Cuomo for Senate

As a source of speculation the NY-Senate seat to be vacated by Hillary Clinton, provides a whole range of entertaining angles. I find it a bit of a shame that Caroline Kennedy has apparently wrapped up the appointment. This not because she wouldn't be good in the job, I have great respect for her uncles and her father and some of her cousins, and I think perhaps like Ted she could parlay her famous name and connections and good intentions into a wonderfully successful senatorship. She did make a nice speech for Obama. The Senate was never intended to be strictly democratic. The Democrats should not shoot themselves in the foot by being overly "fair" (the Republicans never would), and should set themselves up to win elections (incumbency, fundraising, name-recognition etc.). However, I have a bit of hesitation over the extent to which our politics is hereditary, the undemocratic nature of gubernatorial appointments to otherwise elected office, and Ms. Kennedy's mostly mysterious positions, qualifications, and intentions.

This is not to say that Caroline Kennedy shouldn't be Senator, and if she is I will be a strong supporter, but I'd be a bit easier about it, if she had to prove herself through an election. And I'm a little sorry that Gov. Patterson seems to have begun to be boxed in. I also think this is a critical moment in US History and it would pay to have somewhat experienced, competent senators dealing with stimuli, climate change, health care, judicial appointments and the like. I think one of the NY House members, perhaps Jerrold Nadler or Nydia Velazquez would have the legislative expertise (and established positions) to be effective right away. However, appointing one of the dozen house members who wants the spot, would create a lot of animosity for Patterson. Appointing Kennedy avoids that. But even with borrowed staff and a protective wing from her uncle, I worry that she would have to take a year or two of watching carefully before being an effective senator.

Appointing Andrew Cuomo would also supercede the congressionals by being a statewide official, with a strong name who could be the strong favorite in 2010. However Patterson might be perceived as simply trying to eliminate a competitor for his reelection, you still have the heredity issues, and it would probably be a pretty big slap in the face for Kennedy.

My alternative is to appoint Mario Cuomo.

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NRSC Massive Online Fundraising Drive

I somehow got on the NRSC's email list. I got an email today from John Ensign decrying the horrible new Dem congress and their evil antiworker, protax policies. All of it was standard uninteresting stuff, but what caught my eye was this bold request for support:

"We have set a goal to raise $40,000 online by the end of March. Your participation is critical."

I know it's not really campaign season yet, but there were individual campaigns last cycle who proposed and then exceded online targets 10 times that, in a single day. Is there some kind of strategy in asking for an amount from the whole country that must be in John Ensign's couch cushions?

Is this one of those motivational things: your therapist tells you to set easily achievable goals, to improve your self confidence? Maybe it's just for some plane tickets to get the hell out a Dodge? Trying to make themselves look more poor and vulnerable so Schumer gets overconfident? What? Anyway, I found that amusing. I'll try to attach the rest of the letter below the fold.

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Have the terrorists won?

Two stories in today's NY Times got me thinking a little about the bigger pictures and what's happened since 9/11. asia/19intel.html?_r=1&oref=slogin esign/19towe.html

First, Al Qaeda's on the rebound. However much it was down before it's back, with training bases and plots and wide reach. The top leaders are not vanquished, they are still pulling the strings and we have no idea where they are. I would have guessed 5 years ago that we'd have killed Osama Bin Laden by now, I would also have guessed that Al Qaeda could persist without him, but it's shocking when you think of it that we can't capture or kill this obvious enemy who is taunting "the most powerful country in the world."

This points to two things: one, what a disaster in terms of "the global war on terrorism," (not that I think there should be such a thing, but generally there is a place for a response to 9/11 and a place for trying to increase/preserve international security) the war in Iraq has been. Does anyone doubt that if we had not invaded Iraq, Al Qaeda and the Taliban would not be resurgent right now? Afghanistan would be less likely to be teetering on the edge of chaos? Al Qaeda would have much more difficulty recruiting whomever they are recruiting to those Waziristani training bases? Al Qaeda would remain diminished in the eyes of the world, while we might have remained respected and empathized with as was the case immediately post 9/11?
Two, Al Qaeda has always had a long term outlook, and ours does not match. I think they don't care if we celebrate being attack free for a few months or a few years or even if we kill many of their operatives. They're looking 10-100 years down the road, and we are looking at the next sound bite and photo op.

The second story describes how sad and bunker-like the Freedom tower has become. 187 feet of windowless barricade for the first 20 stories? If Al Qaeda's goal was to make us change our lives and live in fear, they've succeded.  Obviously some sane defensive responses are necessary to protect people, but as is even more obvious with civil liberties, there is a point when protections cost more than they protect.

I point these things out, not to say that Al Qaeda has won, but that the way we are fighting them, they might be achieving their goals. I don't even really know how to define "win;" someone who's read more of Al Qaeda's missives might be able to explain better their motivations and goals. What I'd like to ask, is if this concept--that we're changing our world and playing into their hands--can be conveyed as a political message? Can it be made concise enough? Will it simply be spun as negativity, or lack of patriotism, or defeatism, or ?
I think Americans already know this, and clearly voted last November for a new direction. 9/11 has long been the Bush adminsitration's rallying cry, and it finally failed to work in 06, but can Dems go further and take it as their theme?
Maybe it's enough to argue that the failure in Iraq goes beyond Iraq? I think there's room to permanently separate Republicans from being the national defense party, by pointing out the egregiousness of their failures, and the extent to which they play into enemy hands. But I don't exactly know the best way to make that argument or how best to state the alternative plan.

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