Monday, February 19, 2007

Carnival of Divided Government DECIMUS - Presidents' Day Edition

One Dollar CoinWelcome to the tenth edition of the Carnival of Divided Government - Special Presidents' Day Edition. As explained in earlier editions, we have adopted Latin ordinal numeration, in order to impart a patina of gravitas reflecting the historical importance of the series.

Introduction
In this Carnival of Divided Government DECIMUS - Presidents' Day Edition, as in all of the CODGOV series, we select volunteers and draftees from the blogosphere and mainstream media on the singular topic of government divided between the major parties (leaving it to the reader to sort out volunteers from draftees). Consistent with this topic, the primary criteria for acceptance in the carnival is to use the words "divided government" in submitted posts. A criteria that, to our endless befuddlement, is ignored by many of the bloggers submitting posts, which sadly results in DWSUWF reluctantly ignoring their fine submissions.

Presidents' Day
Or, more accurately - George Washington's birthday, the holiday we used to celebrate this time of year, until George was forced to share his holiday with lesser Presidents. Presidents like that slacker Abraham Lincoln, who - if memory serves me correctly - did not even bother to finish his second term. This abomination has not escaped the notice of our lawmakers in Washington D.C. The "Suitably Flip" blogger Flip reports on one congressman's efforts to right this egregious wrong in his post "Happy Washington's Bicenterquasquigenary".

The danger of diluting Washington's birthday with other Presidents became evident last week. The U.S. Mint, emboldened by the holiday devaluation, set their sights on stripping George of his long-held title as "The One" in their announcement of a new series of one dollar coins. Wonkette was on the story, revealing the sordid truth in her post "U.S. Mint Banking On Americans' Love Of Dead White Men." The new coinage has already begun to circulate with George Washington in his accustomed place of honor on the obverse of the coin. But it will be downhill from here, as the Mint also announced plans to issue the same coin with every single president featured, including - believe it or not - the last two. I know. The first two coins to be released are featured in this post, as well as the artwork to be used to create the last two (displayed at the bottom of the post). Don't ask me where I got these. I have my sources.

With our brand spanking new divided government creating all kind of problems for the current chief executive, what better time to take blogospheric stock of the situation with a Carnival of Divided Government?

Carnival (on-topic)
We begin with the mainstream media, and a new entry in the politcal publishing genre - Politico. They began publication this year as a umm... newspaper? magazine? website? blog? on-line community? Actually, I have not quite figured out exactly what they are, probably due to my being located on the opposite coast. No matter - Politico journalists Mike Allen and John Harris interview political pundit Karl Rove, well known for his advocacy of bi-partisanship and his even handed and fair-minded approach to the political process:
Q. "What historical precedents are informing you and President Bush as you study the challenges from the elections?"
A. "Well, there are lots, because most American presidents governed for some significant part of -- some of them for all of -- their term or terms with Congress controlled by the party of the opposition. How does a president govern with the Congress controlled by the opposite party? The irony is that at first blush, there's a lot of constructive stuff that gets done. It's under divided government that Reagan gets tax reform, the latter half of his term in office. It's under divided government that Clinton gets welfare reform. We got No Child Left Behind passed with a divided Congress."
Since Karl clearly understands that divided government works so well, should we be surprised that he worked so hard to make sure it never happened? Nevermind. Rhetorical.

The Maiden
takes Blogs for Bush to task, presenting "Blogs for Not realizing that Cars have Brakes" posted at Hell's Handmaiden and accurately observes that under divided government, things are actually working the way they are supposed to work:
"Though I disagree with the Republican stance here, this strikes me as what the two parties ought to be doing. The Democrats are doing what they can, and are probably not doing enough of what they can, and the Republicans are doing what they can in return. It is a clumsy system, but it seems to be one of the better systems. This clumsy system is in fact part of the brakes, as corrupted and ill maintained as they have become, that Noonan can’t seem to find. Government is supposed to be chopped up among warring factions. It is supposed to be divvied up. It is supposed to be divided."
Across the political spectrum, bloggers are coming to the same conclusion.

Roly Machado, a first generation Cuban-American, a political science major, and a blogging Midshipmen at Annapolis, shares his views on divided government(good) and Congress (bad) in "Congress and Debate", posted at Notions of One Roly Machado:
"A divided government is good, if the people can disagree. If they can argue. Our Congress doesn't do that anymore. They make their voting decisions in their offices with suggestions. I'm willing to give Congress the benefit of the doubt, they actually think through it. They assess every bit and piece of the legislation and they make sure they understand it. But for heaven's sake can we please get back to the debate? The debate is important in and of itself. It allows creativity and let's you see different points of view. Let's debate the issues. Let's work through the problems. Let's find a solution. Let's not focus on SHIT. Let's focus on the importance of disagreement that our founding fathers intended..."
Also check out Roly's post about the lecture by Colin Powell advisor Colonel Wilkerson, for a perspective on failed Iraq WMD intelligence that you won't see anywhere else.

Tony asserts in "Asserting Authority" posted at Bush The Idiot that divided government is working while leaning on an AP news story for support:
Finally, we are getting a congress that has a backbone. See how divided government is better for this country? Republican or Democrat–having total power is no good.... - AP House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that President Bush lacks the authority to invade Iran without specific approval from Congress..."
Aaron Banks references a Brookings Institute OP-ED in the New York Times in his post Bi-partisan Plan to Eliminate the Deficit posted at the NDN Blog:
"Recognizing the new political realities of divided government, the Brookings Institute has issued a bipartisan plan to reduce the deficit. Collaborating on the plan are former Congressmen Charlie Stenholm (D-TX) and Bill Frenzel (R-MN), as well as Brookings scholars Isabel Sawhill and William Hoagland. They outline their proposal in an Op-Ed piece in the NYT: On spending, we would put a hard cap on all appropriations that freezes spending at fiscal 2008 levels. This would allow one federal program’s financing to increase only if another program’s budget were cut. We also propose accelerating the increase in the retirement age to 67 from 66, improving the way Social Security benefits are indexed for inflation and making other modest adjustments in the major entitlement programs..."
BNJ optimistically gushes about "Divided government, working for you" in an anything but cynical post at Cynical Nation:
"This is cool! Republicans in Congress just blocked a congressional pay increase. Of course if Republicans were still running the show, the COLA would have sailed through like a greased pig. Stuff like this is exactly the reason I was cautiously optimistic about the Democratic takeover last year. If it takes being in the minority for Republicans to act like conservatives, then so be it. I have no illusions about what's going on here, of course. This isn't about responsible stewardship of the taxpayers' money. It's about partisan spite, plain and simple. I'll take it."
Joe Gandleman is reassuring about the benefits precipitated by divided government in "White House Reverses Course On Warrantless Wiretaps Program" posted at The Moderate Voice:
"If there is any doubt of the impact of divided government and the subsequent Sword of Damacles it imposes of oversight via vigorous investigations, hearings and opposition politicos getting louder microphones, this story seemingly lessens it: The Bush administration said yesterday that it has agreed to disband a controversial warrantless surveillance program run by the National Security Agency, replacing it with a new effort that will be overseen by the secret court that governs clandestine spying in the United States."
The Orange County Daily Press is less certain, but hopeful when asking the question "Is veto pen ready?":
"We’re about to find out whether divided government really means more prudent spending by the government, as some of us have hoped. President Bush’s $2.9 trillion budget spending proposal, delivered Monday, offers a small dollop of hope. Whether the newly empowered Democratic majority in Congress shreds it by insisting on higher domestic spending – and whether the president will find his veto pen if that happens – may tell the tale."
Andrew Roth uncovers an interesting fact from the Rasmussen Report highlighting that "38% of Voters Like Divided Government" posted at the Club for Growth:
"Thirty-eight percent (38%) of American voters believe it’s better for the country when one political party controls Congress and the other major party controls the White House. A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of 800 Likely Voters found that 29% disagree and believe that divided government is bad for the country. Thirty-three percent (33%) are not sure."
That 29% obviously represent the hard-core partisans - a much smaller percentage than I would have guessed. I have no idea what the other 33% are thinking. Maybe they are not. Some bloggers, such as well... ahem... moi, have begun looking at what the ramifications of supporting divided government will mean in 2008.

Ross has a problem with which I can sympathize. He writes about his trouble in Chicago in "Annoying DMS" posted at Three Sheets to the Wind:
"There is usually (read: never) a reason to pull a Republican ballot in a primary here in Chicago. For one thing, there are almost never any down ballot candidates. None. If you plan to vote for judges, don't bother pulling a Republican ballot. No one is home. When it comes to national elections, there is still no reason to pull a Republican ballot for the primary because you lose out on every other election. If you pull a ballot so you can vote for Republican senator you are going to miss out on voting for any local candidate and most state offices. Basically this is a long disjointed way of saying, you vote Democrat no matter who you are because it's the only party in Cook County. But now I have a problem.... This year may be different. I'm a Rudy fan. I think he is a great candidate being liberal on social issues and conservative on fiscal matters. I also like his stance on the War against Terrorism... I'd rather liberal social/conservative fiscal win than a hard right goof, a hard left goof or a moderate democrat because I don't think they'll be able to maintain moderation with a democratic congress. Divided government led by a very moderate Republican and a moderate Democratic congress.. that's the life for me... His biggest challenge is to win the Republican primary. I just don't see the far right embracing him. So I should vote for him in the Illinois primary to give him the votes if it'll help. But if I do that, I can't vote for any other meaningful election. Hmm, plus, the local officials will know I took a Republican ballot which wouldn't be a good thing."
I am from Chicago, and understand exactly what he is saying. I have been living in San Francisco for 23 years, and local politics are surprisingly similar. There is exactly one party in The City. But like Ross, I want to get behind an acceptable Republican for President to maintain divided government, and the primary is what counts. Decisions, decisions.

Jason Kuznicki muses about a similar issue and arrives at a similar stack rank of the Republican hopefuls in "Occasional Notes - Department of 08" posted at Positive Liberty:
"I’m committed to divided government, which means I’m on the Republicans’ side for now, which means I might just be committed to Giuliani in 2008. I do think Giuliani is the only Republican who can win both in the GOP primaries and nationally: McCain ruined his image as a maverick by his general support for the conduct of the war. Brownback and Romney are presumptive nonstarters: The religious right has never gotten their candidate on the national ticket unaided; Bush won because he was considered a moderate and a continuer of his father’s legacy. Now that we know how a religious conservative will govern, I doubt the swing voters will want another one. Chuck Hagel could mount a serious primary challenge, but he won’t win the nomination: You have to seem tough on Iraq, or at least on terrorists, and his opponents are going to plaster him for his criticism of the war, even if it has been smart, incisive, and much-needed (there’s a fine line here, between criticizing too much and too little, one best walked in total silence). Ron Paul’s candidacy will simply underline how homeless libertarians have become in today’s GOP. He still gets my vote, of course, for what little that’s worth. But I’m afraid it’s going to be Giuliani in 2008."
Hard to argue with that analysis. I'd prefer Paul or Hagel, but will settle for Giuliani. Finally, one more semi-mainstream media pundit weighs in.

David Weigel presents "Fusionists on Parade" posted at the Reason Magazine blog Hit & Run:
"Since we've learned that the optimal real-world political situation for libertarians is divided government, shouldn't the libertarian vote be incredibly fungible? That is, they should vote for Republicans when a Democrat is president and vote Democratic when a Republican is president? A Republican president appointing economically conservative judges with a Democratic Congress nixing the occasional lunatic nominee and blocking his efforts to wage ridiculous wars; a Democratic president appointing socially liberal judges with a Republican Congress cutting his spending requests."
My very direct answer to David's question is in the comments on that post.

Carnival (off-topic)
Finally, we conclude with the longstanding (five month) tradition at The Carnival of Divided Government to include one "off-topic" submission, as a grudging acknowledgement and symbolic proxy for the many off-topic submissions received. The winner for this edition is ...

Praveen, who presents Jake Witmer, Tao, and Libertarianism posted at Tao of Simplicity:
"But Taoism also preaches a libertarian, laissez faire attitude to government. Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism, distrusted and disliked the complexity and bureaucracy of Confucianism. When it comes to complex vs. simple, nothing beats the government!"
Why Praveen? A post about simplicity and libertarianism, and Tao, and my logo is is derived from a taoist symbol. It just seemed right. I think he means "nothing is worse than the government!" But, no worries. I get it.

Miscellany
With that we conclude this edition. Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for all of the submissions (on-topic or not). The next edition will probably be the Carnival of Divided Government UNDECIMUS - Special Ides of March Edition, which we hope to post on Thursday, March 15 - but it might be the Carnival of Divided Government UNDECIMUS - Special St. Patricks Day Hangover Edition and posted on Sunday, March 18. I am qualifying the date, as there is a very good chance I will be off-line and on board my friend's sailboat Morpheus, somewhere between Cabo and San Diego on that date. So far I have hosted all CODGOV editions here at DWSUWF, but I am open to breaking with that tradition if anyone is interested in hosting the next edition. Otherwise, I may even skip March altogether and leap ahead to the Carnival of Divided Government UNDECIMUS - Special April Fools Edition on April 1. Send me an e-mail at [mw AT dividedwestandunitedwefall DOT com] if you are interested in hosting the next edition. Blog articles may be submitted for the carnival of divided government using our carnival submission form. Past posts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Finally, if you enjoyed this carnival, you shoul also check out the first edition of the brand new "This Is Not My Country Carnival" hosted at Hell's Handmaiden, who is also an occasional contributor to this carnival. Also, take a circle around the Beltway Traffic Jam.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Carnival of Divided Government

1 comment:

gerry said...

Hey will be awaiting your post on "Special St. Patricks Day Hangover Edition" coz am sure it's gonna be fun reading it. I have some fun posts at my blog too, do drop by to know about it.