Thursday, August 31, 2006

We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason...

Feeling morally, intellectually confused?

On Tuesday, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld gave a speech in which he accused opponents of the Bush administration of 'appeasing fascism' and of moral and intellectual confusion. Oh the irony.

Today, the President took up the mantra of fear and continued use of the term 'Nazi' as a thinnly veiled characterization of his political opponents.

Last evening, Keith Olbermann closed his show, Countdown, with a blistering commentary on Rumsfeld's speech. The link above contains the text (entry at Aug. 30, 2006, 8:34 p.m.) and - at least temporarily - contains a link to the video. This is a must read and watch. Some excerpts:

The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack.
Donald H. Rumsfeld is not a prophet.

For [the speech] did not merely serve to impugn the morality or intelligence -- indeed, the loyalty -- of the majority of Americans who oppose the transient occupants of the highest offices in the land. Worse, still, it credits those same transient occupants ... with a total omniscience; a total omniscience which neither common sense, nor this administration’s track record at home or abroad, suggests they deserve.

That, about which Mr. Rumsfeld is confused is simply this: This is a Democracy. Still. Sometimes just barely.
And, as such, all voices count -- not just his.

In what country was Mr. Rumsfeld raised? As a child, of whose heroism did he read? On what side of the battle for freedom did he dream one day to fight? With what country has he confused the United States of America?

The lessons of our own experience...

The post 'An Originalist Argument Against Rigid Originalism' over at Balkinization is a really interesting perspective that begins with the following quote from James Madison who wrote in Federalist 14:
Is it not the glory of the people of America, that whilst they have paid a decent regard to the opinions of former times and other nations, they have not suffered a blind veneration for antiquity, for custom, or for names, to overrule the suggestions of their own good sense, the knowledge of their own situation, and the lessons of their own experience?

It's worth a read.

Skewed Perspective...

Why the Democrats Are Worrying About Money

Congressional Democrats are concerned, and even feuding, about whether they will have enough cash to take back the House this fall

It is frustrating to read this article in Time from yesterday. It is readily apparent that many levels - some of the highest levels - of the Democratic party really aren't concentrating on the core, the fundamental issues that mean the most to the America. Instead, they are caught up in short-term quick-fixes and victories. Has a short-term victory ever been anything but hollow? The following snippets (along with that subtitle above) worry me...

Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago congressman in charge of getting House Democrats elected, has already been in a months-long feud with Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee.... [N]ow Emanuel is expanding his fight with other groups in his own party, blasting George Soros and

That's what's going to energize the public to support the Democratic party - infighting. Little minds think short-term Mr. Emanuel...

Despite the critique by some Democrats that in 2002 and 2004 the party lost because they didn't have a clear message, Democratic officials are much less concerned about the party's proposals than about money and mobilizing voters.

This is the key question - what has been the fundamental problem of the Democratic party for the last 20 plus years? Is it really money and mobilization? If you ask me, the answer is clearly no. The problem is message - for some reason the Democratic party has been unwilling to clearly - and unapologetically - define a progressive vision for America. Without such a vision, there is NO REASON for people to vote Democratic. Money and mobilization are of course important - but without a message, those things are meaningless.

But the agenda [setting for a 2006 Campaign platform of 'A New Direction for America'] satisfied the Democrats' overriding goal: offer something that didn't give the Republicans much to shoot at, but wouldn't allow the GOP to say its rivals have no ideas. ... Democrats say, that like 1994, an anti-incumbency feeling exists all over their country, and they need to keep voters focused on what President Bush and the Republicans have done wrong. So Democrats eschewed a big health care plan, for example, because they worried it would reinforce the Republican critique of Democrats as the "tax and spend" party. "Eighty percent of our message is negative," one party strategist said.

I really like the idea of A New Direction for America - as long as there is an actual direction - not just "anything different that what's going on now." Admittedly, anything different than the Bush administration and this Republican congress would undoubtedly be better - but that is not enough to galvanize the political landscape and really motivate the American public to embrace a Democratic vision. That's what needs to happen. The fact that this 2006 agenda is "safe" and won't give the Republicans something to shoot at is foolhardy. The Democratic party needs to make the Republicans "shoot at" full healthcare for all children under 18 in America. Because they will look ridiculous when they do. People want change, they want an actual new direction - they don't want something that can't be shot at (whatever that means).

Back to Dean and the DNC - I think I've said it before, but I am a supporter of Dean's 50 state initiative. Progressive populism is not, and should not be, for only 51% of America. The whole idea of progressive populism is that it reaches out to the entire nation as a whole - the rural southeasterner, the midwestern manufacturer, the Pacific coast entreprenuer, and the white-collar New England-er. Folks in Mississippi should be voting Democrat because it is the Democratic party that is going to raise the minimum wage, provide health care for their children, and provide support and jobs for rebuilding the gulf coast. Folks in Wyoming should vote Democrat because it is the Democratic party that is protecting the nation's natural resources and providing support to farmers and landowners. The very idea of the Democratic party is that it should be everywhere.

If it takes a few years - and a few election cycles that do not generate immediate, short-term results - to build such a national Democratic party, that is exactly what should be done. In my opinion the goal of the Democratic leadership is far to small if it is only 15 seats in 2006. The goal should be something like 75 additional seats by 2012. They should carry progressive populism to every district in America.

Prior posts of note:
Positive signs...
Now this I like...
The Democrat's Problem...