Friday, November 21, 2008

Punditing is fun

The Dow jumped 500 points today. The financial pundits say it's a vote of confidence in the Obama cabinet. That goes directly against the narrative that bloviators like Hannity and Linbaugh are pushing--that every fall in the market is a direct result of Obama getting elected. But, anyone can play this game. I think the fall yesterday was a response to Bush's last minute attempts to gut environmental regulations. If it goes up on Monday, that will because of confidence in Obama's ability to pull us out of the recession. If it goes down, that will be a response to Palin's indifference to turkey suffering. Feel free to add your own interpretations of the market in the comments.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Lieberman gets away with it

I suppose we knew this was coming.

The Senate Democrats have voted and Joe Lieberman gets to keep his chairmanship. After announcing the vote, Harry Reid said, "This was not a time for retribution," and "If you will look at the problems that we face as a nation, is this a time we walk out of here saying 'boy did we get even?'" Reid himself, John Kerry, and Dick Durbin spoke in favor of Lieberman keeping his chair. Lieberman credited Obama's recent statement that he held "no grudges" as the argument that saved his butt. If you look at this affair as nothing more than payback for personal grudges or a quest for retribution, the Democratic Senators made the right choice. But, if you look at this affair as nothing more than payback for personal grudges or a quest for retribution, you either don't understand the issue or you are intentionally distorting it.

Lieberman's apologists like to point out that he usually votes with the Democratic caucus, but there is a lot more to being a good member of that caucus than just a voting record. His public statements have always been a problem. Lieberman is that kind of self-hating liberal who constantly feels the need to prove his even-handedness by attacking and undermining his own side. His function as a moral scold for the party has been part of his political persona since day one. He attacked Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky witch hunt and impeachment melodrama. He damaged efforts to get a fair vote count in Florida in 2000 by conceding the race, even though conceding or not conceding should be the prerogative of the guy heading the ticket, not the second banana. His actions during the recent election were nothing more than a logical continuation and culmination of his entire political career and nothing new.

During the race, Lieberman might have been forgiven if he had only supported John McCain, though there is plenty of precedent for not forgiving him. When John Bell Williams and Albert Watson supported Goldwater in 1964 they were stripped of their seniority and chaimanships in the House, as was John Rarick for supporting George Wallace's third party run in 1968. But Lieberman went beyond just supporting his friend. He attacked Obama and questioned his loyalty to the United States (a breach of Senate ethics. He attacked the Democratic Party, saying he feared for the survival of the country the if the Democrats gained a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. He campaigned for down-ticket Republicans like Norm Coleman.

Don't get me wrong, I do believe Lieberman deserved to be punished for his backstabbing, but I also believe that there were more important reasons why he should have been removed from the chairmanship of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. I think it was a bad idea to let him have it after he was elected as an independent two years ago, but I understood the necessity that the Senate Democrats felt for appeasing him. Without Lieberman in the caucus, the Democrats wouldn't have had the fifty-first seat that they needed for an unambiguous majority. I understood the reasoning of the Senate Democrats, but I viewed it as caving in to blackmail on Lieberman's part. I expected them to stop appeasing him after this election, but I have been disappointed.

Lieberman was a terrible chairman of that committee during that last two years. No sooner had the last congress convened than did he announce his intention to break a promise to constituents to investigate the Bush administration's incompetent and tardy response to the Hurricane Katrina devastation. Over the next two years he completely failed in his duty to investigate gaps in our national security, war profiteering, or politicization of the civil service. In contrast, Rep. Henry Waxman, chair of the counterpart committee in the House gave us the very model of how an oversight body should perform its duties. It looked nothing like what Lieberman was doing.

Lieberman is not a Democrat and he can't be trusted. The Homeland Security Committee is one of the most important in the entire Senate. The person setting the agenda for that committee should be a member of the Democratic Party and someone who supports the priorities of the Party and who is willing to actually do the job that the committee was formed to do. Lieberman cannot be trusted on either of those cases. Reid said this is not the time for retribution, but can we trust Lieberman not to turn use his committee position to attack and undermine the Obama administration? His entire history says that's exactly what he will do with his position.

There is another place where retribution, not towards Lieberman, but on his behalf, comes into the equation. Lieberman hates the progressive rabble--the activists, the bloggers, the outside the beltway mob who are presumptuous enough to want a say in how the people who they have elected do their jobs. And we return the feelings. Over the last two weeks, a number of pundits have encouraged the Democrats to slap us down, repudiate our interests, and put put us in our place. Allowing Lieberman to keep his chairmanship has been seen as the perfect finger in the eye for the netroots community. After all, what have we done for the Party to deserve respect except raise millions of dollars for their candidates and work tirelessly to turn out the vote? The parties both have a history of disappointing their outer fringes, but only the Democrats have a history of insulting and repudiating them at every opportunity. What's particularly strange about the insider's hostility toward the the netroots is that netroots aren't especially extreme in their program. Kos is considerably to the right of me on most issues, and I don't consider myself a radical. The only real differences between the netroots and the insiders on most issues are matters of style and tactics, not of goals.

At least we got to be happy for a few days. I suppose it's better to get the inevitable disillusionment over with early.

John Aravosis has more on our disappointment.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Armistice Day

Today is the day we celebrate the surviving veterans of all the wars America has been in. We call it Veterans Day now, but once upon a time it was Armistice Day and celebrated the end of the Great War. Armistice Day isn't the only holiday that has undergone such a transformation. Memorial Day originally was called Decoration Day and commemorated only the Union Civil War dead. But gradually it was expanded to include the dead of all America wars and gained a new name. It's nice that we have holidays to celebrate veterans and those who didn't live to become veterans, but I think we lost something when we changed Armistice Day. As Armistice Day, the day celebrated not just those who fought in the war, but the end of the war itself, the end of the killing.

Americans have become very enamored of war. We're more likely to celebrate the start of a war than the end of one. Pearl Harbor Day may as well be a holiday for the amount of attention it gets each year while V-E Day and V-J Day are mere footnotes for trivia masters to memorize. Conservatives like Rumsfeld, McCain, and the denizens of Right Blogistan seem to think the solution to every foreign problem is to demonstrate our strength by bombing someone. It's more important to them to establish their strength than to actually work a problem through and see who's right. I'm sure there are deep psycho-sexual reasons for this insecure, big hammer approach, but I'm not going to worry about it this morning.

What's been disheartening to me is how frequently liberals validate this kind of thought. Even people who were quite active opposing the war in Iraq seemed to feel they had to preface every sentence with "I'm not a pacifist, but...." It's a painful echo of the generation of women who have grown up prefacing every observation of injustice with "I'm not a feminist, but...."Maybe in the Obama era, liberals will stop being ashamed. If we can make the L word and the F word safe for polite company, maybe we can someday do the same with the P word. We need to stop letting conservatives define who we are. We need to take command of the language.

One step toward regaining our souls might be to decide that the ends of wars deserve commemoration. Happy Armistice Day.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I love it when conservatives talk tough

Michelle Malkin is advising her conservative fan boys to "gird their loins" for combat against the new Democratic order. These children love to talk macho, but as soon as our jackbooted UN thugs show up on their doorsteps on January 21st, they'll meekly turn over their Bibles, guns, and white women and beg us not to hurt them. They're all bluster and no substance. If you run into anyone talking like that call their bluff. Hand them a roll of duct tape and tell them to get girding or get off the girder (or something like that). Ninety nine percent of them will fold and slink away muttering about how persecuted they are. And if you run into the one percent who take you up on it, watching them try to explain to the emergency room staff what happened to their loins should be comedy gold. Be sure to bring a video camera; you could have the You Tube hit of the season.

A couple of great guys

I just checked my phone messages from yesterday. It seems that Barack Obama and Joe Biden both called to remind me that there was an election and that I should be sure to vote. It was awfully nice of them to think of me. I'm sure their schedules were pretty busy yesterday. It will be nice to have someone that considerate running the country.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Your liberal media

I'm at Mom's tonight. She lives in the country in Eastern Washington, but due to a fluke of geography the only local news she gets is from Portland, Oregon. It's weird, several Washington towns are closer, but that's how it works. For me, the advantage is that I get to keep track of Oregon politics along with Washington politics. Tonight, we're hearing the pre-election round-up for Oregon on KATU, channel 2. It's pretty boring.

The big race in Ortegon is the Senate race between the Republican incumbant Gordon Smith and Democrat Jeff Merkley. Smith / Merkley has become one of the most expensive races in the country. Since last summer, when I visit Mom, Smith, Merkley, anti-Smith, and anti-Merkley ads are almost the only ads I see on Portland teevee. The news is showing them voting. That's the extent of their coverage.

Next, the news makes a quick mention of the Washington gubinatorial race. This is the big race in Washington. Democratic governor Christine Gregoire is being challenged by Dino Rossi, who refuses to admit he's a Republican. This is a rematch from 2004, a race which was decided by a little over one hundred votes after several re-counts. The Republicans claimed there were too many absentee votes for Gregiore from Seattle. This was clear evidence of voting fraud, they said. The Bush Justice Department wanted the fereral prosecutor to bring charges against the Democratic Party. The prosecutor, a man with the clearly honest name of John McKay looked at the evidence and said there was no case. AG Gonzalez fired him. It was a bad year for John McKays in Seattle. When I drive over to Mom's, I pass a large campaign sign in Toppenish for Rossi. Printed across the bottom it says "Don't Let Seattle Steal This Election!" That's classy Dino. I can see you plan to be the governor for all the people of Washington.

Now the news is covering local elections in Oregon. The anchor, a well groomed guy named Steve Dunn, is showing the division between the parties in Salem. It's a good year for the Democrats, he says. They're expected to pick up some seats. If the Democrats can win only half of the seats they've targeted, they"ll have a big enough majority that they can raise taxes on anything they want without restraint.


I don't know if Dunn has a history of that kind of biased crack, but it really made me sit up and pay attention. After that.... nothing. They went back to pretty boring and formulaic coverage. They gave more time to the snow on Mt Hood than on anything of substance (Northwestern news is the most weather obsessed that I've ever seen). A qick Google doesn't reveal anything major about Dunn's biases, but I'm going to keep an eye on him during future visits to Mom's.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The shape of things to come

Since the election presents a sort of watershed moment when political bloggers will suddenly need to find something new to blog about, I'm going to take a moment to let you know the direction I expect archy to be heading over the next few months.

I don't spend a lot of time talking about my personal life on archy, but longtime readers will know that my mother has cancer and that I frequently visit her. Last week, we found out that her cancer had taken a turn for the worse. As the only one of the kids who lives in the same state, that means I'll be spending a lot more time with her, talking to he doctors and just generally being there for her. I might drop an update into the blog now and again. Other than that the main effect this crisis will have on archy will be to make my posting even more erratic than usual. Besides the travel keeping me offline for days at a time, I never know how this kind of emotional stress will manifest itself. Sometimes, I clam up and don't have the energy to deal with anything else. Sometimes, I have a manic need to distract myself and become very productive. No doubt this will make posting more erratic still.

As to what I might be writing about during those productive moments, I can offer a few predictions.

Naturally, I'll want to post-mortem the election and speculate about the future shape of American politics. Like every other blogger, I have strong opinions about what the next administration and congress "must" do to restore the republic and weather our current crises. I'll be making my own pompous pronouncements and comment on other writers' pompous pronouncements over the next few weeks. If Obama wins, as we expect him to, the Republicans will not easily accept their loss of power. They will stay on the attack and do everything in their power to sabotage his presidency. I'll be making some suggestions about how we little people can fight that.

Once the election night hangover has passed, I plan on going back to writing about more non-political topics. I have some history, science, nature, and entertaining conspiracy theory ideas that have been on the back burner for a while. I had just started working again on the mammoth book when I heard about Mom. Sitting in doctors' offices is actually a good time to get caught up on serious reading. I'll be using the blog to work out some mammoth ideas. I also recently started gathering materials for another project--possibly a book idea if I ever finish the mammoth book. I'll drop a few hints about that in the next few weeks.

Clever Wife has started a home business with me as her sole employee. I'll soon have an announcement about that, to be followed by frequent pleas for patronage and updates about our adventures in the land of commerce.

That's about it. I'm not going away. Even though I might not post for long stretches, I'll always come back. Hopefully, I can make it interesting enough that you'll come back, too.