Showing posts from March, 2005

How political parties assimilate

Many of you have read my account of the rise of the Religious Right. The Pat Robertson campaign in 1988 was truly a watershed moment that brought about a new era of Christians active in politics. Prior to 1988, the Republican party was not particularly, what we term today, socially conservative. For a number of years, Christians had attempted to have a greater say in politics, yet had not become immersed in the political process. This all changed in 1988 due to Pat Robertson running for president. Say what you will about Robertson's beliefs, his organizational skills in putting together an effective political campaign were amazing. Even though Robertson lost at the polls, in the long term he has won. Let me detail how. Most outsiders who have run for president have been very captivating personalities and have often run as third party candidates. Ross Perot and Ralph Nader immediately spring to mind. Conventional wisdom would have included Pat Robertson in this camp of running a p

Keeping the record straight....

Red State Diary . First, I would like to note that this entry is going to be cross-posted on both Dean Nation and Redstate (diary), so that might explain some pecularities about assumptions I make about the audience. I write this in response to the entry on, A Lead Role in a Cage , by Paul J. Cella. In that post he points to the historical enmity between the West and the Dar-al-Islam by appealing to the historical record, and in the comments, offers two specific policy points: (1) Cease all immigration from Islamic countries, excepting specifically persecuted minorities. (2) Deport all Muslims here illegally (or, if that sounds too discriminatory, deport all who have shown the least hint of sympathy for terrorism.) I do not have a vociferous objection to either point, and tend to support the latter position. I speak as an atheist of Muslim immigrant background, so I am not one who has a great deal of "solidarity" with the Ummah . On position (1) I think th

Problems With the Environmental Movement

Nicholas Kristof was right when he wrote the following: The U.S. environmental movement is unable to win on even its very top priorities, even though it has the advantage of mostly being right. Oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge may be approved soon, and there's been no progress whatsoever in the U.S. on what may be the single most important issue to Earth in the long run: climate change. The fundamental problem, as I see it, is that environmental groups are too often alarmists. They have an awful track record, so they've lost credibility with the public. Some do great work, but others can be the left's equivalents of the neocons: brimming with moral clarity and ideological zeal, but empty of nuance. (Industry has also hyped risks with wildly exaggerated warnings that environmental protections will entail a terrible economic cost.) The basis for his op-ed is a lengthy article titled the The Death of Environmentalism , which attempts to analyze the root cau

Liberals in the Heartland

Despite the banner above, I am unenthusiastic about the idea of Hillary Clinton in 2008, and will not pick a Presidential candidate until 2007 at the earliest. At the moment, I'm most intrigued by the idea of a Gore-Richardson ticket. However, I also have an eye on a favorite son, Senator Russ Feingold, who has proven he can win in the Midwest while standing firm on core Democratic issues. Here's an example of how he does it: "I am enjoying reading many blogs, and am fascinated by their immediate reporting that is covering the important issues of the day. Many of the positive comments I have been lucky enough to read about my work relate to the fact that I was the only member of the U.S. Senate to oppose the USA PATRIOT Act. That experience taught me a lot, but one thing I learned for certain is that millions of ordinary citizens support efforts to make sure the government doesn't try to take more power than it needs. Resisting overreaching by the federal governme

The Neoconservative persuasion

My post below elicited good responses. I am usually exhausted by the self-referential and semantically muddled nature of most political discussions...but I perceived a sincere and genuine attempt at clarity by most participants, so I want to elaborate a few points. Below I mostly elaborated the Neoconservative separation from the rest of the Right. My overall point is that contrary to the perceptions of many insular Leftists/liberals/Democrats, Neoconservatives are the moderates in the Republican/Right movement. There are obviously cleavages in the Neoconservative movement. As noted below, someone like Francis Fukuyama is hard to pin down. A Japanese American with an undergraduate degree in Classics and the son of a Congregationalist minister who is a self-described Aristotelian , he defies many of the sociological parameters that help define the bounds of Neoconservatism. His relatively optimistic outlook expressed in books like The End of History or The Great Disruption lea


Words have power. Those on the Left side of the political spectrum know this, for decades the world liberal was hurled at them as if it was an insult. Occassionally other appellations, from Communist to atheist to abortionist, popped up. Many on the Left objected to these definitions, an acknowledgement of the need for regulation is not tatamount to Communism, an espousal of a high wall of separation between church & state is not equivalent to atheism and finally, acceptance of the right of a woman to choose whether to have an abortion or not is not the same as performing the act. The Right's demonization and mischaracterization of the Left has had two primary consequences. First, it has resulted in a string of tactical victories over the past two generations. Second, I believe it is fueled the degeneration of society-wide discourse and engagement. Words are the currency we use to communicate, and their short term debasement tends to have long term bitter yields. That

towards a feudal society

The Bankruptcy Bill - so terrible, that it got Free Republic to agree with Paul Krugman. This will have a chilling effect on entrepeneurship, since it increases the risk. This bill will encourage credit card companies, however, in their predatory lending schemes. Ultimately, the ideal consumer is the one who works for a minimum wage, for a huge corporation, who is eternally in debt and paying fees and interest on the basic goods. It's time to resurrect class warfare, because we're losing, both red and blue, to the (dark) green.

Hillary has bipartisan cred in NY

via Gary Farber , great article from the New York Times that pretty much deflates the "everybody hates Hillary" narrative. She's popular with the GOP voters: In the four years since taking office, Mrs. Clinton has managed to cultivate a bipartisan, above-the-fray image that has made her a surprisingly welcome figure in some New York Republican circles, even as she remains exceedingly popular with her liberal base. A recent poll by The New York Times, for example, showed that Mrs. Clinton's popularity had sharply improved among Republicans voters surveyed, with 49 percent saying they approved of the job she was doing, compared with 37 percent who expressed similar sentiments in October 2002. bbit perhaps more tellingly, she's popular with the GOP politicians too! read on...   Only five years ago, for example, Representative Thomas M. Reynolds of Buffalo mocked Mrs. Clinton as a "a tourist who has lost her way," alluding to the fact that she had not lived

which crowd would YOU rather hang out with?

or ? a fun question, but with some serious implications. Read on..   There certainly seems to be an emphasis on cute Lebanese women flashing (victory signs) for freedom - and scary freak Lebanese men cutting themselves with knies for Assad, in the photo coverage. While it makes for fun eye-candy, I wonder if there's also some editorial bias in the way these photos are chosen. Still, if this is media bias, I'd prefer it be pro-liberty than pro-tyranny; however, selective visual imagery is as dangerous as selective free speech - when has censorship, allegedly in the cause of liberty, ever been anything other than propaganda to disguise its antithesis? The issue of Lebanon is of course immeasurably more complex than the triumphalists would have you believe - which is a roundabout way of saying that the events in Lebanon are of course not subject to bias from just the media, but also from those who perceive it as in their self-interest to ascribe all credit (as opposed to some , my

Truman Democrats

"What we ought to be demanding as Democrats, is what Harry Truman put in the 1948 Democratic Party platform: health insurance that covers everybody, just like they have in Germany, France, Costa Rica, Japan, Ireland, and Italy! Every single industrialized country on the face of the earth has health insurance for all of its people. Why can't we have what all those countries have?" -- Gov. Howard Dean's Speech at the Take Back America Conference, Washington, DC, June 5, 2003 Below the fold is Truman's acceptance speech , July 15th 1948. Remind you of anyone?   I am sorry that the microphones are in the way, but I must leave them the way they are because I have got to be able to see what I am doing-- as I am always able to see what I am doing. I can't tell you how very much I appreciate the honor which you have just conferred upon me. I shall continue to try to deserve it. I accept the nomination. And I want to thank this convention for its unanim

lifting the payroll tax cap: unwise?

Mark Schmitt has an argument against solely relying on raising the payroll tax cap to shore up Social Security's long term finances: the payroll tax is not a tax so much as a premium in a system of insurance. And the cap ensures that the insurance policy is basically a good deal for everyone. That's always been the bedrock of its political success. You might be able to get a better deal, in exchange for more risk, through private accounts. But no matter how you cut it, in general Social Security is a net plus for almost everyone, whether through retirement or survivors benefits. On the other hand, if you lift the cap, and people who make $120,000 are paying almost $15,000 a year in FICA taxes (including the employers' share), they would start to see it as a very bad deal. They would have to be alive and retired for almost as long as they were working in order to see a positive return. Put another way, lift the cap, and suddenly all those "calculators" at the Cato

judicial filibuster precedent and consquences

Jerome has written a moving diary at myDD about the historical use of the filibuster in the Senate, which he reminds us is known has traditionally served a watchdog role over abuse and excess of power by other branches of the government, including the House. He relates some relevant history involving FDR which has direct bearing on the present debate of whether filibustering of judicial nominees is a violation of the Senate's traditions or not. Perhaps more directly relevant to our discussion of the "nuclear option" are the seven days in 1937, from July 6 to 13 of that year, when the Senate blocked Franklin Roosevelt's Supreme Court-packing plan. Earlier that year, in February 1937, FDR sent the Congress a bill drastically reorganizing the judiciary. The Senate Judiciary Committee rejected the bill, calling it "an invasion of judicial power such as has never before been attempted in this country" and finding it "essential to the continuance of our con

Time for a rethink?

David Adesnik quotes from a NYT editorial from January 13, 1988 and says that "the current generation of editors at the NYT has sadly fallen away from the idealism of not all that long ago." Maybe so, but then again, maybe not.   Here's today's editorial : It's not even spring yet, but a long-frozen political order seems to be cracking all over the Middle East. Cautious hopes for something new and better are stirring along the Tigris and the Nile, the elegant boulevards of Beirut, and the impoverished towns of the Gaza Strip. It is far too soon for any certainties about ultimate outcomes. In Iraq, a brutal insurgency still competes for headlines with post-election democratic maneuvering. Yesterday a suicide bomber plowed into a crowd of Iraqi police and Army recruits, killing at least 122 people - the largest death toll in a single such bombing since the American invasion nearly two years ago. And the Palestinian terrorists who blew up a Tel Aviv nightclub last