Carthago Delenda Est

I hardly ever cross-post material between the Redister and here.  But I'd like to share the piece I wrote this weekend and humbly suggest this new rallying cry.

 “Carthage Must Be Destroyed.”  During the Third Punic War, the Roman statesman, Cato the Elder, was said to have inserted this phrase into every public speech he gave, regardless of whether he was speaking of the war with Carthage.  Thus, the Latin phrase, Carthago Delenda Est has come down through the ages to be synonymous with the repetitive insistence on something.

I'd like to propose dusting it off and polishing it up a bit and returning to its more literal meaning.  In this case, by Carthage, I mean the modern conservative movement in America.  For the sake of our future, it must be defeated, razed to the ground and salt sown on the earth.

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Come Argue and Drink With Me Next Wednesday

I'm going to be in Des Moines on business next Wednesday and Thursday (2/17 – 18).  Instead of huddling in my hotel room watching porn on Wendesday night I thought it might be more um, stimulating to get together with some like minded people for drinks and talk.

 Drop me a line at cmananderson at gmail dot com if you would like to suggest a place that is a) near downtown and b) has good food and beer.

 Is there already a Drinking Liberally meetup place? 

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DMR Blog: Scene From A Party

I don’t flog my postings on politics at the Des Moines Register as much as I probably should considering that it amounts to most of my more substantial political blogging nowadays. But, I’m pretty proud of this one from a pure gonzo/literary standpoint.

Now, I wonder if Katie Koberg will take the bait?

I also wonder if my editor will call me out for using the term, “circle jerk,” in the Register’s blog.

It also occurrs to me that I never properly thanked desmoinesdem in public for tipping me for that position.

Thanks [desmoinesdem]! Drinks on me when I’m next in DM.

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Everything You Know About Environmentalism Is Wrong

Way back in 2005, I posted, The Environmental Movement is Dead, about how the traditional environmental movement — centered around the big lobbying groups such as the Sierra Club and their associated policy initiatives — had failed to do anything to apply real brakes to the decline in the global environment or even to significantly improve our national carbon footprint.  Featured in that post were the poster-children of the anti-movement environmental movmeent, Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger.  The two are still at it and have an interesting take in The New Republic, on The Green Bubble.

Green anti-modernism brings with it other contradictions. Despite the rhetoric about “one planet,” not all humans have the same interests when it comes to addressing global warming. Greens often note that the changing global climate will have the greatest impact on the world's poor; they neglect to mention that the poor also have the most to gain from development fueled by cheap fossil fuels like coal. For the poor, the climate is already dangerous. They are already subject to the droughts, floods, hurricanes, and diseases that future warming will intensify. It is their poverty, not rising carbon-dioxide levels, that make them more vulnerable than the rest of us. By contrast, it is the richest humans–those of us who have achieved comfort, prosperity, and economic security for ourselves and for our children–who have the most to lose from the kind of apocalyptic global-warming scenarios that have so often been invoked in recent years. The existential threat so many of us fear is that we might all end up in a kind of global Somalia characterized by failed states, resource scarcity, and chaos. It is more than a little ironic that at the heart of the anti-modern green discourse resides the fear of losing our modernity.

Nonetheless, it has become an article of faith among many greens that the global poor are happier with less and must be shielded from the horrors of overconsumption and economic development–never mind the realities of infant mortality, treatable disease, short life expectancies, and grinding agrarian poverty. The convenient and ancient view among elites that the poor are actually spiritually rich, and the exaggeration of insignificant gestures like recycling and buying new lightbulbs, are both motivated by the cognitive dissonance created by simultaneously believing that not all seven billion humans on earth can “live like we live” and, consciously or unconsciously, knowing that we are unwilling to give up our high standard of living. This is the split “between what you think and what you do” to which Pollan refers, and it should, perhaps, come as no surprise that so many educated liberals, living at the upper end of a social hierarchy that was becoming ever more stratified, should find the remedies that Pollan and Beavan offer so compelling. But, while planting a backyard garden may help heal the eco-anxieties of affluent greens, it will do little to heal the planet or resolve the larger social contradictions that it purports to address.

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Let Chysler and GM Die

You:  You heartless bastard!  What about the jobs?

Me:  Chrysler employs 60,000 people.  That's a rounding error in the total number of jobs lost since the current downturn started.  GM employs 240,000 globally, approximately 98,000 U.S.  Again, compared to the 2.5 million lost jobs since October, 2008 those aren't particularly meaningful figures from a national economy standpoint.  As Megan McArdle notes:

To put it another way, we could have taken the $8 billion or so we gave to Chrysler and given every one of the company's employees $133,000 to start their own War on Poverty, while still providing much of their pensions through the PBGC.  Of cours, the new Chrysler is going to cut many of those jobs, so the cost of actual jobs saved will probably top $200K per.  For as long as the company lasts.  Which most analysts do not expect to be long, given that their super secret surprise scheme for turning everything around is to have Chrysler sell retooled Fiats to a country with one-seventh the population density and almost twice the birthrate of Italy.

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GOP: Adapt or Die

(I agree with cman and recommend that post by Nate Silver he cites below. Also note that Democrats have a 24-point lead in the generic Congressional ballot, according to the latest Hotline poll. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

Aa noted on the main page, the Stimulus Bill passed the House last night without a single Republican vote.  President Obama had met with Republican leaders, heard their concerns.  Obama made concessions that he wouldn't have made if he didn't want Republican support.  As the vote indicated, he didn't need any Republican votes in the House and only needs a couple in the Senate.

Here is just a partial list off the top of my head of the items that Obama and the Democrats compromised on:


  • Including nearly $270 billion in tax cuts, including a one-year fix for the alternative minimum tax which will cost the treasury almost $75 billion in revenue.

  • Family planning and contraceptive support for poor families.  Complained about, gone.

  • $200 million for renovations to the National Mall.  Complained about, gone.

There are further examples, I'm sure.  We're busy and I haven't focused in closely on details.

And still the House GOP unanimously turned their backs on the new president.

The Republicans are playing a very dangerous game here. As Karl Rove said, “elections have consequences.”  Three years ago it was the GOP running roughshod over the Democratic minority.  They should expect no better now.  They are given a seat at the table however.  They request and get concessions but then collectively turn their backs on the bill when it's time to vote.

As far as I can tell, the Republicans think they are playing the president.  They are engaged in a very high-stakes gamble that the stimulus plan will not work.   They figure by the time the mid-terms roll around the public will have turned on Obama's “change” and sweep them back into power so they can…  do what exactly?

The concessions the GOP asked for amounted to the same old GOP policies of the last eight years.   Lower taxes for businesses and the rich, Devil-take-the-hindmost.  Culture War attacks on programs for public health and family planning.

Obama does not need GOP support in the House.  In the Senate he only needs the occasional vote of Senators Snowe, Specter, McCain and any combination of one or two others he can peel away on any given issue.

Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight wrote a typically numerically dense analysis of the GOP House prospects in light of changing demographics in the country.  The news isn't good for the GOP.

Basically, the Republicans aren't competitive virtually anywhere on the Eastern Seaboard north of Washington, D.C., and virtually anywhere on the Pacific Coast north of Monterey. They aren't competitive in virtually any dense urban center, or in virtually any majority-minority district (such as the black belt in the South or Hispanic-majority districts in South Texas). Finally, there are a dozen or so districts where Republicans are virtually nonexistent because of the presence of a large College or University. Collectively, that adds up to a lot of districts — almost a third of the country.

Conversely, the Democrats have very few districts in which they can't play some angle or another. Nearly all of the Republican-dominated districts fit into a particular template: white, Southern, rural or exurban, lower-middle class (but not usually impoverished), low-mobility, with poorly-diversified economies reliant on traditional sectors like manufacturing or agriculture. There are only a couple dozen such districts throughout the country.

Although the Republicans face an arduous task in crafting a path to 270 electoral votes, finding 218 viable seats in the Congress might represent the more difficult challenge.

The upshot of all this is that the GOP is bereft of new ideas, continuing to drift further to the right and is therefore placing itself in a deeper and deeper demographic hole.  But they continue to raise the stakes and place the long-shot bet: that Obama will fail nearly as spectacularly as Bush, and that a disgusted nation will sweep them back into power.

That's their choice and they have every right to make it.  But I don't want to hear any whining when and if in 2010 the Democrats reach the magic number of 60 in the Senate and the GOP is left completely out in the cold.

The GOP need to get smart.  As Obama said in his inaugural address, “the ground has shifted beneath their feet.”  In politics as in everything else, there is but one imperative: adapt or die.  Right now, it seems the GOP is living is living in a shrinking political ecosystem.

 cman in clinton blog

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