Saturday, January 28, 2006


Ham-as You Are

Well, the Bush administration has said that democracy is a universal value that everyone shares. Hamas and the Palestinians apparently accepted that at face value.

But, what is the message sent that Palestinians are to learn that "democracy" comes with a price?

Elect whomever you want -- except those people -- the extremists. But, this result was entirely predictable. Even in Iraq, the "terrorists" didn't win seats in the new government -- but the purer, pro-Islamic parties certainly did. George W. Bush felt that the Palestinians could embrace democracy and reform -- without terror. The sad thing about the Palestinians -- after all the years of Arafat-led corruption -- is that Hamas is both the pro-"reform" and pro-terror. And now the West has a big problem. And threatening to withhold aid may backfire.

A classic
Nirvana song seems to capture the conundrum (especially with respect to Hamas):

Come, as you are. As you were.
As I want you to be. As a friend.
As a friend. As an old enemy. Take your time.
Hurry up. The choice is yours.
Don't be late.
Take a rest. As a friend.

As a old memory, memory, memory, memory.

And I swear that I don't have a gun.
No I don't have a gun. No I don't have a gun.

Memory, memory, memory, memory (don't
have a gun).

Israel, the EU and the US demand that Hamas lays down its weapons (oh, and do that little thing like not vowing to destroy Israel) in order for the Palestinian authority to be eligible for foreign aid.

Of course, from the perspective of the Palestinians, the threat of aid cut-off is a "gun" being held to their heads.

Maybe Arafat knew what he was doing all these years trying to prevent elections...

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Rove's Lombardi Moment

Former Kansas City Coach Hank Stram once identified the steamrolling '60s Green Bay Packers thusly: "'The decade of the '60s was the decade of simplicity. During the '60s the good teams -- the Green Bay Packers, for example -- came out almost all the time in the same set and ran the play. In effect, what they said was here we come, see if you can stop us."

Karl Rove has apparently studied the Lombardi playbook -- and is using it effectively against Democrats.


Rove's speech to the Republican National Committee, was a classic example of this:

Sketching themes for what he described as a winning Republican agenda for the midterm elections, Rove portrayed Democrats as weak on national defense while the United States, under Republican leadership, is "winning the war against Islamic fascism."
He criticized Democrats for wanting to "cut and run in Iraq," for trying to amend the USA Patriot Act and for questioning Bush's authorization of warrantless domestic eavesdropping by the National Security Agency.
"At the core," Rove said, the two major parties "have fundamentally different views of the world and fundamentally different views on national security. Republicans have a post-9/11 view of the world, and Democrats have a pre-9/11 view of the world."

He added: "Let me be as clear as I can be: President Bush believes if Al Qaeda is calling somebody in America, it is in our national security interest to know who they're calling and why," Rove asserted. "Some important Democrats clearly disagree."

On Fox News Sunday, John McCain tried to distance himself from Rove:

"Do I think that the president's leadership has been worthy of support of our party and our leadership? Yes," he said. "But there are too many good Democrats over there who are as concerned about national security and work just as hard as I do.
That may very well be true. But Rove knows the value of branding as much as he does football. He knows that Republicans have always ("always" here meaning the last 40 or so years) been considered the "Daddy" (keep-us-safe) party and Democrats the "Mommy" (keep us healthy and well-fed).

But the War on Terror, by definition, is a Daddy moment. And, having defined the field, Rove's Republican's have a clear strategy on how to defend it.

Liberal blogger Digby seems to recognize this and
nearly throws his hands up in despair:
They are going to the 9/11 well again. They say that Democrats are sending talking points to Osama and giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Rove says we don't believe that the government should monitor al Qaeda's telephone calls. The next several months will be spent fending off accusations that if we don't let the president do anything he damned well pleases we are all going to die. I don't know if it will work again. But I also don't know if I can take this campaign one more time.
Well, get used to it. As a wise man once said, "Politics ain't beanbag." Stram was talking about his Chiefs as having the upgraded, streamlined offense of the '70s -- more passing oriented. In fact, it wasn't until the '80s, that the NFL became more pass-happy (with the '49ers); but even then, establishing the running game and having a smash-mouth physical aspect characterized most Super Bowl champs.

Rove's Republican Party has a very clear game-plan that has led them to consecutive post-season "wins" in 2002 and 2004.

Can they win the 2006 political "Super Bowl" -- which could set the team up for another win (with a completely different "quarterback") in 2008.

Stay tuned.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Shucking Rice On Shelby-ville Plantation

Shelby Steele had a powerful op-ed piece earlier this week on the implications of Hillary Clinton's "plantation" remark.

A couple points deserve some follow-up:

First, Steele makes a much more convincing distinction between the Hillary and Newt uses of the plantation metaphor
than I did:

If Newt Gingrich also once used the plantation metaphor in reference to Congress, his goal was only an innocuous one: to be descriptive, not to pander. He was speaking to a reporter, not to a black audience, and he had the good taste to cast himself as a slave who would "lead the slave rebellion." Thus, he identified with the black struggle for freedom, not with the helplessness and humiliation of the plantation slave. If the plantation metaphor will always be inaccurate and hyperbolic where Congress is concerned, at least Mr. Gingrich's use of it carried no offense.
Secondly, Steele makes an interesting note about the transmutation of black grievance into Democratic Party politics:

Mrs. Clinton's husband was a master of this alchemy [turning black resentment into white liberal power], and his presidency also illustrated its greatest advantage. Once black grievance is morphed into liberal power, it need never be honored. President Clinton notoriously felt black pain, won the black vote, and then rewarded blacks with the cold shower of welfare reform. And here, now, is Mrs. Clinton sidling up to the trough of black grievance, eyes wide in expectation, but also a tad contemptuous. It is hard to fully respect one's suckers.
To partly give Bill Clinton his due, it can be argued that he (at least under his presidency) also "rewarded" black voters with a vibrant economy that was one of the best ever for African Americans. That, as much as anything, is why Al Gore got an absurd 92 percent of the black vote in 2000. It was an overwhelming pro-Clinton economy vote -- an economy from which blacks benefited disproportionately.

This doesn't undermine Steele's point, but it is important to keep in mind that the "alchemy" of which he speaks also had some real world impact on the livelihood of African Americans.

That brings one to Steele's final point -- the Rice factor:

The dilemma for Democrats, liberals and the civil rights establishment is that they become redundant and lose power the instant blacks move beyond grievance and begin to succeed by dint of their own hard work. So they persecute such blacks, attack their credibility as blacks, just as they pander to blacks who define their political relationship to America through grievance. Republicans are generally freer of the political bigotry by which the left either panders to or persecutes black Americans.

No one on the current political scene better embodies this Republican advantage than the current secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice. The archetype that Ms. Rice represents is "overcoming" rather than grievance.


If blacks were to take her example and embrace overcoming rather than grievance, the wound to liberalism would be mortal. It is impossible to imagine Hillary Clinton's "plantation" pandering in a room full of Condi Rices.

This is why so many Republicans (including Laura Bush) now salivate at the thought of a Rice presidential bid. No other potential Republican candidate could--to borrow an old Marxist phrase--better "heighten the contradictions" of modern liberalism and Democratic power than Ms. Rice.
Well, yeah. But the GOP's need to push forward a "dialectic" candidate is, ultimately, as much of a pander as Hillary Clinton's "plantation" comments.

As Steele says, Republicans may be "freer" of a certain "political bigotry." However, they do evidence a deep-seated need to do their own sort of "alchemy" on the black members of their party, which plays out in its own demeaning fashion -- as I've
discussed before.

When Republicans are not highlighting the "'umble, 'umble" sharecropper childhoods of their black superstars, they rush to fast-forward them up the achievement track.

Clarence Thomas was rushed to the head of the Supreme Court line, not becaue of a legal career like John Roberts or philosophy a la Scalia or Alito, but because he had a great "story" and had proved himself a more-than-capable "agent provocateur" to black liberal interest groups.

And now, Republicans -- including, it should be noted,
grass-roots groups -- are rushing to ordain a woman who has never run for elective office. The obstacles to such a run are many and have also been previously addressed in this space. But "salivate" is an odd -- though, frankly, accurate -- word to use for contemplating a Rice run. It says, actually much more about the one contemplating than it does about the object of the contemplation. It's a desire that one's philosophical desires will see fulfillment in reality. Rice the person ultimately gets lost in Rice The Meta-Concept -- this individual black woman can be the female Moses of her people (Harriet Tubman?); they will "take her example and embrace overcoming rather than grievance" and be led out of the land of liberalism. Can I hear an amen from the congregation!?!

That Secretary Rice keeps saying "no" to these grand schemes is lost in the "salivating": "How dare she think that this is about her -- it's about what she can and should be for her people!"

Which, for those not well-schooled in the concept of irony -- is exactly the opposite lesson Condoleezza Rice, the individual, would most likely wish people would take away from her achievements.

After all that she's accomplished, being the "savior" of her people is her mission now? Or is it savior of her party, as in the
obsessions of some? Republicans and conservatives lost in their Salivating Moment should pause and examine their own motives; try jettisoning the image of Rice the Idea, in favor of Rice the Person. Then see what happens.

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Monday, January 23, 2006



You know, I guess you can say that Kobe had a nice game and all, but geez, only TWO assists!

What a "selfish" player!

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