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:: Friday, September 12, 2003 ::

Busy day...

It's been rather busy today, as you can no doubt tell. I'll try to have some updates later, and I did want to do a Sci-Fi/Fantasy book list. I haven't decided on "series" or "stand-alone" or "either" yet. If anyone has a preference, let me know....

:: Morat 2:06 PM :: ::

:: Thursday, September 11, 2003 ::

Clark Set to Enter 2004 Presidential Race

Clark Set to Enter 2004 Presidential Race: "Retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark has told friends he is likely to become the 10th Democratic presidential candidate, a move that could shake up the crowded field just four months before the first ballots are cast.

Clark, 58, has not made a final decision, but the Arkansas resident is aggressively recruiting campaign staff and plans to announce his intentions next week, friends and party officials said on condition of anonymity.
It looks like he's almost certain to enter the race.

So it's prediction time! My take? He'll lose. I'm relatively certain he'll be the focus for the "anti-Dean", in the media if nowhere else, and he'll certainly drive most of the other candidates out of the race. Certainly poll numbers for all candidates are going to be rapidly changing for a few weeks, but by December things will have sorted themselves out.

But, I don't think he's got the organization and the money, nor the time to acquire it, before the primaries. Which are, I might add, heavily front-loaded. DraftClark is impressive, but I don't think it's going to be enough to take on another candidate with an even bigger grassroots, especially one with a decent claim to the "insurgent" and "outsider" labels.

I don't say this as a true Dean believer. I like him, consider him the best in the field, and also think he's being underestimated by a lot of people, but I'm not terribly active in the Dean campaign. I've never even been to a Meetup.

I think that Clark's numbers will shoot up, as he more or less devours some of the lesser candidates, and then level off. But over the course of the primaries, I'm thinking Dean will beat him handily. I don't think that Clark is nearly the "perfect candidate" his supporters think he is, nor do I think the groundswell of public support and Democratic endorsements he'll need will be as forthcoming as they expect.

But hey, I could be wrong. At least this way, however, we'll have a chance to see Clark talk about his positions, and have a chance to actually judge him as a candidate. And my opinion remains, as always, 'May the Best Candidate Win'.
:: Morat 1:37 PM :: ::

General Clark

Reading all the speculation about Clark, I'm really starting to wonder about why people are getting excited about Clark.

Sure, he's got a great resume. But, let's face it, there are lots of failed candidates who had good resumes. Sure, he's got military experience. But, let's face it, there are lots of failed candidates who had military experience.

Policy-wise, the man resembles Arnold. To find out where he stands on an issue, you have to comb back through his history finding odd statements here and there. This isn't terribly surprising, as the man isn't a politician. Non-politicians don't tend to have political histories or detailed issue statements until they become politicians.

The problem here is that ever since Clark got going, and a run looked like an actual possibility, the man's been vague, and his issue statements haven't gone much beyond general Democratic platitudes. Until he commits to the race, and starts making actual policy and issue statements, we're just guessing on what the man stands for. At best, we know what the man stood for awhile back, when he wasn't running for President.

All in all, I get the impression that a lot of Clark supporters are just projecting their beliefs onto Clark. Which is a good way to get popular, I admit. Everyone is going to believe, for a time, that you're 100% behind them.....because you've never said a word to the contrary.

I can't get excited about Clark because all I've got is a resume, generic liberal statements, and statements made when the man wasn't running for office.

Until the man actually stands up and personally outlines his beliefs and policies, I'm not going to pretend I know what he stands for. And until I know what he stands for, I can't consider voting for him.

Note: Please don't bring up the Zogby polls. Blind bio polls are pretty useless, especially in a national election. It should be very obvious by now that voters do not elect resumes.
:: Morat 1:16 PM :: ::

Rumsfeld Discusses Military Tribunals

Yahoo! News - Rumsfeld Discusses Military Tribunals:
Most suspected terrorists at a U.S. prison camp in Cuba could expect to be held for the duration of the global war on terrorism rather than face trial, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Wednesday.

Asked about the matter in a question-and-answer session at the National Press Club, Rumsfeld said he expects some trials but prefers that most continue to be held at the Guantanamo Bay facility.
Let's see: We want to hold them for the length of the War on Terror, the timespan of which ranges from 'A really long time' to 'forever', but we don't really plan to actually try or charge most of them.

Not even under the rather....loose...standards of a military tribunal. Which, I might add, are so loose that most legal associations feel that participating in them is a violation of legal ethics. Not that it matters, as the US's opinion is that even if the kangaroo court/Military tribunal acquits them, we still don't have to release them.

Isn't that great? Because America is all about indefinite detention of suspects, even if the case against them is so weak that a kangaroo court won't convict them.

God bless America. USA! USA! USA!
:: Morat 10:50 AM :: ::

Same Sex Marriage

Eugene at The Volokh Conspiracy notes:
I should also mention that I would support in principle an amendment that states 'No part of this Constitution shall be interpreted as requiring any state to recognize or allow same-sex marriages,' or words to that effect. My one objection is that I don't think such an amendment is necessary: I don't think the Supreme Court would indeed interpret the Constitution as requiring states to allow same-sex marriages, and I suspect that states wouldn't even be required to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages. And I think this is a significant objection, because I don't think the Constitution should be amended unless there's a real need to do it.

But setting aside this objection, I agree that the Constitution should be read as leaving the matter to states. I tentatively support same-sex marriage, but I don't believe that there's any warrant in the Constitution (whether in the Equal Protection Clause or elsewhere) for the Supreme Court to impose it on the country. If the Supreme Court does so hold, then it would be quite proper for the people to reverse that judgment.
Now, I'm not a lawyer or legal scholar, so it's quite possible I'm way off base here. But it seems to be that Eugene is missing the entire reasoning behind both the Amendment, and the belief that the Supreme Court will, in effect, allow gay marriages.

It's not Equal Protection (which I think makes a compelling argument, but then again, I'm not a legal scholar of any sort) or any attempt to increase federal power. I was under the impression that the proposed Amendment was an attempt to bypass the Full Faith and Credit clause. As best I understand it, the worry isn't that the Supreme Court will rule that the Constitution requires allowing same-sex couples to marry, but the worry that the Supreme Court will (as is quite consistent with precedent) require that the states recognize same-sex marriages performed in another state.

In fact, I was very much under the impression that the big rush was that Massachusetts is likely to legalize same-sex marriage (not civil unions, but marriages...which are one of the stock examples of how the FF&C clause is used) in the next year or so. So, under the current rules, Texas (which bars same-sex marriage) would be required to recognize same-sex couples as married, if they had the ceremony performed in Massachusetts....just like Texas recognizes me as married, even though I got hitched in another state.

Update: Eugene has added a post about the FF&C clause. I rather disagree with him, though. I might be wrong, but I know that some states have far less stringent requirements for marriage than others (waiting periods, for one), but nonetheless, a marriage in other state is still valid in your state.

I'm not sure why the Defense of Marriage Act is even relevant, since an act of Congress isn't going to have much bearing on what is, ultimately, a Constitutional question.

I did some digging, and Williams I and II seem to be pretty apt. The Courts pretty firmly ruled that, on the issue of divorce, a legal divorce in Nevada is a legal divorce in North Carolina....even if the divorce didn't meet North Carolina law. Unless that's been overturned (or I'm totally misunderstanding it, always a possibility) I'm not sure why Eugene is so confidant SCOTUS won't rule that the FF&C clause applies to same-sex marriages, nor why state laws would be any bar to it.

Basically, marriage has never been a "state's right" sort of thing. Not really. Sure, every state can set it's own rules for who gets married...but get married in one state, and you're married in all of them. Regardless of whether you meet the requirements.
:: Morat 10:08 AM :: ::

State Department: Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Tom Spencer points out a State Department Worldwide Caution - Public Announcement:
With the second anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks upon us, we are seeing increasing indications that Al-Qaida is preparing to strike U.S. interests abroad.
Looking at the last few months, Al-Qaida and its associated organizations have struck in the Middle East in Riyadh, in North Africa in Casablanca, and in East Asia in Indonesia. We therefore assess that European or Eurasian locations could be venues for the next round of attacks, possibly to closely coincide with the anniversary of the 11 September attack. We expect Al-Qaida will strive for new attacks that will be more devastating than the September 11 attack, possibly involving nonconventional weapons such as chemical or biological agents. We also cannot rule out the potential for Al Qaida to attempt a second catastrophic attack within the U. S.
Terrorist actions may include, but are not limited to, suicide operations, hijackings, bombings or kidnappings. These may also involve commercial aircraft and threats to include conventional weapons, such as explosive devices. Terrorists do not distinguish between official and civilian targets. These may include facilities where American citizens and other foreigners congregate or visit, including residential areas, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, hotels, outdoor recreation events or resorts and beaches. U.S. citizens should remain in a heightened state of personal security awareness when attendance at such locations is unavoidable.
All I can think about is an old X-Files episode called Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose in which a police officer issues an APB (based on a TV psychic's information):

"Look, all I know is that so far, Yappi has provided more solid, concrete leads on this case than you have. Now, if you don't mind, I have to get an A.P.B. out on a white male, age seventeen to thirty-four, with or without a beard, maybe a tattoo... who's impotent."
:: Morat 9:53 AM :: ::

A note on tragedies.

Let me be clear about something. I have no problems considering 9/11 to be a day above politics, a day to remember a massive tragedy, and to mourn the loss of thousands. And I'd happily refrain from beating Bush about the head with his failure to address the issues surrounding 9/11, the moment he stops using 9/11 as a campaign prop.

Just to put it in perspective: Thousands dead, and I think the two year anniversary is an excellent time to point out that our leaders have failed to actually do anything to stop it from happening again. On the other hand, our illustrious leader has plans to use the third anniversary to kick-off his reelection campaign and has been invoking 9/11 to get Congress to cough up 87 billion for a war that had nothing to do with 9/11.

Have you gotten the impression that I'm getting a bit pissed about this?
:: Morat 9:38 AM :: ::

9/11 Anniversary

I have no intentions of dwelling much on 9/11 today. Despite the claims that "the world changed on 9/11" the sad, but undeniable, truth is that nothing really changed at all.

And not for lack of opportunity. The entire world was behind us, after 9/11. We had a chance, a single moment, where we could have made a difference. We could have risen up, proposed bold new ideas on dealing with international terrorism. We could have taken this goodwill, this worldwide focus, and used it to forge better alliances and pool world resources to deal with rogue nations and well-armed terrorist groups. We could have done something.

But we squandered that opportunity. Instead of leading the world in a fight against terrorism, we find ourselves virtually alone, ostracized from our allies, and fighting a useless guerilla war in Iraq. Instead of defeating terrorists, we empowered them. Instead of bringing the world closer, we drove rifts between old allies.

9/11 was a tragedy. But inherent in that single, devastating event, was a chance to make the world a better place. But we had no leader capable of rising to the event, no politicians willing to set aside petty goals in favor of seizing the moment. Instead of becoming a rallying point for change, 9/11 became a stick used to browbeat people into accepting the narrow partisan goals of the Bush Administration.

What have we done in the last two years? Fought a war in Afghanistan, but never followed through. So now the Taliban and Al Qaeda are regrouping, while our troops weather constant attacks in Iraq...Created a Department of Homeland Security (over the President's objections), but haven't bothered to fully fund it. Created, after a year of trying, an independent panel to investigate the intelligence failures that allowed 9/11 to happen....but decided to underfund that panel, and restrict or deny them access to critical documents.

Our army is fully engaged, our Guard and Reserve units are stretched to the breaking point, and we're not even fighting terrorists. Our ports remain wide open, our intelligence failures have never been fully examined, much less corrected, and the only thing Homeland Security has done is create a useless chart.

Nothing changed after 9/11. Because to the President, 9/11 wasn't an opportunity for change, but just "business as usual".
:: Morat 9:15 AM :: ::

:: Wednesday, September 10, 2003 ::

HR 2239 - Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2003

different strings sums up the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act and urges people to contact their Congressmen and women about the bill.

Please do. This Act is the bare minimum needed, requiring human-readable (and voter verifiable) paper-trails for audits and recounts, bans the use of undisclosed software, and requires 0.5% of all precincts be randomly audited each cycle.

Go contact your Congressmen or women here (just plug in your zip into Different Strings' sidebar) and urge them to support this bill. And to support it now.
:: Morat 2:57 PM :: ::

Texas Governor Orders Session

Texas Governor Orders Session:
Texas Gov. Rick Perry today declared an extraordinary third session of the legislature to consider congressional redistricting as 10 Democratic state senators headed home from New Mexico, where they had been holed up in an attempt to block the GOP plan.
[...]
Nonetheless, Perry, who rose to the state's top office when former Texas governor George W. Bush moved to the White House, has his own problems. An internecine fight among Republicans over how to draw the new congressional map in west Texas could delay agreement on the plan. Likely court challenges by the Democrats may thwart GOP hopes for a new map in time for the 2004 elections. And the governor's approval ratings have fallen sharply during the standoff and resulting national attention.

A federal court imposed a redistricting plan on Texas in 2001 when the state legislature was unable to adopt a new map on its own. But the Republicans, who last year took control of both houses of the Texas legislature for the first time since Reconstruction, declared the state's congressional map unfair and launched a highly unusual campaign to redraw it to their liking. House Democrats fled to Oklahoma in May in an effort to thwart the plan.
This ought to be fun. First off, I consider it rather unlikely that the House and the Senate will be able to agree on a map, and even more unlikely that the map they agree on will survive court challenge.

First off, the problem isn't -- as the GOP would have you believe -- that Texas is gerrymandered in favor of Democrats. It's not. In fact, if everyone in Texas voted a straight ticket, the mix of Congressmen would be exactly what Tom DeLay wants. However, in five districts, voters rather arrogantly decided to vote for a popular Democrat (one with seniority and a history of pleasing constituents) instead of blindly voting for Republicans. That sort of thing irks Tom DeLay.

The split in Texas politics isn't really Democrat/Republican...we're a darn conservative state anyways. The split, and the root of the problem, is between rural and urban areas. Urban areas trend Democratic, and rural areas trend Republican. However, the easiest way to dilute Democratic voting strength is to break apart urban areas and hook them to rural areas, leading to districts that share no real commonality of interest.

Which leads to a lot of infighting and some very funky maps, with districts stretching halfway across Texas. And leaves GOP Legislators fighting over proposed district changes, because each map angers a different part of the state GOP. Like it or not, the GOP is faced with a situation where any change made to further Tom DeLay's goals causes the state GOP real problems, and each state representative and senator is bound and determined that the problems will be in someone else's district...not his.

Even should they, ultimately, find a map that spreads the pain around evenly, I'm not terribly sure the map will pass Constitutional muster. I understand (and someone please correct me if I'm wrong) that the courts have held that politics can be a consideration in drawing districts, but not the sole, overriding consideration. Given the rather public history behind this redistricting, it would be hard to argue that this was done for any reason but politics. (Link via Angry Bear)

:: Morat 11:11 AM :: ::

Alabama's Tax Defeat

Mark Kleiman has a good synopsis of the defeat of Alabama's ambitious tax reform proposal:
Having run just last year on a strict no-tax-increase platform, Alabama's Republican governor tried a 'Nixon goes to China': he proposed a reform of the state's horrible tax system to make it more progressive, close the budget deficit, and fund a school system that Lower Slobovia wouldn't be ashamed of.

Yesterday, he got creamed; the voters rejected the proposal by 2 to 1. Various self-described libertarians were chortling in advance, and no doubt will be rejoicing today, that Alabama's poor people will continue to pay more than their share of the burdens of government and that Alabama's children will remain mired in Red-state ignorance. That's what libertarianism too often turns out to mean: the assertion of the sacred right of the prosperous not to support programs that help the non-prosperous. I suppose comfortably-off people are as entitled to be selfish as any other political group; I just wish they wouldn't wrap it up in all that horsehockey about 'liberty.'

And it's impossible to ignore the racial subtext here: part of the reason the poor white people of Alabama, who would materially have been winners from the plan, voted against it was their disinclination to have the state do anything for Alabama's poor blacks. They're willing to remain poor and ignorant if that's what it takes to keep blacks even poorer and more ignorant. (A quarrel between the black leadership and the governor, plus what is by now the usual round of deceptive ads paid for by conservatives purporting to warn blacks of evil white plots against them, cost the program black votes as well.)
Sad all around. I have hope, however, that the theological basis for Riley's switch on taxes (an argument that, in fact, Christianity explicitly endorses progressive taxation and social programs designed to help the poor and suffering) takes firm root in the GOP.
:: Morat 10:59 AM :: ::

Will Press Roll Over Again on New WMD Report?

Will Press Roll Over Again on New WMD Report?:
Some time in the next two weeks, David Kay, head of the Iraqi Survey Group, is expected to finally release a crucial report on his findings so far in his search for weapons of destruction.

'I am confident that when people see what David Kay puts forward they will see that there was no question that such weapons exist, existed, and so did the programs to develop more,' Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday. 'We did not try to hype it or blow it out of proportion.'

Since no weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) have been found in Iraq, close observers now report that Kay is likely to drop on the media a massive weapon of his own: hundreds or thousands of pages of summaries and documents purporting to prove that Saddam Hussein had WMDs recently (and hid them) and/or had numerous WMD programs underway that we succeeded in pre-empting.
[...]
Last month, one of the most important stories of 2003 appeared, and got significant play in a number of major newspapers -- but not nearly enough. There's still time for the rest to catch up and, in most cases, honestly admit that they promoted one of the most lethal rush-to-judgements of the modern journalistic era -- and vow to do better in the future, starting with the Kay case.

The August report was written by Charles J. Hanley, special correspondent for the Associated Press, who shared a Pulitzer Prize in 2000. It utterly demolishes Powell's much-lauded Feb. 5 presentation to the United Nations on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, and the need to go to war to destroy them. (Excerpts from Hanley's story appear here and his entire 2500-word piece can be read at Philly.com).
Let's make it clear: The Powell case didn't hold up the day he gave it. I remember being infuriated that Powell would bring up the aluminum tube claim, despite the fact that various sources -- including the IAEA -- were disputing it's validity. His claims of mobile biological trailers weren't much better, but at least they stuck around a few hours until someone thought to ask Blix...who pointed out that they were no such thing.

To be blunt: Powell's presentation boiled down to a bunch of photos with, as it turns out, completely made up labels, one doctored conversation, and several claims that were debunked within hours or days of his speech.

Yet it took six months for the major media to get around to acknowledging that, even though the facts seeped out -- at the bottom, of course -- of various stories they printed. None of them bothered to simply examine Powell's statements.

Will the media do better this time? I think so. Not because the media has "learned it's lesson" but because the story itself has changed. In March it was a fun little tale of a perceptive American President trying to save the world, even though the world was too blind to see the danger it faced.

But that's no longer the story now. With Bush's fading popularity and a resurgent Democratic opposition (led by nine candidates whose statements have become increasingly blunt and pointed) the storyline has shifted, sliding slowly from "perceptive" to "ideologically blinded".

Whether Kay's report can shift the storyline back remains to be seen. But, for once, I'm rather optimistic. (Thanks to Tom Spencer for the link).


:: Morat 10:34 AM :: ::

:: Tuesday, September 09, 2003 ::

Rumsfeld: Criticism of Bush Strengthens U.S. Foes

Rumsfeld: Criticism of Bush Strengthens U.S. Foes:
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Monday opposition to the U.S. President was encouraging Washington's enemies and hindering his 'war against terrorism'.
This is a sign of increasing desperation.

Things are getting worse in Iraq, and apparently the only solution Rumsfeld's got is the "bury your head in the sand" routine. Not that any of us should be surprised. After Ari's "Watch what you say" routine, and Ashcroft's little slam-down to Congress last year, Rumsfeld is just toeing the White House line.

The response to any criticism is to question the patriotism of the critic. I can't say I blame them. After all, it's worked for three years....why not now?
:: Morat 11:43 AM :: ::

Iraq Estimates Were Too Low, U.S. Admits

Iraq Estimates Were Too Low, U.S. Admits:
The White House acknowledged Monday that it substantially underestimated the cost of rebuilding Iraq and that even the additional $87 billion it was seeking from a wary Congress would fall far short of what is needed for postwar reconstruction.

Administration officials said President Bush's emergency spending request -- which would push the U.S. budget deficit above the half-trillion-dollar mark for the first time -- still left a reconstruction funding gap of as much as $55 billion.
142 billion, not 87 billion. As Steve Gilliard noted, this is a critical time for the President. 87 billion is enough to close the 2004 budget shortfall in all fifty states. 142 billion? I don't think the American public, in the midst of continuing job losses and an unsure economic future, are going to be terribly supportive of that.

In addition, Bush is still pushing for his tax cuts to be made permanent.

One of my common complaints about Bush, about the White House in general, is that it's full of people who cheerfully ignore facts, data, and expert opinion in favor of their pre-existing ideology and an arrogant and righteous certainty in the correctness of their own beliefs and actions.

Up until now, the consequences of Bush's ideology existed only in the future, things that could be lied about, explained away, ignored, or left to our children to handle.

Not any more. Bush's ideologically fueled tax cuts are now complicating his ideologically driven war. He can pay for Iraq, or have his tax cuts....but not both. Any President willing to bend to the dictates of reality, any President with a pragmatic bone in his body would either throw in the towel on one of the two.

But not George W. Bush, chosen by God to lead this country in these rough times. Consequences happen to other people, and there is always someone to bail him out.

I have no doubt that Bush, if not Rove, fully believes the UN will bail him out. I have no doubt that Bush fully believes Congress will give him the money he wants, that the American public will accept this, and that his tax cuts will be made permanent. That, in the end, it will all work out.

He won't be pragmatic. He'll demand the money, the UN support, and the complete US authority. His ideology leaves no room for compromise. He'll ask for it all.

And he'll fail, as he is failing now. And unless reality finally breaks through the walls of his own arrogant certainty, and he acts pragmatically, his own ideology will bring him down.

George Bush is a fanatic. And fanatics don't compromise. They don't admit failure. They don't admit error. Ever.
:: Morat 10:47 AM :: ::

Taxes

I had to file an amended tax return this year (certain tax forms showed up in the mail in late April. Idiots) and my CPA finally got back to me. (Yes, I can do it myself. No, I don't want to. And back when I filed my taxes, and then sent in the forms for them to amend it, I was doing okay, money-wise.) It turns out I owe the government almost 600 dollars, and my CPA another 85.

Which leaves me in something of a pickle. I don't have 600 dollars right now. In fact, until my wife finds work, we're lucky to pay our regular bills. We've more or less depleted our savings. Luckily, we're thinking my wife will have a job by the end of next week, which puts her first paycheck in time to pay mortgage (if perhaps a few days late).

But that still leaves me almost 700 dollars short. Does anyone know how much time I have to pay the government? Whether or not I can get some sort of extension?

I've always been very conservative on withholding, so as to ensure a nice refund (I'd spend 20 a week, but a large refund will get saved, and had this been filed normally, I'd have still gotten a decent refund. Personally, it'd be nice to roll it to next year, where it'll (at most) simply cancel out my refund. I'm thinking that's probably not possible though.

Update: I was informed that ye,s taxes had been paid on the amount, but not enough. Further, she said that it's late enough in the year that I could go ahead and file, and the IRS would send me nasty-grams for a few months, but that ultimately the money + penalty + interest would simply come out of next year's refund. Or, I could simply wait and not file the amended return until January, and not even bother with the nasty-grams. Further, she said the IRS might be lenient in light of the fact that I didn't receive this information until April, well after I filed.

I understand the penalty is about 5%, and I'll owe interest for almost a year. I'm not sure how the IRS sets it's rates, but they should be pretty low. I'm thinking that, despite the fact that I'll pay more, that I might have to go that route. On 589, with penalties and a year of interest, I still don't see it exceeding 800 or so dollars.

On the other hand, I'm considering hassling my HR department over this. Their idiocy is directly responsible for the penalties and the interest.
:: Morat 9:12 AM :: ::

:: Monday, September 08, 2003 ::

Splitting the Difference

Calpundit points out a question from James Joyner:
Reading various commentaries on President Bush, there seem to be two mutually exclusive opinions floating around:

He's in danger of losing his base because he does not fight hard enough for conservative principles and is willing to compromise on damned near anything.

He's energizing his opponents and driving away moderates in droves because he is a right wing ideologue who refuses to make even the slightest concession to achieve consensus.

Which is it? It can't be both, can it?
Kevin seems to think that it can, in fact, be both, pointing out that it's not unknown for a business to try to expand their appeal beyond a core market, and fail miserably...and alienate their original market in the process. It's even more common with TV and movies. I can think of a number of shows that went chasing after one of the bigger demographics, only to lose their loyal viewers in the process.

I've mentioned -- several times -- my opinion that the GOP has a real problem with it's core constituency. Specifically, it's a party built mainly of small government conservatives and religious fundamentalists. Both of which have, in the end, contradictory goals. The small-government conservatives are, by and large, interested in minimizing the power -- not just the size -- of the federal government. They are looking for lower taxes, fewer regulations, and a far more libertarian government. The religious fundamentalists, on the other hand, are looking for a more Christian America...and, I might add, the Religious Right is not known for their love of compromise. To a good chunk of Bush's base, the only thing worse than an infidel is a heretic.

You cannot achieve the goals of the religious right without big and intrusive government. And while the small-government conservatives might, even to a large degree, share the values and beliefs of the religious right....the intrusion of government into religion and private lives simply doesn't sit well with them. As long as the GOP isn't in charge, this schism isn't an issue. Without the power to implement either side's agenda, the rift isn't really visible.

George Bush, however, has the unique honor of being in office when the GOP controls Congress. Worse yet, not only does he have to deal with the conflicting goals of his party's base, he also has to deal with his campaign donors. Who, I might add, have spent an awful lot of money getting him into office.

Top it off with the fact that the religious conservatives believe --and I don't doubt they're right -- that George Bush is one of their own. That he believes exactly as they do.

In trying to please all three groups: The religious conservatives, the fiscal conservatives, and his big business donors, Bush has managed to anger two of the three, and alienate the moderates in the process.

He simply isn't pushing the Religious Right's agenda hard enough to satisfy them. In their eyes, Bush's failure to push -- and push hard -- an agenda he supposedly believes in, and that the GOP has spent three decades promising to support is inexcusable. He has no Democratic Congress or President to blame for the lack of action.

As for the fiscal conservatives, while he has cut taxes, he is also responsible for large spending increases and push for greatly expanded government powers, all at the price of a ballooning deficit. Once again, he has no Democratic President or Congress to blame for the increases in spending or governmental power.

He is throwing tokens to his base, without realizing that his base -- now that the GOP holds Congress and the White House -- want a hell of a lot more than token gestures. In the process, however, the gestures he has made seem almost deliberately chosen to make him look as extremist as possible to the middle...and certainly the left, while falling far short of meeting the expectations of the right.
:: Morat 9:10 AM :: ::

Bush's Speech

I didn't watch it, as I was off supporting my brother's band, but I skimmed a transcript. Hopefully I'll summon the energy for more thoughtful analysis later, but for right now:
  • I don't think his base is going to be thrilled at spending 90 billion on Iraq when we have a 500+ billion deficit already. Every dollar added to the deficit is going to depress GOP turnout. It's not all religious wackos and rednecks over there. Quite a few of the GOP's more ardent and intelligent supporters vote because they believe, the last few decades of evidence to the contrary, that the economy -- and the country-- is safer in GOP hands. I'm thinking reality is painfully asserting itself up and down the ranks of the pragmatic Republicans.
  • If Bush says it'll cost 87 billion, it'll cost at least twice that. I don't think the man has -- at any point -- told the truth about how much something will cost.

:: Morat 9:04 AM :: ::

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