Thursday, December 14, 2006

Chafee Tells All

Former Senator Lincoln Chafee gave an engaging interview last night on Fresh Air with Terry Gross. Chafee gave a good view of what traditional Republicanism is and how the Bush Administration and Republican-controlled Congress walked away from their conservative principles.

It was sad to see Chafee lose last month. He did much to oppose where the current GOP was headed, and I hope he remains to be a conscience within the party.

If you have an hour to kill, please give this a listen.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Will It Play in Manchester?

John McCain and Mitt Romney might want to take notice of this study. The "small l" liberatarian vote is crucial if the the GOP wants to get back to its winning ways:

President Bush and the congressional Republicans left no libertarian button unpushed in the past six years: soaring spending, expansion of entitlements, federalization of education, cracking down on state medical marijuana initiatives, Sarbanes-Oxley, gay marriage bans, stem cell research restrictions, wiretapping, incarcerating U.S. citizens without a lawyer, unprecedented executive powers, and of course an unnecessary and apparently futile war. The striking thing may be that after all that, Democrats still looked worse to a majority of libertarians.

Because libertarians tend to be younger and better educated than the average voter, they're not going away. They're an appealing target for Democrats, but they are essential to future Republican successes. Republicans can win the South without libertarians. But this was the year that New Hampshire and the Mountain West turned purple if not blue, and libertarians played a big role there. New Hampshire may be the most libertarian state in the country; this year both the state's Republican congressmen lost.

Meanwhile, in the Goldwateresque, "leave us alone" Mountain West, Republicans not only lost the Montana Senate seat; they also lost the governorship of Colorado, two House seats in Arizona, and one in Colorado. They had close calls in the Arizona Senate race and House races in Idaho, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and Dick Cheney's Wyoming. In libertarian Nevada, the Republican candidate for governor won less than a majority against a Democrat who promised to keep the government out of guns, abortion, and gay marriage. Arizona also became the first state to vote down a state constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman.

Presidential candidates might note that even in Iowa libertarians helped vote out a Republican congressman who championed the Internet gambling ban.

If Republicans can't win New Hampshire and the Mountain West, they can't win a national majority. And they can't win those states without libertarian votes. They're going to need to stop scaring libertarian, centrist, and independent voters with their social-conservative obsessions and become once again the party of fiscal responsibility. In a Newsweek poll just before the election, 47 percent of respondents said they trusted the Democrats more on "federal spending and the deficit," compared to just 31 percent who trusted the Republicans. That's not Ronald Reagan's Republican Party.

It's interesting that Mitt Romney is trying to be the social conservative candidate, when he probably would be more appealing if he was his old, libertarian self. Same goes for John McCain, who hasn't gone as far as Romney has, but is starting to piss off a lot of potential voters with his trying to pick up the Bush legacy (if you can call it that).

For the past six years, the GOP has followed the Karl Rove strategy of energizing the base and getting just enough moderates to win. The thing is, the Bushies and their allies in Congress got people so angry, that they lost the very moderates they needed to win. Romney and McCain, who are currently the frontrunners for the GOP nomination, are afraid of the power of the far right to do anything to lose those important primary votes. However, relying soley on the far right which resides in mostly in one Region of the country, the South, is not a winning strategy. Instead it's a nice way to become a regional party, playing second fiddle nationally to the Democrats.

In 1980, Ronald Reagan won with a coalition of religious conservatives, libertarians and Reagan Democrats. The Rovian strategy dismantled this coalition and we saw the results in 2004 and 2006: a narrow presidential victory (that was far from a mandate, if I may say so,) and "thumping" this year in Congress.

What the GOP needs is another Reagan, someone who is a coalition-builder. Dubya turned out to be nothing more than a lapdog to the far right and I fear that Romney and to a lesser extent McCain are following in those footsteps. If they do, it's a sure road to being a permanent minority.

h/t: Andrew Sullivan.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Stupid Comment of the Day- December 12, 2006

I guess this guy thinks Silk is more than Soy, it's gonna turn ya sissy:

There's a slow poison out there that's severely damaging our children and threatening to tear apart our culture. The ironic part is, it's a "health food," one of our most popular....the dangerous food I'm speaking of is soy. Soybean products are feminizing, and they're all over the place. You can hardly escape them anymore...

Soy is feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality. That's why most of the medical (not socio-spiritual) blame for today's rise in homosexuality must fall upon the rise in soy formula and other soy products. (Most babies are bottle-fed during some part of their infancy, and one-fourth of them are getting soy milk!) Homosexuals often argue that their homosexuality is inborn because "I can't remember a time when I wasn't homosexual." No, homosexuality is always deviant. But now many of them can truthfully say that they can't remember a time when excess estrogen wasn't influencing them.

I'd like to know where this guy got his "research." I guess if I eat more beef or something, I can buck up my testosterone. I might die of a heart attack, but at least I'd be a a god-fearing straight man.

I'd needed a laugh today.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Good Fruits; Evil Seeds

Sometimes good things can come from bad people. Sometimes.

Michael Shifter writes in yesterday's Washington Post about the good impulses that have come from two of Latin America's worst leaders: Cuba's Fidel Castro and Chile's Augusto Pinochet, who died yesterday. Shifter notes that Castro helped spur interest in uplifting the poor through social programs and Pinochet helped orient the region towards a more market-based economy. Shifter doesn't ignore the enourmous human rights abuses that took place under Castro and Pinochet's regimes and he isn't saying countries should follow their leadership examples. He simply says that the impulses of social progress and market-based economies found in the region today flowed from these two leaders.

I agree with Shifter, but it would have been nice if Latin America had two better examples than these two specimens of humanity.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Social Security: The Solution

My partner (a Democrat who thinks about the issue) says there is an easy way to fix Social Security, one that probably will get both sides upset. It's done in two easy steps:

  • Raise payroll taxes.
  • Cut benefits.
Neither conservatives nor liberals like this perscription. Conservatives don't want to raise taxes and liberals don't want to cut benefits. While it's politically unpalatable, it's better than the solutions both parties have come up with (private plans from the Republicans, and well, nothing from the Democrats).

Liz Mair over at GOP Progress, is upset that the Bush Administration might be considering raising the payroll tax in a deal with Democrats to fix Social Security. She regards this as a bow to big government social conservatism.

Fiscal conservatism does not mean, we never, ever raise taxes. It means being good stewards of the public purse for future generations. As of late the Bush Adminstration and the Republicans in Congress have done a piss poor job of being fiscally responsible. If raising taxes mean keeping this program's fiscal house in order, then we should consider this. And I aslo think we might need to consider cutting benefits, raising the retirement age, and raising the amount of income taxable.

It's time to get serious, stop thinking about ideological solutions and get to work to help future generations.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Center's Love Affair with the Dems

Looking over the blogs lately, it's pretty clear that what has been talked about in the newspapers is pretty true:centrists and independents left the GOP in droves and voted Democratic. Without going into a whole lot of detail, that includes myself. The centrist blogs seem to be in love with the coming Democratic majority in Congress and that's understandable: let's face it, the GOP messed up big time and George W. Bush will be blamed for ending the conservative hegemony which began with the election of Ronald Reagan as president in 1980.

Andrew Sullivan, who five years ago in the wake of 9/11 was calling the Left in America a "Fifth Column," (which I thought was apalling)now gushes about the Dems and thinks conservatives and libertarians have a home there. Paul Silver cites that with the election of moderate Democrats to Congress, moderate Republicans should pledge to work with them. While I do agree that moderate Republicans should try to work with Dems where possible, I am not one that is ready to hastily greet the Dems and I'm not saying that soley as a partisan.

I think it's a little to early to start thinking that the Democrats are going to reach towards the center because of this election. Maybe that could happen, but I'm not holding my breath. Why? Let's go back to 2000.

George Bush campaigned saying he would be a "different kind of Republican." When he took office, I had hoped that because the closeness of the election, he would steer a more moderate path. Instead, he veered right and followed a formula that pleased the ones that "brought him" to the dance. What we learned from that was that the far right had control in the party and Bush was their handmaiden.

In the last few years, we have seen the decline of Clintonism and the rise of the old liberal base in the Democratic party. This year, the "Kos wing" of the party was more or less silent, but I'm curious to see what happens once the Democrats take office in January. Will they steer a centrist path, or listen to the base? Will they do attainable things like a raise in the minimum wage and allowing the government to negotiate with drug companies under Medicare, or will they go for things like impeachment hearings on the President? I do hope they go centrist, but I know the push for any politician in either party is to please the base and the Dems listen to the base as much as the GOP.

So, I'm not going to go gaga over the Dems, not because they are Dems, but because I've been here before. Best to just watch and see what happens.