There has been a lot of interesting chatter around the blogs that has come up due to the popularity of the topic of "small town values" among politicians and the national commentariat. I posted a bit on this earlier here. Since there is general consensus among thoughtful folks - at least those not in the biz of political propagandizing - that there ain't such a thing, it would be more accurate to say that the interesting discussion centers more on small town life rather than the alleged unique values of these places.
The crack news team at The Daily Show interviewed delegates at the Republican National Convention, to see just what these "small town values" they're always going on about actually are. I couldn't embed the video - the software used by FSP apparently doesn't permit the coding used by TDS for embedding their clips (objections to the words 'always' and 'external', whatever that means) - so you will have to click over to the clip over at the TDS site to see the video.
The guy in that clip who said these desirable values were represented by the values of 1950s America was particularly interesting to me. I guess it depends on whose "50s America" one is talking about. When some American citizens recall the 50s, their memories likely include images such as this:
It's all relative, I guess. I grew up in a family where the 'n word' was forbidden, but where civil rights marchers were referred to as 'troublemakers', who had only themselves to blame for getting blasted with fire hoses, attacked by police dogs, beaten with clubs and batons, and sometimes murdered. Why couldn't they just behave themselves and follow the rules, just like we did? Little did I know then that the rights and rules that applied to us didn't apply to a great many others, solely due the differences in the circumstances of our births.
I know where a lot of these Republicans* come from, since I come from the same place (*goes for a lot of Democrats too - in fact my parents usually voted Democratic up through 1972; my mom mostly still does).
It takes a lot of courage to crawl out of your own comfort zone - if you are so fortunate as to have such a thing - and I can only hope that more folks find the courage to do so, for the sake of our nation's future.
It's an out of left field pick, to be sure. Until this morning, it looked like it was coming down to ex-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney or Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. The McCain campaign probably was wise to not go with Romney, who seems to be universally loathed, but I find it odd that they didn't go with Pawlenty. With his social conservative credentials and reputation for appealing to downscale voters (He is famous for saying that the Republican Party should be the Party of Sam's Club rather than the Party of the Country Club), a Pawlenty pick could have signaled that the GOP would, at least in the future, move away from the destructive ideology of the Bush years. If nothing else, it would have been vindication for reformist conservatives like Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam who have taken Pawlenty as a kind of exemplar of where they think the Republicans ought to go.
As for the merits of Palin herself, color me unimpressed. She has strong social conservative credentials -- especially on abortion -- and a decent record of reformism. (Though in a state like Alaska, home of Don "Bridge to Nowhere" Young and the recently-indicted Ted Stevens, that's probably not hard to do.) Of course, Palin is under investigation herself for firing the state Public Safety Commissioner after not firing a state trooper in a messy divorce with Palin's sister, so presenting Palin as a reformer may not work so well.
I think we can also discard the question of whether the candidates have enough experience, since Palin has even less political experience than Barack Obama. It'll be interesting to see just what Palin's opinions are, particularly on foreign policy. But with this pick, McCain blunts his own greatest strength as an old Washington hand. It might pay off, say, if evangelicals and conservatives are assuaged enough by the pick to support McCain, but right now, it's a definite gamble.
How's this for a political role reversal? Faced with a candidate who is far more moderate than their base, one of the major parties is seeing a revolt among its more ideological members. Some of them are planning on supporting third-party candidacies, while others are prepared to battle their own nominee's campaign to ensure that the true values of the party continue to be enshrined in the party's platform. Meanwhile, a series of misteps by the nominee, widely perceived as lacking charisma, have already threatened the potential for four more years of the incumbent party.
Not 2000 with Al Gore. 2008 with John McCain. And in the latest sign of discontent on the part of the Republican base, the Post is reporting that there is going to be a battle over the party platform at the Republican National Convention. The entire platform needs to be rewritten, because it is basically a paean to President Bush, and even Republicans now recognize that Bush's approval ratings are like a lead weight around their neck.
So that whole media narrative about how McCain had managed to solidfy the base behind his candidacy turns out to be... a flat out lie.
OK, I'm a member of a by-invitation-only BBS, and one of the members Hoop, wondered why the candidates don't tell the American public the truth about how badly America as a nation has been screwed up by republican policies, he thinks that:
This is an opportunity that comes knocking but once a lifetime.
Yet both Democratic candidates are like deer in the headlights when it comes to outlining an economic picture of the future of the US.
Perhaps they're not the leaders they portend to be.
So I thought about for a bit, and said to myself, "OK, let's see...as an honest leader with vision, here is what an honest candidate with vision would say.
20 0f the last 28 years have had Republicans in the Whitehouse and their goal has been to bankrupt the country so that we can not take of our poor or needy and so that the ordinary folk live hand to mouth and cannot work together for a better life. They have done this because they and their rich friends and supporters do better when ordinary people are powerless.
And they have succeeded.
They have also decided that it is in their interest to keep the American people afraid of external threats, so they are on a constant quest to find and create new enemies to scare us, so we won't review their policies, and so we will spend our money on guns and prisons.
And they have succeeded.
They have aggressively created a fear of people who don't look like us and of random criminal violence against us in order to make us waste money on putting more people in prison than any other society in the history of human kind.
And they have succeeded.
They have put roadblocks in front of attempts to create meaningful energy independence, because it requires a large military to protect those supply lines.
And they have succeeded.
They have created a system of world trade that ignores the rights of the people and makes it secondary to the profits of the banker.
And they have succeeded.
They have systematically attempted to replace the public good with the concept of corporate profit in our society.
And they have succeeded.
They have mounted an aggressive assault on the standard of living of ordinary Americans through low wage policies.
And they have succeeded.
They have masked this drop in standard of living by coming up with even more obscure ways for people to go into debt, (including College debt) so that they create the illusion of well being while being a slave to that debt.
And they have succeeded.
They have steadfastly destroyed meaningful attempts to help people get basic medical care.
And they have succeeded.
They have attempted to replace a society in which the manufacture of useful items, into one where parasites make money by trading between each other to the detriment of our population and our industrial base
And they have succeeded.
Because of this, while [insert candidate here] is in office, we sill see:
Oil leave the dollar standard, and its price going to more than $200/bbl.
The dollar plummeting against foreign currencies.
Inflation in the double digits for the foreseeable future.
Food shortages nationwide, as transportation becomes increasingly expensive.
Many of the suburbs becoming abandoned ghost towns, because those transportation costs.
Civil disorder and unrest.
The collapse of our hideously expensive military under its own weight.
Your children and your parents dying for want of proper medical care.
At this point I guess that the candidate could say, "I offer you nothing but blood, sweat and tears," and while the historians might like that, the voters certainly would not.
Maybe it should wait for the inauguration, because if you say it before the elections, you will make Barry Goldwater's defeat look like a ride at the kiddie park.
I often find it quaint when Republicans go after anyone for hateful rhetoric or race prejudice when it's been a major pillar of GOP coalition going back more than forty years.
The co-founder of Laura Ingraham's radio show who now helps run Hugh Hewitt's 'Salem Radio Network' has mixed an Obama video interweaving Obama with Malcolm X, the Black Power salute at the Mexico City Olympics and Public Enemy's 'Fight the Power'.
UPDATE: An aide to John McCain has been suspended for actively pushing this video on his Twitter page.
It's nice to see that Brian, unlike the average Republican, is willing to say specifically what he would cut from the budget -- rarely do they speak beyond generalities or euphemism, probably because they know that if they did, they'd never get elected to any major office. So Brian can feel proud of himself for that.
Unfortunately, like the average Republican, Brian's budget strategy relies heavily on privatizing state assets, including the park service, public broadcasting, and the Washington Metro system (although since WMATA is part of an interstate compact with the District and Virginia, I don't think Maryland could unilaterally privatize it, but hey, that's conservatives in the era of Bush for you). Like his belief in the magical effects of tax cuts, he seems to think of privatization as a free lunch, which, as any economist can tell you, doesn't exist.
Isaac, your analysis is certainly sound but there is a more fundamental point. They are raising this argument now because they - the Republicans not of Ike Eisenhower or even of Richard Nixon, but of James Dobson and Tom Tancredo - because they are losing market share catastrophically. They are losing the people who might be tempted to pinch back hard on their taxes, regardless of the social institutions that can get starved. Why? Because people who are making $140K are usually licensed professionals or entrepreneurs, people who are held accountable ruthlessly in their lines of work and are likely to hold "heckuva job" Republicans in bitter, scornful contempt. Put simply, they are prejudice against stupidity, incompetence and lies, so they stop voting Republican. No matter how many nasty little attacks Newgent at Red Maryland makes, his party is like syphillis: you cannot sell it if you label it for what it is.
There is a reason that Capitol Hill is hemorrhaging Republicans, even committee chairs with seniority, why their staffers are despondent and depressed. There is a reason that Bush's approval rating is far lower than the percentage of registered Republicans nationwide: Republicans who are not allied to the Republican Party out of either religious ideology or racist resentment are choking and puking, and are getting ready to vote Democratic in a year.
To put some statistical meat onto the bones of Eric's post, let's first note that if the Democrats are truly becoming the party of so-called gentry liberals, no one has bothered telling the working classes. As Andrew Gelman of Columbia has shown, if only the bottom third of the income distribution voted in the last presidential election, John Kerry would have won in a landslide. It's only when you move into the middle and upper income levels that George W. Bush voters start to dominate, and the familiar red state/blue state divide emerges. As he puts it:
Thus, the familiar red-blue divide of cosmopolitan coastal Democrats and heartland-state Republicans shows up among the rich but not the poor.
Hey all, I write a blog called the Electoral Map and I just wrote a post about about the Eastern Shore and why it's so Republican. It's definitely got more of a Southern lifestyle than the rest of Maryland, but do you think that is changing? Is the Shore getting more Democratic? If you're interested, I'd love to hear your point of view at The Electoral Map.
I know it wasn't my doing but I do appreciate that posters here and at Red Maryland (and yes I mean Red Maryland) have started ranting (a bit) less and trying to think more. There are exceptions.
Now that we're talking the issue, let's put the debate in perspective. There are two (and only two) questions that need to be settled from a political and policy perspective.
1) Should the SCHIP program be reauthorized?
I think this is the weakness of the Conservative position. They frequently argue against the re-authorization as if it should not happen at all. The debate boils down to one key question: do voters want this health care program or is it too much creeping socialized medicine (e.g. socialism)?
As I said before, this is a loser issue for the Republicans because a VAST majority like the program and want it reauthorized. The creeping socialism argument has failed. Completely stonewalling this program will kill local Republicans and national ones. Even Republicans want healthcare addressed.
Put this one to bed. The debate is over - the people are united and consistent. Arguing against it can only help the Dems (so be my guest). Move on to #2.
2) Who should be covered by it?
The polls above give a good sense of which way the public is leaning on this. However, there is clearly room for debate as to whether it should cover 200% of poverty level or 400% of poverty level, how it gets paid for, etc. Many of the concerns were actually addressed in the vetoed bill but let's assume questions remain for the sake of argument.
I can put this simply...our elected officials need to compromise and get the deed done. No one on either side is going to loose an election based on whether the number is 400% or something a bit less. This is what we expect our elected officials to do. No one will get any traction objecting to a compromise. One might even call most of this just posturing in advance of those compromise discussions (if you were cynical).
There is plenty in this for everyone. Dems need a win lest Pelosi's term become known as impotent. Repubs need to back away from the ledge and do SOMETHING that the voters want if they are to have any hope of staving off collapse next year.
Interesting story from Colorado (a decidedly "purple" state), where a term limited state representative defects from the Republican Party to the Dems.
The last time an elected official changed party in Colorado, it was Senator Ben "Nighthorse" Campbell going the other way. He lived and died by his maverick image and wasn't exactly a kow-towing Republican.
What's more, Rep Stafford is a Christian conservative (a minister even) in the same state that is home to Focus on the Family. What happened?
(at the risk of Isaac hoisting me by my own petard)
While it may be the case that Democrats take the African-American vote for granted, at least they bother to show up -- unlike a certain political party:
Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., is the latest presidential candidate to pull out of Thursday's Republican debate in Baltimore, which is quickly becoming a shadow of the June Democratic version that also focused on black issues.
"With most of the top guys not attending, it is not in our best interest," said Alan Moore, Tancredo's press secretary. "He will be focusing on the upcoming primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire." Tancredo joins four Republican front-runners to opt out of the PBS debate: former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Arizona Sen. John McCain, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and actor and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson.
Elijah Cummings is "dismayed and offended" by the no-shows; Al Wynn calls it an "insult." And while no one expects African-Americans to start voting for the GOP en masse, the lack of even token participation among the front-runners is troubling:
"There is no political mileage for them to come to this debate," said Ron Walters, professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland, College Park. Walters, who is African-American, said Republicans will not get the black vote, but missing the forum nevertheless projects the image that the party has given up on the community altogether.
Between this and their snubbing of a Latino forum that was to have been held last week, one has to wonder: Do Republicans really think they can survive as just the white people's party?
Al Wynn picks up the coveted RedState endorsement:
The more I read about Albert Wynn the more I support him. He's not a conservative or a Republican, I'm not terribly sure he even has an ideology, but when dealing with the obnoxious lefties who think they are calling the shots he does adhere to the old maxim "If you can't take their money, drink their liquor, **** their women, and then come in here the next day and vote against them, you don't belong here." The last thing we need is one more marxist [sic] in our Cogressional [sic] delegation.
OK, that's a pretty bad interpretation of what Sam Rayburn said -- you're supposed to vote against your financial backers, not the people you represent -- but it lends itself to a good slogan: "Al Wynn: He may not believe in anything, but he'll stick it to his constituents!"
I recommend clicking through the link in the blockquote: It's excerpts from the transcript of an online chat Rep. Wynn had on the Washington Post website, along with Donna Edwards' rebuttals. Wynn might think he can pass himself off as a progressive with his support for a never-gonna-happen impeachment of Dick Cheney, but his record, and his lack of leadership on any issue since 2006, speak otherwise.
I had avoided saying anything about the Larry Craig fiasco, but I think Tom Schaller makes a good point about what we should conclude from it:
There is also a sexual orientation double standard here, one that is painfully evident when one contrasts the way the party treated Senator Craig and former Florida Rep. Mark Foley with the way it treated still-serving Republican Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana.
This summer, Senator Vitter admitted to having engaged in "a very serious sin in my past" (read: extramarital sex) after his phone number turned up in an investigation of a Washington-based escort service (read: prostitution). Though he didn't cop to it publicly, Senator Vitter's "sin" apparently included paying for sex.
If true, his sin was not merely biblically enjoined adultery with another, consenting adult. If he did it, Senator Vitter committed a misdemeanor - an offense at least as serious as the one to which Senator Craig pleaded guilty.
Yet he remains in office, partly because key national Republicans, from the White House to the Republican National Committee, supported him in ways they dared not support Mr. Foley and Mr. Craig, who were run out of town faster than you can say "don't ask, don't tell."
And now it appears Sen. Craig is not going to resign after all. I'm sure the Republican Party is letting out a collective groan now.
Many of you have heard by now of President Bush's jaw-dropping speech yesterday to the VFW in Missouri, in which he compared the war in Iraq to the Vietnam War (after years of scoffing at such comparisons), and said that if the US withdraws from Iraq, countless civilians will die at the hands of the modern-day equivalent of the Khmer Rouge. Leave aside, for the moment, the fact that countless civilians have died, are dying now, and will continue to die as a result of the Bush administration's decision to invade and occupy Iraq, or Bush's egregious misinterpretation of history, literature, etc. It's clear the President and his fellow dead-enders in the Republican Party are undertaking a rearguard action to shore up support for the war in Congress. Now that we're coming upon September, when most hawks were claiming the President's "surge" strategy would yield substantial changes to the situation on the ground -- of course, it hasn't -- Bush is pulling out all stops to keep dissenters in line. If that means questioning their patriotism, so be it.
Along with Bush's speech, we also saw yesterday the debut of a new right-wing front group headed by former Bushie Ari Fleischer, called Freedom's Watch. Its goal is to shame Republicans straying from the President's line on Iraq into continuing to support the war. And they're pretty shameless about doing so. Here's their ad:
This has some relevance to Maryland politics, because one of the targets of this campaign is Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, already in the crosshairs of Maryland's far right. It'll be interesting to see how Gilchrest will respond, though I'm not optimistic, as yet, that he'll quell the opposition. For some reason, hard-core Republicans have got into their heads that they need to be even more hawkish on Iraq than they already are, and it's not clear what Gilchrest could do to change their minds, short of turning himself into a GOP robot.
Meanwhile VoteVets is starting a counter-campaign against Freedom's Watch. Here's their targeting Sen. Susan Collins of Maine:
Freeze this moment. The national Republican Party is suddenly looking good to me.
Mr. Rove is leaving Washington for Texas, having abandoned his bold dream of a permanent Republican majority anchored by its conservative base.
Mr. Giuliani, a centrist candidate, is sitting atop the party's nationwide opinion polls.
These are developments that give faint hope to a Midwesterner who has watched what happens when the grip of the Republican "base" becomes a vise. It squeezes moderate politicians out of the party and turns state legislative sessions into bizarre exercises in which every bill must be scrubbed of the possibility that it might somehow permit abortion or embryonic stem-cell research.
If the national party embraces a standard-bearer who occupies the center (albeit the rightward part of it), might the states follow suit?
This, of course, would be the same Rudy Giuliani who would, if elected, declare war on everybody, tear your civil liberties to shreds, and spit on anything resembling diplomacy, the rule of law, etc. Indeed, it's precisely because of Giuliani's "moderate" stances on social issues -- being "temporarily domiciled in the apartment of a gay couple," as the author puts it -- that he apparently feels the need to embrace the worst aspects of the Bush adminstration's foreign policy. On the other hand, given Giuliani's appalling record on police brutality -- to say nothing of his sadistic treatment of his ex-wives and children -- his foreign policy positions may not be mere positioning. It is, however, "centrism."
Instead of that claptrap, I suggest reading the other Sun op-ed about the conservative movement's camapign against contraception.