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:: Friday, November 05, 2004 ::

Hillary Clinton

Okay, for the last time: Hillary Clinton is NOT running for President in 2008. And even if, for some ungodly reason she did, she wouldn't make it out of the primaries.

So would all of you idjits on the right who keep pushing this just shut the hell up. We know you fantasize about Hillary Clinton running the way most guys fantasize about cute chicks. We know you dream up elaborate, vaguely sadeomasochistic fantasies about the royal beat-down the Right would administer if she won. We know that, deep down, you want her to run so you can win and "prove" women shouldn't hold power.

We know all that. We realize you've got some real issues with women, and that Hillary Clinton is the leaving, breathing representation of your discomfort with having your manhood challenged.

We also don't care. Fact of the matter is we don't like Hillary nearly as much as you hate her. She's a New York Senator and the wife of an ex-President.

That's it. There is no mass liberal urge for Hillary to run for President. I can think of plenty of women I'd urge to run (sadly the best choice isn't eligible), but Hillary isn't one of them. She's simply not that special to us.

Stop projecting, please. You're embarrassing yourselves and annoying us.
:: Morat 9:54 AM :: ::

The South, Elitism, and Civil Rights.

Many people have, over the last few days, talked about how the Democrats "real problem" is that we're snobbish elites who look down on the Red States.

I call triple fucking bullshit on that. I live in a Red State. I live deep in the heart of fuckin' Texas, and I can offer a pretty solid perspective on the issue.

You see, these Red State voters, these Bush supporters, these gay-marriage banners are my neighbors, my relatives and even my friends. And I call tell you the problem isn't what the Blue States are saying, and it isn't how the Democrats are acting.

No, the problem is pretty simple: The Democrats have bought into a thirty year lie.

The Republicans have been demonizing Democrats ever since 1964, and it's taken hold. It's an article of faith. A Democrat -- any Democrat -- wants to raise your taxes, reward to the lazy, take away your guns, your religion, your freedom, your values....and they're fucking commies to boot.

No kidding. My brother-in-law, on the eve of the election, flat out told me Michael Moore and an Al Franken were communists. He seriously believes it. He doesn't think that the Democrats are a bunch of snobby elitist. He thinks they're communists and socialists, that they're the "Enemy" even more than terrorists. (This from a man who would fit easily into Flint, Michigan. That Michael Moore's is a capitalist, who has made millions off of pointing out that CEOs get rich while working stiffs like my brother-in-law get paid less and less doesn't even register).

In short, it's not what Democrats are saying to Red Staters...it's what Republicans are saying about Democrats. And, frankly, they believe the Republicans and not us.

The answer isn't to ditch gay rights, or ditching a pro-choice stance, or even mimicking evangelical faith. Fuck that. If it's wrong for the North to impose their morality on the South, it's just as true the other way. And they wouldn't believe it anyways. It doesn't matter what a Democrat says, it doesn't matter what his record says....A Democrat is a communist in sheep's clothing, a gay-loving abortionist out take a man's wages so that the lazy don't have to work.

"Changing the tone" won't work. They won't believe it. My father believes -- with a faith more certain than any he has in religion -- that no Democrat could ever be better for the budget, tax burdens, or the economy than even the worst Republican. "Changing the tone" isn't going to convince him.

What might is a decade long attack on Republican strengths, and a decade long repudiation of Republican stereotypes of Democrats.

You want to win the South? Howard Dean had the right idea, even if he couldn't express. Come down to the South. Point out, loudly and ALL THE TIME because you're working against 20 years of stereotyping, that the GOP is giving the South the shaft. Go for their hearts and guts, not their minds. They're not listening with their heads, because they believe everything Democrats say is a crass political lie.

To win in the South, we have to break their faith in the GOP. We have to hit them in the guts with reality, over and over, until they're ready to listen.

I don't say this because I think the South is stupid or ignorant. My brother-in-law is not, my father is not, my in-laws are not. It's not a matter of stupidity or brainwashing or anything else. It's just human nature: You get told a lie often enough, and you come to believe it's true.

Civil Rights lost us the South for a generation. What's kicking our asses now is we never tried to repair our image. We let the Republicans define us for two generations. Is it any wonder they vote against us?
:: Morat 9:28 AM :: ::

:: Thursday, November 04, 2004 ::

Bush gathers Cabinet to act on second-term goals

I note that MSNBC has a nice story about Bush's second term, complete with a bullet point list of things he mentioned in his victory speech.

  • Continuing to raise accountability standards in public schools.
  • Upholding "our deepest values and family and faith.”
  • Halving the record $413 billion deficit.
  • Expanding health care coverage.
  • Seeking a constitutional ban on gay marriage.
  • Moving “this goodhearted nation toward a culture of life,” a reference to the abortion issue.
I thought I'd strip out the coded language and explain exactly what Bush means:

  • Vouchers
  • More money to churches, more prayer in schools, Creationism
  • Increasing the deficit
  • Medical savings accounts
  • Pandering to bigots
  • Nominating pro-life judges
If you notice, there's really actually very little there. He won't decrease the deficit, because that requires tax hikes or spending cuts, and a lot fewer wars. Medical savings accounts actually only work if you have money to save, which most poor people don't. He doesn't have the votes in either the House or the Senate to pass any Constitutional Amendment, so I'm guessing he'll actually try that one.

As for the pro-life judges, he'll probably do that. But how many is an open question (and there's always the Souter issue).

Bush is a narrowly focused man. His first term was all about one -- maybe two -- ideas that he pushed relentlessly. That list is a distraction, a way to assure the base that he's going to "get things done".

Nope. His real goals are privatizing Social Security and expanding the neo-con dreams in the Middle East. And the reason he wants it done by 2006 is that he's worried the fiscal conservatives will bail and the moderates and independents will line up even more heavily behind the Democrats. The evangelicals alone aren't enough to keep Congress in power. The deficit explosion touched off by privatizing SS (and it's historic "third rail" status) is almost certain to send fiscal conservatives bailing (they might like the idea, but not the deficit) and will certainly turn out large Democratic constituencies....and the boomers.

As for Iraq and further neo-con dreams, well....I look to my father, the perfect example of a non-evangelical Republican. He wasn't happy about Iraq, but was willing to accept it. A continued meltdown in Iraq or -- god forbid -- starting another war will be more than he can handle.

Two issues, mark my words. His focus will be on Social Security and the Middle East. There will be no effort to deal with the deficit.
:: Morat 7:31 AM :: ::

Soldiers Describe Looting of Explosives

I wonder how many stories like this we'll be hearing in the next few weeks?:
In the weeks after the fall of Baghdad, Iraqi looters loaded powerful explosives into pickup trucks and drove the material away from the Al Qaqaa ammunition site, according to a group of U.S. Army reservists and National Guardsmen who said they witnessed the looting.

The soldiers said about a dozen U.S. troops guarding the sprawling facility could not prevent the theft because they were outnumbered by looters. Soldiers with one unit - the 317th Support Center based in Wiesbaden, Germany - said they sent a message to commanders in Baghdad requesting help to secure the site but received no reply.
I doubt Bush's approval ratings are going to go up any time soon, and I doubt he cares.

However, with a steady stream of news like this (and the rest of the 9/11 report AND the Plame investigation AND the giant deficit we'll be facing next year) I bet the House GOP will care. They're up every two years*, and if the economy isn't improving and we're still dying in Iraq -- or God help us, in Iran or Syria -- the voters are going to blame someone, even if it isn't George Bush.

Then again, the House GOP is run by Tom Delay, so maybe they won't care. But the voters will. Voter disapproval and right-track/wrong-track unhappiness will find a way to manifest somewhere.

*Speaking of, which Senate seats are up in 2006?
:: Morat 6:38 AM :: ::

:: Wednesday, November 03, 2004 ::

Cleaning his own mess

I've noticed the sentiment going around the liberal blogs that -- if nothing else -- the fact that George Bush is forced to clean up his own mess (the economy, the deficit, and Iraq) is a small silver lining. Since the GOP controls the House, Congress, and the Presidency Bush literally owns everything -- good and bad -- over the next four years.

I've said similar things myself, but wanted to clarify something: I don't expect George Bush to clean up his mess. In fact, I expect him to make it worse. A lot worse. Fixing the deficit requires tax hikes and spending cuts, neither of which Bush or the GOP has shown much interest in. Fixing Iraq requires a lot more troops, numbers that can only be acquired through a draft, as it's highly unlikely that any other country wants to help Bush.

To add icing to the cake, Bush has the rest of the 9/11 report, the Plame investigation, Abu Ghraib and a host of other issues that he's forced off past the election. Plus, I'm guessing, a lot of career government types who were hoping like hell he'd lose.

This all adds up to an epic mess. A competent, fast-thinking and above all reality-based President could defuse the worst ones, and use what political capital or popularity he had to absorb the rest.

Bush can't. He's never shown the deftness required for the former, and he doesn't have the latter. The mess is coming. And it's going to be bad, and the American people -- even his supporters -- are going to want someone to blame. My guess is Congress, as Bush seems to have an unholy ability to be forgiven his mistakes, but you never can tell.

Either way, Bush waltzes off to write his memoirs and the GOP is left holding the check. And the GOP is not nearly as appealing or forgivable as George W. Bush.

So no, I don't expect Bush to clean up his mess. I expect him to make it worse. And then I expect the GOP to be left holding the bag. Enjoy, fellows. I did my level best to spare you, but you made your own bed. Sleep well.
:: Morat 11:40 AM :: ::

Thoughts on Strategy

There are a few things the Democrats need to concentrate on over the next two years:
  1. Break the media of the whole "he-said/she-said" nonsense. It's a disservice to the whole damn nation. I want the media to report the truth. I don't care what Karl Rove told you off the record.
  2. Start hammering -- now -- that the GOP controls the entire federal government. Everything is their fault. Especially Iraq.
  3. Do not -- even for an instant, for any reason -- cooperate with Republicans. Sensationalize every abuse of power (God knows the House has plenty to work with). Set the floor for outrage when the Senate moves to change the filibuster rules.
That's all I've got for now, but the first is critical. At the moment, the media reports spin and talking points, not facts. Which is why half the damn country thinks Saddam Hussein planned the 9/11 attacks.

:: Morat 9:47 AM :: ::

Site update

I'll probably be overhauling the site now that things are quieter. I still plan to move to Moveable Type, but I'm also phenomenally lazy. In the interim, I plan to revamp the template to something more readable, and much cleaner.
:: Morat 7:36 AM :: ::

Fun events of the next 3 months

The next three months, I think, are going to be a wild ride. We'll be seeing the following:

  1. The release of the "other half" of the 9/11 report.
  2. The conclusion of the Plame investigation.
  3. The "renewed assault" against the Iraqi insurgents
  4. Bush's actual plan for the next four years. (How the hell does an incumbent manage to win reelection without even hinting as to what his plans are? Bush managing to make Kerry the incumbent in this election was the smoothest piece of ju-jitsu I've ever seen).
Lots of potential surprises in there, although I doubt they'll do much....besides make any remaining moderate Republicans really uncomfortable. Oh...and there's always the draft.

But it doesn't matter. We just gave Bush a mandate. Hold onto your asses.

:: Morat 7:21 AM :: ::

Thoughts on a Bush Second Term

Now that we've seen how wrong my predictions were (I think I should retire from that game!), I'd like to make a quick note and then move onto my thoughts on Bush's second term.

First, to the 18 to 29 year old crowd: If it wasn't for the fact that my three cousins, whom I love dearly, are prime candidates for a draft, I would laugh my ass off when the draft begins. I'm immune. My wife is immune. My child is a decade too young. You lazy assholes are not. My cousins, sadly, are not. But at least they voted. Unless Bush pulls out of Iraq (see below for my thoughts on that), you guys are going to take it up the ass over the next few years. Perhaps that will ensure your civic participation in the future, hmm?

Now, thoughts on the next Bush term. First, ever idiot paper (and I saw several) that endorsed Bush by predicting his second term would be nothing like his first term are fooling themselves. Bush -- and the neocons -- are going to take this election as a clear mandate for their agenda. It's a validation of all they've done the past four years. They're going to run with it. Even better, since Bush isn't up for re-election anymore (and everything he's done to date indicates he doesn't give a damn about the long-term health of the GOP), he's got no problems pushing the more radical elements of his agenda. So here's what we get to look forward to:

  1. A draft, unless Bush pulls out of Iraq entirely. There's really no other option, and I know the neocons are heavily invested in Iraq....and Rumsfeld is drooling over Iran.
  2. Bigger deficits. Bush has that "privatizing Social Security" thing going, and who cares if it's the "third rail"? He can't run for a third-term, and it's not like an insolvent government is going to crimp his post-Presidency lifestyle. Oh, and make those tax cuts permanent.
  3. More environmental and ecological rollbacks.
  4. At least one -- and up to four -- Supreme Court appointees. Rhenquist is gone, and so is O'Conner. The others might hang on for the same reason Thurgood Marshall did. All we can hope for here is filibusters in the Senate.
  5. Continuation of a piss-poor economy. There's little the Fed can do, and Bush's fiscal policies -- all claims to the contrary -- aren't going to help long-term growth.
So where will it all end? Who knows. But from what I can judge of George W. Bush, this election was a confirmation of the essential rightness of his plans. Not just to him, but to those who surround him. They will assume the American public is behind them, and continue along the path they have chosen.

If you voted for George Bush under the assumption that his second term would be "different", I've got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.
:: Morat 7:02 AM :: ::

Reflections

So, while I realize Kerry might pull it out in Ohio (I'm guessing, due to the way the vote went, that a large majority of those provisional ballots are Kerry votes), I'm more or less resigned to another Bush term. Having said that, I admire Kerry for fighting it out and am glad he does so, and will support him to the end.

But that's not really what I want to talk about. I want to talk about the fact that George Bush seems to have broken the incumbent rule, that George Bush seems to have somehow transcended his right track/wrong track polls, and in short violated every election rule every known to man.

Some will claim it was cheating (Diebold, most likely). Perhaps. But I think the key is a conversation I had with my father about a year ago. (Hindsight really helps). My father is a fiscal conservative. Religion doesn't really factor into his vote, as far as I can tell. He's certainly not an evangelical.

But two years ago, when I was pointing to the sluggish recovery and the expanding deficit as reasons he might consider Howard Dean, my father said: "Look, son, yeah it's bad. But it's not the Republican's fault. They're doing the best I can and a Democrat would make it worse.".

And I think that's the key to George Bush's success. Let's face it, had Clinton been as incompetent a President as Bush, Dole would have waltzed to a smooth victory in 1996. (Think "Carter", for a real-life example).

But that's not true with George Bush. All of us on the left were waiting for a "tipping point", where the right would wake up and realize that not only was Bush an incompetent President, he wasn't even a conservative incompetent President. We were waiting for them to do as we would in that situation.

There is no tipping point. There never will be. For the fiscal conservatives, decades of "Tax and spend liberals" have cemented a belief that Democrats are always worse on the economy. Facts be damned. They don't need to be able to believably blame it on the Democrats in Congress, or Bill Clinton. Not anymore. It's axiomatic that it's always better under a Republican. Period.

So even if they hold that things are bad (that right-track/wrong-track number), Bush won't be blamed. He's doing all he can, and thank God Gore didn't win, because can you imagine how bad it'd be then?

It's even worse with the evangelicals. Their faith is rock solid. George Bush was chosen by God, and even if they think he's doing a piss-poor job, he's God's chosen for the office. No tipping point there.

I looked at Bush's numbers and thought "If a Democratic President had numbers like this, would he win?". And the answer was a resounding "Hell no", because liberals would have bailed on him in droves. That was a mistake, because the election numbers are pretty clear: Conservatives don't think that way.

So I wouldn't look for a tipping point over the next four years, either. It doesn't matter what the other half of the 9/11 report says. It doesn't matter how the Plame investigation turns out. Because to people like my father, it would have been worse under a Democrat. It's an article of faith, and no reality-based argument is going to sway them.

On the other hand, Bush will take office with low approval ratings, meaning there's little blowback from Democrat's obstructing his bills and judges (as best they can, with such a minority). There will be no more rallying around the President, no super-popular flight-suit clad Bush prancing across flight decks. And, should things continue to get worse in Iraq and with the economy, while Bush won't suffer from it, GOP control of Congress might. Someone has to be blamed, and "throw the bums out" has a long history in the US.
:: Morat 6:37 AM :: ::

:: Tuesday, November 02, 2004 ::

Voting Tales..

Kos has a nice thread up on voter turnout. All anecdotal, of course, but it appears turnout is high...even in safely blue states without competitive races.
:: Morat 7:22 AM :: ::

Jim Crow Lives

Just a fair word of warning to the GOP poll challengers in Ohio: You realize people are actually paying attention, right? Moore's got cameramen crawling around all over the place, and journalists have been following this fun legal drama and undoubtedly want to see what happens next.

Just letting you know. It's a fine line to walk, and if there's one thing I've learned about the modern GOP -- about George Bush's GOP -- is that they never know when to stop.

One little "media moment" can cost you for the next two decades, is all I'm saying. Doesn't pay to be the Jim Crow party in 2004.
:: Morat 7:14 AM :: ::

Morrison Campaigning

On the way to work this morning, I noticed something rather interesting about Richard Morrison's (Tom Delay's opponent, for you non-Texans) campaign: There were people standing on a busy street corner, holding up Morrison signs.

Now, this was in Clear Lake -- a pretty heavily Democratic area of Tom Delay's district. And this wasn't the first time I've seen Morrison sign-holders (who, by sheer coincidence I'm sure, seem to be there when NASA employees and their subcontractors tend to get off of work and head home), but there were enough today to make me sure this was a planned thing, and not one or two guys working on their own.

Is this common elsewhere? I've never seen anyone do that before, but then again...Tom Delay's hasn't had a solid challenge in about twenty years.
:: Morat 7:00 AM :: ::

:: Monday, November 01, 2004 ::

Required Predictions

So, as a political blogger, I am required by law to make predictions about the election. Also, it'll give us something to laugh about during the two months of extended post-election litigation. :)

So, without further ado, are my 2004 electoral predictions:
  1. Popular Vote: 51% Kerry, 48% Bush.
  2. Electoral Vote: Kerry 316, Bush 222.
That's based entirely on the latest polling and the "incumbent rule" with a tiny dash of voter registration and early voting information turned in. If I factor in more optimistic assessments of new voter turnout, I can see going as high as 53% Kerry/47% Bush and Kerry scooping up 350 or so in the Electoral College. I don't see that as likely, but I like to be surprised. In the Senate, I see a slim Democratic majority (51 - 48 -1) and the House I consider a tossup, with the Republicans likely to remain in control. But I've been wrong before.

:: Morat 9:00 AM :: ::

Long weekend

Before I wander back into the nasty world of politics, I wanted to state that I had a great weekend. First, I took Friday off to watch the Kiddo (School holiday) and then Saturday my father-in-law took me and my brother-in-law skeet shooting. I hadn't handled a gun since I was 12, and had never fired a shotgun.

I had an absolute blast. I also learned a valuable lesson about being careful when ejecting the shells....missed my face, but the poor employee behind me wasn't so lucky.

I'm a horrible shot, hitting only 6 out of 50, but I consider that damn good for a guy who had to be shown how to load the shotgun. We'll be going again in the future.

In a more geeky vein, I got the complete 3.5 edition rule books and the complete Family Guy collection on DVD. So my life really is complete. Shotguns, Dungeons and Dragons, and the Family Guy. Throw in a little Buffy and Stargate, and I'm a happy camper...
:: Morat 8:36 AM :: ::

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