Red Pond, Blue Fish; Blue Pond, Red Fish

And now, a brief political interlude (off the cuff, with all that entails):

On my way home from work today, I flipped to C-SPAN radio[1] and happened to catch part of the Cardin-Steele debate, fortuitously right in the middle of the Iraq war portion.

Apologies in advance for the foul language, but the response from Cardin was the most weaselly, diarrheic bullshit I've heard since the 2004 Kerry campaign was in full swing saying everything and nothing at once. Cardin's position in a nutshell- Step 1 - Leave Iraq. Step 2 - ???. Step 3 - the 'international community' will rush in and save Christmas and Eid and everything will be better, honest, promise. Offers a completely arbitrary timetable, then denies its a timetable, then waves his hands furiously saying "if we leave, it'll show to the international community that we're not occupiers," which is of course an incredible, unbelievably irrelevant non-sequitur that only serves to underline how unserious Cardin is about the Iraq war (other than 'I'm agin it!!').

I mention that only because that bit had me swearing loudly in my car as I creeped slowly down the beltway, not to get into the finer points of his (non) positions. The salient point of what I did get to hear (roughly 30 minutes or so) is that in the Maryland Senate race, much like the Virginia one, it is clear that one candidate is so much more deserving of and suited for the position than the other. And by that I mean Webb over Allen, and Steele over Cardin. Its not even close in either race; their opponents are both loyal stooges of their party's apparatus and when asked to jump will first do it and then ask 'oh, how high?' The unfortunate bit is that while one can do the popular bit (among libertarians and independents) and vote for Webb in Virginia, the deserving candidate across the river is saddled with the crimson R and thus will likely, ultimately be defeated in favor of Ben Cardin (D - Douchebag).

I know its popular to want to throw all of the Republicans out of congress (and rightly so in most cases) because of how horrible the GOP has been since 2003. But, not to belabor the point, Democrats are pretty much as equally culpable as a party can get without actually holding the majority reins; after all, most of them voted for Iraq, the TSA was Daschle's idea, USA-PATRIOT is a rehash and repackaging of Clinton administration prosecutor's wish lists, TIA and roving warrantless wiretapping also on Clinton wishlists, the Democrats' counterproposal to the Bush Medicare expansion was to spend even more, and the only time they've filibustered was against minor Federal judges (among which were libertarian judges, to boot), and not against Alito or Roberts when it mattered, nor against the abomination of the Torture Bill. Not once, too, have the Democrats tried to reign in the spending- they just want to tax you more along the way. That, contrary to what many believe, is not fiscal responsibility. To paraphrase, "it's the spending, stupid," not whether you finance it via borrowing now for taxes later or taxes now[2]. So from my view, the national Democratic party must likewise be punished for dereliction of duty and acting as if they were a parliamentary opposition party excused from responsibility for the actions of government. This ties in to the Cardin-Steele race thus:

To punish the Republicans, one or both houses of congress need to change hands. That much is pretty straightforward. But how do we punish Democrats in the process for their dereliction of duty and "me-tooism" these past 6 years? I can think of two ways:

(A) No Incumbents (with rare exception) - Wherever and whoever the incumbent is in your district or state, vote for the challenger. D or R, either way. Assuming everyone votes this way (yes, yes...), this strategy results in a Democratic House of Representatives and will probably deliver the Senate as well[3]. This does so in a way that eliminates all house seniority and eliminates some seniority in the Senate as well. The Democrats responsible for sitting on their hands doing nothing are kicked out, yet the Republicans lose their control in the process. Seems win-win to me. For open seats, make sure the seat changes from the previous party's control to the opposite. This brings about my desired outcome of Steele in MD and Webb in VA. The rare exception is for objectively liberty-philic representatives and Senators, you can still vote for them. (The Ron Paul exception)

or, for those who want a more nuanced plan (and harkening to the title of the post):

(B) Red Pond, Blue Fish; Blue Pond, Red Fish - However your state leans nationally (D or R), vote for the opposite candidate this time around. The most restrained and moderate members of both parties are those who are from states generally opposed to their party; see the DINOs and RINOs of Congress for people unwilling to get too radical one way or the other. Call in the countervailing power theory, where the national party will pull in one direction, but electoral reality will pull in the other, so you get a candidate who might say 'no'. In the senate's case, this would seem to work out the most- Webb is a conservative Democrat, to the extent that he's a Democrat at all, and Steele is a relatively liberal Republican, or at least not a very conservative one. Both would, in any case, need to keep their politics moderated in order to maintain their positions in Congress, which strikes me as a good thing going forward after the past 6 years. A congress full of precariously balanced members is a congress that's unlikely to embark on any grand scheme, which is also a plus. The huge minus staring at me for this is that among many reasons one of the most salient reason the Democrats caved on the Iraq war in the first place was fear of losing elections period; that strikes me as a risk, but one I'm willing to take this session, since again, both parties need to be punished.

I prefer A to B, but at least locally (those of us close to the MD and VA borders, on either side) either leads to what I think is the optimal outcome. If we could have a Democrat majority without Pelosi or any of the other milquetoast D representatives, that would be best of all, but alas...

(footnotes below)

fn1. I'm not being particularly nerdy; DC radio is so bad that C-SPAN and NPR are legit entertainment alternatives; sort of addition by subtraction.

fn2. My two cents on it is that since everyone who's economically literate knows that money now is worth more than money tomorrow (even without inflation) due to the whole phenomena of time preference, borrow and spend is (to me) more responsible than to immediately tax and spend.

fn3. I'm writing this off the cuff so I'm not checking to see how many Republican incumbents are running in the Senate to see if it would tip for the D's there, too.

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