Creative Destruction

November 8, 2006

Postmortem Thoughts

Filed under: Election 2006 — Off Colfax @ 9:35 pm

Three things have come to my mind in the (non-sleeping) hours since the Happy End-Of-Political-Advertisements Day. But only two are about the election for some reason.

Number One: Credit Where Credit Is Due

Even with the great Republican implosion, there is one thing that I must mention as being a good part of why the Democrats have retaken the House (and maybe Senate as well) this year. And in a very odd point for me, none of my regularly read blogs have pointed this one out yet: The Fifty-State Strategy. Howard Dean, the much-derided (by the GOP faithful) former Presidential contender tapped to head the DNC, created an effective strategy to a) keep everyone in the loop as to what is going on, b) energize the voting base and keep them that way throughout a very long slog, and c) bring significant amounts of money into the party coffers.

Admittedly, the strategy could not have performed this well without the second prong, recruitment of quality candidates for office. Yet compared to previous years, the national committees have been able to mount a respectable degree of offense instead of being forced to leave the vast majority of candidates to hoe their own row.

Whatever you may think about his past, whatever you may think about his politics, whatever you may think about the primal scream, Dean has proven himself as a good choice to run the party. Is he the quality of, for example, a Karl Rove when it comes to political manuevering? No. Few people this side of the temporarily-marginalized James Carville are that good. Yet he is just what the doctor (pun not intended) ordered to give the Democrats a good shot in the arm and a swift kick in the ass.

Number Two: The Door Swings Both Ways

I have never had the pleasure of blogging on the side of the majority. Like most of us on the left-hand side of the road, I started off in a time where every electable aspect of the federal government was dominated by the other side. I have not had the chance to simply sit and cheerlead from the sidelines, blindly supporting each and every aspect of my party’s governance.

And I still won’t. Doing so is not part of my philosophical makeup. I’ve had too much practical experience in life to curl up on a blog-based ivory tower and be a rah-rah-rah boy for Pelosi & Co. So when they screw the pooch in a spectacular fashion, you can rely on me to slap them upside the head with a rubber albatross. Repeatedly. And with as much fervor and enthusiasm as I have whacked, and will continue to whack, a good number of extreme conservative ideas.

But it will be kinda neat to play for the team in the lead for a change.

Number Three: He’s Not Done Moving Yet?

Unlike most of us on this blog, I still am a regular reader of Protein Wisdom, nominal home of the infamous Jeff Goldstein. With his recent escapades in the non-digital world, he found himself without enough time to give the blog what time it needs, and so has handed the reins of power over to a wide array of guestbloggers.

To be perfectly honest, I find those idiots driving me away from PW faster than Duncan Black’s senseless flagwaving and breast-beating is driving me away from Eschaton. I’ve barely cracked the page in the last three weeks, and even then it’s been only to see if Jeff is back to his old haunts yet.

Dude. Please. Come back. Some of us out here actually like you, not the ones you chose to substitute for you. And if you decide to not to come back to your digital homeland, instead staying with the folks at Hot Air… Let us know. As it stands now, PW will be the first recent casualty of my blogroll, even before Atrios rolls off into my digital oblivion. But that will all change once I can get my regular dose of armadillo stories again.


Voters prefer corpse to Republican

Filed under: Content-lite,Election 2006,Humor — Daran @ 7:19 pm

Dead woman wins county commissioner’s race

Haven’t they got better things to do?

Filed under: Content-lite,Humor — Daran @ 7:13 pm

Italian police seize musical toilet

Election results: 1.5 million low-wage workers get a raise

Filed under: Economics — Ampersand @ 10:14 am

The minimum wage was a winner in last night’s election. In the six states (Montana, Ohio, Arizona, Colorado, Missouri and Nevada) with ballot measures to raise the minimum wage, the ballot measures passed. Even better, all six laws are indexed to inflation – meaning that the MW in those states will automatically go up over time, rather than having to be fought for again and again.

Here’s a summary table, from this Economic Policy Institute page:


New minimum wage Number of
workers affected

$6.75 + indexing 303,000

$6.85 + indexing

Missouri $6.50 + indexing

Montana $6.15 + indexing


Nevada $6.15 + indexing 101,000

Ohio $6.85 + indexing 719,000
Total   1,561,000

If trends in these six states mirror national trends, then about 60% of the 1.5 million workers getting the raise will be women. A disproportionate number of the 1.5 million will be people of color.

Interestingly, this is the first time in US history that the majority of states have state-level minimum wages which are higher than the Federal minimum wage. That’s a reflection of how much the Federal government has allowed the real value of the minimum wage to drop, forcing the states to step in:

Real value of the minimum wage, 1950-2004

(Curtsy: Angry Bear).

Plus, new overlord Pelosi has said that raising the minimum wage will be at the top of the Democrats’ national agenda (one of a bunch of items at the top, admittedly). Fresh from a electorial beating, the Republicans may not have much stomach for fighting a minimum wage increase – polls show that raising the minimum wage is popular with voters of both parties.

A couple of links:

Dean Baker points out that when restaurant owners say that raising the minimum wage would hurt them, and anyway waiters may a ton in tips, the numbers don’t add up.

This Economic Policy Institute brief from 1999 — “The Minimum Wage Increase: A Working Woman’s Issue” — is, sadly, still current today. EPI has a bunch of good articles about the minimum wage, by the way.

Lessons in Ironic Placement, Courtesy of Our Friends at Google News

Filed under: Election 2006 — Robert @ 4:55 am

Top news headlines around 2 AM election night:

Why We Just Got Our Ass Kicked

Filed under: Current Events,Election 2006,Politics and Elections — Robert @ 3:26 am

This is a post aimed at my fellow Republicans and/or conservatives and/or conservatarians. (God forgive me for using that word.) You patchouli-reeking socialists are welcome to read and comment, but the intended audience is my brethren of the GOP voting universe – and mostly those of the elected persuasion (and not a few of the recently unelected persuasion).

For my friends and readers of delicate disposition, please be advised that I shall attempt to restrain the worst things that I feel like saying, but I can make no guarantees as to the family friendliness of the language.

We just got our ass kicked and everybody damn well knows the reason why.

The political machine performed brilliantly. As in previous elections, it delivered 98% of what was needed to be delivered in order to win – leaving it to the operational side of the house to come up with the last 2%. That 2% is what the Congressmen and women and the executive branch and (to a much milder extent) the judicial system has to win on merit – on being able to credibly say “look at the solid achievements and real progress on important issues we have made”.

Some of them have tried, and a few have tried like heroes. I’m not going to name names, it’s pointless. The ones who are trying to get things done know who they are, and so does everyone else.

The Iraq war is a disaster. Not irretrievably so militarily or strategically, where we are surviving a war of attrition in what is essentially a test of political will, but politically – where the rationales and strategies and realistic prospects for the war have not been described to the American people. This is a failure squarely to be laid at the door of the White House and its communication machine. This country took on a military machine nearly as far away and a lot deadlier than the massed forces of the entire Arab world, and had it explained over those newfangled “radios”. Do you really think their Internet-enabled children and grandchildren can’t handle the real story of the war on radicalized Islam? Of course they can – but 90% of them are not going to take enough courses in medieval mideastern history to put the picture together on their own. It has to be explained, and people given the information they need to be informed.

The ethical emanation coming from the Congress is putrid. It’s on a bipartisan basis, but scrappy underdogs get forgiven for their colorful escapades. People who are allegedly governing don’t.

This Congress’ performance on other issues has been at best uninspired. No decisive action to take control of the nation’s borders. No resolution reached of the knotty questions surrounding immigration policy. No progress on fixing Social Security. A trainwreck prescription drugs bill hated by everyone. Bloated pork bills designed to curry favor with every special interest group in America – how well did that one work out for you, fellows? Currying favor with us religious elements on trivial crap, and blowing us off or dropping the ball on big picture questions. The list goes on.

Damn it all, this has to stop.

We are not electing you people to go to Washington and get rich in sweetheart deals. We are not electing you people because we saw your picture and said “this guy should get invited to every cocktail party in the Beltway”. We send you to our nation’s capital – a place where American soldiers have seen battle and shed blood – in order that you can govern this nation. But most of you don’t even govern yourselves.

Here is a refresher course. Here are the things that you are expected to do.

1. Secure our borders and coastal areas against casual violation, and formulate an immigration policy that is decent, humane, and survivable.

2. Fix Social Security so that it continues to work sustainably, without breaking it (hint: reasonably regulated markets). Reform the financial governance and fiscal prudence of our Government’s accounting practices.

3. Victory in Iraq. (Like pornography, we’ll know it when we see it.)
4. Fix the health care system of this country so that people who cannot get the care they truly need are helped, without bankrupting the rest of us. Hint: reasonably regulated markets.

5. Progress in the war on terror.

Here’s a suggestion for Congressional figures, and those who would so aspire: When you plan to do something, ask “does this help with any of one through five on Bob’s list of demands?” If the answer is “no”, then don’t do it. If you’re thinking “you know, I really need to start having relationships with teenagers…I wonder who’s on Yahoo Chat tonight”, then ask yourself “have we won in Iraq, fixed Social Security, saved the health care system, made progress in the war on terror, AND secured the borders?” If the answer is “no”, then I suggest that you put down the IM client and get your ass back to work.

You guys (and too few gals) have let down the team. You have two years to turn it around, get yourselves in some kind of order, and get serious about the business of this country.

Either get your shit together, or start looking for a new line of work in 2008.


Filed under: Current Events,Election 2006,Politics and Elections — Robert @ 2:13 am

delicious crow!

November 7, 2006

A Much Less Comprehensive Ballot Rundown Than Amp’s

Filed under: Current Events,Election 2006,Politics and Elections — Robert @ 9:04 pm

For the 1 person out there (somewhere!) who cares, here were the issues on the Colorado ballot, and how I voted.  (Because I know you are sitting on the edge of your seat waiting to find out.)

Amendments to futz around with school funding and how they spend money: voted no on all these. Folks, you don’t administer school districts through the initiative process. Geeze.

Amendments to futz around with the state constitution on some things which frankly I don’t know what they’re about and I suspect the authors don’t know either: voted no on all these.

Amendment to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman: Voted yes.

Amendment to extend the legal privileges of marriage to civil unions (of any sort, I think), and also to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman: Voted yes.

Amendment to decriminalize possession of marijuana: Voted yes.

Other amendments: I don’t remember, and I voted no. Colorado does a nice thing for people like me, which is to require all initiatives and amendments and such to have “no” mean “leave things they way they are now”.

The partisan elections in my district were all safe Republican seats, so I voted there with no impact.

In fact, my vote is unlikely to have any impact, because I forgot to register when we moved and so I had to do a provisional ballot. I can find out in December if my vote counts or not. Wheee!

November 6, 2006

Another Prediction Set

Filed under: Election 2006 — Off Colfax @ 2:42 am

While Bob has his extraordinarily optimistic prediction on tap (Well, optimistic if you’re a Republican and/or GOP supporter. Which he is. And I’m not.), I find it time to get my own out here in black-and-white.

Hey Bob, how about a wager? Whomever is further from the actual mark in each category buys the other a beer at the next Bash. Per category. You game?

Senate makeup: GOP 51 – Dem 48 – CFL 1; GOP retains the chamber. Santorum falls by 7 points, Burns by 2. Menendez keeps Kean at bay, Allen will hold off Webb by a hair and Talent will edge out McCaskill in a recount by under 0.5%.

House makeup: Dem 226 – GOP 209; Dem gains control. The NRCC has all but conceded defeat in an even dozen races so far, and far too many of the rest under serious challenge are too close to call. Some major predictions from me are Duckworth coming 3 points short and Paccione missing out on a Georgetown address by 5.

Gubernatorial: Detailed prediction for this one is not in my forte, so I’ll just say Dem +5 and leave it at that.

(I know. I’m not quite as optimistic as Kevin Drum or Duncan Black when it comes to the House. Part of that is the influence of those dirty tricks that TPM Muckraker keeps on yammering about… Just call me Johnny Raincloud.)

Murderball Meets Jackass

Filed under: Content-lite,Personal Ramblings,Popular Culture — Brutus @ 2:10 am

I rented the movie Murderball recently, which got high praise by most reviewers. The guys featured in the movie are a bit gonzo for me, but they appear to be having a hell of a lot of fun.

I see most movies on DVD these days, which loses the theatrical audience response but offers bonus features and is a lot cheaper. I was intrigued to find among the Murderball extras some material featuring a couple of the guys from the Jackass movies, which I have avoided seeing, interacting with the guys from Murderball. I described the stunts and games I saw to a friend who sees nearly every movie, and he said that the full-length Jackass movies were pretty much the same nonsense.

So imagine my surprise when I found myself laughing out loud (which I rarely do in response to a movie at home — at the theater it’s much easier) at what I saw them doing, things like The Black Eye Game and Wheelchair Jousting. It was so predictably base and senseless, but funny.

My sense of humor runs high and low with very little middle ground. I love subtley and wordplay, but I howl at fart jokes. (I had tears streaming down my cheeks in the theater when I saw Eddie Murphy’s version of The Nutty Professor.) Go figure. So although I won’t exactly be rushing off to see Jackass, I guess it’s fair to say I laugh at that sort of nonsense, at least in the small dose I got in connection with Murderball.

Election 2006 Predictions

Filed under: Current Events,Election 2006,Politics,Politics and Elections — Robert @ 1:13 am

Herewith my predictions for the House, Senate and gubernatorial races, 2006. Presented without data or argumentation – although the data and the argumentation exist in my fevered brain. This is simply intended as a recording of my predictions (some general, some specific), so that on Tuesday evening I can either make an incredibly snarky “I told you so” or a humbled “well, we all make mistakes…” post.

The Senate: Dems +3, Republicans retain control. Santorum retains his seat narrowly, as does Burns.
The House: Dems +10. Republicans retain control.

Governorships: Dems pick up 2 new governorships, which I believe gives them a majority.

(Yes, I am significantly more optimistic than the pollsters. I don’t think the pollsters know what they’re doing anymore; the game has changed and the statistical methods that work to assess a neutral population no longer provide good data.)

November 4, 2006

Killing for Votes

Filed under: Election 2006,Iraq — Daran @ 12:24 pm

Independent Online:

US officials are reported by some Iraqi officials to have urged privately that the verdict [in Saddam Hussein’s trial] be announced tomorrow in order to improve the standing of President George Bush’s administration in the midterm elections two days later.

Is there nothing this administration won’t do to improve its prospects at the polls?

Update: Lest it be not clear, I am opposed to the death penalty in every case. It is, nevertheless gratifying to see someone who support it, (at least in Hussein’s case) objecting to this.

November 3, 2006

How Amp Is Voting, Part The Third – Local Ballot Measures

Filed under: Election 2006 — Ampersand @ 11:06 am

Local measures are usually about raising my property tax bill. Wheee!


More Endorsements: Who I’m Voting For This Election

Filed under: Election 2006 — Ampersand @ 11:04 am

Note that this is just a list of who I’m voting for; there are, of course, many elections in Oregon this year that my district isn’t voting in.


November 2, 2006

Shadenfraud time: Ann Coulter May Have Illegally Voted In Wrong Precinct

Filed under: Content-lite,Current Events — Ampersand @ 4:07 pm

Okay, anytime Ann Coulter is having a bad day I’m happy. But I’m a bit bugged by this:


Investigations begin into whether Bush administration muzzled climate research

Filed under: Politics,Science — Daran @ 3:53 am

Link. (via)

About time too.

Beat that!

Filed under: Content-lite,Navel Gazing — Daran @ 3:40 am

You paid attention during 100% of high school!


85-100% You must be an autodidact, because American high schools don’t get scores that high! Good show, old chap!

Do you deserve your high school diploma?
Make a Quiz


November 1, 2006

How I’m Voting This Election Cycle: Oregon Ballot Measures

Filed under: Election 2006 — Ampersand @ 6:13 pm

Here in Oregon, we all vote by mail, so most Oregonians have already gotten their voter ballots. Many have already voted, in fact, but I tend to procrastinate.

So – how I’m voting.


A Whiney Post About Faking Respectful Discourse

Filed under: Navel Gazing — Ampersand @ 3:47 pm

At Balloon Juice, long-time Republican John Cole writes:

In short, it really sucks looking around at the wreckage that is my party and realizing that the only decent thing to do is to pull the plug on them (or help). I am not really having any fun attacking my old friends- but I don’t know how else to respond when people call decent men like Jim Webb a pervert for no other reason than to win an election. I don’t know how to deal with people who think savaging a man with Parkinson’s for electoral gain is appropriate election-year discourse. I don’t know how to react to people who think that calling anyone who disagrees with them on Iraq a “terrorist-enabler” than to swing back. I don’t know how to react to people who think that media reports of party hacks in the administration overruling scientists on issues like global warming, endangered species, intelligent design, prescription drugs, etc., are signs of… liberal media bias.

And it makes me mad. I still think of myself as a Republican- but I think the whole party has been hijacked by frauds and religionists and crooks and liars and corporate shills, and it frustrates me to no end to see my former friends enabling them, and I wonder ‘Why can’t they see what I see?”

There’s more – it’s worth reading the whole thing. John Cole is a Republican I have a lot of respect for. It’s hard to name many others.

I’ve been trying for years now to approach political disagreement with respect for my opponents; to remember that I might be wrong, and to treat even those I disagree with as inherently deserving of decent treatment from me. Lately I’ve been losing that conviction. The Republicans are the party that tries to win elections by bashing gays, and by trying to lower black voter turnout; they are the party that believes that the President should have the right to throw people in prison indefinitely and have them tortured without representation, trial or oversight; they are the party that supports censoring inconvenient scientific findings.

I can’t respect any of that. And I have a lot of trouble respecting anyone – even people I genuinely like and consider friends – who votes for the current Republican party.

So where does that leave me? Can I really justify my participation in Creative Destruction, which is (as I understood it) predicated on the idea of right-wingers and left-wingers disagreeing in a forum where mutual respect is practiced? On the other hand, I still see no benefit to the kind of discourse that is common in the blogosphere; treating other people like crap, calling people who disagree “wingnuts” or whatnot, etc.. I agree with most of the left-wingers I read on the substantive issues, but I don’t like the arrogance, the spitefullness, and the contempt. (Most right-wing bloggers exhibit these same traits, too.)

I think that kindness and respect is better than being hurtful. I think a style of discourse based in hatred and power-over is supportive of everything I hate, and that trying to treat everyone decently is profoundly more radical than othering and cruelty. I don’t think that acting like arrogant jerks with no regard for anyone but our own group actually creates change for the better in any way: it doesn’t reduce racism, it doesn’t reduce inequality, it doesn’t fight sexism, it doesn’t do anything but support bullying and power-over relationships.

So I think it’s better to treat people we disagree with, with kindness and respect, when we can. But I’m not feeling much respect, lately. I’m faking it.

And I think it’s worth faking it; I think it would be a better world if everyone faked respect for other people, even when they’re not feeling it. But I have a lot more doubts about that than I did a year or two ago.

I’m honestly distressed by the rule changes in Congress over the past six years; rule changes that are about reducing oversight on the executive, and about cutting Democrats out of meaningful discourse entirely. This is not how American government was designed to work. It is not how any previous congress in living memory, Republican or Democrat, has acted. And it shows, I think, a profound lack of commitment to the ideals of representative government, of checks and balances, and of intellectual humility.

There’s an image of a donut of discourse. Inside the donut hole are the principles that everyone in the society who is at all respected, agrees on: A constitutional democracy is better than a dictatorship, racism is bad, cheating on elections is wrong, etc.. The donut itself is contested areas; issues that people can disagree with and still be seen as reasonable, rational, and deserving of respect. In this area we find the controversies – abortion, affirmative action, socialized medicine, war on Iraq, etc.. Finally, there’s the areas outside of the donut: 9/11 was a plot orchestrated by Jews and the Bush administration, Nazism is good, and so on.

I’m beginning to think that my picture of the donut looks radically different than the conservative picture of the donut. And if that’s so, is there really much basis for discussion?

Republicans are stealing another US election.

Filed under: Current Events,Election 2006,Politics and Elections — Daran @ 3:36 am

Glitches cited in early voting

Lis Riba comments.

Notice how all the reported problems involve people trying to vote for the Democrat, and their ballot registering the Republican?

« Previous Page

Blog at