Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Michael Bloomberg definitely ought to apologize for his suggestion that the bomber was "someone who didn't like the healthcare bill or somethin'". He'd probably counter that it was a throwaway comment, but, then, throwaway comments sometimes tell us quite a bit about people's character sometimes. One need only re-contextualize the comment to see this truth manifest. What if, for instance, he had seen someone lying dead from a gang-related murder and had said, if he had to guess at who did it, he would bet "fifty cents" that it was an African American male (albeit, one acting alone)? This would rightly offend every civil rights leader from China to Peru, and they would be rightly offended also. It is depressing that Bloomberg's cosmopolitan supporters will probably not only give him a clean bill-of-health, but will probably claim that his idiotic comment was insightful.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Reflections on the Election in Great Britain

Apparently, David Cameron's Tories are falling behind the Liberal Democrats in Britain's May elections. I am not sure how to feel about this. There have been conservatives (or "conservatives" of the compassionate variety, such as David Frum and Joe Scarborough) lining up to support Cameron in the United States and conservatives (or "conservatives" of the anti-tax fundamentalist variety) who have been lining up to use Cameronism as a punching bag. Personally, I have very little respect for David Cameron and don't believe for a second that his "Cameronism" is a sustainable social project. (If, on the campaign trail, President Obama had so much as suggested that Saul Alinsky was an inspiration to him, then his campaign would have been in trouble; and yet, Cameron opening embraces Alinsky in his speeches and campaign documents.)

That being said, I am not sure how I feel about the conservatives falling behind in Britain. My primary reason for embracing a Tory victory would be that, while I don't believe Cameronism is sustainable, I don't believe that Cameronism is sustainable; in short, I am curious to see it tested. That being said, if Tories did lose, it might put to rest the notion of certain conservatives in America that Cameronism is the future; there are thinking conservatives who have, more or less, embraced certain aspects of Cameronism via Philip Blond's Red Toryism (see Front Porch Republic), but most mainstream recommendations for emulation (see FrumForum) have ended in policy proposals that sound like the Diet Coke version of the Democratic platform.

Anyway, their are pluses and minuses for both electoral outcomes; I'm just glad that I'm not a citizen of that country because I honestly have no idea which way I would vote.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Problem with (Contemporary) Moderates

Most of the media's talk during the past few weeks has concentrated on the problem with partisanship in America. However, I tend to think that it is not the partisans in the senate, but rather the so-called centrists who are doing more damage to American democracy.

Senators who are most frequently praised for bipartisan courage are the ladies from Maine, Arlen Specter (until his recent switch) and Bill Nelson. But since when have they cast a vote that they honestly thought would endanger their chances of reelection with their constituencies?

True, Bill Nelson's poll numbers have sharply declined since he sold his vote to Obamacare, but the Nebraska senator did try very hard to ensure that this would not happen--and, therein, is the problem: the centrist senators cast their votes, at least on the most controversial legislation, through a process of institutionalized bribery.

Olympia Snowe, for example, can sell her vote to the Republicans in exchange for a naval base remaining open or to the Democrats for priority high way work on the routes leading to Portland, but this is a sort of centrism that profiteers off partisanship. Were the senate not in veto-gridlock, there would be no space for this sort of "moderation".

This is not to say that there cannot be moderates with guiding principles. There have been. Senators Moynihan and D'Amato and Governors Casey and (Mitt) Romney all took positions that were somestimes more conservative or liberal than the mainstream of their party or in their state. But they were principled. Regardless of what one thinks of the rightness or wrongness of the positions they took, one could rest assured that these positions had their origin in these men's conscience, not their self-ambition for reelection.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Looking Good for the Fall, but Are They Even in Touch with Their Party Members?

It looks like the Republicans are already going to be heading into trouble if they voice too excessively their support for the Supreme Court's recent Citizens United decision. It turns out that the American people are overwhelmingly supportive of McCain-Feingold. And more importantly, Republican voters are in favor of it by a margin of about sixty percent.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Good-Bayh to All That

It is official: Evan Bayh has announced that he will not seek reelection. This may or may not be a wise move. After all, the mood of the country could easily swing in the opposite direction just as quickly as it has, as of recent, swung from left to right. The Republicans aren't particularly trusted right now, and it is telling that they are running not as "Republicans" but rather as "outsiders".

The more interesting question that the Evan Bayh retirement raises is this: President Obama more or less hung Democrats in moderate districts out to dry with his health care and cap-and-trade legislation. Is it possible that Bayh will return the favor and mount a primary challenge against Obama in 2011? It all depends on the mood of the country, but if it continues to shift rightward, I would rule it out.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ideology really can make smart people stupid:

"There are many theories about the import of Scott Brown’s upset victory in the race for Edward Kennedy’s former Senate seat. To our minds, it is not remotely a verdict on Mr. Obama’s presidency, nor does it amount to a national referendum on health care reform" 

That's from the New York Times. In all fairness, though, the same could probably be said about many-a-Republican.