Archive for September 13th, 2006|Daily archive page

Defeatist Republicans for losing in November?

The Washington Monthly has a line-up of prominent Republicans hoping (perhaps against hope) that the Republicans lose in November. They include

Christopher Buckley
Bruce Bartlett
Joe Scarborough(ick, ick, ick)
William A. Niskanen
Bruce Fein 
Jeffery Hart
Richard A. Viguerie

After waxing poetic about GHW Bush, Buckley laments GW Bush’s “incontinent conservatism,” wondering what happened to Republicans who can do basic arithmetic if only for “calculating CEO compensation..” But more, he would like a party that acknowledges it’s mistakes, picks itself up and moves on to bigger and better things. In a burst of Schadenfreude, he’d like to see the Democrats inherit the mess. Does he think the Democrats will do a better job? No, but then “they may fuck things up for a change.”

Bartlett sees a loss in November as a much needed balancing of government. Pointing to the Founding Fathers, he claims a slow and difficult governing process will strengthen not weaken America’s government. Bartlett invokes fond memories strong of bipartisan legislation under both Democratic and Republican Presidents (imagine that). Instead of internal party negotiations between Republican moderates and Republican hard-liners, he would rather see negotiations between moderates across the aisle. Finally, he too sees a Democratic win in November as a way to get the Democrats to “put up or shut up” and force his own party to clean up it’s internal act prior to 2008.

Scarborough manages to invoke the name of either Bill or Hillary Clinton 6 times inside of 750 words, going both above and below the belt. He too mentions the runaway spending deficits raked up in the last 6 years. He pines, yes pines, for the days when Clinton fought a Republican congress over budgets. Iraq, national security, Schadenfreude – not Joe Scarborough, he just wants the budget balanced and a few less insider deals between the House and the Hill.

Looking across the last 50 years, Niskanen sees only two periods of responsible spending, the bipartisan governments under Eisenhower and Clinton. Using facts, indeed numbers (be still Christopher Buckley’s heart, Republicans can still do math), Niskanen shows just how irresponsible one party governments are. (He does neatly ignore Reagan’s and Bush senior’s stints with House and Hill divided … but psha, details, details.) Again, its the money that matters. Niskanen would like nothing more than a divided government: “not the stuff of which political legends are made, but, in real life, most of us would take good legislation over good legends.”

Fein’s article stands out for two things, using the oldest references (Adam Smith, Edward Gibbons and Louis’ XVI lettres de cachet) and in the stand that the White House must be restrained. Using slightly more modern comparisons, FISA, signing statements and the illegal combatant fiasco, Fein presents a White House out of control and unchecked. With fond references to the Founding Fathers (dude, that was soooo Eighteenth century), Fein would like to but a little more balance back into government. Will the Democrats do better? (No. They can’t even understand Adam Smith.) But at least they hate Republicans, Bush is a Republican and thus all would be good.

Newsflash: Jeffery Hart ‘oppose[s] disease and early death!’ He also dips into the well of ancient history retrieving Edmund Burke’s refutation of ideology and seems to think GW Bush has an ‘ideological mindset.’ Using stem cells, Terri Schiavo and Iraq (one of these things is not like the others), Hart hammers home the point that GW seems to have a rather – um – limited worldview. The hope of having more realism in government drives Hart to wish for a Democratic congress, thinking that those pesky “checks and balances” might reign on Georges parade.  Best Quote: “I’d call my skepticism ‘conservative,’ but Bushism has poisoned the very word.” (zap, pow, boff)

The spectre of having Congress controlled by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid doesn’t scare Richard Viguerie much. No, “blindly, slavishly” backing the ‘Big Government Republicans” does.  (Note: Viguerie also thinks mothers still teach their daughters about the cow/milk thing. Tip: Democrats realise that no one owns cows anymore (where would you put it?) and the pill was invented in the 60’s)  Unfortunately, the rest of the article leaves no cliché unturned arguing that defeat only makes you stronger and “a loss for Republicans is a win for conservatives.” (I was thoroughly depressed – and defeated – by the end.)

Seven men, seven articles, seven approaches. But. They. Just. Don’t Get. It.

The problem in American politics isn’t the Republican control of Congress and the White House. The problem is a two party system. Most of these articles show that the internal frustration within the Republican party is so high they would even gasp vote Democratic. I wish this frustration would lead to one or two new parties. The persistent theme running through all essays was the strength of a balanced government. Finding a balance pushing an elephant or a donkey to the front isn’t as good as having lots of choices and lots of combinations.

For some strange reason Americans have decided that two political choices are better than many and I have little hope that anything will change. I do however hope that more than seven Republicans vote Democrat in November and that the Republicans lose.

Heads up: Does the Red Cross sell your frozen plasma?

Daniel Engber over at Slate has an article explaining how the American Red Cross sells blood. I’ve known that forever. He doesn’t mention that the Red Cross produces about half of its operating budget selling donated blood. (That figure is from memory but should be in the right ballpark. A Cleveland newspaper put the revenue at 67% in 1987.)

Now that I no longer live in the States, I don’t support any of the Red Crosses, American (ARC), German (DRC) or International (IRC).  Actually I don’t support any of the other shapes either. When I donate to a charity, I usually give to Doctors without borders and for first aid training (have you (re-)done your CPR certificate lately)  I go to the German Malteser International.

I’ll do a separate post ranting about the various RC organisations but suffice it to say I’ve had bad experiences before I left the States, my father had bad experiences during the Korean War and the Red Cross managed to ‘mislay’ the body of my grandfather’s first wife and baby daughter while he was in Europe during the WWI. Yeah, I have issues.

I’ll also do a separate post praising Doctors without borders.

I just wanted to use this post to give the heads up to David’s article.

Oh, and don’t even get me started about real faith-based aid organisations. I won’t call them blood suckers but…

Feel Any Safer Yet?

The Washington Post has a front page story about the TSA’s wet work. No they’re not going around offing people, just trying to keep all the liquids off the planes. If the Washington Post is right, TSA doesn’t seem to be very effective.

What I find interesting is that this is making many Americans federal criminals. If you get caught, you could get fined, land on a watch list and your life otherwise made miserable. Did that inspector get laid last night? No. Wrong day to smuggle that hair gel, better to suffer the bad hair day.

Now, as most of us know by now, the myth of binary explosives is a Hollywood legend or at least not as realistic as various governments would like you to think. This doesn’t matter because you still need to check those evil liquid or semi-liquid substances if you want to fly the friendly skys. Although according to Wonkette, your sex gels personal lubricants are safe.  Whipped cream and cattle prods on the other hand are no-no’s. That’s nice to know – PLAN ACCORDINGLY. Maybe the TSA didn’t want the work to get too wet. (Sorry)

For me, the take home lesson in the WP article came in on the second page.

Gary Boettcher, a pilot and president of the Coalition for Airline Pilots Association, a trade group that closely tracks security issues, said he constantly sees people drinking from illicit bottles of water or putting on lip gloss when he walks through the passenger cabin. Most of the time, he said, it doesn’t bother him.

“They are just doing their routines like they always did,” Boettcher said. “An old woman drinking a bottle of water doesn’t concern me. . . . The whole screening process is a facade to make the public feel safe, to show that the government is doing something.”

Passengers said they didn’t feel any safer after reaching their destination and realizing they had inadvertently left a banned item in their carry-on bags. [emphasis mine]

So we have a make-believe threat, passengers who aren’t worried and overworked security people. Well the government thinks passengers feel safe, the passengers feel annoyed and the TSA has a long, wet winter ahead of them.