say things.  Or maybe he was sitting in Rush Limbaugh’s studio audience.

rock and roll

Tuesday, November 7th, 2006

One positive trend of the current election is that finally, finally, finally, the Oregon state Democratic Party has pushed aside Art Alexakis, front man for the band Everclear, as the major celebrity rock man for youth outreach.  I am pretty sure that Art Alexakis — with or without Everclear, a band that I guess is malleable anyway — has toured every college in Oregon since 1996 with the Democratic candidates in tow, sponsored by College Democrats — and sang their hit songs interspersed with the politicians’ speeches.  I’m sure the one I saw, in 2000, was the high-light of this side-career of Alexakis’s — he invited a confrontation with some Naderite protestors.  It’s all downhill from that, and come to think of it it’s all downhill for Alexakis’s career — a big thing in the middle 90s, not so much today.

Alexakis’s role came largely due to a lack of anyone else to fit the role.  I think the torch has been passed — maybe for a brief tenure, maybe for a longer tenure — to Storm Large, recent contestant on the reality program and rockized version of American Idol — Rockstar Supernova.  She made a robo-call on behalf of Ted Kulongoski.

You must always find your way to change.  The Youth need something Fresh and New, you know.

“November Non-Surprise”

Monday, November 6th, 2006

I heard this news clip that “critics are questioning the timing” of Saddam Hussein’s conviction.  This is an insane statement.  To “question the timing” presumes a sense of doubt.  I myself am not “questioning” the timing of Saddam Hussein’s conviction, I am stating the timing of Saddam Hussein’s conviction.  Which is to say, when this process started, roughly two years ago, I predicted that he would be convicted the weekend going into the 2006 midterm elections.  There it is!  This didn’t keep me up at night, nor is it keeping me up at night as a partisan horror attack.  It’s just the manner in which this is under US government control, as opposed to — oh, I don’t know — under control of the International War Crimes Tribunal.  (There were statements made by right-wing cranks that bellowing “Why isn’t France [France as stand-in for all those squishy European nations] involved in this?”  The reason being — the US threw it out of international rules, and did it themselves — under the guise of “Iraqi rule”.  Figure out the political repercussions yourownself as per your own personal views on politics.)

So then there were the clips of Bush at some campaign rallies proclaiming the greatness of this conviction.  An Independent judiciary in Iraq, that which so many people never believed could happen.  The Iraqis are Standing Up, if the US is not standing Down ah well.  I cannot stress this too much:  Bush is all yell-y.  These speeches leave the crowd in thunderous applause.  Who are these people?  Are these the people who believe the words of Tony Snow about how ridiculous these questions (re: statements) are and how in the realm of tin-foil hat territory they are, as though nothing here was set up by the American government.

Bush’s approval ratings are back up to 40%, I hear.  I believe it’s a sign of submergence on the part of a significant number of Republicans needing to stand by Team Republican — always a foil, always a foil, always a foil, that being San Francisco Liberal Nancy Pelosi and a batch of potential urban and liberal committee chairs.  We await tommorrow to see what this means:

ROVE: I’m looking at all of these Robert and adding them up. I add up to a Republican Senate and Republican House. You may end up with a different math but you are entitled to your math and I’m entitled to THE math.

SIEGEL: I don’t know if we’re entitled to a different math but your…

ROVE: I said The math.

Which is to say, in my math 2 + 2 = 4.  With “The Math”, 2 + 2 evidentally equals “Republican Victory”.  I presume that this is that there famed “New Math” I used to hear people rail against.

World War Two all over again

Monday, November 6th, 2006

This Week with George Stephanopoulos interview with Dick Cheney.STEPHANOPOULOS: Paul Harvey this week said that Iraq had gone sour. And he made the observation that what he calls the mishandled war in Iraq has gone on almost as long as World War II right now.

Do you think if it hadn’t been mishandled, if there hadn’t been mistakes, more American troops would be home right now?

CHENEY: Well, George, I think the um … analogy to World War II is just not a valid analogy. It’s just a totally different set of circumstances.

When does Dick Cheney and Bush Administration get to disown World War Two analogies and when does he get to embrace them?  Just for the heck of it, I encountered one other piece of comedy.  The Washington Times’s endorsement of Rick Santorum:

It is not every day that a politician chooses to use the closing days of a hotly contested, and exceedingly high-stakes, election to give voters bad news. Yet, in Pennsylvania, the incumbent senator, Rick Santorum, is courageously doing just that.
Specifically, Mr. Santorum is stumping across his state telling constituents about the most important issue with which the man they elect next week will have to contend: a world in which America’s people and vital interests are in grievous danger. With pages literally ripped from Winston Churchill’s memoir about the run-up to World War II, the senator, a Republican, is providing an unvarnished assessment of the “Gathering Storm” that threatens our generation — and those of our children and grandchildren — unless addressed in creative and effective ways.
I had a chance to witness first-hand the clarion call Rick Santorum is giving to the people of his state and the rest of this country as I introduced him to audiences in Pittsburgh, Johnstown and Erie last week. He spoke with passion and authority about the combination of enemies who are currently joining forces — despite differences of ideology no less dramatic than those of Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, Imperial Japan and Fascist Italy when they were allies during World War II — to advance a common goal of destroying America and other freedom-loving nations.
Notably, Mr. Santorum addressed squarely the danger posed by “Islamic fascists,” a term he does not shrink from using. He understands that it does not defame peaceable, tolerant Muslims. Rather, it distinguishes the latter from those who make up the virulent and violent totalitarian political movement that seeks to conquer and repress the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds alike.
[…]   Like Churchill before him, Mr. Santorum is far more than a Cassandra warning of the dangers ahead. He is a man with a record of leadership and accomplishment who both recognizes such perils and works effectively to devise and adopt appropriate strategies for dealing with them.
For example, Rick Santorum has sought to apply the lessons of Ronald Reagan’s destruction of the Soviet Union to our current, global struggle with today’s totalitarians. In the Senate, he has led on energy self-reliance, military readiness, homeland security and political warfare. The senator has also been a prime mover behind legislation aimed at delegitimizing the odious Iranian and Syrian regimes and empowering domestic opposition aimed at bringing them down. Such an outcome represents the only realistic hope for preventing freedom’s defeat in Iraq and its imperiling elsewhere.
The commanding grasp shown by Mr. Santorum of the most important issues of our day stands in stark contrast to the haplessness of his opponent, Democratic State Treasurer Bob Casey, Jr., when it comes to the war. He has generally declined to debate the substance of the incumbent’s positions and judgments, offering — often incoherently — canned talking points and platitudes seemingly focus-group tested to obscure his lack of knowledge or gravitas.
In the past few days, Mr. Santorum has found a way of starkly demonstrating to Pennsylvania’s voters that Treasurer Casey is more than unprepared for the job he seeks in the U.S. Senate. He has also been missing-in-action when it comes to the role he could have been playing to support the war effort in his present job. […]

I will note that the link goes to a piece praising to the high heavens Curt Weldon — who is compared to Horatio.  They change this link every week, I suppose, thus here’s the Rick Santorum piece.  So we have Rick Santorum, the modern day Churchill, and Curt Weldon, the modern day Horatio, who work in tandem to… um… publish notes on starting a nuclear bomb in the ruse of having ametuer detectives search for weapons of mass destruction.

kos and his commenters and Tennessee

Sunday, November 5th, 2006

I wonder about some things in the political blogosphere.  You can’t deny that Kos of dailykos is partisan, and a booster of the Democratic Party.  You also cannot deny that he’s conscious of the way anything published on his website can be used against the Democratic Party — as he is now a fund raising conduit.  There is an element of self-censorship that he’s developed: he quickly deleted a controverisal post damning corporate contractors in Iraq (a more hostile word would be “mercenaries”), which was grist for the Tom Coburn campaign in 2004 — “Brad Carson is supported by radical left bloggers who want our troops dead” — and is being used by Joseph Lieberman against Ned Lamont in a campaign flyer.

He also has a stated policy of deleting anything that ventures into 9/11 conspiracy.  Granted, you don’t have to defend this as part of staying on the political straight and narrow, but it’s hard for me not to see some “we don’t want dailykos used as opposition attacks” in play.

There are limits to any respectable partisan booster — a point at which to push forth in a purely partisan vein makes you nothing but a propagandist and thus makes your website pointless.  It’s not even the proverbial thin line.  Witness Kos “Giving up on Tennessee”.  He sees the situation in the Tennessee election, and has given a negative assessment of what is happening.  I note his next post pertained to Montana — which was “productively cautious” and a partisan call to action– in short, mixed news.

To do anything else would be to act like the DSCC website, which in 2004 kept up a favorable poll result from September concerning that Carson — Coburn race even as less favorable results were published.

Some commentors in that post — aghast reaction that he would be demoralizing the troops — seems to me a poor reflection on these blog readers.  What, oh, what, do you want of your leading partisan Democratic blog?  Happiness all around?  Joseph Lieberman tells us that there are a record number of cell phones in Iraq!  How’s that for good news?  Moralize yourself!  Ford will win if there’s a big enough “tsunami”, which there may be, and I guess the “troops” should prepare themselves for that event.

Maybe Kos could just refrain from commenting on Tennessee, leave it conspicuously absent as he does a few focuses on Arizona, and prepare a post-mortem analysis to be published after the election.  Is that what they want?

Maybe this reaction on my part is uncalled for.  I neglected to read comments — which I rarely do simply because of time consumed, just as I largely just scan blogs — in 2004 of the same sort about Daschle, Kentucky, and Louisiana.  Maybe they were there, maybe Kerry v Bush just sucked out that oxygen and they were not there.

on Kulongoski

Sunday, November 5th, 2006

There’s this Ron Saxton ad — it may only be a radio ad, I don’t know — which goes: “Think back to last May.  Why did 45 percent (or whatever the number is) of Democrats vote against Ted Kulongoski.  Could it be because –”

And then we get into the supposed reasons that Ted Kulongoski met a semi-serious primary threat — 45 percent off of two opponents.  And we arrive at: “Is it because CATO gave him a D grade in fiscal management?”

The answer to that question is “no”.  45 percent of Democrats did not vote for one of Kulongoski’s primary challangers because of the condemnation of a conservative policy organization.

Can we get some political advertisements that do not insult our intelligence, please?

I won’t say how I voted.  Maybe I voted for Kulongoski.  Maybe I “threw my vote away” to a third party candidate — Keating of the Greens, you would think — or would you?  Maybe I left that slot blank.  But here’s a reason to vote for Kulongoski: it’s a subtle victory for robust primary challenges against incumbant politicians, that they can be challenged and not “weakened” into the general election to a defeat.  I don’t much like the idea that the opposing party can throw up “45 percent of his own party voted against him in the primary” as a sign of supposed turptitude.