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Zeh Donkey

A few quick notes and about the debate and my scores for the candidates before I head off to the beds.

  • Mike Gravel has Grape Nuts for brains, I am absolutely sure of it. No serious policy points, just the usual crazy outbursts of random insults lobbed at the other candidates. C-
  • Hillary Clinton could kick my ass, she was easily the most concise person on the stage. My God, what have we created… A
  • Dennis Kucinich loves Michael Moore, hates capitalism, and is totally into black chicks, the crowd ate him up. B
  • Barack Obama wanted to Have A Dream (TM) sooo bad on stage, but the evil Tavis Smiley wouldn’t let him have more than a few seconds. Obama can survive these events with stage presence alone, but he needs a pulpit to really take on Hillary (who’s the master of the heavy sound bite). B+
  • Bill Richardson is trying really, really hard to be Bill Clinton. Good policy points, nowhere near the flair of the other candidates…he can’t get away with being the boring wonk like Hillary can. B
  • John Edwards, soft spoken, a bit solemn. Making your audience cry won’t get you elected, but I was impressed with his willingness to engage the other candidates’ policy positions and offer some mature rebuttals. He did well this time. A
  • Chris Dodd had a good Clintonesque (as in Hillary) presence on-stage that was quite Presidential looking. Too bad he was trying to juggle the policies of Kucinich and Richardson…he was like a very deceptive tofu filet minon. B –
  • Joe Biden, as much as people make fun of him, he does so well in these debates I can’t fathom why he isn’t higher up in the polls. Wait, he’s Joe Biden, that’s why. Regardless, a lot of well articulated ideas. A

The candidates are getting better, and with the slow summer months ahead, we should begin to see the definitive front runners come late August.

Also, Cornel West looks really funny.

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Here’s the rundown of last night’s circle jerk:Let's make out.  H: OK

Obama: B-, there were no feets of fancy here, no grand rhetorical statements, just Barry in all of his “clean” and “articulate” glory. Coming from an Obama supporter, meh. Most outlets, including Drudge, are naming Obama the winner, but I disagree.

Hillary: B, came off surprisingly well considering this debate seemed largely aimed at shooting her down, the randomness of the questioning probably kept the Hillary attacks at a minimum…except for Gravel who did whatever he wanted to anyway. She actually brought up a few policy points.

Edwards: C+, was unusually stoic and somber, I imagine he was envisioning a puppy being skinned in the back of the auditorium…and then he imagined the lawsuit he’d file against the skinners, thereby climaxing on the debate floor. He did manage to explain his healthcare proposal fairly well, though he gets dropped a letter grade for saying “high falutin'” only once.

More after le jump:
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Tonight is the first of what is sure to be many long, arduous, annoying, over-produced, under-informed, cynically commented, rigorously over-dissected, craptastically over-prepared debates this election cycle.

It’s Momma vs Obama vs Pretty Boy vs a bunch of losers.  Should be fun.

Me?  I’ll be watching with a beer in hand and my rapier wit sheathed for an event so vastly important it is being carried on the lowest rated major cable news network in the country.

Salud, I’ll post my impressions later.

After all is said and done, the Outer-Loop, while often being a gleeful agitator of libertarians in general and American libertarianism in particular, is a vocal supporter of the ideals of a true libertarian society.

I would love to have a safe country where everyone who tried could make money and personal responsibility was the rule and not the exception. Alas, I don’t think that’ll ever happen…but hey, I got my little capitalist fingers crossed!I just like this picture.

Reason magazine is – in my opinion – one of the best political sources around. Kudos to a publication that is so influential on American economic and political theory yet can successfully run ads for psychotropic liquor delivery without batting an eye. Ten points Reason, nothing but net.

Anyway, Reason Express editor Jeff Taylor wrote a fantastic piece on the war in Iraq that made a serious and essential distinction from the usual rhetoric coming from both sides.

“But the significant thing about these American successes is that they are American successes—Iraqis still play a supporting role in operations in a clash of all-ends against the middle fighting, where double-crossing and double-dealing is just part of the order of battle. That state of affairs might not matter for the long haul in Iraq if another 160,000 U.S. troops were in-bound, but they are not.

Neither does Iraq have its own functioning national army of 500,000 or so to even the score. Instead it has perhaps a handful of reliable brigades out of a population of 30 million. With such a paltry force, it is impossible to secure the country even with America’s complete and utter conventional military victory well in hand.

Contrary to the cliché, the peace has not been lost; there never was any peace in Iraq. Similarly, the Iraqis have not lost their country—it turns out there is no such thing as an Iraq to win.”

Democrats and Republicans alike continue to classify this war in terms of the archaic concepts of Victory vs Defeat. There is simply no such thing as either of them anymore. There is only compromise, we did it in the Cold War, in Vietnam, indeed, in every war since World War II.

There are no longer any winners or losers, there are only people who lost more and people who lost less.

So let’s get the hell out of Iraq and lose less.

According to The Hill, our good friend Johnny McCain seriously entertained leaving the GOP in 2001. After the obscene reaming he received from the Bush campaign in South Carolina and by the Swift Boat guys throughout the primary, then Senate majority leader Tom Daschle and several other key Democratic strategists reportedly courted three Republicans as possible deserters.mccain1.jpg

The three were not very surprising. Lincoln Chafee, the liberal Republican from Rhode Island, Jim Jeffords, another liberal Republican from Vermont, and McCain, a conservative Republican…but a maverick and a loose cannon who brought rock and roll to Pleasantville.

Jeffords, who had long wanted to bolt from the GOP, had no political capitol to lose in the state that brought you Howard Dean, Ben and Jerry’s, and hippies armed to the tooth. When Jeffords made his announcement, the other two immediately withdrew themselves from consideration, worried that a relatively large defection would hurt reelection efforts and jeopardize their committee placements should the Republicans regain power.

No doubt this will further hurt his primary fight should the story get legs. Looks like the Straight Talk Express will finally have to do some straight talkin’.

WashPo is reporting that none other than Mr. Orphan Annie himself is going to formally endorse Sen. Clinton on Monday.tom-vilsack.gif

This will do wonders for her support among, um, Iowans, but as is evidenced by her husband’s campaign in 1992…that’s not necessarily indicative of anything. Remember that Bill Clinton skipped the Iowa caucus entirely and still won the nomination.

This is not a suprise, Vilsack was the former head of the Democratic Leadership Council which is codename for The Bill Clinton Proverbial Fellators Club. The organization is a pro-business moderate wing of the Democratic Party that is currently headed by former Representative and Football/Girl loving Harold Ford.

Regardless, this will add a bit of drama to the race considering Edwards’ sad week and Obama’s little dustup with that fake Apple Ad.

Let’s see what happens next week, no?

Anyone who’s been to D.C. in the past few years has no doubt seen the brilliant “Taxation Without Representation” license plates. For those who don’t know, D.C.’s nearly 600,000 residents are forced to pay federal income taxes, yet still do not have a vote in congress.

DC Vote License Plate

Why can’t they have a vote? Well, there are several schools of thought on the subject of its constitutionality, Article 1, Section 2, Clause 1 of the United States Consitution says thus:

The House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several states, and the electors in each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislature.”

Strict constructionists will argue that since the District is not technically a state, it cannot have voting rights in congress. Proponents of voting rights argue that the constitution places the hands of D.C. primarily into that of the congress, so an amendment would not be necessary.

The political reasons are fairly simple and are the frank reality behind the city not getting represented properly. D.C. is strongly Democratic, the numbers are roughly 9 to 1 if not more. According to the last U.S. census, George W. Bush was the only Republican in Washington…and he wasn’t even President yet.

Republicans fear that by giving D.C. a seat, a fairly innocuous thing in and of itself, it will be a slippery slope towards full statehood/Senate representation, a prospect that is far more damaging to the Republicans.

The House has created a compromise, however. Former GOP Rep. Jack Kemp was, to his credit, one of the largest proponents of unconditional voting rights for D.C. After he retired, VA GOP Rep. Tom Davis, who is otherwise a douchebag (like Adam Putnam), took on the mantel of D.C. voting rights ninja in the 109th congress. His solution was to grant the District its House rep and also add a seat to Utah who had been clamoring for another one since the last census.

Most people in D.C. noticed this transparent and childish political tactic, but the general consensus was that it was fine as long as the District finally got the right to vote in its own interests.

New House Judiciary Committee Chairman John “Slow Talker” Conyers has revived the bill and it looks as though it will be successfully pushed through the House. The Senate and Executive, however, are a different story.

In the Senate, you’ll find Democrats and Republicans opposing the measure. Why? The Republicans are dead afraid of two liberal Democrat Senators popping up from the city, and Democrats from small states are afraid of the dilution of their power. The measure could be voted down, or it could be filibustered. It will likely never reach the President.

But if it does reach the Oval Office, the President has quite a conundrum on his hands. Bush is more than likely beginning to think of his legacy now. With Iraq and Afghanistan not doing so well, his tax cuts looking less and less stable, his MediCare program on the rocks, and his attempts at reforming social security destroyed…he needs to think about something he can spin positively in the years to come.

Imagine being the President that brought voting rights to a city with a population larger than that of the entire state of Wyoming? Conversely, the President could be spooked by the possibility of Eleanor Holmes-Norton actually having a say in something and veto the bill. There are quite a few possibilities.

So, like Sisyphus, D.C. continues rolling the great rock that is voting rights up the hill, only to have it likely come crashing down again. Unlike Sisyphus, however, the rock actually means something, and at least Sisyphus didn’t have to pay taxes for the hill.

While I’m no fan or apologist of Fox News, ratings don’t lie. Roger Ailes has done wonders with the network and created an entirely new genre of news, namely news mixed with advocacy. Most liberals think this is insidious, I tend to think about it a bit differently…cable TV is about format and these news networks shouldn’t be held in the same regard as broadcast news.

edwards_mug_28_12-28-2006_7m9clld.jpg But I digress, sort of.

My point here is that John Edwards announced he would be skipping the debate there because it is being hosted by Fox News. Nevermind that the DNC is actually running the debate, Fox News gets to plaster their name in the background and this is apparently unacceptable.

Daily Kos and MoveOn.org are eating this up, citing Edwards as the new Diet Jesus with Splenda (as opposed to the original Diet Jesus). I realize he’s trying to energize liberal primary voters, but with Edwards missing at that debate it will increasingly be a game of Tomayto/Tomahto between Obama and Clinton…a spectacle that will benefit them both.

Writing off an entire demographic, even one that is less likely to vote for you, is not particularly smart at this juncture. When you’re simply trying to stay competitive with funds, you don’t have the luxury of skipping debates. Edwards has a real chance at winning this nomination, his campaign is more mature and his policies are more pointed and tangible than any other Presidential candidate, Republican or Democrat. Chances are good that someone watching that debate will be swayed to at least write him a check. Left or Right, I think it’s pretty clear that John Edwards is the hardest working campaigner from either party.

Skipping this debate, even if it is a meaningless gesture, is a mistake.

This weekend, the two Democratic front runners went head to head competing for black voters’ hearts and minds in Selma, Alabama.

Hillary was armed with her husband and Obama was armed with his melanin, and the two duked it out in what can only be described as a dignified, civil discourse of ideas and perspectives.  The two candidates treated each other with respect, singing their individual praises, and welcoming them to a sporting campaign whose outcome would benefit America no matter who ended up on top.

I’ll be interested to see which one goes back to the usual mudslinging.  As that excellent piece by ABC News (click on that link people) explains, Hillary’s only true setback is her charisma, or lack thereof.  The stiff stoic-ness may seem more presidential…but it rarely works.  These days, you have to be both a stage performer and a political junkie to get anywhere.

Regardless, cheers to the candidates for taking the high road this weekend.

Self described libertarians are one of the most sought after demographics in American politics. True libertarians, CATO cheerleaders and Goldwater babies, tend to be wealthier, more politically active, and fiercely loyal to candidates and their parties.

These are the statistical traits that have for so long tied libertarians to the GOP.Lady Liberty

Yet talk to anyone who seriously subscribes to the ideology and they will tell you just how disillusioned they are with both political parties, in fact they always have.

“I’ve never been happy with the GOP”

or

“The Democrats could never be small government.”

That last concept, small government, is so antiquated, so irrelevant, that the idea that it is still considered an attainable goal is laughable. Many will cite Ronald Reagan as a hero of small government, and they’d be right in a sense. Reagan oversaw an enormous amount of deregulation while in office, freeing up so much money that he quintupled the size of the military.

The military doesn’t count as the government? Since when?

The truth of the matter is, in a liberal-republic such as ours, eliminating government oversight can never, ever happen. If libertarians were serious, they would advocate for the privatization of the military, of the post office, of fire departments and the police. In America, there isn’t much talk about privatizing our most basic institutions, is there?

Canvassing libertarians will proudly wear t-shirts with pot leaves, hoping to entice stoners all over the nation to let go of their Hot Pockets and get out to vote. They cite a firm belief in gay rights, yet most of the most prominent libertarians on the GOP side either publicly oppose granting these rights to stay in office, or they stay silent and hope people won’t notice.

Have libertarians failed the GOP, or is it the other way around?

I argue it is neither, libertarians have failed libertarianism. How can a true believer elect a party that brought the Patriot Act TWICE, suspended habeas corpus indefinitely, and has done more to harm gays, immigrants, students, intellectuals, and small businesses, all of whom are considered constituents to the true free market cause, more than any other so-called advocacy group?

The answer is simple, American libertarianism speaks from the heart but acts from the pocket book. For all of the hot air that the GOP version of the movement makes about freedom, they almost always vote their wallet first.

If libertarians truly believe that the only suitable role for the government is the defense of the people, then doesn’t a basic guarantee of healthcare fall under that category? Why can’t the government act as a broker on behalf of its citizens?

The Department of Defense negotiates with weapons manufacturers on behalf of the Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, and Airmen in the Armed Forces. Imagine what would happen if each and every service member were instead forced to purchase their weapon individually from a weapons manufacturer. In times of peace, those who couldn’t afford a weapon simply wouldn’t get one, but if war were to break out a weapon would have to be produced on an expedited basis and funded by tax dollars.

This is precisely what happens with healthcare. Those with no health insurance, the vast majority of whom simply cannot afford it, don’t go to the doctor until they are incredibly sick. A simple cough that could have been treated with $40 worth of antibiotics now becomes $5,000 in hospital care to keep him or her from dying. See my point?

The government could act as a broker between insurance companies and tax payers, giving them vouchers with which they could choose their own unique healthcare plan from the exact same companies that are offering care right now. These companies would be forced to compete for government contracts, just like military contractors do.

Small businesses would no longer be forced to pay outrageously high premiums (right New Jersey?) just to keep their employees insured, since a smaller amount would go to the federal government instead. Employer provided health care is unfair to small businesses who are already operating on razor thin margins.

Medicaid, Medicare, Plan D, all of these are doomed to fail. Government cannot subsidize healthcare and still offer good service…it can, however, use its size to bring competition to a fair level.

It is in this spirit that I argue the Democrats, not the Republicans, offer the most promising platform for true libertarians. Look at the GOP with an honest perspective and try and say that freedom can exist in a party moving more starkly to the right every day. Within the Democratic party there is room for discussion. The election of libertarians like Sen. Jim Webb of VA, the position of pro-business Dems such as House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and the embrace of conservatives such as Sen. Bob Casey show a party that is willing to evolve.

The Democrats are not an organized political party, they bash heads, bicker, fight and argue. It might be disgraceful and it might be unprofessional at times…but it’s freedom.