B After The Fact

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Final Loose Ends (for a while)

Two really fast, over-simplistic reactions to the dual withdrawal of Rudy and Edwards --

The "moderate Republicans" who Rudy was looking for are now either independents or Democrats.

The "Reagan Democrats" and "the angry White males" that Edwards was looking for are now all Republicans.


You see a lot of palpable anger on the Republican side that there are no "true conservatives" left in the race.

I would also say that a less publicized fact is that neither Clinton nor Obama is any liberal's idea of a liberal.

Clinton has a very conservative record on the military and foreign affairs. Whatever her motives, the record is what it is. I don't really expect her to leave Iraq in the end, and that is one of the reasons I continue to support her candidacy. Being married to a teacher, of course, is one of the other big reasons. Obama's lack of interest in issues of global warming and the environment is another reason (so far he looks at it as a great opportunity to use coal in unsafe ways). The fact that I may be the only person left standing who supports Bill Clinton is yet another.

Obama, like Lincoln, may seem short on actual political resume, but, like Lincoln, he has been an Illinois insider for about 20 years. A lot of Obama's support comes from big business interests -- especially coal -- in Illinois. Obama is a mainstream poliitican -- and I don't mean a mainstream liberal -- with his finger in the air as much as anyone else.

The only radical thing about Obama is his background and upbringing. Although, I admit, that is pretty radical. I expect it is far too radical to win a general election.

Obama, like Lincoln, is the best speech maker of his generation. He, also like Lincoln, may still be both evolving and pulling his punches at this point of his political career. (Lincoln famously said next to nothing during the 1860 Republican campaign, and even less during the 4 month period from election to inauguaration when the South was seceding.)

As it stands now, though, I stare in amazement over the warmed-over message Obama delivers to a "fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, same on me" nation.

And what is that message?

"I am a uniter, not a divider."

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Fourth Loose End

Everybody thought Hillary was running, and now it turns out Bill is running instead?

Who cares.

The 22nd amendment -- Presidential term limits -- was a McCarthy era reaction to the fact that a free people, left to their own devices, historically have liked liberal Democratic politicians.

I don't feel too bound by such a Conservative amendment to limit my freedom of choice. It certainly does not reflect the wishes of the Founders as a whole, although it certainly reflects the wishes of George Washington, and we are more than wise to take his advice seriously.

Still, it amuses me that the person who lost most from the 22nd Amendment -- the one man who could have kept running and winning for the rest of his life -- was the Republican Ronald Reagan.

Here in New York City, the same nonsense prevails. Term limits was a scheme imposed on the city by rich Republicans because they were tired of losing elections all the time. And the person who lost most from that -- the one man who could have kept running and winning for the rest of his life -- is the Republican Rudy Guiliani.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Three Loose Ends

In Saturday's New York Times Garry Wills refutes my argument about the Republic surviving a Clinton co-Presidency.

Although Wills admits that we currently have two Presidents, he says the Framers did not contemplate this, nor should we continue it:

James Wilson of Pennsylvania made the argument for a single officeholder with typical depth and precision: “To control the executive, you must unite it. One man will be more responsible than three. Three will contend among themselves till one becomes the master of his colleagues. In the triumvirates of Rome, first Caesar, then Augustus, are witnesses of this truth. The kings of Sparta and the consuls of Rome prove also the factious consequences of dividing the executive magistracy.”

Wills also complains that if Bill and Hillary act as two Presidents, that it would be hard to know who to impeach --- Nonsense. You impeach the elected official.

As a technical matter, there is a strong argument to be made that whenever one party controls the Congress, and the other party controls the Executive, that the Constitution almost expects that the President to be impeached as a matter of good housekeeping!


Red Mind In A Blue State asks why Democratic voters would intentionlly elect people as antagonistic as the Clintons.

Paul Krugman says it better than I can

"Those who don’t want to nominate Hillary Clinton because they don’t want to return to the nastiness of the 1990s — a sizable group, at least in the punditocracy — are deluding themselves. Any Democrat who makes it to the White House can expect the same treatment: an unending procession of wild charges and fake scandals, dutifully given credence by major media organizations that somehow can’t bring themselves to declare the accusations unequivocally false (at least not on Page 1)."


We also need to acknowledge that we will never fully secure our border until we create a lawful way for foreign workers to come here and support our economy

President Bush -- State of the Union, January 2009

I've long said that Bush could not possibly be our worst President. The honor goes to James Buchanan, who left the Presidency with fewer states then when he started.

But even Buchanan did not try to introduce slavery into states where it did not already exist.

There is a lot of support for a guest worker program, by liberals as well as conservatives, as part of a comprehensive immigration plan that "solves the immigration issue once and for all".

It seems like madness to me. Bush would greedily sign a guest worker program. No matter how widespread the support in the opposite of Progress, or even in the nation as a whole, Bush would bear history's burden for the destruction of American freedom. He would deserve the taint.

If Bush sneaks in a bill to re-create the conditions of second class citizenship that we struggled so many centuries to get rid of, then Bush would truly deserve the title of "Worst President Ever"

Friday, January 25, 2008

Bill Clinton and Dick Cheney -- A Note to Andrew Sullivan

In terms of Bill Clinton running around as a Presidential Spouse without accountability:

Is Bill Clinton going to have more power than Dick Cheney? There have been powerful First Ladies in the past. Edith Wilson, of course, and Hillary Clinton to a far lesser extent.

However, Dick Cheney represents something completely new in American history. Vice President Cheney is inventing a new position for himself where he has no accountability, because there are no limits on the power of the Vice Presidency listed in the Constitution (in much the same spirit that the Constitution has no limits on the power of the President's barber).

The Vice President is not directly elected by anyone, so he can't be subjected to the rules of the Legislative branch. He is not subject to term limits, so he can't be subjected to rules of the Executive branch. Yet somehow the nation is adapting to Dick Cheney's new experiment in power. It will do the same with Bill Clinton.

Incidentally, the Framers did place some check on the power of the First Lady/ First Laddy when they stated that the President and the Vice President shall not be citizens of the same state. I am not sure that they had Bill and Hillary in mind when they wrote the Section (or even John and Abigail). What the Framers did have in mind was a situation like the one we are currently in where, for all practical purposes, the President and the Vice President both come from the same state (Texas) and represent the same narrow band of interests. No one seems to care.

Given the Constitutional Crisis of the Month of the Bush/ Cheney years, it amazes me that so many people are willing to turn a blind eye on all of that and just let another 8 years of movement away from our Constitution occur. All because they find the Clintons to be too something or other.

One problem people seem to have with the Clintons is that they are entirely transparent.

People seem to prefer the incredible unconstitutional power grab of the Bush/ Cheney years, and the never steal anything small mentality that marked both the Bush 41 and Bush 43 Presidencies. All done under a shroud of the most self-serving secrecy that money and fear could buy.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I Intend To Support Hillary ...

. . . However, the fact of the matter is that during Monday night's debate, when Obama accused Hillary of lying about his fiscal proposals and about his support for Ronald Reagan -- Hillary responded by telling a new set of lies.

Since I think that the Republicans will stop at nothing to steal this election, I am not sure how I feel about the need for honesty in a Democratic Presidential candidate.

Al Gore tried to portray himself as honest. The Republicans have controlled the White House for 28 of the last 40 years.

I am more concerned with a candidate's will to win. A will to win at least at the same level that Karl Rove and his hand-picked Republican U.S. Attorneys will bring on behalf of the Republican candidate -- be it the so-called "Straight Talk Express" or the candidate who won't even respond to his own name without taking a poll.

Obama's willingness to go toe to toe against Hillary (and Bill) during Monday night's debate is an encouraging sign for the Democratic Party. His statement that he won't just say anything to get elected is discouraging.

Who does he think he is running against in the fall?

What world does he think he will be dealing with a year from now?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Fidel (1991-2008)

"I guess it's our fault,” Call said. “We should have shot sooner.”

“I don't want to start thinking about all the things we should have done for this man,” Augustus said. “If you've got the strength to ride, let's get out of here."

-- Words spoken over the body of Josh Deets, their hired hand, friend, and companion of many years. From Lonesome Dove, a novel by Larry McMurtry


When I was home sick five years ago, it was Fidel out of all the cats who sat with me and kept me company as I recovered from surgery.

In his prime Fidel was over 30 pounds, without fat. I always suspected that there was a small amount of ocelet in him.

Fidel loved people, and would hold court on the top of our ottomon. He demanded fealty from people, and would generally get it. People normally felt they benefitted from spending time with Fidel.

Fidel was an alpha-male and did not well tolerate the presence of his older brother Max in the house. We did a lot of things to try to even the playing field, including putting a weighted collar on Fidel and hiring a pet behavorist to evaluate the situation.

Fidel outlived Max. On the day Max died (appropriately, it was Good Friday), Fidel retired from active business, and began to be even more relaxed around humans, and to spend even more time on the ottoman.

Fidel had a difficult last year or so. He was throwing up a lot, lost about 10 pounds, and was suffering from a thyroid condition and a heart condition. We took him to the Animal Medical Center for the radio-iodine treatment that was so effective for his older sister, Missy. However, it did not work for Fidel.

After the treatment, Fidel had to spend a longer time in quarantine than Missy, and he just wasn't the same after he came home. Maybe, Fidel needed more people around him. Maybe, it was just his time either way. We did not do a necropsy, so we'll never know.

Fidel is survived by his grieving mother, his puzzled father, and his two sisters, one feline and one human, who so far have not seemed to notice the difference.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Don Cardwell (1935-2008)

Why they were the Miracle Mets.

On September 12, 1969, the Mets swept a double-header against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The score of each game was 1-0.

In the first game, Jerry Koosman, hitting .048, drove in the only run

In the second game, Don Cardwell, hitting .170, drove in the only run.

Friday, January 04, 2008

The Opposite of Progress

Congress is going to have a hearing on the issue of steroids in baseball.

Roger Clemens, Andy Pettite, and a bunch of other baseball players and "trainers" are being called into testify.

I'm pretty obsessed with and very entertained by baseball, both as a sport on the field, and all the statistics and stories and history and all the surrounding soap opera, and I have been since the 1965 World Series.

My life would be much poorer without baseball.

But its not important.

There's a War On.

There's an Environmental Crisis.

Oil is Over $100 a Barrel.

There's an Immigration Crisis.

There's a Health Care Crisis.

Leave the Clemens interrogation to Mike Wallace, and try to get something important done.

Sometimes My Ego Just Rages

Much is being made about Senator McCain's recent commment that we might be in Iraq for 100 years.

However, you heard it here first.

I have long taken the position that we would be in Iraq, and the Middle East, for 90 years (i.e. -- twice the length of the Cold War).

I first made the prediction on Election Day, 2004 -- in a post called "The Man Who Would Be King"

I came back to those arguments in a post called "Brokeback Sopranos" on May 3, 2006.

Although I did not talk about 90 years directly in my Labor Day, 2006 post "The Wars", a lot of my reasoning is fleshed out there.

All those posts on linked on the right hand side of the blog.

After that, I began to say the same thing in a slightly more hopeful way --

We can leave the Middle East as soon as the energy crisis is solved.

However, even though we can solve the energy crisis on any day we truly want to, there are days, like today, with the price of oil over $100 a barrel, there is no reason to think that we will actually do so for say, another 90-100 years.