Category Archives: Democratica

Quote of the day

The only thing more annoying than Joe Lieberman himself is his conceit, which many people indulge out of habit, that he is some kind of “centrist.”  Perhaps if we think of the political spectrum as a series of rings surrounding a cavernous abyss (or perhaps a pit like the Sarlaac), then Lieberman and McCain can fairly be called “centrists.”

 –Daniel Larison in The American Conservative

Entire selection bitten from Matt Yglesias.

Quote of the Day

Because, in a nutshell, I GOT YER GENDER CARD RIGHT HERE, ASSHOLES. AND IT SAYS “REGISTERED DEMOCRAT.”

Kate Harding, at Shakesville

For the record, if any of y’all were hiding your support for Clinton under a bushel, don’t think that just because I favor Obama, you can’t talk her up if you want. It’s not like I won’t gladly pull the lever for her in November if she gets the nomination. (Like Harding, for instance, I think she has the better health care plan.)

Going to the polls today

Patrick Nielsen Hayden’s voting for Obama in New York:

I know perfectly well that Obama, for all his idealism, is well inside the “centrist” consensus on how America ought to conduct itself in the world. He was against the Iraq war from the start, and that means a lot to me, but he’s also not someone who’s going to make the kinds of radical changes to American foreign policy that I would make on Day One if I were in charge. He’s not an insurgent; he’s the standardbearer for a faction of the country’s political elite. I believe that, on balance, this particular faction happens to comprise many of the the smartest and most conscientious individuals from within that elite. So I’m supporting Obama and his train, people like Samantha Power and Robert Malley and Lawrence Lessig, just as a peasant might cheer for an aristocratic faction made up of reasonably decent individuals against other factions made up of out-and-out thugs. Not because the peasant doesn’t know the game is rigged, or doesn’t have the wit to imagine a better world. But because incremental change matters, and because the right incremental changes can lead, like water flowing downhill, to bigger and more profound ones.

Also, while I am a radical in analysis, I am an incrementalist in practice, because life is short.

And all that said, I don’t loathe Hillary Clinton. I’ll support her against any of the Republican candidates, certain against John McCain, a man whose basic foreign policy position is War With Everyone, Forever. And I think if she’s the nominee, she can beat McCain. I have a lot of reservations about some of the people she’s liable to bring in her wake, and the thought of a “Clinton Restoration” makes me tired. But the particular variety of frothing hostility she inspires in a lot of people makes me more inclined to support her, rather than less. And if she should become the nominee, two words will constantly remind me why I should get off my ass and vote for her: “Supreme” and “Court.”

You should, as they say, read the whole thing, even if you’re not voting today.

…and if you need any more convincing, Obama has the vital XKCD endorsement.

UPDATE: That’s what I’m talkin’ about! All love to my Nutmeg Souljaz.

Holding out for a citizen

Via Graham, this is a rather impressive collection of celebrities singing along to one of the most impressive speeches a politician has made in my lifetime.

I’m voting in the Democratic primary on Tuesday, which is the first election with national implications since 2001, when I moved up to Massachusetts, in which my vote might actually make a difference. I’m voting for Obama, but not because I think that we need some Great Leader to save us. I don’t think democracy works that way. Or at least, I don’t think democracy should work that way, if it’s working correctly. Democracy should depend on the rule of law, it should depend on institutions, and it should depend on frustrating, tortoise-slow bureaucracies that exhibit not a whit of common sense, but function in the aggregate to produce the most opportunity for the most people. Obama’s not going to deliver us. No one person, certainly not a politician, can make a country great, or save it from peril. Bonnie Tyler notwithstanding, heroes are for comic books and fascists.

The reason I’m voting for Obama is, quite simply, because I like what he’s telling the nation. I have problems with some of his policies, and I have no love whatsoever for his habit of adopting Republican tropes when trying to criticize Clinton on Social Security or health care. I’m wary of his economic team. But he’s running for President, not Personal Embodiment of the Legislative Majority, so I’m more concerned about foreign policy, and what he’ll do with the bully pulpit. As far as foreign policy goes, he seems just fine (and if I’m being completely truthful, I have to say that it would make me proud of my country’s place in the world again, after such a long, long time, to elect a black man President). As far as the bully pulpit goes, holy shit. I realistically don’t think I could ask for a better figurehead for my country, or for the political party that’s going to have to clean up the Republicans’ mess again. When I vote for Obama on Tuesday, it’s not going to be a vote for a savior. It’ll be a vote for a little of that hope he keeps talking about – not more, but pleasingly, surprisingly, not anything less, either.

UPDATE: Added some links for context.

Matt Yglesias again

This serves as kind of an expansion/reinforcement of the last post, for me. It’s a theme Matt returns to pretty regularly, and one I completely agree with.

The mechanism by which we decide what to do is called “politics” and it exists so that individuals and organizations with somewhat divergent interests and ideas can make collective decisions about how to tackle common problems. The rhetoric of anti-politics isn’t just an analytic mistake, it’s part of the problem. A public that doesn’t believe divergent interests can be reconciled and common solutions devised for common problems — a public that doesn’t believe in politics — is going to be a public that doesn’t believe there’s anything that can or should be done to prevent catastrophic climate change.

The demonization of “politics” functions as a demonization of the practical methods of our system of governance. The only way you get government without politics is in a utopia or a dictatorship, I think – and utopias, as we know, don’t exist. I think it’s legitimate to criticize someone for practicing politics in bad faith, but that’s different from scorning the process of politics as a whole, which is often the form that criticism takes in our superficial political discourse.

The evils of partisanship

Matt Yglesias has made this point a few times before, and I think it’s worth noting, and remembering when we hear people use “partisan” as a synonym for “bad” (and “bipartisan” for “good”).

More broadly, though, it’s unfair to Bush to blame him for the lack of the sort of “bipartisan cooperation” we saw in the past, and it’s equally unfair to blame Democrats for not reviving it. Bipartisan competition will tend to be rarer when the parties are ideologically coherent. And that’s what we have right now — almost every Democrat in congress is more liberal than almost every Republican. That makes bipartisan cooperation difficult. The roots of this polarization, however, are structural and not really lamentable. The old era of bipartisan cooperation was grounded in the parties having substantial ideological overlap and that, in turn, was a consequence of Jim Crow and the existence of a weird one-party state in the apartheid South where the one party was the Democrats even though the region was generally more conservative in ideological terms. That era’s not going to come back and we shouldn’t want it to come back, even if we deem certain aspects of its passing to be lamentable.

But most of all, we shouldn’t urge the congress to take courses of action that are wrong on the merits out of a deluded sense that doing so might revive a past era of bipartisanship.

Building from there, I’ll just say that I wish Democrats would be a little less obsessed with coming across as bipartisan, and would actually make a public case for why voting for Democrats is better for the country than voting for Republicans.  In other words, why are they Democrats instead of Republicans, and what does that tell us about how they’ll do their jobs?  I already know Republicans believe that voting for Republicans is better, because they keep telling us so, and keep telling us why (low taxes, strong defense, yay Christianity).  It seems to me that Democrats usually make their criticisms situational – they’ll tell us why the other side’s policies are wrong or character is suspect, but they never turn that into a broader ideological argument.  If properly done, expressions of partisanship give the impression that you know what you stand for, and you believe in your platform.  Republicans know this, and win elections because of it, and I wish the Democrats would figure it out, and start acting like they believe they’re right, instead of coming across as wishy-washy chumps all the time.

Oh, that’s just beautiful

Keith Ellison just got elected to the House of Representatives from the 5th District in Minnesota. This is a bit of a milestone, because he’s the first Muslim ever to be elected to Congress. As he is a Muslim, he’s decided to be sworn into to office on the Q’uran. This is mostly a symbolic decision, because the official swearing-in takes place with the new Representatives doing it all at once in the same room, with no religious texts involved. But individual reps will then often have private swearing-in ceremonies as well, which are good for photo ops and stuff.

Anyway, Representative-elect Ellison’s decision to be sworn in on the Q’uran had prompted the usual shitbaggery from the America for Americans crowd.

First, Dennis Prager:

Forgive me, but America should not give a hoot what Keith Ellison’s favorite book is. Insofar as a member of Congress taking an oath to serve America and uphold its values is concerned, America is interested in only one book, the Bible. If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don’t serve in Congress. In your personal life, we will fight for your right to prefer any other book. We will even fight for your right to publish cartoons mocking our Bible. But, Mr. Ellison, America, not you, decides on what book its public servants take their oath.

Devotees of multiculturalism and political correctness who do not see how damaging to the fabric of American civilization it is to allow Ellison to choose his own book need only imagine a racist elected to Congress. Would they allow him to choose Hitler’s “Mein Kampf,” the Nazis’ bible, for his oath? And if not, why not? On what grounds will those defending Ellison’s right to choose his favorite book deny that same right to a racist who is elected to public office?

Oh, you read that right. Advocates a religious test for office holders, and compares the Q’uran to Mein Kampf. Awesome. Thanks for defending America, Dennis, and making it safe for adherents to the religious text that includes the story of Lot.

Shitbag number two is Glenn Beck, who, I must note because I am nothing if not fair to the boorishly anencephalic, made these comments before the whole Q’uran thing:

BECK: OK. No offense, and I know Muslims. I like Muslims. I’ve been to mosques. I really don’t believe that Islam is a religion of evil. I — you know, I think it’s being hijacked, quite frankly.

With that being said, you are a Democrat. You are saying, “Let’s cut and run.” And I have to tell you, I have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, “Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.”

And I know you’re not. I’m not accusing you of being an enemy, but that’s the way I feel, and I think a lot of Americans will feel that way.

ELLISON: Well, let me tell you, the people of the Fifth Congressional District know that I have a deep love and affection for my country. There’s no one who is more patriotic than I am. And so, you know, I don’t need to — need to prove my patriotic stripes.

Watch the video. Ellison laughs it off, and is far more gracious than I think I’d have been able to be. “I’m not accusing you of being an enemy, but, y’know, prove it.”

Third, Congressman Virgil Goode, Democrat of Virginia (nah, I’m just playing, of course he’s a Republican):

Dear Mr. Cruickshank:

Thank you for your recent communication. When I raise my hand to take the oath on Swearing In Day, I will have the Bible in my other hand. I do not subscribe to using the Koran in any way. The Muslim Representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district and if American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran. We need to stop illegal immigration totally and reduce legal immigration and end the diversity visas policy pushed hard by President Clinton and allowing many persons from the Middle East to come to this country. I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped.

The Ten Commandments and “In God We Trust” are on the wall in my office. A Muslim student came by the office and asked why I did not have anything on my wall about the Koran. My response was clear, “As long as I have the honor of representing the citizens of the 5th District of Virginia in the United States House of Representatives, The Koran is not going to be on the wall of my office.” Thank you again for your email and thoughts.

Sincerely yours,
Virgil H. Goode, Jr.
70 East Court Street
Suite 215
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151

Immigrants? Clinton? Worry about precious bodily fluids resources? It’s like he’s got a checklist.

Okay, so, in the face of all that disingenuous bigotry and gratuitous xenophobia, it comes to pass that Keith Ellison will, nonetheless, indeed use a Q’uran for his swearing-in photo op.

Thomas Jefferson’s Q’uran.

What's my name?

God bless America.

A nude erection for America

I’m pretty sure they’ll revoke my blogging license if I don’t do an election summary. To begin: so much for the genius of Karl Rove.

Anyway, the situation is encouraging. As of right now, AP’s calling the VA senate race for Webb.

Both houses, by fuck. Both.

Democrats have won 29 seats in the house, which means Nancy Pelosi will be the first woman to be Speaker of the House in American history.

Santorum’s out. So are DeWine, Burns, Macacawitz, and Chaffee, that poor dumb bastard.

Arlen, watch your ass.

The people of Vermont elected a motherfucking socialist to the Senate, god bless ’em.

Donald Rumsfeld is finally, finally gone as Secretary of Defense. I recall reading that he’s tried to resign a few times before this; now Bush has finally accepted.

There are now 28 Democratic governors, for a pickup of seven, including Deval Patrick, the first black governor in Massachusetts history.

The people of South Dakota voted down the draconian abortion ban, the people of Missouri voted in favor of stem cell research, and the people of Arizona voted against a ban on marriage for gay people. Oregon and California voted down parental-notification laws.*

Phill Kline will sniff no more panties in Kansas.

And you know what we get at for all this? Not a victory; more like the establishment of a beachhead. Which is okay by me. A journey of a thousand miles, as the man said, starts with one step. As first steps go, we could do worse than sweeping electoral victory.

As another wise man just said: You people have one more chance. Don’t screw it up this time.

I call for an end to the highly partisan practice of having any sense of historical perspective

What were the Democrats of Connecticut thinking when they voted against this man?

During last nights debate, Sen. Lieberman, noting Abraham Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus, declared, “We’re in another time like that.”

Can America afford to have a Senate that lacks Joe Lieberman’s honesty and integrity?

Primaries!

Just in case anyone’s wondering – because I know that you watch CNN and think, “Man, those Democratic presidential primaries will be coming up any year now!  I wonder who Steve thinks I should vote for?” – as of right now, I still like Edwards.

Saturday comedy blogging

Via Hullabaloo, more Republicans offering, as a public service, electoral analysis for Democrats:

The number of prominent Democrats urging pre-emptive action against North Korea’s ICBM grows as Walter Mondale chimes in.

These are the Democrats who can win elections because they are serious.

Wrong on both counts, my ideologically provincial friend.

(This, by the way, follows the WP editorial by a Clinton secretary and assistant secretary of defense arguing that we should attack North Korea lest they be permitted to demonstrate their ability to rain nuclear hell upon our moose.  Yglesias’ response is the correct one, I think.)

My heart bleeds, it really does

House suspends Jefferson from powerful committee

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The House voted Friday to remove Rep. William Jefferson, who’s mired in a federal bribery probe, from his seat on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

The vote came after the Democratic Caucus voted Thursday night to suspend Jefferson. Democrats were unswayed by Jefferson’s argument that the sanction was unfair and complaints from other black lawmakers that he is the victim of a double standard.

Double standard, my ass.  This guy had ninety thousand dollars stashed in his freezer.

I think the Congressional Black Caucus (minus Rangel and Lewis) is being stupid about this.  The background here is that the CBC, and Jefferson in particular, are still pissed with Nancy Pelosi (who, as Minority Leader, had previously sent a letter asking Jefferson to step down) for passing Jefferson over for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2002, in favor of one of her friends from CA.  I assume, as might happen with any small political group, they’re also closing ranks around a very influential member. 

But making threats about how this will cost the Democrats votes from the black community?  (Oh, wait, my mistake, Watt added that he’s “not saying” what he’s repeatedly saying.  Okay then.)  I don’t think that even passes the laugh test.  As Steve Gilliard likes to point out, black voters aren’t stupid.  Your average voter will have no problem seeing that it probably isn’t racism to bump a guy from his influential committee appointment after he’s found with — can’t stress this enough — ninety grand in his damn freezer.

(As an aside, I think Watt’s ostentatious non-threat gets it exactly backwards.  The CBC, ideally, would exist as a body that could use its clout to speak up on behalf of black voters, rather than arrogantly claim ownership of the Black Vote.)

Jefferson may or may not ever get his day in court, though my money (I don’t have $90,000 in literally cold, hard cash, but I’d put a five on it) says he will.  But Jesus, this guy is pretty obviously corrupt as hell.  No one in the middle of a bribery scandal has any business on the damn Ways and Means Committee, especially if the Democrats want to make an even halfway credible case for being the non-corrupt party.

Also, this has nothing to do with the current scandal, but speaks to my assessment of Jefferson as an asshole in general:

Amid the chaos and confusion that engulfed New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina struck, a congressman used National Guard troops to check on his property and rescue his personal belongings — even while New Orleans residents were trying to get rescued from rooftops, ABC News has learned.

So there you go.  The quicker he’s out of office, the better.

When they’re all lined up at the trough, you can’t tell the donkeys from the elephants

As TPMmuckraker‘s Justin Rood says, “So this is how Dems run an anti-corruption platform?”

Moran: Democratic Majority Means More Money for 8th District

If Democrats win back control of the U.S. House of Representatives in November, U.S. Rep. Jim Moran said he would use his position in the majority to help funnel more funds to his Northern Virginia district.

Moran, D-8th, told those attending the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s annual Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner on June 9 that while he in theory might oppose the fiscal irresponsibility of “earmarks” – funneling money to projects in a member of Congress’s district – he understands the value they have to constituents.

“When I become chairman [of a House appropriations subcommittee], I’m going to earmark the shit out of it,” Moran buoyantly told a crowd of 450 attending the event.

Sigh.  Not just corrupt, but dumb, saying something like that to a crowd.