Thursday, December 28, 2006

A New Day Dawns

The American people, however well intentioned, may not have been able to bring democracy to Iraq, but it looks like they may have begun to bring democracy back to Washington, D.C.

One of the great bits in this article is the description of Republicans' reaction to the Democrats' return of daylight to the legislative process:

"But Republicans are hoping Democrats stick to their guns and allow the minority a stronger voice on legislation. The opposition leadership said it would take the opportunity to put forward initiatives that could be potentially troublesome for newly elected Democrats in Republican-leaning districts who within months will have to defend their hard-won seats."

It's not that I expect Republicans to be sincerely contrite, or to view this as an opportunity to make laws that are more in line with what the American people want rather than what K Street wants, but I did expect them to insincerely express some fraternal desire to serve the commonweal, at least for a while. Instead, their first instinct is announce a strategy of highlighting wedge issues and focusing on the outcome of the 2008 legislative elections.

And by the way, what's up with Gerry Ford doing an interview with Bob Woodward in which he criticizes the war, but won't allow it to be released until after death--his death, that is, not the deaths of about a thousand servicemen he presumably felt should have been avoided? The Republican idea of public service has certainly taken a beating during the last couple of decades.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Right Place, Right Time

This David Sirota column on Rahm Emanuel is right on target. It's too bad that jackasses like Emanuel continue to plague the party with their mush-mouthed quest for the ever elusive "center," but hacks, like poverty, will always be with us. My New Year's wish is that Rahm's very fortuitous but entirely coincidental association with the 2006 winning slate of Democrat legislators will be unable to keep the DLC wing of the party from its date with the dustbin of history.

Mere Facts Cannot Stop the Hero Worship Machine

You really can never underestimate the ability of power-worshipping Beltway journalists to fabricate out of whole cloth an entire storyline just to make them feel close to Serious People they perceive to be Important. As an example, see this story on Rahm Emanuel in GQ by Ryan Lizza - a person working hard to carve out his own slice of American history as a "reporter" more infatuated with hero worship than any of his predecessors:

"Rahm explains that both Diane Farrell, the challenger to Republican Chris Shays in Connecticut, and Ron Klein, the challenger to Clay Shaw here in Florida, have moved "five points on Iraq." "The most motivated voters are Iraq voters," he tells his fellow congressmen. "You get a twofer: One is the issue of Iraq, and two is that a lot of their guys have made statements supporting Bush. So you also get the rubber stamp. I want to finish this campaign zeroed in on Iraq. They say terrorism, we say Iraq. They say stay the course, we say change."

Ah yes, Rahm was leading the fight for Democrats to make Iraq a major issue in the campaign, right? What a genius - except for those little things called "facts" which are ignored because they might get in the way of Lizza's lips reaching Emanuel's ass. Those facts would show that as recently as less than a year ago, Emanuel was demanding Democratic candidates go totally silent on the war. You can see here, here and here for a little review of these facts - as reported widely by the media at the time.

But, no - the hero creation machine must grind on, whether it means laying waste to actual, serious journalism or facts.

Why is any of this important? Because to understand the past is to understand the present - and a distortion of what actually happened in the election is a way to ignore what voters actually wanted.

By any objective analysis, Rahm Emanuel was the beneficiary of being in the right place at the right time. His targeting and rejection of the 50-state strategy proved to be a fairly horrific failure - many of his most highly-touted candidates lost, and he didn't put resources into some of the races that ended up being the closest Democratic losses in the country. Put another way, Democrats won in spite of Rahm's targeting and - as this blog post shows - also in spite of his critical early advice on the issue that swung the election. I mean, this is a guy who was the architect of NAFTA and yet is now taking credit for an election where Democratic candidates' opposition to NAFTA provided the margin of the new congressional majority.

Yes, Rahm raised a lot of money. But his real "success" was happening to be chairman of the DCCC at the same time the Republican Party was ravaged with corruption scandals, and plagued by a high-profile colleague who made gay sexual advances on young boys. The Democratic Party not winning the election under the circumstances would have made Rahm into the political equivalent of Bill Buckner.

But make no mistake about it - had Bill Buckner fielded that routine grounder and made the out in Game 6 in 1986, that moment would not have gone down as some unbelievable and overachieving play, it would have gone down as the absolute minimum someone should have done in that situation. And had Buckner batted .185 and made other errors throughout the rest of the series, he would not have been handed the MVP had he only successfully fielded that routine ground ball.

Similarly, that Rahm happened to be head of the DCCC in 2006 doesn't make him the MVP of the 2006 election (or, as Lizza froths, the Kingmaker of the Democratic Party) - and it certainly doesn't negate the simple truth that this man did much within his power to lose the election, thanks to his generally unprincipled hackishness on most major issues including, of course, war and peace. No matter how much the Ryan Lizzas of the world inevitably translate their own personal need to feel loved by Serious People, the very clear facts show that this election was not some validation of Rahm Emanuel, his lack of ideology, or his self-serving Clintonite comrades now pathetically trying to retain their relevance. It was exactly the opposite - a rejection of those factors, because Democrats won in spite of them.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Better Than Average

Here is a better than average Jon Stewart video:

While here is a better than average article on Obama:


Monday, December 18, 2006


Here's the Orwell essay I mentioned.

Also, here's my kid's blog.

I confirm that the next meeting will be at my place in Oak Park on January 18 at 7:00 PM. I'll send out a reminder closer to the date.

Friday, December 08, 2006

ISG Report

"Good policy is difficult to make when information is systematically collected in a way that minimizes its discrepancy with policy goals." (pp.94-95)

That pretty much summarizes the Bush administration, doesn't it?

It's interesting to contrast this subgroup of old CFR Republicans with the current faction in power. Never has it been more obvious what a bunch of immature, idealistic college sophomores the neo-cons are.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Getting rid of them

This is the way to make progress
on Iraq. First get rid of the people
who voted for it, then make the
tough decisions (go in deeper?
ask for help? hunker down?
go just-over-the-horizon?
something else?) All of these
options will be more likely to
succeed because of the election.

Jose Padilla's Root Canal

I'm grateful our government has taken it upon themselves to abolish this man's rights as an American citizen in the name of my safety. Bravo!