Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Small change

What is the use of keeping this conflicted nincompoop in power? I understand Obama wants to build a consensus administration but building bridges to the conservative base should be done with steel and concrete rather than balsa wood and pressed yak dung, in a manner of speaking.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Barak Obama, American Political holographic Rorschach

Let me review for you how many ostensibly distinct constituencies lay claim on Obama as "their man" in one sense or another.

Some folks in Kenya...that is understandable but the politics of that country brought Obama's father here rather than that man bringing Kenya's politics, and we are grateful as we have quite enough political dysfunction of our own making, thank you very much.

Those tears you saw in Jesse Jackson's eyes Tuesday night in Chicago were one eloquent moment of video worth a thousand books that made me forgive TV its generally pandering to least common denominator viewer. There is a constituency, not precisely defined by their skin color, but by the tears they too had in their eyes at America finally living up to it's potential to do the right thing. This is a constituency to watch.

Jesse Taylor at Pandagon must have been cleaning the trash or looking for websites where you can find the words of conservatives who have had their distemper shots. He points us to Murdoch's newest newswarper, the WSJ where Scott Rasmusson tells us that Obama got his votes because he had an appeal like Reagan's [NO SHIT, he actually writes:]
He offered voters an upbeat message, praised the nation as a land of opportunity, promised tax cuts to just about everyone, and overcame doubts about his experience with a strong performance in the presidential debates.

Does this sound familiar? It should. Mr. Obama followed the approach that worked for Ronald Reagan. His victory confirmed that voters still embrace the guiding beliefs of the Reagan era.

MoveOn members must have loved Obama. Though I never heard one of them call him a progressive, the hope he stirred was palpable at MoveOn GOTV efforts I attended. At least Obama is fashioning a way to have dialog with progressives...I doubt Bush distinguished MoveOn or other progressive interests from an unarmed communist insurgency he could afford to ignore.

One group I consider the most meaningful constituency to think Obama owes them anything is teh voters: 65,974,960 of them.

But somehow we lib'ruls were all fooled because actually Obama won as a conservative!
[how do people get paid to say such crazy crap? I could be rich!]

The coastal highbrows and intellectual elites [all fighting words in our political vocabulary ] according to Kristof at NY Times, see Obama and sigh "landsman!"
Barack Obama’s election is a milestone in more than his pigmentation. The second most remarkable thing about his election is that American voters have just picked a president who is an open, out-of-the-closet, practicing intellectual.
Personally, it is under that, more than my affiliation with liberal politics, that I fix hope and attachment on the president elect. My copy of Atlantic is NOT tucked inside some NASCAR magazine. Have I given myself away by assuming NASCAR fans know how to read?

Well, the list goes on, as you might expect when there is a new king and the old one needs his diapers changed. We do want change.

People voted for Obama out of hope, people voted for McCain out of fear and habit. The decades of wedge issue politics and synthesizing majorities via mastery of corporate media, such as Rove excelled at, have really made fear and habit synonymous in American voters. That era of politics has just failed a contest against a new era. Neither hope nor fear require being highly informed or even being rational.

I watch intently to see what really changes but I doubt much of what now seems wrong in our world will change if we ourselves do not change first.

UPDATE: Not likely the NY Times writers read my blog for ideas but nice to know we see the same patterns.

Sunday, November 09, 2008


Hell Yes! There are all kinds of reasons so many came together at the polling places to elect Obama but undoing the shitty decisions that the decider enacted unilaterally is one of the best reasons.

I suppose it would have been a bit over the top for Obama to have campaigned with the slogan "change you have been praying for" but it would have worked for me.

We have such a long, long way to go.

What most becomes a democracy

In Senator Byrd's yielding the power of his role as head of the Senate Appropriations Committee, in McCain's concession speech and in Al Gore deciding not to fight the questionable process by which he was done out of the presidency in 2000 there is a sweetly hopeful theme. While we do need regulation in finance and commerce to hold self serving in check and we need checks and balances in government to stave off the ego, the clique and the single interest cabals, those controls alone will not save us from ourselves. We also can be grateful for that quality of character that most becomes a member of a democracy: recognizing when his or her preferences have parted ways from what is best for the common good and letting that good prevail.

Over the years, I have pitched in small donations to help Byrd repel the vile political buffeting from Virginia's reactionaries and said an occasional good word here to point out the clear headed defense of our institutions that he had so often mounted. Though his fight is far from finished and his spirit is still in the fight, he knows when to quit.

By not just relinquishing but doing so with explicit consent, these people exemplify a value that wedge issue politics have bruised and obscured: these leaders are saying to us that they honor the process more than the person, the federation more than the faction. By this they cheer on and steady the toddling gait of our frailer-than-supposed constitutional democracy.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

A country within a country and other election fallout

Map of the new borders of No. Nigrastan

Brad Delong pointed to Matt Yglesias who pointed to a map the NY Times provided to illustrate where the events of the last 8 years caused an increase in Republican votes rather than the much more logical reverse. And as it was passed from link to link each writer made important observations about the meaning of such a map. Of course, it is not a pattern owing to the last 8 years or to the accomplishments of the Bush league but to the prospect of the alternative leadership that sprang up in response. I don't have to be worried about being fired from my writing job so let me spell out its significance in stark and few words: A large factor in McCain's loss is that N0. Nigrastan has shrunken. Palin may not know where Africa is and the benighted denizens of No. Nigrastan have voted their certainty that it could not produce the father of a man of presidential stature. When she comes back out of the woodwork in 2012, Palin should definitely run for president of this disgraceful and irrelevant new enclave.

Why would the Barbie Doll of necon fantasies go into the woodwork after such a bang up job on the Republican ticket? Nothing to wear. And those Republican lawyers were also looking for her integrity but they will just have to settle for the clothes.

I too thought this video was funny. After such a desperately needed victory, the wind naturally goes out of your sails a bit. My serious expectation is that MoveOn members will strive to be a conscience for the president Obama as much as they did to be supporters of candidate Obama. It does mean we will have less to do than under Bush.

There have been some good comments or perhaps self congratulating from quite a few bloggers that new media has made for a new kind of political campaign. I agree. It has gotten harder to make lies stick when anyone with google and a blog can rebut.

And lastly, some digs at a few of the pundits who write stuff I actually read.

Thom Friedman frequently says things I agree with and says them well:
And somewhere they also knew that after the abysmal performance of the Bush team, there had to be consequences for the Republican Party. Electing McCain now would have, in some way, meant rewarding incompetence. It would have made a mockery of accountability in government and unleashed a wave of cynicism in America that would have been deeply corrosive.


Bush & Co. did not believe that government could be an instrument of the common good. They neutered their cabinet secretaries and appointed hacks to big jobs. For them, pursuit of the common good was all about pursuit of individual self-interest.

My problem with Mr Friedman is when he says things. For a guy who purports to have his fingers on the pulse of our economic culture firmly enough to project its trends, I find it suspicious that he is only now saying things about the Bush League you could have read from Atrios, or Josh Marshall seven years ago. Turn around and watch where you are going Thom.

David Brooks is a different case. I give him good marks for consistency. He always says a few clued in things and then blunts his insight with some sort of conservative blinders that nothing will remove from in front of his vision. Today he claims to know the "meaning" of the election results and to know where the voters are coming from:
The administration of my dreams understands where the country is today. Its members know that, as Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center put it on “The NewsHour,” “This was an election where the middle asserted itself.” There was “no sign” of a “movement to the left.”

I fear he may have a reasonable fix on the center of gravity of the electorate's sentiments but in typical Brooks fashion, he proceeds to talk as if that is where they should be and bowing to their unenlightened views would be the right course. No, David, its not like that. We are so very fucked up because a 30 year reign of Republicans and a few Democrats thought they were governing as your essay dreams: a little to the right of the sacred cow of centrist appeasing. You are looking at a sacred cheeseburger right now. Your thinking grinds to a useless halt in a pit of vagueness when you approach the matter of how bad things really are right now:
Most of all, they’ll take significant action on the problems facing the country without causing a mass freak-out among voters to the right of Nancy Pelosi.
Significant action but not enough new ideas to ruffle any one's feathers? Yeah, right. In the Obama administration of MY dreams, an inspirational message some how finally soaks in for each of us to take more responsible portions of the cost of paying our debts, living and governing within our environmental and economic means and admitting our place in the world is peer, not master. It will ruffle quite a few feathers if our sense of worry, pain and neediness, which has been used to convince us we need not share more with our neighbors, is flipped and shown to have grown upon us precisely because of how routinely disconnected and selfish we have been with our neighbors.

A far better essay from Mr Brooks was his previous NY Times piece. He said hard words about the broken promise and political underachievement of the spoiled generation we call the baby boom...the Not So Great Generation as I call them. In keeping with his need to mar every good thought he has, Brooks emphasizes the wealth of Obama's backers and ignores how much of his record breaking campaign fund came from nobodies like yours truly. I share Brook's dismay at the frittering away of the spiritual capital with which my generation seemed to roar in the 60's but which eventually climbed into an SUV and drove off to a McMansion in the suburbs where it only voted its fears and stood only for its entitlement to ignorance and uninvolvement.

But much as I agree with Brooks' dire words about how ill prepared this nation is to finally start paying for its necessary services just at a time when we have burnt all our surpluses, I think he is utterly clueless about what a "liberal" response to scarcity entails.
We’re probably entering a period, in other words, in which smart young liberals meet a stone-cold scarcity that they do not seem to recognize or have a plan for.

They say heaven and hell are identical: Infinite banquet tables where endless rows of souls sit facing each other across a sumptuous spread of food. And in both heaven and hell, the people are manacled in an interesting way that locks their arms straight at the elbows. Every motion is possible except bringing their hands to their mouths. In hell the sullen rows of people complain and starve. In heaven, they simply spoon food into each other's mouths. The difference between plenty and scarcity is as much about our willingness to share as it is about the amount of our provisions.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


We have made history, now can we fix history?

We had a rough debate but its done. All sides were heard and we are still one country. If McCain had been half so gracious in campaigning as he was in defeat, defeat would not have been so complete.

There will be, more or less as expected, some new help for Obama in congress. The changing face of congress does have the complexion Krugman foresaw: moderate republicans replaced by democrats but pimpled with reprobates of red meat republicanism still there to sabotage what ever they can. I won't bother linking all the sober op-eds and analysis pieces about the mess Bush leaves Obama: the guy is going to need all the help he can get.

There are still places where progress can be repealed, however.

just do it. do it justice

Election 2008 Voting Information

Today, November 4th, is Election Day! Remember to vote--not just for Barack Obama, but for Congressional, state and local candidates as well.

Where and when do I vote?

Find your polling place, voting times, and other important information by checking out these sites and the hotline below. These resources are good, but not perfect. To be doubly sure, you can also contact your local elections office.

What should I do before I go?

  • After you've entered your address on either Vote For Change or Vote411, read the voting instructions and special rules for your state.
  • Voting ID laws vary from state to state, but if you have ID, bring it.
  • Check out all the voting myths and misinformation to look out for: http://truth.voteforchange.com/

What if something goes wrong?

  • Not on the voter list? Make sure you're at the right polling place, then demand a provisional ballot.
  • If you're voting on an electronic machine with a paper record, verify that the record is accurate.
  • Need legal help? Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE
  • Try to get video of the problem and submit it to VideoTheVote.org

Want to do more?

  • Text all of your friends: "Vote Obama today! Pass it on!"
  • Volunteer at your local Obama office. Find an office here or here.
  • Make calls from home for Obama.

Now everybody go vote!!!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Your Choice, America.

There is nothing I could add to the rising din of news, no outrage at swift boating ads or voter suppression you have not already got coming at you from a torrent of sources. I can report that my MoveOn party to make calls into VA was a fun affair and we found a dozen volunteers among the hundreds of calls we made. I have had robots calling me to urge I vote for this or that republican...don't they have any people in their party? The calls I get for democrats are all from humans. I think there is a message in that.

I post this on the off chance that anyone who reads here before Tuesday is either complacent about an Obama win or actually still under the impression that McCain is more than a shell of the man he seemed to be in 2000. If this nation does not elect Obama, and if it does not do so in a broadly sweeping way that brings in a better congress then we will be lead by our fears and our selfishness. Obama will not save us but he will ask us to save ourselves. McCain will promise us security and give us richer corporations...just going down the path we have been on and which has brought us to a dark moment in our history. 2000 was a mistake, 2004 was a massive show of poor character and cowardice....maybe this is our last chance?

Please, Please do vote and do it for the kind of country you know YOU could restore to your heirs.