Friday, July 17, 2009


Did anyone but me notice that, after decrying the consideration of “empathy” when choosing judges, Republicans trotted out firefighter Michael Ricci for the Sotomayor hearings to remind everyone what a raw deal he got?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Independent Day

My symbolic resignation from the Democratic Party went into the mail today: I changed my voter registration to Independent.

The Beloved Spousal Equivalent is not amused. She’s focusing on my loss of voting privileges in primary elections. I’ve voted in primary elections for thirty years. It hasn’t helped.

My change of registration is not the same as a change of heart. I was a Democrat because Democrats wanted to do things more closely aligned with my philosophy than Republicans. They say they still do. I have just run out of patience with their reluctance to take positive action and stand by it.

I’ve been harshly critical of Republicans since Reagan’s election in 1980, and my distaste for their agenda and methods has only grown in the intervening years. Their policies are largely responsible for our current economic crisis, an unprecedented re-distribution of wealth away from those who could least afford it and toward those who least needed it, the overextension of our military, great steps backward in the area of personal rights, and establishing the United States as a bellicose pariah in much of the world. All of the above, and more, deserved all the criticism they received. In fairness, the Republicans knew what they wanted to do, and they did it. Unapologetic, heedless of consequences, ruthless even, but they got their agenda through with fewer votes in Congress than the Democrats have available now.

The Democrats have policies I’m happy to support; it’s their support that’s questionable. Party leaders appear to be more concerned about building bi-partisan coalitions than they are in getting their programs passed. After watching this for six months, I can only conclude they’re more interested in political cover than in bi-partisanship. This is not change I can believe in.

The Democrats have a solid majority in the House, and 58 effective votes in the Senate. (Kennedy and Byrd aren’t voting for health reasons.) True, that’s two votes short of what’s needed to shut down a filibuster, but it’s more votes than Bill Frist ever had when he shoved the Bush Agenda—Patriot Act, Department of Homeland Security, Iraq War, budget-busting tax cuts—through Harry Reid’s opposition like a fire hose through a wall of soap bubbles.

I can’t bear to even read about the Sotomayor hearings. We all know what everyone will say before they say it, so there’s no point in wasting time watching or listening. The media reports it as though each side’s talking points are proven facts, and the pundits drive home their side’s preferred positions, so nothing is to be gained there, either.

Enough of this switching parties shit. It’s time for people of strong conviction and good conscience to start dropping out of both parties. If things ever evolve to the point where Democrats and Republicans together can’t get fifty percent of the registered voters, some honest-to-god other parties might take hold. Two or three new ones should be sufficient. Then everyone would have to look for a coalition to govern, veto overrides would always be in question. Each party could actually stand for something, and would, hopefully, promote candidates that did the same.

For years I had to put up with George W. Bush as the face this country—and, by association, I—projected to the world. Quitting the country of your birth is one thing. Walking away from a political party joined by choice because you probably wouldn’t have joined in the first place if you knew then what you know know, is something else altogether.

(For more depth on my discontent, read this excellent column by Steven Pearlstein.)

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Where the Problem Lays

I haven't pounded on Harry Reid lately, so here's a brief snippet of today's Public Affairs chat in the Washington Post.

Seattle: Ezra, What tools does Reid have at his disposal to really force the "centrist" Democrats in line?

Ezra Klein: If the Senate leadership doesn't like you and the president doesn’t like you your ability to achieve legislative priorities effectively ends. But none of the centrist believe that will actually happen to them. (Emphasis added.)

There you have it. The "moderate" Democrats who helped to weaken the stimulus will get to work their magic on health care because Harry Reid still hasn't grown a pair. Say what you want about Bill Frist and Mitch McConnell, they kept their boys in lne.

Just to be equal opportunity about it, Obama appears to me more interested in being post-partisan than in being effective. Things will be better than if the Republicans had remained in charge--being hit with an asteroid would be better than that, at least it would be quick--but it still ain't going to be pretty.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Happy Birthdays

Doc Severinsen is 82 today, and no finer example of outlandish talent meshed with professionalism exists in any field. I was fortunate to play a gig with Doc in my previous life as a musician, and it's one of my fondest memories of that time. It was the next-to-last week of Johnny Carson's tenure on the Tonight Show, so he couldn't get Friday night off to fly to Virginia for the gig. Doc played the show and took the red-eye to Dulles. When I walked in for the dress rehearsal at 9:30 Saturday morning, he'd already been there for at least half an hour, warming up. (So, yes, I have seen Doc Severinsen dresed as a normal person.) He played the rehearsal, took a nap, and played his ass off that night. He was charming and generous to the mostly amateur musicians. I hope he's around and active for a while yet.

Gustav Mahler was also born on this data in 1860. Him, I never met.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

The Fourth of July

Happy Independence Day to all those in the United States and elsewhere who celebrate it.

Let's all remember, this is a nation of immigrants, formed through dissent, under the premise that everyone has a right to speak their mind, worship (or not) at their discretion, and associate with wheomever they choose. The flag has no meaning as a symbol unless its desecration as a form of protest is permitted, and permitting that desecration is not the same as approving of it. Those who would deny that right, and fly flags as big as football fields in all weather, night or day, might take a minute to read up the proper treatment of the flag. There's more to desecration than burning.

As it says above, dissent is not disloyalty, and I will always prefer a man who burn the flag and wraps himself in the Constitution to one who burns the Constitution and wraps himself in the flag.

May God bless America, but, more important, may we deserve that blessing.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Christmas (Hanukkah) In July

Sarah Palin is resigning as governor of Alaska, most likely to run for president in 2012.

In related news, Rahm Emanuel had to leave work early today to change his pants, after a spontaneous, unpredicted, and powerful orgasm.