Archive for November, 2006

things I hear now

Saturday, November 4th, 2006

Why is the only word that I can find to describe Bush at a campaign rally “yell-y”, and is yell-y even a proper word?

What to do with this guy

Friday, November 3rd, 2006

I try to be all inconclusive.  Which is to say, a person may disseminate all the propaganda they want in my comments of whatever nature they want.  I don’t abide by this type of spam that is “Penis Pump”, but I do abide by something like this.

Which is something I freed from out of the spam filter.  Today, two things float in the spam filter.  One is something that is spam — the url goes to a pornographic site — with the comment “Wow, Saddam Hussein might be put to death in the next 2 days. That is some heavy stuff!”.  That is going to just have to drift there.  The other is… more of the same from our diplomat and professor and such titles.  I am conflicted on what to do with it.  I imagine the essay he has there is in amongst the many links he’s provided, so it is to say that Kalki Guar has had his say.  But maybe he can become a feature in the comments section: a new essay for your consideration.  It’s appropriate for the name “Skull and Bones” and such.

I’ll have to make the decision some other time.

The goddamned horse race

Friday, November 3rd, 2006

The horse race.  The horse race.  The horse race.

Everyone complains that there’s too much focus on the horse race, and that other more important things and other things that need to be mentioned and covered.  What — is a person supposed to stare at poll numbers all the time?  What good is prognostication — like going to Vegas and putting money on this Sunday’s football games.

But things come back to the horse race.  It’s a Spectator Sport, mildly participatory if you chime in as a volunteer to a campaign.  It is election time.  Go forth on other things when the election is over, and reform yourself then.  When the election is over, I can shift through the pegs and move on — equal parts nihilistic and idealistic.  After all, in the most nihilistic impulse — elections mean nothing and the parties are bought and paid for by the same entities, and move forward from there if you want — it is what you are left with: I think the Patriots will beat the Colts.  Does it matter?  Sure, why not: GO TEAM!

I’ve twice predicted that the Senate will end up 50 to 50, with two different sets of barometers.  I’ll go ahead and stick by that.  I’ll make a change to my last prediction template, though.  The Democratic candidate in New Jersey will defeat the Republican candidate.  Bob Menendez, a corrupt party politboro, will defeat the other mediocrity whose hopes lay in the public confusing him with his father.  I stand behind every other prediction.  But we remain at 50 – 50 because I predict I’m wrong about one of these predictions.  Does that last sentence conflict with “I stand behind every other prediction”?  You bet!  But, as a wise founding father of our country once said, “Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

Go through the list of where I am wrong.  Maybe Missouri.  It’s a precarious spot, that.  Polls show a 49 to 49 tie, with 2 percent undecided.  Polling forward for the purpose of leaners, the 2 percent undecided are split 49 to 49 between the two candidates.  So the race either comes down to the “ground game” of which party can get out the vote of its voters, or it comes down to which candidate has the best ballot stuffing or computer hacking capability.

Montana.  At the moment, Conrad Burns has momentum in the polls, and indeed the RNC has pulled resources back into the race after dropping out of sight.  Montana apparently is red enough– Bush won by 59 percent — so as to allow Bush to poke his head in.  Blurry reports behind the scene suggest that there are some positive early voting returns and buzz for Jon Tester headquarters.  Make of that what you will, but I do note that those blurry reports were rampant just before Primary Day when Tester was tied with is primary opponent but defeated him handily.

If polls are to be believed — and they’re good enough to judge the direction of horse races, I was correct in my early assessment regarding Tennessee and Virginia, which was that Jim Webb has a better chance of victory than Harold Ford — this being back right after the primary elections when polls had Webb trailing Allen by 20 points.  I may have just been lucky on that one — who could have forseen George Allen running the nation’s worst election campaign?  But I suppose I can say my prognostication ability is improving, which is to say I could compare Tennessee’s 2006 election with Oklahoma’s 2004 one and see similarities.

Should Bob Corker defeat Harold Ford, Jr., it will be impossible not to conclude that the subtly racist advertisement and the overtly racist advertisement was the turning point.  Honestly, though, the only reason — beyond party control — I would particularly hope for Ford to become Senator is that he would push the number of black Senators in American history past one hand.  At any rate, this boosts Bill Frist’s presidential bid, I suppose, or at least ebbs it less than if Corker loses — particularly since Corker’s campaign was sinking until Frist tossed him his campaign staff.  (Kerry did that during his 2004 primary campaign — borrowed Edward Kennedy’s.)  That’s a bit of a joke, since Frist is never ever going to be elected president, but I’ll just let that muse reverberate there.  I suppose their solution to Corker’s struggling campaign came down to exploit Ford’s race.  If I wanted to give them more credit, tie Corker to Tennessee and tie Ford to Washington.

It looks as though things are a’happening in Arizona, a race generally ignored but where polls and other signs have popped up such that the Democratic Party is pushing resources Jim Pederson’s ways.  I heard somewhere that party of the Democratic Party’s strategy in assessing where to spend their money was to try to consolidate some states to become more fertile ground for 2008 — and Arizona would be example #1 of that strategy.  Hence a bunch of Arizona house races are funded to make Arizona more than just the “feign in and pretend like we’re running a campaign here” state it was in 2004.  I presume that there is an inverse of the top of the ticket coat-tail effect going on here.  We want Jim Pederson to win because that would toss Jon Kyl aside.  If by some miracle Ned Lamont defeats Joseph Lieberman, the two chairs of the current iteration of the “Committee on Present Danger” will be shoved out of the Senate.  Thus two Senators who would like to bomb every nation on Earth would be gone — at least from the Senate.  That would be a good thing.  But it’s best not to get one’s hopes up.  We can only be so lucky.

That’s where things stand.  Make the most of them.

I Know Politics Bore You

Friday, November 3rd, 2006

I’m washing dishes, never mind where and never mind when. KINK is playing in the background, KINK essentially being the current version of a radio station that plays music “everyone can agree on”. A fairly generic pop song from the last decade or decade and a half is playing– I don’t remember what — not a bad song, not a good song. Somebody says, “Ah. This song takes me back.”

This song takes me back.

Where? How? Why? How could that song possibly take anyone back?
Actually, come to think of it, a lot of songs take me back to very specific moments. The other day, I heard playing at a store the Soul Asylum song “Frustrated Incorporated.” That song takes me back to a specific area of time, because it was played on the radio for a very small amount of time. It is a very mundane time.
The John Mellancamp song “Dance Naked” takes me back to this one time where my sister took in a radio that she had on the local “Top 40″ station that I had changed to the “album oriented rock” station (ie: Classic Rock and Pearl Jam). Since it was a cross-over song, she didn’t realize it was on the other station. When it played the next song, she yelled “Damned” and changed the station. That song really takes me back!

Likewise the minor Bruce Springsteen song “Murder Incorporated” takes me back to this time when I was riding a school bus, and someone said, “God this song is boring.”

That song really takes me back.

It’s really funny how specific songs can take you back like that. Really. It is.

The North Shall Rise again

Thursday, November 2nd, 2006

Grover Norquist, the conservative Washington operative, has a compelling theory about declining Republican prospects in the blowout belt. Those states have been dominated by “Lincoln Republicans,” he says. The party created in Northern states by Abraham Lincoln believed in fighting slavery and preserving the Union. Once those goals were achieved, it had no ideology, no set of firm beliefs. It became an establishment party, thriving on power and patronage. In a bad Republican year like 2006, such a party has little pull with average voters, Norquist says.He contrasts Lincoln Republicans with Reagan Republicans in southern, prairie, and western states. The Republican party that grew up in those states in recent decades was based on conservative beliefs. And this ideology holds Reagan Republicans together in good years and bad, Norquist says. Indeed, Democrats have mounted few serious challenges this year in the South, where Reagan Republicans are strongest.

I’m sort of sick of posting from The Weekly Standard.  But I suppose this is an interesting theory that Grover Norquist is positing.  But I have to say, it raises a number of questions.  What were these Lincoln Republicans doing and thinking when the voted for Reagan in the first and second place?  And why Reagan Republicans as opposed to, say, swirling through history to when the cracks poked through in the Democrats’ “Solid South” — Hoover Republicans, or, to when the “Solid South” turned solidly to a Republican contender — Nixon Republicans?

As it were, a number of things to say about the probably outcome of the 2006 election.  #1:  While it is the most Republican region, the South is not immune from what’s expected to be a Democratic tide.  Which is to say, there will probably be more Democrats elected come Tuesday from that region.  #2:  It seems eerily appropriate that control of the Senate hinges on whether the Democrats can crack some victories in border states — which is how the two most recent and likely next presidential election has hinged.  #3:  Whatever you can say about the politics of these “D”s, Arkansas is about to become numerically as solid Democratic in control as the state was in the days of the Solid South.  #4:  The Atlantic North Coast is going to be disgustingly solid, and indeed it is hard not to see it as in part a reaction to the Republican’s current southern status.  The Civil War continues to play out.  It looked like the South had risen, but the North shall rise again.  #5:  George Bush’s campaign itinerary sure is different than it was in 2002, when he pretty much had free reign in the nation.  2004?  Georgia.  Idaho.  Those Deep purple states such as that.

going forth with John Kerry

Thursday, November 2nd, 2006

I was trying to decide whether or not I should remain in the news cycle or escape its ugly clutches.  I guess I’ll make a few further comments on John Kerry, and simply note that there are more important news stories… um…

But John Kerry.  The good news is that this supposedly throws out the last vestiges of any hope he has of becoming president.  The bad news is that that’s probably not a good reason for this — either we want a perfectly polished and hamstrung candidate for the president or we want an ounce of spontaniety… ’tis the Freak Show Aspect of the whole thing.

But, assume the worst with Kerry’s remarks.  I once typed up my high school militayry recruitment story — it was online but seems to have been lost in a shuffle from geocities to struat.com.  Which is too bad, because I am never going to be able to have the accuracy and precision of the sales pitch and my passive weaving and waving.  It was nothing you don’t learn in a sales seminar (or in DECA class), and I was conciously aware of what he was doing.
I remember sitting with a group of students I regard as at least academically better than I — students who did better on the SATs than I.  For whatever it’s worth, I crushed the military’s ASVAB test, and that was obvious when we looked over each other’s test results.  When I had some question or other to a military man and had to show him the test, his eyes popped open.  I always tend to tie this with the military recruiter, or I try to figure out where in the various questions that asked “Interested Recruiter Contacting You about Exciting options in today’s armed services” I did not fill in an emphatic “No”.
But a few years ago I read– I think in a Harpers readings — the guidelines for how a recruiter should go about his job.  Make contacts with the “IN” crowd, it would seem — they influence the other kids.  Okay, fair enough.  More importantly for this, what stood out is: Stay in Touch with kids — even as they enter college and reject military service, and call them back during the Winter Vacation — as this is the time they may be wavering on college.

I should find that article.  A gaffe is what now?  Accidentally telling the truth?

None of which takes away from the people in the armed services, who almost by definition are more mature and more worldy than I after encountering things I’ve never experienced.

The ugly underside of

Wednesday, November 1st, 2006

Pondering the meaning of elections and campaigns and political parties, I can’t shake a certain feeling of dread.  Cue, from a Newsweek article on Nancy Pelosi, a bit about candidate Heath Shuler, and pay attention here.

Pelosi’s relative anonymity has made it difficult for Republican candidates, who have attempted, and so far largely failed, to make her into a scary national symbol of the left. It’s hard to spook people with a face no one recognizes. Of course, that hasn’t stopped them from trying. Some of the ads are unintentionally funny. In North Carolina, GOP Rep. Charles Taylor is in a tough re-election fight against former NFL quarterback Heath Shuler. In the past, Taylor has won by portraying his Democratic opponents as weak-kneed liberals. But Shuler is so conservative that the Republicans once tried to recruit him as a candidate. The Heisman Trophy runner-up is anti-abortion, anti-immigration and pro-gun. He even supports the war in Iraq. You wouldn’t know it watching Taylor’s TV ads, which accuse Shuler of “following the playbook of San Francisco liberal Nancy Pelosi.” With the sound of a football crowd in the background, the narrator sums it up: “The Pelosi game plan: elect Heath Shuler and others like him and take over Congress with the votes of illegal immigrants.”

The key line is “the Republicans once tried to recruit him as a candidate”, and you can also add “even supports the Iraq War”, which is a major rationalization to rid lingering doubts on Virginia Senate candidate Jim Webb.  But for an aggressive recruiting from Rahm Emanuel, Heath Shuler would be a Republican — and probably not a terribly independent one at that.  Your two-party duopoly at work!  It appears to be the type of Democrats that the powerbrokers of this party want.

A large number of the upcoming supposed Democratic Revival is going to be simply a re-emergence of a sort of Boll Weevil that was largely wiped out in 1994, not moderate Democrats but — indeed — conservatives.  It makes for a difficult balance.  “Electibility” in an area where you cannot elect a Democrat proper.  A party cannot afford to be a regional party, and needs to plant a tent somehow.  The South is decidedly troublesome, because the Dixiecrats of old linger on the voter-rolls as “D”s, apart from the party as a whole.  But what good is it to win with ideological opponents (of the rank and file national Democrat, naturally.  The party election machine coffers are happy to churn over whoever however).

Personally, I hope Heath Shuler loses.  Hold out hope that some better candidate can fill the niche in the south, and in the meantime find that extra Democrat elsewhere.

on false outrage

Wednesday, November 1st, 2006

An adjacent thought to the current John Kerry flap, and psuedo-outrage, is a simple question. It is not meant as either a slight or a praise of John Kerry himself, but when does an ex-presidential and losing candidate cease to be referred to as a “leader of the party”? I suppose Al Gore wound through for most of the four years past 2000 due to the idea that most people assumed he was going to set up for the 2004 election. But Walter Mondale and Bob Dole were pretty well summarily rejected.

Perhaps that was due to them pretty well being at the end of their career with their presidential run. A more pointed example might be Michael Dukakis — who was painted away as quickly as possible– but then again, he came to an inglorious conclusion in his career on his own accord. Kerry will still be kicking as long as he decides to remain Senator.
One thought may be that due to the Democrats’ current role as minority party, there is a vacuum of leadership and who you call upon to represent the party. Kerry is still in office.

As for the flap, I can and will defend it however you want it defended — as both and either the claimed (and supposedly verifiable if you read the transcript) joke on the president and more politically troublesome variety the Republicans are playing it up as, with a more sympathetic twist to the plight of the poor and academically struggling… in short: troubled socio-economics. (From The Onion’s 100 Years Book, for 1991: “Last Year’s Bottom 10% Graduating Class Ready to Take on Saddam”). Who and what situations of our youth do the army recruiters target? 

Never mind.