You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2008.

In politics as in Highlander, in the end there can be only one. This effect is exacerbated in the context of the american two party system, where elections are not merely contests to gain a government majority but epic struggles to gain control over the governing mechanisms that more or less run the free world. Which helps to explain why it’s both frustrating and yet simultaneously reassuring that almost no one is really paying attention to the dance of death still playing out between Norm Coleman and Al Franken over who will represent Minnesota, the second most frozen of the lower 48 states. Just today Coleman’s appeal to have some Franken ballots reexamined over fears of double counting has been denied.It’s frustrating in that a senator is a very important and influential position and even though the possibility of the democrats gaining the invincibility everyone was convinced would be granted by 60 seats is long since vanished, the size of their majority (and conversely the GOP minority) is still quite important.

And yet it’s also encouraging because I can’t blame people for not wanting to pay attention to a glorified vanity contest in an ice strewn land far far away. Especially with an ongoing legal struggle that makes Florida 2000 look like Elections for Dummies. In the span of less than a month we’ve covered such electoral esoterica as aforementioned double ballots, challenged ballots, and Lizard People. I Wish I Was Making This Up. Then again I have to respect the guy for having the balls to come forward: I know if George Allen had won back in 2006 thanks to this kind of “oh-democracy-is-a-funny-joke, I’ll-vote-based-on-a-frathouse-bet” assholery I’d be quite motivated to find this man, burn his house to the ground and possibly salt the earth for good measure before throwing him to the ravenous democratic horde of Richmond city. If you’re going to vote a write-in at least vote for a viable candidate, not the Hamburglar or some other godawful piece of pop culture trivia. Because if you do, as this young man is swiftly learning, it will occur in one of the few elections where the margin is so slim that when your little indiscretion is discovered it will surely be YOUR ASS.

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Looks like Mr. I Have No Regrets About Skullfucking Iraq Bush has realized he pardoned someone he probably should’t have.

Yes my tone here probably comes off harsher than usual but I don’t think I should have to apologize for dancing on the fuckups of the man who anointed himself Lord Defender of World Freedom even as he and his vice president turned large parts of the constitution into confetti.

Despite the swiftest possible route to the senate for Sarah Palin being (thankfully) cut off by Ted Stevens’ own loss, it seems that polls are already being released showing Palin trouncing current senator Lisa Murkowski were she to run against her in 2010. This isn’t terribly surprising given the still large amount of public support she commands in Alaska; election-trail misadventures and Troopergate aside she’s largely free of the kind of malfeasance most Alaskan politicians are famous for, Uncle Ted being only the most recent (and probably longest-lived) example.

However I still simply do  not like Sarah Palin, and especially her politics, but it’s easy to see her winning against Murkowski, with varying degrees of ease: she’s had a largely clean and successful term as governor and her various misfirings on the national stage will have little bearing on the voters back home. Murkowski, for her part, can either redouble her attempts to bring home the bacon for Alaska in the new democratic senate and risk being labled as exactly the kind of pork-sucker Palin loves to maverick against, or take the opposite tack and oppose pork at the risk of being labeled ineffective. A lot can happen in 2 years though, and lot depends on whether, as a result of Obama’s policymaking the democrats emerge either successful or are forced through a wringer similar to what the republicans endured in 2006. Only time (and the war, the reckoning, public polling, every pundit on the tubes, etc…) will tell.

While I don’t want to minimize the magnitude of the many environmental challenges we face as a species, it’s also good to get a dose of good news now and again, as a reminder that these problems are not as insurmountable as they seem. Time.com has an excellent example in an article on a new water filtration system being implemented in Orange County, CA, that could go a long way in advancing sustainable fresh water use and reuse and greatly reduce the severity of the still ongoing Water Crisis. 

To those who deride the system as “toilet-to-tap” and equate it to drinking sewage, I say get over it before the day comes when you’re reduced to drinking ACTUAL sewage.

France is having a rather tough day: HuffPo reports that not only did Afghan terrorists plant bombs in a popular Paris department store, but apparantly there was also an assassination attempt on President Sarkozy. Thankfully neither incident was particularly effective: the bombs were apparantly duds and the would-be assassin was stopped at the gates of the Elysee Palace. Of course the nerves of the French public are probbaly well and rattled, and especially in the wake of Mumbai serves as an unpleasant reminder of the extent to which we live in a dangeorus world.

According to the New York Times, A Kennedy Has Political Aspirations.

Shocking.

In other news, the state legislature of Illinois makes ready to have Blago drawn and quartered.

My honorary hometown of Richmond, VA, can now add to it’s list of infamous claims to fame as being the location of Bobby Jindal’s first presidential case of verbal diahrrea.

Here’s something that came as a shock, at least to me: The FBI apparantly has taped evidence of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich trying to sell Obama’s vacant senate seat. Also, the governor apparantly tried to bribe the Chicago Tribune into firing board members who were critical of him.

While corruption is nothing new in the realm of american government, I’m just shocked at both the scope of the charges and the suddenness with which they came down. Usually you get some sense of when a politician’s got their hands in the cookie jar, and to this point Blagojevich seemed fairly clean. Then again I don’t claim to be a student of Illinois politics. A scan of political news sites reveals organizations already rushing to drop Blago like he’s hot, although obviously the main meat of the story to come will be the depth of any connections to the Obama campaign/administration. Politico reports that US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald is making it clear there are no ties to Obama in this case, but then in the world of the 24-hour news cycle who needs evidence when you’ve got guilt by association?

I now come to you from that formless realm known as unpaid overtime, which also ties into why my presence here has been reduced to something on par with a shade of late. I ask that you, like I do myself, take heart in the sure knowledge that no work crunch cna last forever. That said, though, *knocks on nearest wood-equivalent*.

On to the business of the day: Politico points out that, just like the Right before it, the Left has become displeased with Obama. Specifically, the perception is growing that he’s already selling out all those lovely spending programs he campaigned on. And this of course is bourne largely out of the left not liking what it sees as the cabinet gels and the lack of liberal activists becomes ever more obvious, combined with his backing off of imposing a windfall profits tax on Big Oil, reevaluating an Iraq troop drawdown and deciding not to immediately repeal the Bush tax cuts.

Now those of you who know me simply as a liberal would expect me to be joining the chorus of repudiation of our so-called messiah. You would, however be mistaken, for the following reason:

The Reckoning.

All policymaking for at least the next year must be viewed through the filter of the fact that, while our economy may not be outright dying, it is almost certainly sick enough that it wishes it were dead. Obama is above all else a pragmatist, and while I’m confident he has not outright abandoned these and other of his goals he realizes certain priorities have to be put on hold until the first order of business, kerjiggering the nation’s finances back into funtioning, is at least well underway. In the sick, twisted way that only politics can ensure Bush is actually going to be determining policy for a good while indirectly as administration 44 struggles to rebuild what administration 43 once destroyed.

The Cabinet: as is obvious, from his campaign if nothing else, Obama is not a stupid man. The republicans at this point are certainly much diminished and almost hilariously dysfunctional, but they are far from dead. The fact that he’s stacking the cabinet with capable operatives with varying degrees of partisan loyalty should be nothing other than encouraging for those overcome with fatigue of Bush’s patented opposition steamroller. All of the people he’s appointed (yes, even Hillary Clinton) are driven less by party loyalty than an overriding goal-orientation, and given the man that will be setting those goals the team he’s got will be very effective in fulfilling their myriad tasks. The right seems pleased simply out of gratitude that Obama does not seem to be interested in visiting upon them the same famine and pestilence job the GOP so gleefully unleashed on the democrats once the great revolution began breaking down. Removing Hillary from the senate seems to be percieved as a particular favor, mostly due to her speculation as being Ted Kennedy’s heir apparant, though with Caroline Kennedy now largely seen as Hillary’s own likely heir it seems the GOP will be dealing with everyone’s favorite family of liberal Irish Catholics for some time to come.

Shank Not The Rich: as much as the Reckoning has made it vogue to hate on the rich, this is, in spite of Bush and Paulson’s best efforts, still a capitalist society, and thus when the economy goes pear-shaped it’s generally best not to go Robin Hood on the people who have the capital. Especially in light of the recent collapse in the price of Oil, a windfall profits tax makes no sense. And Obama isn’t extending the Bush tax cuts, he’s simply letting them die naturally as opposed to killing them outright, which is hardly a radical shift in policy.  That’s not to say I think the Bush tax cuts don’t deserve to die and the estate tax should remain buried, quite the opposite, and in fact that OTHER day of reckoning will come once the economy straightens out. Until then, sadly, this remains one unfortunate truth we’ll have to deal with: we need the people with the money to invest that money as part of the recovery.

Iraq: the elephant in the room of american political discourse since 2003 if not sooner, as well as the left’s favorite avenue of attack. Since the mission was allegedly accomplished the democratic party has made a swift, if not an immediate, withdrawl one of their key policy points. Of course this ignores the truth that, despite how big of a mistake invading in the first place may have been, we have as a nation made a mess and now have a responsibility to stay until some semblence of order has been restored. The left also seems to have forgotten that, along with his calls for a troop drawdown, since the campaign Obama has also included the caveat that this would have to be dependent on assessments from commanders on the ground. Since, you know, officers tend to be better at determining military strategy than politicians (Exhibit A: Vietnam). Saying we’ll actually listen to the people who are doing the fighting is hardly a betrayl of our troops, and adds to the likely possibility that the left is only getting antsy on this point as they wish to time the announcement of a withdrawl stratefy so as to maximize the humiliation of Bush, which if it weren’t for there kind of being lives and governments at stake I would totally be down with.

In conclusion, the left needs to take a deep breath and not succumb to the partisan trap they’re so famous for impaling themselves on. If nothing else, just focus on the fact that in 42 Days Bush will no longer be president and the task of disassembling the various monstrosities he has created will commence, in whatever order the new president chooses. Remember: not braining the right over the head right out of the gate does not constitute a betrayl of liberalism.

We’re all in this Together

CNN Money has been kind enough to alert nerovus parents that they can begin freaking the hell out right about now.