Thursday, November 30, 2006

On Faith and Hypocrisy

A Washington Post this morning reads "Church Is Urged to Disinvite Obama." Apparently Obama (along with some sixty others) is scheduled to speak at a conference on AIDS at a California megachurch this weekend, at the request of prominent evangelical author Rick Warren (The Purpose-Driven Life). However, some of Warren's colleagues don't believe Obama should be allowed to speak at the conference ... because he believes in a woman's right to choose. Eighteen other evangelical 'leaders' signed a letter to Warren saying in part "You cannot fight one evil while justifying another."

Warren responded by saying that while he "completely disagrees" with Obama on the question of abortion, "Our goal has been to put people together who normally won't even speak to each other. We do not expect all participants in the Summit discussion to agree with all of our Evangelical beliefs. However, the HIV/AIDS pandemic cannot be fought by Evangelicals alone. It will take the cooperation of all - government, business, NGOs and the church."

Obama said he plans to attend the conference, where he will take a public HIV test (as I believe he's done in the past). "While we will never see eye-to-eye on all issues," Obama said, "surely we can come together with one voice to honor the entirety of Christ's teachings by working to eradicate the scourge of AIDS, poverty and other challenges we all can agree must be met."

Good for Rick Warren and Barack Obama for not putting up with the short-sightedness of the "all or nothing" crowd. But the "we must agree on everything before we can agree on anything" patrols are out in force this week: as CNN reported yesterday, the president-elect of the Christian Coalition, Rev. Joel Hunter, has resigned before taking office after the organization's board refused to allow him to expand the agenda beyond abortion and same-sex marriage. Hunter said "I wanted to expand the issues from only moral ones ... to include compassion issues such as poverty, justice, and creation care [i.e. environmental protection]. We need to care as much for the vulnerable outside the womb as inside the womb. After initial willingness to consider these changes, the board of the CCA decided, 'that is fine, but that is not who we are.'"

Taken together, these two stories are really an incredibly telling statement about the leadership of the evangelical movement in this country - and I say the leadership because I'm certain many rank-and-file evangelicals do not share this single-minded obsession with knee-jerk, inflammatory issues. There are so many areas - including health care, poverty, the perhaps most importantly the environment - where common ground can be found, why on earth should a dialogue be rejected simply because universal agreement is not possible? It's hard to wrap my hope-springs-eternal mind around the idea that progress and justice are really second to fundraising ability and reactionism to these people ... but I find it even more difficult to draw any other conclusion.

Last night I was reading from a new selection of Ben Franklin's words, Not Your Ordinary Founding Father (edited by the great historian Edmund S. Morgan). Appropriately in hindsight, I read the religion section last evening, and in reading the headlines this morning was reminded of this passage from a letter Franklin wrote to his friend Joseph Huey in 1753:

"Your great Master [i.e. Jesus] tho't much less of these outward Appearances and Professions than many of his modern Disciples. He prefer'd the Doers of the Word to the meer Hearers; the Son that seemingly refus'd to obey his Father and yet perform'd his Commands, to him that profess'd his Readiness by neglected his Works; the heretical but charitable Samaritan, to the uncharitable tho' orthdox Priest and sanctified Levite: and those who gave Food to the hungry, Drink to the Thirsty, Raiment to the Naked, Entertainment to the Stranger, and Relief to the Sick, &c. tho' they never heard of his Name, he declares shall in the last Day be accepted, when those who cry Lord, Lord; who value themselves on their Faith tho' great enough to perform Miracles but have neglected good Works shall be rejected. He profess'd that he came not to call the Righteous but Sinners to Repentance; which imply'd his modest Opinion that there were some in his Time so good that they need not hear even him for Improvement; but now a days we have scarce a little Parson, that does not think it the Duty of every Man within his Reach to sit under his petty Ministrations, and that whoever offends them offends God. I wish to such more Humility, and to you Health and Happiness ..."

Some things never change, it seems.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Frist Says No to '08 WH Bid

In what may be Bill Frist's first politically-savvy move since becoming Senate Majority Leader, the retiring senator from TN has announced that he will not be running for president in 2008. After managing to somehow alienate just about everyone in the GOP (see Schiavo, stem cells, judges, Bolton, immigration, "blind" trusts, &c. &c. &c.), Frist's niche constituency was approaching zero, so he is wisely getting out while the gettins' good.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

DoJ to Investigate Eavesdrop Scheme

After almost a year of prodding by Democrats and others concerned by the implications of the president's controversial and extra-constitutional domestic warrantless eavesdrop program, the Justice Department's inspector general announced Monday he is opening an investigation into some elements of the scheme.

Glenn Fine, the inspector general, wrote to members of Congress yesterday saying that his review of the program would "examine the controls in place at the Justice Department for the eavesdropping, the way information developed from it was used, and the department’s 'compliance with legal requirements governing the program,'" according to a report in today's NYTimes. The review will not be responsible for making a determination as to the program's legality, Fine said.

This is an important step forward, albeit months too late. When the new Congress comes in I'm sure there will be other investigations of the eavesdrop program, so we shall see where things go from here.

Monday, November 27, 2006

NYTimes Runs Obituary for New England Republicans

Given this year's election results you knew it had to happen: the New York Times has printed an obituary for the "Yankee Republican (Republicanus newenglandensis)." Pam Belluck describes the subspecies as "Dignified in demeanor, independent in ideology and frequently blue in blood [how the heck did I miss out on that one?], they were politicians in the mold of Roosevelt and Rockefeller: socially tolerant, environmentally enthusiastic, people who liked government to keep its wallet close to its vest and its hands out of social issues."

Belluck points out the striking (and exceedingly worrisome) results of this past election, in which independents, many liberal Republicans and even Democrats deserted Republican incumbents in droves. Seeking a reason for the trend, she quotes former NH Republican governor Walter Peterson (who this year co-chaired Republicans for John Lynch, the incumbent Democrat):

"What the people want is basically to feel like the candidates of a political party are working for the people, not just following some niche issues. The old traditional Republican Party was conservative on small government, efficient government; believed in supporting people to give them a chance at life but not having people on the dole; wanted a balanced budget; and on social issues they were moderate, tolerant, live and let live. They didn’t dislike somebody from other religious viewpoints. That was the old-fashioned conservative, but the word conservative today has been bastardized."

Defeated RI Senator Lincoln Chafee sums up the dilemma well: "'I’m caught between the state party, which I’m very comfortable in, and the national party, which I’m not,' said Mr. Chafee, adding that he was considering the merits of 'sticking it out and hoping the pendulum swings back.'" Like Chafee, I think many of us liberal Republicans in New England (and New York, where I grew up and still vote) have increasingly in the last few years (decades?) felt the chill wind that tends to blow our way from the rest of the Republican Party most of the time.

Has the moment come when there is no room for us in the Republican tent? Has the pendulum swung so far from the Party's good-sense roots that it will not, in fact, swing back? With every loss or retirement of another prominent Yankee Republican (Charlie Bass, Sherry Boehlert, Linc Chafee, just to name a few this year) our influence in the national party diminishes proportionately. Is our battle already lost?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

"Who Killed the Electric Car?"

Some friends and I watched the recent documentary "Who Killed the Electric Car?" last night ... by the time it was finished I was literally shaking with frustration. This is a movie that everyone should see, because it really speaks to the short-sightedness of American industry as well as the complicity of politicians with the oil and auto companies to keep consumers tied to the gasoline pump. I cannot recommend it highly enough ... it will make you mad, but frankly we need a little more of that around here.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Musings on Money

The unveiling of the designs for the "Presidential $1 Coin Program" has prompted some thoughts about the state of money in America, so I figured why not throw some random suggestions out there.

First, I like the idea of a dollar coin, since it makes so much more sense (not to mention cents) for the government to produce coins rather than dollar bills (they last a bit longer, not surprisingly). However, I think Kevin Drum is right in saying that if bills and coins are in circulation simultaneously, people will prefer bills (because they're used to them, bills are lighter, etc.). The solution seems fairly simple: ditch the dollar bill. People will then use the coins (plus, George Washington already has his mug on the quarter so there's no need to worry that he will go unhonored).

Now, as to the particular dollar coin project the Mint's embarking on in 2007, it certainly seems to have some merit. The state quarters have been immensely popular, and while some of the quarters have gone into collections, they have saturated the market enough that everyone's using them instead of hoarding them (as many people - including me - still do with the current dollar coins). Having a presidential series will prompt collecting as well, but if the Mint pumps out enough coins to get them really circulating, people will use them (something which will be guaranteed if the dollar bill goes away). The new coin design is interesting and fresh (check out the edge design), although I hope the reverse ends up looking slightly less like board-game money.

Of course there is the odd problem of what to do given the Mint's proposed four-presidents-per-year schedule, since when 2017 rolls around there's a decent chance that Bill Clinton and/or George W. Bush and/or Bush's successor will still be alive (and the law says no living ex-president or current president can appear on the coin). I guess the Mint's planning to cross that bridge when we get there.

Now, you'll say, there's a problem with dollar coins: they don't fit nicely into cash register change compartments. That's true, and again there's a fairly simple solution - abolish the penny. It is an obnoxious anachronism whose moment has long since passed. Plus, again, Lincoln's already got the $5 bill so he's covered. Satiate the copper and zinc proponents by using their metals in some other way.

But now that we've gotten rid of the dollar bill and the penny there's an extra slot in the register's cash compartment. Ah, the perfect opportunity to revive and increase circulation of the $2 bill, which would then save the trouble of ever getting three or four dollar coins in change. Keeping Jefferson on the $2 bill would open up the nickel for a new face, and I would nominate Teddy Roosevelt to go there (because really now, how long can we possibly continue to ignore the fact that TR's not honored on a coin or a bill?).

So, in short:
- Stop producing pennies and one-dollar bills.
- Increase circulation of one-dollar coins and two-dollar bills.
- Put TR's image on the nickel.

Other things to consider:
- What goes on the quarter after we run out of states?
- What goes on the dollar coin after we run out of ex-presidents?

Just my two cents.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

My best wishes to all of you for a happy, safe and filling Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Warner Should Claim EPW Seniority

Senator John Warner (R-VA), whose term as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee ends after the lame-duck session, announced Friday that he would like to invoke his seniority on the Environment and Public Works Committee to claim its top GOP slot, currently held by Oklahoma's James Inhofe. Warner would then serve in the 110th Congress as the committee's ranking member (Barbara Boxer, D-CA, will be the chair).

"The senator said his plan was in keeping with past Republican practice." Inhofe, however, plans to fight for his spot: "I have long been a friend of John Warner, however, I think he has misunderstood the rules."

I don't think he has. Seniority matters, and with Warner stepping down as chair of Armed Services, he should be able to claim the ranking minority slot in EPW. I support his move wholeheartedly.

Warner responded late Friday to Inhofe's comment, saying "I carefully reviewed the rules in consultation with the Secretary of the Majority, who assures me that my seniority on the Committee forms a clear basis, under longstanding precedent."

The GOP caucus will vote on committee chairmanships on January 3.

Friday, November 17, 2006

McCain & "Common Sense Conservatism"

In a pair of speeches to conservative audiences on Thursday, Senator McCain laid out an agenda of what he's calling "common sense conservatism." National Journal's Marc Ambinder has some good coverage and analysis of the speeches, and Adam Nagourney from the NYT also weighs in. You can read McCain's speech to the Federalist Society here and the one to GOPAC here.

McCain argues in both speeches that the Republicans lost their House and Senate majorities not because voters disagreed with the party's governing philosophy. "On the contrary, I think they rejected us because they felt we had come to value our incumbency over our principles, and partisanship, from both parties, was no longer a contest of ideas, but an ever cruder and uncivil brawl over the spoils of power."

Hypocrisy, my friends, is the most obvious of political sins. And the people will punish it. We were elected to reduce the size of government and enlarge the sphere of free and private initiative. Then we lavished money, in a time of war, on thousands of projects of dubious, if any, public value. We responded to a problem facing some Americans by providing every retired American with a prescription drug benefit, and adding another trillion dollars to a bankrupt entitlement. We increased the size of government in the false hope that we could bribe the public into keeping us in office. And the people punished us. We lost our principles and our majority. And there is no way to recover our majority without recovering our principles first.

A century ago, Teddy Roosevelt took on the special interests. Let the party of Teddy Roosevelt take the lead in cleaning up Washington today. Let's start with pork barrel spending and corporate welfare; eliminate all earmarks; pass the line item veto; employ honest budget accounting; and end emergency spending bills for non emergencies as a way around budget limits. Let's ban all gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers, and keep lobbyists off the floors of the House and Senate.

To keep our nation prosperous, strong and growing we have to rethink, reform and reinvent: the way we educate our children; train our workers; deliver health care services; support retirees; fuel our transportation network; stimulate research and development; and harness new technologies. Let that challenge be the new Republican calling. Let's invite a genuine contest of ideas within our party and with the other party."

In the speech to the Federalist Society, McCain noted "
The genius of our founding fathers wasn't that they were better people than those who came before them; it's that they realized precisely that they did not have a greater claim to virtue, and that the people who followed them weren't likely to be any more virtuous than they were. That critical insight led them to realize something important about power: if its exercise isn't limited, it will become absolute. Because power always tries to expand. It's a law of nature, of human nature."

After a discussion about judges (in which he proclaims his pride at being part of the Gang of 14), McCain says "
Of course, to paraphrase Mr. Madison, if angels wrote laws, we wouldn't need judges at all. Unfortunately, angels don't write laws; Congress does. And we're called a lot of things, but no one would mistake us for angels. Too frequently, we write laws that are unclear, we vote on laws we haven't adequately debated, and sometimes, I am sad to report, we vote on laws we haven't even read. When we pass laws like that, we leave too much to the discretion of our federal judges. We fail in our role to ensure that the judiciary's scope is limited. As we debate reforms to the practices and procedures of Congress, I hope, particularly we Republicans, will take an honest look at how we fail to fulfill our constitutional responsibilities when we write laws that invite judicial activism and misinterpretation."

Reform, limited government and a true contest of ideas. Sounds pretty commonsensical to me.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Jim Leach for UN Ambassador

Longtime centrist Republican Rep. Jim Leach's defeat last Tuesday is a great loss for the House of Representatives, but it need not be a loss for the country. There is a diplomatic position for which Leach is not only qualified, but also particularly well suited: Ambassador to the United Nations. I am proud to jump on the Leach bandwagon today by announcing my strong support for his nomination and confirmation by the Senate.

Blog-ally Steve Clemons at The Washington Note has long been favorably inclined toward Leach and is also supporting the effort to secure his nomination. As he notes, Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-WA) and James Walsh (R-NY) have begun circulating a "Dear Colleague" letter recommending Leach for the ambassadorship, and are asking other members to sign on as well. Chris Shays (R-CT) and Jim Marshall (D-GA) have done so, and presumably other signatures will be forthcoming.

This is a bipartisan effort to name a man of experience, knowledge, dignity, pragmatism and principle to the post of UN Ambassador. There is no better choice.

Oh Come On

Word this morning is that Senator Trent Lott, ousted from the GOP leadership in 2002 (a move which I pushed for then, even way back in my pre-blogging days) has defeated Senator Lamar Alexander to become the Republican Whip in the 110th Congress. The vote, which occurred behind closed doors this morning, was 25-24, according to the AP.

What I wrote in 2002 still holds true today - Trent Lott is not the face I want leading my party in the United States Senate. This is an unfortunate step, and an unwise move.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Withdraw Bolton Now

Clearly not learning quite as many lessons from Tuesday's rout as one might have hoped, the Administration has resubmitted unconfirmed UN Ambassador John Bolton's name to the Senate. Apparently Bush hopes that Bolton's confirmation can be somehow forced through before the new Congress convenes in January. This is not only unlikely, but was rather a ham-handed way to deal not only with the incoming Senate, but also with the lame ducks.

The White House felt, according to reports, that Bolton might now receive the support of RI's Lincoln Chafee, who had refused to vote for Bolton in the Foreign Relations Committee. Not surprisingly - and good for him - Chafee's not feeling quite so obliging. In an statement yesterday, Chafee said of the Bolton nomination:

"On Tuesday, the American people sent a clear message of dissatisfaction with the foreign policy approach of the Bush Administration. To confirm Mr. Bolton to the position of UN Ambassador would fly in the face of the clear consensus of the country that a new direction is called for. I have long believed that the go-it-alone philosophy that has driven this administration’s approach to international relations has damaged our leadership position in the world. Mr. Bolton does not demonstrate the kind of collaborative approach that I believe will be called for if we are to restore the United States’ position as the strongest country in a peaceful world."

Senator Biden, who will chair the Foreign Relations Committee after January, said he saw no point in resubmitting the Bolton nomination since it's "going nowhere." Democrats have enough votes to filibuster the nomination during the lame-duck session and enough to kill it outright in the 110th Congress. It is time for the President to face facts, withdraw John Bolton's name and send up a decent nominee.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Middle Rises?

The Bull Moose (among many others) suggests today that the election results should be seen as a statement by the "immoderate middle" that, in effect, "We're mad as hell, and we're NOT gonna take it anymore!"

"Perhaps the President's greatest mistake was to fail to forge a new politics after 9/11 and unite the country for the long haul in the war against terror. Instead, in the 2002 midterms, he chose the Rovian politics of the base - and in 2006 that polarizing model cost Republicans control over Congress.

Democrats should not make the same mistake. That means actually working with the White House to achieve big things such as comprehensive immigration reform, energy independence and expansion of the military.

Democrats are no longer just an opposition party. Soon they will control the Legislative Branch. That means that they, unlike the Bush Administration, must have a occupation plan. Progress must be stressed over partisanship. Democrats must make alliances with Republicans to pass legislation to send to the President.

Ideologues of the right and the left take note - the center is inflamed and will not be denied. The immoderate moderates are not wedded to either party. They reward and punish regardless of party affiliation."

Read his whole post. He's right. While we lost some centrist voices, we have gained others, and I suspect the overall effect of this election will be to shift the balance of political power back toward the middle of the ideological spectrum. Whether that effect will be the same within the GOP remains very much to be seen (I'm not overly positive, let's put it that way).

The center is strong, and we made our voices heard loud and clear on Tuesday night. Together, we granted the Democrats a chance to govern as the Republicans have not done - with pragmatism and progress, not partisan and personal gain, as the ultimate goal. I hope the party's leadership will not squander this chance to lead.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


AP is now reporting that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is stepping down.

Now it is indeed a new day in America!

One to Go

The AP is calling the Montana Senate race for John Tester, which means the whole shebang now rests with the Commonwealth of Virginia. There, Webb's built up a lead of just about 8,000 votes over Allen which seems to be holding steady. Word is that provisional ballots are left to be counted there, which the DSCC suspects will trend their way. I've been hesitant to say it for days now, but the Dems might just eke this thing out!

Oh What a Night

Well, it's looking pretty interesting out there this morning!

The results in the House were largely unsurprising, but there were a few treats to be had. I am particularly delighted in the defeats of JD Hayworth (AZ-5), Richard Pombo (CA-11), Curt Weldon (PA-7) and John Sweeney (NY-20). We lost a fair number of House GOP centrists last night (Hart, Johnson, Bass, for example) and a couple of those seats (i.e. Simmons) remain to be decided. The fact that the seats once held by Bob Ney and Tom DeLay are now in Democratic hands is somehow fitting, and I'm pleased to see that Democrat Michael Arcuri will now represent my home district, NY-24 (after our centrist Republican Sherwood Boehlert retired).

I was surprised to see that things had changed a little in the Senate during the few hours of sleep I got last night. I was very pleased very early to see that we had seen a Santorum defeat (few things could have made me happier, actually), and the GOP losses in RI and OH followed soon after that. As I watched the other results come in I wasn't sure how the Democrats could pull off wins where they needed to, but before I slept Webb had taken a slight lead in VA (which seems to be holding at this point). In Missouri, I'd about given up on a McCaskill win, but just before I went to sleep I heard CNN say that the outstanding precincts were in St. Louis, and remembered Election Night 2000 when Ashcroft's defeat to the (recently deceased) Mel Carnahan played out almost exactly the same way.

As it stands this morning, Democrats must win both VA and MT, and their candidates hold small leads in both states. Presuming those leads hold, it'll be a 51-49 Senate for the Democrats when all is done and counted - and then things get really interesting!

While I regret the losses of so many GOP centrists, I cannot blame the voters in their districts/states for choosing different representation. The Republican Party had lost its way, and in a nationalized election like this midterm became, local concerns or popularity just wasn't enough to carry the day. Now is the time for the Republican Party to realize that playing to the ultra-conservative base was not a winning strategy, and to understand that it is the center that matters, not the extremes. Look at how the independents voted all across the country last night and that becomes more than obvious.

Now it is the turn of the Democrats, and an opportunity for all of us who seek progress to work together and get some things done. I hope that the new Democratic leadership will commit itself to fairness, openness, and a new ethics in Washington. The American people asked for change, let's make sure they get it.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Following Along

As yesterday, I'll recommend Political Wire for their coverage tonight; National Journal's Hotline On Call blog is also doing a fabulous job with reports coming in from around the country all the time.

There will be live-blogging at Donkleplant tonight, and very frequent updates at The Moderate Voice.

Here's the rundown of when polls are set to close (some of these will change, there have been reports all day that polls may be open late in various places due to all kinds of glitches):

[Note: All time EST]

6 p.m. - IN, KY (EST)
7 p.m. - IN (CST), KY (CST), FL (EST), VT, GA, NH (some), SC
7:30 p.m. - NC, OH, WV
8 p.m. - FL (CST), AL, CT, DE, IL, KS, MA, ME, MI, MO, MS, MD, NH (some), NJ, OK, PA, SD, TN, TX
8:30 p.m. - AR
9 p.m. - AZ, CO, LA, MN, NM, NB, NY, RI, SD, TX, WI, WY
10 p.m. - ID, IA, MT, NV, ND, OR (MST), UT
11 p.m. - CA, HA, OR (PST), WA
12 a.m. - AK

[Update: Just found this, which will be very useful. Also, exit poll data seems - stress seems - to favor Democrats given prioritization of national issues over local matters and the emphasis on corruption, Iraq and the economy. Of course, we all know how dangerous exit polls are.]

Do Your Part

Today's the day. Please, if you haven't already, go vote. The only poll that matters is the one taken today by the votes cast, so even if you think your candidate's well ahead, they still need your vote to make it count.

If you have stories from the polling places (long lines, rotten machines, vice versa), feel free to put them in comments.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Watching the Hours Tick By

If you're as sick of checking polls, analysis, predictions, &c. as I am, I'm sorry. It'll be over soon. If you haven't had enough yet, I cannot recommend highly enough the great site that is Political Wire. Taegan Goddard has done a spectacular job this election season of providing links to polls, news coverage, and analysis. He has made his site a must-read for every political junkie. I won't duplicate all the great stuff he's got this morning, but there's some excellent last-day information waiting for you there.

Tuesday night will almost certainly be a long one. The networks will be doing periodic special reports with hour-long newcasts from 10-11 p.m. Eastern. The cable nets will, of course, be wall-to-wall from 7 p.m. on. There will be a special live joint broadcast of "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" from 11 p.m. through midnight Eastern which ought to provide some tension-breaking comic relief. I probably won't attempt to live-blog results since I won't get to start watching until about 9:30, but may chime in if anything particularly exciting happens.

My predictions at this point are that we'll see a fairly big Democratic wave in the House, something on the order of twenty pickups or more. In the Senate, I'm not convinced one way or the other, but I think it's going to be extremely close and I would not be surprised to see the Democrats pick up the six seats they need to gain control of the chamber.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Obama on the Stump

Last night I had the first of what I hope will be many opportunities to see and listen to Barack Obama as he swooped into Boston for a quick campaign stop with gubernatorial candidate Deval Patrick. More than 2,000 people (says the Globe) came out to see Patrick and Obama - it was a very energetic crowd with a great deal of optimism and excitement. After the down-ballot folks had their turns at the podium, Obama and Patrick were brought out together (wise move), and the crowd just roared. Not since a McCain rally I attended just before we kicked George W. Bush's tail in the '00 primary have I seen a crowd quite as enthusiastic.

Obama took a few minutes to get into his stride as he spoke, but once he hit the rhythm he was off and running. He spoke of hope, and how, while it's easier to be cynical, we've got to dare to think that things can be better. Very RFK-esque, he kept returning to the question "Why not?" on issues like teacher pay, alternative energy, and crime reduction. It was an impressive speech, and delivered with the kind of casual power that has been Obama's trademark.

I expected to be impressed by Obama, and I was. What I did not expect was how impressed I was with Patrick. His speech was also excellent, and what I heard from him was indeed a little bit different than the usual. When he mentioned that the other candidates all have some good ideas and included Kerry Healey in that, some in the crowd began to boo. He immediately stopped and, with some irritation, said loudly "No. That's not who we are! We're not the people who refuse to work together on anything because we don't agree on everything." He too spoke of hope, and challenges, and finding common ground. And frankly, he was right. Sure, it's a stump speech, but it was a good one.

This election is indeed about a new direction, and a new hope. Deval Patrick and Barack Obama (especially Obama) have given a voice to that hope that few others in American politics have managed to capture, and if you get a chance to see either of them in the last few days of this campaign, I urge you to jump at it. I wasn't disappointed.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Perfectly Clear

The President's words yesterday say it all. If you had any lingering hopes that this Administration and its leader have learned any lessons from their mistakes in Iraq and beyond (far, far beyond), you may now freely abandon them. In an interview with wire service reporters, Bush praised his Veep and SecDef, saying "both those men are doing fantastic jobs, and I strongly support them." "When he was asked whether he wanted them to remain until the end of his term, he said yes," the LATimes reports.

Cheney and Rumsfeld = fantastic jobs? Not from where I sit.

If you still had doubts about who to vote for in the upcoming election, Bush's words should clear it up. Leaving Congress in the hands of the GOP for another two years will get us a great big heaping order of "more of the same." Should the Democrats control the House and/or the Senate, it's true that the Administration probably still won't change its stripes ... but at least we won't have a rubber-stamp Congress.

The choice, to me at least, is more clear now than it ever was.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Kerry's Kerfluffle

One more week. They had to coast along for one more week. And then along comes the big-mouthed senator from Massachusetts and hands Karl Rove the best Halloween treat he could have hoped for.

I'm with Don Imus on this one, who addressed Kerry this morning on his radio show: "Please stop it. Stop talking. Go home, get on the bike, go wind surfing, anything, stop it. You're going to ruin this."

Yes, I've seen Kerry's prepared speech and how he was supposed to say "get us stuck in Iraq" (more clearly referencing el presidente rather than the troops). But we all know that doesn't matter. The Bush spin machine is now on full blast; I'll be surprised if we don't see a t.v. ad before the end of the day featuring Kerry's latest "I voted for the $87 billion, before I voted against it" moment.

Senator, with all due respect ... shut up.