• Movement

    And I'm not dissing candidate infatuation, either.  It's very helpful in getting someone elected. There was plenty of it with JFK, to continue my point.  He also served as an icon of generational change.  But that didn't make him a movement candidate, either.

    The Obama movement is about creating a post baby boomer, left wing version of patriotism that will endure beyond Obama.  This is new- it is generational.
    There has always been such a thing.  Ever hear of a guy named Bruce Springsteen, for example?  You might want to download a song called "Born in the USA."  Reagan tried to appropriate it for himself, but that only works if you don't listen to the lyrics.

    You may think that what Obama is articulating is new, but that's only a function of the rightwing's media dominance, suppressing its expression.  (Which reminds me, is Obama leading the charge to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine?   There is a media reform movement out here in the land, and that's one of its causes that would have a dramatic impact.)  And, of course, it's also expressing a generational desire for identity.  But that doesn't make a movement, either.  It can certainly help fuel a movement or two or three--the Boomers took part in at least five major ones: Civil Rights, Womens' Rights, Gay Rights, Anti-War and the Environment--but by itself it's not a movement.

    And it is this appeal to patriotism that will be the hook for Obama to appeal to groups beyond the young and elites that already support him.  It is the reason that I am confident that he will win. America is ready for this and they are ready for Obama.  

    I do admit that we still have to make it happen and that the hurdles that Obama has to overcome to win are enormous.  But in five short months, he has come a long way- don't you think?

    This is just more candidate gushing.  True or not, it's not about a movement, it's about Obama's candidacy.  And it's remarkably similar to how folks felt about Kennedy.

  • comment on a post To Jerome: On Obama and the Movement over 7 years ago

    Specifically to where my name gets dragged in:

    There were some comments on both of the threads at MyDD and Kos led mostly by Paul Rosenberg, that addressed the issue of defining a movement. Paul argued that movements are about taking a strong stand on issues, citing the Civil Rights, Abolition and Women's movements as examples.

    But here's the thing. All of the movements Paul mentioned also involved large numbers of people deciding that the status quo wasn't going to happen any more. And in fact the large numbers of people were critical to the success of those movements.

    A movement candidate in 2008 is one who is both saying the status quo isn't going to happen anymore, and has the largest number of people involved. Right now, it's Barack Obama.

    By this criteria, JFK would have been a "movement candidate" in 1960. But he wasn't.

    You seem to be missing what to me is the main point--movements are about something.  Something outside the candidate--not just an attiude, or a feeling, or a vague desire for change.  And this is what's critically missing with Obama.

    As I indicated, he's like JFK.  A very charismatic candidate, who attracted a lot of young people to get involved in politics.  And the contrast between his youth and Eisenhower's age was a striking one that gave a lot of people then a similar sense to what a lot of Obama supporters feel today.  All of that was a good thing, don't get me wrong. But it still didn't make Kennedy a movement candidate, and it doesn't make Obama a movement candidate, either.

    I want to make one more thing clear.  I do not necessarily think that a movement has to be about what are seen as individual specific issues--as if one could characterize the women's movement that way.

    The progressive movement, for example, was not just multi-issue, it was primarily procedurally-oriented, rather than substantively-oriented.  I see this as a weakness, historically, but that is a judgement quite separate from whether it qualifies as a movement.

    If Obama were to lay legitimate claim to a movement, it would seem to be this kind of movement.  But the same could have been said of JFK as well.  He wanted to get people involved and connected, just as Obama does.  But that desire alone falls far short of what the Progressive Movement was about, for example.

    What would make Obama a movement candidate, for example (this is illustrative, I'm not saying this is what he should do), would be to (A) select a set of reforms that (B) already have some degree of movement associated with them, (C) combine them together into a platform, and (D) articulate a rationale that ties them all together, and as a result (E) significantly strengthen the pre-existing movements, (F) draw them closer together and (G) bring new activists into them.

    Even doing this would not ensure that Obama would be a movement candidate.  It also depends how big a part of his campaign this is, and the extent to which this has an impact.  (For example, doubling the size of the constituent movements means a lot more than increasing them by 5%, which can't really be distinguished from natural growth.) But it would be a lot more credible to call him a movement candidate if this had been done.

    In contrast, I think it's fairly clear that boring old Al Gore has become a movement figure.  And the contrast is most instructive.  Some people want or think that Gore should or will become a candidate for President.  But it's pretty obvious that being President would mean devoting a lot of attention to things that distract from his movement focus.  And so it's quite credible to believe him when he says, essentially, that he has all but categorically ruled it out.  With Gore, now, the movement to stop global warming is what comes first.  That's what he's about.  What he does to further that movement is what dictates his actions.

    Now, what movement can you point to and say the same thing about Obama?  I just don't see it.  And that's why I don't see him as a movement candidate.

    Finally, I think that Howard Dean did demonstrate his movement credentials by how he conducted himself after losing the nomination.  He continued the crusade he had begun by taking a position the no one previously had regarded as a locus of transformation, and turned it into one.

    Even with all his official responsibilities, Dean's committment to what he is doing in that office continues to make him a movement figure, however much the position requires him to work mostly in the background, and in a decidedly uncharismatic kind of glorified grunt work.

  • comment on a post Obama and Immigration over 7 years ago

    A "Nation of Laws"

    Otherwise, whenever a Democrat talks about a "nation of laws" all they're doing is enabling Republican hypocrisy that strikes at the very heart of the rule of law.

  • comment on a post Congress is Addicted to War on Drugs over 7 years ago

    The financial burden for the taxpayer  for this complete dismal failure is beyond catastrophic. Some estimate it to be around 50 billion per year while other sources estimate it to be 69 billion a year....

    However, according to the White House's Office of Drug Control Policy, the total value of all of the drugs sold in the US is as much as $64 billion a year making the DEA's efforts to intercept the flow of drugs into and within the US less than 1% effective."

    The government should simply buy all the drugs itself.

    Problem solved!

    Now, how's about we look into buying Al Qaeda?

  • comment on a post Dodd's National Service Plan over 7 years ago

    My sister's been involved in service learning for more than a decade now, which the ever-helpful wikipedia describes thus:

    Service-learning is a method of teaching, learning and reflecting that combines academic classroom curriculum with meaningful service, frequently youth service, throughout the community. As a teaching methodology, it falls under the category of experiential education. More specifically, it integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, encourage lifelong civic engagement, and strengthen communities for the common good.
    The advantage of service in an education context should be obvious.  You are going to learn things anyway.  Why not make it an intentionally educational experience?

    Service learning is an idea that's spreading, slowly but surely.  My paper recently did a piece about local high school kids who worked on political campaigns last fall as part of their service learning program.  The entire Los Anglees School District has recently adopted a service learning requirement, but this school already had a program in place years ahead of time.

    Now to take this idea one step beyond.  A decade ago, the President of Bard College, Leon Botstein wrote a book, Jefferson's Children in which he advocated the abolition of high school.  An excerpt from Kirkus Reviews:

    Among the new realities he cites is the fact (or maybe factoid) that the onset of puberty is now much earlier than it used to be. Our system was created in an era when children matured later. Consequently, Botstein advocates abolishing high school altogether. At 16, students would be dispersed into different kinds of educational options: four-year college for some, community college for others; vocational and professional training or national service would also be options. Teachers should be trained in a discipline rather than in "education," and they should be better paid. We must break down the irrational preoccupation so many college-bound students (and their parents) have with getting into the "best" schools. A good undergraduate education is a good education, no matter whether it comes from the Ivy League or a less prestigious institution. Though this book is not destined to be popular among high- school administrators, Botstein makes a strong, shrewd, sensible case for his radical proposals.
    Ever since reading it, I've thought that Botstein was onto something. Heck, high school was obsolete when I was there back in the 1960s.

    Teenages are always being told how they have to "be responsible," but mostly this is just grownup code for being sheep.  I think most teenagers hunger for the opportunity to actually be responsible, not in a robotic way, but in a way that engages and facilitates their emerging sense of self.  I'm not saying this is the answer.  Botstein suggests an array of options, and I certainly think that a diverse mix of service options tapping into people's skills at different life-stages is a good idea as well.  I am saying that we ought to open ourselves up to thinking about this on a larger scale, in a brain-storming kind of mode.

    This is something that a presidential candidate, even one trying to be a bit visionary, can't reasonably be expected to do.  They have to put out ideas that are reasonably compact.  Grand visions that involve trying to address mutiple problems or issues at one time are much easier to shoot down than to nurture in a campaign environment.

    But we are under no such limitations.  I'd like to see us think of this not in terms of one candidate's ideas versus anothers, but in terms of how we can advance some innovative ideas that can impact multiple issues and problems at once.  It's worth noting, btw, that younger "millenial voters" have a distinctively higher orientation in this direction in the first place.  It's always good to ride a horse in the direction it's going.

  • comment on a post Election Day Registration over 7 years ago

    There are real problems with mobility, as changing addresses tends to be a hazard for registration.

    For example, the Greater Cleveland Voter Registration Coalition report "Analyses Of Voter Disqualification, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, November 2004" stated:

    We estimate that simply changing residence exposes voters to a 6% chance of being disenfranchised. Youth, the poor, and minorities are disproportionately affected. In fact, with respect to just provisional ballots, we found a two-fold increase in rejection rate in predominantly African-American compared to predominantly Caucasian precincts. As noted in national studies, those Americans who move more frequently are more likely to be subject to registration errors (and also provisional ballot rejection). These include youth, those who rent rather than own homes, African Americans and Hispanics, and the poor. In Cuyahoga County, we estimate that each move brings about a 6% chance of disenfranchisement through registration error. The national data on groups that move more frequently is consistent with our findings of a nearly twofold rate of provisional ballot rejection in precincts with over 90% black populations compared to those that are 10% black or less. There is also a clear pattern of higher provisional ballot rejection rate in predominantly African American wards of the city of Cleveland.
    Of course it matters how EDR is implemented how effectively this will be dealt with.  Whatever else is done, this needs to be seriously addressed.

    There is nothing new about this.  The same sorts of obstacles were raised over 100 years ago, during a period in which restricting the franchise became sort of a crusade.  In-precinct residency requirements had a strong class bias to them, since workers following shifts in job availability were particularly hard hit. Not a lot of 30-40 mile commuting in those days.

    In fact, if you read Alexander Keyssar's The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States, you'll find a lot of similarities between the GOP's mindset today and the franchise-restricting ideology and practices he identifies with the 2nd of 4 distinct historical periods--the only one in which there was a concerted effort to shrink the electorate.

  • comment on a post Senate Dems Face Embarrassment of Riches over 7 years ago

    I'd echo what others are saying about it being premature to target--as opposed to speculate--this far out.  What we ought to be doing now is driving down the GOP brand, hard.  And Cheney's batshist crazy "King's X" claim that he's not really part of the Executive Branch is just the kind of thing I have in mind.

    Rather than going to court over it, the Democrats should go on a ridicule offensive.  Don't forget, this is the GOP's #2 man, and he's acting like a kindergartener at recess.  He's damn sure a member of the Executive Branch when it comes to invoking executive privilege.  But when it comes to executive responsibilities, suddenly, it's "King's X"???

    This is what we need to do--brand Cheney with "King's X" and brand all the Republicans in DC with supporting his kindergarten antics, until they force him to cut the crap.  It's time to utterly destroy the "Republicans as grownups" meme.  This is the best possible thing we can do right now both for congressional races and for the presidential race.

    There will be plenty of time a year from now for the seat-by-seat targetting.  But right now, we should be doing everything possible to drive all their numbers down, creating more and better options for us when the time comes where we do have to pick and choose.

  • comment on a post 26 Percent. over 7 years ago

    The good news:

    Franklin's trend indicator is now at 29.2%, the first time it's been under 30%:

    Newsweek has a new poll taken 6/18-19/07 that finds approval of President Bush at 26%, disapproval at 65%. With this new data point the approval trend estimate stands at 29.9%, the first time the trend has fallen below 30%. The sharpness of the decline is striking. The change-point for approval is April 23, corresponding to the week of the Congressional vote for deadlines and a fund cutoff in Iraq and the President's subsequent veto. It precedes the immigration debate, though that debate may have sustained the decline. (On the other hand there is little evidence that immigration accelerated the decline which was already underway.)

    The bad news: You really can't compare this 26% to Nixon's 23% in the Gallup poll, because of house effects.  Franklin doesn't directly point this out, but you can clearly see the difference in his discussion:

    A look at the last six polls is revealing. Newsweek usually has a "house effect" of about 2.2 percentage points below the trend estimate, so finding it below trend is no surprise. But look also at NBC/WSJ. Their house effect has been around -.6, only a shade below trend. But the new NBC/WSJ poll 6/8-11/07 found approval at 29%. And Gallup's house effect is +.55, and their latest reading was 32%. That makes it awfully convincing that approval has now fallen to very nearly 30%, plus or minus 1.
    So, if Gallup stayed with the current trend, it would be 29.2%+.55%=29.755%, almost 7% above Nixon's low.

    Expect the Versailles media to continue blowing this off, the way they've blown off his prolonged stay in the 30s.  That's a good thing. Because the objective now is to discredit the media.  And holding onto to Mr. 20s is a great way for them to help us out.

  • on a comment on So, Is Bloomberg Running? over 7 years ago

    Outperforming Teddy Roosevelt?

    Not bloody likely.

  • on a comment on So, Is Bloomberg Running? over 7 years ago

    Cabinets work best as teams.  You can handle star players at positions like Justice, State or DoD--if you are lucky--and that's just about it.  Anyplace else, and it starts to throw everything out of whack.

    Everyone knows the syndrome of the team that looks great on paper and then doesn't make the playoffs.  That's what "star" players do to a cabinet.

  • on a comment on So, Is Bloomberg Running? over 7 years ago

    "If John McCain gets beaten to the right - which is possible in a conservative Republican primary - and if Democrats elect someone through a primary who Democrats generally view as unelectable, there's a large segment of the American electorate that is looking for something different," Bloomberg's adviser, Sheekey, said in an interview with this reporter last year, apparently referring to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as the "unelectable" Democrat. That disaffected segment could translate into "36 percent of the vote in enough states to give you an electoral win," he said.
    So if enough Democrats view Clinton as unelectable, they'll vote for Bloomberg, just to prove themselves right?  That's the plan???

    Someone here doesn't understand the meaning of the word "unelectable."  And I'm beginning to think the misunderstanding is highly contagious.

    Hold up, I feel another chorus of "Idiot Wind" coming on.

    Me, I don't like Clinton because of her corporatist politics.  So instead I'll vote for corporatism incarnated???

    I don't think so.

    But I do think he'll snarf himself up some of those "Anybody But Clinton" voters from the zombified GOP ranks.  

  • on a comment on So, Is Bloomberg Running? over 7 years ago

    Touted by Chris Matthews?

    Obama appeals to the same folks who would fall for that?

    Can you say "Ross Perot?" Sure you can!

    Old wine in old bottles with new labels--or maybe just a new ad campaign.

    And--to top it all off--Shrum as an expert on change!

    At Versailles, they used to play at being shepards and cow maids.

    That's what this reminds me of.

  • (And no doubt has its roots in my childhood obsession with maps, which began at a very early age, where all sorts of forbidden desires to remake the world are born.)

    Michigan shares a water boundary with both Minnesota and Illinois, true.  But in addition, Michigan includes a small island, Isle Royale, just off Minnesota's northeastern tip.  Altogether, I just felt that there was a genuine cultural contiguity between the two, but not between Michigan and Illinois.  (Gary, Indiana most emphatically sees to that!) I only think it affected a couple of elections.

  • Though with a bit more breathing room, unless we really screw up.  I think it's possible the 2008 map may look somewhat more like 1996, especially if Edwards is the candidate.

    This is something that I don't see discussed that much (but, then I tend to tune out a lot of partisan diaries): for all the talk about how Obama is reaching out to Republicans, it's hard to see how he wins a lot more states that way.  I see him maybe doing a lot better in the states he does win, and probably picking up enough to win. But I don't see him making deep inroads, the way Clinton did, and the way that Edwards possibly could--though probably not as much.

  • Now corrected.

    I went through it several times catching mistakes I'd made. But the point comes where you look directly at your mistake, and say, "Yup, 2+2=5!"

    As for DC, I should have mentioned leaving it out, I guess.  It just really does seem geographically anomalous.


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