Thursday, April 20, 2006


"The Common Good"

Michael Tomasky lays down his vision of a future relevant Democratic Party :

The Democrats need to become the party of the common good. They need a simple organizing principle that is distinct from Republicans and that isn't a reaction to the Republicans. They need to remember what made liberalism so successful from 1933 to 1966, that reciprocal arrangement of trust between state and nation. And they need to take the best parts of the rights tradition of liberalism and the best parts of the more recent responsibilities tradition and fuse them into a new philosophy that is both civic-republican and liberal -- that goes back to the kind of rhetoric Johnson used in 1964 and 1965, that attempts to enlist citizens in large projects to which everyone contributes and from which everyone benefits.

Arguing for it is the only way that Democrats can come to stand for something clear and authoritative again. It's not enough in our age, after the modern conservative ascendancy, to stand for activist government, or necessary taxes and regulation, or gay marriage, or abortion rights, or evolution, or the primacy of science, or universal health care, or affirmative action, or paths to citizenship for illegal immigrants, or college education for all, or environmental protection, or more foreign aid, or a comprehensive plan to foster democracy in the Arab world, or any of the other particular and necessary things that Democrats do or should support; it isn't enough to stand for any of those things per se. Some of them have been discredited to the broad public, while others are highly contentious and leave the Democrats open to the same old charges. And those that aren't contentious or discredited suffer the far worse problem of being uninteresting: They're just policies, and voters don't, and should not be expected to, respond to policies. Voters respond to ideas, and Democrats can stand for an idea: the idea that we’re all in this -- post-industrial America, the globalized world, and especially the post–9-11 world in which free peoples have to unite to fight new threats -- together, and that we have to pull together, make some sacrifices, and, just sometimes, look beyond our own interests to solve our problems and create the future.

The common good is common sense, and the historical time is right for it, for two reasons. First, what I’m trying to describe here is post-ideological in the best sense, a sense that could have broader appeal than what we normally think of as liberal ideology, because what’s at the core of this worldview isn’t ideology. It’s something more innately human: faith. Not religious faith. Faith in America and its potential to do good; faith that we can build a civic sphere in which engagement and deliberation lead to good and rational outcomes; and faith that citizens might once again reciprocally recognize, as they did in the era of Democratic dominance, that they will gain from these outcomes. Maintaining such a faith is extraordinarily difficult in the face of the right-wing noise machine and a conservative movement that, to put it mildly, do not engage in good-faith civic debate. Conservatism can succeed on such a cynical basis; its darker view of human nature accepts discord as a fact of life and exploits it. But for liberalism, which is grounded in a more benign view of human nature, to succeed, the most persuasive answer to bad faith, as Martin Luther King showed, is more good faith. All Americans are not Bill O’Reilly fans or Wall Street Journal editorialists. While they may not call themselves liberals, many of them -- enough of them -- are intelligent people who want to be inspired by someone to help their country.
Kos and Atrios also weigh in on the idea.

As an interested non-Democratic observer, I'll way in fully at a later time. Howerver, my only immediate thought is, what does Philip K. Howard -- who's been using the phrase
"common good" for a few years now in an attempt to restrain our overly-litigious society -- think of this idea of utilizing the phrase as a tagline for a new Democratic Party philosophy?

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Rummy Vs. The Generals -- Another Take

A pro-Iraq War voice weighs in on the topic du jour.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006


An Iraq War Planning Talk

...with COBRA II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq author Michael Gordon can be found here last night, courtesy of Columbia University blogger Ben Ryan.

Gordon is a very smart guy and -- while I haven't read the entire book yet -- it is very clear that he's not carrying water for people who have an ideological bone to pick with the administration. The book ends up being critical of Rumsfeld, but that is where Gordon (and co-author General Bernard Trainor) sources and reporting led them. Not surprisingly, several of the generals currently calling for the defense secretary's resignation are in this book.

At the same time, Gordon is dismissive of Democrats who claim that they were "duped" into supporting Bush on the war. Anyway, after last night's discussion, I am even more energized to complete the "long, hard slog" (600+ pages) through the book.

Special thanks to USMC Capt. (ret.) Dan McSweeney, enrolled in Columbia's SIPA program, for organizing the event and inviting yours truly.

It was great to find out, during dinner afterwards, that my old St. John's College friend Jeff Kojac (now Lt. Colonel Kojac) is one of the unsung heroes of Cobra II.

And to think I knew him when he was just a skateboarding L.A. dude on the College quad!

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Monday, April 17, 2006


Another Side of the "General" Insurgency

A seasoned DC observer makes an interesting point:

Usually the national media loves to harp on the incestuous revolving door between retired, high-ranking military brass and the military industrial complex. However, now when several retired military brass with complex ties openly criticize Defense Secretary Rumsfeld about "strategic" (read Pentagon budgetary expenditures) decisions, there is not even a peep from the press about any possible conflicts of interest. Why is that? Why do cries for Rumsfeld's head get loudest around miltary approprations time? Rumsfeld is certainly due the criticism, but where is the rest of the story?

In the same vein, didn't anyone in the media find it ironic when the Pentagon announced it didn't have enough money this year to implement the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) recommendations -- intended to achieve Rumsfeld's goal of make the miltary smaller and more flexible -- and Congress did nothing?

Most bi-partisan thing they've achieved this election year.
Something to think about.

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The Former Boss Speaks!

The ex-Speaker sends out the alarm that the majority he created a dozen years ago could be in danger.

And this Washington Post article sets up the always-awkward
president vs. party midterm dynamic.

This must be gutwrenching for Newt because there is no stronger partisan than he. However, he knows that helped bring about the first GOP majority in forty years with a hard message of reform/anti-corruption. Now, sadly, it is his party that is -- rightly -- vulnerable to that attack.

So far, the Democrats don't have quite the "positive" piece of the campaign agenda (a la the Republicans' '94 Contract With America).

But, hey, they've still got a whole summer to develop that and, unfortunately, neither the administration nor the Congress seem prepared to come up with their own philosophical or strategic game plan to change the current political dynamic.

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Sunday, April 16, 2006


In This Lefty Pop-Culture Showdown...

..if what Matt Stoller says is true, then I would have to add that, in the '80s, Steve Guttenberg and Tom Hanks were also Michael Keaton.

UPDATE: Welcome, MyDD visitors! Don't be too shocked by the various shenanigans going on around here!

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