Sunday, July 27, 2003


I have yet to touch on this issue when writing about P2004, primarily because my own preference would have been to find someone I liked who could also beat Bush. But as of right now, I still do not have a candidate and since there has been a plethora of stuff written about electability, I feel the need to get my own two cents in.
From my perspective there are two declared and one undeclared candidates who could win in November of 2004- Gephardt, Edwards and Clark. But I think the best way to proceed is to lay out what it will take for a Democratic candidate to win the White House. The secret is in two little words- Reagan Democrats. These are the folks who have determined the president for at least the past 24 years. They're a combination of Democrats, former Democrats and Independents who began voting Republican at the nationl level in 1980, driven largely by national security concerns but also due to economic conditions (remember malaise?).
People in this category tend to be white, working to middle class, non-degreed, and blue collar. Ideologically they tend towards economic populism and social moderation (I hesitate to use the word conservative because of its loaded meaning and association with the Religious Right). These Reagan Democrats voted GOP until 1992, when Bill Clinton was able to lure them back into the Democratic fold, primarily as a result of economic troubles in the early 1990's. However, in 2000, George Bush was able to pull enough of these folks back towards the GOP, driven largley by his personality.
These folks are the key to 2004, as they were in 2000. Al Gore lost moderate, blue collar folks in the South and that torpedoed his candidacy. Despite being from the South, he was viewed with skepticism and as some out of touch elitist from Washington. In spite of his populist message, he never quite connected with enough Reagan Democrats to win the White House (yes, I know he won the popular vote, but if you think this race should have even been CLOSE then you simply do not know your political history).
Now, who is it in this year's field who can appeal to this swing constituency and who cannot. I believe that only Gephardt and Edwards (among the announced candidates) have any realistic shot. I should note that I really only think that Gephardt, Edwards, Kerry, Dean and Clark (if he runs) stand any chance at winning the nomination.
It will be almost too easy for Bush & Co. to paint Kerry and Dean as out of touch, elitist, New England liberals. Although Dean clearly has a moderate record as Governor of Vermont, he has consistently staked out a position on the left side of the primary lot, which will be impossible to moderate once the primaries are over. Besides, Dean's moderation is a mixture of economic conservatism (fiscal hawk) and social liberalism that is exactly the opposite of the Reagan Democrats, not to mention his decision to make his opposition to the Iraq war his campaign's raison d'etre.
The same argument can be made against Kerry, despite his support for the war. He certainly does have foreign policy cred, but there will always be the looming question of whose medals he threw at the Pentagon. And, a quick look at his website will show that he is a classical Northeast liberal who presents just as target rich an envrionment for this Bush team as Michael Dukakis did for the previous Bush. Combine that with his aloofness and his tendency to try to be everything to everyone and Kerry is clearly not the man to beat Bush.
That leaves us with Gephardt and Edwards (I won't touch Clark, really, until he jumps in) and the reasons why they are each electable are based on their appeal to Reagan Democrats. Gepahrdt's appeal is based on his ties to labor and his economic populism. He presents as an economic populist with a bit of social moderation to boot. His support for fair, not free, trade will ring true to the heart and soul of Reagan Dems- the blue collar folks whose jobs have vanished over the past decade. In addition, his Midwestern roots and general likability will play strongly nationwide and will allow him to appeal to both educated upscale Northeast voters and Southern blue collars.
Edwards has a very similar appeal, though not quite as much of an economic populist as Gephardt. His pitch on economic matters is aimed at some of those same populist folks, but with a slightly different twist. Whereas Gephardt borders on protectionist, Edwards is a free trader who is campaigning on the difference between crony capitalism and real capitalism. Edwards also has the same Southern roots that catapulted the last two Democratic presidents into the White House. This is not to be overlooked, because for whatever reason Southern moderates just seem more comfortable voting for one of their own than for a Northerner.
The other quality both Gephardt and Edwards have going for them is their likability and personality. People were turned off by Al Gore and saw him as the kid who sat in the front of the class and tattled on the other kids. He seemed too smarmy and a know it all. Voters do not liked to be spoken down to and I think that Gore suffered for his speaking style. As I have noted elsewhere, Gephardt possesses a certain masculine charm- he seems like a guy you could play golf with or have a beer with at the local pub. Edwards is a little bit more smooth, but has a very eloquent speaking style (MTP appearance aside) that connects well with voters. In other words, both can beat Bush in the personality war.
So, if it is electablilty that we care about- and boy, do I hope so- then really we have two (maybe three) choices. Of the current crop of hopefuls, only Gephardt and Edwards can win because they connect with the Reagan Democrats who came home to elect Clinton twice. These same people will put either Gephardt or Edwards in the White House next November.

Friday, July 25, 2003

Death Knell

News reports indicate that the Democrats will not re-appoint campaign finance reform supporter Scott Thomas to the FEC. Instead, they have opted for a McCain-Feingold opponent, labor lawyer Robert Lenhard (WaPo story). I have always had mixed feelings about campaign finance reform, as it has been structured with an emphasis on contribution limits and expenditure caps (in some states). In a perfect world, we would have instant disclosure so that people woud know exactly who is behind a candidate and what their motives might be. I always thought it was a bit ironic that as we lament the influence of money in politics and the disproportionate time candidates spend raising cash, we impose rules that make it more difficult to raise money, thereby making politicians spend even more time dialing for dollars.
I have never been crazy about the idea of public financing of campaigns, largely because I see other spending priorities that are not being met with limited government dollars. But also there is something repulsive to me to think that my tax dollars might go to a candidate who I oppose or loathe, or even worse a candidate who is racist or homophobic. Imagine a scenario in which a Farrkhan or Santorum gets tax dollars to run a campaign, but your local school cannot afford enough text books. How long could such a system last?
So back to my point. I wonder if this is the death knell of campaign finance reform? I also wonder how this action will play with the Democratic base, who overwhlemingly support(ed) reform. Is it better to lose with principles than to win without?

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Mean Dean Meme? Try Dumb Dean

There has been more than a little bit of kvetching in the Dean bunch about the Mean Howard Dean meme in the media and on the lips of pundits. And they point to his fairly frequent labelling as the angry candidate, or the candidate who has tapped into Democratic anger, etc. But let me throw another one out there- meme, that is- which could get some more play as the campaign continues- Dumb Dean. Now, I do not mean dumb in the sense that Dean is not intelligent, because he clearly is one of the brightest men in the race. But he has an uncanny ability to say DUMB things.
For example, when the statue of Saddam Hussein was being toppled, Dean remarked that he supposed it was a good thing. One can be anti-war and still see that the end of a tyrannical regime that killed tens of thousands of its own people is indeed a good thing, without any ambivalence whatsoever. But Dean seems not to have learned from this mistake and again put his foot in his mouth when he argued that the ends did not justify the means (the ends being the killing of Uday and Qusay Hussein). Huh?
The world is now rid of two murderous, serial rapists who were quite likely behind some of the attacks on US troops and Dean talks about ends and means? Iraqis can feel a little bit safer now that these two thugs are gone, yet Dean expresses no happiness for the Iraqi people, no sense of relief that their lives might be just a little bit better today than they were yesterday.
I am sure that the Dean mullahs will not be happy with the Dumb Dean meme, but they have only their savior (oops, candidate) to blame. From shooting from the lip on Iraq to lying about his opponents' records, the Deanster is his own worst enemy. But the mujahiDean and their assorted and sundry Kool Aid imbibers only seem to get more enamored with each flub (see, MTP aftermath). And they say that liberals are too smart for cults..

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

What to do About Nader?

Now that Saint Ralph seems to be hankering to hand GW Bush another election, here comes an excellent piece from Michael Tomasky in TAP (here). The gist of the strategy is to attack Nader early and often, but go and read the whole piece. Now!
While I am on the subject, there are those who think I am some rabid conservative Democrat (apparently they are the same people who do not read my posts on equal rights for gays), but I digress. As another attempt to bolster my Democrat, center-left bonafides, I confess that one of my handful of daily reads, and arguably my favorite, is The American Prospect's weblog TAPPED.

Who's the Liberal?

If you were given the choice between Howard Dean and John Kerry, who would you identify as the liberal? I bring this up not only because of Dean's fairly centrist record, but because I have spent too much time on Steve's Kerry blog today (here) and he has posted a slew of talking points for tomorrow's Meet Up for Kerry folks. To be sure, the list is not exhaustive of Kerry's positions, but to read them gives one a good glimpse of what the candidate is all about. Now, to a centrist Democrat like myself, the talking points read like a laundry list of positions designed to garner support from the liberal interest groups who control the Democratic nominating process. It is somewhat interesting to read because Kerry, to some degree, has tried to distance himself from the Massachusetts liberal stereotype. While he has not embraced the DLC's centrism, he has certainly made himself appear moderate, especially on matters of national security.
But some of that veneer has started to wear over the past few days as Kerry has launched full throated attacks on the President with regards to the Iraq war. He even goes so far as to allege that the President was negligent in not pursuing further international support via the UN (if Kerry did't realize that the administration was marching to war with the resolution he voted for, then he is indeed a gullible man). Part of Kerry's reasons for stepping up his attacks is the continued strength of Howard Dean, especially among angry anti-war Democrats.
The two men are each engaged in a bit of political crossdressing where the centrist Governor puts on a liberal cloak, made up solely on his opposition to the war and the fantasies of his supporters; and, the Massachusetts liberal tries to play dress up with Bill Clinton's clothes. But, if one simply goes to each candidate's site, and reads through where they stand on the issues, it becomes readily apparent that Dean is the moderate and Kerry is the true liberal. Although Dean is enjoying strong support from anti-war liberals, he has been open about his ideology and his fiscal conservatism, whereas Kerry has been content to be almost everything to everyone.

Shortchanging Africa

For decades, US policy towards Africa has been an abject failure. Unlike our Western European friends who colonized the continent, we do not have a particular historical tie to Africa and her people. Or so, many would like to believe. In reality, we have a significant historical debt to repay Africa for the hundreds of thousands of her people who were taken to this country as slaves.
America has largely sat on the sidelines as Africa has been mired in poverty, tyranny and genocide. We have done little or nothing to rid Africa of despots and barely lifted a finger as hundreds of thousands of Rwandans were slaughtered in a genocidal war. America has failed to engage in the type of trade relationships with African countries that would promote their economic vitality.
The litany could go on for pages, but what really matters, to me, is why have we ignored Africa. I think there are two reasons- one is that the continent was not vital to our interests during the Cold War (with the exception of our support for UNITAS and opposition to the ANC), the other is a far more pernicious reason, and one that I am reluctant to allege, but I firmly believe that there are racial reasons for our failures to assist Africa. For many people, Africa is the dark continent, and not because of its inhabitants' race, but because of our ignorance. There are still many Americans who vies Africans as uncivilized natives, complete with loin cloth and spear. Our own ignorance allows us a certain level of aloofness and provides an excuse not to be concerned. However, if the conditions that have plagued Africa for the past 50 years had instead run their course in Europe, you can bet that Americans would be leaping to help.
And that is a sad reality about our country.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

Change the Subject

I am working on some posts, in my mind, on a topic that I have yet to really broach in this space- race. There are two particular aspects that are bouncing around in my head at the moment. One is the situation in Africa and American policy towards the continent (abject failure) and the other is black leadership in America and its role in shaping policy- more specifically the tension between some of the younger Af-Am leaders and their elders. Don't know when these posts will come to fruition, as this week is going to be busy with packing and preparing for next week's move to the midwest.

Language Matters

Despite my best efforts to avoid the bloviators of both the Right and Left Wing of our political specturm, I still find myself confronted with their inane rhetoric on a regular basis. Each side has a particularly stupid line of attack that lacks any real grounding and goes right to hyperbole. For the Left, it's the use of Nazi related themes when describing Republicans. It can be either the actual word nazi or sometimes it is gestapo or fascist. While the Right likes to overplay the socialist/communist theme.
Can either side, with a straight face, say they really believe that their ideological opponents either (a) wish to exterminate the Jews or (b) eliminate private property and install a totalitarian regime? Whenever I see either of these "methods" of argument in use, I stop reading. Because what that signals to me is that the author/speaker has abandoned any pretense of making a rational, factual argument and instead is appealing only to raw emotion. Or, s/he lacks the intellectual ability to make such an argument and relies only on bombast.

Friday, July 18, 2003

If You're Not Angry Yet

About the President's lies/obfuscations/ommissions/commissions (whichever parsing you chose) this one should push you over the top. According to Judicial Watch, the group that pushed for Clinton's impeachment (so no lefty group here), has obtained documents showing "Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals, as well as 2 charts detailing Iraqi oil and gas projects, and “Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts.” These were dated March of 2001 and were part of the Vice President's Energy Task Force.
It will be interesting to see the administration and its defenders/lackeys/dissemblers explain this one over the weekend. And it certainly brings to fore the question of why we invaded Iraq. We now know the uranium claims were false; the alleged connections to Al Qaeda were false; and, no WMD evidence has been found to date. Add to that the VP's maps carving up Iraq's oil riches back in 2001 and one really has to start questioning the administration's drive to war.

(Judicial Watch press release)

Stick a Fork in Him

For those of you who did not notice, and you can be forgiven, Bob Graham committed political suicide yesterday in New Hampshire by calling for not only a return of the top tax rate to 38.6%, but a new millionaire's tax bracket of 40%. (full story) While one could make a credible argument about bringing the top rate back to 38.6% from its current 35%, to propose a new bracket for millionaires is just foolish and is a lot of pandering to the class warriors on the left flank of our party. It is sad that someone with moderate credentials would engage in such a hoax, but I guess when your campaign is floundering like Graham's you have to throw out something to try to catch fire. But to me, this proposal has now eliminated Graham from the list of people to be considered for VP.

Edwards the Parser

Contrary to his stump speeches, where John Edwards claims that he does not accept contributions from lobbyists, this Charlotte Observer analysis finds something different. In fact, Edwards does take lobbyist money, so long as the lobbyist in not federally registered. What this means is that state lobbyist money is as good as anyone else's. The distinction is never made clear by Edwards in his speeches, nor on his website. The logic in the exception is that state lobbyists would not be lobbying Edwards personally. However, if one looks at the client list of a typical state lobbyist and a federal lobbyist, there is much overlap. Corporations and unions lobby at both the federal and state levels to protect their interests. So does someone who lobbies for a corporation in Florida have a different motivating force than someone who lobbies for the same company at the federal level? I doubt it!
It is time for Senator Edwards to come clean on this. Either he takes lobbyist dollars or he does not. The position his campaign now holds is like being a little pregnant.

Base or Albatross?

Interesting piece in today's NYT pondering this week's events in the panderfest known as the Democratic Presidential race. Nagourney gets some good quotes from Jim Carville about how the Democratic interest groups behave different from their GOP peers, such as this gem- "The Democratic interest groups are less concerned about winning the election and more concerned about drawing attention to themselves." Carville uses the example of how Bush never goes to the NRA, nor does the NRA require candidates to come before them and hold assualt rifles aloft. Contrast this with the ring kissing and orthodoxy thrust onto Democratic candidates thus far.
However, I do take exception to Nagourney's likening of the HRC insistence that candidates support gay marriage with the arm twisting of other liberal groups. There is a certain level of support for equal marriage rights outside of lefty salons and gay groups. Heck, there are even groups in the Republican column that support equal marriage rights, so it is not as though the HRC is forcing Democrats to embrace a position that is SO much further to the left than the general population is willing to go. Of course, regular readers will note my own bias on this issue, but I do think that equal marriage rights is not the sort of wedge issue people make it out to be.

Thursday, July 17, 2003


Seems to be some sort of problem with blogger with respect to seeing the whole page. Will track it down in the morning. My apologies.


As you have probably realized by now, musclehead has changed a bit. I am still working out the changes, but hopefully this will look better than the original. I was getting tired of the old fonts and color scheme, plus the type was too small.

Why Think When You Can Sloganeer?

To note that the American political dialogue is vacuous would not be a novel or new commentary. It has been on a downslope for decades, if not longer, and many commentators and political scientists much smarter and wiser than me have made note of the decline. However, there is a very recent slogan/tag line that has really stuck in my craw, so to speak- the tendency of liberals to villify Congressional Democrats as Bush Lite.
The impetus for such a charge is the Congressional cohort's lack of fight over Bush's tax cuts and the war with Iraq. And even as someone who does not accept the Bush Lite rubric, there is more than a grain of truth to these allegations of impotency. However, it is important to look at the political atmosphere in which these fights have taken place. Whether we are willing to accept it or not, this President has been extremely popular since 9-11. For better or worse, the American people have come to trust the President on issues of national security and that has had a spill over effect on domestic and foreign (war) policy.
Bush enjoyed stratospheric approval ratings from October 2001 until very recently. And, despite there being some potential for battle on tax and domestic policy issues, there has not been the sort of target rich environment that those who criticize Congressional Democrats seem to believe there was. Sometimes liberals forget that the rest of the country does not share their worldview or outlook. Simply put, for a Congressional Democrat to have taken on Bush between 9-11 and the midterm elections would have been political suicide.
One of the other charges levelled against the Party is that it lacked any coherent message going into the midterms last year. And this, I think, is a much more compelling agument. Again though, we must be careful not to overlook reality, which is that the Democratic Party is a very diverse group of people. Some supported the war, some were opposed. Some are culturally conservative, some are very liberal. There is not any one orthodoxy in the Democratic Party, and the reality is that since Bill Clinton exited the White House we have not found the person who can unite the Party. But I would not then let the Party off the hook. I think that there are broad themes that we can all agree upon and that should form the basis of our message to the American people. And, on that account, our party leaders have failed.
But that, my friends, does not mean that Congressional Democrats are Bush Lite. And, if people truly see no difference between Bush and Kerry, Gephardt, Lieberman or Edwards, then they have a serious problem with their faculty for rational thought. Of course, the one theme that is apparent in that last line is that all of these Democratic candidates for president voted for the war. So, if you really think that the Iraq War is the only vote that matters, then you suffer from an acute case of tunnel vision. Further, if that is your line of distinction (the war), and your fellow Americans also accept that as the litmus test, then I see no way your candidate can win, given that the majority of Americans support(ed) the war.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

A Conservative Administration?

Is it really intellectually honest to refer to the present administration as conservative? A quick look at the fiscal policy the Bushies have followed shows a decidedly unconservative spending spree. Government spending is up at a pace faster than inflation and deficits are at historical highs. To my friends on the right, this is most definitely not a conservative president.
However, what the Bushies have done is throw enough bones to the Religious Right to keep them quiet about economic issues. See, many social conservatives are economic populists and this president has overseen a massive rejiggering of the social contract, whereby wealth has been rewarded more than work. However, by pandering to the Right on abortion, the Attorney General and gay marriage, the president has been able to squelch criticism of his economic policies from the populist right.
This is an administration with a single mindedness unlike none we have ever seen. The sole purpose of the current regime seems to be to promote the interests of the wealthy. The tax code will be remade so that wealth is not taxed at all, yet work will be heavily taxed. It doesn't take an economics Ph.D. to realize what the long term effect of such changes will be- a divided, caste like society. But the Bushies are clever enough to throw out some social spending in order to cover their tracks. We are in financial ruin because this administration is willing to trade away almost anything in order to get the tax code changes it wants. Future generations will be left with a country bleeding red ink and stratified, one in which wealth is rewarded and enterprise is effectively discouraged. There is nothing conservative about such an outcome!

It's Time to Go, Joe

While I am sure this post will anger the Lieberman fans out there, all 10 of you, it is time for the Senator to quit the race. This week has been an absolute debacle for the former VP candidate. He fired his fundraising team for their lack if acumen, while raising eyebrows for the six-figure salaries the campaign is paying to his eldest children. He was also bitch slapped by the NAACP for pulling a no-show at their cattle call.
Lieberman entered the race with an enormous advantage in name recognition and a national base developed during the 2000 race, yet he has failed to catch fire. There are a number of potential reasons for Lieberman's failure- his unabashed support for the war; his holier than thou tone; his uninspiring rhetoric; his enabling of the Enrons of the world; etc.
Whatever the reason it is time for Lieberman to bow out gracefully, before his reputation sustains further damage. It would also allow his supporters to coalesce around another New Democrat candidate, such as John Edwards.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Proceed With Caution

That would be my advice to my fellow Democrats looking to exploit the President's lies about uranium and a Saddam-Al Qaeda link. There are those who think the appropriate tag line is "Bush lied, people died." And while this may sound like a catchy little phrase, elegant in its simplicity, it appeals only to a certain group of folks. Over at places like dKos, that line has become a mantra with most of the commenters agreeing that it is the correct response to Bush. However, what they fail to realize is that unlike themselves most Americans supported the war with Iraq. As I have noted before, there are those of us who supported the war whose support was not conditioned upon either an Al Qaeda link (which we had our suspicions about) or a nuclear threat. For us, lines like "Bush lied, people died" just don't ring true. Of course, I feel betrayed by the President and I think he should pay a price for his calculated lies to the American people.
What some of my anti-war colleagues fail to grasp is that what sounds good to them might in fact turn off those pro-war voters who are angry at the President. There is a danger of an echo chamber effect, whereby a small group of folks decide that something is a good idea and because they only talk to others who share their opinions, they feel validated in their judgment. For example, the Clinton impeachment, which was engineered by some angry conservatives who only spoke to one another. Moderate Republicans were aghast at what the Right was doing and the GOP paid a political price in subsequent elections. "Bush lied, people died" is in a similar position- it rouses the base of anti-war Democratic voters, but it may, in fact, turn off moderate and independent voters. Every time we roll out that line, the other side will point to the atrocities of Saddam's regime and question whether we really think it was such a bad thing to take him out. And many Americans will be forgiving of the administration's lies if the options given are leaving Saddam in power or toppling his brutal regime.
I hope that some of my more liberally animated peers will take a step back and think about how the "Bush lied, people died" line is going to play outside of their own hermetically sealed atmosphere. I would prefer that they not take our party down the same road the right wing nuts took the GOP down over impeachment. Take a deep breath, go out and talk to some people who were pro-war, try the line out. And when you see it is polarizing, drop it. Because whether you like it or not, most Americans supported the war.

Saturday, July 12, 2003

You're No Reagan

It is interesting to juxtapose the current administration's reaction to Yellowcakegate with that of the Reagan administration's response to Iran-Contra. Someone on another blog made the point that at least Reagan went on television in front of the country and took responsibility for his administration's actions. But don't expect Bush to step up to the plate. He has been engaged in a dodge for the past several months and proffered up the CIA Director to fall on his sword.
Again, so much for restoring honor and dignity to the White House.

Friday, July 11, 2003

Almost There

I am getting closer to an endorsement, though not fully there yet. Still waiting to see what Clark does. Not because I will definitely back him, but because he intrigues me enough to wait and see.
John Kerry's comments about marriage have pretty much eliminated him from my list of choices. For those of you who did not see his remarks to the WaPo editorial board, you can see TNR's take here. In stating his opposition to gay marriage, Kerry claimed that marriage is for the purpose of pro-creation. Ugh. So maybe your marriage to Terry should be null and void then, Senator.
Look, as I have noted before, I realize that none of the serious candidates are where I am on gay marriage. I try to be pragmatic about it and realize that civil unions would be a step in the right direction. However, Kerry's remarks were insulting at best and disingenuous at worst.

(Those astute readers of musclehead, all two or three of you, should now know who it looks like I will be supporting for President.)


The same Right Wingnuts that are now dissembling over Bush's lies with regards to Iraq are the same ones who wanted to impeach Clinton for getting a hummer. So, oral service is an impeachable offense, but jeopardizing American lives is somehow justifiable? Is it me or are we living in a Machiavellan nightmare painted by Dali?

Policy of Truth?

Remember back in 1999 and 2000 when George Bush pledged to restore the honor and integrity to the White House? It was one of his main campaign themes as the anti-Clinton. He claimed that the White House would not be auctioned off for campaign contributions, nor would he lie to the American people.
However, he has failed to live up to his promises. This White House has consistently sold access and policy to the highest bidder (see energy panel and tax policy, among others). But the big lie came in the run up to the Iraq War. The president claimed that Iraq was attempting to procure nuclear material from Africa, despite ample evidence to the contrary. In fact, it does seem curious that the president cited British intelligence in his State of the Union speech.
Recent reports indicate that the White House likely knew that the Niger documents were forgeries and that it was long known that the centrifuges Iraq had obtained were not of the the quality for nuclear fissure. In other words, there is mounting evidence that the administration fabricated a case against Iraq.
Now, I am one of the people who thought that the chemical and biological weapons alone were reason to depose of Saddam. But I am not sure that my fellow Americans would have felt the same. And they were not given the chance, because this administration made its case on a bogus nuclear threat and a fatuous Al Qaeda connection.
This president put American lives at risk for a war that America may not have supported if given the full and accurate facts. The White House has also engaged in a massive disinformation campaign after the war, such that a majority of Americans believe WMD have been found in Iraq, despite the fact that they have not. And many Americans still believe there was a connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda, despite the fact that there was not.
And the media is finally waking up to the president's deceptions. Of course, his supporters are alleging media bias and also pointing to former president Clinton's lies. It is quite amusing to see the so called moral purists on the Right trying to equate lying about a blowjob with a lie that put thousands of American lives at risk. And they say the Left are the moral relativists! Anyone who really believes that sexual improprieties are equal to American soldiers dying is either a lying partisan or a simpleton.
George Bush and his cronies are simply not worthy of the trust of the American people. It is easy to stand at a podium, protected by a gaggle of Secret Service agents and say "bring it on." It is especially galling given the president's lack of military service. He has never been in harm's way and yet he has put thousands of our service members lives at risk for his big lie.
And this is what he calls restoring dignity to the White House? Maybe if you consider Nixon the paragon of dignity.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003


I wouldn't call it a hiatus, but as my time is more and more eaten up by packing and getting ready to move the posting will be lighter. And, I will be almost out of commission from July 28 until the second week of August for the actual move to St. Louis and the unpacking, etc.
But, by the time September rolls around I will be back to a normal schedule, trying to balance blogging with law school and bodybuilding.

Open Minded

That is how I would describe myself with regards to the P2004 race. No candidate has wowed me into support. I started out as somewhat of a Lieberman supporter, but then his constant moralizing and god-talk just spooked me. Plus, I question his commitment to individual rights, which is a major consideration in deciding who to support. I have also given some thought to Graham, Kerry and Edwards. But Graham has largely fallen off the radar and seems to be stuck as a second tier candidate due to his lack of fundraising success and his conspiracy theories regarding the current administration. Edwards is somewhat attractive, if only he would lose some of the Gore-ish sounding faux populism. I loathe class warfare and Edwards has seemed all too willing to go there. Though, I must say that his speech at Georgetown was magnificent and hit the right notes about hard work versus crony capitalism. And Kerry has a great resume, is thoughtful and intelligent, but he fails to inspire in me any sense of passion. He also exhibits a bad Gore trait- trying to be everything to everyone, a panderer. The genius of Bill Clinton was that he embraced certain universal values and tried to rise above petty pandering. None of the current crop has impressed me enough to declare my support, though I think that there are many good candidates. But I don't like to settle for good. I want to be inspired, moved, made to feel that this person has a sense for where they want to take the country.
I do not know if either Clark or Biden can be that person, either. Biden pushed the RAVE Act through Congress, another civil liberties killer that I detest. And Clark is still tabula rasa, for all intents and purposes. However, I do believe Clark is bright, passionate and has the right temperament for a leader and so I am most interested in hearing his positions fleshed out once he officially enters the race (which I think he will do soon).
But for now, I keep an open mind and hope that someone lights my fire. I am pinning my hopes on either Edwards, Kerry or Clark.

Friday, July 04, 2003

Independence Day

July 4 seems like as good a time as any to look at where we are as a country. And the picture is not too pretty. The present administration has led us to a war based on false pretenses, has drained the US Treasury and has given over enormous power to a cadre of religious zealots and anti-government fanatics.
There is so much more that I want to say, but the prospect of writing such a gloomy piece just does not seem in keeping with what should be a celebratory day. Today, we should be marking our progress as a society and honoring those who came before us who risked, and gave, their lives for our freedom, the countless numbers of men and women who believed in the promise of America and freedom for all her people and staked their own futures on her promise. For them, this day should be a celebration, a time for Americans to reflect and to be thankful for those who preceded us in this great land.
And, for those reasons, I will refrain from a diatribe against our current administration. Unlike the vulgarians now in power, I believe that honor and truth and dignity actually matter.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

It's Still the Economy, Stupid

Ahh yes.. the monthly unemployment numbers are out today and we have hit the highest rate since 1994. Oh, and the largest month to month increase since after 9-11. Call me crazy, but didn't the President promise 1.4 million new jobs by the end of 2004 as a result of his 2003 tax giveaway? Well, Georgie, you're already 30,000 in the negative, according to today's data. But let us not forget the other 2,000,000 that have disappeared during the Bush administration.
Bush is on the verge of becoming the first president since Hoover of presiding over an economy with a net loss of jobs over his term. Wow. In just a couple short years, Bush has managed to destroy the economic prosperity that was built over the mid and late 90's. All those years of balanced budgets, job creation and economic stability washed away in two years of crony capitalism that rewards wealth rather than enterprise. I wonder if maybe we could not have destroyed Iraq simply by sending the Bushies over to govern, rather than American soldiers to die.
If the Democratic nomineee can neutralize the issue of security, then Bush is a goner. It's just that simple.


Just wanted to see what the title field would look like.
Small Change
Finally switched over to Halo Scan for the comments. The old ones kept disappearing. Hopefully all will be well in comment land now!

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Moderation and Rationality
If you spend any time around Democratic and/or left of center blogs, you will soon encounter posts and comments disparaging the DLC and their ilk of moderate Democrats. To many liberals being a member of the DLC or ascribing to its views can result only from a lack of heart, soul or some sort of fawning love for corporatism. But what many of my left of center colleagues fail to grasp is that for many of us, our moderation is based on a belief in rationality and social science.
Ideologues of the left and the right alike disregard any evidence that challenges their view of the world. People on both sides of the spectrum would like to ignore the whole science of economics, as it tends to invalidate some of their pet causes. Those on the cultural right chose to ignore medical/scientific evidence about combating AIDS; liberals are blinded to the notion that rent control often results in a declining housing stock and shortages in apartments.
The knock on moderates is that we do not actually believe in anything. The stereotype is that we blindly adhere to a value-less pragmatism. But nothing could be further from the truth. Moderates recognize the same social problems as our liberal colleagues, but we may be more inclined to use a market mechanism to address the problem, rather than government fiat. However, we are not unwilling to utilize government resources when that is the most effective way to accomplish a goal. But we do not necessarily default to either government or market on certain policy issues. Instead, we look to the social sciences for evidence of what will work or what has worked in the past. We chose to make a rational policy choice, devoid of blinding ideologies.
Rational, effective and effecient government is what Reinventing Government was all about. Thinking outside of a liberal or conservative box to find innovative solutions to society's problems is the aim of the DLC/PPI. Despite what many liberals may think, there is nothing progressive about old stye big government programs. If we continue to support policies and programs simply because they comport with some ideological agenda rather than because they solve problems, then we are doing a disservice to the people. Attachment to Great Society and New Deal programs is conservative, not liberal. The country has changed since FDR and LBJ, and our policies should evolve, too.
Equal Rights?
As I look over the contenders for the Democratic nomination, none of the major candidates are where I would like them to be on gay marriage. One would think that by the year 2003 we would have come far enough that support for equal rights would be a central tenet of both parties, but especially for the Democrats. What I found somewhat surprising was that some candidates stopped short of endorsing civil unions (Edwards, Graham and Lieberman- according to this story). Lieberman and Graham also voted for the Defense of Marriage Act, that lovely piece of anti-gay legislation that defines marriage as one man-one woman. Edwards was not in the Senate at the time, but has said that marriage rights are a state issue, which is a defensible position, I think.
The one serious contender who has shown any backbone on this issue is Kerry, who was one of only 15 Senators to vote against DOMA. Now, I know the Deanies are going to cry foul and point to his civil unions, but that was borne of compromise and was forced upon him by the court.
As my regular readers have figured out, gay rights are extremely important to me and it is difficult for me, as someone who grew up in the pro-gay Northeast, to pull the lever for someone who is not committed to ending discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Tick, tick, tick
The clock is just about to run out on 2d quarter fundraising for P2004 hopefuls. According to news reports and the Dean campaign, the good doctor is set to break the $7 million mark and likely to lead the pack. This should put Dean firmly in the top tier of candidates for CW purposes (musclehead has considered Dean a top tier candidate for most of the spring).
With top tier status comes a lot more scrutiny of the candidate, although it is not clear that any amount of scrutiny or bad press will discourage the Dean fedayeen. For example, his performance on MTP was universally panned, but take a look around bloggerville and you will see Dean acolytes dismissing Tim Russert and, in fact, ratcheting up their support for the former Governor. While this is certainly good news for his fundraising, the question still remains whether or not Dean fever will catch on with the general public or traditional Democratic primary voters.
I have wondered aloud, on several occasions, if Dean's centrism will ultimately turn off what seems to be a fairly liberal base of supporters. Dean's position against the war generated a groundswell of support, as did his pilfered Wellstone line about being from "the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party." In fact, Dean's record is decidedly un-Wellstonian, but that has yet to dampen the spirits of his followers. However, increased focus on Dean may cause some sort of cleavage in his support. What sort of two-step will Dean be forced to do in order to answer the tough questions, such as how one balances the budget while expanding government programs, such as health care. Like other top tier candidates Dean will be forced to provide detailed policy proposals and will not be allowed to elude tough questions about trade offs in policy priorities. How much will Dean's left of center base of support move him leftward? And, if he does not drift that way, will his liberal followers jump aboard the good ship Nader or Kucinich?
I have also questioned Dean's ability to attract support amongst the vast swath of moderate Americans, both in the Democratic Party and the country, in general. So far he has done a pretty good job of alienating moderate Democrats within the DLC and other parts of the Party. One has to wonder what the average American makes of a candidate who claims to be from "the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party." To many Americans that means the tax and spend wing of the Democratic Party and it may very well conjure up images of Mondale and Dukakis, rather than Clinton and Gore.