Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Hillary Media Circus

I'm trying to keep an open mind about the 2008 Presidency. For starters its simply too far out to worry about. There are people I like (Feingold, Edwards), and people I don't like (Biden, Kerry, Hillary). I kind of suspect that the 2008 Democratic nominee might be someone on nobody's radar screen who will emerge from some obscure governorship. The in thing right now on those who can't bother to wait for people to actually start campaigning is to treat Hillary Clinton as the defacto nominee 2 years before the primaries begin. The Washington Post runs an op-ed piece today explaining I think quite well the Hillary Clinton phenomenon. It also does an excellent job of expressing why I think Hillary Clinton is not the right person to nominate.
It is, of course, Hillary's very wifeyness that titillates. All wives are mysterious to others (even to their husbands, I suspect) since their relationships to their men are not based on merit, as we know it, or patronage, as we know it, but on love and sex (at first), children (after a while) and then something else. Since we do not know our own marriages, we cannot know anyone else's. This engenders endless speculation about the distribution of power and the importance of pillow talk. (Somehow, it's OK for the unelected Karl Rove to advise Bush, but if Laura did it, some people would go nuts.) Did Nancy Reagan actually tell Ron what to do? What about Eleanor Roosevelt -- especially Eleanor? She was even more vilified than Franklin and all she ever did was go down into a coal mine, invite Marian Anderson to sing on the Mall and make some speeches in that high, squeaky voice of hers. Hardly worth hating, you'd think. But, oh, she was certainly hated.

Hillary, of course, is a very famous and very mysterious wife. We need not enumerate the reasons. They were more or less impeachable. Did she know? How could she not have known? Was she complicit? Is she an enabler? And now that she is a public official in her own right, even more mystery attaches to her. Who is she? What, exactly, are her politics? Is she a Cubs or a Yankees fan?
Some scrutiny of a possible president, even a mere senator, is expected, even required. But for one person to be so loved, so hated, and of such compelling interest -- so much more a celebrity than, say, John McCain -- suggests that more than politics is involved. Like Marie Antoinette, Hillary has emerged as the repository of so many fears, so much dread, such aspirations -- so much good and bad -- that we have to look past her office or her ambitions and suggest, strongly, that something deeply Freudian is at work. It was Freud, after all, who spoke for all men (and many women) by asking, "What do women want?" Now -- some fear, others hope -- we may finally have the answer.

My frustrations of late with Senator Clinton have been based arround her push to the center and apparent pandering to the non-existent centrist voter. But I am confident that if hypothetically Hillary could get elected, then she would make a good President whether I like her campaign style or not. The reason to object to Hillary Clinton running is that nobody has an open mind about her. It would be very difficult to get people to look beyond the irrelevencies that Cohen discusses and to consider the merits of candidate Clinton. It does not have to do with her being a woman, it has to do with her person, she is a much loved and much hated person who everyone has already made up their mind about. A less famous woman could stand a chance. I would welcome and support a Boxer candidacy if she decided to run, Hillary's problem is not her being a woman, but her presence as an irrational vent for many people to express everything wrong in the world.

Monday, March 13, 2006


I take a perhaps unusual view of Senator John McCain of Arizona. In spite of the conventional wisdom of McCain as a moderate I consider him a relatively conservative Senator who's image as a maverick, a moderate, and a pragmatist make him unbeatable. Paul Krugman exposes McCain's conservatism in the New York Times today, and I agree with most of his argument though he uses some questionable data as "facts". For example he sites as ranking McCain the 3rd most conservative member of the United States Senate. Now, voteview could be right, and seems to be run by trustworthy people (a UCSD Poli Sci professor), but the ranking of McCain as the Senate's most conservative member is way out of step with everything else I've seen which tends to place him towards the middle and mainstream of the Republican caucus. That said, Krugman hits the principle quite accurately.
He isn't a moderate. Mr. McCain's policy positions and Senate votes don't just place him at the right end of America's political spectrum; they place him at the right wing of the REpublican Party.

And he isn't a maverick, at least not when it counts. When the cameras are rolling, Mr. McCain can sometimes be seen striking a brave pose of opposition to the White House. But when it matters, when the Bush administration's ability to do whatever it wants is at stake, Mr. McCain always toes the party line.

While I think Krugman's analysis of Arizona's senior Senator is ultimately correct I don't think this is a cat you want to let out of the bag. If McCain decides to run for President in 2008 his moderate image may prevent him from winning the nomination for lack of traditional conservative voters supporting him. I would argue that McCain cannot be beaten, he's too well liked accross party lines. Should he decide to run, the only thing keeping him out of the White House will be the Republican Primary, and in that setting his moderate image might kill him. So let's not tell the public that McCain is a right winger just yet.

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Plight of Airline Pilots

The New York Times illustrates the hardships pilots currently endure as the airline industry continues to limp along. The thing that particularly disturbed me was the discussion of increased hours. This is not just about pilots, the more fewer pilots are pushed to work more hours with less rest the more dangerous it is for everybody flying. I don't know what can be done here, the airline pilots union is in a bind, they work for an industry that is running in most cases out of bankruptcy and is really struggling to get by. That is the root cause of the problem, and with that in mind it is difficult to know how the union should react to improve the situation. I think everyone can tell that pushing too hard on airlines to improve pensions and reduce hours could be the final blow to many airlines experiencing losses from reductions in the number of passengers. There is one thing I do know though, this is the wrong attitude.
Not everyone agrees that the longer working schedule is a problem.

"It's hard for me to feel sorry for them," said Capt. Jeffrey R. Hefner, the safety chairman of the union that represents pilots at Southwest Airlines, who have always flown longer hours than pilots at older airlines.

"They're a bunch of spoiled brats," he said. "Historically, this has been a really cushy job once you get to the majors. You make a lot of money and you don't have to fly a lot. But there had to be a market balancing at some point."

Great, so pilots have union officials who think the members of the union are a bunch of spoiled brats, I'm sure that really helps the situation. What ever happened to union officials who fight for improved conditions for their members?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Dubai Ports Controversy Ends

Dubai Ports World has agreed to sell operations to a US Company effectively ending the showdown over ports. In an amazing bipartisan effort to shut the US off from the rest of the world, Congressional Democrats and Republicans joined together to stop the deal. I just don't get this, especially the Democrats, Republicans have a long history of xenophobia and it would be unreasonable to expect it to end now. But the Democrats should not have made this the issue they made it. This will come back to hurt Democrats ultimately in the attitute it enforces. That attitude is that we must resign within ourselves because there are people in the world who seek to hurt us. Democrats saw this as a political opportunity to show the Country that they were better on national security than Bush, but it will come back to hurt them because it reinforces that isolationist attitude that Republicans thrive upon.

That said, I feel no sympathy for Bush here, he dug his own grave on this issue through his rhetoric towards Iraq. Paul Krugman pointed this out on February 24th and puts it far better than I.
The administration successfully linked Iraq and 9/11 in public perceptions through a campaign of constant insinuation and occasional outright lies. In the process, it also created a state of mind in which all Arabs were lumped together in the camp of evildoers. Osama, Saddam -- what's the difference?

Now comes the ports deal. Mr. Bush assures us that "people don't need to worry about security." But after all those declarations that we're engaged in a global war on terrorism, after all the terror alerts declared whenever the national political debate seemed to be shifting to questions of cronyism, corruption and incompetence, the administration can't suddenly change its theme song to "Don't Worry, Be Happy."

The administration also tells us not to worry about having Arabs control port operations. "I want those who are questioning it," Mr. Bush said, "to step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a Great British company."

He was being evasive, of course. This isn't just a Middle Eastern company; it's a company controlled by the monarchy in Dubai, which is part of the authoritarian United Arab Emirates, one of only three countries that recognized the Taliban as the legitimate ruler of Afghanistan.

But more to the point, after years of systematically suggesting that Arabs who didn't attack us are the same as Arabs who did, the administration can't suddenly turn around and say, "But these are good Arabs."

This is all about retreat from the rest of the world, and thus Democrats should not be blocking this deal. It is nice however, to see Bush get nailed by his own rhetoric. That said, today the xenophobes have won with the Dubai company agreeing to sell operations to a US company. Next up, a 2000 mile long fence between the United States and Mexico.

Where is all this Iran Rhetoric Going?

LiberalOasis confronts Bush administration saber rattling towards Iran and offers a strategy for preventing another war. While I agree with them that the United States is engaging in the same kind of rhetoric and action with Iran that preceeded the Iraq war, I see no way this is a precurser to war with Iran. The simple fact is that we have no army with which to invade Iran if we did want to. The only plausible way to go to war with Iran would be to institute a draft. The Bushies could not gain support for another war if there is a draft, and probably can't without one since they no longer have any credibility on these matters. Once you start talking about a draft very few people will support war and Congress will stand up to the Administration.

Given that, I don't understand what is going on with Iran. I am convinced that Liberal Oasis is correct, we are engaging in a strategy just like we did prior to Iraq to frame Iran as the #1 threat to US security. But again, the Bushies know that we have no army anymore so I don't see what the hoped for end result of this rhetoric is. It can't possibly be war for the reasons I stated above, so what is happening

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Crap, Ciro Lost

Ciro Rodriguez appears to have lost his primary challenge to Henry Cuellar in the TX-28. Quite unfortunate. Texas has an open primary system, so it seems likely (especially given the Club for Growth endorsement) that Republicans turned up in the primary to make sure they didn't lose their Dixiecrat congressman to a reasonable Democrat. Cuellar was clearly one of the worst Democrats in Congress voting for the right wing Bush agenda, it is very unfortunate that he was able to hold on against this challenge. I will now be taking Rodriguez off the candidates list.

In other news, the United States somehow managed to lose to Canada today. Dontrell Willis got absolutely shelled and a late offensive run to tighten the score at 6-8 came up just short.

Monday, March 06, 2006

NYT Can't Find Anything New to Report

The New York Times runs the "Democrats in Dissaray" story for the 8 millionth time on the front page this morning, ignoring the fact that the New York Times has run some version of this exact same story at least one other time in the last month, the article made little sense.

The article begins by pointing that Democrats in different places are (gasp!) talking about different things! As if that's some huge indication of having no direction, the simple fact is that different people prioritize different things. In a Democracy that should be respected as a normal human fact, some people think one issue is most important that other people don't. Not only that, but many argue that Congressional elections are fought on local issues, so shouldn't it then be considered a strength that Democrats aren't all talking about the same things? The article then moves on to say how in sink Republicans were in 1994 and how they were all talking about the same thing. It then goes to Rahm Emmanuel arguing that the election must be nationalized because so many districts are gerrymandered to Republican advantage. Then instead of pointing this out as a reason that it may be good that Democrats are talking about different things, it goes to Republicans arguing that Congressional elections hinge on local issues, and uses that instead as an argument that Democrats don't know what they're doing. Never mind the way this article began, and the fact that this counters the entire thesis of the article, we'll just pretend that it supports it.

In short this was horrible rotten writing that ignored obvious logical conclusions to be drawn from the evidence it presented all to run their favorite story once again on the front page, that the Democrats have no message.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Senate Passes PATRIOT ACT

And Larry Craig is a goddamn hypocrite. After Rep. Butch Otter proved to him that opposition to the PATRIOT ACT was politically popular in Idaho Craig spend the next 3 years speaking against the act. Now when the time to really stand up comes, he votes for it again. In other news, most of the Democratic caucus is gutless. Feingold was only able to garner 15 votes against cloture and 10 against the bill itself. Though in the end, it may not matter since the President doesn't seem to think it matters what is and is not legal. Since Bush thinks he's king, in fact, a post over at the Volokh conspiracy wonders whether the domestic spying program began even before the AUMF passed Congress. I don't see why anyone felt the need to pass the PATRIOT ACT even if they are its most outspoken supporters.