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A penny for your thoughts indeed. Around here that would be a raise.

What makes a good blog? I think thematic consistency, a little exhibitionism, and honest writing. I can promise you the last one.

Most of my posts seem to be about music or politics. Some of them are funny. But all of them would love to hear a comment from you.

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I was born at a relatively young age. Growing up consumed the better part of my childhood. As a young man I chased a lot of girls. But they kept getting away. Then I got older and even slower, so I got married. I've lived in New York City almost since before I moved here. I summer in Manhattan, which is like New York City, but with more humidity.

Here's me, without baby, thinking big thoughts. (Actually, what I'm thinking is, "Hey, these aren't Pringles!") I think I look better with baby.

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Election Debrief
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
Well, I remain convinced that things are going to get a whole lot worse with Bush and the republicans in power-- the Middle East has been mis-managed and will get far worse; and of course the supreme court judges that Bush will appoint (activist ideologues on the far right who will set America back 50 years, which I think is a bad thing.)

But the overwhelming takeaway from last night-- and, if you were paying attention, 2002-- is that the Democratic party is officially ideologically bankrupt. With all the talk about people voting "against Bush" (as I did), what was lost in the shuffle was how many voters voted "against Kerry." It is unfathomable to me that the turnout was so high-- and that this HURT Kerry. If marginal voters (the additional voters; marginal in the economic sense) were for Bush, than the dems really have lost touch with America.

You look at the election map, and see how much red (as in red states) is on it, and it becomes clear that the pockets of democratic support are really few and far between. NY, LA, Chicago, San Francisco. That's basically it. That vast "America" out there-- they don't know what to make of the democrats, and vice versa. Remember, it wasn't long ago that the south was a solid democratic block, dating back to the fact that Lincoln had been a republican. Now you almost automatically put every southern state in red.

It is so easy to second guess. Why nominate Kerry in the first place? He's Gore, if Gore was from Massachusetts and less likable. Dean (hindsight being 20/20) would at least been an alternative that people could really consider; instead of pleading how he wasn't that different from Bush, he'd have offered a real alternative. He still might have lost, but at least he wouldn't have been the same old generic dem candidate. Of course, Kerry swept through the primaries like a hurricane, and won the nomination fair and square. OK then, why Edwards? Because he balances the ticket and might bring in some southern states? Edwards comes off as a well-coiffed kid, not ready for national politics, and oh yeah, he couldn't even deliver his own state.

Tucker Carlson, who strikes me generally as a smarmy little putz (is there any other takeaway from a grown man who wears a bowtie and isn't in the popcorn business?) aptly compared this election to 1964 for the republicans. He suggested that after Goldwater got trounced by LBJ, the party embarked on a 12-year process of redifinition that reaped dividends. It is time for the democrats to go back to the drawing board and redefine the party. Kerry, Gore, Gephardt-- the democratic leaders are all of a piece, and they are all insufficient to win a national election. Look at me-- I hate Bush, I can't abide the way he has misunderstood and bungled the Middle East. Does that make me a democrat? Nope. Because they are a bunch of directionless screw-ups. Look, I am a hopeless idealist. I'd like to see a political party that I could say, "Hey, I want to be one of those guys." And its never happened. I've been an independent since I was 18 (Todd Rundgren touring for Jon Anderson in 1980 helped). It would be nice if I could look at the democrats and say, "I'm one of those guys." Instead of, "I'm voting against Bush." Would Kerry have made a good president? Honestly, my best guess is no-- I have him pegged for mediocre at best, with the possibility that he could have risen to the challenge. But I think he would have done less damage than Bush will. And diffused the powder keg of the war in the middle east, making us somewhat safer. But he has no vision-- just the same old same old hackneyed rhetoric.

When Carlson said what he said about the party needing to redefine itself, Carville and Begalia were there (it was the Crossfire gang.) Both of them agreed. Begalia impresses me not, but I think Carville (and Stephanopolous) are the two brightest lights in the democratic party froma strategic perspective. I respect Carville's savvy immensely. I hope he can be a leader in the redefining of the party. Because no one on that side of the aisle seems to have a clue.

Clearly this is a conservative country. I don't know why, I don't understand why. It wasn't always thus. My best guess is that the republicans have done a better job of defining what liberal is than the democrats have; indeed you can call a politician liberal and it is accepted to be an insult. As long as this is true, democrats cannot win the hearts and minds of the country. They must redefine what liberal means.

My armchair quarterback advice to the dems would be to charge them with two key assignments:

1. The religious left. This is not an option. I know plenty of good church going people who are democrats. Politically the right seems to have a monoopoly on Jesus. I would mandate the democrats to find and nurture and develop a religious left that is as powerful and well-funded and prominent as the religious right, that can speak to the people of faith in this country as effectively as the religious right does. And for the love of God, I amnot talking about Jesse Jackson. I mean, wasn't Jesus the original bleeding heart liberal? This mandate may seem impossible; indeed it is imperative.

2. Take back the word "liberal." Re-define it. As long as liberal is a dirty word, the dems have a problem. On the one side you have republican, conservative, right. On the other, you have deomocrat, liberal, left. Both liberal and left are considered dirty words. Why? Basically, because the democrats have been totally outplayed by the republican political operatives. These terms must be redefined in a way that positions liberal as distinctly different from conservative, resonates in a positive way with middle America, and perhaps even presents the opportunity to do a little demonizing of "conservative."

These seem like tall orders. They are. They are also essential if the democratic party intends to continue running candidates in major elections. And if they put the same old people on the job of redefining the party's vision, the effort will be for naught.

Finally, let me say that I am still opposed to the Electoral College. Some have accused us lefties of only knocking the EC because in 2000 it hurt our guy (Gore wasn't actually my guy; I voted for Nader.) But in this day and age it doesn't make any sense. If we had a popular vote, then Ohio's provisional votes wouldn't matter; Bush won enough of the popular vote to be president. So even though the "lose the EC" hurts Kerry this time, I still believe in it. The catch is, in the Gore versus Bush Supreme Court decision, it was written that there is no federally guaranteed right to vote. This sounded horribly Big Brother and conservatively demonic, except that a little digging revealed that the right to vote exists at the state level, not the federal. So it will be difficult legislatively to lose the EC because our right to vote is bestowed upon us by our states, not by the feds. Which sort of explains the EC. I think the best we can do is have all states apportion their EC votes based on the way the popular vote in the state goes, as opposed to winner take all.

OK, two more things. We all have this happy expectation that we should know the outcome of the election day-of. But why? Think about it. There are millions of votes that simply CAN'T be counted in time. So what actually signals to us as Americans that one candidate has won? There are two things. One, the loser calls the winner and offers congratulations. Two, the networks call (declare) the winner. Neither of these things have anything to do with counting votes, but both have been the things we've grown up expecting as the deciding factors in the election. With neither occuring on election day for the second time in a row, we are discovering just how much more fragile this process is than we like to believe. This is unconfortable.

And finally: should Kerry concede? In my opinion, yes. He can't win Ohio. There simply aren't enough provisional votes to tip the state his way. He has lost the election. The sooner he cops to it and goes away quietly, the quicker the party can begin to heal its deep, deep wounds.


By the way, Montana approved medical marijuana; Oregon and Alaska voted it down. Way to go Montana. Good to know if you ever get glaucoma in Butte.


Posted by: --josh-- @ 9:10 AM  

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