Friday, March 30, 2007

Can Chuck Hagel save the GOP from the Bushies?

I would have loved to have been there to see it. Just to be a fly on the wall and see the reaction. Dick Cheney interrupting his undisclosed schedule and hustled from his limousine into the Capitol from whatever undisclosed location that the Vice President normally executes his undisclosed duties, prepared to cast a tie-breaking vote in the Senate on the Emergency Funding Bill for the Iraq War. A funding bill with a difference. A funding bill putting limits on the United States military mission in Iraq, and setting a goal of withdrawing troops not involved in that limited mission by March of 2008. A similar resolution had been defeated in the Senate only a few weeks before. But this time Democratic Senator Ben Nelson would vote for the bill, and that meant it would likely result in a tie. The administration had already threatened to veto any bill with any timetable. But the veto would not be needed, if Cheney cast the deciding vote.
"... the White House freshened the threat a few hours before the vote and again afterward. "The president is disappointed that the Senate continues down a path with a bill that he will veto and has no chance of becoming law,"... Vice President Dick Cheney traveled to the Capitol in case his vote was needed to break a tie, a measure of the importance the administration places on the issue." - Washington Post
It looked like this time Dick Cheney would be "The Decider", and cast that vote to defeat the measure. He had prepared a brief, direct and strong statement ready for an impromptu press briefing to be conducted immediately after the vote. Dick Cheney was looking forward to delivering that statement. That is when I would have liked to be that fly on the wall. When Dick Cheney was informed that Chuck Hagel decided to put principle over party and vote for the resolution. On this day, Dick Cheney was not "the decider". On this day it was Chuck Hagel who cast the deciding vote.

But this post is not really about Chuck Hagel, or Dick Cheney. This post is about the Republican Party and its continued drift further and further from the main stream of American thought. With this bill the Senate, like the House, was simply conducting the people's business. The bill, with the reduced mission, and goal of redeployment in 2008, accurately reflects the will of the majority of Americans. From the Pew Research Center this week:
"A solid majority of Americans say they want their congressional representative to support a bill calling for a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq by August 2008. Nearly six-in-ten (59%) say they would like to see their representative vote for such legislation, compared with just 33% who want their representative to oppose it. "

Hence the problem for Republicans in 2008 - the administration is defying the will of a growing majority of Americans, as reflected in the survey, and as evidenced by the mid-term elections.

Now, in truth, this bill deserves a veto. Not because of the Iraq war redeployment timeframe, but because the Democrats stuffed it full of pork to secure enough votes to get it passed. It won't break my heart to see it vetoed for that reason alone. In that regard, the veto is an example of divided government in action, restraining the growth of federal spending. A leaner bill will result from the veto.

My fear is that our happily divided government will be but a fleeting respite from the disaster of single party control if the administration continues down this path. As oulined in previous posts, it will be almost impossible for the Democrats to lose either house of congress in 2008. The only way to maintain a divided government will be to elect a Republican President in 2008. Whether out of arrogance, hubris, delusion, or simple incompetence, this administration is apparently willing to destroy any electoral hope for the Republicans in 2008 as a consequence of it's intransigence on the war.

Ryan Sager wrote in 'The Elephant in the Room" about the fracturing of the historically successful fusion between fiscal and social conservatives in the Republican party. He warns that a widening schism between the libertarian and evangelical wings in the Republican party could doom the parties chances in 2008 and beyond. In the last few days, it became clear to me that while the split he describes is real, it is fracturing on a different fault line. The split is between the traditional Conservative Republican (which includes both evangelicals and libertarians) and Republicans who are best described as "Bushies". I am not using that term as a perjorative, it is exactly how they define themselves. Jon Carroll in the San Francisco Chronicle took notice:
"The other interesting thing is the use by now-resigned Justice Department employee Kyle Sampson of the phrase "loyal Bushies." ...George W. Bush and the Republican Party are not coterminous. It would be hard to describe the belief system of a loyal Bushie, other than unquestioning faith in George W. Bush. Would he be in favor of reduced government spending, increased individual liberties, a conservative and prudent foreign policy? Nope. George W. Bush does not stand for any of those things. Loyal Bushies can be counted on to do the right thing, the Bush thing, whenever a thing needs doing. That's the belief system. "
Now, Jon Carroll is admittedly a San Francisco liberal and easy to dismiss. But, remarkably, his theme is echoed by conservative David Brooks in a column in the New York Times entitled "No U-Turns". In that column Brooks rejects the intellectual foundation of conservatism, and writes what could more accurately be titled "The Bushie Manifesto":
"...President Bush sensed this shift in public consciousness back in 1999. Compassionate conservatism was an attempt to move beyond the “liberty vs. power” paradigm. But because it was never fleshed out and because the Congressional G.O.P. rejected the implant, a new Republican governing philosophy did not emerge. The party is going to have to make another run at it. As it does, it will have to shift mentalities. The “security leads to freedom” paradigm doesn’t end debate between left and right, it just engages on different ground. It is oriented less toward negative liberty (How can I get the government off my back?) and more toward positive liberty (Can I choose how to lead my life?). Goldwater and Reagan were important leaders, but they’re not models for the future."
Both Glen Greenwald (from the left) and Andrew Sullivan (from the right) take Brooks to task:

"It would maximize clarity in our political discussions if journalists could just ingest Brooks' central point: the dominant right-wing political movement in this country that has spawned and driven the Bush presidency has nothing to do with -- it is in fact overtly hostile to -- the ostensible principles of Goldwater/Reagan small-government conservatism. Though today's so-called "conservatives" exploit the Goldwater/Reagan mythology as a political prop, they don't believe in those principles in any way. That movement is the very antithesis of those principles... Brooks admits what has been crystal clear for some time -- namely, that so-called "conservatives" (meaning the contemporary political "Right") no longer believe (if they ever did) that government power should be restrained in order to maximize freedom. That belief system, says Brooks, is an obsolete relic which arose out of the the 1970s, and has been replaced by the opposite desire -- for expanded government power on every front."
"... the Brooks experiment in turning the GOP into a religious, statist party for cronies and incompetents has been a disaster for Republicanism and a catastrophe for conservatism. Given no true conservative alternative, voters have gone back to the Dems. Brooks was an intellectual architect of both visions - massive intervention abroad, and warmed-over socialism at home. No wonder the conservative coalition has fallen apart, and people are now backing Democrats... The classic dodge: national greatness conservatism - big spending at home, big wars abroad - wasn't tried and therefore didn't fail. Please. It was tried, David, with bells on, and it has failed so spectacularly you need glasses with neocon thickness not to see it. In fact, its manifest failure may consign conservatism to the political wilderness for a generation - and has deeply increased the security dangers America now faces... Until the GOP thoroughly purges itself of the impulses of the Bush era - impulses enabled and supported by Brooks - they're finished. And they deserve to be."
I have wondered before about the incredible animus toward Chuck Hagel evident from some on the right. It never made sense to me. Chuck Hagel is by any measure a conservative's conservative:
"Look at his record, and you see a bona fide fiscal conservative, a social conservative, a successful entrepreneur, a limited government Republican in the Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater tradition and a decorated Vietnam war combat veteran. He is tough on crime, strong on defense, pro-gun with an "A" rating from the NRA, supports low taxes and limited spending, was rated a "Taxpayers Friend" by the NTU, is pro-business with an 87% rating from the US Chamber of Commerce, and even secured a 0% rating from NARAL indicating a perfect pro-life voting record."
Now I finally get it. Chuck Hagel is not a problem for traditional Republicans in the Goldwater/Reagan tradition. Chuck Hagel is not a problem for limited government, freedom-loving, libertarian conservatives. Chuck Hagel is a big problem for the "Bushie" statists.

I would like to think that the "Bushies" are wildly over-represented in the blogosphere, and there is a much larger plurality of traditional conservative Republicans (both libertarian and evangelical) in the electorate at large. I'd like to think that, but I am not sure. If the traditional conservative Republican base is alive and well, Chuck Hagel may yet lead the party back from the brink of disaster in 2008.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Carnival of Divided Government UNDECIMUS - Springtime for Divided Government Edition

"In the spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love. "- Alfred Lord Tennyson
"And a middle aged man's fancy turns to thoughts of divided government." - DWSUWF
Welcome to the march 21, 2007 edition of the Carnival of Divided Government - Special Springtime for Divided Government Edition. Ah ... Spring. Invoking daydreams of flowers, poetry, love, baseball, fishing, golf, and what exactly was that other thing that a young man's fancy turns to???

Oh yeah. I remember now. Spring break, tequilla, and and outdoor sex.Well, this year we have a very special spring season indeed. A spring like we have not seen is six long years. A spring with effective oversight of the executive branch. A spring with a President threatening to veto misguided congressional ecomonic policy and excessive spending. A spring with judicial and congressional review of domestic surveillance reasserted. In short, a Spring of Divided Government, and it feels s-o-o-o good. Almost better than outdoor sex. Almost. In celebration of this very special spring, and without further ado, we offer a bit of verse, and a spring bouquet of divided government posts.

Ode to a Divided Spring
After a summer of war plans misguided,
The fall election finally provided -
A winter Congress that was free
Of single party decree,
And a spring with government divided.

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. In this Carnival of Divided Government UNDECIMUS - Springtime for Divided Government 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 and/or concept of "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. But let us not dwell on the negative on this fine spring day.

We humbly offer for your consideration, this ...

Spring Bouquet of Divided Government Posts
Our first flower in the bouquet, is Michael Currie Schaffer writing in the New Republic and CBS News, about the "The Benefits Of Divided Government" and the surprising and immediate impact it has had on foreign policy:
"For all the scholarly hand-wringing about the foreign-policy implications of divided government, and all the global bewilderment at how we can have an executive branch that negotiates things like climate treaties and a legislature that proceeds to deep-six them, Cheney's huddle with Musharraf shows that the separation of powers has its charms... As Cheney himself put it before the 2004 election, "It's absolutely essential that, eight weeks from today, on November 2nd, we make the right choice. Because, if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we'll get hit again, that we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States." Two years later, while Cheney was accusing Democrats of "resignation and defeatism in the face of determined enemies," ... That message gets just a wee bit diluted when the veep pops up in Islamabad to say, more or less, that those same Democrat sissies are willing to be tougher on North Waziristan's putative constabulary than the manly folk of the executive branch."
That particularly fragrant flower in our divided government bouquet by Mr Schaffer was actually a "two-fer". He not only shows that because of divided government provides the administration additional leverage negotiating with Pakistan, but he also reminds us how divided government allowed us to side-step the deeply flawed Kyoto Protocol.

Blair Nathan at The Stanford Review also notes the ironic benefit of divided government on Iraq policy in "Good Cop, Bad Cop: How a Democratic Congress may be of help in Iraq":
"A divided government could allow the US to prod the government of Iraq in ways that would not have been credible before. It has been argued that the Iraqi government has been expecting the US to be eternally patient and accommodating... The Bush administration has shown a great deal of forbearance with Nouri al-Maliki’s progress--or lack thereof—in stabilizing and securing his country. On the home front, the administration has insisted that Maliki’s government needs time to make things work. The ascendancy of the Democrats in Congress, however, affords an opportunity for President Bush to get tough and effective with the Iraqi government. “We are willing to give you all the time you need to suppress strife and insurrection,” he can say to the Iraqis, “but I can’t speak for them [The Democrats].”
Crunchy Con at BeliefNet offers thanks and praise for the "The blessing of divided government":
"Does anybody doubt that if the Democrats weren't in charge, this outrageous scandal involving eight US attorneys being forced out for political reasons wouldn't be investigated by Congress? Verily, verily I say unto you once again, the good Lord is using the Democrats like He used the Babylonians."
Amen! Thank you Lord!

Bob Caylor editorializes in the Fort Wayne News Sentinal, leading the Hoosier cheers for a divided state government in "Divided? We can stand it"
"Let’s savor the impasses of divided government and the welcome music of partisan griping. Halfway through this session of the Indiana General Assembly, one party blocking the other may save Hoosiers from some ill-conceived and sweeping changes in law and taxation. Few Hoosiers want to see state government paralyzed. But so far this year, a General Assembly hobbled by a partisan divide has helped rein in expansions of government power and taxation."
Mmmmm. Savory. Tasty. Delicious.

Emily Bazelon, writing at Slate, cannot contain her enthusiasm for divided government in "A Few Angry Lawyers" :
"Today, four of the Bush administration's formerly loyal U.S. attorneys showed up to testify before Congress and raised the lid on DOJ and Republicans in office. All sorts of things crawled out. And after years of living in one-party Washington—and logging hours at snoozer Republican-controlled committee hearings—I confess, it was a thrill to watch. Hooray for divided government!"
Three cheers! Hip! Hip! Hooray! Huzzah! Huzzah!

David Epstein at the Reflective Pundit strikes a cautionary note in "Be Careful What You Wish For":
"... it reinforces the notion that it's dangerous to have only one party control government, which is of course the mainstream view of why we have so much divided government these days. If Democrats want to retake the White House in 2008 and keep Congress for a while too, they should leaven the conversation with a few more reminders to the public about how it's the Republicans that keep mismanaging the government and then lying about it."
We will see more of this sentiment as we approach the next election, and it dawns on Republicans and Democrats alike that the only way to maintain a happy state of divided government is to elect a Republican President in 2008. DWSUWF simply does not subscribe to the argument that Democratic politicians are somehow inherently more moral or resistant to the seduction of power than Republican politicians (or vice versa). It is quite simple really, the way to enjoy the benefits of divided government, is to always elect a divided government.

Leigh Ferrara at the Mother Jones Blog reports on "Chuck Schumer to Bush on Prosecutor Purge: Explain Yourself":
"This is an interesting part of the probe because it not only implies careful calculation on the part of the White House and the DOJ but it may implicate Senate Judiciary Committee (the senate committee investigating the firings) Ranking Minority Member Arlen Specter, whose chief of staff Michael O'Neill, under "orders from the DOJ," slipped the amendment into the Reauthorization of the Patriot Act. Specter is now co-sponsoring a bill to reverse the amendment -- perhaps to save face? I love divided government!"
Me too! I love it! Oh. I better sit down. Apparently I got a little too excited. Sorry about that.

Ron Burgundy is relaxing in the Liberty Lounge, and musing about how "House, Senate Dems realize power limited":
"In moving so fast, we gave the impression it was easy," said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (news, bio, voting record), reflecting not only on the minimum wage bill, but several other measures that newly empowered Democrats passed in January, only to see them stack up in the Senate. Some Democrats say the struggle over the minimum wage bill is likely to become a model over the next two years for working within divided government."
Brink Lindsey makes exactly the right point at Cato at Liberty Blog in his post "More on Libertarians and Democrats":
After all, as Cato’s Stephen Slivinski has written, real federal spending increased at an annual rate of only 1.5 percent under Bill Clinton, as compared to a 5.6 percent rate of growth during George W. Bush’s first term. So Democratic politicians can run and win on a record of fiscal prudence. Yes, it’s true that Clinton’s good spending record was due in significant part to the fact that he faced a GOP Congress for most of his time in office. But this just shows that people who care about controlling spending would do better to rely on divided government than on Republicans’ small-government rhetoric. And you can’t have divided government without electing some Democrats!"
Let me just repeat that: "... people who care about controlling spending would do better to rely on divided government than on Republicans’ small-government rhetoric." Exactly so.

Laura Ebke at Red State Eclectic squarely faces the consequences of right wing fringe politics in "Republicans and Family Values":
"Right now a significant number of Republican voters say they'd vote for Giuliani, even though he's got a "family values problem" a mile wide. I think, though, that's because of Rudy's natural charisma, post 9/11, and because those Republicans who are really thinking about politics see him as the most likely to beat either Clinton or Obama--and Republicans REALLY don't want to lose the White House, assuming that the tide has turned for a while on Republican fortunes in Congress. A piece of power in a divided government is better than being relegated to complete minority status in a government with the two political branches controlled by one party."
True. True. Laura identifies a very good reason to support Giuliani in the Republican primaries. But this is an even better reason to support Chuck Hagel, who is more conservative than Giuliani, has no "family values" problem, will pull Democratic support in the general election and was right on the Iraq war since before the war.

Joe Gandleman at The Moderate Voice references Howard Fineman's column and finds A Smoking Gun In The Gonzales Fired Prosecutors Case?":
"This scandal points up the benefits of divided government where there is authentic, vigorous oversight."
Agreed, and it cannot be said often enough.

MVDG worries in his blog Michael P.F. van der GaliĆ«n about General Eaton's complaints in "General Eaton: Republicans Worst Thing That’s Happened to Army":
"I do know that Bush et al. have mishandled the Iraq war tremendously, that Rumsfeld should be held accountable years ago, and that divided government is always best."
Always best. Always. Always. Always. I could not agree more with Michael, but to be fair, our shared view is not universally appreciated. As part of our continuing commitment to Divided and Balanced reporting, we offer this final dissenting view on divided government.

Dick Cheney opines (whines?) at Human Events that divided government has its problems in "A Conservative View of the Role of Government"
"With a divided government and strong feelings on both sides of the aisle, getting things done is a bit more of a challenge than it was before... We’ve got a lot of vacancies on the bench, and the elected branches of government have a duty to fill those vacancies. Divided government is no excuse. "
I am sympathetic to his argument. Just think of the conseqences if we had divided government in 2003. Why, it may have been completely impossible for the office of the Vice President to cherry pick intelligence and stampede the American populace into a war that we did not need to fight. We may have found a different way to deal with Saddam Hussein.

A single off-topic bud.
Finally, we conclude with a longstanding 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 ...

Bull Jones presenting a prescient post that pre-dates the Walter Reed flap in "Oops! The VA did it again!" posted at The Bull Speaks!
" The sad truth is that the “VA” has been as screwed up as Hogan’s Goat practically since it began. Wallowing in red tape and political shyte through, (and because of), both Republican and Democrat administrations the VA has somehow always found a way to screw the very Veterans it was set up to serve - much like America as a whole, I’m sad to say. Before anyone decides to call me down for that last line, you should ask yourself a couple of questions. For example, “When did I last thank a Veteran for his service?”
A fair question. For me it was last Saturday. I was talking to a Southwest Airline pilot while waiting for my flight from San Diego. Turns out she was in the Air Force reserve and had completed four (4!) tours in Iraq flying cargo jets. I thanked her and offered to buy her a beer. She was on-duty, so I decided to drink that beer in her honor all by myself.

Chris Matthews has been a consistent advocate for veterans on his show Hardball, and distills the problem eloquently "Why do we permit soliders that we honor for their service to be treated like they are a problem when return as a veteran?" (this quote is a paraphrase from memory, I will link and correct when I can find the source). In addition to the Bull Jone's suggestions in this post, DWSUWF recommends contributing to the Iraq and Afganistan Veterans of America.

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 be the Carnival of Divided Government DUODECIMUS - Special One Year Anniversary Edition, to be posted on the first birthday of this blog, Monday April 23, 2007. Blog articles may be submitted for the carnival of divided government using the 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 these other recent fine collections:

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Back on the Blogging Beach

After five days in Cabo and five days before the mast, it is time to regain my political blogging "land legs". I expect my landing will be smoother than Morpheus competitor "Piranha", pictured here after being shipwrecked on a remote Mexico beach while returning from Cabo. Except for the occasional SailMail, I was not paying much attention to current events while I was gone. Fortunately, one of the members of Morpheus Racing Crew (I was on the return Delivery Crew) provided this crude but succinct and accurate summary of what I missed:
"You missed nothing in the way of news here at home. Numb Nuts is still in charge and a stream of new Numb Nuts are all throwing their hats into the ring to be Chief Numb Nut in '08. There is of course one Numb Nut that has no Nuts and thus will be known as Numb Twat. Numb Twat is likening herself to JFK ... Alberto Gonzales has stepped on his numb nuts by illegally firing 8 Senior Federal Prosecutors for not aggressively going after Democrats in the House and Senate. He claims it was for other reasons , but the Dems are asking for his dismissal as are some Republicans. Could this Numb Nut and the Cock that sits above him be any more incompetent? "
The crewman responsible for this quote has requested anonymity, but I consider him credible as he was among the small percentage of the Morpheus Racing Crew that did not spend time in a Mexico jail on his first night in Cabo. Quoting him here probably assures that I will never be approached to work for a mainstream candidate's campaign, which is probably for the best. His representations notwithstanding, there is quite a bit for DWSUWF to catch up on: The four year anniversary of the Iraq war and occupation demands some reflection, another round of the Executive-Legislative struggle over the execution of the war took place on the Senate floor, Republican bloggers continue to delude themselves over the mood of the American people and consequently risk retaining the White House in '08, CATO Unbound has an interesting series on Libertariansim, and we still need to implement the New Blogger templates. There is work to do.

Where to start? What better way to get back in the blogging kitchen and start cooking up new blog posts than a hearty helping of The Carnival of Divided Government? The Carnival of Divided Government UNDECIMUS - Special Ides of March Edition, tentatively scheduled to post on March 15. was postponed and renamed the Carnival of Divided Government UNDECIMUS - Special St. Patricks Day Hangover Edition which was intend to be served up on the day I returned from my sailing adventure Sunday, March 18 but instead the Carnival of Divided Government UNDECIMUS - Special Spring has Sprung Edition will be served up on Wednesday, March 21 . The good news is that Blog articles may still be submitted for this edition using the carnival submission form. Submitted posts must use include the words and/or concept of "divided government" to be considered. Past posts can be found on the blog carnival index page. Get your submissions in now if you would like to be included.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Elephant on the Sailboat

On board the Morpheus , suffering through the infamous "Baja Bash"

UPDATE March 18, 2007:
This post was sent via SailMail from a boat somewhere between Cabo San Lucas and San Diego. Subsequently updated to correct formatting and typos, insert links, pictures, and tags.

As mentioned in previous posts, I am part of the crew delivering the sailboat Morpheus back to San Diego after the Newport Beach to Cabo San Lucas Race. It has been a fun trip. Regardless whether you can afford or have the inclination to own a boat like Morpheus, if you have a sense of adventure I recommend finding a friend who does. At times frightening, relaxing, exciting, exhilarating, exhausting, life threatening, and amusing, open ocean sailing is an experience not to be missed.

It also affords large stretches of time where nothing much is happening, which has given me a chance to catch up on my reading. I finally read Ryan Sager's "The Elephant in the Room", which has been near the top of my reading list since it was published last summer. A great read, it fills in the historical gaps on how the Republican Party has arrived at it's current sorry state, losing both houses of Congress in the mid-terms, with no realistic likelihood of regaining either house in '08, and a real possibility of also losing the White House. This scenario is particularly troubling, since it raises the spectre of a return to one party government in Washington DC, this time under the control of the Democratic Party.

Sager's interview with Newt Gingrich in the concluding chapter was one (of many) interesting elements in the book, and this summary of Newt's political posturing resonated on several levels:
'The Republican Party lacks "intellectual depth"? The president can't "win the argument"? The president lacks "drive" and "understanding," which limits his effectiveness? It all comes dangerously close to an assertion that Bush & Company aren't up to the job intelligencewise, or at least they are too intellectually lazy to govern. And it leads to a surprising rationale for a for a Gingrich candidacy. "We're looking for a next cycle of intellectual politics." Gingrich said "In the tradition of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan." ... Gingrich doesn't mention himself as the standard bearer for the conservative intellectual revival, but if there is one thing the former Speaker has always fancied himself, not without some justification, it's as an idea man and a visionary.' - Ryan Sager, The Elephant in the Room.
Sager's highlight of this Gingrich observation is spot-on. It is not difficult to discern a pattern in American politics, where the electorate becomes exhausted with two term administrations and seeks to elect the perceived opposite in the follow-up election. Jimmy Carter's home spun morality made him the Anti-Nixon(Ford). Bill Clinton' empathy and common touch made him the Anti-Bush(41), Bush(43)'s evangelical born-again righteousness made him the anti-Clinton. The next President will be the Anti-Bush(43), and regardless of party, that makes him/her "articulate", an "idea man", and a "visionary" possesed of a luminous intellect the electorate will demand, as it seeks the perceptual polar opposite of the current president.

On the Republican side, Gingrich indeed fits that description, but he is not the only one. The current Republican front-runner Rudy Giuliani, also projects competence and intelligence (but as Sager recently pointed out, carries baggage that may yet drag down his candidacy). Chuck Hagel also fits Newt's description of an intellectual President to a "T". Hagel has the additional advantage that his public statements on the war in Iraq put him on the right side of that war before the war, whereas both Gingrich and Giuliani have been completely and disastrously wrong on the Iraq war since it's beginning four years ago. This gives Hagel an additional Anti-Bush position that is unique among Republican candidates. Depending on the status of our military participation in Iraqi sectarian violence at the time of the election, it may yet prove to be the only position that matters, and that will make Hagel the only electable Republican in the field.

I've also heard (via e-mail on the boat), that Hagel (like Gingrich) has announced that he will decide about his candidacy later in the year, and very late in the presidential political cycle. This flies in the face of conventional wisdom on running for President, and may yet prove to be a flawed decision. Still, it is interesting that the two brightest intellectual lights in the Republican Presidential field have both chosen to enter the fray late. With
Republican rank and file restless about their choices now, having Hagel in reserve later in the season may yet prove to be a godsend. As Sager concludes:
"The Republican Party has been heading in the wrong direction for a long time. Toward big government and away from small government. Toward politics and away from principle. Toward the South and away from the West. Toward moralism and away from morality. It's not to late to turn back, but time is running out."
Chuck Hagel could still be the man to turn the Republican party back to its intellectual foundation and principles, before it is too late. FORMATTING NOTE: As noted earlier this post is being sent via SailMail, so will likely contain some odd formatting. I will edit, clean-up and add pictures and links on this post upon my return.

Do not push the "reply" button to respond to this message if that includes the text of this original message in your response. Messages are sent over a very low-speed radio link Replies should not contain attachments and should be less than 5 kBytes (2 text pages) in length. This email was delivered by an HF private coast station in the Maritime Mobile Radio Service, operated by the SailMail Association, a non-profit association of yacht owners. For more information on this service or on the SailMail Association, please see the web site at:

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Looking Glass Liars & The Partisan Hypocrite Test

UPDATED: Wednesday, June 6, 2007

I am in Cabo San Lucas waiting for Morpheus, apparently becalmed about 100 km off-shore. I didn't bring the laptop, thinking this would be good time to take the blogging "needle" out of my arm for a few days. As it turns out, "cold-turkey" is not a viable option for me. I am taking one shot of blogging "methadone" at an internet cafe, and probably compromising my blogger password in the process. Just one quick post, and I am sure I will be able to hold out until returning on the 18th.

The Libby verdict precipitated a surprising reaction from right-of-center blogs and pundits. At least from those with selective or short memories. The apparent "argument" being that that Libby's lies should not have been prosecuted, since there was "no underlying crime." The argument triggered a Deja Vu moment - Where have I heard this before? Ah yes, I remember now. I think we can use this as an aid to help bloggers understand themselves better.

DWSUWF submits for your consideration: The Partisan Hypocrite Test.

The Test

Consider these quotes from two special prosecutors in two high profile investigations into high ranking members of the executive branch of government.

"Any lie under oath is serious. Any prosecutor will tell you... we cannot tolerate perjury. The truth is what drives our judicial system. If people do not come forward and tell the truth, we have no hope of making the judicial system work. If someone knowingly tells a lie under oath during any investigation, it is every prosecutor's duty to respond by investigating and proving that if you can. That is a serious matter in any case. It is obvious it is a serious matter here in a case here where there is a national security investigation. The nature of any person telling a lie under oath to a grand jury is a serious problem. Having a high level official do that under oath under a national security investigation is something can never be acceptable. And that just made it mandatory that we pursue it. " -Patrick Fitzgerald - Press Conference after verdict - March 6, 2007
"The whole idea of equal justice under law means that you've got to play by the rules. It has nothing to do with the underlying subject matter. You just tell the truth. "Lying under oath, and encouraging lies under oath, does go to the very heart and soul of what courts do. And if we say we don't care, let's forget about courts and we'll just have other ways of figuring out how to handle disputes," he said. "There is no excuse for perjury -- never, never, never," he said. "There is truth, and the truth demands respect." - Ken Starr -Time Interview - Nov. 25, 1998
Now The Test. One question. It is a multiple choice.

Which of the following choices do you believe? Chose only one:

A) It was right for both Clinton to be impeached and Libby to be prosecuted for lies under oath, even though there was no underlying crime.
B) It was wrong for both Clinton to be impeached and Libby to be prosecuted for lies under oath, since there was no underlying crime.
C) It was right for Clinton to be impeached but wrong for Libby to be prosecuted for lies under oath, even though there was no underlying crime.
D) It was wrong for Clinton to be impeached but right for Libby to be prosecuted for lies under oath, even though there was no underlying crime.
If you answered A or B - Congratulations! You are not a partisan hypocrite.
If you answered C or D - there is no point in continuing to read this blog. You should go listen to podcasts of Anne Coulter or Bill Maher. Enjoy.

Full Disclosure: DWSUWF agreed with both prosecutors, both prosecutions, and chose "A". I don't care which political party they are in. If a high-ranking official lies under oath, you take that official to the wall. No one is above the law. No one has the option of lying under oath without paying the consequences.

So for all you non-hypocrites who are still with us, some other items we might agree on:

An identical rationale was used for impeaching Bill Clinton and prosecuting Scooter Libby. Clinton lied under oath during an investigation. He was impeached for lying under oath in an investigation into a blowjob. Libby was tried and convicted for lying under oath in an investigation about the leak of the identity of a CIA operative. It is completely irrelevant if the underlying reason for the lie under oath was a crime or not a crime. The blowjob was also not a crime. Clinton was still impeached for the lie about the blowjob. It is true that Cheney authorizing the public identification of Plame as a CIA operative was not a crime. It was not a crime since the President gave Cheney the authorization to disclose any secret information he deemed neccessary. No matter that his reason was to cover his ass politically and hide his role in selling the war to the American public under false pretenses. It was still not illegal. Just like Clinton's blow job was not illegal. But the lies under oath are another matter.

We also know from the trial that the release of Plame's identity was authorized by Dick Cheney, We know that Plame and Wilson's trip to Niger was a direct consequence of President Cheney pushing the CIA for follow-up on the uranium yellow-cake story. We know that Cheney was obsessed with the coverage that Wilson got on his report that the the yellowcake story was wrong. We know that he instructed Libby to attack Wilson in the press.

Libby is guilty. He perjured himself. He lied. No one else is going be convicted because Libby is taking the fall for others in the administration. Does he deserve it? Is he really a criminal? I don't think he is a bad guy. He is loyal and he thinks he is being a patriot by protecting Cheney. I feel sorry for him. But he made a choice. He chose to protect the Vice President and probably Karl Rove's politically, while keeping the American people in the dark about what really happened. You can admire his misguided loyalty to the people he worked for (who clearly don't deserve it). But he owed that loyalty to the American people. He made that choice.

He might spend a year in jail for that choice, before Bush pardons him on the way out of office. So it goes.

UPDATE: Wednesday, June 6, 2007
Libby is sentenced to 30 months in prison. The same night as the sentence is handed down, during the third Republican debate, moderator Wolf Blitzer opens the door for pandering politicians to reanimate the nonsensical, putrefying "there is no underlying crime" meme which rises zombie-like from the grave:
MR. BLITZER: So yes or no, would you pardon him?
MR. GIULIANI:"...and ultimately, there was no underlying crime involved."
MR. ROMNEY: " this case, you have a prosecutor who clearly abused prosecutorial discretion by going after somebody when he already knew that the source of the leak was Richard Armitage."
SEN. BROWNBACK: "Yes. The basic crime here didn’t happen."
DWSUWF welcomes the opportunity to once again pound a stake into the heart of this argument by updating and republishing this post.

Judge Reggie Walton said it best as he handed down the sentence (from the Wahington Post):
"Individuals should understand that when you transgress the law, there are consequences," Walton said. When those in high positions "step over the line," he continued, "it causes people to lose faith in our government."
It's a good thing.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Carnival of Divided Government

Friday, March 02, 2007

Carnivals and Content and dis-Continuity

This week I am still messing around with New Blogger templates and trying to figure out what I can and cannot do in this Brave New Blogger World. Next week I'll be flying to Cabo to meet a friend who will be racing his sailboat Morpheus in the `07 Newport Beach to Cabo San Lucas Yacht Race. The progress of the Morpheus can be tracked here during the race, and as well as on his blog. I am not in the race crew, but will be enjoying a portion of the more relaxing (I hope) sail home.

UPDATE 03/04/07: The race is underway!

Net-net: while I may attempt to sporadically connect along the way, the reality is that blog posts will be few and far between from now until my return on or about St. Patricks day. In the meantime, permit me to direct your attention to these recent Blog Carnivals, representing a fine collection of recent blogospheric activity.
"Enter every carnival you can find. Who cares what the theme of the carnival is alleged to support. Your dodgy product is as useful to a cat blogger as it is to a hobby or food blogger. You are smarter than the host, and definitely smarter than the readership. It's all about the links baby."
There have been no takers for my offer to host the next edition of the Carnival of Divided Government UNDECIMUS - Special Ides of March Edition, which was tentatively scheduled to post on March 15. Consequently, we will instead postpone and rename the next edition as the Carnival of Divided Government UNDECIMUS - Special St. Patricks Day Hangover Edition which we now fully intend to post on the day I return from my sailing adventure - Sunday, March 18. Blog articles may be submitted for this edition of the carnival of divided government using the carnival submission form. Submitted posts must use include the words and/or concept of "divided government" to be considered. Past posts can be found on the blog carnival index page.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Carnival of Divided Government