Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Carnival of Divided Government - Duo et Vîcênsimus -Terrible Two Birthday Edition

Welcome to the April 23, 2008 Carnival of Divided Government Duo et Vîcênsimus - the "Terrible Twos" Birthday 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. In this, the Duo et Vîcênsimus edition (XXII), as in all of the CODGOV series, we select volunteers and draftees from the blogosphere and main stream 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 explicitly 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.

Happy Birthday to us.

Two friggin' years. We will see our 50,000th visitor in the next few days which puts us firmly in the second (third?) tier of political blogs. Since that first post at 11:23 on April 23, we have posted 203 posts, and over 230,000 words. Cripes - that is like three books. I could've written something real. Maybe it is not too late, there has got to be a 60,000 word book in this mess somewhere. Yeah, I'm getting a little cranky as the blog heads into it's "Terrible Twos". I vaguely recall reading about a blogger burnout syndrome named after a popular blogger who just walked away from their blog after two years. Does anyone remember the name of that blogger? I wonder if that is what happened to Jon Swift? Anyway, I'm not feeling that way. We'll be pressing on, but may need to take a short hiatus and assess where we go from here. But in the meantime, lets go to the ...


Todd Seavey is calling out those who claim to be libertarian but seem be waffling on the clearly libertarian benefits of free-trade and divided government in "How Crypto-Democrat are some Libertarians?" posted at
"So, to my libertarian friends who are either indifferent to the Dem/GOP distinction or who actively root for “divided government”: Are you still happier with a Democratic rather than Republican Congress after the Dems’ torpedoing of a free trade deal with Colombia — the sort of deal that at least some of my Dem/GOP-indifferent libertarian pals have rightly pointed to as more important than tiny variations in the size of the federal budget and thus a good indicator of whether the government is moving in the right direction? And if you still prefer divided government, are you consistent enough to be eagerly rooting for McCain rather than for NAFTA-bashing Obama/Clinton? Or, if not, are you de facto supporters of the Democrats (and thus opponents of trade — and thus not clearly libertarians) when you get right down to it?"
Todd is asking the right question. The libertarian swing vote, organized around the concept of divided government, was instrumental in determining the outcome of the 2006 mid-term election. If this election becomes a Democratic Party rout, then the libertarian swing vote simply will not matter, it'll just get swamped. However, if it is a close election, it could be determinative in 2008 as it was in 2006. If - and it is a big "If" - the libertarian swing vote remains consistent and committed to divided government. While it is the right question to ask, I suggest it is too early to ask it. We need to get past the Democratic primary sideshow, find out who the candidate will be, and learn whether events in Basra will overtake the the campaigns.

Hall 10000
is one of those libertarian leaning conservatives who was calling for a Democratic divided government vote in 2006. Or at least his co-blogger Lee was. Regardless, Hal has no question about whether divided government will still be a good idea in 2009, as he outlines in "Government Will Heal Your Wounds, Part II" posted at Right Thinking from the Left Coast:
"The best year of the Bush presidency has been that last one. Divided government is not only a good way to restrain the behavior of Congress, it defuses any messianic tendencies emerging from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue—tendencies which date back to at least FDR."
He references and reinforces an excellent argument quoted by an Andrew Sullivan reader:
"This is not an argument for Clinton or McCain, of course, but I'm now heavily in favor of McCain. I at least want some balance of power between the executive branch and Congress and think McCain's simply the only choice left, despite my many disagreements with him, too. But I just cannot be seduced by Obama's rhetoric. I'm still surprised that you find hope in him. I just think he's playing us all."
Jonathon Rauch is also thinking about the promise of Barack Obama and is asking if it he represents "A New Politics? Or a New Pandering?" at the National Journal:
"But there's also a kind of pandering in what Obama is doing. A few years ago, a pair of political scientists, John R. Hibbing and Elizabeth Theiss-Morse, looked at evidence from surveys and focus groups and drew some fairly startling conclusions. Most Americans, they found, think there are easy, straightforward solutions out there that everyone would agree on if only biased special interests and self-serving politicians would get out of the way. They want to be governed by ENSIDs: empathetic non-self-interested decision makers. This is pure fantasy, of course. But indulging it is Obama's stock-in-trade. In today's Washington, the only way to get sustainable bipartisanship -- bipartisanship over a period of years, not weeks -- is with divided government, which Obama and a Democratic Congress obviously can't provide. True, Hillary Rodham Clinton can't provide that either. He might be better than she at working across party lines (although in the Senate she has been quite good at it, arguably better than he -- and John McCain has been best of all). But to promise "a new kind of politics" borders on chicanery."
One is tempted to say something pithy about "all of the people, some of the time", or "some of the people, all of the time".

Jonathon Rowe is going to go the big "L" route, but is expressing a divided government preference in "Weirdest Anti-Obama Rant Ever" posted at Positive Liberty:
"Not that I support Obama; after last week’s events, I’m beginning to think Hillary preferable. Though I’ll hold my nose as usual and vote Libertarian so you can’t blame me for whom America puts in the White house. If Hillary wins, though, I hope that the Republicans take back Congress so we have divided government as we did in the 90s. Get out of Iraq. Rethink foreign policy along fighting terrorism/national security lines, not “nation building” or spreading democracy. And have a divided government where none of Hillary’s big government policies get passed. Put Bill in charge of overseeing a pro-business economic atmosphere as he did in the 90s. Maybe we’ll see surpluses again one day. Am I dreaming?"
Yes you are Jonathon. The problem with your formulation, is there is no way for the Republicans to re-take either the house or Senate in 2008. In fact, the Democrats have a reasonable chance of even securing a 60 vote filibuster-proof plurality in the Senate. The simple reality, is that if you want to continue the positive liberty promoting aspects of divided government, you cannot get there from here by voting Democrat for President, or wasting your vote on the Libertarian candidate.

Bob Benenson does the congressional analysis on "Jigsaw Politics: House GOP Looks For Help In A Lot Of Tough Places" posted at CQ Politics:
"It has always been hard to measure how many American voters give much consideration to whether they prefer a federal government run completely by one party or a government in which a president of one party serves as a check on a Congress run by the other. But unless something changes drastically in this year’s campaigns for control of both chambers of Congress, the public will face a clear choice on the question of “united” versus “divided” government — because continued Democratic majorities in both the Senate and House appear nearly certain when the 111th Congress is elected this fall and convenes next January."

Mike the Actuary is also watching the Democrat kerfuffle, and notes with interest that "Karl Rove Offers Strategy for Dem MI/FL Delegate Mess", but concludes that maintaining a balance of partisan power is a more important calculation than who won the latest primary - posted at Mike the Actuary's Musings:
"Even though I’d prefer to see divided government (if the Dems will control Congress, I’d prefer to have a Republican in the White House), I’ll try to not pay too much attention to the electoral vote projections until convention season; the numbers have to be distorted by the Hillary-Obama brawl."
Daniel Larison points out the difficulty of trying to understand what the election of any of these three presidential candidates will mean for issues like immigration in his post "The Worse, The Worse" posted at Eunomia:
"Significant majorities want restrictions on the level of immigration, but they have little effective representation in Washington, and they will have an opponent in the White House no matter who wins. In anticipation of my later remarks, I should say that I find it remarkable that all of us, myself included, have gone round and round on conservatives and Obama and have scarcely touched how far to the left Obama is on immigration; he makes McCain seem like a Minuteman by comparison. On this question, divided government may prove to be a restrictionist’s best friend given the bad alternatives."
Kinda breaks your heart doesn't it. Snicker.

James Peyser
reviews Mickey Edwards book Reclaiming Conservatism in the Boston Globe:
"Edwards writes that neoconservatives and the religious right have wrecked the conservative movement by driving it away from its core beliefs in individual liberty and divided government, in favor of an activist, mostly sectarian, social agenda, and an imperial presidency bent on global adventurism. The greatest villains in Edwards's story are George W. Bush and Newt Gingrich. According to Edwards, Gingrich destroyed the bipartisan collegiality of Congress by ruthlessly pressing GOP colleagues to toe the line in his all-against-all war to win a Republican majority. When Bush took office, this heightened sense of party loyalty meant that the Republican-controlled legislature was now a handmaiden to the executive. After 9/11, Bush took advantage of a supine Congress to seize unprecedented, and to Edwards's mind, unconstitutional powers - to disastrous effect, most notably in Iraq."
Yeah. Sounds about right. Edward's book is now in my Amazon cart.

While we are on book reviews, Will Wilkinson has reviewed the first three pages of "Larry Bartel's Unequal Democracy", where Larry makes the remarkable claim that financial inequality in America can be blamed exclusively on Republican presidents- posted at The Fly Bottle:
"Fascinating if true! But, congress writes the laws, not the president. So why not look at the party tilt of congresses rather than presidents? Or the alignments between the party controlling congress and the part in the White House. What happens under divided government, I wonder. This is not to say that presidents don’t have a lot of policymaking power, especially given the massive growth in the size and power of the bureaucracies under executive control. The cabinet agencies’ considerable discretion in creating and enforcing regulations and their ability to selectively apply and enforce legislated mandates should be troubling — in itself and independent of issues of partisan slant — to those, like Bartels, who start with Dahl’s “Who governs?” question."
Laslo Weger presents "Modern Tribalism" posted at Outsider's View
"As with other things, the modern tribalism has its positive and negative aspects. A positive aspects would include competition and balance. These are important forces in our society. The proponents of the divided government principle will list (and rightly so) a number of very positive consequences of the situation when the president and at least one part of the Congress are from opposite parties. Regrettably, the changes in people's mindset render that positive aspect less and less relevant."
I have seen no evidence that the positive benefits of divided government (restrained spending growth, better oversight, more careful legislation, better governance, and real reform that lasts longer than the next administration) are made any less relevant by people's mindset or Laslo's interesting thesis.


Traditionally, we conclude this Carnival by including one "off-topic" submission, as a grudging acknowledgment and proxy for the many off-topic submissions received. Because it is our birthday, this time, we are not. Only on-topic submissions this month. Its our birthday. Deal with it.

And 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 Tres et Vîcênsimus (XXIII) - Independence Day Edition, which we will declare on or about the Fourth of July. We have a long stretch from now until then. DWSUWF will be doing some traveling, including some fishing in Michigan and relaxing in the South of France, and over that time considering the future of this blog and the content therein. This is not a formal hiatus, but things may slow down for a bit. Submit your blog article at carnival of divided government using our carnival submission form. Past posts can be found on our blog carnival index page.


Finally, some recent carnivals and compilations of note:
Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Friday Flotsam - Saturday Afternoon Edition

Friday Flotsam is an irregularly posted end of week round-up, cleaning up some of the flotsam washed onto the small beach serving as a metaphor for our little island of rationality in the great blogospheric ocean.

ITEM - Wisconsin Trout follow-up
On Monday I posted about Salmon and Trout and their status as the "canaries in the coal mine" of our watershed environment. We pointed to a grass-roots effort led by HDW and other fishing boards to maintain science based fishing restrictions in a portion of the Wisconsin Prairie River watershed, in order to protect the native brook trout population. Good news - as their effort was successful and Question 36 passed with 2024 yes votes 1494 no votes carried in 47 counties. The official results (pdf) here. A small victory in Wisconsin. On the other hand, the salmon are still gone.

ITEM - Obama interprets debate results for the hearing impaired.
After Live Blogging the Live Bloggers for the 23rd Democratic debate on Wednesday, I concluded, like most of the blogosphere, that Clinton won the debate hands down. However, Obama may have had the last word, at a Town Hall meeting in Asheville, NC on Thursday. Check out this official Obama '08 Campaign YouTube:

There is apparently a complete subtext of communication going on between Obama and the audience consisting entirely of gestures. Some have suggested that at 1:18 into the video, Barrack flips Hillary the bird. The sequence shows that Barrack says “Senator Clinton is in her element”, and at the mention of her name he casually scratches his cheek with the one-fingered salute. Some in the crowd react to the gesture and Obama gives a big wry smile like he is in on the joke. At 2:23 he invokes rapper Jay-Z [note: link is to Jay-Z music video with strong language] and brushes the Hillary “dirt off his shoulder”, then at 2:50 he apparently scrapes the Hillary dog shit off his shoes. The audience loves it. You watch, you decide what is going on.

ITEM - The Last Meme
It started in July of 2007, when Steph, the Queen of Dysfunction awarded DWSUWF the Reflections Meme. To which we reciprocated by anointing Steph with the The Pissy Award. To which Steph, The QofD responded by banning all Memes and shutting down her blog. Sometime later, Steph the DeathChick started a new blog, which DWSUWF promptly tagged with three distinct memes. Steph the DeathChick responded in an ungracious and un-ladylike fashion and has subsequently, despite an explicit no-meme policy, willfully tagged DWSUWF with The "You First: Given me your bank account and your mother's maiden name Barrister Mobuto Meme". Which I have re-named The Last Meme, as I cannot top this, and have simply decided to tag every single blog that has ever existed from the beginning of time until now with this meme. Congratulations one and all.

ITEM - Carnivalingus

Some recent fine collections of high quality blogging punditry:ITEM - Carnival Reminder
We have a blog birthday coming up and will celebrate with the next edition of the Carnival of Divided Government Duo et Vîcênsimus - Special Two Year Blogoversary Edition, on Wednesday, April 23. Submit your blog article at carnival of divided government using our carnival submission form. Past posts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Live Blogging the Live Bloggers - Pennsylvania Debate Edition

Welcome to the third in the continuing series of "Clinton's Last Stand" Live Blogging the Live Bloggers Debates! Clinton and Obama will meet again for a one on one, this time in Philadelphia, broadcast by ABC News, and moderated by Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos.

This edition may be more problematical than previous efforts. ABC is apparently going to tape delay the broadcast on the Left Coast, so I will be totally reliant on live blog content from bloggers who are actually watching it - um... live. Additionally, campaign burnout is spreading throughout the blogosphere and I am not convinced I will find a quorum of bloggers willing to continue to live blog these proceedings from whom I can shamelessly rip content. Also, your faithful blogger has the flu, and will be working under the influence of Robitussin, Nyquil, and lemon infused Vodka (strictly for the vitamin C).

OTOH, since we and the candidates now know for an absolute fact that there are no substantial policy differences between them, they will have no choice but to engage in backbiting, mud-slinging, and character assassination, just to keep things interesting. We can only hope. Finally this is the 23rd debate overall between Clinton and Obama (according to Weigel - I stopped counting long ago) . As all Discordians and Illuminati know, nothing is predictable when the number 23 is invoked.

I'll start with the question I ask every time:
"There are plenty of bloggers covering the debate live tonight, but is anyone covering the live bloggers? DWSUWF rushes in where other, more sensible bloggers, fear to tread. "
I don't know who we will include this time because I don't know who will be blogging. But we'll start with the bloggers we used before, include Daily Kos, from the left, VodkaPundit from the right or maybe Ed Morrissey at HotAir. We will continue the Wonkette and Cynic's Party snark-off, and look to either David Weigel at Reason, or the Atlantic's Megan McArdle for a libertarian point of view and 2008 Central as the centrist blog. As always I will likely guess wrong about which blogs to monitor and will be scrambling for substitutes once things get started. Refresh your browsers for latest content once the debate is underway.



2008 "If you’re a total junkie, some nice backgrounders… The Note analyzes the stakes - Trailhead on “how Hillary can win“ - Time’s preview - We’ll be liveblogging the debate (of course), so be sure to check back later tonight."
NRO "The Corner": "I'm on my way to Philadelphia to cover the Democratic debate tonight on ABC. Watch the Corner and the Campaign Spot for liveblogging, especially if you can't watch the event on ABC, because you might not be able to catch up on what happened by tuning into cable news later. ABC has limited other networks to 30 seconds of excerpted material, although the cable nets might claim fair use and use more than that anyway."
Daily Kos commenter Leftyboy: "My spin? Why the f*ck are ABC affiliates on the west coast DELAYING this 3 hours? Jesus Christ on a cracker! Anybody got a link for an online streaming video?"
Reason - David Weigel: "Remember the first Clinton-Obama one-on-one debate in California? Remember how excited Democrats were about their historic choice between their first female nominee or their first black nominee, either one a shoe-in to lead them back into a glorious era of power and judicial appointments? That was two-and-a-half months ago. At 8 p.m. ET, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will lock horns and try to destroy each other as viable national candidates."
Cynics' Party: "Thank god there’s another debate. There’s so much to talk about, like how Obama hates white people and poor people and people who have jobs and god and America."

DWSUWF - Not sure if Vodka Pundit is live blogging - switched to NRO "The Corner". I'm probably not watching live, so will backfill my "live" comments through the miracle of modern blogging technology.



2008 "Obama talks about hope, Clinton talks about the founding fathers and concern. Also that government is not standing up for people across America; almost that they’re bitter or something. Also plugs detailed plans on her website."
NRO "The Corner": "Obama's opening statement talks about the "frustration" he's seen in Pennsylvanians as he travels the state. Hillary's notes that neither she nor Obama was represented when the Constitution was written in Philadelphia.ABC's odd two-hour format makes this debate a real marathon; neither one can go to the jugular too quickly."
Daily Kos: "Charles Gibson spent the first five minutes beating the Vice Presidential horse. And now on to Bittergate..."
Reason - David Weigel: "Clinton claims the founding fathers would have wanted a black guy and a woman to take over and "provide the good jobs" some day. I hear the sound of Ron Paul's bullet-holed TV exploding."
Cynics' Party commenter litotes: "Barry, you’re exposing your jugular in front of the Feral One, I’d watch it if I were you. Oh gawd, Hils isn’t taking the high road is she? What’s the point in that? "

DWSUWF - Two hours? Really? Two hours? I've got to blog this for two hours and then watch it too?



2008 "Clinton says it’s important to win, and will be either her or Obama. Talks up McCain as a formidable opponent. Says it is important to go after every single vote. On a follow up, Clinton says Obama can win directly, but she is better prepared with a better coalition. Obama says Clinton can win, but thinks he’s better able. "
NRO "The Corner": "Asked by Stephanopolous if Obama can win, Hillary eventually says, "Yes."
Daily Kos: "Hillary Clinton: Yes, ok, Barack Obama can defeat John McCain. He's not an elistist loser, but his words are. Besides, I'll beat McCain too, only more so. Barack Obama: Huh? "
Reason - David Weigel: "Clinton punts on the opportunity to call Obama unelectable: It'll be left to the HuffPost comment sections, then. Clinton: I can win because people started hating me 16 years ago, not just this week."
Cynics' Party commenter WonkRefugee: "This is not a friggin debate! For f*cks sake. I have had this bullshit right up to here! What are we going to do about the economy? How will we pay down the Bush debt? How will we get health care to all Americans? What will we do to restore the Constitution? What qualities will you seek in Supreme Court nominees? How will you fund research and development in science, engineering and education? How will you reform Bush’s ridiculous Every Public School Child in America Left Completely Behind fiasco? BTW is torture patriotic?"

DWSUWF - You probably can't tell, but I am crying inside.



2008 "Gibson asks about Clinton’s comments about Wright not being her pastor, and . Clinton defends her answer as a “personal choice.” That sounds like a copout to me. Clinton cites Wright’s sermon after 9/11 blaming America and says she could not take that. Obama says the comments are definitely objectionable, but that Clinton’s own pastor praised the work of Wright after the comments broke. This is silly. Pastor v. pastor? Come on... There has literally been NOTHING substantive yet tonight."
NRO "The Corner": "She describes Wright, "in his first sermon after 9/11, to blame America for the attacks, would have been unacceptable to me... You get to choose your pastor, you don't get to choose your family, but you get to choose your pastor." Zing. Obama: "Obviously, many of these remarks were objectionable." Objectionable? Wow, way to go with the milquetoast adjective there, Senator."
Daily Kos: "So far the debate reeks of the moderators' disappointment that Obama dealt with Jeremiah Wright's sermons so successfully. Their deep-seated desire to, as Obama says, "distract" from serious issues would embarrass any reasonable person. Welcome to American television news. And Clinton can barely control her glee... there's a little smile playing around the corners of her mouth that she's struggling to suppress."
Reason - David Weigel: "The church is a community that extends beyond the pastor," says Obama's focus group, which has miraculously taken control of his larynx. I think it'll be harder for Clinton to whine that she's getting the hard first questions this time... Are we actually going to debate whether Obama's pastor is patriotic enough for one of his parishioners to be president."
Cynics' Party commenter litotes: "All the people in the audience with toothpicks in your eyelids, trying to stay awake, this one’s for you…"

DWSUWF - This is encouraging. Apparently I do not need to watch the first hour.



2008 "Obama is asked if an attack on Israel by Iran should be considered an attack on the US. Obama says the first thing is to prevent nuclear weapons from getting in the hands of Iran. Talks about carrots and sticks, but that he will take nothing off the table. Says that an attack on Israel is an attack that would prompt appropriate action. Clinton talks about an umbrella of deterrence beyond Israel. Mentions massive retaliation in a wink to Ike. Says that with skillful diplomacy, the US could engage the region in a security agreement vis-a-vis Iran. She’s mentioning 9/11 almost as much as Giuliani tonight. Does anyone want to mention that ISRAEL would probably nuke Iran if they attacked? Anyone? I guess not."
NRO "The Corner": "I'm loving this debate. It's all new stuff; we haven't heard the millionth version of, "my health care plan is universal and your plan isn't." *sigh* Well, it couldn't be all fun back-and-forth. Now we're into "I'll get the troops out of Iraq, and my opponent won't." Obama says he'll do "whatever is required" to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons... including talking to them. Touts carrots and sticks. Obama mentions the Iranians funding Hamas as part of their bad behavior. He opened a window of opportunity for her; will she take it? Hillary, remembering what the original question was, says that if Iran attacked Israel, it would warrant a "massiveretaliatory response" from the United States. But she too wants "diplomatic contact" with Iran."
Daily Kos: "Suddenly, only fifty minutes into this 90 minute debate, a question is posed about an actual thing. Not just a thing, but a big thing. Iraq... Clinton states unequivocally that she would withdraw troops from Iraq, even if the commanders in Iraq pleed for more time. Major props to Hillary for taking a firm stance on an issue that will give Republicans an opening to bash her if she's the candidate. And props to Obama for doing the same, and expanding on the Clinton position. There's not a lot of room between Clinton and Obama on this issue, and that's welcome."
Reason - David Weigel: "What the hell is this question about Iraq doing here? I want to know what angle Barack Obama salutes at! Clinton's Iraq solutions... basically the Bush position, plus more ire at Iraqi leaders and "diplomacy." I'm optimistic. Obama's position: Telling generals to get ready to leave. Should it be U.S. policy to treat an attack on Israel as an attack on the United States? That's sort of a rhetorical question, isn't it? Clinton wants an "umbrella of influence" that extends beyond Israel, and would warn Iran that an attack on even more countries would invite destruction. I'm either missing something or this is just the Bush Doctrine with fuzzier adjectives."
Cynics' Party commenter litotes: "… mmph … must’ve fallen asleep … I had this interminable dream where the demrat candidates spouted nothing but platitudes for hours … revere the flag … right to have bare arms … invest in ‘murica … hope I woke up in time for the debate …"

DWSUWF - I let everyone run long here, since this was the first content in the debate.



2008 "Obama talks about fairness and hedge fund managers that pay a lower amount in terms of percentage than their secretaries. Says McCain is taking out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of children and grandchildren. Says tax cuts with deficits is untenable and not a plan... Clinton wants an economy that lifts everyone up. Maybe she should put the economy on the Wonkavator."
NRO "The Corner": "Hillary laughs heartily at McCain's comment about "they're going to raise your taxes, and they have the aud-ic-i-ty, the audacity, to hope you don't mind!" With her laugh, she triggered a thousand primal screams on liberal blogs...Wow. Hillary: "I would not raise the capital gains tax above 20 percent, if I would raise it at all... I don't want to raise taxes on everyone." She rips Obama's plan to raise payroll taxes"
Daily Kos: "Charlie Gibson is promoting capital gains tax cuts. Not that it would be in his personal interest or anything with what he makes -- but it seems like some sort of obsession with him. Good for Obama not biting on it -- hedge fund managers shouldn't be paying lower tax rates than their secretaries. And he hits McCain on economic issues."
Reason - David Weigel: "Why does Obama want to raise taxes if the capital gains tax cut increased revenue? "Fairness." Gibson gives him a chance to wiggle away from "taxes all the time, even if they don't work!" Obama hardly move on it. A new capital gains cut "might or might not" increase revenue."
Cynics' Party commenter Kizzak: "Another economist stabs himself through the fucking heart when someone trots out the utterly false claim that tax cuts always increase revenues. Please, won’t you think of the economists?"

DWSUWF - I'm way behind. The debate is over and MSNBC is doing post debate analysis. Of course the local ABC affiliate will not start the debate for another hour. I'll pick one more topic then go the end. More vitamin V.


41 or 43 or Guns or Whatever?

2008 "How would Clinton use George W. Bush? She makes a joke about not being sure and dodges. That’s really the only answer. Obama says that George H.W. Bush is someone he would counsel, looking at his foreign policy."
NRO "The Corner": "Obama said tonight that he never supported a ban on handguns. Gibson mentioned a questionnaire, and once again, Obama said he wasn't the one who filled it out. I presume this is the questionnaire he's referring to: "That 1996 questionnaire asked whether he supported banning the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns in Illinois. The campaign's answer was straightforward: "Yes." I now see that Obama has been saying for a while that some unnamed aide filled out that form without consulting him. (The Politico noted his handwriting appears on the questionnaire, the one he said he never saw.) "
Daily Kos: "I had chicken for dinner. It was really good. I really need to catch up on some laundry tonight. I'm kind of sad that Pricilla Presley was voted off of Dancing With The Stars last night. My daughter decided on a college today. I love ice cream. I wonder if ABC will schedule a debate for me to discuss these things on national television."
Reason - David Weigel: "The gas tax moratorium? Really? Really? ... Really? Funding the highway trust fund with a tax on oil companies. They are opening Milton Friedman's grave and pissing on his corpse."
Cynics' Party commenter Blogenfreude & LiT:"They’re arguing about which Bush was better … please just shoot me... Obama is going all VHS1 on Daddy Bush. Hils thinks Boy Bush would pose great in the “all my ex prezes” pix."

DWSUWF - The local affiliate will start the debate here momentarily. I am going to turn it on, take a shot of Nyquil, and pretend to watch it. However, listening to Keith Obamarmann complain about the questions, watching the Obama loving Kos kids going DEFCON RED and now launching a massive nuclear retaliatory strike on ABC as I write this, I can only only conclude that Clinton kicked Obama's ass all over the stage tonight. I'll add the reactions to the candidate wrap up questions later, as well as concluding thoughts. Maybe. Or Maybe tomorrow.



2008 "What if you’re talking to a group of superdelegates? What do you say?... Clinton says she is a fighter against the special interests to give money back to the middle class. This is not how she would actually frame her argument at all. Not even close. Says she is ready to be Commander in Chief and is ready to turn the economy around. Obama talks about the country being at a defining moment with Americans lost trust in government, and that he bet on the American people wanting an honest conversation not spin. This, also, is not how he would frame his argument, but is at least a bit closer than Clinton’s."
NRO "The Corner": "Hillary closed by saying she’s a fighter. She proved that tonight; if I were on Team McCain, tonight might have convinced me to hope for a showdown with Obama."
Kos of Daily Kos: "I honestly don't understand why Democrats haven't learned to ignore the bullshit substance-less questions and simply say, "Okay, that's a dumb question. Let's talk about something people care about, like the housing crisis."Just bypass the idiotic questioners and talk about the things that the Democratic primary electorate actually want to talk about. Trust me, they'll get brownie points, and the idiot questioners will look like idiots in the process."
Reason - David Weigel: "This is not what Clinton will tell superdelegates, unless by "the White House needs a fighter" she means "the black dude who says 'you know' a lot can't win!" It's good for Obama when she gets these first, though: She's better at distorting the question and flattening his playing field. Obama will also repeat his talking points to superdelegates! The odds, they are astounding."
Cynics' Party commenter Pedonator:"On the left coast here, I have to admit that the Hillsbot generally did a good game. She was almost warm. And her (public) policy positions seem good. The Unicorn was even better, but that doesn’t count for much. Too much of the “debate” consisted of softballs that let them both spooge on each other with creamy white Iran-baiting, safe, muscular stances. And who can whore it out more for taxes on people who make $250K+?"
Andrew Sullivan at The Atlantic
: "The closers: Clinton went into rote mode. They both need a rest. Obama's final words were great: against spin and PR and in favor of an honest conversation at a dire moment in history. It makes you realize that among the forces that have to be defeated if such a conversation is to take place will be the kind of "journalism" we have been forced to endure tonight... The big winner is John McCain. Then Clinton who seemed at least awake. Then Obama whose calm was nonetheless trumped by obvious exhaustion. Yes, the Clintons have shredded him. But that's what they know how to do. It's also what the GOP knows how to do. Obama has got to get used to this and find a way to withstand it and fight back without enabling the very cynicism it represents. That's not easy, and we are discovering if he has it in him. Tonight he looked and felt depleted beyond measure. Which is when his supporters have to take the weight."
Vodkapundit: "I welcome our new liberty-sapping overlords."

DWSUWF - Ok... I will sleep deeply on all I have read, and seen and heard, and render my considered judgement on the morrow.


Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Of salmon and trout and canaries in a coal mine

Just in case anyone is not familiar with the meaning of the phrase "like a canary in a coal mine" this is it:
"Early coal mines did not feature ventilation systems, so miners would routinely bring a caged canary into new coal seams. Canaries are especially sensitive to methane and carbon monoxide, which made them ideal for detecting any dangerous gas build-ups. As long as the canary in a coal mine kept singing, the miners knew their air supply was safe. A dead canary in a coal mine signaled an immediate evacuation."
I bring this up because wild Salmonids (trout and salmon) are often referred to as the canaries in the environmental and watershed "coal mine". They require cold clean fast flowing water. They are hypersensitive to pollution, water flow, silt, and water temperature. If conditions are changed due to the effect of logging near streams, or rivers being dammed and providing insufficient flow, or wildlife management policies that permit overfishing, the trout and salmon die. It is that simple.

Some examples of how this metaphor has been used in articles and books:
"Like the canary in the coal mine, the wild Atlantic salmon is a biological indicator that signals loss in water quality." -Atlantic Salmon Federation
"How can salmon and trout be used as quick-action environmental monitors, the piscine equivalent of the canary in the coal mine?" - Canada Genome - Toronto Star
"Brook trout are the canary in the coal mine when it comes to water quality," said Gary Berti, Trout Unlimited's Eastern Brook Trout Campaign Coordinator. "The presence of brook trout in a watershed indicates that water quality is excellent. Declining brook trout populations can provide an early warning that the health of an entire stream, lake or river is at risk." - Trout Unlimited
The abundance and health of the fish themselves remain in most cases the best integrated measure of the ecosystems that salmon traverse and inhabit. Salmon are often likened to the canary in the coalmine..." -Pacific Salmon & Their Ecosystems
These quotes are from older articles that were simply making the point that Salmon and Trout populations are an early warning system for our water quality, watershed and wildlife management policy.

If the salmon are lost smash the stateCanaries in the Pacific Watershed
Last week, we got a more timely report. The canary is dead. And we now know we have a real environmental problem in the ecology of the river system 'coal mine":
Is Calif. salmon fishery finished?
SAN FRANCISCO, April 13 (UPI) -- The one-year ban on fishing for Chinook salmon could kill the commercial salmon fishery in California, officials said. The number of boats has dropped from 4,000 to 400 in 15 years, The San Francisco Chronicle reported.

End of coast's 150-year-old fishery looms
Carl Nolte, Chronicle Staff Writer Saturday, April 12, 2008
The ban on all commercial and sport fishing for chinook salmon in California and most of Oregon this year could be the beginning of the end for a whole way of life. Commercial fishing is an industry that is deep in the heart of life along California's 1,000-mile coast, where fishing ports from Crescent City to Morro Bay have supported generations of fishing families. Now, for the first time since commercial fishing began on the West Coast more than 150 years ago during the Gold Rush era, no boats will be permitted to put to sea to fish for chinook, the fabled king salmon that is the mainstay of the commercial fishery.
The question goes begging. What happened to the salmon? There are many theories, and scientists are, as yet, unwilling to state that they know the reason. I won't pretend to have a definitive answer, but I do have an informed opinion.

It starts with an administration that has an ideological agenda to prioritize political and economic interests over wildlife:
"Law and science seemed to be on the side of the fish. Then the vice president stepped in. First Cheney looked for a way around the law, aides said. Next he set in motion a process to challenge the science protecting the fish, according to a former Oregon congressman who lobbied for the farmers. Because of Cheney's intervention, the government reversed itself and let the water flow in time to save the 2002 growing season, declaring that there was no threat to the fish. What followed was the largest fish kill the West had ever seen, with tens of thousands of salmon rotting on the banks of the Klamath River. Characteristically, Cheney left no tracks. The Klamath case is one of many in which the vice president took on a decisive role to undercut long-standing environmental regulations for the benefit of business. By combining unwavering ideological positions -- such as the priority of economic interests over protected fish -- with a deep practical knowledge of the federal bureaucracy, Cheney has made an indelible mark on the administration's approach to everything from air and water quality to the preservation of national parks and forests. " - Washington Post -June 2007
Then the administration cooks the science to further their ideological objectives:
"The Bush administration has now found a novel way around these inconveniences: a new policy on counting fish. Its practical effect would be to eliminate the distinction between wild salmon and hatchery salmon, which can be churned out by the millions. This sleight of hand would instantly make wild salmon populations look healthier than they actually are, giving the government a green light to lift legal protections for more than two dozen endangered salmon species as well as the restrictions on commerce that developers and other members of President Bush's constituency find so annoying. Policy makers at the National Marine Fisheries Service say they are merely obeying a federal judge who was unhappy with the way the government distinguished between wild and hatchery fish. But in drawing up the new policy, the service ignored the scientists who urged that the protections remain in place. It relied instead on a Washington-based political team whose key player was Mark Rutzick, a former timber industry lawyer. Such a step may be good politics for the Bush administration. But it is bad science and bad news for wild salmon."- New York Times - May 2004
This results in the removal of "endangered" status for wild salmon runs, and permits the wholesale diversion of water from the Klamath and Sacramento Delta Salmon habitat to agricultural interests.
"Although Sacramento River chinook salmon suffer from an array of problems, the most significant are the massive export of water from the California Delta by the state and federal pumps and declining water quality. Meanwhile, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his corporate agribusiness and developer buddies are pushing for a peripheral canal and more dams that would allow the projects to export even more water in an estuary whose fisheries are already crashing. On the Sacramento, where the salmon collapse is the immediate cause of the fishery closure, state and federal government water managers diverted and pumped an all-time record high of 6.4 million acre feet of water from the delta in 2005, the same year juvenile salmon that would have returned as adults in 2007 were attempting to migrate through the delta and out to sea, according to Earthjustice. "What's happened is no surprise given the massive water diversions from the Sacramento San Francisco Bay delta and the failure to address toxic discharges into this estuary, an ecosystem critical to the survival of the salmon run that drives our west coast fishery," emphasized Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations (PCFFA). "It's obvious that we've got to go to work to both save fishermen and fix the delta to bring back our fishery." - Dan Bacher - Truthout - April 11, 2008
And so, the canaries die. The message is clear, when the canaries die, the mine water is not safe.

Canaries in the Wisconsin Watershed
On a more local scale, HDW at HDW Mobile Blog has been waging a campaign to prevent politics and bad science from overriding Wisconsin protections for wild trout in the Prairie River Watershed. As per the example of the West Coast Salmon, to nip the problem in the bud is to head off damaging politics based on bad science early. In an excellent series has been enumerating the top reasons for all who are concerned about maintaining the health of the wild trout "canary in the cold mine" in Central Wisconsin:

Reason # 1 - because it is the right thing to do
"On April 14 in every county in Wisconsin the unique Conservation Congress spring hearings will be held. A disgruntled "retired" fisheries manager has been waging a personal war against the enlightened Wisconsin inland trout coldwater fisheries regulations. He has found a like minded group group of the kill more small trout contingent and managed to put to vote the regulations protecting five miles of the prime rearing habitat for native trout in Central Wisconsin's Prairie River. All Wisconsin citizens are eligible to vote by showing up at the hearings held in every county. The citizens of the surrounding states of Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois, which are generally referred to as Greater Wisconsin, are also eligible to vote on this advisory question. Vote yes on question 36."
This post may be too late to help HDW in this effort, as the vote is tonight in every county of Wisconsin. If you can, get there and vote, and make your voice heard. Locations for hearings can be found here.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Olympic torch protest postscript: Good call Mr. Mayor

Some think the coverage of the Olympic Torch relay in San Francisco yesterday did not merit the media frenzy it received. They would be correct.

If Wolf Blitzer thinks this was the biggest story of the day, who am I, a mere blogger, to disagree? So I was forced to declare a "Yossarian" on the story. Paraphrasing the Yossarian Principle from Joseph Heller's Catch 22 - "What if everyone was covering about the San Francisco protest of the Olympic Torch relay?" I can only respond as did Bomber Pilot John Yossarian: "Then I'd be a damn fool not to".

Since the biggest story in the world Tuesday was taking place in my backyard, I had no choice but to venture out from behind my keyboard into that space I like to call "outside". Armed only with a TREO 700P, I attended and live blogged a portion of the torch route on a supplemental team blog we set up for the purpose. I walked the "route not taken" from Justin Herman Plaza to the planned start at the ball park and back again when it became clear the torch was heading another way.
"It was an Olympic-sized fake-out, and by the end of the day, instead of the violent clashes that some had feared, the Beijing Olympic torch run left only thousands of frustrated protesters on one end of San Francisco and mostly relieved runners and officials on the other. The finger-pointing is bound to go on for days about whether changing the route at the last minute was right. But on Wednesday, Mayor Gavin Newsom and other officials said that once they got a good look mid-morning at the chanting, surging, flag-waving crowds along the torch's advertised route, they felt they had no choice."
Alan Steward Carl blogging at Donklephant characterized the decision to secretly divert the Olympic Torch relay route as "cowardice". I disagree.

I expected a carnival atmosphere, the kind of protest "circus" that only San Francisco can stage, and I was not disappointed. The biggest surprise for me was the split within the San Francisco Chinese-American community. There was a lot of emotion on display including heated arguments in the streets and we even witnessed a fist fight. I guess I assumed this was a one sided argument (Pro-Tibet), and had no idea about the depth of the division that exists in the community. It was almost as bad as between Obamites and Clintonistas. There were big crowds along the route lined with activists intent on stopping the run and there was a real potential for people to get hurt - including the torch bearers.

Net net - Mayor Gavin Newsom pulled this off brilliantly. The torch run in Paris was a wake-up call. In San Francisco, they got the message. No one was hurt, there were minimal arrests, the Chinese got a completed face saving ceremony and photo op, while much of the city was turned over to protesters. They, in turn, were permitted to vent their collective and variegated spleens with the media attention they craved for their respective causes. Entertainment was provided by the City and Olympic committee. Fun was had by all.

The oppression of Tibet by China is a deadly serious issue.

The San Francisco Olympic Torch Relay protest was not.

I am glad it stayed that way.

Well played Mr. Mayor.

x-posted at Donklephant.
UPDATED: 11-April-08 - Added Video and links.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Monday Miscellany - Carnivalingus

Odds and ends:

ITEM - Olympic Torch Protest Live-blog
The Olympic Torch has landed, and the kind of circus that only San Francisco can stage will soon begin. The plan is to live blog a portion of the torch route tomorrow (Wednesday) on the String Bikini Theory supplemental team blog in coordination with the Cynic's Party. I'll catch the start at McCovey Cove, follow it to the Ferry building, and wait for it to come back (San Francisco residents are not permitted into the Fisherman's Wharf area that the Torch will traverse - that area is reserved for the exclusive use of tourists).

ITEM - Link
Tom Usher of the Real Liberal Christian Church linked and commented on my recent Thomas Jefferson post, and I have no idea what the hell he is talking about.

ITEM - Birthday
Our two year blogoversary is fast approaching, and we will be celebrating with the Carnival of Divided Government Duo et Vîcênsimus - Special Two Year Blogoversary Edition, on or about Wednesday, April 23. Submit your blog article at carnival of divided government using our carnival submission form. The words or idea of "Divided Government" must be in the post to be considered for inclusion. Its our birthday. Humor us. Past posts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

ITEM - Canivalingus
Finally, I have been remiss in bringing to your attention recent carnivals and compilations of interest.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.