November 22, 2004

Dept. of Poetic Justice, Revisited

The list keeps getting longer: McDonald's CEO steps down due to cancer.

Restoring Honor and Dignity to Professional Sports Attendance

Jibbenainosay, you may have a point regarding the umpirical umplications of the NBA fight-night film review.

However, the Confidence Man scries greater things in this aspect.

To wit, this presents a golden opportunity for the Dems.

As many have opined (among them Nick Confessore and Ezra Klein), the Democrats need to be exercising targeted, effective, and opportunistic message discipline as the Loyal Opposition.

Now, we all recall how, during Clinton's terms in office, the Gingrich machine was constantly a-roil over how Clinton's Bad '60s Juju (otherwise memorably named by Gen. J.C. Christian as the Clenis [tm]) was instilling a trickle-down economics of amorality and perversion across the land. And, of course, how Bush ran in 2000 on a promise to "restore honor and dignity to the White House."

(Tangentially, the Confidence Man has been thinking lately that Bush's phrasing there was indeed intended to evoke Clinton, but also served as Fundtalk to his base in the Federalist Society. More on that anon. Also, please note our portmanteau neologism "Fundtalk," or "Fundtalker," consisting of "Fundie" -- for fundamentalist -- plus "Windtalker" -- the WWII Navajo code-speakers.)

Well, what's good for the Gingrich is good for the gander.

The Confidence Man strongly believes that responsibility for the recent NBA fracas -- as well as the spectacular chair-tossing in Oakland during an Athletics game this summer -- should be plavced squarely on the shoulders of President Bush.

Bush has enshrined violence as a first resort to solving problems. Bush values gut reactions over contemplation. Bush prioritizes an insecure cowboy machismo over rational discourse. Bush embodies the principle that mnight makes right, and that no one should be accountable for his actions.

And that sort of example has real consequences in this world. People look up to the President -- no matter who holds the office -- as a moral exemplar.

And when the President does the things that this President has done, good people across the land lose their moral compass and start to do things like this.

(Of course, we've expounded on this before; but the Dems now have a clear opportunity to really exploit the situation.)

The Dems Get Serious

According to Ezra Klein at Pandagon, Tom Vilsack is out of contention to head the DNC -- but more importantly, "There's talk of splitting the post, with a chairman/spokesperson and an operational director sharing the helm."

We here at Croatan like to think we may have had somewhat of a hand in this development.

But then, we have Gone to Croatan, so we can't be trusted.

By way of chairman/spokesman candidates, the Confidence Man still likes John Edwards; Dean just might do, though. The DNC best have its shit together.


Fight fallout:
Players, fans, personnel face
charges after Pacers-Pistons fight
Posted: Monday November 22, 2004 1:06PM; Updated: Monday November 22, 2004 7:18PM

... Police were also reviewing videotapes and interviewing
witnesses from Friday night's melee, when Indiana forward Ron
charged into the stands after a fan threw a cup at him.

I can only suppose that this will be used to support the argument for instant replay umpiring in baseball.

November 15, 2004

The Baby and the Ba'athwater

Apropos of our previous post regarding Iraq as the model for Bush's domestic Antistate, we should add that the "de-Ba'athification" of Iraq was also a clear model for the current and anticipated purges.

The Baby and the Bathwater

Matt Yglesias updates everyone on some less-noticed shakeout details following Powell's resignation at State.

Rumor has it that Danielle Pletka, one of the prime mover gasbag/nutjobs in the foreign policy division at AEI, may soon be taking over the Bureau of Near East Affairs. And performing her own version of the Goss Putsch in the State Department.

This is all part and parcel of the Norquistian "drown it in the bathtub" school of government "reform." Purging the CIA, purging State -- and watch for coming purges of the domestic agencies in the next year -- the folks being lost are not Clinton-era deadwood. They're career civil servants, who vow allegiance to the Constitution, not a particular president or party.

The morons and ideologues and glad-handing scam artists who rush in to fill the vacuum will "run" their department operations the same way that the Heritage Foundation interns "ran" their desks in "post-war" Iraq.

Straight into the ground.

As we have pointed out before, Iraq was a test run for Bush's vision of the Antistate:
  • The beta version is being rolled out right now in the CIA and anon in the State Department.
  • Antistate 2.0 comes with the putsch of mid-level career staffers in the domestic policy agencies.
  • Antistate 3.0 arrives in 2007 or '08, when Bush has appointed Federalist Society brownshirts to over half of the positions in the federal judiciary, and the post-Teddy-Roosevelt regulatory regime is demolished.

Spooks Going to Croatan?

The Confidence Man has been avidly following this story about Porter Goss purging the CIA of all disloyal "liberal" anti-Bush elements.

As always on such matters, Josh Marshall has the best precis and facts-behind-the-spin take: essentially, Bush via Goss is purging the CIA of anyone who will stand in his way, including the analysts who correctly told Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Rice that they were full of shit when it came to anything having to do with the Middle East.

This is, of course, a genuine national tragedy, and is bound to cost us in the short and long runs.

But the Confidence Man, as always, has his eyes on the tangents.

First of all, if Goss is indeed purging the CIA -- where are all of these disaffected spooks going to go to work? This is a big and fascinating (albeit tangential) question. One would certainly hope that all of the centrist and left-leaning DC think tanks would provide soft, comforting shoulders for the victims of the Goss Putsch.

Second, all of the lefty commentators who scoff at Bush's perception of Langley as a "hotbed of liberals" are grossly mistaken. The CIA has always been a "hotbed of liberalism" -- of Classic Liberalism, that is. The OSS and CIA were "Eastern Establishment," Ivy League, tweed-and-pipesmoke institutions from their inception down to the present day. This is why Nixon hated 'em, and doubly so why Bush hates 'em. No, they're not Rove-Atwater-caricatured Nader-voting, tree-hugging, Walmart-disparaging small-l liberals.

My Big Fat Obnoxious Senate Majority Leader

With the ongoing public humiliation of Arlen Specter by Rove's Rangers (or, as Josh Marshall aptly put it, Specter's "long castration"), we are finally seeing the crossing of the two streams of FOX's programming: right-wing/neocon/fundie jihadism, plus sadistic "reality tv" orchestrated by a petty martinet under patently false premises.

Specter, although apparently an invertebrate, is by all accounts a fairly decent and honorable man, insofar as Senators are concerned. It would not surprise the Confidence Man to see Specter decide to straddle the aisle, along with a coalition of the New England Rockefeller Republicans (Chafee, Snowe, et al). The Dems should really be pushing Jim Jeffords to offer a soft, comforting shoulder to poor widdle Arlen.

Of course, everyone remembers the "unintended consequences" the last time a Northeastern Rockefeller Republican Senator bolted the party ... don't we?

November 09, 2004

The Anti-Business, as Usual, Party

The Confidence Man reads this Dem-strategists-howling-in-their-beers wrapup in the WaPo with some severe misgivings.

First of all, Bob Shrum should either be drummed out of the Democratic political machine -- or he himself should run for President. Shrum's electoral track record makes George W. Bush's private-sector c.v. look like Richard Branson's.

Second, why is James Carville mouthing off in public about what the Dems should or should not do? Jim, either shut your stinkin' trap, or get to work actually changing things. For someone as allegedly as die-hard capital-D as Carville, to have essentially sat out the last four years is unconscionable.

Finally -- though we concede that Carville is on the right track when he insists that the Dems should re-brand as the opposition, anti-Washington, anti-bureaucracy, for-the-little-guy party -- this is an awfully telling and infelicitous bit of phrasing:

One possibility [for the Dems] would be to become ... "[the] anti-business-as-usual party."

Uh-huh. Or, as Karl Rove would instantly re-punctuate that phrase, "the anti-business, as usual, party."

The Confidence Man has some inchoate thoughts on what the Dems need to do in order to establish a private-sector support wing. Those shall come anon.

November 08, 2004

The Gulag Archipelago

The map at bottom left on this page makes the Confidence Man think of Solzhenytsin.

Or, um, Edward Tufte.

November 06, 2004

Oppo Leader -- The Short Version

Reading back over our strategic suggestion for the Dems to rapidly adopt a quasi-parliamentary opposition party stance, and to then rally behind a charismatic opposition leader, we realize that the damn thing is too long.

Here's the short version:

1. The Democratic Party embraces the role into which Karl Rove has maneuvered them: that of a quasi-parliamentary "opposition party" to the GOP.

2. The DNC splits its Chairpersonship into two component roles: a "COO" operations/fundraising manager, and a "CEO" charismatic spokesperson.

3. The DNC unites the Party behind the "CEO," who serves as the single face of the Dem Party and functions as a "shadow president." This shadow president then presents to the American people clear alternative policy proposals to the GOP agenda over the next four years. The Party should also presume that whomever fills this role will be the Dems' presidential nominee in '08. Party leadership needs to realize the urgency of immediately: rallying the Party, presenting a strong oppositional leadership voice, and clearing the decks of internecine squabble well in advance of '08.

4. We believe that John Edwards is the most appropriate person to serve as the DNC CEO/shadow president (this would give him the gravitas and c.v. boost of a leadership role for the next 4 years). However, we are open to other suggestions (Mark Warner?), as this structural strategy is the most important aspect of the plan. The choice of person to fill the CEO/shadow president role is not immaterial, nor is it trivial. But the plan must be enacted as soon as reasonably possible, in order to organize a unified leadership campaign for the '06 mid-term elections.

We are open to suggestions on how to propagate and/or refine this plan.

November 05, 2004

Opposition Leader

The latest interpretive buzz making the rounds of Left Blogwonkistan (a breakaway quasi-independent republic either bordering or surrounded by Left Blogistan proper) is that Karl Rove has maneuvered the Dems into the position of a quasi-parliamentary opposition party.

There is some merit to the argument, as well as to the complementary point that the Dems should embrace the position (it's not as if they can do much better right now) and truly oppose, rather than obstruct, the Bush-Rove-DeLay-Frist machine.

There's one key element missing, though: the opposition leader.

That's the diabolical genius of uniting all three branches under majoritarian single-party control: there is no institutional/Constitutional mechanism to provide for clear leadership of the party on the outs. And, of course, the Dems are so temporally demoralized and constitutionally disorganized that they're incapable of identifying, let alone rallying behind, a forceful and charismatic leader.

If, as the Confidence Man avers, 11/2 Changed Everything and we must now wage a Global War on Fundamentalism (which may also be characterized as a Global War on Errorism), the Dems require a strong, charismatic, and resolute leader. And need one as soon as possible. Our post paralleling 9/11 and 11/2 started out as a tongue-in-cheek idea, but the more we think about it, the more we recognize the necessity of the Democratic Party to fundamentally reckon with this week's election as a staggering blow, and to use the trauma to pull together in the way that the entire country did in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 -- and to then continue to build the unity and togetherness that most everyone wishes Bush had done in the months and years after 9/11.

The problem is, there's no clear single Dem figurehead to rally around.

And as we said above, there is no clear Constitutional or institutional solution to this leadership vacuum.

Senators, as John Kerry recently demonstrated, are institutionally and professionally unprepared for the role; and in any event, Harry Reid and Byron Dorgan won't cut it. (They're fine as Sen. Minority Leader and Whip, but not as national rallying figures.) Barack Obama certainly has the magnetism and gift of gab, but he's simply too inexperienced.

Congresspersons are temperamentally more suited to the demagoguery necessitated by such a role; but they are, unfortunately, accustomed to working at too small a scale. (As much as the Confidence Man himself would be willing to follow Nancy Pelosi into battle, she's not a national presence and does not quite have the national-unity message cred.)

Governors, as many a Presidential election has shown, do tend to have the "stuff," and Arnold Schwarzenegger in particular has run his campaign and governorship in a very imperial manner. What dynamic Dem governors have established their own voices or national presence or institutional Party constituency, though?

Essentially, the Democratic Party needs to rally around an unelected figurehead. It's not clear to the Confidence Man that the Chair of the DNC is necessarily the most appropriate position to fill this vacuum; however, in the absence of (a) attractive current elected officeholders, (b) any Constitutionally defined quasi-parliamentary "opposition party" leadership role, and (c) any significant other Dem organizational apparatus in place, the DNC Chair probably has to be the default opposition leader.

All of which leads the Confidence Man to rethink some aspects of his original suggestions regarding potential DNC leadership candidates.

Under this quasi-parliamentary opposition party role, the DNC Chair should, as we suggested, be split into complementary "CEO" and "COO" roles. The CEO would be the figurehead/spokesperson/"message disciplinarian," with the COO remaining behind the scenes and attending to operations and fundraising.

Our original suggestions for COO -- Bill Gates or Steve Jobs -- might still be adequate, but this parliamentary scheme might better require a veteran political operative. McAuliffe, in this delimited role, might actually suffice; though we'd still like to see someone with a better and more aggressive track record -- perhaps bring James Carville back into the fold? (In any event, the operational side of the Dem Party really needs to enter into partnership with the private sector. That will be the subject for more thoughts in the near future here at Croatan.)

Obviously, under this type of regime, our original suggestions for CEO -- Steven Spielberg or John Lasseter -- would most assuredly not work. (We do, however, insist that both of these men be brought into the Dems' message machine for consultancy.) No, in the system we're envisioning, the CEO role in the DNC must be filled by a genuine, legitimate politician -- and a politician with gusto, charisma, leadership, and a compelling message and mastery of pitching that message. He must also have demonstrated experience in rallying rank-and-file Dems to his cause -- and not currently be holding elective office.

That leaves four clear choices: Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Howard Dean, or John Edwards.

Clinton, due to his residual impeachment baggage, the Hillary-in-'08 nonsense, his health issues, and his time out of the spotlight, is pretty much out.

Gore is unfortunately still unable to successfully define himself through the media.

Dean, as we've pointed out, has his own gig going -- and has some detriments as a national figurehead.

But John Edwards would be perfect for this role.

Now, here's one last factor that both simplifies and complicates the matter: this CEO-type person, under this quasi-parliamentary regime, must essentially be the singular voice of the Dem Party and be prepared to assume the role of (and have the Party be prepared to accept him as) the presumptive next Dem Presidential nominee. (That even more clearly rules out Clinton.)

As we have pointed out, the one immense barrier to Edwards' nomination in '08 is the absolute lack of any significant electoral role/experience for him to fulfill over the next four years. His electoral vitae was thin enough this year to cause some concern; with four years of indolency, he would be an extremely weak candidate, despite his rhetorical and charismatic gifts.

Under this scheme, however, if Edwards becomes the "CEO" of the DNC -- the face of the Party, the Opposition Leader -- then for the next four years, he will be in the living rooms of the American people nearly daily, acting as a "shadow President." It would be both a legitimizing dose of gravitas for Edwards, and a four-year jump-start on the '08 national campaign versus whichever Bush scion Rove designates.

Edwards in '08 would then be able to say to America, "Over the last four years, as the GOP has made disastrous mistake after disastrous mistake, I have presented to you clear and better alternatives. When the GOP has followed my Party's recommendations, things have gone better; when they have not, they have failed. I have been right for four years, and I have demonstrated my wisdom, resolution, and vision."

The complication of this is that it requires that all other contenders -- Hillary, Dean, Wes Clark, Jay Rockefeller, et al. -- relinquish their status as challengers. And relinquish immediately. And all agree to back Edwards. Immediately.

The GOP has figured out that this approach works. As Will Saletan points out in Slate, in 1998, George H.W. Bush made some phone calls, got some folks together, and cleared the decks for Lil' Georgie. (Saletan, incidentally, is also a strong Edwards booster, and advocates that the Dems rally behind him in advance of '08.)

Are the Dems strong enough to sacrifice individual aspirations and constituent politics for the greater good? That's the fundamental question.

PowerPoint Presentations Falling From the Sky

The Confidence Man must give a belated thanks to the ever-witty Dan Radosh (master of all .ppt-related humor, among other things) for blogrolling Gone to Croatan. We have plans in the works for a comprehensive blogroll of our own (and perhaps a template change) in due time.

Speaking of Dan, the Confidence Man has some suspicions as to the nature of Dan's recent Going to Croatan. Pandagon's recent excerpt of Nik Lemann's Karl Rove profile includes the following:

Rove ... launched a project called the 72-Hour Task Force, which conducted scientific experiments in grassroots political organizing during the three days before Election Day in five geographically scattered races in 2001.... [A]n ... interesting PowerPoint presentation has fallen into Democratic hands, and from there into mine. This one outlines, in ninety slides, the work of the 72-Hour Task Force.

New Democratic Leadership Candidates

The Confidence Man has already added his voice to the chorus of catcalls demanding for the heads of Messrs. Shrum and McAuliffe on a pike.

Time to identify some likely candidates to replace McAuliffe as chair of the DNC.

The Confidence Man notes that many proles in Left Blogistan are advocating for Hoho Dean. Nice, entertaining, "revolutionary" idea, and the Confidence Man is a fan of Dean (well, of the "real" Howard Dean, not the mythologized figurehead of the Deaniacs) -- but this just won't work. Dean is indeed a leader, a builder of coalitions, a rainmaker, and an inspiration; what he is not, however, is a deal-maker. A schmoozer. A producer. Plus, Dean has his own bag of tricks to look after, and he's better suited working in common cause with the DNC in that role.

The LA Times this morning suggests Bill Clinton, at least as co-chair. Not a bad suggestion, especially in the figurehead CEO-type role that the LAT implies, with a mover-and-shaker nuts-and-bolts administrator as the COO-type. As others have pointed out, however, the "Hillary-in-'08" Safire-fuelled rumor makes this a bit ... problematic. Clinton also probably still has some legal bills he needs to be paying off and nest eggs to feather. He also might serve better as an independent elder statesman, trotting out occasionally to rally the troops. Quite frankly, Clinton's stage presence is probably his greatest value to the Dems right now -- and DNC Chair is not a front-of-the-stage, hogging-the-mic position.

The split-role CEO/COO leadership model does make a lot of sense, though. Basically, one guy to raise money and focus "message discipline," the other to run things and see that the money is allocated effectively and efficiently.

As "COO," this guy would probably do a great job, as would the first guy listed here. Both of these guys know how to invent, run, and reinvent organizations; how to identify and exploit oppositional weaknesses; how to innovate where and when necessary (and at no other time or place than where and when necessary); and how to marshal resources effectively (i.e., that don't-reinvent-the-wheel thing we just mentioned).

For "CEO," the Confidence Man nominates this fella; if he doesn't take it, the third guy on this list might. Both of these gentlemen know how to build consensus-based organizations, how to lead effectively, how to raise money, how to tell a compelling story -- and, most importantly, how to effectively pitch mainstream, family-friendly Classic Modern Liberal ideas to Red-State American Citizens.

Now, yes, there would be some significant risks involved with any of these candidates -- risks both to the DNC and to the individuals.

But at this point, what do the Dems have to lose?

And all four of these guys are pretty well set, so far as the whole money/power nexus is concerned. Even if they're exposed to some degree of risk in partisan association, the rewards are potentially huge.

11/2 Changed Everything, or The Global War on Fundamentalism

Classic Modern Liberalism has been subject to two disastrous attacks in the last three+ years: the first, on 9/11/01, and the second, on 11/02/04.

Both attacks involved the stealthy machinations of devoted teams of Machiavellian nihilists working in league with, and underwritten by, intolerant religious fundamentalists.

In both instances, the attacks and preparations for the attacks were preceded by numerous cultural, political, and fiscal signs. The plots behind both attacks were detected by insignificant and marginalized groups within the Classic Modern Liberal apparatus, but due to the small numbers and disempowered position of these "hair on fire" Cassandras, the apparatus did not mobilize itself successfully to prevent the attacks.

The Confidence Man herewith proposes a Global War on Fundamentalism. We cannot allow these nihilistic zealots to threaten our God-given freedom, our way of life. We will defeat them. We will defeat them by demonstrating the innate goodness of our vision, of our way of life. We will continue to build and nurture an open and democratic society, to serve as a beacon of hope for the world. We will unite the world behind us, and shame the forces of intolerance and ignorance and darkness into retreat. We will blaze the path of progress and freedom. We will work hard to free all people from the clammy grasp of fear and intolerance. We will provide every person on the planet with the opportunity to join us and be free. And the freedom-loving peoples across the globe will join together behind us and will reject the forces of ignorance, fear, intolerance, and slavery.

This Global War in Fundamentalism will not be easy. The enemy has many weapons at their disposal. The greatest weapon they have is fear. Fear is the weapon of mass destruction that we must seek out and destroy. We must not allow the enemy to deploy and spread their reign of fear and exclusion. We must assemble a grand coalition of the free and open societies of the world and deny the enemy their fear. And we must resist this fear ourselves. We must not allow the enemy's weapons to weaken or undermine our resolve. We must remain positive, steadfast, and strong, as we always have. This moment of crisis will test our resolve. But when we pull together and unite our forces behind our greatest strengths -- the strengths of openness, of opportunity, of growth, of innovation, of liberty, of freedom -- we will defeat the fear and terrorism practiced by our common enemy.

We must win the Global War on Fundamentalism. We will win the Global War on Fundamentalism.

God Bless Greil Marcus

The Confidence Man was going to prepare some proprioceptive scenarios for the Post-11/2 World, but the indispensable Greil Marcus has beaten us to it. Go read it, and have Confidence.

November 04, 2004

Dated Dean/Married Kerry/Fucked by Bush

Yes, that was the Confidence Man's bumpersticker in February.

The Confidence Man has been musing what the race would have been like if Dean somehow had managed to snare the nomination. To be sure, Dean had some signal weaknesses.

But what intrigues the Confidence Man in this imagined scenario (well, besides the delightful spectacle of Dean and Bush debating each other; they would have gotten in a fistfight!) is how Dean would have dealt with the gay marriage issue. In some respects, it could have scuttled the race by mid-summer.

But Dean being Dean, he would certainly not have muffed the issue like Kerry did. He would have attacked it head-on. And that approach might -- just might -- have actually defused the issue and not allowed Rove to mobilize his base on it.

Summing Up

Steve Clemons has the best comprehensive summing-up and looking-forward post-election essay the Confidence Man has seen.

His prescriptions for Dem Party reform and his descriptions of Kerry's solonic staff-management style both ring especially true.

The Confidence Man must quibble, however, with the brackets of Clemons' piece:
  • He opens with a precis of Team America that is notably tone-deaf, humorless, and out of touch; ironic, in the context of an essay that derides the Party and the Candidate for being all three.
  • He closes with a lament that the VP Candidate was not ... Dick Gephardt. Dick Gephardt? I'm not sure how much more "Brezhnevized" a candidate could be than Dick Gephardt. The sole arguments for Gephardt were that he might deliver Big Labor (which was going for Kerry anyway) and stood an outside chance of delivering Big MO (which, as it turns out, more ad and GOTV dollars directed at the black communities in Kansas City and St Louis probably would have done anyway). Yes, Edwards didn't actually deliver anything at all -- but primarily because he was criminally underused by the campaign. Kerry was never going to take North Carolina even if he had Jesse Helms as his no. 2.

Addition by Subtraction

OK, so this suggestion still skews negative and bitter, but it's still a positive step: Bob Shrum and Terry McAuliffe need to be fired. They need to be kept as far away from party/campaign control as possible. If it takes huge golden parachutes, so be it.

Strategic Suggestion No. 1

The Confidence Man, having picked his clinically-depressed carcass up off the floor, decides to make some positive suggestions.

The first:

Everyone and their mother has been looking at this map.

The Confidence Man suggests that Moderns living in the blue states relocate in large numbers to blue counties (i.e., urban locations) in red states. Jibbenainosay can attest to the "livability" of red-state urban enclaves.

Tip the balance somewhat in the states with thin margins and already-sizable urban communities: Ohio, Tennessee, North Carolina, Missouri, Georgia. The idea is to "Pennsylvania-ize" those states.

The Bush Political Economy

Bush at his first post-election presser:

I earned capital in the campaign -- political capital -- and now I intend to spend it.

Uh-huh. "Spend," not "invest." Moron.

And, of course, political capital, like any other kind of capital gain, should not be taxed ...

Materiel Evidence

The Confidence Man is pleased to read that our soldiers in the field are as resourcesful and smart as ever:

One soldier said U.S. forces watched the looters' trucks [at al QaQaaa] loaded with
bags marked "hexamine" -- a key ingredient for HMX -- being driven away
from the facility. Unsure what hexamine was, the troops later did an
Internet search and learned of its explosive power.

Like the Iraqi insurgents, our soldiers are good Moderns.

Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the officer class:

Troops of the two units went to Al Qaqaa over a week in late April but
received no orders to maintain a presence at the facility, the soldiers
said. They also said they received no response to a request for help in
guarding the facility.

How difficult would it be for the armed forces to have spyware that would be looking out for Google searches on high explosives known to be held by Iraq?

November 03, 2004

Our Antimodern Electorate

Best commentary on network tv last night: Fareed Zakaria on ABC, opining that the "values voters" in the red states were what separated us from "modern, industrialized nations": "we're closer to the Sudan or Saudi Arabia than we are to Western Europe."

His Willieness

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown was, the Confidence Man believes, the first to call the election for Bush last night. At about 8:05 p.m. PT last night, Brown, interviewed on SF's KRON (ch 4), opined that with early counts from urban precincts in FL and OH not trending heavily enough for Kerry, that election was over. He was unequivocal.

Willie seemed oddly agitated during his sporadic appearances throughout the night. We couldn't tell whether he was really angry, or really something else.

Bush's Man-on-Mandate

If Bush Triumphant can be said to have any kind of "broad support," it's on the issue that "fags are bad." Let's not kid ourselves; that was what turned the election. Voters in the red states were more frightened of Elton John than Osama bin Laden.

Hey, Kids!

To all you under-30s out there who voted for Bush: enjoy your fucking draft!

What kind of blithering idiot thinks that with 90% of our armed forces tied down in Iraq we're somehow "safer"?

If the Confidence Man was China, synecdochally speaking, he would go right ahead and invade Taiwan, both Koreas, and maybe Japan and Alaska for the hell of it. I mean, really, what's stopping them?

Marketing vs Salesmanship

Here's the problem with the Democrats: they don't think like marketers, they think like salesmen -- salesmen with a dingy warehouse full of outmoded merchandise.

The post-Gingrich GOP genuinely does think like an organization devoted to marketing principles: they don't think, as the Dems do, "How can I pawn off this shoddy old merchandise on my unsuspecting customers?"

Rather, the GOP thinks, "How can I build a product that satisfies the demonstrable desires of the marketplace?"

The marketplace demands a candidate who is resolute, principled, and unwavering.

So the GOP builds a candidate to those specs. By being, in their devotion to the demands of the marketplace, irresolute, unprincipled, and wavering.

And, yes, the Confidence Man sees the irony therein -- but do not mistake that irony for anything less than a signal aspect of the Irony of the Modern.

That is, do not mistake this for a cheap and lesser irony, the irony of hypocrisy. The salesman is the hypocritical antimodern; the marketer is the ironic modern.

Who's The Man?

Whence the Next Great Charismatic Democratic Leader?

Edwards has the Mondalean Taint to him now. And there's little, if anything, he can do in the next four years to pump up his vitae. Unless he, say, sues bin Laden and/or the Saudis.

As much as we like Barack Obama, he's (a) too young, (b) too inexperienced, and (c) too black (sorry, but it has to be said; the mouth-breathing, queer-bashing red-staters who voted Bush in won't go for it) to contend any earlier than, say, 2020. He'll also have to get in a term or two as IL governor.

Gavin Newsom is Obama redux, but too gay (by association) instead of black. Again, a solid candidate in 2020, but not until then. And he, too, needs a couple terms as CA governor.

As for Hillary Clinton ... well, the Confidence Man has to confess to having had a serious crush on Hillary for over 15 years. Really. No, really. She's hot, she's smart, she's serious but with a goofy streak (remember "okey-dokey, artichokey"?) ... ok, anyway ... Hillary unfortunately is the Newt Gingrich of the Democratic Party. She simply has no national electoral future.

There is talk around the despondent left blogosphere that the Dems need to cultivate some more smooth-talkin', flouncy-haired Southern charlatans to paw at the electorate. This, in the abstract, is not a bad idea; but whence y'all gonna find 'em? The Dems are going to struggle to elect anyone to gubernatorial or Senatorial office in the South for a while; their farm system looks like the Yankees' right now, bereft of real prospects and in need of propitious draft picks. Which means that the Dems won't have any decent national candidates from the South for, say, at least 12 years.

The pro-Southerner argument is predicated on a negative proposition that is certainly true enough: that the Dems can not put forward a Northeastern candidate for the foreseeable future. If for no other reason than the constituency politics of a Northeastern state (excepting, perhaps, Pennsylvania) would necessitate too onerous a track record.

The Midwest and Southwest are much more fertile breeding grounds. If Obama can develop an effective Midwest machine, he could likely prove to be a real power broker in the immediate future. Bill Richardson's moment is probably over, gone with Kerry's rejection of him as a VP candidate. The new senator from Colorado, Salazar, shows some promise, but it's early yet.

Which brings us to ... California. Now, as moribund as the CA GOP is (Schwarzenegger is not even a figurehead for the CA GOP; he is a distraction from a state party that has zero support or power, and Arnold isn't interested in machine-building, he's interested in Arnold-boosting), the CA Demo party is itself in trouble. The CA Dems are in the same position the national party was in Congress back in the '70s: solidly in power, but out of touch and unable to develop charismatic leadership. Newsom is the only "name" Dem in the state right now: the rest are either Gray Davis/Al Gore-style technocrats or Willie Brown-style porcinoma barkers.

The wild card, of course, when one considers California is Hollywood. Now, the obvious activist types (Alec Baldwin, Rob Reiner, Sarandon & Robbins) are all obvious electoral losers; not so much because they're liberals per se (although that -- and their collective sanctimony -- doesn't help) but because none of them are superstars. When discussing actors-turned-politicians, most folks tend to draw the wrong lessons from Reagan. Yes, Reagan was a minor B-actor in his Hollywood days, but he really did make himself into a superstar, starting with the hard slog through the promotional appearances for GE in the late '50s. What Reagan did was to invent, inhabit, and sell a loveable persona. Which is precisely what Schwarzenegger did.

So, if one is to look to Hollywood for potential candidates, that is the sort of character one wants. Someone with either an established loveable persona, or someone with the capacity to develop one with the single-minded rapacity superstardom demands. In other words, someone who can "open a film."

The Confidence Man hereby nominates ... Jim Carrey. Really. No, really. Think about that one.

(And, yes, we know Carrey's Canadian; but we have Confidence that the Schwarzenegger Amendment will be ratified by 2012.)

Where Did All the Nader Votes Go?

The Confidence Man is conflicted on whether to give any credence to the Diebold-machine-ate-my-Kerry-vote rumors. The diktat seems to have gone out to the major lefty bloggers to leave the issue alone, although commenters are popping up here and there to speculate.

But here's a thought: what if the Diebold touch-screen machines had been configured to change most/all Nader votes to Bush votes?

Who would notice? Nader was polling really low (although not as low as his final numbers, which is what spurred us to think of this possibility) and there's not really any organized constituency to complain. But that extra jot of votes would have provided the boost Bush needed.

(And, yes, we are aware that Nader was not on many state ballots -- including Ohio's.)

Anyway, just idle speculation ...

Assassination Watch

[Let me preface this by saying that I do not condone any of the awful scenarios I outline below, and I hope against hope that they do not come to pass. But the election of Bush on the coattails of the 11 gay-bashing ballot initiatives across the country makes for a grim outlook.]

Well, the one silver lining for Senator Kerry this morning is that his electoral loss probably saved his life.

The Confidence Man is certain that had Kerry won, there would have been multiple attempts on his life.

As for other prominent targets, Hillary Clinton and Michael Moore are probably likewise spared.

Barney Frank and Gavin Newsom, on the other hand, ought to beef up their security. And that "random attack" on David Souter may get less "random."

And Americans had best prepare themselves for several Matthew Shephards over the next couple of years. As well as a Krystallnacht next year in the Castro and the East Village. Bigotry has been given free rein. There will be an aggressive terror campaign against the LGBT community -- and Bush's DoJ, under Ashcroft or a successor, will do absolutely nothing about it.

Update: Our colleague Astronaut Body thinks that the more likely targets for group attacks would be gay enclaves in the Midwest or South (e.g., Boys Town in Chicago). He may be right.

Going to Croatan

I'm Going to Croatan. Leaving my scrawl in the dust. Burying my hatchet in a stump. Burning my clothes in a heap.

OK, maybe not.

As ignoble as the sentiment is, it had to be vented.

And, of course, a lot of folks are going to be feeling similarly this morning.

And will be for some time.

The Confidence Man does in fact foresee several exodi from the Democratic Party over this result:
  • African Americans will accelerate their departure from the party; this departure will be fractured, however. The wealthy and the assimilated will continue to trend Republican. The Northeastern and Upper Midwestern will start to seriously question just what, exactly, the Democrats are accomplishing for them; the question in those locations is whether they push aggressively to take over urban Dem chapters, go Republican, go to some inchoate third party, or Go to Croatan. African Americans in the South will most likely stick with the Dems, as the alternatives there either don't exist or are unacceptable.
  • "Progressives" will split violently. One-third (the careerists who make a living blogging or working for Lib Establishment organizations such as the Sierra Club) will stick with the Dems. One third will definitively abandon the Dems for the Greens. And one third will Go to Croatan.
  • Labor will also split in thirds: the larger and more conservative brotherhoods (e.g., the Teamsters, various construction and building-trades organizations) will aggressively flirt with the GOP; the unions that went for Dean in the primaries will see a membership revolt and will snuggle back up to the establishment Dems; and a small coterie of various service organizations will try to make allegiance with the Progressives and go Green or other third party.
  • The LGBT community will overall trend leftward: Republicans will move to the Dems, Dems will move to the Greens, Greens will Go to Croatan. And across the spectrum, gays will flee to urban areas and blue states, reversing any exurbanization trends among the demographic.
  • "Centrist" DLC types will rive in twain, both trending away from the Democratic Party: half (mostly in the South and in foreign relations) will eventually defect to the GOP and half will attempt to start a centrist coalition with the disaffected moderate Republicans.
  • Hollywood, for the most part, will remain solidly in the Dems' camp. The usual opportunists at the very top of the Hollywood food chain, following the Lew Wasserman model, will finally ingratiate themselves with the Bush-Rove-Cheney GOP. (Part of that movement will also entail unceremoniously dumping Billy Tauzin from his new position as head of the MPAA in favor of a Repub.) Some of the more activist types will probably go Green.
  • Hispanics will rapidly accelerate their trend toward the GOP.
Did I miss anyone?


Well, that certainly sucked.

The best metaphor the Confidence Man can dredge up this morning is an early scene from A Fish Called Wanda, wherein Kevin Kline's dimwit-who-thinks-himself-a-Nietzschean-genius discovers that he's been double-crossed by his criminal partner/rival. Kline stares at the open, empty safe where he'd hidden his loot, then starts furiously firing his gun at the yawning maw, howling "DISAPPOINTED!"

More disjointed, unorganized thoughts to follow throughout the day.

By the way, Mr. Jibbenainosay, we're still waiting for your reading of the whole Jim Bunning scenario.

November 02, 2004

Tilting to Bush, or the 'Murcan Projection

The Confidence Man dressed up for Halloween in an Edward Tufte costume.

There's been some carryover from the costume, as the Confidence Man notes the intriguing vertical-axis tilt of this electoral map. The top of the map appears to be tilted back at about a 10 degree angle from the Mason-Dixon line.

Many of the electoral maps the Confidence Man is seeing on network coverage this evening show an even more pronounced graphical tilt, with a 3D effect that enhances the land-mass distortion of the southern states.

The Confidence Man doubts that this is intentional, but visually, these tilted maps do seem to emphasize the geographic dominance of the red-colored southern states.

Mmmmm, crow!

In the Confidence Man's first-ever post at Croatan, he expressed grave reservations about Candidate Kerry and projected some dire results.

Obviously, I was wrong. Kerry has turned out to indeed be an excellent "closer," and the DLC-centric team he has assembled has proved to be more assertive and shrewd than anticipated.

(Though I still insist that without Dean's aggressive attacks on Bush and his Fiasqo, Kerry wouldn't be in the position to win.)

Early exit polls look good. The Confidence Man is keeping his fingers crossed.

If Kerry loses, Mrs. Confidence Man has designs on Going to Croatan. Can't say I blame her.