B After The Fact

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

The journalists at the Washington Post seem confused too

Relevant quote:

"Democrats were already squirming yesterday after Bush's announcement. Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), the Democratic front-runner to be Bush's opponent in November, coupled his announcement that he would oppose the amendment with many qualifiers.

He said he believes "marriage is between a man and a woman," but supports "civil unions" and believes states should make gay-marriage decisions. Kerry also complained Bush is "trying to drive a wedge."

But if the move made Democrats uneasy, a Senate Republican with ties to the religious conservative movement said "the last place Bush wanted to be" at this time in the electoral cycle was wooing his base of support. "He should be coasting on being the war president and deliverer of tax cuts; instead, he has to take a divisive role on a contentious social issue that could undercut him as a compassionate conservative," this official said.

Concern was evident in some of the public caution voiced by Bush allies on Capitol Hill yesterday. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), while applauding Bush's "moral leadership" on the issue, said, "We're not going to take a knee-jerk reaction to this. We are going to look at our options, and we are going to be deliberative about what solutions we may suggest."

Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.) said he is "not supportive" of an amendment and suggested the matter first go through the court system."

What if Bush insists on party discipline over a thing like this?

Incidentally, I don't know how I feel about gay marriages, yet.

But now the whole thing gets subsumed with how I feel about Bush and the hard right.

Wedge issues cut both ways.

If you're a gay Republican (and why shouldn't you be, until today), how do you remain a Republican?

What does Tom deLay do for money NOW?

Bush has proposed a lot of initiatives that he hasn't pursued with a lot of ferocity. The "road map" to Middle East peace, the mission to Mars, the 20 billion dollars for NYC after 9/11. Big announcements, with no follow-through. Can Bush really make an announcement like this, and then not expend political capital on it?

President proposes a gay marriage amendment

Heavens, what a mess!

We have a handful of judges in Massachusetts who have upheld gay marriage. One state, one handful of judges. We have a situation in Massachusetts where the legislature may overrule the judges, which is what legislatures are allowed to do.

We have a mayor in San Francisco who is doing something. I just heard him on Larry King, and he has a lot in common with George Bush. He thinks the power vested in him is absolute. He thinks that he gets to decide 200 years of discrimination policy. I agree with Ahnold. Mayors don't get to decide who gets married, the State (California, the state legislature, the state courts) gets to decide. The mayor is creating facts on the ground, however, and the State Courts decide that these marriages are unconstitutional (and how are they going to find otherwise, right now), the streets will explode. Will this Mayor be able to legally arrest (arrests are what counties do, not states) the people he just illegally married? And it is illegal, now, no matter whether or not it will be legal next week.

These things could have worked themselves out over time. And not a lot of time either.

But now George has, once again, shown his disrespect for the process of law. Not as much disrespect as the mayor of San Francisco, who thinks that the law is whatever he says it is, but a certain disrespect for the cooling aspect of allowing the law to dissolve the matter before it becomes a crisis. This constitutional amendment is premature. 4 judges and 1 mayor should not amount to a constitutional crisis. Now it does. It is the perfect bookend, at the end of this administration, for short-circuiting the process of the Florida recount.

It is the predictable reaction of a man who would be king.

One of the New Republic bloggers said today (before the Bush announcement), with a certain amount of admiration, that what Bush does is blow everything up into a big problem, and then proposes a big solution.

Those of us who love Shakespeare are always looking at Bush as Prince Hal, perhaps evolving into Henry V.

Bush is going to accuse Kerry of inconsistencies in his record. Kerry, or Edwards for that matter, will have to show that the inconsistencies are the product of mature people running not against Prince Hal, but against Hotspur.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

What does it mean to be a liberal neo-con? Is that what I am?

TheIraq editorial in the Sunday New York Times is confusing to me. I don't understand how bringing the United Nations into Iraq makes for more and better democracy. Nor do I understand, and I didn't understand it last year either, where Europe after all the violence it goes through year in and year out, gets off telling the United States how to run a candy store, much less a foreign policy. And yet that is what the New York Times has been saying for the last 18 months, and I am sure John Kerry would agree. I don't know how you win an election like that. I am even more doubtful of your ability to run a free world by running to the Europeans.

The United States cannot leave until the transition to democracy in Iraq is complete. Because Iraq exists in a world where people think that democracy equals direct elections, and it is hard to explain otherwise, it is going to take more than another 120 days to get the factions in Iraq to realize that there can be no direct elections. I hope it only takes another 120 weeks, but I would bet on 120 months, and it is possible that it will take 120 years.

The only reason to have favored this war is the belief that the administration would stay the course. If it never intended to stay the course, if it only intended to stir things up and leave before the next election, then you are left with Al Gore's analysis -- that the Bushies went to war only to divert attention away from the revolution to overthrow freedom here at home.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Are you reading?

Send me an e-mail.


Key paragraph for me:

"The New Democrat Network, a centrist political organization, was among the first in this election cycle to use polling to sketch out a profile of the latest generation of swing voters. Data shared with each of the Democratic candidates (and provided to The Atlantic) describes them as mainly white and also younger, less likely to vote, and more likely than self-identified Democrats or Republicans to characterize themselves as "workaholics." They are most heavily concentrated in suburbs and small cities, and though they disapprove of many Bush Administration policies, they tend to be more religious and to admire military service more than most Democrats do. "On many issues their attitudes correspond strongly with the Democratic Party even though demographically they are closer to Republican voters," says Peter Brodnitz, of the firm Penn, Schoen and Berland, which conducted the poll. The New Democrat Network identified civil liberties and the environment as the two issues on which independents and Republicans most strongly disagree—and, indeed, many of the Democratic candidates have sounded precisely these themes. (Buried in the report's "tactical recommendations" is information that both sides in the next campaign may find useful: independents listen to a disproportionate amount of country radio, and they watch SportsCenter more often than other Americans—a taste, the poll reveals, that corresponds more closely with Democrats' than Republicans'.) "

"In Search of The Elusive Swing Voter" Atlantic Monthly --- January/ February 2004.

The author, Joshua Green, admits they are few and far between. A good deal of the article concerns itself with the fact that computerized research is now so sophisticated that they can find these swing voters in the midst of regions where they are in the minority. He also speaks a lot about get out the vote efforts. He says that only 12 states can be said to be in play:


(These states should not really be in play, but Nader could siphon off Democrat strength to Bush)

New Mexico

(Hispanic population growth means that former Republican states can go Democrat)

West Virginia

(Industrial job losses can make these culturally conservative states bite the bullet and vote Democrat again. The author does not mention, but I can, that these states are always somewhat in play. It may be said that the most important state in Presidential politics is Pennsylvania or Illinois)


(Latinos upset about Elian Gonzalez vote Republican, but could swing back to traditional Democrat)

New Hampshire


(The article didn't say precisely why. The implication being that there are pockets of people who could be motivated to vote Democrat if they could be reached.

Key paragraph

That's 13 -- I think that either Minnesota or Illinois is not considered a state in play.

Of course in the article, he also adds

Arkansas (since it went for Clinton, I don't think he thinks that Bush would really lose Arkansas)

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Another problem I have is when journalists want the candidates to make statements directly to the people of the Middle East. Someone asked John Edwards a completely idiotic question in that regard during the South Carolina debate (the only one I saw). Even my man Tom Friedman, in last Sunday's column tried to imagine a hypothetical "hawkish" statement by John Kerry in a hypothetical Meet The Press appearance.

Here's the deal. One --- only Americans vote. You want to vote, come be an American citizen.

Two --- as little as I like the guy we have in place now, you can only have one President at a time. See further --- Marlon Brando and James Caan --- The Godfather. See also ---- no statements of any relevance --- Abraham Lincoln --- winter of 1860-61.

Andrew Sullivan is pretty devastating on John Kerry's performance in the Wisconsin debate. I say below a variation of the argument that consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. However, it is also true that Kerry, on a given night, cannot be all over the place on a single issue. It is also what I say again and again. No Democrat is going to win the election by saying that Bush should have been more respectful of the international coalition before he went into Iraq. The argument is that Bush should have been more respectful of the American people. He should have been more honest in his rationale for going to war. He should not be treating us as his royal subjects. Except that he is.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

I'm still not doing well in linking the articles to the blogsite, but I will continue to try.

Both Mickey Kaus, liberal and Fred Barnes kind of neo-con, agree that the Bushies believe that the way to go against Kerry is not to call him a Massachusetts liberal but to show that his inconsistent Senate record these many years stands in contrast to Bush's firm leadership.

Barnes admits that the Bushies cannot call Kerry inconsistent and liberal at the same time. Kaus seems to running around like a chicken without a head.

Wish they saw it my way. Bush is not consistent because he is has a steadfast vision for leading this great democracy. Bush is steadfast because Bush doesn't believe he owes his subjects any point of view.

The way to attack Bush, it says here, is to portray him as THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING.

I leave it to the professionals to figure out loudly one can say that without being shrill. However the argument remains compelling, and I will try to continue to make the argument as we go forward.

Besides the fact that I believe the argument to be factually true, it also works tactically, because I also still believe that the Democrats performance on national security issues around Iraq leaves a lot to be desired, especially when the Republicans make the argument in the Kerry-Bush head-to-head.

Focusing on the way Bush goes about his business (and once again, the question of touch is all) insulates you from that. It allows you to draw a line from Air National Guard, to his business dealings, to the Florida election, to the repeal of the Estate tax (can't be a king without an inheritance based nobility) and the lack of a call for national commitment in so-called wartime (if all your volunteers are coming from "red" states you can wind up creating a warrior class committed to king rather than country)

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Been a long time, and it is good to be writing this again a little. I think one of the reasons I stopped, besides the lack of time, is that I said everything I wanted to say one time, and the rest of the thing is just rehashing old themes in new contexts. What isn’t?

I have no particular article to point to, I could point to a million articles. Andrew Sullivan http://www.andrewsullivan.com/ says that there is an article in the current National Review about the risks of Republicans running deficits. I’ll summarize Andrew’s summary, since it says enough to make my point. The National Review is worried that Bush is running huge deficits, that a Democrat will be elected some day, and raise taxes to cover Bush’s programs, and the end result will be big government, big taxes, a net loss of freedom. Some op-ed in today’s New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/07/opinion/07MORR.html
says that Bush in exercising all the limited power that a President has over the economy to pump-prime the economy in ways similar to Nixon’s wage-price controls in order to win re-election. Regular readers of The New Republic or The American Prospect know that the whole point is to “starve-the-beast” – to keep cutting the size of government, keep cutting its expectations so that people cannot rely on it. I said a lot about this during the summer.

Bush is cutting taxes, taking money that middle-class taxpayers paid in during the Bill Clinton 90s and returning it to upper-class taxpayers now. His vast right-wing conspiracy is supporting it. They think that Bush represents their values and that in running deficits they are “starving the beast.” So we now have a deficit based not on too much government, but on too few revenues. Then, and Bush even mentioned it during the State of the Union, these same people point to the deficit, and claim that if there is a deficit, it must be proof of wasteful government spending. Since Republicans do not spend wastefully in their programs (i.e. the Halliburton programs), the Democrats must be spending wastefully in their programs (i.e. the make sure we can all retire in one piece programs). We will then try the shell game again, balance the budget by raising taxes on the middle class (when the Democrats are in power), give all the middle class taxes back to the rich (when the Republicans are in power).

Bush is not a small-government guy, but he is most definitely a give the money to the rich guy.


I don’t understand why David Brooks has a regular column in the New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/07/opinion/07BROO.html
One thing that people who read the second-hand stuff that one needs to read to write the third-hand stuff of blogs have learned is the vast gulf between what it means to be the most liberal voice at the Wall Street Journal (which Brooks was for a long time) and the most conservative voice at the New York Times (which Brooks is now – same voice). His attempts to link John Kerry to Johnny Chung are pathetic, and just the tip of the iceberg of the anti-Kerry crap.

I don’t understand why everyone is up-in-arms about Johnny Chung, and I never did. Why are Bush’s business ties with the Saudis less nefarious than what Johnny Chung brings to the Democrats? Foreign agents will always try to give money to force policy changes. Taking the money does not make you a foreign agent. Hiring engineers who are downloading nuclear secrets onto computers may make you a foreign agent. Allowing the entire Bin-Ladn clan to leave the country on September 12 may make you a foreign agent. Anyway, what Brooks writes, what all of these people write, what we will write and say on our end, just won’t matter. It’s just the difference between not voting for someone because your gut tells you its wrong, and not voting for someone because you can scream about Johnny Chung or Halliburton at a party.

You are starting to hear this Massachusetts liberal nonsense attaching to Kerry, but I don’t know if it matters as much. Who are the undecided voters? Asians? (Beware what you imply about the difference between Johnny Chung and the Saudi royal family) Hispanics? (this is not my battle, and I do not understand it fully, but beware what you imply when you attempt to collapse Protestant values with Catholic values; when Protestant leaders try to cherry-pick issues just because they feel they will resonate with Catholic immigrants; when any of us try to guess how Western democracy resonates with Islam.) Are these undecided voters actually voting? Are undecided voters just people in their early 30s, first child, first mortgage payment, never really thought about these things seriously before?

As you can see, while I stopped working on this blog, I have been reading other people’s disjointed messes. I’m beginning to get the hang of blog-writing.

As some of you know, one of the reasons I stopped writing this blog-site was to spend more time researching the 1850s, a project that moves forward sporadically. What happens when you spend so much time reading on a topic is that you are not sure if you are the last one reading about the subject, or the first one. So in case you don’t know about this, or read about it in school and forgot about it, I leave you with a link to a little article about the Caning of Charles Sumner, the Senator from Massachusetts, by Congressman Preston Brooks of South Carolina – May 22, 1856.

And you wonder whether in the collective Mind of the South (the Red-State mind), calling someone a Massachusetts liberal is more elegant than announcing your intention to run for President from Philadelphia, Mississippi.


Incidentally, and this is a topic for an entire book in one paragraph, whatever else I feel about our current President, not only do I not think that he is a racist, but I think that his very lack of racism informs his plans for the American Kingdom. His goals continually assault Federalism. I don’t think he is consciously trying to assault it, I think it is just a by-product of things like the PATRIOT Act, No Child Left Behind, Defense of Marriage, etc. No President with any sensitivity to racial issues would be so cavalier in an assault on states rights. Things he does that are racist, like the recess appointment of this or the ther Federal judge, are just business transactions.