Thursday, November 20, 2008

Giving Up on God

Kathleen Parker, the conservative columnist who raised the ire of many Republicans during the election by eviscerating Sarah Palin in print, publishes a very interesting article today on the Republican Party's lack of church/party divide, claiming that if they want to return to prominence, the G-O-P needs to "dump" G-O-D.

The entire text is below or can be read at its original Washington Post source here.

As Republicans sort out the reasons for their defeat, they likely will overlook or dismiss the gorilla in the pulpit.

Three little letters, great big problem: G-O-D.

I'm bathing in holy water as I type.

To be more specific, the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn't soon cometh.

Simply put: Armband religion is killing the Republican Party. And, the truth -- as long as we're setting ourselves free -- is that if one were to eavesdrop on private conversations among the party intelligentsia, one would hear precisely that.

The choir has become absurdly off-key, and many Republicans know it.

But they need those votes!

So it has been for the Grand Old Party since the 1980s or so, as it has become increasingly beholden to an element that used to be relegated to wooden crates on street corners.

Short break as writer ties blindfold and smokes her last cigarette.

Which is to say, the GOP has surrendered its high ground to its lowest brows. In the process, the party has alienated its non-base constituents, including other people of faith (those who prefer a more private approach to worship), as well as secularists and conservative-leaning Democrats who otherwise might be tempted to cross the aisle.

Here's the deal, 'pubbies: Howard Dean was right.

It isn't that culture doesn't matter. It does. But preaching to the choir produces no converts. And shifting demographics suggest that the Republican Party -- and conservatism with it -- eventually will die out unless religion is returned to the privacy of one's heart where it belongs.

Religious conservatives become defensive at any suggestion that they've had something to do with the GOP's erosion. And, though the recent Democratic sweep can be attributed in large part to a referendum on Bush and the failing economy, three long-term trends identified by Emory University's Alan Abramowitz have been devastating to the Republican Party: increasing racial diversity, declining marriage rates and changes in religious beliefs.

Suffice it to say, the Republican Party is largely comprised of white, married Christians. Anyone watching the two conventions last summer can't have missed the stark differences: One party was brimming with energy, youth and diversity; the other felt like an annual Depends sales meeting.

With the exception of Miss Alaska, of course.

Even Sarah Palin has blamed Bush policies for the GOP loss. She's not entirely wrong, but she's also part of the problem. Her recent conjecture about whether to run for president in 2012 (does anyone really doubt she will?) speaks for itself:

"I'm like, okay, God, if there is an open door for me somewhere, this is what I always pray, I'm like, don't let me miss the open door. Show me where the open door is.... And if there is an open door in (20)12 or four years later, and if it's something that is going to be good for my family, for my state, for my nation, an opportunity for me, then I'll plow through that door."

Let's do pray that God shows Alaska's governor the door.

Meanwhile, it isn't necessary to evict the Creator from the public square, surrender Judeo-Christian values or diminish the value of faith in America. Belief in something greater than oneself has much to recommend it, including most of the world's architectural treasures, our universities and even our founding documents.

But, like it or not, we are a diverse nation, no longer predominantly white and Christian. The change Barack Obama promised has already occurred, which is why he won.

Among Jewish voters, 78 percent went for Obama. Sixty-six percent of under-30 voters did likewise. Forty-five percent of voters ages 18-29 are Democrats compared to just 26 percent Republican; in 2000, party affiliation was split almost evenly.

The young will get older, of course. Most eventually will marry, and some will become their parents. But nonwhites won't get whiter. And the nonreligious won't get religion through external conversion. It doesn't work that way.

Given those facts, the future of the GOP looks dim and dimmer if it stays the present course. Either the Republican Party needs a new base -- or the nation may need a new party.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bush Has Only Two Regrets; We Provide More

The satirical political website 23/6 recently ran a story too hilarious not to share. I've cut and pasted an excerpt below. To read the whole thing, click here.

In an interview on Veterans Day, President Bush was asked to reflect on his regrets over his two terms in office. Bush said he regrets, "saying some things I shouldn't have said, like 'dead or alive' and 'bring em on.'" Bush also said he wishes he hadn't spoken in front of the "Mission Accomplished" banner to declare an end to major combat operations in Iraq in 2003.

Okay, that's two! Looks like he needs help with the others, so we threw together a brief list of some of the things Bush should probably be regretting right about now.

A Quick List Of Stuff George Bush Should Regret
(Off The Tops Of Our Heads)

1. His existence

2. His decision to go into politics

3. Not learning how to better run oil companies so he wouldn't have to go into politics

4. His decision to run for president

5. His decision to run for a second term as president

6. Every word spoken into a microphone since January 20th, 2001

7. That time in 2001 when he shouted at Dick Cheney, "You know what, screw it. You run the country if you're so smart!"

8. Ignoring the way Alberto Gonzales was always saying, "Geneva Convention, Schmeneva Schmonvention!"

9. Those times when he let Donald Rumsfeld make decisions.

10. Revealing the identity of a covert CIA operative. Not cool!

11. That time when he said "Osama, Saddam. What's the damn difference?"

12. Letting the country fall into economic ruin.

13. That "wait for this to blow over" position on Katrina.

14. Not learning how to keep from smirking while addressing the nation about certain issues, such as Katrina.

15. Not giving more people hilarious nicknames, like "Turd Blossom."

16. That "Iraq" kerfluffle.

17. Not giving more speeches in front of banners that read, "Danger: Under Construction" or "Not Finished" or "This Mission is going to take at least six or seven years, if we're lucky!"

18. Saying, "All right Harriet, you've talked me into it."

19. Betting Cheney $1,000 they'd lose in 2004

20. Thinking, what the heck, it's just a pretzel

21. Not taking it as a bad sign that Karl Rove has a forked tongue

22. Responding to a report titled "Osama Bin Laden Determined to Strike Inside The United States" by repeating the title in a mocking, high-pitched voice that made Cheney laugh real hard.

23. Not saying, "Brownie, we should sit down for a performance review in the next week or so."

24. Those twenty or twenty-five times when he should have offered his resignation but decided to "wait it out."

25. Not doing more to avoid the inevitable indictments sure to come next February once they start finding out about "the real bad stuff."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008



Thursday, November 06, 2008


OK, I lied. I'm back after a break of less than 24 hours. But only for a moment. And without any sort of commentary. I leave you now with a few pretty pictures and one incredible tidbit from today's Politico:

"With unofficial tallies of the popular vote past 64 million (and still counting, as Georgia and other states tally the paper), Obama won more votes than any president in history."

Now the maps (click to enlarge):

This map represents how the country voted when compared to the 2004 election. The redder the area, the greater the shift toward Republicans. The bluer the area, the greater the shift toward the Democrats!

Or, looked at another way, these are the only areas in which McCain did better than Bush did in 2004.

This map shows self-reported ancestory. I include it simply as a fascinating look at this country's ethnic make-up, and how (and where) that make-up voted on Tuesday. Note the matches, especially with those sections from the earlier images showing McCain's strongest support and those same areas on this map showing the ethnic make-up of those who deemed themselves simply "Americans," the dark gray. African-Americans are represented in yellow, Hispanics in red, Germans in pale turquoise and the English in dark blue. The Irish are represented in light green, Italians in dark green and American Indians in orange.

Finally, many believe that Sarah Palin, in the late days of the campaign, blundered when she insisted small town America is the "real America" -- both a political and demographic mistake. False nostalgia aside, it is simply not true. According to census data taken in 2000, just shy of 80 percent of Americans lived in urban areas, a number that is doubtless even higher now. The map above shows U.S. population density. For an even more interactive, if ever so slightly dated map, click here.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


I have come full circle. More than a year ago, at a small (they were smaller then) gathering in Brooklyn, New York, I shook the hand of the man who, last night, was lauded as this country’s 44th President of the United States.

I hope Ronald Regan will forgive me for appropriating his line for a Democratic presidential victory, but for me and millions like me, it finally feels like “morning in America.”

I am proud to be an American today. While I know it upsets some people to hear this, I haven’t been proud of my country for a long while now. But I still love it. I always have. You can still love something you’re not proud of.

Throughout this protracted campaign, Obama inspired Americans to believe in themselves and their corporate greatness again. It was something I feared we might have lost forever. The President-elect is the embodiment of this country’s palpable yearning for thoughtful, conscientious leadership. But more than that, Obama inspires all who look up to him to be equally buoyant, confident and magnanimous. He has bent “the arc of history…toward the hope of a better day.”

It turns out the American Dream isn’t dead after all.

* * *

Yesterday was one of America’s preeminent defining moments. What we witnessed was, in the words of one pundit, nothing less than, politically speaking, man stepping foot on the moon.

Next January, an African American will move into a mansion built primarily with the calloused hands of black slaves, just blocks from where cages constructed to hold human beings once stood. He will share the residence with the ghosts of the presidents past — Lincoln, who signed the Emancipation Proclamation and Teddy Roosevelt who, in 1901, was the first to entertain an African American dinner guest in the White House. He will be the Commander and Chief of an armed forces that was integrated only 60 years ago. It has been only 54 years since Brown vs. the Board of Education integrated the nation’s schools and only 45 years since Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. stood on Washington’s National Mall and pricked the conscience of an entire nation. Regardless of your political ideology, Obama’s accomplishment should be a source of deep and abiding pride for all Americans. Obama’s victory was the zenith of two centuries of suffering and struggle.

America’s tragic history of slavery and racism is dreadful and far from resolved, but Obama is progress wrapped in flesh and blood. He is not the change, but rather the thing that appears validating the change that has already taken place. We do not yet live in a post-racial America. However, this monumental election mercifully calls into question all the old ways in which America used to think about race. Americans, no matter their geography or skin color, can now begin to see themselves differently. And what they do with that fruit of knowledge will alter this country in ways we cannot yet fathom. We should, all of us, applaud the fact that we were alive to witness such a historic moment. We should congratulate ourselves for throwing our backs behind martyrs such as Dr. King and all those who gave their lives for civil rights — the true inheritors of his victory. Some helped make it happen, but all will benefit from it.

America is every bit as much an idea as it is an identity. Yesterday, despite all our national baggage, this country succeeded, in the words of Dr. King, to judge Barack Obama by the content of his character and not the color of his skin. We pushed back against the complicit and implicit sins of our past and showed the world and ourselves that we are better than the shadowy patches of our history. If Americans corporately were victorious yesterday, African Americans specifically can embrace the triumph — their gain is the greatest of all. At last, they became full-blooded children of the American experiment in a way never before possible. Is anything impossible in America?

And if Obama, who shares a bi-racial parentage, embodies anything, it is the power and promise of what happens when black and white come together with a common vision and destiny. Even if he had lost, Obama has already made this a better country. Last night, standing on that stage in Chicago, Barack Obama found himself on the threshold of Dr. King’s oft invoked but never seen Promised Land.

* * *

For this movie guy, the past few weeks of the campaign reminded me of the end of the original Matrix, after Neo has come to understand fully the height of his powers. The malevolent agents attack him, punching furiously, but Neo is utterly unfazed. He is so much faster than those attacking him that he seems to move in slow motion, parrying their every strike. Likewise, McCain, in the final days, attacked furiously, from all different directions, but Obama was essentially nonplused, deflecting his rival’s aggression with something akin to ease and indifference.

Barack Obama ran perhaps the most technically flawless campaign in American history. His formidable supporters were as modern as his campaign’s 21st century mindset. Obama found victory in a multiracial coalition powered by the new face of America — disproportionately young ethnicities, “red and yellow, black and white,” hailing from cities and suburbs, who came out in impossibly large droves, bucking apathy, and linking arms across all incomes, ideologies and party loyalties. He swept into Republican enclaves of the Northeast Corridor, winning all regions of the country except the Deep South. He made deep inroads into New South states, invaded the country’s industrial and agricultural heartland, and spun the Rocky Mountain West on its head.

I watched the evening progress with a bounty of friends packed into my modestly-sized apartment. By the time it was over, most of us (we weren’t all hoping for a Democratic win) were beside ourselves with euphoria. When the results were called, we leapt jubilantly to our feet, screaming at the top of our lungs. We danced. We wept. We popped champagne. We raced through the hallways embracing everyone with whom we came in contact. Outside, a chorus of adulation joined ours. Horns honked for hours. Fireworks began to erupt. On the TV, hundreds of young people gathered outside the White House, just a mile or so from where we sat, chanting Obama’s name.

Two friends with me last night were residents of Great Britain, employees of the British Embassy. They may not have had a vote in yesterday’s election, but they still had a massive stake in the outcome, to say nothing of a fierce emotional investment. When the dust was settled, they too burst into boisterous, rowdy applause. Facebook comments this morning completed the story: “I am proud to be an American,” said an Australian, just one example among many similarly themed proclamations from my friends overseas. For a moment, it seemed like America immediately following the horrors of 9/11. Obama’s victory continues to resonate around the world today, stirring emotions and hope from Europe to Africa and back again. (For an excellent — and excellently written — observation about the election from Germany’s Spiegel, click here).

In the coming months and years, we will see if Obama truly has what it takes to change the world. As President, he must invigorate a troubled nation despised in much of the world, wrestle with two wars, and energize a disintegrating economy. I truly believe he has what it takes to transform this nation, despite the mountain of windmills against which he is now aligned. But today is not a day to concern ourselves with the almost limitless difficulties, the pregnant promises and the almost certain exaggerated expectations. All these things will still be there tomorrow. Today is a day of savoring.

I confess I am one of those weird souls that will very much miss this race and the entire political season in general. A rabid politico, I eat, breathe and sleep this stuff. Now what will I do? Now how will I spend my free time? Now what will I write about?

The truth is, Barack Obama shames me. I am, by nature, a thrower of rocks. While I try to lob only erudite and high-minded stones, I confess that I sometimes dredge them up from amongst the bottom-feeders. And so it was, with tears of joy streaming down my face, that I listened to President-elect Obama’s exalted-harmonious-conciliatory-respectful-inclusive-zealous victory speech and conceded that the ideals he inspires are woefully lacking in me.

I have spent far too much time on this blog attacking others instead of lifting them up. I have spent far too much time defending that which didn’t require my defense. I have spent far too much time reproaching the dark rather than extolling the light. Obama’s message is one of harmony and concord, of unity and fidelity; but I have often imperiled the message because of the messenger’s lack of austerity. I like being a literary pit-pull (perhaps too much, in fact), but a change, at least for a while, may be in order.

As everything in national politics shifts into a much more luxuriously pace, I think I too will take a break from blogging. While I adore doing it, a holiday always seems to allow one to come back refreshed, reenergized and, in my case, a little more introspective.

Thanks for perusing my tangled thoughts, even when they breathed fire instead of applying balm. I’ll be back. I promise. There will be plenty to talk about again very soon. Until then, thank you, and remember, Yes We Can!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


It’s only a matter of hours now, and even Karl Rove is predicting an Obama blowout.

The polls taken the day before the election are always the most accurate, and nearly every single poll is in agreement — Obama has the majority of the vote. Of the 30 most respected polls, 25 give it to Obama, four to McCain, and one predicts a tie. Over-sampling of Democrats, to what degree it has occurred, is offset by the hundreds of thousands the party has newly registered. The youth vote, historically fickle and unreliable, should be the highest in decades, if not since they began tracking such statistics.

Democratic turnout may traditionally be low, but again, this is not a traditional election. The same tens of thousands who show up at Obama rallies will turn out to vote. There are reports of massive voter turnout even in states that “don’t matter,” like New York and California. In D.C., cobalt blue, my line this morning wrapped around the block a good half hour before the doors even opened. If the turnout is good even in states in which a Democratic win is a foregone conclusion, how much greater will in be in the battleground states? In Virginia, where I work, people have been in line since 4:00 am.

This election isn't like all other elections in modern history. The old rules may no longer be in effect after tonight. It is looking like Obama will be remaking the map. Why else would both candidates have spent the last week exclusively in red states? Obama is making unheard of inroads and McCain is losing decades-long stalwarts. If this is true, the old mantras of "no candidate has ever won without X state" may fall away, or at least be realigned.

My prediction is Obama 367-378, McCain 160-171 (to account for Indiana’s recent fluctuations). Either way, it is an Obama victory.

McCain simply has too high, far and steep a mountain to climb. He has to do better than great today, he has to be perfect. And that is next to impossible for any candidate. Yes, there are scenarios in which he could win, but they would be Hail Marys of such staggering complexity that very, very few people think they actually have a chance succeeding.

This election will be over with the East Coast. The rest of the Midwest, West and West Coast will simply be cruise control. Though the different states’ polls close at different times, Obama’s victory will be clear when he ekes out a win in Florida, and solidly pulls both Virginia and Pennsylvania, McCain’s last, best hopes.

Of the swing states, the Democrats will take Colorado (which has been trending blue with every election for the past several years), as will other Western states once thought a lock for the Republicans — New Mexico and Nevada. New Hampshire will stay blue.

McCain will keep Georgia, but not by much.

Ohio, North Carolina and Missouri remain toss-ups, though all may trend Obama in the end. Even if McCain wins them, he still loses.

All of this presidential discussion ignores the congressional races, which, any and all asked predict landslide Democratic victories. Not one Democratic incumbent is in danger. Not one Republican incumbent is safe. Those are the facts, not hyperbole. The presidential race may be a bloodbath, but the congressional race is certain to be one.

Obama is both very good and very lucky. He is riding the wave of a movement, not simply a political stampede. His organizing and ground game is second to none in campaigning history. And in many people’s minds, he is running not against McCain, but against President Bush and Republican policies in general, policies many regard as cataclysmic in every way possible. Sarah Palin has done incalculable damage to the Republicans. Her implosion coincided with the financial meltdown, an automatic boon for Obama. The collapse of the financial markets just a month before the election, under a Republican administration already despised and saddled with one of the lowest approval ratings in history, is fallout from which McCain has not and will not be able to recover.

Monday, November 03, 2008


Sunday, November 02, 2008

Colorado as the Decider?

 has an interesting diagnosis of the electoral map heading into the home stretch. Colorado may be something of a decider in the election.

The website, which accumulates and analyzes polling and political data, does not believe the race is tightening as the McCain campaign contends. However, it is willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

FiveThirtyEight gives North Carolina, Indiana, North Dakota, Montana, Georgia, and Missouri and even Florida to McCain. It leaves New Mexico, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa for Obama, which, even in the case of significant tightening, appear safe for the Democrat.

That leaves only five states in play: Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, Nevada and Colorado.

For an Obama victory, he would have achieve only one of the three following scenarios:

1. Win Pennsylvania and ANY ONE of Colorado, Virginia, Ohio, or Nevada*
2. Win Ohio and EITHER Colorado OR Virginia.
3. Win Colorado AND Virginia AND Nevada.

(* A Nevada win results in a 269-269 tie, which would probably be resolved in Obama's favor in the House of Represenatives given the Democratic majority there.)

However, most pollsters now believe that my home state of Colorado is looking increasingly like an Obama lock, especially given massive Democratic early voting there. Then the path to victory becomes even easier. Obama merely needs to win:

1. Pennsylvania
2. Ohio
3. Virginia AND Nevada

Keep in mind Obama still enjoys a double digit lead in Pennsylvania, despite a huge McCain push there in recent weeks. This race might just be over before it really begins.
Ut In Omnibus Glorificetur Deus