Friday, November 10, 2006


Random thoughts

Three days out from VA-Day (Victory in America), here's a grab bag of random thoughts:

With Missouri's minimum wage raise amendment passing by a 79-to-21-percent margin, it's clear that Americans have their minds on social justice. No longer are people willing to wait around as we have for 25 years, hoping that voodoo economics might finally trickle down to the rest of us. Not only that, but clearly it's OK these days to show concern for the poor. I remember a time not so long ago that most Americans thought of the poor as a bunch of lazy freeloaders, not worthy of a moment's concern. Now, most Americans seem to agree that something's very wrong when a quarter of all children in the world's richest nation lives in poverty.

I continue to listen to talk radio as Republicans search their post-election souls as we Democrats have often found ourselves doing over the years. Their consensus on why they lost so badly on Tuesday? They just weren't conservative enough. Republicans apparently agree that they need to move even farther to the right. House Majority (not for long) Whip and Missourian Roy Blunt said so yesterday in his address to the Heritage Foundation, an outfit that no doubt thinks moving even farther right is a splendid idea. I too applaud Republicans' ongong quest for ideological purity. Indeed, I hope they succeed mightily. Of course, they'll continue to lose even worse with each subsequent election, but they'll have that ideological fire in their bellies to keep them warm during their winter of discontent.

So what's up with President Bush's sudden about face on Iraq? Until Wednesday morning, it was stay the course, stay the course, stay the course. How quickly things change. And by the way, in the wake of his recent insistence that Rumsfeld was here to stay, can I now safely call Bush a liar?

Have you seen this year's electoral victory maps? They look awfully blue, even in that flyover area where all the real Americans supposedly live, where nobody would ever vote Democrat. Republicans made a big deal about their broad swaths of red in 2000 and 2004. Remember those electoral map T-shirts proclaiming "Bush's America: My America." Republicans are oddly silent about America's 2006 color scheme.

Obviously, Tuesday's results are not a mandate for liberal extremism. Look at most of the Democrats who won and how moderate and centrist they appear. Likewise, look at all the moderate Republicans who lost, leaving the GOP even more ideological and radical. For all Republicans' snide laughing at Democrats' sometimes-foolish efforts at reaching out for the center all these years, at least the Democrats were trying. Republicans meanwhile pandered exclusively to the far Right, thumbing their noses at the other 70 percent of us Americans. Their strategy reaped obvious results on Tuesday.

The dam has broken and there's no turning back. I suspect the future holds combative two-party rule, but I'll take that over what we've seen the past six years. In the meantime, the days are over in which words like Democrat and liberal are hurled like insults. For many years, the Democrats faced an uphill battle at regaining trust that had deservedly been lost years earlier. Democrats have had a burden of proof on themselves for some years now, while Republicans were more likely seen as the more Christian, more morally upright and responsible, more American. I'd say the GOP, due to their own arrogance and moral corruption, has blown that sweet deal for itself. Now, it's seen as OK to vote Democrat, and that burden of proof at least seems to be history.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


The day after the day after

As a Democrat, I'm not used to all this winning. Having been forced so many times in the past to be the gracious loser, I'm not so sure how to act now that my side has won. So I thought I'd take a look back at come newspaper opinion pages to see how graciously Republicans accepted victory in the weeks after the 2004 presidential election.

Let's start with one letter by Peter Writer of Charlestown, R.I., who wrote these conciliatory words to Decmocrats in The Providence Journal: "Climb aboard the crybaby bus and go away. Don't worry -- you won't be missed."

How about these soothing words from Charles Duhon of Tulsa who extended this olive branch via an eloquent letter to the Tulsa World: "Why doesn't John Kerry grow up and act like a man and stop acting like a girlie boy? I'm not even going to give him the honor of being labeled a girlie man. The dude's a girlie boy."

Writing in to the Anchorage Daily News, Mathias Houston so badly wished to unite us all in his letter titled, "Whining Democrats need to accept the election results and get a life."

I could go on. You know how it is every election year. It's the old quit-whining-and-get-over-it letters that appear in the newspapers every time Republicans perceive an electoral victory. Of course this time, they've lost pretty badly, so I've been interested in gauging Republican reaction now that they've been forced to accept defeat. I tuned in yesterday to 97 Talk, St. Louis' purveyor of the Fox News brand of right-wing talk radio. You know, the whole Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Laura Ingraham axis, tied together by those top-of-the-hour Fox News updates known for their fairness and balance -- at least by Roger Ailes' definition.

To be sure, Sean and a couple of local wannebe Limbaughs who do drivetime talk assured us they would not be whining and carrying on, as they subtly suggested we liberals did in 2004. They went out of their way to let us know they were not moving to Canada, as Alec Baldwin threatened. I know the rest of us are all relieved. One guy, ever sincere, even said he wished for all the success in the world for Democrats and would even pray for us. Sounds nice, doesn't it?

But of course, tigers can't lose their stripes any more than Karl Rove can grow hair (OK, I shouldn't be one to talk about growing hair), and within minutes these guys were back to their usual liberal- and Democrat-bashing. So much for fond wishes. The Democrats' extreme-left agenda will soon rear it's ugly head. Men will soon be holding hands in public. Men will marry their dogs. Salesclerks at Target will wish customers, "Happy holidays." You know the usual wedge argument. We conservaties are the good Christian patriots, the other 70 percent of America hates God.

One caller delcared that Claire McCaskill's Senate victory signifies that nothing is sacred anymore, that we've lost our sense of values. The host quickly agreed calling us in the majority by O'Reilly's term "secular progressives." Apparently, because most Americans think the war in Iraq was a terrible mistake, and they want affordable healthcare and security in their old age, we'll all soon be smoking pot and burning flags in the streets. Another caller, calling Democrats the "give-peace-a-chance crowd," informed us that the voters just handed America over to the terrorists, that we liberals don't understand that those terrorists are bad people. Our host, some wild, crazy guy calling himself Smash, insisted that Republicans are so much more sportsmanlike and ethical in their political conduct than Democrats. Smash, willfully ignorant of such names as Nixon, Atwater, Rove and Abramoff, piously informed us that Republicans would never stoop to the shameful conduct of Democrats.

But still, they're not whining. Really, they're not. After all, if a good conservative like Crash says so enough times, then it must be true.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006



Today I've been too speechless to gloat.

Instead, I've been shocked by the complete and almost total trail of Democratic victories from sea to shining sea. I went to bed last night thinking Jim Talent had clenched his first electoral victory, cementing what would probably be a long Senate tenure. Instaed, I woke this morning to find that Claire McCaskill had pulled it through. Apparently, those urban and even suburban votes from St. Louis and Kansas City hadn't been counted yet. My only regret here in the Show-Me State was the failure of the tobacco tax amendment, a victory of the tobacco lobby, which financed endless TV ads painting the measure as a political boondoggle.

This evening, the jury's still out on the Senate race in Virginia, but it appears Macaca Allen is poised to go down. Win or lose, the Republicans have lost the Senate, and at best will have to share it with the Dems. From Maryland to Montana, Republicans have fallen in all key races, save for Tennessee, where a little race-baiting again proved effective.

Even in Texas, the Massachusetts of the Right, Democrats made a few strides. In Dallas County, Dems swept countywide races, something unthinkable even a few years ago. On the Gulf Coast, Tom Delay's Congressional district fell to Democrat Nick Lampson. Even unsuccessful Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Bell showed a far greater standing in a four-way race than anyone would have expected a few weeks back.

And then to hear that Donald Rumsfeld has resigned. Well, it's just too much for my left-wing heart to take.

The first time I paid close attention to a political race was as a 12-year-old in 1980. You know what happened then. I suppose I came of political age that night, not realizing that it would be a long 26 years. Is a new wave of change coming or was yesterda just a speed bump in our long ride through the status quo? I certainly have my own beliefs on that, but I suppose we'll all have to stay tuned.

Perhaps tomorrow, we can discuss the meaning of all this. For tonight, I'll just bask.

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