Thursday, February 03, 2005

Open Letter to President George W. Bush

Congratulations, Mr. President.

You've had a very heady time, these last few months. You won re-election and increased your Party's majorities in both chambers. You've just come off a two week period of having given a very lofty, if not entirely realistic, inaugural address, followed by this past weekend's elections in Iraq, and last night, your second-term launching SOTU address, in which you included your eye-popping, opening salvo on the Social Security wars, which is certain to continue to draw considerable attention for at least the next day or two.

But, Mr. President, as the snarly Jack Nicholson character said in As Good As It Gets, "What if this is as good as it gets?" Mr. President, this is as good as it gets for you and your presidency. There is no more upside. The coverage in Iraq will return to the latest bombing and the calls for bringing the military home will escalate. Your Social Security initiative will certainly fail without at least some Democratic votes, and it isn't looking as if you're going to get many of them, especially after the implications of your plan's private account "offset" and other benefit reductions start making the rounds. The best you can hope for is some face-saving gesture that will make minor adjustments to the system, but that's about it.

I suspect that your tax magic is wearing thin, too. The deficit will continue to grow as long as the war in Iraq continues and will increase exponentially if your previous tax cuts are not sunsetted, as you oppose, in 2010.

And even though you may content yourself with the thought of the friendly Republican majority in Congress, recognize that now, they can divorce you. They have their own campaigns and goals to worry about. Many of them are even now as we speak, making hushed plans to succeed you. Rumours of Iowa and New Hampshire will soon start popping up.

And your congressional partners are busy slitting the throat of any high moral reformation you may have in mind. I know you've been busy, but did you catch the fact that on the day of your SOTU, your Party's majority leader and House Speaker sacked the chair of the Ethics Committee, and two of his fellow members, as punishment for opposing a change in the House rule requiring party and House leaders to relinquish their posts in case they should ever be indicted?

And even though its hard to imagine the prospect, some Democrats are sharpening their knives, waiting to rush in at the first sight of blood. While you can continue to gloat over winning 51% of the vote, the truth is, nobody thought you were going to lose this election anyway. The main party lights are gearing up for 2008. And the party leadership is about to be given over to a very caustic critic of yours, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean.

Yes, Mr. President, this is as good as it will get for you. But at least you have Faux News you can continue to count on.


Senator J. Bulworth

P.S. Sorry I missed last night's speech. I was under the mistaken impression that Simple Life 3 would be on TV last night and it wasn't, even though I did enjoy the Law and Order: SVU reruns just fine.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

The Firing Circle

I really like Matt, but where in the world did this come from?

There's also certainly no need for Dean to serve as the party's chief national spokesman, but my strong suspicion is that this is precisely the role Dean wants to play. We'll have to wait and see, but I have more confidence in Reid, Pelosi, and some of the other Senate Democrats as party leaders and spokespeople and don't really want to see them overshadowed.

More confidence in Reid, Pelosi, and some of the other Senate Democrats?! I can think of a Rude Pundit-like response here, but because this is a family-friendly blog, I'll leave it to your imagination.

Kevin Drum seems overly pessimistic, too.

What is it? Is it "the scream"? Is that what you're worried about? The party is in free fall, don't you get that? We keep moving to the center and the Republicans keep moving the center further and further to the radical right. They're about set to undue the New Deal and tell you you're going to like it. Our leadership supported their tax cuts and their war and in the last election LOST more seats in Congress. Again.

He's from Vermont. Is that what's bothering you? The other side wants to turn the country into its version of the old south, and you're getting squishy because the guy's from the land of Ben and Jerry?

Civil Unions? Is that what's bothering you? The separation of church and state is about to be made a swear word and a relic. The other side wants to replace the Constitution with the Book of Leviticus. Is that what you want?

Big Money will leave us. Is that what you're worried about? Democrats outraised Republicans this year for the first time, most of that coming from the Web and small donors. Big Money, don't let the doorknob hit you on the way out.

Any questions?

Who Said That?

Welcome to the first edition of our Who Said That? series, where we single out interesting quotes and ask you to choose from among several alternatives the person or group you believe responsible for them.

Ready? Let's begin.

1. "None of us believe that there should be a religious government (in Iraq)"

a. U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, John Negroponte
b. U.S. Secretary of State, Ofgeorge
c. Former U.S. head of the Iraqi Occupation, Paul Bremer
d. Ibrahim Bahr Uloom, a top Shiite candidate in Iraq's recent elections

2. "We should separate religion from policy"

a. Iraqi voter, Abdel Waheed
b. James Dobson, head of Focus on the Family
c. Marion "Pat" Roberton, head of television's The 700 Club
d. U.S. Senator, Rick Santorum (R-PA)

3. "If the people want (name of country) to be developed and rise in every aspect of modern life, religion has to be separated from government"

a. Ralph Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition
b. Former Alabama Supreme Court Justice, Roy Moore
c. Iraqi voter, Abdel Waheed
d. Televangelist, D. James Kennedy


1. d
2. a
3. c

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The Show Me Party

If the new chairman of the DNC doesn't start off his opening speech to the party and the country by saying:

"Ladies and Gentlemen, there is one thing you cannot say about today's Republican Party, and that is that they haven't shown us. They have shown us. Let's look at what they've shown us.

1. there shalt not be academic freedom;

2. there shalt not be political dissent;

3. there shalt not be a social safety net;

4. there shalt not be a separation between church and state;

5. there shalt not be a right to privacy;

6. remember the Republican Party to keep it holy;

7. thou shalt love and respect thy neighbor except if they're non-heterosexual;

8. and except if they're non-Christian-Coalition-approved religious adherents;

9. and except if they're non-Americans;

10. only white males that own property shalt be free and able to vote"

then their speech will have been a major disappointment.

Why I am not a conservative, reason # 4358

Fred Barnes, of Faux News and the Weakly Standard, goes unplugged.

This has been building for awhile. It was especially high in the lead up to, and during "main combat operations" in Iraq. Dubya's narrow reelection win and the increase in GOP seats in November has no doubt emboldened the conservative establishment in its push to destroy Democracy at home while it obstensibly promotes it abroad.

Now in charge, conservatives would have us forget the Clinton years and the abundance of reckless personal charges they leveled at the president then, smear campaigns that included daughter Chelsea among the targets. Real values, that conservative crowd.

And I expect it to get worse. Naturally, the presence of the U.S. military over seas in an ongoing military conflict provides an extra layer of cover for anti-first amendment conservatives to do what they would do anyway, and that's attempt to suppress any and all opposition.

One hopes conservatives will be seen as overreaching. But I'm not hopeful. Once upon a time, before they seized power, conservatives were seen as the "radicals", the non-status quo party. Recall, if you will, the early estimates of Ronald Reagan, and later, Newt Gingrich. They were viewed as too rough around the edges, too extreme for the mainstream. But now, in the eyes of most of the media, what was radical has become the norm. As conservatives continue their attempts to turn back the clock on social welfare and individual liberty, liberals are busy playing defense on a ground of issues that were once, comfortably thought protected.

Academic freedom and political dissent are on the chopping block.

This is why Democrats cannot "move to the center".

Monday, January 31, 2005

Dean, the DNC and Us

I'm not sure what to make of the fuss and skirmeshes involved in electing the new DNC chairman. As most of you probably know, the executive board of some Democratic subsystem called the association of state Democratic chairs, or something, has voted to support the young Don Fowler for chair over Dean. The vote by the larger association of state chairs is supposed to be today.

Ordinarily, the position of DNC chair is more about organization than substance, and for that reason, while I support Dean, the election of someone else to the position probably wouldn't make much difference. Except. The primacy of Dean in the race and the opposition to him have made the race a larger symbol of the direction of the party. And for that reason, Dean's losing would be a bitter pill to swallow.

But in the big picture view of things, the importance of the DNC chair is less than the existence of a prominent message or messenger, both of which the party today lacks. Organization and "strategery" is more critical when you are trying to disseminate a message and elect candidates across the country. But when you lack a message or compelling cause, the role of organization is only of peripherical impact.

I caught some of the replaying of the conference on Saturday on C-SPAN, getting to hear Fowler, Roemer, and Lindley(sp) address the caucus directly, and a few of the others respond to questions from the audience. There wasn't much of "message substance" covered, just some queries on how to respond to this or that event. I don't know whether to be disappointed by that or not. I know the DNC chair isn't necessarily about message: he or she will more likely reflect rather than direct the party's message. But for those of us who are starving for an unapologetic response to the Republican juggernaut, and a reshaping of the boundaries of political debate that conservatives have continued to shift further and further to the right, maybe our or my expectations have shifted.