Saturday, January 31, 2004

Comments Down:It's seems like the program that I used for comments is no longer in business, which means no comments for now. I'm looking for some alternatives and I'm even contemplating moving to another blog site that has comments built-in. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Friday, January 30, 2004

Bush Apostacy Watch: When you think of all the anger against Bush's treatment of the environment, you tend to think of tree-hugging leftists, right? Not exactly. It seems that sportsmen are all so upset at the Administration's causal disregard for the earth as well. This USA Today opinion piece shows that Bush can't take the hunting community for granted on his stance concerning the second amendment. If there is a "money quote" in this op-ed, it has to come from Chris Wood, the vice president for Trout Unlimted. Wood says:

"This is a constituency that is slow to anger, but the administration is starting to see a backlash," Wood says. "The 'Sportsmen for Bush' bumper stickers ... might be pretty scarce in 2004."

Hmmm. It seems like this is yet another piece of the rebellion that is taking place on political right against Bush. I wonder when the media will pay attention.

If you want to read more on the "Sportsmen's Rebellion", please read Thursday's Salt Lake Tribune.

How Bush Could Lose (or Win): I think all of these possibilities make sense in my view. What it shows is that if the sensible right and the sensible left do their thing, then Bush will be packing his bags come November. I think this Layne guy is also correct about how the "nutty left" types like Michael Moore and are damaging any chance to get Bush out of there. This is a bit of a non-sequitur, but I'm tired of how MoveOn and Al Franken and others rant like mad dogs about Bush, and making themselves and the entire US left look like idiots. Geez, I guess they are trying to compete with the nuttiness here on the Right.

Take for example the whole "Bush in 30 seconds" ad that CBS chose not to run during the Superbowl. They are now screaming "censorship" as if they have some deep dark secret that people won't know unless they show it. Please. The news media has talked about the growing deficit for a long while. Again, their hatred of Bush is ruining any chances to bring some well needed change. I do wonder if these rubes aren't secretly working for Rove and Co. at times. Feh.

DeficitsDo Matter: When someone tells the Bushies that they are running high deficits, their response is that it doesn't matter since the budget deficit is smaller than it was during the Reagan era and people didn't care about deficits when he was President. That might have worked for Reagan, but it may not for Bush. Robert Waite, a former head of the Import-Export Bank of the United States during the 80s says that back then, Reagan could say that they Dems were the ones who spent like "drunken sailors" while leaving our national defense woefully underfunded. His deficit spending was for a purpose: to deal with the Soviet Union.

Of course the Dems are no longer the party of fiscal irresponsibility. Bill Clinton steered the party towards a pro-growth party that believed in fiscal restraint. In short, Bush can't tell people that spending under the Dems would be worse when Clinton brought the budget under control and left a nice surplus.

Karl Rove thinks that people are still too scared to be concerned about the deficit. However as 9-11 recedes further from recent memory, people are starting to pay attention to the economy and Bush might find a surprise come the fall.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

The Anti-Bush:One of the more sobering lessons Dubya learned from Bush Senior's defeat in 1992 was how the first Bush did not do enough to keep the hard right in his corner. Bush the Junior has taken that to heart and has done much to shore up what is now his base of support. However, I wonder if Bush II's grip on the far right might have the same effect that Bush the First's distance from led to his defeat. Bush's policies have done little to sway independents over to his side, at least not in the way they did in 2000. Listen to what Andrew Sullivan has to say:

The huge turn-out in New Hampshire; the electability factor for Kerry; the passion of the Dean people: all this shows how thoroughly energized the Democrats are to win back the White House. Bush is in the Rove-Cheney cocoon right now. From the SOTU, it looks like he's going to run on 9/11. Bad, backward-looking idea. His coalition is fracturing; his reach out to Hispanics seems to have hurt him more with the base than won him new votes; his spending has independents deeply concerned; Iraq is still a wild card; prescription drugs pandering hasn't swayed any seniors; the religious right wants him to attack gay couples in the Constitution - which will lose him the center. More worrying: I'm not sure he even knows he's in trouble.

I think Sullivan has it right. Bush's wild spending has loss fiscal conservatives, such as yours truly. Also, let's not forget his endorsement of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Not only does that anger true small-government libertarians, but it angers gays who just might have voted for Bush.

I think what happens here is that less and less of those who supported him in 2002 will want to vote for him now. He has done so much to placate the far right that he is alienating the center. The Dems should be paying attention and tailoring their campaigns to reach out to the center that Bush appears to be abandoning.

Many people talk about Gov. Howard Dean and his supporters living in an echo chamber. I'm beginning to think that Dubya is living in one as well.

Conservative Apostacy of the Day:Okay, I will admit this: I voted for Nader in 2000. It was a protest vote. I leaned toward Bush but was wary of him and I was sure as hell not voting for Gore. I thought Bush would take us away from the nannyism that seems to be so prevalent among Dems. Boy was I wrong.

Andrew Sullivan writes in Time about how conservatives have grown to love Big Government, espcially as it probes deep into the lives of citizens. Bush and his fundy buddies want to tell your kids to never have sex until marriage (and forget that condom kids, you won't be using it), tell gays to forget marriage, protect us from ads touting medical marijuana even though states approved such ads from appearing.

With all the "drunken sailor" spending and the new found love for the nanny state, what does the GOP under Bush really stand for?

I'll tell you. It stands for W. That will not keep it going folks.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Is Loyalty the Highest Virtue?The Minneapolis Star Tribune has an excellent commentary about Paul O'Neill. O'Neill has been branded as "unloyal" to Bush for telling all, as if somehow criticism is against the law. What is most telling is how O'Neill, a supporter of privatizing Social Securuty, wanted a full discussion of the issue with a government-supported panel with both critics and proponents. In the end the panel was filled only with supporters.

There seems to be a disturbing trend in the GOP that loyalty to a ruler is the ultimate value. This seems so counter to what Gerald Ford once said about our country: that we are a nation of laws and not of men. Loyalty is a nice virtue, but I don't think it is the highest virtue. After all, one could be loyal to someone like Hitler or Pol Pot (not that Bush is Hitler or Pol Pot. Just an example). O'Neill seems to have a higher value. He has a loyalty to the truth and to his country, and was willing in the example of Social Security to hear all sides and come to a conclusion. The Bushies seem to lack this trait. They long for conformity and don't do well dealing with someone who God's forbids, acutally thinks for themselves. They have no loyalty to this nation, only to that which serves its interests.

And to be honest, why is W. deserving of the GOP's loyalty? He is far from a Teddy Roosevelt or even a Ronald Reagan. These men had vision and were willing to take the nation in new directions. W. seems to want to take us backwards. His words are not visionary like his predecessors, they are perfucntory. This isn't about Bush being dumb, which I don't think is the case. Reagan was not the brightest bulb, but he knew how to get things done. What this is about is how Bush is changing the GOP in disturbing ways. Gone is the positive nationalism of Roosevelt, and the West Coast "sunshine conservatism" of Reagan. What we have now, is a more crony capitalism, a conservatism that is reminiscent of the Old South, more the party of George Wallace before he was reformed. Is a man who seems content with a party that no longer has any ideology other than "I'll scratch your back, if you'll scratch mine?"

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Not so Fast:Think Howard Dean might be down if not out after the screamfest last Monday? Maybe, maybe not. David Greenberg writes in Sunday's Los Angles Times that Dean's gaffe may not be the end of the Dean machine. He reminds readers of Richard Nixon's snarling press conference after his loss in the 1962 governor's race in California. He remarked famously that "you won't have Nixon to kick around anymore." It sounded like the death knell of a political career. Of course, we know that Nixon came back six years later and became President in 1968.

Dean's pep rally or tirade was ill-chosen, but I think that there is still something to this guy. It would be sad if his screech ended a promising campaign.

With that said, I don't think Dean is forever done. He has engergized the Dems and even if he doesn't win the nomination, he will have made his mark. The media maybe quick to bury this campaign as much as they were to build it up prior to Iowa, but as Monday night shows we have to let the voters decide. But if Dean becomes an also-ran, I bet good money that he will run for Senate or something. He's started a movement that I don't think will quietly go away.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

100 days.That's the punishment that former congressman Bill Janklow got for speeding pass a stop and into a Minnesota cyclist, killing him. As a friend said, this is not about Janklow being a good or bad man. For all I know he could get a great person. What matters is that he has a history of reckless driving and that poor driving killed a man.

It's pretty sad state of affairs when a person who has a position of power gets a light sentence for killing a person. Any normal mortal would have recieved a tougher sentence.

The only upshot is that Janklow will have to deal with people thinking he got away with murder. He will forever deal with the public's contempt for what he did and how he got away with it. That's way worse than a few years in prison which is what he should have recieved.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Not so angry:David Brooks' piece gives a look into the Iowa voter and we find out they are not so much "Bush haters" as they are disgusted with Bush. They want change and they want to believe in something again, but their anger is one of a quiet determination for reform and not anger at anyone or anything who didn't agree with them.

For quite some time, I've been worried about the Democrat's attitude. I was worried that they would be too blinded by hate of Bush to really address serious issues. My neighbors to the south showed that they want a campiagn that preaches hope to masses, not just anger.

Monday night I heard parts of Dean's speech and parts of Edward's speech. Edwards talked about the things that he saw were wrong in America and how they must be changed. The nation's eyes were upon him and he acted like a President. There was a sense of hope. Dean's speech was angry and bitter. I was especially upset that he decided to pick of the states of the other contenders as if to say he was gunning for them. That was not presidential, that was petty.

I've lost a lot of respect for Dean. He is a man with great ideas and passion. There is a lot to be angry about in our world today, but Americans don't run on anger, they run on hope. Americans are worried about their jobs, health care and the high cost of perscription drugs. They don't need someone who only rails against Washington, but they need someone who can tell them that things will be better. Americans need someone who can inspire them more than they do someone who can whip them up to a fever pitch.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

About Last Night: I've been thinking today if I would say anything about last night. For anyone who has been following this blog or my companion blog you know that I'm supporting Howard Dean. I supported him because his record in Vermont reflects moderate Republican values of balanced budgets, civil liberites and gun rights. However, I have had some doubts about Dean off and on since the fall. I was upset when he continually denounced people he didn't like as "Republicans." Didn't he know that there were Republicans who were ardently supporting him? Didn't he realize that there are moderates in the GOP who are disillusioned by Bush?

When those concerns were shared, many people said just wait until after the primaries and caucuses. Dean had to run to the hard left to secure the base and would moderate after the convention.

I should have realized then that some Dean supporters were not using logic.

First, it's a tad bit presumptous to think that a candidate will get the nomination when no one has cast a vote yet. Second, if you have not tried to grab moderates and independents before the convention, it's a bit late by then. You have to build a movement that brings everyone in, and that means trying to persuade others. Last night's finish shows that the Dean team failed to do that.

November is going to be a very close election again. If the Dems want to win the White House, then they need every vote they can get. To do that, you need to be reaching out to everyone you can find. Dean has not done this.

Tuesday night has allowed the scales to come off from my eyes. I think Dean has a great message if he ran on his record. I think his anger can be honed into something positive. But right now what I see is a campiagn that is vindictive and to insiderish to really take on Bush. I really hope that he can become more positive in the days leading up to New Hampshire.

Monday, January 19, 2004

Attack from the Right:Timothy Noah in Slate discusses the need for a "Republican Nader" someone, like say, James Dobson to run a campaign to peel off votes for Bush. While I think Noah's story is both biased and cynical, he does have a point. Bush needs someone on the right to run against, but not some crazy right-wing loon. He already has that vote. He needs someone from the center-right who will challenge him on issues where he is truly week, like fiscal policy. What is needed is someone like a McCain or Hagel who could challenge Bush on this issue as well as how he is handling the war on Terror. I don't know if this will happen, but I just keep hoping.

Chiefs and Priests: For the second year in a row, the Atlantic Monthly has put together a series of articles on the State of the Union. However, you shouldn't expect that what they talk about will be anything the President or the Democrats are talking about. Most of the writers are from the New America Foundation, which is best described as a Gen-X think-tank. One that I found most intriguing is by New America head Ted Halested. Halstead tries to describe the current state of the political parties and how they end up not serving the public interest, but their own constituencies. It's a depressing read until the last paragraph. Halstead notes that American politcal parties, unlike their European counterparts are:

are mere vessels; the principles, agendas, and coalitions they contain can vary dramatically from decade to decade. It is just a matter of time, history suggests, until both parties are reinvented. Let us hope they will improve.

I think that is why I remain in the GOP even though it has become such a right-wing party. Think about it; 50 years ago, the Republicans were a more moderate party, the party of New Englanders and Midwesterners. However, when southerners who left the increasingly pro-civil rights Democrats in the 60s, the hijakced the GOP and used it as a new base. I think if moderates were creative enough and looking for a place to call home, they can easily take the party back. The parties have always flip-flopped over the years. The Dems were considered the party of fundamentalists 100 years ago. In the 1920s, the Republicans produced socialists like William LaFollette of Wisconsin. I have to believe that those who are in charge of the parties today will lose power and hopefully a new era of moderation will take place....if moderates get involved again.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

The Other Reagan:Many people on the Left have characterized Ronald Reagan as a homophobe who would allow young men to die as the AIDS crisis grew in the early 80s. The mini-series scheduled for CBS and moved to showtime after conservative backlash, pretty much sums up this viewpoint. If you want another view into Reagan's treatment of the crisis, please read this story found at the Independent Gay Forum website. I think the author did a good job at dispelling myth from reality. What bugs me at times is the Left's insistance that conservatives are just bigots with horns. That can be true at times. But there are also conservatives who care about others as well if they were willing to set aside their prejudices for a moment.

This is Anti-Semetic, How?I came accross this interesting storyon CNN's website about the Israeli ambassador's "protest" of an artist's exhibit. The ambassador disconnected the cables of a monuted spotlight causing the light to crash into the work. You'd think that this sort of action would send the ambassador packing, but instead recieved praise from Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon. Prime Minister Sharon thanked the ambassador for his stand against anti-Semitism. The art in question, is a boat floating in basin of red water with the words "snow white" written on the boat, and the piciture of a suicide bomber on the boat. The artist behind the piece is an Israeli living in Sweden who explained the work was not meant to glorify suicide bombers, but to show how "weak people when left alone can be capable of horrible things."

I really don't get how one could see this as being against the Jewish people. Art is meant to ask questions and I could hardly see how this was saying Jews are bad people or giving praise to a killer. Maybe it was meant to show how life just is.

The current Israeli government as well as neocons here in the States seem to think that if you dare criticize Israel or think that the Palestinians deserve a state of their own, you simply must hate Jews. This is just plain stupid. If I think that Israeli policies concerning the Palestinians are wrong or unjust, that does not make me an anti-Semite, that means I disagree with the government's policies. I'm not running around saying the Jews should go back to concerntration camps or anything; I am simply saying that I think their policies are wrong and should be changed.

Is there anti-Semitism? Yes. Recent vandalism of Jewish cemetraries in France must be dealt with swiftly. That should not be tolerated. But neither should anyone tolerate people wanting to shut down debate on a very important issue such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

My own view is that those who cry "anti-Semitism" at the first glance of criticism are using the crimes of the past as cover to prevent any debate on the current situation. I feel that is a shameful way to use the past and it should stop. If you disagree with the critics, debate them, don't try to shut them up.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

"Green" vs. "Brown" Republicans:Salon has great article via Grist Magazine about the growing gulf between moderate Republicans and the right-wing. The article focuses on the environment, but it could be other issues as well. Former New Jersey Governor and former EPA Administrator, Christie Todd Whitman wrote a worthwhile commentary about how moderates are feeling adrift in the GOP and how a strong right-wing policy could spell doom for Bush in November.

I have to think that a lot of the moderates in Congress are feeling more and more alienated from their own party. I don't think many of them will go the way of Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords and leave the party and nor should they. Moderates need to stand fight for the values that the far right are trampling over. But I wonder what will they do. I know that rank and file moderates are getting more and more frustrated. They thought they were getting a moderate in Bush. They know feel that they have been snookered and I think many might be voting Democrat in November to express how betrayed they feel. Unless the neo-cons can find a way to become more welcoming to moderates, they can expect a boycott of voting GOP later this year.

I'm a Hitler, Your a Hitler, He's a Hitler, She's a Hitler. Wouldn't you like to be a Hitler too?If I were made ruler of the world, one the first things I'd do is enact a law that said if anyone says so and so is like Hitler, they would be subject to automatic life imprisionment. (I know, there's no due process, but I'm the ruler so, my rules.) The Left has been the most visibily guilty as of late, seeing W. and his ilk as some second coming of Hitler and the Nazi regime. Listen, I don't like Bush. I would like to see him not get a second term. However there is no way in hell that you can compare W. to someone who led his nation to commit mass genocide against a people. Such comparisions are a great dishonor to those who died under Hitler.

Of course the Right is not innocent either. Remember when the head of the NRA compared the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to the Gestapo?

I don't know why people resort to this. Maybe because it places their side as righteous victims. But it belittles the horror that happened to the Jews. The evil of the gas chambers loses its meaning.

Reason's Cathy Young echoes my concerns rather well. It would be nice if everyone made a New Year's resolution to not use facist comparisions. Fat chance that's going to happen.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Honey or Vineagar:If you want to know why the anti-war movement failed in its efforts to stop the war in Iraq, you might want to read this piece in Reason. I think the article not only speaks to the Iraq problem, but also to why the Dems are losing the public relations war. I think the Left has a better argument in some cases concerning our national situation. Millions of Americans are without health insurance or perscription drugs. We are in the middle of a jobless recovery. I think people have more on their minds than Iraq. However, I fear that the Left has spent too much time focusing on "Bush-hatred" than it has on making a clear argument as to why they believe they can do a better job at solving societal ills than right-wing Republicans. The message is there, but they think that the general public should know what is going on. What the Dems should be doing is crafting a hopeful vision and ignore Bush, except to say that his vision is found lacking.

What it comes down to is marketing. The radical Republicans know how to present their agenda to the nation. The Democrats refuse to advertise thinking that is beneath them. Well, maybe. But you have to ask, how bad to do want to win? Is this message so badly needed that you will take to the farthest hills and valleys? You can have the greatest program in the world, but it is worth zilch if you don't let people know about it.

Blog Sermon:Many of you know that I am an ordained minister. For the past few months, I've been preaching at a small Episcopal Church in Minneapolis. It's a wonderful church full of the oddest most faithful bunch of Christians I've ever met. Holy Trinity-St. Anskar is filled with a bunch of old leftists who have made a Republican like me feel welcome. On December 21, I preached a sermon based on Mary's Magnificat. The mother of Jesus sings this song of how God cares for the lowly. I preached on how the Bible's message of social justice is not simply an idea for Democrats, it is a message that those profess faith in Jesus Christ must make a part of their faith. I have included the text below. Over the next few months I will be talking about religion and politics on this blog. I hope this will forment some discussion.

“A Republican Takes on the Magnificat”
Luke 1:39-56
December 21, 2003
Holy Trinity/St. Anskar Parish
Minneapolis, MN

When I thought about the gospel text I was reminded of a story I heard about over the summer. Maybe you’ve heard about it too. It’s the story of Bob Riley, the newly elected governor of Alabama. Riley is a God-fearing conservative Republican. Most of my liberal friends would immediately know what kind of person this was. He wanted low taxes and few government programs. They have seen this kind of politician before. Except, that’s not what kind of governor Riley is.

As I just said, Riley is a God-fearing man. So much so that he has studied the New Testement and believes that we are to love God, love each other, and take care of the least among us. He saw that the Alabama tax system was doing just the opposite: it placed heavy burdens on the poor while giving breaks to the wealthy. Riley thought this was against biblical principles and decided to do something about this.

The century-old tax code, enshrined in the state constitution was written to favor wealthy landowners. Changes have always been blocked by these powerful interests. This means that the poor pay a very heavy share of the burden. For example a family earning as little as $4600 a year still has to pay income tax, while in next-door Mississippi, one could make $19000 and still pay no tax.

So, Governor Riley proposed something that ranks up there with “only Nixon could go to China.” He put to a vote a measure that would raise income taxes dramatically. The tax hike would have erased the deficit and poured money into education and other services that were woefully underfunded.

This did not sit well with many of his fellow conservatives. The Christian Coalition urged people to vote no, along with other anti-tax groups. Low-income African-Americans did not support the bill partially because of the history of repressive Alabama governors. In short the proposal went down to defeat.

But even though this measure lost, what is stunning is Riley’s commitment to his faith. I’ve know many conservatives who have talked about living a moral and godly life and then ignoring the needs of their neighbor. They have supposedly studied the Scriptures on what it says about homosexuality but never talk about help the poor. What’s different is that Riley knew that there was a theme of justice in the Bible that could not be ignored. He knew that as a Christian he must do what he can to create a just society.

The story of Governor Riley reminds us all that Mary’s Song is a song we who are disciples of the living Christ should be singing. Why? Because when Jesus spent time here among us, he spent a fair amount of time with the poor and outcast. He healed their illnesses and fed them. He spoke in parables about helping the needy and he rebuked those who were too greedy to care for others. Mary may have had a glimpse into what Jesus was to be in the world: calling people to a life of discipleship which stresses care for the other. Helping the needy among us and striving for a just world is not a liberal thing: it is something we are commanded to do as followers of Christ, whether we be an old socialist or a country-club Republican. We may disagree on how we do this, but the message is still clear: we are to strive for justice.

I am dismayed at times at how some of my fellow conservatives seem indifferent to the poor. I remember back in the mid 90s one conservative said on the misquoted a saying from the apostle Paul that said in effect those that don’t work, don’t eat. It was interesting that one could use this one verse that was taken out of context and miss the entire gospel that talks about Jesus helping the hungry.

Mary’s song should make us quake in fear. God is coming and God taking names. Who among us is living right?

This sermon is not about how conservatives should be nicer to the poor, though we conservatives should do. Instead it is about how Mary was telling us that discipleship meant more than simply reading a the Bible or praying or going to church. Following Jesus means following his life here on earth and that means trying to follow in his footsteps of doing justice.

How is this congregation publicly following Jesus? I know about the past which I think is quite impressive, but what about now? If a visitor walks through these doors, would they know that this is a place that sings Mary’s song? Would it cause the well-to-do to give of themselves and those with little to know that God cares for them?

This church has had a proud history of standing for justice. Currently, our passion for mission has not been what it should. If we are followers of the one that Mary carried in her womb, then we must work together to be a place where Mary’s song is sung, with gusto. We must become again a community that knows how to live mission and do justice.

I hope that in the coming year, we will renew the missionary spirit that is such a part of this congregation and go out into the world and do justice as a community. I can see us working at a local soup kitchen or marching in the local gay pride march. I can see us raising money for Heifer International so that people in other parts of the world can purchase farm animals to feed themselves and their communities. I can see us working as a team to build a house for Habitat for Humanity. I can see us writing letters and lobbying our representatives to make sure that the poor are not forgotten by our government. These are but a few ways we can tell the world that we worship a God who cares for the poor.

Is Mary’s song for a Republican like me? Yes. It has to be if I call myself a follower of Jesus. But it has to be for all who call themselves Christians. So, let us sing loudly like Mary did for the one comes to set things right. O come, O Come, Emmanuel. Amen.

Friday, January 09, 2004

Forgotten Man:So Calpundit has an interesting post about how we are on the cusp of the next Progressive era. It's good in many respects, but he falls into the same old trap of thinking that it was only Democrats who saved the nation while Republicans have only destroyed it. What about Teddy Roosevelt? He was considered a progressive of his time and stood up to the rich of his day. He also made sure that lands were conserved for future generations.

I guess I can't expect liberals to be that charitable towards us Republicans given the current corruption of the party.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

In a Nutshell:If you've been dying for an even-handed lookat how both the left and right are failing in this fight against terror, you might want to read Friday's lead story inSalon. I think the writer is on to something.

It's late, so I don't have much more to say.

Friday, January 02, 2004

Conservatives Conserve, Don't They? Thanks to Calpundit for tipping me off to this op-ed in today's Los Angles Times by former GOP congressman Pete McCloskey. He reminds us that at one time, it was not so unusual to see conservatives who actual cared about preserving habitat and species, and demanded clear air and water. What happened? When did the party become so enamoured with money and power that they forgot about caring for the earth? How can a party that talks about God forget that the Bible they read from talks about a world that was made by God?

It's sad to see what has become of the GOP on environmental issues, but it is nice to see groups like Republicans for Environmental Protection out there that are keep the conservative conservationist spirit of Teddy Roosevelt alive.

It's the Government, Stupid: I've been thinking lately that if the Dems want to win in 2004, they have to make a case for the good government can do in one's life. For about 30 years or so, Americans have learned to distrust government. This came as a result of the bipartisan messes of Vietnam and Watergate. The far-right in the GOP has taken this distrust to heart and made part of their strategy: government can't do anything right, individuals can live pretty well or even better with out goverment sticking it's nose into everything. I think this thought has come to fruition under Bush. During the 2000 campaign, he stuck to the theme that the "government" was taking the "people's" money to do things that we may not want it to do. In the recent debate over perscription drugs, the Administration pushed for private health care companies to negotiate with the pharmacutical industry over drug prices even the government itself has the power and the might to negotiate with the drug companies for drug prices. Why did the admistration ignore this procedure even when estimates show that this would have saved money? Again, because it is an ideological belief that government is inept.

The Dems need to challenge this assumption. So far, they have not done a good job. Democrats believe that they don't need to make this case, that it is evident to anybody who has a brain. Here in Minnesota, the Dems failed to make the case to not cut social programs in the state so much, thinking that after people begin to feel the loss of government programs they will change their minds.

This is a dumb strategy.

Liberals always like to assume that people are rational beings that when presented with the facts will make the right decision. Conservatives know that people are not that rational and can easily get caught up in mob thinking which of course, is anything but rational. Plus, if you tell someone enough times that the government can't do anything right, people will believe it even if you have the best, most efficient government out there. So, it ain't so clear to the general populace that governmenet can be good. In politics as in most of life, perception is reality. If people think that government is inefficient and inept then it is. Democrats have to make the case of why we need government.

In 1991, Harris Wofford was in a race to succeed the late John Heinz. He made a very memorable commercial where he said in effect that if felons in prison could get health care, so should working class families. He made the case that the government was giving health care to people that most of society did not like. Well, if we could help the lowest in society, what about those who live right? In a very insidious way he saying that the market based system was not working, but government could step in to fill the breach. He made the case for government be a key to the solution of the lack of afforable health care.

I think Democrats believe that they don't have to prove anything to people because they have history on their side. They will proclaim that it was under FDR that we were lifted out of the Great Depression. They will point to creation of programs like Social Security, Medicare, and the Endangered Speices Act. (Nevermind that they were passed with lots of moderate Republican help, but that's another story.) The thing is, people's minds are short. People don't care about what happened 30 to 70 years ago, they are concerned about what is going on now. Health care costs are rising and more people are without health care. Companies are finding it harder and harder to bear the burden of health care. Perscription drug costs are the highest in the world, meaning many people can't afford life-saving drugs. Isn't this a place where the government could step in? If the Dems were smart they would mount a massive campaign on this issue stating that hard working Americans should not be have to worry about how the will pay for medical bills and seniors should not have to choose between food and the pills they need.

I'm thinking of a prospective tv spot. It shows pictures of polluted streams. "Will Wal-Mart make your water clean?" Then the picture is of someone getting on a plane. The voice says, "will United protect you from danger?" Next, flash over to an elderly woman taking some medicine. Voice says, "will Glaxo make sure you have affordable drugs?" A family sits down to eat dinner and there are pan shots of the food on the table. The voice says, "will Kroger protect the food supply?" Finally in a montage of all the shots, the voice says, "Government can't solve every problem, but it can make sure that you and your loved ones are able to live full and productive lives. Democrats have had a history of trying to make government work for hard working Americans. In this time of uncertainty, we need the government to protect us from harm. The Democratic Party has had a history of helping people in times of personal and national crisises. From Social Security, Medicare, Civil Rights and the Environment, we have been there to make sure that the American spirit is alive and well. Keep the tradition alive, vote Democrat."

Okay, I'm not an ad person and I'm not even a Democrat, but that is how I would pitch a pro-government record.

Now, if the Dems could get over the "Bush hatred" maybe they could mount a challenging campaign. We shall see.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

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