Wednesday, November 29, 2006
I've been reading some of the aftermath of a "conversation" between President Bush and Senator-Elect James Webb of Virginia. You can read the unofficial transcript, but let's just say it wasn't a pleasant chat. There are some who are glad that Webb sassed back at the President, faulting Bush for even asking about his son. One blogger even said that such an attitude might win over independents.
Before I say anything more, you should know I've not been a fan of the president. I think he has been incredibly incompetent and is in line for being on of the worst presidents in American history. That said, I don't think what Mr. Webb did was heoric or cool or whathaveyou. It was pretty petty and childish.
Yes, conservatives have been incredibly uncivil over the past few years and that includes the President. While such behavior might be deserved, it does nothing to further governing, unless all that governing means is stopping the other party's agenda.
Mr. Webb's comments might make people feel good, but what will it do to solve the problem in Iraq? Not a damn thing. But hey, he mouthed off the President, so that's all that matters.
I would love to see leaders disagree without being so disagreeable. I would love people to stop acting like children and work like adults. I'm not expecting that Mr. Webb pals around with Mr. Bush, heck I don't like the president. But I do expect that all elected leaders show some sense of civility around others, even those they may not like.
America faces some big issues and it need leaders from both parties to act like...well grown ups.
Insofar as a member of Congress taking an oath to serve America and uphold its values is concerned, America is interested in only one book, the Bible. If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don't serve in Congress. In your personal life, we will fight for your right to prefer any other book. We will even fight for your right to publish cartoons mocking our Bible. But, Mr. Ellison, America, not you, decides on what book its public servants take their oath.
Devotees of multiculturalism and political correctness who do not see how damaging to the fabric of American civilization it is to allow Ellison to choose his own book need only imagine a racist elected to Congress. Would they allow him to choose Hitler's "Mein Kampf," the Nazis' bible, for his oath? And if not, why not? On what grounds will those defending Ellison's right to choose his favorite book deny that same right to a racist who is elected to public office?
I dunno, maybe Mr. Praeger is too busy to read the Constitution, but I thought there was no state religion in the United States.
Does anyone really care what book Mr. Ellison places his hand on? I don't. Frankly, we shouldn't have anyone place their hands on any holy book- our Federal officials are asked to uphold and defend the Constitution, not the Bible or the Koran or any other sacred text.
What's scary is that Mr. Praeger has lifted up the Bible to some kind of cultural text. The fact is that it holds special significance to a portion of the American population, but not all of it and it holds no political value.
Mr. Ellison's placing his hand on a Koran is not going to destroy our American values, but Mr. Praeger's chauvanism just might.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
I'm okay with Trent Lott being the Minority Whip in the Senate.
I say this knowing what he said back in 2002; praising outgoing Senator Strom Thurmond on his 100th birthday. The same Thurmond who was a staunch segregationist back in the day and ran against President Harry Truman on a segregationist presidential ticket.
I'm not raising a big stink because frankly, he can do the job he was gunning for; counting votes. As Slate's John Dickerson reports Lott knows how to get things done and knows how to work with the Democrats. I don't think this is a sign of the GOP "not getting it" as much as it is a sign that the Senate GOP might and I stress, might be moving away from being nothing more than a handmaiden to the President. Under outoging Senator Bill Frist, we saw someone who nothing more than President Bush's man in the Senate who defining point was when he "diagnosed" Terry Schiavo by viewing a videotape. Many people had hoped that in the wake of Lott's racially insenstitive remarks, Frist would be a breath of fresh air. Nope. Frist may not be a racist, but he was inept as a leader and to willing to carry the Bushies water.
Listen, if staunch liberal Ted Kennedy can get along with Lott, then maybe he can do something worthwhile in actually getting work done.
As an African American, I can't forget what he said in 2002. But his record shows he can work with those he doesn't agree with and get things done and so I'm willing to let this pass while not forgetting it, either.
However, Mr. Lott better be careful what he says in public. There are many people with cameras waiting for him to say something stupid again and upload their finds to You Tube. You are on a short leash with me, Mr. Lott, so don't mess up.
Friday, November 10, 2006
In reality, while it is very, very true that the GOP's moderates are fewer in number than they were in the days when moderate and liberal Republicans like Nelson Rockefeller and Jacob Javits were in power (and even fewer after last Tuesday), moderates still exist and still are getting elected. Arnold Schwarzenegger was just re-elected this past Tuesday in ultra-blue California. The far right does control the party, but moderates, to paraphase Monty Python, aren't dead yet.
I'm not trying to paint a rosy picutre, just one that isn't as bleak as some point it out to be.
I sometimes think that Democrats want to have a Republican party that is as far to the right as it can be. They think that if the party is sooooo reactionary, people won't want to elect them and the Democrats will remain in power in a permanent majority much like the Social Democratic parties in Scandanavia.
The reality, is that the GOP has veered right for decades and people still elected Republicans who can be very reactionary. The thing is, in America, the electorate is more volitile than it is in places like Sweden and grows impatient when the party in power behaves badly. If the Dems don't satisfy the public, they will go for the other viable option even if it is radical. If you want an example, see the elections of 2000, 2002 and 2004.
We need to have two parties that reach towards the center, not just one. We need to have both a center-left party and a center-right party. We need to do that so that when one party loses, we know that there won't be people foisting a radical agenda on the public.
And that's why I remain in this party. Yeah, we needed to be spanked on Tuesday and thankfully we were. This might make the party reach out towards the center and kick Karl Rove's "divide and govern" strategy to curb. I want to be a voice for change.
I'm thankful that Dems decided to listen to the center, but I'm not satisfied with only one party doing that. We need to get rid of the radicalism on both sides of the isle and get people who are interested in acutally governing the nation than in push their ideological agendas on people.
Republicans can change just as the Democrats have done. Whether they decide to that in the coming days and months, remains to be seen.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
The people have spoken and the House is now in Democratic control with the Senate still being determined. I won't give the entire rundown of all the races, but I do have a few thoughts:
The Democrats Understood the Center. The Dems finally wised up and didn't totally rely on their Moveon.org crowd. The Democrats recruited centrist and even conservative candidates that were able to win in some conservative areas. Republicans would be wise to work on that. One wonders if those liberal Democrats will be able to work with their more centrist and conservative brethren. Related to this is another observation:
The Center matters. Led by Karl Rove, the GOP decided to focus almost exclusively on the socially conservative base and hoping to get enough independents and moderates to win. The Dems have realized that the Center does matter and moderated their message to some extent. The Republicans will have to learn that there is a vital center and they must be reached.
Republicans might want to take a page from the "Terminator." This morning as Republicans wake up to such a loss, they need to look West and take a page from California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Republican governor was elected as a moderate in 2003 and then veered right in 2004-05. Voter referendums backed by the Governor were defeated in 2005, and Scwarzenegger then steered towards the center with initiatives backing a boost in the state's minimum wage and combatting global warming. The result is that he coasted to victory. After this spanking by the public, will the national GOP reach out towards the center? That remains to be seen.
The LA Times right: President Bush is the real loser. This morning's LA Times is correct that the President is the loser today. I agree with them that if there are any plans to move towards the center, it's about six years too late. He went from lame duck to a nearly dead one by ignoring the center being so divisive. You live by the sword, you die by the sword.
Centrist Republicans might be more prominent in the coming years. Maybe. Last night was not a good night for Centrist Republicans. Charlie Bass of New Hampshire, Nancy Johnson of Connecticut and Lincoln Chaffee of Rhode Island all lost. In many cases, it wasn't because they were bad leaders, but because this was a year that voters were made at a political party and wanted to vote out any Republicans, even those they might have like. Voters wanted change.
That said, again the LA Times thinks that centrist Republicans will step up to leadership in the aftermath of yesterday's election. They write:
The Democrats have captured the House, but the most intriguing power shift in the aftermath of this election may not be from Republicans to Democrats but from Rove's socially conservative base to more centrist GOP leaders. One of the ironies of Tuesday's results is that it increases the leverage of moderate Republicans such as Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani. Even as this election claimed so many of their kind, such moderates have the upper hand heading into 2008.
There are those that think the GOP will become more conservative after this defeat (that's my fear), but they might be right. The hard right has been discredited. Maybe this means that the "soft right" that remains will present a more truly conservative agenda that will be a step away from the Karl Rove Republicanism. We shall see.
Some Republicans I'm glad to see go: Don't let the door hit you on the way out:
- Rick Santorum.
- Richard Pombo.
- JD Hayworth.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
The North Star state gets its first female US Senator as Democrat Amy Klobuchar, the Hennepin County Attorney, wins over Republican, Mark Kennedy.
Minnesota has a small African American population. However the 5th district, which is made up of Minneapolis and some surrounding suburbs, is sending the state's first nonwhite representative to DC. Keith Ellison, a Democratic state representative won. He is also the first Muslim to go to Congress.
Sadly, Rhode Island Senator Linc Chaffee, the last of the liberal Republicans, lost against Democratic challenger Sheldon Whitehouse. Chaffee was pretty independent, having voted against the Iraq War and even admitting he didn't vote for President Bush in 2004. But this is not a good year for anyone with an "R" behind their name. He was a good guy and I thank him for his bold stances on the environment and gay rights.
Speaking of gay marriage, Virginia is turning out not to be for gay lovers. One of the more radical gay marriage bans in the nation is winning. Same goes for Wisconsin.
You know, 50 years from now, these laws will look as stupid as miscegination laws do today.
As the saying goes, if you don't vote, you can bitch. So go out and vote today.
I did that this morning with my partner. I vouched for my partner who just moved from North Dakota so that he could get registered to vote (Minnesota is one of a handful of states that allows same-day registration). We did our civic duty and got our red "I voted" sticker.
We are all busy, but take the time to vote. It's democracy in action. I mean, where else can you potentially vote in or vote out your bosses?
Go and vote.
Monday, November 06, 2006
Andrew Sullivan seems to think so. He says that this ad implies that a "dark-skinned" man wants to rape your white wife. Now, I'm not so optimistic to think that there a campaign wouldn't stoop to using racist tactics, but I just don't see that here. Sully sees a "dark-skinned" man, but it's hard to tell if that hand really is "dark-skinned" or not. And one can't determine that the person with their mouth covered is going to be raped.
I don't have any truck for the whole "family values" tactic that the GOP leadership is using, but I really think that Sullivan is reading more into this than what is actually there. My guess is that Sullivan is so dissaffected by the current leadership with it's gay bashing and spendthrift ways, that he is now projecting every bad thing onto the GOP.
Sully can be frustrating to read at times- a few years ago he was projecting everything wrong with society on the Left (remember his assertion of a leftist "fifth column" after 9/11) and now he doing the same thing on the Right. It's not the critism that bothers me- I'm glad he takes on both the Left and the Right- but it's his running hot and cold that bother me. One moment he thinks that someone is the greatest person in the world and then the next that person is the most evil one. It would be nice if Sullivan exhibited some of the doubt that he preaches.
I'm curious to see how long will it be before he starts castigating the Democrats if they win tomorrow.
Friday, November 03, 2006
To quote Andrew Sullivan, it breaks my heart.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
George Allen has cost the Republican Party two members in Texas. And one in Staten Island. It breaks my heart, but I won't soil my name by supporting this party anymore. Winning isn't so important that we should stoop this low, and if this team has forgotten that, then it's not a team I want to be on.
-From the Russell Record.
You know, it's one thing to piss off people like me, I mean, I'm a moderate to liberal Republican and well frankly, many don't think I'm a real Republican anyway. But it's another thing to piss off the solid conservatives that I know. I have seen a lot of fellow Republicans who are far more conservative than I am leave the party in disgust. Chesty is a Marine and a self-avowed "X-con." He is hardly a liberal Democrat. You'd think the party would be doing all it can to keep him in their camp.
I'll say it again: this party needs to lose. BIG. For it's own sake and for the sake of this nation.
The GOP leadership is doing a wonderful job of attracting voters, dontcha think?
And I think that's a good thing.
Even if it means having a Speaker Pelosi (shudders).
Even if it means losing good moderates like Chris Shays and Linc Chafee (sigh).
The Republican party is in dire need of a course correction. It is a party rife with corruption, incompetence, opportunism and obscurantism.
Six years ago, I had some hope that the current GOP leaders wouldn't do that much damage. I thought with the closeness of the 2000 election that Bush would govern more as a centrist and live up to the words of being a "uniter, not a divider."
Boy, was I wrong.
The president and the GOP has done a horrible job at running this country since 2001. This doesn't mean that conservatives can't govern at all, but this gang can't do the job.
I wanted to say more, and I've tried many times. All I can say is that hopefully a good shellacking will do a few things. It will force the party to sit down and reflect on what went wrong. It has been said that after the resignation of Richard Nixon and the Watergate wave in 1974, the Republicans decided to sit back and think. The result was the Reagan Revolution which became ascendant in 1980. That needs to happen again. I'm hoping it will happen on the morning of November 8th.