Right Question

Asking the right question is usually more productive than trying to prove the right answer.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Best Comment on the Miers Nomination

A.J. Strata of the Strata-Sphere in a comment at Decision '08 had this comment:
[George Will] knows nothing so he projects his worst fears on her. All the pundits are doing that.
All the rest of the commentary is but nervous fidgeting, for now.

Schwarzenegger's Lasting Legacy?

This new poll (hat tip: Power Line) on Governor Schwarzenegger's latest round of ballot propositions this fall, looks very promising.

Proposition 77 would take legislative districting out of the hands of the legislature (leading to the obvious and inevitable positive feedback loop called "Gerrymandering" -- named for the notorious Elbridge Gerry and a roughly salamander shaped legislative district in 1812 Massachusetts) and into the hands of a non-partisan commission of retired judges. Although this is only likely to buy voters one or two generations before the commission is routinely packed with partisan hacks, and becomes an even harder problem to eradicate, this is still an enormous step forward. Hopefully, the example of California will shame other states into enacting such policies over the next couple of decades.

Governor Schwarzenegger is again showing us that he well understands California's nearly unique system of ballot Propositions which allows an energetic governor to make an end run around the legislature and get his initiatives passed directly by the voters. Using this to clean up the redistricting process is an unsexy, technical-detail sort of reform that will have a profound impact on decades of California legislatures (and U.S. Congressional representation as well). We will probably never really know what legislative measures it will forestall, and what measures it will have made possible, but this is probably the Gubernator's single most important initiative, and the one that could never have come from a mainstream candidate of either party. It's exactly the sort of initiative he was elected to champion.

Bravo, Governor Schwarzenneger.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

How is a Democrat like a Red Sox fan?

In the wake of the Yankees stunning Division-title victory yesterday at Fenway Park, it occurred to me, that the recent difference between Democrats and Republicans bears a striking resemblance to the long-time difference between Red Sox fans and Yankees fans.

I could give a long list of similarities, such as the most superficial: Yankees players have long been required to show up clean-shaven with short hair. Perhaps in reaction to this, star Red Sock Johnny Damon sports shoulder-length hair and a scruffy beard.

But the most telling facet of the analogy is this: for one side, it's personal. Yankees fans love the Yankees, and don't particularly like the Red Sox; Red Sox fans both love and hate the Red Sox, but really, really hate the Yankees. Witness one of the more popular Red Sox tee-shirts: I support two teams... Boston and whoever beats New York. Similarly, it's hard to imagine any Democratic voter waxing rhapsodic over John Kerry, but ask him about George W. Bush and watch the emotions explode. Howard Dean who hates Republicans and everything they stand for is the proper spokesman for this party, which hates Republican officials far more than it loves Democratic ones.

In contrast, I can well recall, growing up in a staunch Yankees household, rooting for the Red Sox when they played teams from the south or midwest -- loyalty was by geographic proximity, not passionate personal hatred. This seems much more like most Republican loyalties -- which depend on "proximity" to one's own policy preferences, not party identification.

Much of this could just be human nature in response to a series of electoral defeats. The recent rise of the Red Sox hasn't yet banished the ghosts of generations of heartbreaking losses and trans-generational legends of the "Curse of the Bambino." For comparison, most Democrats can still recall the end of the multi-generational domination of our national legislature, and combined with two heartbreakingly-close Presidential elections... could we be witnessing the start of the trans-generational legend of the Curse of the Lewinsky?

Saturday, October 01, 2005

What Does It Say When Lynndie England Out-Classes a Washington Post Op-Ed Columnist?

I don't believe it can possibly indicate that Lynndie England, yes that Lynndie England, has class.

Still, Richard Cohen, today, is upset that while she apologized for her own crimes, and the disgrace she brought to her country, she didn't take the moment to demand apologies from her leaders. "Apologies for what?" you might reasonably ask. And Cohen has a list:
  1. "George W. Bush: How dare you send me into war for reasons that seem downright specious?"
  2. Donald Rumsfeld: "an apology for a military plan that no one, with the possible exception of Mrs. Rumsfeld, thinks called for enough troops and which, anyway, was implemented before all of the troops were on the ground"
  3. the Army: "for sending her over to work in a bad and chaotic place without proper training"
  4. of no one in particular: for not telling her she shouldn't do what she did.
Before a contradictory "But...", Cohen answers the last for himself: "It's impossible not to be revolted by what England did and to insist that no American should need special training in the humane treatment of fellow human beings." Lynndie England, finally, has accepted responsibility for what she did. A Washington Post columnist is disgusted that she showed even this much class, rather than trying to deflect blame onto some of his own hobgoblins.

In the end, his complaints say more about his own narrow views of the world. Our Army is poorly trained? Fighting this war at all was a mistake? No one believes we used enough troops? Make no mistake, these are fringe viewpoints, magnified to sound like a consensus in the echo chamber Mr. Cohen lives in. And to have demanded apologies on these bases, during her allocution -- her one public admission of guilt -- for her own crimes, would have demonstrated a breathtaking lack of perspective and, yes, class, that would, apparently qualify her as a spokeswoman for the modern left.