Friday, May 15, 2009

It's Friday Again

Time to bring out the Boobies.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The GOP Obituary Might Be Premature

As a liberal, I'm perfectly happy to see the Republican party in total disarray. But unlike a lot of the other liberal blogs, I'm not ready to predict their demise. While it's fun to watch them flounder about searching for a leader and a message, bad ideas have a way of returning over time and the public memory is remarkably short. It is amusing to watch desperate acts such as trying to rename the Democratic party as "The Democrat Socialist Party" (note to Republicans: the Democratic Socialists of America already exist; they just haven't won many elections) in hope of bringing back anti-communist hysteria, or the pro-torture snarlings of the Cheney in order to maintain the tough guy anti-terrorist image. Hoping that Limbaugh/Cheney/Gingrich can rehabilitate the party from the damage inflicted by the Shrub administration does seem delusional.
But the recent history of partisan politics should serve as a reminder of how quickly fortunes can turn. After the '64 election, the Republicans were thought dead. Post Watergate '73-'74, Nixon had so poisoned the Republican brand that a number of members of congress changed parties as the only hope of retaining their seats. Even as recently as the '92-'93 early Clinton popularity the Republicans were considered irrelevant. And the Democratic party has been written off for dead more than a few times. McGovern and the hippies were thought lethal, St. Ronnie led to the migration of the "Reagan Democrats", and a consensual blow job was considered such a moral outrage that no upstanding citizen would ever consider voting Democratic. Karl Rove thought that 9/11 could be used to create a "permanent Republican majority" and render the Democrats "irrelevant".
My point is that political fortunes turn, sometimes very quickly. The bad ideas and conservative constituencies that are the base of the Republican party still exist. The corporatist oligarchs still have the resources to promote their self-enriching deregulation agenda to the middle class, despite the fact it's been shown to be a total failure. The religious right can still move a large number of voters by demonizing gays and abortion. Characterizing Democrats as "tax and spend liberals" will still resonate with a percentage of voters, and there is always a market for the NRA's "liberals want to take away your guns" lie. So the people that bought Shrub could get fooled again.
Another factor that must be taken into account is that Obama was elected partly because of his charisma. While none of the current faces leading the Republicans can rival that, a charismatic individual could emerge in the future and rally enough voters to win. It's not like that's never happened before.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

For Baseball Junkies Only

Gerardo Parra of the Diamondbacks just became the 100th player to hit a homerun on his first at-bat. (See opening season post for context).

Monday, May 11, 2009

Not Just Another Day

I like to think that I know myself pretty well, but sometimes I'm wrong. My emotional reaction to the first Mother's Day without my Mom was stronger and more painful that I expected. Mom passed in January, and while I thought that my grieving was mostly over I found myself really missing Mom. Thankfully I had some good friends around me (special thanks to Urland), or I might have been really depressed. But tears came at unexpected times, and the hole in my life was clear. Nobody will ever look as good on a Harley as my Mom did.
I hope you all took a moment to appreciate your own Mom, and if you are a Mom I hope you got the appropriate appreciation.

Replacing Souter

The retirement of Justice Souter brings focus to the reason that we should be glad that Barack Obama defeated John McCain. Appointing Supreme Court Justices is probably the most significant longterm act of any presidency, and the current court is the legacy of the presidents in our recent past. If McCain had won the election his appointment choice could have changed the basic philosophy of the court. One more staunch conservative vote would have changed the balance for many years.
Obama's choice won't.
The over-simplified reason is the current court balance. The four staunch conservatives (Thomas, Scalia, Alito, and Roberts) will be (barring the unforeseen) on the court for many more years, whereas the "liberals" are getting toward the end of their careers. Souter is now considered a "liberal" but only in a very "moderate" way. The balance still swings on Kennedy, a mostly conservative (but sane) jurist, so there is a sort of "balance" that will continue for the foreseeable future.
No matter how "liberal" Obama's choice is (I was hoping for Angela Davis), it's not going to change the "balance". The right wing will yell and scream about whoever he chooses, but it's a whole lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. The court will still be conservative, with a hint of moderation.
I'm guessing that Obama will choose someone (a woman) who is moderately liberal, and that confirmation will be relatively smooth. A "safe" choice (unless he gets a 'reverse Souter').
We'll hear a lot about the conservative "culture" issues of abortion and gay marriage, but the status quo will remain the same regardless of who Obama nominates. This isn't the vote that can change the game, so the fight will be mostly for show.
The only real court change will come when Kennedy or one of the conservatives leaves. Or we have another wacko conservative president (McCain-ish) who can push the court farther right. But Obama can't push the court further left with this appointment. 5 to 4 is still 5 to 4.