Sunday, November 23, 2008

Office Hours

No, I'm not holding them (though someday I will, hopefully, maybe, possibly). I wrote a story with that name and it is on Diddle Dog, a self-proclaimed miscellany of flash fiction. Ergo, it's not that long. Read it sometime. Or now.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Poet Walks Into A Bar...

I have a poem up at Every Day Poets. Something humorous, a departure from doom and gloom, sein und zeit, sturm und drang, etc. etc.
(I am ordering it!)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Eviscerator Heaven!

Check out their fifth issue here. You will have to download it, but I think it will be worthwhile. My poem "City on a Dune" is on the front page. Thank you. Thank you. But good to see it has found a home. I wrote it so many years ago when Coates and I were at the Outer Banks and trying to imitate the Wright Brothers by being first in flight to somewhere. Anyway, enjoy!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Poetry is the Opiate of the Masses

I wish! Here is a new poem at Opium Poetry
(first gratuitous nudity on the blog, I believe)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Grand Old Party

In case you can't read the original handwriting, the figures (Left to Right) are saying the following to John C. Fremont:

Skinny Guy: "The thing we want is a law making the use of Tobacco, Animal food, and Lager-bier a capital crime."

Butch-Femme: "We demand, first of all the recognition of woman as the equal of man, with a right to vote and hold office."

Bum: "An equal distribution of property is what I go for."

19th Century MILF: "Col. I wish to invite you to the next meeting of our Free Love association, where the shackles or marriage are not tolerated and perfect freedom exist in love matters and you will be sure to enjoy yourself, for we are all freemounters."

Papist: "We look to you Sir to place the power of the pope on a firm footing in this Country"

Free Black: "De Poppylation of color comes first arter dat you may do wat you pleases."

John C. Fremont: "You shall all have what you desire and be sure that the glorious principles of Popery, Fourierism (i.e. Socialism), Free Love, Woman's rights, the Maine Law (i.e. prohibition), and above all the equality of our colored brethren shall be maintained; If I get into the Presidential Chair.

Funny how perceptions change. In 1856, this was how the rest of the country saw the Republican Party. It was the party of sexual and racial equality, the party of socialism, the party of strange ideas and utopianism, and sexual experimentation.

Fast forward to 2008 and the party has completely changed, and it looks like it will have to again. The defeats in the recent election point to the party losing ground in the once Solid South, being almost completely washed out of New England, and failure to gain in any key areas or demographics. The Bush administration's treasonous and criminal ineptitude is partly to blame, but the problem lies within the party that Reagan built, its foundations were simply too shaky to last much longer.

The main problem was trying to keep too many groups together that opposed one another on principle, namely the social conservatives, the neo-cons, business people, and libertarians (who should have left in droves a few elections ago). The primary campaign showed these divisions coming to light, as did Palin's nomination. The GOP simply has to reorient itself, purge a wing or two of its party, and then rebuild a grassroots campaign with a new base and new message.

But here is the question, which wing? The easiest answer is to remove the evangelical voters. they other factions can get along much better, and in the past, they traditionally have. It was not until the 1980s that they became solidly Republican. However if they are booted out of the party either outright in deed or through a change of the platform, they will rob the GOP of its grassroots support and in all likelihood they could join the Constitution Party and give the Democrats a few more decades in power.

Undoubtedly many in the party are calling for a return to core values, but the problem is 1) what are these values? 2) Which ones to we embrace when they contradict? and 3) Can we actually win on them? The last question has gotten the least amount of attention. Yes, Bush has betrayed many of the core principals of conservatism, at least defined in the last quarter of a century by Reagan. But so did Reagan. What is often not asked, is why such a betrayal? Were these compromises of principle made out of spite? Were leaders simply not thinking?

I think the answer is simple, whether or not conservatism works, it is hard to run on a platform of small and limited government except in certain areas. In cities and suburbs it is not that appealing. People will hate to admit it, but on the whole, they like their programs. People generally are not sympathetic to conservatism in practice, even when they may self-identify as conservatives. This is no critique of the philosophy itself, just a belief that it is hard to campaign on it. That is why Republicans have run their campaigns focused heavily on social issues and foreign policy (and playing to the fears of white people). Discussion about cutting programs and deregulation almost never gets that much attention. Taxes, yes, but taxes are it, and they are dragged out and talked about and then put back away when talk of cutting the actual budget comes up.

Reagan and Bush made compromises and eventually sold out conservatism because they saw that adhering to the ideology could not get them votes. The demographics were working against them. Goldwater tried to run an honest conservative campaign in 1964, and he was trounced (the same could be said with McGovern running from the other side - but part of it was his own ineptitude).

Where does this leave the Republican Party? I think they should reposition themselves as the party of good government, not simply a limited one. I think they should work to maintain their credentials on law and order, and take up a humane, but rational stance on immigration. They should adopt more of a conservative approach to the budget, and less on taxes. They should embrace libertarianism on social policy, the future favors them on that. And they should become heavily invested within environmentalism and create a consensus on the greening of America, to deprive the Democrats of one issue where they continually trounce them.

This means the GOP will, however, become a smaller party. The social conservatives will leave, and perhaps either stay at home, form a new party, or join the Constitution Party. The GOP will have a chance at retaking the presidency, but will be weaker in congress, much like it was before Reagan. The party might give up everything right, and find itself in the center, the balance, and the heart of the country. The cartoon above should show that such transformations are possible.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

On the Making of History

It is done. It is finished. But we have only gone through the door.

It's been a while since I have written anything (other than poems) because I was working to help get out the vote in NY's 13th precinct. It was one of the few competitive areas of New York City, the last red district there. I did data entry for our canvassers, going over their travels with as fine a comb as I could manage. It was exhausting work and hectic. It is mostly done for now. I am taking today off and absorbing it all.

History would have been made no matter who won, but probably better to elect our first Black president and not the oldest one. true a female VP would have been a step forward, even if it was only a tiny one with Palin. But nonetheless it was a night to remember, full of drama and then finally getting out into the clear.

Unfortunately the senate dd not go as smoothly for the Dems as it should have. They are still counting the ballots as I write and haven't called several races. But it looks like the filibuster proof majority will not be reached. However with a large enough majority they can get what they want on a day to day basis. Judicial appointments might get tricky though, and large budget measures.

McCain was probably the strongest Republican who could have won. None of the other candidates could have fared any better. The fact that he was even facing a competitive election speaks more to her personality and story than any love of the Republican Party, and also from the fear of some voters with Obama.

He was the best they could put up, and he lost. with his party branded with the high stench of failure, there wasn't much he could do. But I think there were several things that kept him from being able to win, which were his doing. Regardless of how Bush, Iraq, and the economy were doing, he shot himself in the foot too.

First, was his age. In 2000, it was less of an issue. But the idea of electing the oldest president didn't sit well with a lot of voters, and I could't blame them. America may give its money to old people, but it doesn't like to elect them. We have resisted the kind of gerontocracy that the USSR and China have, and I think it has been a factor in our success. The American people wanted change and it is hard to believe it can come with wrinkles on its face.

Second, and related to his age, was his VP choice, perhaps the worse since Eagleton in 1972. Palin simply wasn't experienced, nor was she vetted enough. Her being on the ticket did not reflect well on McCain. She had charisma, but she simply did not stand up well under pressure and questioning. she brought little of her own ideas to the table and in the end probably did not get along with the rest of the McCain campaign. She couldn't even bring a large state to the table (which is why Biden wasn't the best pick either).

However she could be the reason the Democrats did not sweep through the senate elections, since she probably helped to boost social conservatives coming out.

Third, McCain did not have a consistent message. Even when he found his mantra of Joe the Plumber, it wasn't enough. Obama took the mantle of change early and McCain, in trying to steal it from him, was playing catch up. In 2000, McCain could have seriously tried to take it away from Obama, but in those eight years his public persona had changed and he had been brought into the fold of the GOP too much, ostensibly because he was thinking about 2008.

I liked him in 2000, but when he went over to praise Falwell, that was the end of it for me.

Which brings me to number four, on why he lost. McCain's problem was that he was too honorable and too much of a politician at the same time. Unlike Bush, he could never comfortably get down in the gutter, probably because Bush could do so while clutching a cross. That was his justification. But McCain always believed in his message and his being a maverick, which made it hard for him to use scare tactics and subtle racism like most Republicans. At the same time, he had tarnished his image by standing by and behind Bush and the social conservatives, who in the end did not appreciate his efforts, leading him to nominating Palin, which hurt him even more.

I do think he gave a good concession speech, and that hopefully will be the first honorable thing he does before going back to the senate, where he can try and build up a new legacy for himself, or become one of the key figures in Obama's reaching out to the other side of the aisle to try and make this country work.