My two bits to the present discusson on Instapundit on how to save the Democratic party...
When the Democratic party has something to offer, policywise, that voters prefer to what the GOP offers, the Democrats will do better at the polls.
That may seem like a "well, duh!," but that's what it will take.
Sure, they might win some major elections here and there (such as Clinton's two terms), but if the Democrats really want to reestablish themselves as the majority party, they have to present a coherent, consistent and appealing policy platform, and market it well.
Right now the Democrats are defining themselves as the "anti-Republicans." That's honest, but it does not tell voters how they will govern. And it (mostly) limits the party's appeal to those voters who already dislike Republicans. Where's the appeal to the voters who dislike both parties, or sort-of like each?
So, perversely, if the Democrats want to win elections what they need to do is stop worrying about winning elections and start working harder on what they would do if they did win.
For example, they might start by getting together on what they want to do about health care, an issue they talk about a lot, but never seem to do much about (Mrs. Clinton's disaster notwithstanding, and even her plan was never seriously proposed as legislation -- in fact, it was proposed in Congress by a Republican, Dick Armey, who did it just to watch it die).
The Democrats, speaking generally, want government-run health care. But even with this degree of broad agreement, they don't bother to get together behind a plan.
Last week, John Kerry had a major press conference to tout his plan to have the federal government block-grant cash to the states if the states offer expanded health care coverage. On January 12, Ted Kennedy had a major press conference calling for the expansion of federal Medicare coverage to every man, woman and child in the United States within ten years.
So we have two liberal Massachusetts Democrats who supposedly get along offering two differing versions of the road to socialized medicine in the same month. If Kerry's and Kennedy's goal was to enact policy, they'd get together behind the scenes and work together to push one plan. But if their goal is to maximize press coverage, and stop Bush from succeeding, well, two press conferences saying any old thing, as long as it is not what Bush is saying, will do just fine.
The day the Democrats stop trying to maximize their press coverage and start trying to maximize their efforts to actually deliver something for the people that the people want (which won't be socialized medicine, but that's something to discuss at another time) will be the day they take their biggest step back to power.
In the meantime, watch for them on TV. They'll be the ones titled "minority."
NCPPR executive director David W. Almasi asserts his dominance:
My wife and I adopted a dog a few months ago and now have Madison (a corgi/sheltie mix) enrolled in obedience training at a local pet store.
After Maddie performed exceptionally well at finding me hiding behind a stack of dog food, the instructor remarked on how excited she was to find her... [long pause] ummm... "owner."
It took the instructor about 20 seconds of indecision to identify me as a pet "owner" rather than a guardian to a companion animal or some other sort of politically collect claptrap.
(I'm not sure if he was trying to not offend the humans or the dogs.)
Doing away with the notion of pet ownership is a disturbing trend that is promoted by the animal rights movement. San Francisco has gone along -- it even formally threw out the term pet owner altogether.
When we first adopted Maddie, I was a bit taken aback by the fact that we went through three rigorous interviews before getting the green light. I know there are people out there with bad intent that need to be identified and weeded out, but one look at my wife's eager face should have been able to convince anyone of her unconditional love for about 20 of the dogs up for adoption at the time. Since then, we have been a one-stop shop of care giving for Maddie: Three walks a day, free-flowing premium dog food, treats and toys out the wazoo, free health care, chauffer service to the doggy park and constant attention when we're home (to the dismay of our two cats).
We also know that we are responsible for cleaning up after her, keeping her from harm and from harming others. Along with lacking an opposable thumb, Madison also lacks the conscience and judgment that sets humans apart from beasts. That's what defines our relationship as ownership as opposed to guardianship.
Changing the terms of the human-pet relationship is just another step in the true goal of the animal rights movement: The total extinction of pets. Dr. Elliott Katz, president of the animal rights group In Defense of Animals cheered San Francisco's change in semantics in 2003, saying, "The term 'guardian' denotes a positive relationship and mutually beneficial bond between two living beings, where constant care, attention, and affection are necessary for a thriving relationship. It instills respect for and appreciation of our companion animals." It's a bit deceptive, considering his 1993 statement in which he said, "It is time we demand an end to the misguided and abusive concept of animal ownership."
Very many conservatives have spent years explaining to their fellow Americans and to people overseas that the United States is not aggressive toward other nations, that our military policy is based on national security and that we genuinely wish other nations well.
Then there is Ann Coulter.
Unendingly trotted out on the Fox News Channel in the guise of someone representative of modern American conservatism, Coulter is seen here speaking about Canada in this undated clip from Hannity and Colmes. Some snippets:
When you are allowed to exist on the same continent as the United States of America…
They had better hope the United States doesn’t roll over one night and crush them…
They are lucky to be allowed to exist on the same continent…
I have no problem with criticizing Canada (I do it myself here, for example). But remarks like Ann’s in this clip are worse than damaging to conservatism — they hurt the United States. These ideas need to be repudiated as utterly unrepresentative of the philosophy of any significant segment of the United States.
One has an obligation to speak responsibly. The greater the audience one has, the more important it is to do so. I sometimes wonder if the New Media realizes that there is more to breaking up the monopoly that was the Old Media than simply dancing on the Old Media’s grave. Put simply: We have to do better or we are no better.
Please, folks, whether you are on Fox or blogging or on talk radio, think before you speak!
Now, repudiation aside, here’s something a little more constructive in the way of criticism of Canada: A (reportedly) leaked conversation between our President and their Prime Minister.
Hat tip: Musings of a Caffeinated Mind.
The American Conservative Union's Dr. Don Devine is supporting the Administration's new proposals to promote federal employees at the Department of Homeland Security based on their performance rather than their seniority.
Don ran the federal personnel system during the Reagan Administration, so he knows this issue minutely. (He also was the faculty advisor for my College Republican club in the 1970s, but that's quite irrelevant.)
I'd love it if some talk show host somewhere set up a debate between him and one of the folks at the DNC I blogged about earlier. The more often Americans with private sector jobs hear the DNC's claim that seniority is more important than competence, the better. I have every confidence that most voters want competent government -- especially at Homeland Security.
I wonder of the DNC thinks the U.S. Army should run promotions this way?
From David Almasi:
It turns out one of the protestors arrested for disrupting President Bush's inaugural address was a staffer for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.
It's interesting the lack of attention this incident seems to be receiving considering that The Washington Post could find the time this week to research the current employment of Bush activists involved in the 2000 Florida recount.
What's interesting to me is that Reid staffer/protester Nathan Ackerman held up a banner reading "no war,” yet he works in Reid's "war room" to combat the majority agenda in the Senate.
Was Nathan making a statement to Bush or to his boss?
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has this sentence in a recent press release: "Republicans... have proposed providing African American and Hispanic workers with different [Social Security] benefits than white workers."
So there can be no doubt that I have quited her accurately, here is the entire press release:
Pelosi: Latest Republican Proposal to Cut Benefits Hurts Middle-Class WorkersNo support for the allegation is provided within the press release.
WASHINGTON, Jan. 25 /U.S. Newswire/ -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement today in response to reports that the Bush Administration is considering cutting future Social Security benefits for retirees based on their income.
"Today, Republicans proposed yet another cut in Social Security benefits for American workers. They have proposed cutting benefits by almost 50 percent for every single senior in the years to come. They have proposed cutting Social Security benefits for women because they live longer than men. They have proposed providing African American and Hispanic workers with different benefits than white workers.
"This latest Republican proposal to cut benefits for middle- class American workers is just more of the same. Under this proposal, middle-class workers would see a severe benefit cut but continue to pay the same level of payroll taxes.
"Trillions in increased debt, drastic benefit cuts, and the false promise of private accounts are the wrong ways to go. The Republicans should try something new -- keeping their promise to American workers. Millions of Americans have earned their Social Security retirement benefits through a lifetime of hard work. Rather than cutting benefits and betraying seniors, we should be fighting to protect Social Security as the foundation of a secure retirement."
What balderdash -- the Democratic National Committee is claiming on its blog that a Bush Administration proposal to pay and promote federal employees based on their work performance rather than seniority amounts to "eliminating their right to negotiate the terms of their employment."
Proof, perhaps, that the DNC is putting labor union interests over those of the taxpayers?
(As one of the latter, I vote for performance promotions.)
I also think the name of the DNC's blog is needlessly offensive. (It's dumb, too, referring as it does to kicking the symbol of the Democratic Party.)
I'm also not sure the prominent image of a "troll" (their term for non-Democrats who post comments on their blog) getting his head smashed by a large hammer is worthy of a major political party.
I'd like to think a group that seeks to run the government disapproves of fighting dissent with violence.
If you don't think columnists should receive federal grant money, read this or one of the other studies and papers about the conservative/GOP "Truth in Testimony" proposal that was informally associated with the 1994 "Republican Revolution," and was considered a highly-controversial, ultra-radical (maybe even downright nasty) right-wing plot when the GOP unveiled it.
I might be remembering wrong, but as I recall, when conservative Republicans in the mid-1990s tried to get taxpayer-funded organizations to disclose the specifics of their conflict of interest when testifying before Congress, the mainstream media did not stand on the side of disclosure.
Here's an excerpt of the study, published by the Heritage Foundation in 1996, that I cited above:
Committee hearings can serve to educate the public by allowing a range of views to be presented and questioned. Indeed, congressional hearings often are the focus of national media reports. When these sessions are stacked in favor of continuing or expanding government programs, they give media access and prestige to those who believe that for every problem, there is a federal solution. Further, when the witnesses -- and Congress itself -- fail to reveal the self-interested nature of a spending advocate's testimony, they convey a misleading picture to the public.Journalists aren't special (sorry, journalists!). If you should disclose a possible conflict of interest when writing an opinion column, you sure as heck should if you are testifying before Congress.
Consider, for example, the fight over funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Almost all of the witnesses at a February 29, 1996, House Commerce Committee hearing were financially dependent on federal tax dollars, and each predictably called for greater federal spending for public broadcasting...
Another of many such examples is a hearing on welfare reform held by the House Ways and Means Committee on February 2, 1995. Of the 65 witnesses who testified, 18 were from organizations that received federal grants, including five state and local officials who acknowledged that their agencies depend on federal funds. Apparently, none of the other 13 witnesses -- from groups such as the National Council of La Raza, the National Senior Citizens Law Center, the Service Employees International Union, the National Center for Family Literacy, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and Public Voice for Food and Health Policy -- thought that it relevant to mention their grants from the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Education, or the fact that their funding might have been in jeopardy. This scenario is repeated all too often, from Superfund reform to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, welfare reform, job training programs, and a host of other taxpayer-funded efforts...
Or, better yet, decide to stop taking federal money.
Citizens Against Government Waste is opposing cost-of-living raises for Congressional staffers, saying "Heavy reliance on congressional staffers allows members of Congress to abdicate their responsibility to read and write the legislation they vote on."
CAGW says some Senators today have nearly 100 staffers -- yet, the Senate did entirely without publicly-funded staffers until 1884.
Christopher Cross at Patterico's Pontifications sheds light on United Nations efforts to stop the U.S. from distributing materials to Iraqis that urge them to vote in Sunday's elections.
Remind me: Why are we in the U.N.? Oh yeah -- promotion of worldwide democracy.
From a couple of other blogs I have visited today:
The host of the Psycho Toddler blog tells the story, with pictures, of his own family's horrific Holocaust experience in his blog today. Very, very sad.My own Holocaust Remembrance Blogburst post can be found directly below this post.
Meanwhile, Harry at Squaring the Boston Globe reports that the Boston Globe has what could be called an excessively complimentary obituary in today's Globe for a man Harry calls "an American Albert Speer."
I'm participating in the January 27 Blogburst on the theme "Remembering the Wannsee Conference and the Liberation of Auschwitz."
Polls, such as this one about Canadians and this one about Britons (I could not find a recent one about Americans, but am under no illusions that I would like its results), show scandalously high levels of ignorance about the Holocaust, anti-Semitism, and the multiple genocides that have occurred within the lifetimes of people living today.
My contribution to the Blogburst is to recommend this link to the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation. You can use the viewer at this site to watch short excerpts of personal testimonies from people who survived the Holocaust.
See and hear what these survivors experienced, in their own words, and remember, chillingly, that most of those touched by the Holocaust did not survive.
If you don't do it today, bookmark the page, and do it on another day.
I also am publishing a list of other Blogburst participants, each of whom has committed to posting or linking to material on this topic today. I hope readers will consider visiting the websites of some of the other participants.
Other Blogburst participants include:
You can learn more about the Blogburst project, including how to become a participant in future Blogbursts, here.
The Heritage Policy Weblog answers the question, with help from the National Center for Policy Analysis's John Goodman and the fine folks at the Cato Institute.
Hint: The answer is "no."