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America vs. The World

The big trouble with dumb bastards is that they are too dumb to believe there is such a thing as being smart. — Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Less than a mile from the White House

I shot this on Wednesday in Dupont Circle. He somehow looked sort of comfortable, but I assume things could get significantly more cushy for him. It's an outrage.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

In praise of Howard Dean

I've written before of my admiration for Howard Dean. But this election has really taken it to a new level.

How much more right could he have been about the 50-state strategy? By running candidates wherever he could, and helping resuscitate Democratic operations in communities where they had shriveled away to almost nothing, the Democratic Party was able to ride a fierce anti-Republican wave to victory across the country. The whole reason you build a national party is so that when the electorate is in a mood like this one, you can give them someone to elect.

But did you know that Dean was also incredibly, amazingly right about the problems invading Iraq would present? And more than that, was willing to talk about it in public. This is from a speech he gave in February 2003, a month before the invasion:
To this day, the President has not made a case that war against Iraq, now, is necessary to defend American territory, our citizens, our allies, or our essential interests.

The Administration has not explained how a lasting peace, and lasting security, will be achieved in Iraq once Saddam Hussein is toppled.

I, for one, am not ready to abandon the search for better answers.

As a doctor, I was trained to treat illness, and to examine a variety of options before deciding which to prescribe. I worried about side effects and took the time to see what else might work before proceeding to high-risk measures. . . .

We have been told over and over again what the risks will be if we do not go to war.

We have been told little about what the risks will be if we do go to war.

If we go to war, I certainly hope the Administration's assumptions are realized, and the conflict is swift, successful and clean. I certainly hope our armed forces will be welcomed like heroes and liberators in the streets of Baghdad.

I certainly hope Iraq emerges from the war stable, united and democratic.

I certainly hope terrorists around the world conclude it is a mistake to defy America and cease, thereafter, to be terrorists.

It is possible, however, that events could go differently, . . . .

Iraq is a divided country, with Sunni, Shia and Kurdish factions that share both bitter rivalries and access to large quantities of arms.

Anti-American feelings will surely be inflamed among the misguided who choose to see an assault on Iraq as an attack on Islam, or as a means of controlling Iraqi oil.

And last week's tape by Osama bin Laden tells us that our enemies will seek relentlessly to transform a war into a tool for inspiring and recruiting more terrorists.
Man, what a freakin' crazy hippy liberal whacko! Check out the rest of the speech for more left-wing craziness (i.e. reality).

The truth is, Howard Dean is an intelligent and reasonable man with a history of good governance and centrist positions. I believe he would have made a great president — a much better president than either John Kerry or George W. Bush, that's for sure. I don't think anyone had much of a chance against Bush in 2004 anyway (the American people clearly weren't done with him until last Tuesday), but it would have been nice to at least have had someone you believe in to vote for.

Here's hoping we get someone we can believe in for 2008.

The blue revolution

Below, Gordon argues that despite the large Democratic gains last week, ours is still largely a purple country. And he's right — America has been and will continue to be a political melting pot, despite what the Republican Party has been claiming over the last few years (i.e. anyone who opposes them are in the minority of terrorist-loving cowards).

But we also shouldn't underestimate the historic nature of this election. I wouldn't call it an endorsement of the Democrats, but it certainly was a resounding rejection of the conservative philosophy of George W. Bush and the "Republican Revolution" of 1994.


  • The Republican Party did not gain a single House seat from the Democrats. You know how often a party has failed to take at least one House seat from the opposition? Yeah, that's right, never.

    Republicans also did not gain a single governorship or state legislative chamber, while the Dems gained six and 10, respectively. Democrats gained at least one seat in one or both chambers in 41 states, while Republicans gained one or more seat in one or both chambers in only eight states.

  • Should we really be using Montana and Virginia as an argument that this was a close election? Just the fact that Democrats were able to compete in those states is amazing. The Democrats basically won every single competitive Senate seat. That's the only way they could have taken the Senate.

    New Hampshire has two Republican senators. In the election just past, both of New Hampshire's House seats and both state houses flipped to the Democratic Party (the house for the first time in 95 years!). Pennsylvania, Ohio and Minnesota also have Republican senators who weren't up for re-election this year. How do you think they might have fared last Tuesday?

  • If this had been a presidential election, the Democratic candidate would probably have won in a landslide. Voters cast 6.5 million more votes for Democratic Senate candidates than Republican candidates. (Keep in mind, however, that 17 states did not vote for a senator this year, including much of the Deep South.)

    Ohio, the state that essentially gave the presidency to Bush in 2004, elected unabashed liberal Sherrod Brown to the Senate over a two-term incumbent by a 56-44 percent margin, and their new Democratic governor gained a whopping 60 percent of the vote.

  • Check out these CNN exit polls. Dems won Latino support 69-30 percent and the 29-and-under vote 60-38. What do you suppose that bodes for the future?

  • At least for the moment, the Republican Party has become the de facto party of the South and little else. That doesn't bode well for them, either.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A purplier America

Let’s get one thing straight: while I was happy to see the Democrats squeeze out a close one last week, I’m certainly not one to declare that America has turned blue overnight.

Yes, taking both House and Senate in one fell swoop is a tremendous accomplishment, particularly for a party locked out of power for the better half of a decade. But to get a clear understanding of where America lines up on the political spectrum, we need to take a sober look at how this country voted.

First off, let me remind you all that the executive and judicial branches are still squarely in the red column, the former for at least another two years and the latter likely for another generation. So while my overzealous liberal brethren jubilantly declare that Democrats have taken over the government, what we’re really looking at a majority of one-third (though perhaps the most important one-third).

And when I say majority, I’m talking about the slimmest kind. Sure, the House went down easy, but the Senate was decided by a couple thousand voters in Montana and Virginia, and even those only tipped blue when factoring in Republican scandals of generous proportions. If it weren’t for Hurricane Katrina and Jack Abramoff and Bob Woodward and Mark Foley and all four military magazines calling for Rumsfeld’s ouster 24 hours before election day, we’d be looking at a Democratic House and a Republican Senate—which translates to a tie at best. Losing Virginia Senator Allen said it best: the Democrats “had the prevailing winds,” even if those winds were borne in Republican skies.

So much to the dismay of progressives and conservatives nationwide, ours is a nation of purple. And what we’ll come to realize over the next two years is that this is not a government of George Bushes and Nancy Pelosis, but of Joe Liebermans and Jim Webbs—centrist Democrats with Republican credentials.

America isn’t head over heels in love with the Democratic Party, but we’ll give them two years to do better with their third of the pie than Republicans have. And if they truly are the better party, two years is all they’ll need to prove it.
Jeff Goldstein is a wanker.