Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

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Notes from the front

December 9, 2008

People have been asking me: so how’s the war going? No, I’m not serving in Iraq or Afghanistan; they mean the War on Christmas! Here at scottfeldstein.net I take the WoC very seriously and I’m pleased to report that this year’s battle is going exceptionally well. First I went to my local Wal-Mart.

Me: From now on you’re to substitute the word “holiday” for “Christmas”–or else!

Manager: What are you talking about?

Me: Ha! As if you didn’t know. I’m a soldier in the War against Christmas, pal, and you’ve just been fragged. Fragged with with non-fat, politically correct, atheistic shrapnel, but fragged nonetheless. Now change your store signage to say “happy holidays” instead of using the C-word!

Manager: Actually retailers changed a lot of that years ago because we wanted people to buy Hanukkah gifts as well as Christm-

Me: Don’t say that word! I’ll be expecting to see tears on the faces of Christian children before the day is out, capice? Hey, do you still have that deal on the six quart crock pot?

Manager: I think you need to leave now.

Score one for us Christmas haters! W00tt!!1 But there was more to be done. Christmas is a tricky adversary. It sets up its strongholds in the most insidious places: our homes! I had to confront my neighbors.

Me: It has come to my attention, neighbor–if that’s even your real name–that you have completely ignored repeated commands to abandon Christmas.

Neighbor: Is that you, Scott? What are you doing in my chimney dressed up as a ninja?

Me: It’s judgement day. You had numerous chances to comply. We demanded that you tear down your lights and pack up your nativity scene, but did you listen? Nooo.

Neighbor: Don’t be ridiculous. Nobody has ever asked me to do any of those things. Are you feeling okay?

Me: Destroy this stuff immediately!

Neighbor: Dude, I can see your own Christmas tree from here.

Things got ugly after that and unfortunately I had to retreat, weakened by an onslaught of eggnog and other Christmas beverages. An hour later I staggered home, knowing that I would return to fight another day.

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Bush legacy

December 5, 2008

Now that he’s on his way out, how do you think president George W. Bush will be remembered? Here’s a few of my ideas.

  • The Iraq war. It was unnecessary, it’s justification was either deceptive or incompetent, it was poorly executed, and there was an utter failure to deal with the aftermath. It also represents a major change in foreign policy: “preemptive” war. It will for a long time be regarded as the greatest foreign policy blunder in the history of the United States.
  • The contentious 2000 election.
  • 9/11. Because he was president when it happened.
  • The huge economic crisis that began in 2008. The extent to which he will actually be blamed for it isn’t clear to me, but all future discussions of the recession will include his name, as he was president when it came down.
  • Torture. Rendition. Secret prisons. Abu Ghraib. “Detainee abuse.” All that stuff.
  • Illegal wiretapping of American citizens.
  • Hurricane Katrina. Again, I doubt whether historians will place the blame for New Orleans solely on the federal government or the Bush administration. But one thing is sure: the president’s “heckuva job” tone-deafness has become one of the iconic moments of the incident.
  • Record budget deficits and record debt.
  • Embarrassing inarticulateness. “Bushisms.”

George W. Bush will not be thought of as a good president. Those who believe he’ll be remembered well are delusional. By the time eyewitnesses such as myself have passed on, this list may be distilled down to one item: the Iraq war. It’s possible, though, that the current economic crisis may rival it in historic importance. Let’s hope not.

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The failures of the GOP

November 10, 2008

What have Republicans actually done well over the last few years? It’s a short list. I thought Bush’s immigration policy wasn’t outright awful, even if he never did manage to sell it to congress. There have been no further terrorist attacks on our soil, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that at least something must be going right there. Finally, they have managed to deliver on their tax cuts. I don’t agree with them, but it’s something that a lot of people care about and it is in that sense at least a promise that they kept.

What’s on the negative side of the ledger? Bush sold us all a war that wasn’t necessary. He managed to bungle the execution of that war for years. He managed to alienate our allies and unite our enemies. The risk of terrorist attack was made greater according to intelligence reports in the last few years. They failed to get bin Laden. They failed to rescue New Orleans. They failed to reduce–or even hold the line on–the budget deficit and the debt that it creates. They failed to keep the economy healthy. They have failed to address–and often even admit the existence of–the threat of global climate change.

Much more could be said about each of these things. And to be fair much might be said about the degree to which they can be laid at Republican feet, or even whether a president or a political party can be held fully accountable for them in the first place. But one thing is clear: There is a pattern. They say that only their policies will keep the economy healthy. They say that only their policies will keep us safe. They say that they are the grownups, able to handle crisis. They say that they are fiscally responsible.

And all of these things are demonstrably false.

Meanwhile they seem to believe that they got their asses kicked in the recent election because they weren’t adhering to the conservative principles of less government, lower taxes and an aggressive foreign policy.

This isn’t 1980, folks. People don’t believe the government is the source of all their problems. Here in 2008 they expect their government to actually do something for them. They expect government to work. And the way Republicans have governed, it hasn’t.

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The Future of the GOP

November 7, 2008

Now that the Republican party has been handed it’s own ass, where does it go from here? Inexplicably, some say that Sarah Palin is their future, that she’ll run for president in 2012. Surely there is someone in the Republican leadership who recognizes that Palin is the road to Whig status.

So if that’s not the way forward, what is? Considering the fact that I’m a liberal and have never voted for a Republican even once, my opinion should be taken with a grain of salt and then it, the salt, and everything else should be immediately discarded. Nevertheless, here is what I think.

Remember Bill Clinton? He was a “New Democrat.” A moderate Democrat. The guy who brought us NAFTA, welfare reform and “the era of big government is over.” Whether he was right or wrong about those things, his presidency shifted toward the middle on some key issues, co-opting them from Republicans, and reflected the mood of the electorate more than his base. It’s time for the Republican party to do the same.

Pretending that global climate change isn’t real has to stop.

Pretending that our health care system doesn’t need to change must stop.

The problems are too big, too important to voters, and, frankly, just too goddamned real to ignore anymore. The Republican party continues to do so at its peril. A handful of southern states plus Utah and Texas is no longer a viable path to the white house. Time to shift to the center on a few key issues. Co-opt them from Democrats. That’s my advice.

And make Sarah Palin disappear.

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Election notes

November 5, 2008

With a sweeping Democratic victory last night, our long national nightmare is finally coming to a decisive close. It’s made all the more fabulous by the fact that we’ve elected our first African-American president.

It looks like I was right: Obama wins, does so with greater than 5% margin of the popular vote, and flips a red state–Virginia.

You know how confident I was in an Obama victory? I wrote the previous post (Victory!) over lunch on Tuesday and scheduled it to automatically appear at 10pm. And it was precisely at 10pm that CBS called the race for Obama, too.

Sadly, the local chapter (are there other chapters?) of Drinking Right actually met last night, on election night. Therefore, I was not able to join them to drink on their dime and gloat a little.

I really, really want Al Franken to win in Minnesota! I’m hoping against hope that a recount pushes him over the edge.

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Victory!

November 4, 2008

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Champagne

November 4, 2008

Did I ever tell you my champagne bottle story from the 2004 election? I’d had this bottle of champagne in my office for six months or more. Someone had given it to me for something or other. Then on election day I took it with me on my way out of the office.

Both sides of Wisconsin avenue were lined with students: Kerry supporters on the north side and Bush supporters on the south side. I walked across to the Kerry side and approached a young man. “Are you over 21” I asked? He said he was. I asked to see his ID and he showed it to me. (One wonders who he thought I was and what kind of trouble he was in.) As he was of legal drinking age, I pulled the bottle out of my bag and handed it to him. “For later,” I said. “When you win.”

Then I went home. Later that night I grimly reflected that the bottle of champagne likely had been used to drown sorrows rather than in celebration.

That’s why tonight I’m getting a new bottle on the way home. I’ll pop it open and toast each and every bit of good news for Democrats. Here’s hoping we need a second bottle before the night is through.