December 03, 2005

Hate to harsh anyone's holiday buzz, but I haven't raised much (or anything, for that matter) in the way of funds for this site lately. I haven't made any final decisions yet about the future of this site, and probably won't until the new year, but if anyone can drop me a few dollars by clicking the Paypal button on the top right, it would help keep the IdSav going. I know there are people out there who actually visit to read my learned missives, rather than merely to view last year's photos of Alexandra Kerry (ie., this site's leading search engine reference). So if what I write is worthwhile to you, it would be appreciated if you could let me know in some material way. Thanks.

December 02, 2005

Worse than James Buchanan: That is, according to a poll done for the History News Network, which reveals that the historians surveyed rate the current incumbent below the fifteenth President, remembered mainly for being the only President never to marry. Buchanan also sided with the Southern wing of the Democratic Party in the years leading up to the Civil War (and against Stephen Douglas), backed the Dred Scott decision, and did nothing when the traitorous states began seceding after the election of his successor, one Abraham Lincoln. And today's scholars regard Mr. Bush as being worse than that.

Well, it's early; we still have three years to go before all the bodies are counted before it's fair to conclude that Bush is the Worst President Ever. But in terms of actual accomplishments, it's hard to argue with that judgment. There's little tangible to be counted in terms of successes, a fact that puts him behind such men as Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, U.S. Grant and Warren Harding, and his failures have been monumental. Buchanan's mistakes were those of a leader of a rather insignificant backwater compared with the great nations of Europe, and ironically his appeasement of the Southern states hastened the Civil War, which ended slavery a heck of a lot faster than the political process would have done by itself. Bush, on the other hand, began his term leading a peaceful and prosperous nation, the world's sole superpower, and within five years made us a supplicant nation economically and a loathsome bully internationally.

Comparing Buchanan to Bush is like comparing some third-rate Roman consul during the early stages of the First Punic War with the Emporer Commodus. Of course Bush is worse; he led a greater nation, and his impact proved more devastating. [link via AmericaBlog]
The last remaining domino to fall...Cuba will take part in next year's World Cup of Baseball. The Cubans are muy overrated, of course, but Major League teams can always pluck a few good No. 3 or 4 starting pitchers from the carcass.
Another scandal brewing at the CIA?

December 01, 2005

I'm not sure if I was technically a member of CISPES when I attended the hallowed halls of CAL in the mid-80's, but I certainly made no effort to hide my feelings about US policy in Central America back in the day. In any event, my membership would probably have not seen its way to any resume I would have submitted in the quest for a job in the Clinton Administration ten years later. The whole point of a c.v. is to get you the job you're applying for, not to scare off the interviewer. So it probably says something about the politics of both Samuel Alito and the Reaganites that ten years after he graduated from Princeton, he was quite emphatic in stressing his involvement with a racist, sexist alumni organization when he applied to be an assistant to Edwin Meese.

But what does it say of the nominee that he now claims to have no memory of his participation in the group?
Sparks fly, when LA's least truthful lefty-historian comes to the defense of LA's most boring left-wing columnist !! What's most disappointing is that the Times has now apparently sunk to the level of being rejected by the likes of Mr. Davis, when a more appropriate question is why are retreads like Davis and Scheer (who recently wrote a column defending gerrymandering, on the grounds that politicians who never have to worry about close elections are less likely to be corrupted by the money of lobbyists; tell that to the Dukester !!!) still the fallbacks in a town with as deep a bench as ours. [link via LA Observed]

November 30, 2005

Another failed nominee? The Washington Post is reporting that in 1985, Samuel Alito, as an Assistant-A.G. in the Reagan Administration, "...urged his boss to use a case before the court to "make clear that we disagree with Roe v. Wade and would welcome the opportunity to brief the issue of whether, and if so to what extent, that decision should be overruled." The Post reports:
In the memo, Alito suggested that the government challenge Roe in an amicus, or friend-of-the-court, brief in an abortion case that itself did not challenge the 1973 decision legalizing abortion. This approach, he wrote, is better than a "frontal assault."

"It has most of the advantages of a brief devoted to the overruling of" Roe, he wrote. "It makes our position clear, does not even tacitly concede Roe's legitimacy, and signals that we regard the question as live and open."

He added that the approach was "free of many of the disadvantages that would accompany a major effort to overturn Roe. When the court hands down its decision and Roe is not overruled," he reasoned, the decision "will not be portrayed as a stinging rebuke" to the administration.

In a previously released document, Alito had expressed pride in contributing to the Reagan administration's policies, including its view that there was no right to abortion embodied in the Constitution.
Besides the fact that the memo (complete text here, courtesy of Daily Kos) removes much of the drama out of whether he will vote to overturn abortion rights should he be comfirmed, the political language in the memo is most unbecoming of what we envision out of a Supreme Court justice.
Why is a rider on the storm like " actor out on loan?"

November 29, 2005

This past weekend, the Nation's Paper of Record noted that more than half (12 out of 22) of the nation's Democratic governors serve in states carried by President Bush in the last election. In four of those states (Kansas, Wyoming, Virginia and Oklahoma), no Democratic Presidential nominee has won since 1964, yet within the statehouse mansion resides now a Democrat. Interesting? A ray of hope for the future for progressives?

Nope. It has never been unusual for states of the crimson hue to elect Democrats to governerships, just as residents of California, New York and Massachusetts know that the opposite is also true. One glaring example of this phenomenum would be Wyoming, one of the most overwhelmingly Republican states in the country, both in terms of voter registration and their turnout for GOP Presidential candidates every four years. Yet the same state that quadrennially gives Republicans forty-point margins in Presidential races has also had Democratic governors for 22 of the past 30 years. Colorado has an even better track record of coming down on our side in state elections; even though only one Democratic Presidential nominee has won the state since '64, the state has had a Democrat serve as governor in 24 of the last 30 years (although the incumbent governor is a Republican).

Other western states also have a pretty consistent track record of defying the GOP's partisan edge to elect Democrats to the state's highest office. Idaho, one of the few states in which George Bush still has a positive approval rating, had Democratic governors non-stop from 1970 to 1994. Arizona has seen the parties split control since the 1950's, with Democrats seeing Bruce Babbitt elected to two terms in the 1980's and Janet Napolitano winning the last time out. And that doesn't even include Montana, who's governor may be the most hyped native son of that state since Ryan Leaf (ed.-two items of interest about Montana: it's voters have elected only two Republicans to the U.S. Senate in the state's history, and Michael Dukakis almost won the state in 1988). And each of those states has consistently voted Republican in national elections since the end of World War II.

So how to explain the success of the Brian Schweitzers and Mitt Romneys of America? I suppose it helps if you have a lot of money to throw down when you're campaigning, but I also think that the voters prefer to have a division of the spoils when it comes to government. A Democrat running in Kansas, or a Republican running in Rhode Island, can claim a certain amount of independence from politics-as-usual, and make a plausible case that they can clean up the mess in Capitol City. Lessons can be learned about the universality of good government and what the people really want, but it would be foolish to believe that it portends any Grand Political Strategy for reforming the party.
Is there some earthly reason that Joe Lieberman does not have a primary opponent in 2006? Or even better, is there anyone in the state of Connecticut who has anti-torture leanings that wants to run as an independent?

November 28, 2005

Some perspective, on the Meaning of It All: is a delusion to believe that the blogosphere is representative of anything but the hundreds of thousands of scribblers that join in this marvelous medium and the few millions of good folks who read it. The Moose is always struck by how few people actually read a blog or even are familiar with their existence - even those who are politically active. Of course, it is also true that a diminishing number of people by the day read mainstream newspapers and journals - not necessarily a healthy phenomena for a functionary democracy.

So, alas, it is generally a good thing that the blogosphere provides an opportunity for more and more Americans who want to get engaged and sound off. However, we should keep it in perspective. The blogosphere is generally an ideological hothouse that does not reflect the everyday thoughts of Americans. In that way, it is much like talk radio.

Blogs appear far more influential in the Democratic than the Republican party. With the waning influence of the labor movement - the blogs and the trial lawyers are picking up the slack as influential institutions. However, politicians should not make more of the blogs than what they are - highly ideological and only representative of the very left faction of the base.

--Marshall "Bull Moose" Wittman

Not being a centrist, and as a skeptic of calls for a "Third Way" in American politics (oh, if it were true that we even had a "Second Way"), I view the emergence of the blogosphere as a welcome development. But the combination of years having been spent in the political wilderness with the unmediated forum that is blogging has created a poisonous strain in the rhetoric of my cohorts on the left, one that is more atuned to letting us vent spleen and less towards actually persuading fence-sitters and accomplishing something as mundane as, well, winning elections that matter. As with talk radio, the more violent and extreme the rhetoric, the more popular the sight, and with this phenomenum afflicting both sides of the debate, the blogosphere is becoming an increasingly ugly arena.

Not having an editor permits many of us to reveal Our Inner Asshole, in all its resplendent glory, on a daily basis, and it's not a pretty sight by any means. It may warm our cockles to pretend that outing a CIA spook is the same thing as treason, or that the 2004 election was lost because of some nefarious scheme cooked up at Diebold's headquarters, or that photoshopping the face of a blackfaced minstrel is a witty jibe at an African-American Republican, but we shouldn't pretend that it's a ticket to the White House.
Duke Cunningham cops a plea, resigns from Congress. The issue of Republican corruption is one that doesn't require a Democratic "alternative" to resonate with the public. There is nothing about bribe-taking that is particularly conservative or liberal; give the Democrats (or Greens, or Perotistas) a period of unchallenged rule, safe seats and access to all the perks and privileges that come from possessing unfettered political power, and, as anyone who has witnessed the antics of the California state legislature over the years will attest, they will behave the exact same way. The difference between Jack Abramoff and the Keating Five is only one of degree.

Of more interest is the fact that Cunningham's seat suddenly becomes open a full year before the next election. Assuming that there will be a special election early next year to fill it, this is definitely worth a challenge by the Democrats; although there is a Republican majority in the district, it is a district that was only narrowly lost by Boxer in the 2004 Senate election. Although it is not saying much in the context of California politics, this is one of the most "competitive" seats in the state.

(My previous posts on the "Dukester" here, here, here, here, here and here.)