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Opportunities and Choices for American Liberals

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If you’re a liberal, what better week could you be having than one in which Tom DeLay is indicted twice more and George Bush picks a Supreme Court nominee who is driving the conservative spewing heads into an apoplectic fit? And it’s only Tuesday!

From the outside, for the hopeful, it certainly seems that the Republican machine is starting to grind to a halt. Certainly this hasn’t been a great two months for Bush and company – but I want to caution against the thought that the recent trouble will have any lasting impact in and of itself. The attention span of the American public is short, the attention span of the media shorter (unless blue dresses or blowjobs are involved).

We liberals can’t spend the time with petty, short-sighted celebration. Instead, we need to seize upon this opportunity to show the public the clear and remarkable differences between our party, and the bait and switch party that is in power.

I don’t mean to say that we shouldn’t allow ourselves a smile for Tom DeLay’s troubles. A guy who has made a career on political retribution and ethical tight roping is ripe for a little payback. To listen to his loud, blustering denials almost makes for comedy. However, instead of gloating we need to remember two things – one, this is just an indictment (well THREE indictments), not a conviction. Tom Delay is entitled to his day in court. Even though I do not place much faith these days in the court system when trying the rich and powerful, this is still America, there is still a Constitution, and the trial must proceed. If we really are about civil rights, then we need to protect Mr. Delay’s right to a swift and speedy trial (and yeah OK hopefully conviction because the guy really represents the WORST in American politics).

What we can’t afford to do is create petty controversies that quickly make us look like, well, petty people. I think the tempest in a teapot indignation over Bill Bennett’s “abort all black babies” comment is self-destructive. I don’t like Bill Bennet, as you can well imagine. I think the guy says enough stupid stuff to destroy him on the basis of his arguments day in and day out. What I don’t like though is the lefty commentators taking what Bennet said completely out of context, playing partial clips that do not put the clip in context or finish Mr. Bennet’s thought.

Did he say that if all black babies were aborted, the crime rate would drop? Yes, in the context that there are always crazy extreme solutions to a problem. Did Mr. Bennet advocate the abortion of all black babies like it is made out? No. I’ve heard the clips several times and in fact, Mr. Bennet is actually arguing the contrary – that the thought of such is morally reprehensible and that the ends do not justify the means. Anyone on the fence about American politics and not a rabid knee-jerk partisan will be more turned off by our misrepresenting Mr. Bennet than his argument in the first place. We protect Free Speech in this party these days correct? We’re supposed to be the party of critical thought, correct? Then save our ammo for real issues.

Make no mistake, real issues abound. We have done a good job stalling many of the bad ideas that have come from this White House, and admirable job considering the balance of power is so out, but we will not win the hearts and minds of the public by being the party of no. No one votes for “no.” We need to start setting out concrete plans on every important issue out there. We need to craft workable, sensible legislation that reflects our party’s values. By WE I don’t just mean the Democratic Party, the party is not our savior, but rather one tool in the progressive arsenal.

I challenged people a month or two back to do more than vote and bitch. I challenged you to go to a party meeting, sign up for a campaign, do something, ANYTHING to get involved. How many of you did? How many of you hate the way the country is being run yet are more content to watch Desperate Housewives than to help desperate people? For Open Source politics to work, you have to be willing to take control over the political process.

Conservatives realized that 30 years ago. We have the opportunity to do the same now. Are we the group of “Just say No”? Are we the party of petty sniping and phony outrage? The country already has one of those parties. Right now, what we need is leadership. Right now, we need ideas. Right now, WE need you.

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  • I have to give you credit as the first person on the left who actually understands the Bennett issue. You’re right on target about what he said in context and how manipulative and transparent the attempts to turn it into a racism accusation are. That kind of blatant spin can only result in negative reactions for the people who support it.


  • I think the Democratic Party stole the Republican playbook of 1992 and 1996. For whatever the reason(s), Republicans hated Bill Clinton on sight. The campaigns in 1992 and 1996 went something like this:

    Slogan A: C’mon, it’s Clinton {snicker)!
    Slogan B: You couldn’t really want Clinton, could you?
    Slogan C: It’s CLINTON {exasperated)!!

    The Republicans didn’t have a single idea for 8 years. They were bewildered. They figured if they couldn’t understand the Clinton appeal, no one else could. They were, as you put it, The Party of No.

    Fast forward to 2000: Gore hoped people would associate him with the perceived good of the Clinton years without associating him with the bad of the Clinton years. He dismissed Bush as a dunce and never really advanced a single new idea.

    It was far more obvious with Kerry in 2004: He ran as the anti-Bush. He never gave the voters something to get excited about on a charismatic or ideological level.

    Both parties should learn something from the past 16 years: ideas matter. Sure, the packaging and the candidate are important but you have to represent something.

    The American people have not been well served by having both major parties go into prolonged funks.

  • I think we’re all aware of the context for Bennett’s comments and they don’t help much, especially when he seems to think it’d be “true” that it’d reduce crime as a “sole purpose” even if it were morally reprehensible.

    Anyone who is so delusional that they think coming out against Bennett will hurt you politically really needs a reality check outside right-wing Internet commentary sites.

    Your President came out against Bennett, Dave, as did most mainstream conservative commentators and politicians. Does that mean Bush will take a hit in popularity because he criticized Bill Bennett’s idiotic comment?

    That is all.

  • Well it might reduce crime simply because you would reduce a disproportinate number of poverty level folks. That doesn’t say black people are criminals, or addres the fact that black people may be convicted at higher rates due to prejudice. It simply statesif you remove a given population, all things being equal, this is the effect.

    That is a far cry from ENDORSING the idea which is exactly what many of the liberal talk shows I listen to claimed. I couldn’t listen to Sirius’ Talk Left channel because of their word twisting.

    Don’t we have more fruitful things to work on?

  • >I think the Democratic Party stole the Republican playbook of 1992 and 1996. For whatever the reason(s), Republicans hated Bill Clinton on sight.< Did Clinton actually accomplish anything good??? I mean we had 3 terrorist attacks and he never responded (9/11 would have been avoided if he would have responded). And we had the Waco incident. Did he do anything good??? See we had our reasons for bashing Clinton, now what is your reasons for bashing Bush???

  • CrankYanker, read the other endless threads on this topic for my opinion.

    Why didn’t Bennett just say “all poor babies”? Why did he say “all black babies”? He assumes there’s something unique about black people that is criminal.

    If you want to think economically about his hypothetical, if you were to have eugenics against black people and no new generations of black babies, blacks would only be replaced among the poor. Other more recently discriminated against groups, like Hispanics, recent Asian and Eastern European groups, or even European Jews might find themselves once again the primary targets of economic discrimination and poverty. We might not be that far removed from talking about “criminal” Irish and Italian immigrants as we were earlier this century. So the crime rate wouldn’t go down even if you got rid of “poor people” who happen to be black unless you assume there’s something about black people (whether cultural or genetic) that makes them criminal independent of their economic condition.

    Stephen Levitt takes apart that race-crime assumption pretty well in his response to the Bennett nonsense.

    That is all.

  • G. Oren

    Cranky, I’ll second Dave’s kudos on your post. A general observation about the bewildering bitterness of todays politics, your post helps place Bennet’s unfortunately hyperbolic statement in the best light.

    There is no shortage of cacklers on the left and the right who take any such comments and run with them for all they are worth. Take Dean’s yowling scream in Iowa or Kerry’s “I voted for it before I voted against it” or any number of slips or just plain old dumb _ss comments. Beating up on strawmen is a fools way of playing politics. I like what Peter Bienart and the guys at the NEW REPUBLIC are doing. I may not agree with half of what they write – see their recent piece on a New New Deal – but, I like the fact that they are putting forth policy solutions, the merits of which can be debated and thought through. The easy way out in politics is to damn the character of your opponents and not take their arguments at their stongest points (of course no one in their right mind would support X for dogcatcher) – the chraracter issue, he said, she said, ad infinitum, ad nauseum – this may make interesting chatter for the talking heads on TV, but it doesn’t improve our politics or our government.

    As to the race-crime problem. The underclass, mostly black and hispanic (but also increasingly white), will continue to grow due to the demographics of that cognitively challenged group. That is, those with the lowest IQ’s are having more babies and having them sooner than the rest of us. That the twin problems of low cognitive ability and lack of familial discipline (due to an astronomical rate of female headed households) leads to an unprecedentedly high rate of adolescent and post-adloscent crime, is something I think is well understood and accepted by sociologists and psycometricians. What to do about it is another issue, one that requires a consensus on what it means to be a citizen of these United States and what can and should be done to prevent the further stratification of our society.

  • Black and Hispanics are “cognitively challenged?”

    G. Oren, you’re embarrassing yourself.

    “Psychometrician (sic)” is not a real term in psychology, nor do I think you’re a sociologist.

    Using big words doesn’t make racism any smarter.

    That is all.

  • Um, a ‘psychometrician’ is someone who can read the past experiences of physical objects psychically. For example, holding a piece of jewelry and being able to tell you about the owner and their experiences.


  • Thanks, Dave 🙂 I thought it was when they could communicate with your dead relatives by guessing letters in the alphabet and asking for your credit card number.

    My favorite psycometrician (sic) is Miss Cleo. I’ll never forget her words of inspiration … “Call me now! Only $4.95 a minute!”

    I still write to her in jail every day.

    That is all.

  • Why he didn’t say poor is beyond me, that said you are attributing a motive you can not know, and twisting the call to other things. That is my point, we are waisting our time on Bill Bennet – frankly who gives a rats ass. Do you believe what he says about anything else? How is bitching about Bill Bennet getting the WHite House back? How is it helping in 2006? How is it helping to get health coverage for the very poor he was referening. How how how?? Bill Bennet is a straw man who made a stupid statement – but not the one you guys keep trying to talk about.

    How is any of this advancing the progressive cause? It isn’t.

  • alethinos

    This is where it ALL goes wrong… We are suppose to jump with glee that the Republicans slip is showing? I for one detest many of the Mighty Whites… I’m talkin’ DICK CHENEY White… However, cheering as the Republicans stumble and trying to rush forward to kick them while they’re down there only makes those of us calling for a sound Vision to look like the jackasses the Republicans paint us as… We are no better than the people anywhere else in the world that stone their enemies or drag them through the street – it is only a matter of degree…

    What we should be saying, in calm voices is this: “Now all can see what so many of us have feared for so long, what we’ve been warning against. Now that it IS seen, lets find a way to remove those who abuse their power and standing. Let’s demand a higher standard…”

    For God’s sake, as well as the sake of everyone in those Blue States lets not pelt them with stones, no matter how strong the urge.

    Because in the end what we want people is not that the Democrats win. We want the best people to win – regardless their particular party. Because if we can’t rise above the partisan politics the fall toward greater and greater polarization will only continue.

  • Well now, I do think we are allowed to cast a few well tossed stones now and then. Sometimes you have to punch a bully square in the jaw and hard. However It HAS to come with an equal, no greater than equal dose of ideas and fixes for Americans future or we are just a whiney kid saying I told you so. Thanks for all the good comments

  • Vile Stench

    G. Oren,

    You have a very valid point. Some people on this site think that somehow we magically stopped evolution and natural selection a few thousand years ago. Although we are easily capable of changing the factors that “selects” us we are completely powerless to stop the process.

    The statistics bear out your point but there are other factors to consider. Our country already has a very rudimentary eugenics program in place (although we would never admit it).

    First, we filter immigrants so that we get a larger percentage of successful, intelligent professionals into this country improving our overall genetic stock. Second, we have a system of incarceration that keeps the most violent, least intelligent members of society from procreating as rapidly during many of their peak years. Thirdly, we allow, and sometimes promote abortion among the least capable in society to slow the growth of their numbers.

    IQ tests can easily pick out those most likely to be an engineer or come up with the next scientific breakthrough, but who is more evolved is another question.

    Is it smarter to spend 12 hours a day for forty years of your life, putting off starting a family, enduring carpal tunnel, stress, overtime, firings, and intense competition so that you can impress your friends with your latest gadget you bought at BestBuy. Or is the smart one the welfare mom who stays at home with her family, enjoying life and her free time, building relationships and spending the money that society (you) gave her.

    Perhaps the selection towards intelligence, adventurousness, and competitiveness is over. What the overcrowded world caters to now is followers, sheep who don’t rock the boat and don’t ask questions, who’s allegiance is assured by their ever growing dependence on the government.

  • alethinos

    Alright Cranky… But for God’s sake don’t ding ’em till they’re unconscious… Let’s keep it in perspective – many of them are fat and dragging off the bodies would be a pain in the ass…


  • Anthony, I never bashed Bush or Clinton.

    I was trying to make the point that both parties have at times underestimated their adversary and in so doing neglected to put forth an agenda with ideas. Both parties lost elections because of it. It is not really about Bush and Clinton.

  • G. Oren

    Forgive my poor spelling er typing – that should be Psychometrics and Psychometricians – a branch of Psychology. Ya’ll can read “The Bell Curve” yourselves.

    Vile, at the risk of seeming a little tongue-in-cheek, let’s run with that evolutionary scenario. The rich and smart will get richer and smarter – since our educational system now screens very effectively for cognitive ability – and the meritocracy of cognitive ability creates ever steeper paths and narrower gates to economic wealth. Meanwhile, due to the demographic patterns of number of births and age at first pregnancy for the women in the top cognitive classes, those classes will be doing very well simply to replace themselves over the next 30-50 years. Will the immigration of Indian and Chinese doctors and engineers help in this area?

    At the lower end of the scale the birth rates and lower ages at giving birth means those numbers will continue to grow and grow faster (two generations in the same time span as one generation for the higher classes). Your point about prisoners and abortions, I don’t think, will make a dent in that overall picture. Those in poverty do not seek abortions, children are welcomed for a variety of reasons.

    The overall dysgenic effect, lowering the average intelligence, will be combined with increasing stratification – less commonality of interest and very stark choices for policy makers. This pseudo-Malthusian view means that America will look very different in twenty years.

    That we have a deliberate system of rewarding family breakdown and high birthrates among the poor cannot be doubted. That we could change those incentives and retard that evolutionary wave is possible, but is it probable? And what will that mean for our liberal (in the best sense) society?

  • DJRadiohead, I was saying that the bashing of Clinton was justified.

  • G. Oren

    Alethinos, I think you are right on with your comment about wanting the best people in office. Which requires, first of all, that we take what government does as serious business.

    Our politics is more polarized than at any time in the post WWII period, and it seems that the center is not holding. George W was a good governor in Texas because he did seek consensus and worked with the democrats to accomplish practical results – he was a uniter and not a divider. I’m not sure what happened to that version of W.

  • I know you think that but bashing him for 4 years without having spent time suggesting a better alternative got him elected for another 4.

    Just like with Bush. Bashing is not a complete election strategy.

  • So from your logic I can assume that since George Sr. was only elected once that he wasn’t bashed???

    Clinton was the worst President in the history of the U.S. We got attacked three different times. By Clinton not doing anything about the problem he let the terrorist think that America can be attacked all day and we will never do anything about it. This is what led to 9/11.

    Thank God we got Bush. Who knows what would have been next???

  • Anthony, comments like Clinton was the worst President ever are silly, not condusive to debate, and completely untrue. You keep bring up we got attacked three times but that is such a superficial, silly argument that it holds no weight. In much the same way holding President Bush soley responsible for Katrina is short sighted. Now if you want to bring an adult conversation to the table, maybe we can get past the my president is bigger than your president school of phalic politics.Because man, you don’t want to bring a head to head comparison of current leaders.

  • G. Oren

    BTW, I meant to recommend a Walker Percy novel “Love in the Ruins” to anyone interested in reading a satirical assesment of polarized America and the center not holding. Check you liberal and conservative presumptions at the door. Percy wrote this dandy in 1971, but it seems prescient from todays perspective.

    Good on ya Cranky for that last post.

  • Hey Cranky, Clinton morally sucked and politically sucked making him the worst president EVER!!!

    Name something Clinton did to better America. You can’t.

    He hurt America by not responding to the 1st World Trade Center Bombing, the Embassing Bombing in Kenya and then The U.S.S. Cole. The lack of action triggered 9/11!!!

    Acts like the Waco incident and the sending of little Elion back to Cuba showed us that he sucked at handling things on our own soil.

    And he morally sucks because the man let HOLLYWOOD celebreties sleep in the Lincoln bedroom, cheated on his wife several times in the White House and then he perjured himself!!!

    What a Great Man!!!

  • Regardless, Clinton still isn’t the worst president ever, John Tyler has that title completely sewn up.


  • Cunning linguist

    What about that peanut eating boob Carter? He’s gotta be up there too.

  • Anthony, you have managed to completely miss my point. I don’t think I am going to continue to clarify it because I doubt it will do any good.

  • DJRadiohead, I did not miss your point, your point was:

    Because the Republicans did nothing but bash Clinton got reelected, just like Bush.

    And now I am saying this is wrong:

    The Republicans did a lot of stuff during the Clinton years like the Welfare Reform.

    Clinton got reelected because he was a genious at blinding and dumbing down people. Clinton screwed up so much and he still gets reelected.

    Bush got reelected because he is doing stuff for the greater good of the world. Like Iraq and Afghanistan.

    At least you were right about something, the Democrats have literally down nothing but bash during this time.

    >What about that peanut eating boob Carter? He’s gotta be up there too< At least Carter didn't allow this country to be attacked 3 times and then cause military violence on our own soil (Waco). Dave, you said John Tyler??? Educate me professor, why this choice???

  • Well, to start with, Tyler was so incompetent that his entire cabinet resigned. Then his new Secretary of State got blown up in a freak cannon accident on a diplomatic mission to Texas. Tyler managed to sign no major legislation in four years. Then later when he was elected to the Virginia State Legislature he voted to secede from the union he had previously been president of. Pretty much a loser on all counts.


  • Anthony, Clinton’s work must have done a magnificent job of dumbing people down as you cannot spell ‘genius.’ Normally that is a line of debate I avoid but it was just too obvious sitting there.

    I amend my comments from above. You do seem to have a grasp on the point I was making. You are choosing to dismiss and disagree with it and I certainly am willing to understand that.

    I still think the starling lack of campaign ideas hurt both parties in the different campaigns.

  • Dave, I would still say that Clinton takes the cake over Tyler. It was probabally popular in Virginia to succeed from the Union, if he didn’t do it, someone else would have.

    I would rather have the Secretary of State blown up by a cannon than have tanks fire upon a building that was full and full of innocent children.

    See, Tyler sounds to be like an idiot. Clinton was no idiot. He was more dangerous than an idiot, he actually knew what he was doing.

  • You’re implying that Clinton willfully had “tanks fire upon a building full of innocent children”? This, after your point that he did “nothing” in the wake of “three attacks” during his administration?

    You can’t have it both ways, Anthony. Either he’s a do nothing schmuck or a vicious murdering tyrant.

    Just some helpful hints.

    My take: Clinton was a very good President, in the top one-third all time.

    And he may end up having the greatest post-presidency in history.

  • I agree, Eric. Clinton’s post-presidency is off to a phenomenal start. His pairing with the ex-President Bush is also a brilliant political move. I don’t think that Jimmy Carter’s post-Presidency could be discounted either. He has quietly accomplished quite a bit and is rarely recognized for it because of the perception that he was a bumbling fool.

  • I can’t explain Clinton Eric. He let terrorists attack us AND he instead of pointing tanks at terrorist camps he points them at a building full of children.

    >Clinton was a very good President, in the top one-third all time.< What did he do to deserve it??? Look good on the T.V. screen???