Friday, December 02, 2005

binded by the past

Does the Democratic Party's experience during and after Vietnam have any baring on what it should do now? For three years, the DLC has said so. When I was a staffer there, we had an internal meeting with senior staff letting the junior staff ask questions about the then impending war. Will Marshall insisted it was all about the WMD's and how we couldn't take the risk that Saddam might give them to some terrorists. Us youngins said why would he be so stupid to do that, and anyway it doesn't seem like Saddam has any WMDs anyway, why not have inspections with the threat of military strikes?

And then one of them, maybe it was Ed Kilgore, made the point that Ed Kilgore of 2005 says, it looks bad. The DLC was founded after watching democrats fall flat on their face after being hijacked by the overly liberal wings of the party who appeared weak to middle America's eyes. They saw the Iraq war as a chance to show that democrats are tough and they can be trusted with National Security, something they haven't trusted with since about the Cuban Missle Crisis. It was this good faith, honest belief and effort that drove them to support this terrible war.

Maybe it is a generational thing and since I wasn't alive during the late 60s and early 70s I don't have their superior perspective. But unlike their liberal counterparts, I am not stuck in the mode of equating every war to Vietnam either. Having only older collegues, my parents, and scholarly work to rely on about that era, I don't know if the two are that similar or if history is repeating itself. It is easy for baby boomers to equate the two: they were against the one and for the other. It makes them feel like they are gaining back their idealism by opposing the war at this late stage.

Perhaps Kilgore is right in that the only difference between "benchmarked withdrawal from Iraq based on estimated dates, and a timetable withdrawal contingent on benchmarks" is tone and image. But can't we explain that one policy is better than the other and that neither is "cutting and running?" Are Americans so easily brainwashed by repetitive talking points that Democrats aways cut and run?

The fact is, we are getting out of Iraq soon, the GOP can't afford to keep going at this pace without sacrificing their majorities in Congress and eventually the White House for George W. Bush's attempt to reverse his father's faults. The fact that Bush's plan is Sen Joe Biden's and reality might look a lot like the fall of Siagon in 1972 seems to me that the outcome politically will be different.

Democrats fought against themselves for the most part on Vietnam, with Southern conservative democrats supporting the war for the most part, and liberals from the coasts opposing it. Nixon took over the war that he never started it with a "secret plan" to get us out with dignity and while the results weren't very dignified, his party didn't pay the price. Will George W. Bush's? Who supported it ever step of the way, spinning bad facts month after month? Democrats did split over the war but they all seem to agree that it is going badly and we need to get out.

Kilgore says
The lesson is this: So much as many of us might wish to focus on the policy details of proposals about what to do now in Iraq, you can't take the politics out of politics, and the "tonal" or "contextual" implications of various proposals, despite their substantive similarity, matter a great deal.

Or is the lesson that we need a post-Vietnam generation of leadership on both sides, one that won't see everything from this prism? Perhaps he is right, until the voting population is more post-Vietnam than Vietnamers, we will keep having to relive that war through every national security decsion we make.

TX reredistricting illegal

in our latest we should be shocked but somehow we aren't segment, internal DOJ staffers disgruntled with the blatantly partisan hacks above them leaked their memo to the Washington Post.

It was the unnanimous conclusion of the DOJ staff attorney's in the election law section that Tom "indicted" DeLay's power grab violated the law...yet higher ups overrulled them. It even forced these people to sign gag orders to prevent them from talking about it.

All this comes in the wake of the Supreme Court stalling on its announcement of what to do about the TX redistricting case before it. While juries aren't supposed to read newspapers to arrive at their decisions, I sure hope the court's law clerks and justices are. And I hope it turns at least one hard heart around. The last time a redistricting case like this was heard
Vieth v. Jubelirer
[caution, PDF of lengthy opinion] on the Penn. redistricting that was almost as egregious, the court said partisan redistricting is ok by a 5-4 vote. Maybe CJ Roberts will have too much respect for the law and these staff attorneys to look the other way, but it is pretty unlikely alas.

However, one could argue that the two cases are different. Here is not just partisanship for the sake of gaining seats, but at the expense of minorities. Texas went from 30 to 32 seats, but there remained only 11 minorities in their delegation. Moreover, the representation lost 5 democrats in 2004, who supported minorities' interests, even if the representatives are themselves white.

This case needs to say that it was the wrong thing to do on minority rights grounds AND that reredistricting itself is illegal. Otherwise, every time a state legislature changes political hands, parties will be tempted to reredistrict mid-decade, using increasingly inaccurate census data. For example, millions more people live in Texas in 2003 (especially Hispanics) when the reredistricting occured than when the 2000 census was conducted. By relying on old data, you effectily disinfrancizing and weighting some votes more heavily than others. This violates the 1 person, 1 vote holding of Reynolds (which incidently ScAlito seems to want to overturn) set out by the Warren court.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

ScAlito's farce ends

Remember when ScAlito's job application surfaced with his proclaimations that he would like to overturn the Warren court, especially the 1 man, 1 vote rule, and oh by the way Roe was wrongly decided? And then, get this, despite having authored a dissent of the last key abortion case (Casey v. Planned Parenthood), he claimed that he was just saying whatever he could to get a job with the solicitor general's office during the Reagan years? Oh what a laugh. Liberals didn't believe him, but of course, the press had to report it as if it was fact because...well don't ask why.

Then FOIA request by the liberal judicial group People for the American Way uncovered an internal ScAlito memo while in said Reagan solicitor general's office trying to convince his boss to file a Amicus brief in support of an abortion restriction. He thought they should use the brief to promote "the goals of bringing about the eventual overturning of Roe v. Wade, and in the meantime, of mitigating its effects." And more importantly, to "make clear" to the Supreme Court that we "disagree with Roe v Wade," and "would welcome" the opportunity to brief the issue of overturning it.

So the fake lie has been exposed for all to see. Now remember polls said that if ScAlito was in favor of overturning Roe that the Senate should not vote for him/fillabuster him. If he was for restrictions, well that was a closer issue and moderates could agree to some reasonable limitations. It would seem then that this should be all that pro-choice senators need to vote against ScAlito and possibly even fillabuster him.

The showdown begins in little over a month.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

the invisable 2008 primary

Warner made a big spash by prevent Virginia from executing 1,000th person...with help from Ex specical prosecutor Ken Starr and his old oposition for Governor Mark Earley. The merits of case were good for Warner to have it both ways, but appearing concerned about innocence but without really weakening on death penalty, saying clemency should be granted only when the courts have failed to do proper justice. To me this seems like a semi-slap in the face to George Ryan and his mass clemancy of the entire death row in IL.

It was the political play of the week and it is only Tuesday. Warner leaves a good legacy in VA and has a solid base to run from in 2008. His speech on Iraq seemed wanting to many liberals but really inside the Clark-Clinton continum exit policy. This was a great rebound.

the idea free presidency

This week, President Bush is dusting off his immigration policy in typical fashion: all vagueries and platitudes, no specifics. Why no details, it is not as Bush tells the press, because of his view of the constitutional roles that the executitve and legislative branches play, rather, it is a way to sneak in radicial changes and radical policy that would otherwise be unpopular with either his base or the American people. This way he can say one thing to the Pat Bucanan's of his party and another to his Chamber of Commerce friends.

But what is really striking about all this is that the President has done absolutely nothing innovative. Everything he has proposed is either an idea from his 2000 campaign, something he stole from moderate democrats (NCLB, Rx drugs, homeland security, exit plan for Iraq, etc.), or retreads from past presidents (like JFK and the Moon, Reagan and Star Wars).

The only aberation was 9/11, and most of that legislation was created out of the Ashcroft Justice Department and the Cheney West Wing, dedicated to torture, privacy evasion and tossing out the Geneva Convention.

I am all for people doing what they campaign on, but it wasn't like Bush's campaign promises were fulfilled either. Washington has become more corrupt, more partisan, and the White House has been dragged further in the mud by George W. Bush's presidency and tactics than Bill Clinton's. Foreign policy promises of 2000 were banished rapidly and 9/11 was no excuse for the massive military buildup and invasion of Iraq. If anything, the military needed to get more nimble and smarter, not more missles and tanks and planes and helocopters. Environmental promises were banishes, as were all efforts to work with Democrats and concilate.

Instead of having a bold new idea of how to get himself out of his unpopularity, Bush went to the bare cubard and found one dusty can of "immigration reform" which is sure to make the Tom Tancredo's of the world very upset and never really please Hispanics or big business really.

The much ballihooed State of the Union will be a laudry list of fake accomplishments, vagueries and platitudes. I expect nothing new out of this president since he never arrived with any real ideas in the first place.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Post headlines GOP-favored

The Washington Post captions it as McDonnell Wins Attorney General Race, but the real title should be "323 vote win for McDonnell in VA AG race, Deeds requests recount." That would be a better summary and more accurate depiction of what happened.

Here is another example, Medicaid Cutbacks Divide Democrats. Why focus on Democrats when it is also moderate republicans that balk at some of the provisions.

I think it is a good idea for Medicare to make it harder for rich people to hide their assets from the government to gain Medicare coverage, but I think it is a bad idea to $2.4 billion over five years by allowing state governments to impose higher health insurance deductibles, co-payments and premiums on poor Medicaid recipients, including, for the first time, impoverished children and pregnant women. An additional $3.9 billion would be saved by relaxing mandated preventive health care and screening of children and pregnant women.

These savings asume that heath care costs won't be higher at the other end by the inevitable illnesses that children and pregnant women will have that won't be caught by mandated screening. And that $2.4 billion will be coming out of the pockets of those already too poor to afford normal we really think that people won't drop out of the program as a result of hiking the premiums?

Why not let those who want to be in medicare via hiding assets buy their way into the system. And how about letting Medicare use its bulk purchasing power to lower the costs of pharmauticles? A good way to save hundreds of billons would be to scrap the prescription drug plan as passed and start over with a real one that will actually cover people and actually cut costs overall.

Here's a third: Rep. Cunningham Enters Guilty Plea, Resigns why not add the big part in there? How about "Cunningham Pleads Guilty to $2.4M in Bribes, Resigns" The first draft of this blog post by Chris Cillizza talked mosly about the tax evasion charges steming from a bribe of a house and boat via various defense industry lobbyists...seemingly an attempt to make the issue confusing and not as damning as bribery for defense contracts during a war. He also tried to equate Democratic Reps. Ballance and Jefferson to GOP Reps. Ney and DeLay. And there is a big difference between a 1st term rep doing something terrible and allegations of a more senior one and what Cunningham, Ney and DeLay, members of the house leadership have done. Cunningham and Ney look to have taken bribes. DeLay and Ney were involved a scheme to push GOPers into K street and Democrats out and meanwhile extort campaign contributions from Native American tribes, and large corporations in exchange for favorable legislation.

That is the the nature of corruption folks. There is no need to muddy the waters but parrotting party talking points. Why not say GOPers compare this to Jefferson and Balance, but here are the differences judge for yourself reader, instead of substituting your opinion or actual facts for dueling press releases? I mean really, how hard is it to report a story?

Sunday, November 27, 2005

greeting the seasons

I go out of town for the week, leaving fall and 40s and 50s to 20s and 30s and winter. My welcome back consisted of snowy skies and sleepy streets.

As much fun as it was to see civil war sites, eat great food, and visit the in-laws, I think we are happy to be back. We love our home and this is such a great city.

I am still pretty sleepy though after getting about 5 hours of shut eye and traveling since 7 AM eastern. It is time to get out the winter coats, sweaters and put away those flimsy coats. And time to get out the Christmas decor. Tonight I am reading a passage from Isaiah [40:1-15] at lessons and carrols; advent has begun.