Archive for November 18th, 2006

by Jay Stevens 

The Washington Post’s EJ Dionne has written an astute commentary about the post-election environment.

On conservative spin that the loss wasn’t all that bad:

Many who play down the Democratic gains are the very same people who said six months ago that the Democrats had no chance of winning either the House or Senate. Incumbent-friendly congressional boundaries and the fact that many of the House and Senate seats Democrats needed to win were in previously pro-Bush areas meant Democrats needed a big and unlikely surge.

On the conservative claim that the election was actually an affirmation of conservative values:

The notion that this election produced a different kind of “conservative” majority is simply wrong. Yes, Democrats won in part by nominating moderate candidates in moderate areas. But every newly elected Democratic was, by any fair reckoning, somewhere to the left of the vanquished Republican, especially on Iraq and economic issues.Moreover, Nov. 7 sent to Congress a pack of unapologetic progressives, including Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Bernie Sanders of Vermont in the Senate, and such new House members as John Yarmuth of Kentucky, Carol Shea-Porter in New Hampshire and Dave Loebsack in Iowa, among many others.

And a warning to Democrats, of all stripes:

But victory has not prevented the revival of what feels like an ancient feud between Democratic centrists, who are emphasizing the importance of moderate voters in last week’s results, and those on the party’s left who point to the centrality of economic populism and impatience with the Iraq War.To which the only rational response is: Stop! Moderates were, indeed, central to the Democrats’ triumph because Republicans vacated the political center. But these are angry moderates. Many are unhappy about Iraq, less on ideological grounds than because the Bush policy is such an obvious failure. The new Democratic voters are a mix of social conservatives (especially in the South and parts of the Midwest such as Indiana) and social libertarians (especially in the West). Many (especially in the Midwest) are angry about the flight of manufacturing jobs overseas.

Holding this coalition together will require subtlety and an acknowledgement that the comfortable old battles of the 1980s and ’90s are irrelevant to 2006 and 2008. The old arrangements are dead, a truth both parties need to recognize.

Hopefully that’ll be the last bit of commentary on post-election spin here at 4&20 b’birds, although I reserve the right to change my mind at any time.

The warning to Democrats is the most interesting bit of the piece. I, for one, think economic populism is the way to go for the Democratic Party. It’s not only a winning topic and keep Democrats in power for a long, long time, but good policy aimed at the working- and middle-class voters will actually do a world of good. IMHO.

BTW, I think I’m finally coming down after the election-season hubbub, the late-night blogging and long, long car trips, the debates and rallies, knocking on doors and calling on the phones. Every time I settle down with a book or to watch a football game, I fall asleep. Pass out. From consciousness to unconsciousness in seconds. Speaking of which…the Griz won that game, right?

by Jay Stevens 

I know the “creationism” versus “evolution” hubbub is dead in the water (thanks, Pennsylvania!), but I recently re-found this passage from Catch-22 by Joseph Heller:

“And don’t tell me God works in mysterious ways,” Yossarian continued, hurtling on over objection. “There’s not nothing so mysterious about it. He’s not working at all. He’s playing. Or else He’s forgotten all about us. That’s the kind of God you people talk about — a country bumpkin, a clumsy, bungling, brainless, conceited, uncouth hayseed. Good God, how much reverence can you have for a Supreme Being who finds it necessary to include such phenomena as phlegm and tooth decay in His divine system of creation? What in the world was running through that warped, evil, scatological mind of His when He robbed old people of the power to control their bowel movements? Why in the world did He ever create pain?”

“Pain?” Lieutenant Scheisskopf’s wife pounced upon the word victoriously. “Pain is a useful symptom. Pain is a warning to us of bodily dangers.”

“And who created the dangers?” Yossarian demanded. He laughed caustically. “Oh, He was really being charitable to us when He gave us pain! Why couldn’t he have used a doorbell instead to notify us, or one of His celestial choirs? Or a system of blue-and-red neon tubes right in the middle of each person’s forehead. Any jukebox manufacturer worth his salt could have done that. Why couldn’t He?”

“People would certainly look silly walking around with red neon tubes in the middle of their foreheads.”

“They certainly look beautiful now writhing in agony or stupefied with morphine, don’t they? What a colossal, immortal blunderer! When you consider the opportunity and power He had to really do a job, and then look at the stupid, ugly little mess He made of it instead. His sheer incompetence is almost staggering. It’s obvious He never met a payroll. Why, no self-respecting businessman would hire a bungler like Him as even a shipping clerk!”


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