Sunday, January 30, 2005

The Isolationist Left

"Even if this were true," by "patsified," Democratic Underground, http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=show_mesg&forum=102&topic_id=1196550&mesg_id=1196634&page=, 30 January 2005.

I don't typically reply to individual posts from Democratic Underground here. The forum moderators are quite aggressive and the posts are not "fringe" for DU's moderating community. However, one struck me showing exactly what is wrong with the isolationist Left. It also struck them, which is how it was linked to on the front page of the Daou Report.

Even if all the Iraqis in the world are jumping up and down and clapping and dancing and crying for joy; even if there were really and truly 100% turnout for this election; even if the winner of this election were truly the choice to represent the majority of all Iraqis:

Was this worth destroying the United States of America? Was this worth sending our nation tumbling into the toilet? Was this worth destroying our reputation and the worth of our word in the world? Were the lies worth it? Was this worth the billions and billions of dollars emptied from our nation's treasury? Was the enrichment of Halliburton and the Carlyle Group worth it? Was this worth the bloodshed of soldiers and of innocents? Was it worth losing your arms, little Ali? Was there NO OTHER WAY to have achieved this? Am I supposed to jump up and down and clap and dance and cry for joy that MY nation has been turned into a shitpile and everyone in the world hates MY nation now? There is no democracy here in America, but I am supposed to be overwhelmed with good cheer that it exists for the Iraqis?


Reading this, I was trying to answer it in my head. "I don't care if military contractors get rich," I thought. "Every war requires treasure," I thought. But her last paragraph sums everything up

I can't think of a single cause outside of the borders of my country that would be worth destroying my country for. And that's what has happened, I don't care how happy the Iraqis are. I mourn what my country has become, and I am bitter because I know what she could have been. So I'm sorry if I can't join in the joy today.


Let us hope our country is never destroyed. Let us hope that a wicked enemy never occupies our land or blockades our ports. Let us hope the White House is never again burned down and we never again fight conventional battles in our cities.

No one so embodied the poster's cowardice like Lord Halifax. After Chamberlain's resignation Lord Halifax could have become Prime Minister of Britain and ended the war. Thank God he realized his weakness and allowed Churchill to lead the British in the air and on the beaches.

Isolationists with introspection are bad enough. Millions might have been saved if Halifax opposed Germany sooner. Isolationists withouch such knowledge of themseleves are simply dangerous.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Fiscal Imprudence

"Pataki for UN?," by Robert Novak, Townhall.com, http://www.townhall.com/columnists/robertnovak/rn20050122.shtml, 22 January 2005 (from Dayton v. Kennedy).

An advantage of living near Sioux Falls is that during elections, you get triple the fun. The "Sioux Empire" media market extends to Minnesota and Iowa We get Iowa Caucus advertising every four years; additionally, we watched Republican Congressman Mark Kennedy's rise from the sidelines. As small-government South Dakotans naturally despite Minnesota Democrats, and thus Senator Dayton, this news was all the more interesting

First term Sen. Mark Dayton of Minnesota, who depleted his fortune as Dayton-Hudson department store heir by spending $25 million in four statewide political campaigns, is being targeted by Republicans as the most vulnerable Senate Democrat in 2006.

Dayton spent $12 million of his own money to provide nearly all funding for his election in 2000, and his net worth is now officially disclosed as $5 million to $15 million. Facing the need to raise money for the first time, he recently fired his top fund-raisers after he finished the third quarter of 2004 with just $271,000 cash on hand.

In addition to money problems, Dayton slumped in the polls after he alone among U.S. senators closed his Washington offices because of an alleged terrorist threat. Former Rep. Bill Luther is considering a Democratic primary challenge against Dayton. The senator's Republican opponent is expected to be a well-funded Rep. Mark Kennedy.


Way to destroy the family fortune, Mark!

Dayton is not sitting pretty. Hopefully Mark can knock him Mark in '06.

18:20 Posted in Democrats | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: minnesota

Election, Still Stolen

"GOP says it found 300 illegal votes," by David Postman, Seattle Times, http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2002161949_vance27m.html, 27 January 2005 (from The Corner).

The Kyiv on the Pacific scandal continues to grow

TUKWILA — The state Republican Party said in court papers filed yesterday that it has found 300 illegal votes and more than 400 that can't be verified in the governor's election.

With Christine Gregoire winning the governor's race by 129 votes, Republican Party Chairman Chris Vance says he now has found far more than enough evidence to persuade a judge to nullify the election and call for a rematch between Gregoire and Republican Dino Rossi.

Lawyers and Republican staffers are continuing to look county by county for votes cast by felons, in the name of dead people or by people who voted more than once, casting second votes either in other counties or other states.

"I expect this number to literally grow every day," Vance said.


I'm not surprised at the stolen election. I am surprised about how the issue is being kept alive. It is good for democracy that old Democratic tactics are no longer working. From Jim Crow to union thugs Jackson's party has instutionalized tainted voting. It's good they are being called on it.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Saniacs

"The Rise of the DLC," by Chris Bowers, MyDD, http://www.mydd.com/story/2005/1/24/16457/4867, 24 January 2005.

Personal connections often trump politics and ideology in South Dakota. Republican Governor Bill Janklow is close friends with Democratic former Senator Tom Daschle, for example. And the state is so one-party internally, that ideology has little meaning. Plus, its next door to Iowa. What this all leads to is that I was peripherally involved with Dean's campaign in Iowa. Nonetheless, I was delighted (for the country) when he went down in flames and the "Deaniacs"/maniacs/insaniacs were replaced by "Saniacs."

Perhaps no wing of the Democratic Party better promotes saniacs and sane policies than the Democratic Leadership Council. MyDD excepts a fascinating article on the DLC's rise

Privately funded and operating as an extraparty organization without official Democratic sanction, and calling themselves "New Democrats," the DLC sought nothing less than the miraculous: the transubstantiation of America's oldest political party. Though the DLC painted itself using the palette of the liberal left--as "an effort to revive the Democratic Party's progressive tradition," with New Democrats being the "trustees of the real tradition of the Democratic Party"--its mission was far more confrontational. With few resources, and taking heavy flak from the big guns of the Democratic left, the DLC proclaimed its intention, Mighty Mouse-style, to rescue the Democratic Party from the influence of 1960s-era activists and the AFL-CIO, to ease its identification with hot-button social issues, and, perhaps most centrally, to reinvent the party as one pledged to fiscal restraint, less government, and a probusiness, pro-free market outlook.


Though it is undergoing turmoil now, I hope the DLC can gain control of the DNC and give President Bush real competition. I believe America already has one party worth voting for. We need two.

17:00 Posted in Democrats | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: saniacs, deaniacs, mydd

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Surprisingly Good Guys

"Benefits for tomorrow's seniors cut under any Social Security overhaul," by James Kuhnhenn, Knight Ridder, http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/10667299.htm, 17 January 2005 (from Matthew Yglesias).

I'm no fan of Charlie Rangel, which makes his heroic stand all the more amazing


WASHINGTON - Whether or not President Bush succeeds in partially privatizing Social Security, any deal to overhaul the nation's retirement system would make future guaranteed benefits less generous than they are now.

Even Democrats, who are assailing President Bush's plan to remake Social Security, concede that any effort to improve the program's long-term finances would reduce the growth of benefits, delay them or both.

"If Democrats were in charge, benefits would have to be altered," said Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, the top Democrat on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. "You cannot fix the system without pain, no matter how much money you borrow."


There's also word on AARP planning its compromise

How much pain and where it would be applied remain open questions. Proposals include indexing benefits to price inflation rather than national wage growth, increasing the retirement age, changing the formulas for calculating benefits or simply reducing benefits for new retirees across the board.

At the same time, however, some debate whether big changes are even required to fix the system.

And until the White House releases a specific plan, Democrats are reluctant to spell out what they might support for fear of alienating older voters and weakening their negotiating stance with the president.

Elderly advocacy groups such as the influential AARP are ruling out measures such as a higher retirement age, smaller cost-of-living adjustments or benefit adjustments based on income.

Still, even the AARP is trying to get a sense from its members of what benefit cuts might be acceptable. Organization officials point to the Social Security adjustments in 1983, when President Reagan and the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives negotiated a bipartisan deal that gradually increased the retirement age, delayed cost-of-living adjustments and accelerated scheduled increases in payroll taxes.

"If you just say to people, `Would you favor this one thing by itself?' very few people are going to favor a benefit cut," said John Rother, the AARP's policy director. "But if you present it as part of a package that's balanced, that seems fair, that protects low-income, then I think people will say, `Well, I'm not enthusiastic but I can see why this might be necessary.'"

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Social Welfare

Democratic Underground is a wonderful site. Somewhere between the "Zarqawi is imaginary" rhetoric and hilarious hatred of Free Republic, it manages to come up with insightful comments. Below are three pulled from a discussion on social security. I agree (at least partially) with everyone one

When was the last time anyone felt proud to receive an SSI check?

means test and folks will be told by others that if they had pride they would leave the money for those that really need it.


Which hypocritical South Dakota Senator managed to provoke the greatest "anti-millionaire" campaign in the state since Steve Kirby lost last time, in spite of the fact that Janklow, Diedrich, and, er, everybody in South Dakota politics is either a millionaire or an aparatchick?

I heard Tom Dashle give an interview once and he bragged how his Mom uses medicare. I almost fell out of my fucking chair! He and his wife are millionaires!


Which party is on the wrong side of a demographic debacle, for short-term gain?

Then why is Ted Kennedy saying that....

there will have to be a 20% reduction in benefits?

...answer

The baby-boomers out number the gen-xers.


Which party supports a rich cabal?

The "dirty little secret" about age-based entitlements is that they generally benefit the rich. Eighty-seven percent of the wealth in this country (ie, real estate and securities) is owned by people 55 and above. And yet over two-thirds of government entitlements are going to the same folks. Do you lament that the rich are getting richer? The biggest culprit in increasing the disparity between rich and poor is the federal government, as they use our employment withholding to subsidize ocean view condos in Tampa Bay, plantation homes in Myrtle Beach and golf course haciendas in Sun City.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Social Honesty

"A Question of Numbers," by Roger Lowenstein, New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/16/magazine/16SOCIAL.html, 16 January 2005 (from slashdot).

"Political Divisions Persist After Election: Nation Unsure, Hopeful About Bush, Poll Finds," by Richard Morin and Dan Balz, Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A16073-2005Jan17.html, 18 January 2005 (from The Corner).

Amid the New York Times' dishonesty

The C.B.O. assumes that the typical worker would invest half of his allocation in stocks and the rest in bonds. The C.B.O. projects the average return, after inflation and expenses, at 4.9 percent. This compares with the 6 percent rate (about 3.5 percent after inflation) that the trust fund is earning now.


The "trust fund"'s 3.5 percent return is meaningless. Nyt is conflating two different types of returns. In the second sentence the CBO projection of an average adjusted 4.9% return is for a "typical worker." The 3.5% adjusted return is for the trust fund as a whole. It ignores the effective return of a typical worker under the current social security return.

The number of workers per retiree has been steadily decreasing over the long haul, while the years worked before receiving benefits has been increasing (every modern worker will have paid into SS for his entire working life, while the first social security beneficiary worked only three years before collecting). So while the lock-box's adjusted return has been relatively steady, each worker's return has fallen from many tens of thousands percent to much, much less.

But Nyt's faces an uphill battle in its propaganda

At a time when Democratic leaders are preparing to challenge many of Bush's major initiatives, nearly seven in 10 Americans agree that Bush's victory means that congressional Democrats should compromise with him -- even if it means compromising on their party's principles.

...

But by 54 percent to 41 percent, the public supported a plan that would include a reduction in the rate of growth of guaranteed benefits and private savings accounts financed with a portion of payroll taxes. A proposal with those elements is under consideration by the Bush administration.

...

Americans divide equally over Bush's proposal to index Social Security benefits for future retirees to increases in the cost of living rather than to wage growth as is now the case, a change that would effectively mean benefits would be lower than currently projected. A clear majority of Americans -- 55 percent -- support the president's proposal to allow younger workers to put some of their Social Security savings into stocks or bonds. When packaged together, the two components draw the support of 54 percent of those surveyed.

The survey suggests that Democratic leaders may be out of step with their rank and file on the severity of the problems facing Social Security. Those leaders are attempting to thwart Bush's plans by saying there is no immediate crisis. But two-thirds of all Democrats said they worry that there is not enough money to keep Social Security funded until they retire.


Depending on how the question is asked, polls can give different results. And I believe President Bush is not inclined to follow popular opinion much, in any case. But it's heartening to see that even with a formerly reputable paper like Nyt abandoning honesty, the President can, at least for now, count popular opinion as a friend.

Monday, January 17, 2005

The Counterrevolution?

"Women Lack 'Natural Ability' In Some Fields, Harvard President Says: Comments Came At Economic Conference," Associated Press, http://www.local6.com/education/4090001/detail.html, 17 January 2005 (from Drudge Report).

Without comment...

CAMBRIDGE, Mass -- The president of Harvard University prompted criticism for suggesting that innate differences between the sexes could help explain why fewer women succeed in science and math careers.

Lawrence H. Summers, speaking Friday at an economic conference, also questioned how great a role discrimination plays in keeping female scientists and engineers from advancing at elite universities.

...

"It's possible I made some reference to innate differences," he said. He said people "would prefer to believe" that the differences in performance between the sexes are due to social factors, "but these are things that need to be studied."

He also cited as an example one of his daughters, who as a child was given two trucks in an effort at gender-neutral upbringing. Yet he said she named them "daddy truck" and "baby truck," as if they were dolls.

...

"Here was this economist lecturing pompously (to) this room full of the country's most accomplished scholars on women's issues in science and engineering, and he kept saying things we had refuted in the first half of the day," said Denton, the outgoing dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Washington.

Summers already faced criticism because the number of senior job offers to women has dropped each year of his three-year presidency.

He has promised to work on the problem.


Lawrence Summers, nephew of two nobel laureates, was President Bill Clinton's last Secretary of the Treasury.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

If that isn't Right...

"The Death of HB 1191," by Eleanor J. Bader, Z Magazine, http://zmagsite.zmag.org/May2004/bader0504.html, May 2004.

"Kranz," by Chad. M. Shuldt, Clean Cut Kid, http://www.cleancutkid.com/index.php?id=148, 16 January 2005.

Clean Cut Kid read the same Sfal article on the collapse of the South Dakota Democratic Party and Herseth's shift to the right, but he caught something I did not.

The legislator who accused Stephanie Herseth for "moving" to the right voted to end abortion. Period. No qualifiers. This is further than I would go.

For an idea of the text....

Thelma Underberg, executive director of the state’s NARAL chapter, was shocked by the callousness of the rhetoric and the frenzy that accompanied the bill’s introduction. “One woman who got up to speak said that she understood that rape was traumatic, but that she could not help but think it would be therapeutic for the woman to give birth to new life,” she reports. After debating this issue, Underberg says that lawmakers voted against including a rape or incest exception. They also voted down a provision to allow abortion in cases of fetal deformity. Legislators did, however, toss a sop at ambivalent, would-be allies, and agreed to allow abortion in cases of life or health endangerment.


Eventually, the Governor vetoed it because he felt it might inadvertantly make some abortions legal while it was being challenged. Rounds' "style and form" veto only survived by one vote.

I want to thank Chad for bringing this to my attention. It shows what consequences Daschle's unprincipled support of the most murderous abortions have wrought: a countermovement that will be extreme in the opposite direction.

Democrats, especially blue-state Democrats, need to realize this. Those who support abortion in all cases will end up ending abortion in all cases. This is not a battle that Democrats can win.

Johnson v. Daschle

"Zell Was Right," by Rich Lowry, National Review Online, http://www.nationalreview.com/lowry/lowry200501140730.asp, 14 January 2005 (from South Dakota Politics).

When Tim Johnson escorted John Thune down the Senate aisle to be sworn in, it was a complicated moment. John and Thune had run against each other in 2002. If not for Daschle's efforts to keep Johnson in office, Daschle would still have his job and Johnson would be a has-been.

But things would get more complex. Like the fact Jim Jordan, former spokesman for Tim Johnson and former John Kerry campaign manager, has jumped on the pro-Zell-Miller bandwagon

"We are too coastal. We are too urban. We are too secular. And, most of all, we are too dovish. The public simply doesn't trust us to keep them safe"


Rich Lowry opines

All the Democrats who now say that the party has foolishly given up on the South, that it is unable to connect with religious voters, that it is too beholden to liberal orthodoxy on social issues, that Americans don't trust it on national defense, and that it doesn't speak the language of most Americans should take a deep breath and repeat after me: "Zell Miller was right."

This turnabout is extraordinary given the kind of criticisms that were lodged at Miller last year, especially after he amplified the arguments in his book in a humdinger of a speech at the Republican National Convention. An AFL-CIO official said Miller had "lost his damn mind." James Carville said Miller was being "cynically manipulated by people who are greedy to hold on to power at any cost." Well, Miller appears, in light of events, to have been the shrewdest cynically manipulated lunatic in all of human history.

"In the eyes of Middle America," Miller wrote of the Democratic party, "it has become a value-neutral party." That is almost mild compared with what other Democrats are now saying. Even Miller's battering of the party for being too extreme on abortion has gained a measure of acceptance. Howard Dean of all people — another candidate to lead the DNC — now says, "I have long believed that we ought to make a home for pro-life Democrats."


Of course, if not for Daschle this would not have happened. A more competent democratic leader would not have alienated life-long Democrats like Miller and would not have allowed the national party to be tarred by blue-state extremism.

Ironic. Or is it fitting?