Friday, November 07, 2008

 

Open Thread

So little going on in the world, so chat away.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

 

With North Carolina Win..

Obama gets to 364 Electoral College votes...

...as Robert George predicted on Monday! For whatever that's worth! (Full disclosure: I thought Obama would win Missouri and lose Indiana. Instead, he did the opposite.)

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Obama Ha-Ha

Last night, yours truly participated in a post-election wrap-up at New York City's famous 92 Street Y. It was sponsored by Caroline's comedy club. It was a free-wheeling discussion -- not as heavy on the yuks as more than a few members of the audience thought it might be. However, we did get to kick around the topic of political humor in the Age of Obama. Yours truly got in an off-the-cuff zinger in an exchange with Roseanne Barr.

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Ralph Nader, Racist A-Hole



And, no, this isn't the first time Nader has decided to pull out the rhetorical overseer's whip on Obama.

Oh, and good for Shep Smith for calling Nader out on his bullshit.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

 

The Death of The GOP...

...in New England.

After this election, the area that once defined Eastern Establishment Republicanis has not one House seat held by a member of the GOP.

Little bit of trivia: Connecticut's Chris Shays, who lost last night, was a moderate but a true loyalist. He was the one who, in 1997, when learning that several House GOPers were planning on overthrowing Speaker Newt Gingrich marched into the Speaker's office and said, "You need to know what's going on."

Anyway, Mr. Shays is gone and the GOP is looking like a shrunken regional, Southern-based party -- a fate predicted some ten years ago by author Christopher Caldwell.


UPDATE: My post colleague Charles Hurt urges the GOP to get its act together, before it becomes totally "irrelevant."

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

 

Congratulations...



...to the 44th President of the United States.

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The Road To My Vote

After writing this four years ago, it should hardly come as a surprise to either readers of RAGGED THOTS or general readers of mine the depth of my disappointment with the Republican Party as it has developed under George W. Bush.

I didn't vote for Bush in 2004 over such concerns as civil liberties, profligate spending, accountability and competence. Thus, a four year span that produced the fascinating adventures and belated dismissals of Donald Rumsfeld, Michael Brown and Alberto Gonzales; the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court; a tardy response to Hurricane Katrina (albeit after local and state Democratic elected officials screwed the pooch at the outset); the bizarre US Attorneys saga; and, oh yeah, the US debt doubling to nearly $10 trillion, my pulling the lever for the Republican presidential candidate -- regardless of whom it would turn out to be -- was going to be a hard sell.

Yet, even so, it was still rather difficult. John McCain was my candidate in the GOP primary eight years ago. I don't regret that vote. Indeed, I think the country would be in better shape today had McCain won in 2000. But, that is, as Hillary Clinton once said, engaging in "shoulda, woulda, coulda." Regardless, after a momentary flirtation with Ron Paul, I voted again for McCain in the 2008 GOP primary.

And yet here we are, at the end of lengthy campaign and a surprisingly eventful general election season.
At a perilous moment in the nation's history, John McCain had the opportunity to develop a vision and message to lead a transformed Republican Party reflecting his unique meritorious qualities. Instead, McCain ends up reflecting the party's battered, tired, incoherent brand.

So, after briefly debating whether to, again, display my disappointment with the Republican Party by voting third party (and, in fact, Bob Barr is actually a better candidate than the Libertarians have fielded in previous years), I decided to "go all the way" in a different direction.

I vote today for Barack Obama for president of the United States.

Some of you may choose to stop reading now, curse me and move off this blog, to visit never again. C'est la vie. As for the rest of you, thanks for sticking around. I hope I make this worth your while. I may not convince you, but as you will see, my reasons are certainly my own, as once again, I march to the beat of a different drummer.

Voting for president can be both the most and least ideological decision one makes in the electoral process. On the one hand, Democrats have been perpetually frustrated over the years that the public might agree with their position on the big "issues" -- health-care, economy, prescription drugs, stem cells, to name a few. Yet, the GOP still managed to continue the domination at the presidential level that began four decades ago. This was done, in part, by continuing to tear away parts of the old Democratic coalition over cultural issues -- crime, abortion, gay marriage, etc. Republicans understood, in a way that Democrats didn't, is that there is more than one way to make an ideological argument. One can appeal to the heart, as well as the head.

Conversely, polls show that a fair portion of the electorate often votes for the candidate with whom they feel most comfortable -- the so-called "beer test."And, even in that scenario, Democrats found themselves coming up short. With the very important notable exception of Bill Clinton, Democratic presidential candidates always seemed to fail the "beer" test.

So, sometimes issues matter -- sometimes they don't. More than any other vote, the choice for president is, a la The Godfather, business and personal.

On the broad "business" side, Radley Balko makes the eloquent case for why those of libertarian leanings should vote for Barack Obama. Balko's bottom line: Voting for Democrats is an affirmative response to poor, if not reckless decisions by Republicans over several years. He's hardly optimistic that the "message" he hopes to send the GOP will do much:
The truth is, unless you vote for a third-party candidate (which really isn't a bad idea), you don't have much of a choice this November. You can either endorse the idea of a massive, invasive, ever-encroaching federal government that's used to promote center-left ideology, or you can endorse the idea of a massive, invasive, ever-encroaching federal government that's used to promote center-right ideology.

Sadly, if the GOP does lose, it's likely to be interpreted not as a repudiation of the GOP's excesses, but as an endorsement of the Democrats'. When the only two parties who have a chance at winning both have a track record of expanding the size and scope of government, every election is likely to be interpreted as a win for big government—only the brand changes.

Voting yourself more freedom simply isn't an option, at least if you want your vote to be taken seriously (and I'm not denigrating any third parties here; I'm just reflecting reality).

Which brings me back to why the Republicans need to get throttled: A humiliated, decimated GOP that rejuvenates and rebuilds around the principles of limited government, free markets, and rugged individualism is really the only chance for voters to possibly get a real choice in federal elections down the road.
Yet, looked at another way, those on the right might appreciate the irony that, in his short time on the scene, Barack Obama has accomplished a few political goals that Republicans and conservatives have been seeking for years, if not decades.

First, in winning the Democratic primary, Obama defeated Hillary Clinton and, more significantly, the Clinton political machine. It is a machine that well before Karl Rove became a household name, helped introduce a level of cynicism that infected our modern politics. Hillary Clinton may one day become Senate majority leader or be as influential in policy as Ted Kennedy has been, but the Democratic Party is a better party without Bill and Hillary as its titular leaders.

Secondly, Obama's record fundraising has, for all intents and purposes, driven a stake through the idea of public financing -- a fact which even
The New York Times grudgingly accepts. That the author of the McCain-Feingold may end up buried by the most highly-funded campaign in history -- and the first completely run under the McCain-Feingold rules -- is an irony that O. Henry would have loved.

Thirdly, and perhaps most significantly, Barack Obama represents a quantum change from the sort of racial victimization politics practiced by Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. I'm under no illusion that this is necessarily a permanent change. In fact, one of the most difficult problems a President Obama might have to deal with is confronting different parts of the Left coalition -- but particularly the black part. Harvard professor Charles Ogletree -- who, it is said, will likely have a prominent role in an Obama administration (possibly in the DOJ Office of Civil Rights) asserts that Obama's success does not mean that America has reached a turning point because of race. Instead, it is because Obama is just "biracial." Funny, you'd think Ogletree would have enough of a sense of history to understand that miscegenation was still a crime in many parts of this land only 40 years ago. The whole "one-drop rule" wasn't a just a myth. Seemingly minimizing Obama's accomplishment because he's "only" biracial is spitting in the face of history.

But, realize that Ogletree is a baby boomer -- like Sharpton and like Clinton. Resentment and victimization come to that generation as easily as breathing. For Obama and the post-boomer generation, those are by-products of the identity politics that can be just dusted off the shoulders. Obama had better realize that it has not been completely vanquished -- even as his success is its biggest repudiation. Again, Obama proves the case that conservatives have been trying to make for a very long time.

So, there are broadly speaking, more than a few significant reasons for someone on the right to accept grudgingly accept the fruits of an Obama victory.

So, there's the "business" justification/rationalization -- the ideology, the policy, the philosophy -- of going toward Obama. What about "the personal." What about the beer (Chablis?) test?

At the gut level, Obama passes my personal "comfort level." I met Obama once, briefly, in 2004 shortly after his stunning convention speech. It was little more than a passing, "Great speech, sir," as he had become an instant media star.

However, I know Obama as we have traveled parallel paths: He is only a couple years older than I am. I was born to a single mother who moved us from Trinidad to the UK when I was a year old. In England, I was partly raised by older white foster parents. When Mom got a job at an New York hospital, I was heart-broken leaving the British couple whom I called Mum and Dad. Of course coming to the US was a great thing and opened up my life in ways that I can't begin to imagine. On a non-ideological basis, I "get" Barack Obama. Trinidad-UK-US isn't quite as exotic a trifecta of influences as Hawaii (by way of Kansas) and Indonesia, but it ain't beanbag either. In other words, I'm not ethnically biracial, but I am culturally.

Ultimately, the so-called "beer test" isn't about sitting down and drinking; it's about whether one believes that the person across the table sees the world as it currently is in a vaguely similar way as you do. I think Obama does. Furthermore, I've been impressed by the people he has selected to give him advice and counsel during a campaign when, literally, the world has been watching. At the critical moment of this campaign -- when Wall Street was falling apart -- Barack Obama emerged for a press conference with people like Paul Volcker and Robert Rubin. John McCain, who rightly was the candidate previously perceived as having the "leadership" trait one wants in a president, didn't appear to have that at the precise moment when Americans most needed some approximation of that.

And, no, my innate wariness of the political process hasn't totally abandoned me: I'm willing to say that Obama didn't necessarily say or do anything stunningly profound during the economic crisis that put him head and shoulders above the political class. But his instinct -- that being surrounded by fiscal "wise men" -- sends a reassuring image to the public. It was a smart move politically. Of course, it contrasted with Sen. McCain who seemed like the Lone Ranger, wanting to rush off solo to Washington, DC., wanting to cancel a presidential debate, but then going ahead with it.

Many people see this as an example of Obama's much-remarked upon "temperament", and yes, it is that. But, for me, it is also a good example of Obama's personal and political instincts. That instinct led him to speak against the Iraq War in 2002, perhaps not an overwhelmingly brave decision for an Illinois liberal at the time. But, his instincts also led him to give a speech in the summer of 2007 that included a rather provocative assertions about what US policy should be toward terrorists hiding along the Pakistan border (go after them if there is actionable intelligence). Roundly denounced by conservatives at the time, Obama's statement is basically current US policy -- a point that my former boss John Podhoretz noted.

And, it goes without saying that the surge -- which McCain advocated and Obama opposed -- has ironically created enough stability in Iraq that Obama's "timetables" have been accepted by the Iraqis. The tragedy of John McCain is that as honorable a military man as he is, he is able to accept the military victory that the surge has produced -- but seems unable to craft a vision of a post-surge political victory in Iraq. That is something that can't just be left to "the generals."

Now, given the wide array of Republicans and conservatives who have endorsed Barack Obama -- pro-lifer Doug Kmiec, war-on-terror hawk Michael Smerconish, National Review outcast Christopher Buckley, military expert Andrew Bacevich, former Reagan chief of staff Ken Duberstein, Massachusetts ex-Gov. William Weld, to name a few -- I feel obligated to respond to the notion that I, ahem, "rush" to embrace Obama because he's black -- which, as it happens I am (black, that is). In short, am I just another person seduced into the Powell Doctrine?

As outlined above, there are a number of reasons for dissatisfied Republicans/conservatives/libertarians to vote for Obama, and only one mentioned actually touches upon the significance of particular hue (being the the Jackson-Sharpton antidote).

But, that aside, there is one arguably "race-related" reason that does push me toward Obama; it is connected to my initial reaction towards the conservative movement's instant embrace of Sarah Palin and her "Baby Daddy Party" politics.

A powerful undercurrent in Barack Obama's story concerns the role of fathers -- his and, by extension, that of fathers in black households. He addressed it in personal terms in his first book; he addressed it in social and cultural terms in his powerful Fathers Day speech at the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago. It was an address that, in its way, was even better than his much-praised Philadelphia speech on race. He spoke directly to black men and called them to account. At the Democratic convention, Michelle Obama spoke of the look in his eyes when driving her and their first daughter home from the hospital, "determined to give her everything he'd struggled so hard for himself, determined to give her what he never had: the affirming embrace of a father's love." This is a theme that recurs to often with Barack Obama for it to be simple political rhetoric.

Oh, and let's return to Rev. Jackson. Remember his "cut [Obama's] nuts off" open-mic comment? It was speeches such as the Father's Day one that set Jackson off. He accused Obama of "talking down to black people" in his church addresses. Funny that it never occurred to Jackson that the act of talking down may actually cause those being addressed to look up and then rise up.

But consider how this is married minister Jesse Jackson, born out of wedlock himself and who had a late-in-life child out of wedlock with a woman not his wife. This wasn't a "business" or philosophical difference Jackson was having with Obama; this was personal. And Jackson's personal pique diminished himself, while elevating Obama. So, yeah, as a black conservative who's both personally dealt with these issues and professionally written and spoken about them on more than a few occasions, I'm very happy that there is a candidate who "gets" a vitally important social issue in a way no other president can be said to have.

And corny as it seems, Obama is an inspiration to the many in the post-Boomer generation -- regardless of color -- who grew up without a responsible male role model. Obama can say to them: "Yes, you are able to overcome these circumstances and succeed -- not merely professionally -- but personally as well. You can create the better family life that was denied you. Are you able to overcome the emotional wounds inflicted upon you by a father's absence (or recklessness)? Yes, you can."

Sure, there's much about an Obama administration that troubles me. Yes, I'd probably feel a lot better if he didn't have huge Democratic majorities in both chambers of Congress. Yes, I'm worried about what he'll do with taxes and who he'll appoint to the Supreme Court.

But in the end, Barack Obama inspires with eloquence, surrounds himself with good, competent, people and seems to have good instincts about big issues -- political and cultural. Ultimately, we elect presidents to deal with both the current situation and the unforeseen one around the corner.

For me, today, that means Barack Hussein Obama gets my vote.

I hope he won't let me down, but I pray that he won't let the United States of America down.

UPDATE: This was the first election since I moved from Brooklyn. So, presidential preference aside, it was really cool to be able to vote against House Ways & Means Chairman Charles Rangel. Sure, his opponent doesn't have a chance in Hades, but the action sure made me feel good. Also voted against regularly annoying State Senator Eric Schneiderman (also a Democrat) -- another exhilarating act.

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Monday, November 03, 2008

 

Predictions

To demonstrate to Ed that I'm not a total wimp, here are my predictions for what will occur tomorrow.

Barack Obama: 364 EVS (He wins Missouri, VA and North Carolina.)
52.4 percent popular vote.

Senate: Eight seat pick up, giving Democrats 59 (unless/until Joe Lieberman starts caucusing with the Republicans, giving Democrats 58).

House: Democrats pick up another 24, bringing them up to 248.

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Ed approves this message...

Since Robert wimped out on giving an endorsement on the DAY BEFORE THE ELECTION (exactly what good is an endorsement on the day of the election?), I posted my endorsement over at my blog just to give the Thotsters something to chew on. Feel free to comment here.

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All Over But the Laughing...

Well, if a losing candidate, McCain sure went out in style with his "Saturday Night Live" appearance this weekend:



Best part of the skit -- Cindy McCain modeling "McCain Fine Gold" jewelry.

Oh, and apparently somebody at SNL doesn't like their cable associate Keith Olbermann, given the really vicious parodying of him that Ben Affleck engaged in:



Why will I not be surprised if Olbermann's show doesn't survive much into the Obama presidency?

Finally, this isn't comedy per se, but this bit of foot-in-mouth disease by corpulent Manhattan Rep. Jerrold Nadler is hilarious in its own way. Saying in a public forum that your presidential candidate -- likely winning presidential candidate -- lacks "political courage" is a great way for you (and your district) to become persona non grata in the next administration.

I tell ya, between Nadler, Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charlie Rangel, New York had better hope Chuck Schumer has some pull in an Obama White House. Otherwise, we're screwed.

Tomorrow: My vote.



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Sunday, November 02, 2008

 

Open Thread

Somehow, I have a feeling it has to do with whomever is running the country for the next few years.

(sorry for late OT -- computer melted down)

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