Saturday, May 07, 2005

A Win's a Win

The Moose takes issue with those who would devalue Tony's Triumph.

A win is a win, particularly if it is a historical one. That is the Moose's view of the British Labour Party's victory. Yes, the margin was reduced, but that was probably inevitable the third time around. What is significant is that this is the first time in the party's century old history that a third straight victory was accomplished. Not bad at all.

Blair is a Churchillian figure in the war against Islamist extremism. However, he paid a price with a public that is increasingly opposed to their country's involvement in Iraq. That should not necessarily be interpreted that he will go wobbly if another threat emerges. He is a principled leader at a time when others in Europe have vacillated and wavered.

The Bush Administration was another factor that contributed to Labour's reduced margin. President Bush has failed abysmally in public diplomacy with the world. He refuses to even consider European concerns such as climate change. Political donors always come first for the Bushies. John Bolton will certainly not help matters, either.

A Washington Post editorial puts it nicely today,

"It's also that, in standing by America's side, Mr. Blair has been a discreet but persistent advocate for America's better instincts. In his 2003 address, Mr. Blair told Congress what it might have wanted to hear: "There is no more dangerous theory in international politics today than that we need to balance the power of America with other competitor powers." But he did not stop with those reassuring words. "And what America must do is show that this is a partnership built on persuasion, not command," he went on. "Let us start preferring a coalition and acting alone if we have to, not the other way round. True, winning wars is not easier that way, but winning the peace is. And we have to win both."

Tony Blair has made a far reaching contribution to the advance of progressivism. He has shown that it is possible to project strength and justice, prosperity and fairness. The only hope that the Tories have is for Old Labour to make a comeback.

So, congratulations, Mr. Prime Minister.
-- Posted at 2:00 PM | Link to this post | Email this post

Friday, May 06, 2005


The Moose reports on yet another angle in Chutzpah/Goniff Gate.

Could the hard-core right wing DeLayicans have used the much-loathed federal behemoth to grease their deals on the Marianas? Would the righteous right-wingers have wasted the precious dollars of the hard-working taxpayers to fund their schemes? Could it be that treife (non-kosher) for conservatives pork barrel spending be the lubricant to achieve their ends?

You be the judge. From today's Los Angeles Times

"Two former top aides of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's brokered a political deal here five years ago that helped land island government contracts worth $1.6 million for a Washington lobbyist now the target of a federal corruption probe.

"Using promises of U.S. tax dollars as bartering chips, Edwin A. Buckham and Michael Scanlon traveled to these remote Pacific islands in late 1999 to convince two local legislators to switch their votes for speaker of the territory's 18-member House of Representatives. They succeeded.

"Once in office, the new speaker pressed the governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to reinstate an expired lobbying pact with Jack Abramoff, now under grand jury and congressional investigation.

"Within months of the visit, Abramoff's law firm had a contract paying $100,000 a month from the Marianas government. Also, the island districts of the legislators who switched sides soon won federal budget benefits from Congress, apparently supported by DeLay."

Finally, conservatives have found a way to fall in love with government spending. How touching!
-- Posted at 11:37 AM | Link to this post | Email this post

Goniff or Chutzpah-Gate?

The Moose is conflicted about what to call the unfolding Abramoff/Scanlon/DeLay/Reed Indian Gaming/Washington Corruption scandal.

Yiddish is a wonderfully descriptive language. And it is a far better tongue to capture the current scandal that has captivated Washington. It has nothing to do with a particular religion, although the perversion of faith is central to the outrage of this vast rip-off.

The Moose had originally settled on the term Goniff-Gate to describe the scandal. For those Mooseketeers who are not fluent in Yiddish, "goniff" means a dishonest person. However, upon reading the report on Tom DeLay's remarks at the National Day of Prayer service, the Moose has doubts about the appropriateness of this term.

Today's New York Times story titled, Feeling Heat, DeLay Speaks of Humility contains these exexcerpts on DeLay remarks,

"In his 10-minute talk, Mr. DeLay, the House majority leader, spoke out against pride and praised the virtues of "a humble heart." He asked the audience to pray for him and other members of Congress "because the only way we can serve well is to serve humbly, as servants both to God and our nation."

"At the prayer service, on Capitol Hill, Mr. DeLay made no mention of the ethics questions. He spoke broadly, at one point alluding to Genesis in saying that Adam "ultimately failed by his pride" in the Garden of Eden...

"Think of what we could accomplish if we checked our pride at the door," Mr. DeLay said, adding, "If we spent less time on our soapboxes and more time on our knees."

"Mr. DeLay received a standing ovation for his talk. Asked afterward why he chose the topic, he replied, "Humility is something I work on every day."

Judging by his humility track record, DeLay never has to be concerned about having work.

Tom DeLay sermonizing about the dangers of hubris is like Jose Canseco lecturing about the perils of steroids. If there could be a new edition of Leo Rosten's Joys of Yiddish, there would surely be a photo of Pastor DeLay next to the word "chutzpah."

Further evidence for using the term "Chutzpah-Gate" comes from a New York Times article on another aspect of the D.C. scandal - "Casino Jack" Abramoff's lobbying on behalf of the sweatshop riddled Northern Marianas Islands,

"The documents released here this week - 22 pounds of billing statements, e-mail messages and sales pitches - help explain how Mr. Abramoff wooed this island chain with his connections to powerful Republicans who had recently taken over the United States Congress. He turned the Marianas into a destination for dozens of conservative thinkers and Congressional delegations, for some Democrats, but mostly Republicans.
"Over six years, he and his law firm collected nearly $9 million from the Marianas. He also obtained work for friends. A $67,000 contract for one friend, Rabbi David Lapin, chief executive of Strategic Business Ethics Inc. of Los Angeles, to perform eight days of ethics training ballooned to $1.2 million a year later."

This is truly rich -ethics training!

So what should it be - Goniff-Gate or Chutzpah-Gate? The Moose reports, you decide.

-- Posted at 9:02 AM | Link to this post | Email this post

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Faith Fissures

The Moose notes that two conservative columnists take issue with the faithful.

As the Moose averred yesterday, this is a moment of opportunity for progressives to reach out to the religiously observant. It is also a time of some conservative unease with the religious right. That uneasiness surfaced during the Schiavo episode when some on the right expressed reservations over Republican state intervention and over-reach in that controversial case.

Today, two influential conservative columnists elaborate on their nuanced view of the Republican faithful. In the New York Times, David Brooks presents a superbly nuanced and intellectually honest view of faith and politics. Using Lincoln as a model, Brooks says that Lincoln " was neither a scoffer nor a guy who could talk directly to God. Instead, he wrestled with faith, longing to be more religious, but never getting there."

Brooks then eloquently and aptly describes the American approach to faith,

"Today, a lot of us are stuck in Lincoln's land. We reject the bland relativism of the militant secularists. We reject the smug ignorance of, say, a Robert Kuttner, who recently argued that the culture war is a contest between enlightened reason and dogmatic absolutism. But neither can we share the conviction of the orthodox believers, like the new pope, who find maximum freedom in obedience to eternal truth. We're a little nervous about the perfectionism that often infects evangelical politics, the rush to crash through procedural checks and balances in order to reach the point of maximum moral correctness."

Then, Brooks takes issue both with the secular absolutism of the ACLU and the current political objective of the religious right,

"One lesson we can learn from Lincoln is that there is no one vocabulary we can use to settle great issues. There is the secular vocabulary and the sacred vocabulary. Whether the A.C.L.U. likes it or not, both are legitimate parts of the discussion.

"Another is that while the evangelical tradition is deeply consistent with the American creed, sometimes evangelical causes can overflow the banks defined by our founding documents. I believe the social conservatives' attempt to end the judicial filibuster is one of these cases."

This is exactly the balance that progressives must strike when addressing faith in politics. The left must find a "third way" between the poles of the ACLU and the religious right.

Meanwhile, George Will spanks the religious right for playing the victimization card,

"Some Christians should practice the magnanimity of the strong rather than cultivate the grievances of the weak. But many Christians are joining today's scramble for the status of victims. There is much lamentation about various "assaults" on "people of faith." Christians are indeed experiencing some petty insults and indignities concerning things such as restrictions on school Christmas observances. But their persecution complex is unbecoming because it is unrealistic."

The right has become the mirror image of all they dislike about the left. Both the secular and the religious right kvetch about their victimization while they control at least two branches of government and their penetration of the media is thorough and growing. They are crybabies who patrol the halls of power.

The left has an opening to both appeal to Republican moderates who are repulsed by the direction of their party and to the religiously observant who reject the leadership of the Dobsons, Falwells and Robertson's. The progressive approach should be as sophisticated and nuanced as Brooks' column.

Take back the pews! (Senator Obama, are you listening?)
-- Posted at 8:36 AM | Link to this post | Email this post

Tony's Terrific

The Moose wishes the British P.M. well.

In a few hours, Tony Blair and the Labour Party will likely prevail in the British elections. That is a good thing for us who graze in the progressive political center. While some bicker with Tony's views on the Iraq war, it is indisputable that he has been a loyal friend, not of Bush, but of America. During the Clinton years, Blair was also our nation's most dependable ally to prevent genocide in Kosovo.

Blair and Clinton blazed a third way path that at least temporarily caused international conservatism to lose their mojo. By transforming his party, Blair likely consigned the Tories to minority status for many years to come. He did not move Labour to the right. Rather, he modernized progressivism in Great Britain. He removed the shackles of socialism and enabled the Labour Party both to embrace capitalist prosperity and social justice.

In contrast, the modernization of the American left was aborted by the impeachment of Clinton. That is an effort that must be re-started if Democrats are to become the majority party once again. The Tony Benn types are no longer a significant factor in the British Labour party while their American MoveOn.org comrades are considered important by some Democrats.

Who will seize the standard of progressive modernization in America? Who will promote social justice, economic prosperity, moral values and a muscular foreign policy? That person will likely be the next President of the United States.

Meanwhile, good luck, Tony.
-- Posted at 8:20 AM | Link to this post | Email this post

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Faith Healer

The Moose believes that the donkey has an opening to reach out to the religious faithful.

Pat Robertson's bizarre view that liberal judges are a more serious threat to America than Al Qaeda couldn't represent the views of most social conservative voters. And certainly the overwhelming majority of religiously observant Americans are repulsed by Robertson's neo-anti-Americanism. "Neo-anti-Americanism" may seem to be a harsh description of Robertson's views until one considers that he believes that his fellow Americans with whom he disagrees are a greater threat to the nation than the 9/11 terrorists.

Surely, many people of faith are not enlisted in the DeLayicans cultural war. While they may be pro-life, they do not necessarily share the views of the GOP judicial nominees that the progressive reforms in worker and environmental protections of the past century should be reversed.

Some on the left make a major error in characterizing religiously conservative folks as forming a monolith. The Moose has pointed out, the largest evangelical organization has taken impressive stands concerning climate change and poverty. While there certainly won't be complete agreement between the left and evangelicals, there is room to begin a dialogue.

The point is to separate the sensible center from the raging Reverends of the right such as Falwell and Robertson. That will not be accomplished by blithely dismissing all social conservatives as extremists and beyond the pale.

Democrats should approach evangelicals the way that Rove is reaching out to the Latino and African American communities - not to win a majority but to peel a percentage away from the other party. The Democrats need a missionary to the religiously observant and the Moose nominates Senator Barack Obama. He proved in his speech at the Democratic convention that he has an understanding and comfort level with people of faith and can eloquently articulate their values. Senator Obama should pursue speaking engagements at mega-churches around the country to spread the progressive faith message.

The right wing faith vision of intolerance and subservience to Mammon should not be without competition. The state is not the only threat to the moral environment - the marketplace has also polluted the culture and created a hole in our moral ozone.

Wanted - progressive moral environmentalists.
-- Posted at 8:15 AM | Link to this post | Email this post

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Republican Wimps

The Moose recommends that the donkey should soar like a hawk.

Here is a thought experiment - what would be the Republican response if a Democratic Administration stood fecklessly on the sidelines observing as North Korea and Iran armed themselves with nuclear weapons while our military was severely weakened? Of course, the right would be engaged in apoplectic attacks against the Democratic wimps and appeasers.

Consider this passage in today's Washington Times,

"Global tensions over nuclear proliferation escalated during the weekend when North Korea fired a short-range missile into the East Sea/Sea of Japan, and Iran warned that it might resume enrichment of uranium after the failure of talks with European nations."

And if you feel a little nervous about the evil doers armed to the teeth with the ability to vaporize their victims, here is something else to keep you up at night. The Washington Post frightens us with this headline U.S. Called Unprepared For Nuclear Terrorism.

"Although hundreds of thousands of lives could be saved by rapidly evacuating people downwind of a radiation cloud, officials have trained only small numbers of first responders to prepare for such an event, according to public health specialists and government documents. And the information given to the public is flawed and incomplete, many experts agree."

Perhaps the plan is that the President's private social security accounts will enable us all to purchase state of the art, fail safe bomb shelters!

And despite the President's bellicose rhetoric about the "axis of evil", all the Administration can do about these latest developments is to verbally warn the countries about America's deterrent capability. However, if the evil doers in North Korea and Iran subscribe to the the New York Times, they may not be taking the Administration's warnings too seriously.

This is what the Times reports this morning in a story titled Pentagon Says Iraq Effort Limits Ability to Fight Other Conflicts

"The concentration of American troops and weapons in Iraq and Afghanistan limits the Pentagon's ability to deal with other potential armed conflicts, the military's highest ranking officer reported to Congress on Monday.

"The officer, Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, informed Congress in a classified report that major combat operations elsewhere in the world, should they be necessary, would probably be more protracted and produce higher American and foreign civilian casualties because of the commitment of Pentagon resources in Iraq and Afghanistan."

The gulf between the Administration's perceived national security strength and reality is widening. It is not clear how the Bushies plan to deal with the Iranian threat. As the Moose has suggested, Iran may be the big winner in the Iraq war. Their ally, Chalabi, appears to be ascendant in Iraqi politics.

Meanwhile, the Administration lacks the resources to adequately rebuild the military. By the way, where were the neo-cons when the Bushies lavished tax cuts on their wealthy buddies in the middle of a war thereby depriving the military of critical funds?

This all presents the Democrats with a golden opportunity to move to the right of the Bushies on national security just as JFK did with the Republicans back in '60. Calling Joe, Hillary, Evan, Mark, both Johns, Wesley, Bill...
-- Posted at 9:30 AM | Link to this post | Email this post


A provocative Moose avers that KarlRove.com loves MoveOn.org.

The Moose appreciates the contribution of the internet in generating political energy and resources. That said, it is very clear that the "net roots" do not necessarily represent the grass roots. Exhibit A was the Pew Poll on the Deaniacs.

What is particularly annoying are the divisive, ideological rigid, litmus test types who inhabit cyberspace. For example, the Moose has been stewing for weeks about the MoveOn ad attacks on House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer.

Hoyer angered the cyber-lefties by supporting the bankruptcy bill. The Moose happens to think that was bad legislation which burdens working people to the advantage of big money. If fiscal irresponsibility is the issue, put the GOP in Chapter 11.

While Hoyer was wrong on this single piece of legislation, he is right on about everything else. If it hadn't been the bankruptcy bill, the MoveOn folks would have found something else on which to attack Hoyer. What probably really angers the anti-war crowd is that Hoyer is a hawk.

For almost twenty-five years, Steny has been a tribune of progressive values in the House. The Moose suspects that some of his lefty critics were in elementary school learning about legislation by watching a "Bill on the Hill" while Steny was fighting for working folks in the Maryland legislature and in the House. Better than most Democrats, he understands, and is attempting to address the party's weaknesses in the areas of values and national security.

Karl Rove wants the Democrats to be perceived as being the party of MoveOn.org rather than Steny Hoyer. And at a time of increasing divisions within the Republican ranks, it is particularly unhelpful for MoveOn to engage in internecine Democratic warfare. They are objectively doing the bidding of the White House. If they want to undermine a Democratic leader, MoveOn donors could just give directly to the RNC and eliminate the middle man.

The problem in America is not occasional Democratic apostasy, but rather Republican dominance of our political life. The donkey's ideological diversity is a strength not a liability. The political commissars of MoveOn are simply making Karl Rove's job much easier.

The Moose wants to make it much harder.
-- Posted at 8:30 AM | Link to this post | Email this post

Monday, May 02, 2005

Laura Time

The Moose observes that W. is resembling H.W.

Laura Bush's superb performance at the White House's Correspondence Dinner was the most effective political moment of the Bush Administration since her husband's inaugural address. Perhaps, there was a strategic plan in having the First Lady substitute for the First Man. As W.'s popularity wanes, Laura will have more exposure - Barbara played that role in Bush I. Expect to see more of Laura as the President struggles with his approval ratings.

Otherwise, the Bush Agenda is quickly losing traction. Last Thursday's press conference was a feeble attempt to resurrect the agenda. It failed. If anything, it exacerbated divisions within Republican ranks. That was noted in today's Washington Post,

"One important split has emerged on Social Security. Bush was forced last week to insert himself into one of the most contentious fights: between those who think large private investment accounts alone can save Social Security and those who argue that benefits must be trimmed in tandem with creating smaller accounts. With his statement that future benefits must be reduced for middle- and upper-income beneficiaries, Bush weighed in against the private-accounts-only purists. This group includes conservative lawmakers such as Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and activists such as Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform."

And business groups are getting antsy about nuclear war preventing their godies being passed by a Republican Congress,

"If Republicans force a confrontation on Senate rules, and Democrats respond by effectively shutting down the chamber, "then you get to stalling the movement of any and all legislation," said R. Bruce Josten, the top lobbyist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Josten said the business community is sitting out the fight over filibusters because it has no role in internal Senate matters. "We are not social groups, we are business groups," he said."

Like his father, W. desperately needs the national security issue to predominate. Unlike his father's war, the outcome of his Iraq war is uncertain. What is the same, however, is that the son's domestic program is no more popular than his dad's.

That is why it is Laura time.
-- Posted at 8:06 AM | Link to this post | Email this post

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Abramoff Sunday

The Moose suggests that today was Super Sleaze Sunday.

Two major pieces on Rabbi "Casino Jack" Abramoff were included in both the Washington Post and the New York Times. The New York Times piece focuses on the personal saga of a rather unapologetic Abramoff. Essentially, he believes that he did nothing wrong.

On this, Abramoff may have a point. The current culture of the Delayicans is reflected in the Abramoff/Scanlon/DeLay/Reed Indian gaming scandal. Under the moral environment created by the GOP, Abramoff was par for the course, so to speak.

One revealing passage in the article is when one of the leaders of the conservative movement apparently bails out on Righteous Ralph,

" Coushatta money also went to Ralph Reed's Atlanta-based political consulting firm. That firm took more than $4 million from Abramoff to rally religious opposition to a casino Abramoff was trying to shut down on the Coushatta's behalf. (Reed, who is running for lieutenant governor of Georgia, has insisted he was ''deceived'' by Abramoff. Others on the Christian right aren't so sure. ''I think it's a hard sell that he didn't know any of this,'' says Paul Weyrich, a dean of Washington social conservatives.)"

What may be even more troubling to the DeLayicans is the front page story in today's Washington Post that reveals another episode in the Abramoff saga,

"Not long after Abramoff and his partners bought SunCruz Casinos in September 2000, the venture ran aground after a fistfight between two of the owners, allegations of mob influence, dueling lawsuits and, finally, Boulis's death on Feb. 6, 2001. Now, Abramoff is the target of a federal investigation into whether the casino ship deal involved bank fraud. According to court records, the SunCruz purchase hinged on a fake wire transfer for $23 million intended to persuade lenders to provide financing to Abramoff's group.

"Although the outlines of the tale have become part of South Florida lore, what has not been disclosed are the full details of the alleged fraud at the heart of the transaction and the extent of Abramoff's role -- including his use of contacts with Republican Reps. Tom DeLay (Tex.) and Robert W. Ney (Ohio) and members of their staffs as he worked to land the deal."

Forget the Sopranos, the Delayicans are far more entertaining!
-- Posted at 5:33 PM | Link to this post | Email this post