Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Oh, get a room!

Maybe in a nice co-ed monastary somewhere.

That's the best advice I can offer to Steven Waldman and Amy Sullivan. Not to be bested by Ms. Sullivan's claim to a big scoop on Kerry's supposed last minute decision to indulge in some religious language during his acceptance speech (you know, the kind of religious speech that we've documented has been part of his campaign addresses for months), Steven Waldman weighs in at Slate, proclaiming that
"...in the last few weeks, the Kerry campaign has shifted gears. The Religification of John Kerry has begun. He started lacing his speeches with a Bible reference here and there. He released a TV ad discussing his faith, and just days before the convention began, the campaign hired a new director of religious outreach.
That would be, umm, 96 days before the convention began, as a matter of fact. A number of days most of us would describe as "months."

Some people just can't be satisfied, though. Waldman writes...
Kerry's certainly not in the clear on this yet. He can quote the Bible to tee up every new tax credit proposal and he still won't win over many conservative Catholics who loathe his position on abortion, especially partial-birth abortion. Many religious voters are motivated by ideology more than theology and will find Kerry too liberal regardless of how often he prays the rosary.
Yep, people who don't support John Kerry because of his positions on issues (and Waldman reveals much by his use of the perjorative term 'partial-birth abortion' to describe late term medical procedures, a term that physicians eschew as unscientific and inaccurate) won't be voting for him this year, regardless of the depth of his religious fervor or his willingness to express it. And this is surprising because...?

And of course, Waldman sums it all up by damning not only Kerry, but the entire Democratic party, with faint praise.
But on balance, Kerry took a major step toward convincing people that it was OK to believe in God and Democrats at the same time.
So, Steve, who is it that needs convincing? You? Certainly not me, since I've believed in God and Democrats as long as I can remember. That's true of most of the Democrats I've known over the course of 40 years or so of Party activism. The whole notion of Democrats as irreligious, or anti-religion, is nothing but Republican slander, and people like Waldman and Sullivan do a particular disservice to both Democrats and the faith community in spreading it.

So tell me, Steve, Amy, who would Jesus slander?

Bounce? I got yer bounce...

...right here in the bright blue Upper Left, along with the other 12 'battleground' states that John Zogby's got in the Kerry column post-convention. (If you have to squint to see it, you can find the full size map over at Blog4Kerry, where I swiped it. Thanks, Daniel!)



13 of 16? Looks like a win shaping up to me.

And hello Tennessee!

True confession time...

...I'm a Deadhead.

Have tapes of my first show in '68 and my last show in '94, and many shows in between. My dresser drawer (to the dismay of the Brilliant and Beautiful Bride of Upper Left) holds enough tie-dye to outfit a Rainbow Family campout. I got on the bus as a kid and I'm never getting off.

Thus, I was particulary pleased by this nugget from the New York Daily News...
The Grateful Dead's Bob Weir is pleading with Deadheads everywhere not to vote for Ralph Nader. Performing on Saturday in Boston, Weir told the band's followers to be sure to vote, but the exorted, "Don't vote for Nader. I know him. He's an asshole," our spies tell us. The band then broke into "Johnny B. Goode," a theme song of the Kerry-Edwards campaign.
It's true, you know. The Music Never Stopped.

Never will.

Elsewhere Alterman asks...

"Why did Kerry and all the Democrats ignore the Bush deficit.?"
I might quibble with the premise, but if you accept it, it's a perfectly reasonable question with an equally obvious answer - Bushco delayed announcing the full extent of their financial foolhardiness until Friday, after the Convention had been gaveled closed. I'll leave it to you to imagine why they might do such a thing, but it sounds like Democrats won't be ignoring it anymore...
The shortfall will be the third consecutive - and ever-growing - deficit under Bush, following four consecutive annual surpluses under President Clinton. Democrats said the turnabout underscored the damage done by Bush’s tax cuts and his poor stewardship of the economy, and criticized the White House praise for the report.

Democrats contrasted the $445 billion projection with the $262 billion surplus for this year that Bush projected in 2001, when he was persuading Congress to approve the first of his tax cuts.
We certainly won't be letting it go unnotices at Upper Left.

Perry Mason for Secretary of State?

Charles Pierce is writing to Eric Alterman again, and again there's a nugget worthy of swiping...
I wouldn't want to be either a criminal defendant against Kerry, or a negligent corporate slug caught in Edwards's crosshairs. It's like lining up against Jack McCoy and Atticus Finch simultaneously. This is not a bad thing. Americans love lawyers who WIN, no matter what side of the bar they're on.
Every day isn't really Slacker Friday, but any day might be, which is why you should never miss Altercation.

Whoa!

I like to think that I've been one of the most enthusiastic and optimistic supporters of Democratic prospects in the U.S. House, but even I didn't see this coming. The Stakeholder offers a pointer to a new Newsweek poll...
If the election for U.S. Congress were being held today, would you vote for -- the Republican Party's candidate or the Democratic Party's candidate for Congress in your district? As of today, do you lean more toward the Republican or the Democrat?

Republican 41%
Democrat 51%
Undecided/Other 8%
A ten point spread? Whoa!

Get happy. Get involved.

SpeakerPelosi.com

Veteran voters

I guess it's inevitable, given that the Democratic National Convention sometimes had the aura of a regimental reunion, that there'd be a lot of discussion about the impact of the veteran's vote this year. Looking at a pre-convention Pew study, Mark Kleiman was a little nervous
The Chef at Ragout has the numbers. At least pre-speech, Kerry wasn't doing any better among veterans (even Vietnam-era veterans) than Gore did four years ago, according to the Pew survey.
But wisely noted that the 6% gap revealed in that poll wasn't the whole story.
That doesn't mean Kerry's emphasis on his service record is a mistake: the audience for that is much wider than veterans.
The cited Chef also points out that prior military service is only part of the equation for veterans making voting decisions.
By the way, the median age of veterans is only a little less than sixty. Most served in WWII, Korea, or Vietnam, and were probably draftees rather than gung-ho volunteers. Their main concerns surely include Medicare and Social Security. They do lean towards Bush, but not by as much as you'd think, since older people tend to vote Democratic.
Then Steve Benen at the Carpetbagger Reportcame up with a brand new CBS News poll...
While President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney held a 47 percent to 41 percent lead among vets in mid-July, the tickets are now in a statistical tie: Kerry-Edwards with 48 percent, and Bush-Cheney with 47 percent.
...which seems to mean that the Convention emphasis had at least some positive impact. It's true, though, that regardless of the respective qualities of experience that divide the candidates, or the policies they advocate, the veteran's vote is likely to be divided, in many cases along lines that are more closely related to mythology than policy.

Tom Shaller gets a lot of it right at The Gadflyer.
It strikes me that vets find themselves at a curious intersection of contemporary American politics. They exhibit a reflexive sympathy for Republican leaders, stoked perhaps by (exaggerated) memories of liberals as draft card-burning peace protesters and conservatives as blood-sweat-and-tears soldiers who never hesitate to grab the flag and fight for the country.

But then they look at the chickenhawk draftdodgers among the top ranks of the current Republican Administration, and they see a group of neocons in suits – the sort of people who played with Army men as kids, but flinched when the country asked them to put on a uniform and grab a weapon. Upon closer inspection, vets then notice that these chickenhawks are spewing platitudes about doing “whatever it takes” to support the military at the same time they are pushing our regular military, and reserves, to the limits.
As you might imagine, I have my own view of the importance of John Kerry's military service and the veteran's vote. Some of that view is informed by nearly four decades of political activism, but for the most part it comes from three decades of activism on veteran's issues, including membership in vet's groups ranging from VVAW to the American Legion.

The biggest thing I've learned in that time is that there's actually very little that can be said about veterans in general, but it's really hard to convince people outside our ranks that that's true. One thing that is true, though, is that over time, and especially during a time of war, general esteem for veterans has gone up considerably over the years I've been one, and having so many so visibly supportive of the Kerry campaign can do nothing but help. It's what I call the 'firefighter effect,' which was one of the reasons that I was so confident of an Iowa surprise in the primaries months before many observers saw it coming. I just felt that when the local firefighter showed up at a caucus and said "I'm for Kerry," it was going to give a lot of people permission to come along. When a guy who will risk his life to save yours expresses an opinion, you're likely to give it serious consideration.

It's a lot like that with veterans right now. But there have always been a lot of veterans in the Democratic Party. What John Kerry has done is elevate our visibility considerably, mainly by giving us permission to be visible. Last summer was at a Kerry appearance which was literally the first time in all my years of Party activism that a Democratic candidate asked military veterans to stand and be recognized. This year was the first time I ever felt comfortable to wear my Vietnam veteran ballcap to a Party event. The Convention floor was awash in those caps, and WWII caps, and Korea caps, and VFW and Legion caps, not to mention the troop of generals and admirals that crossed the stage.

Does this mean that all, or even most, veterans will vote for John Kerry? No. It means that people who are apt to be influenced by their favorable impression of the veterans in their family or community might be willing to give Kerry a longer look than they otherwise would, though, and I'm convinced that the longer they look, the more they'll like.

Kerry will get his fair share of the veteran's vote, but as, or maybe more, importantly, he'll get the benefit of veteran's influence, as a result of our enhanced visibility in the campaign and the Party, to a greater degree than any Democrat since, perhaps, John Kennedy. He won't win the election based on our votes alone, but we just might have an influence on the winning margin that exceeds our ballots.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Dear Ms. Sullivan...

...if you really meant this...
"When it comes to talking about faith in politics, I think John Kerry is right and George W. Bush is absolutely wrong."
...then why would you say this?
"Kerry hit all of the right notes in a speech that managed to not sound like Kerry..."
And why would you believe this?
"Five minutes before Kerry delivered his speech, I got a call with the news that religion language had made it into the text at the last moment."
I mean, I get that you're a big time insider and the final authority on all matters Democratically religious, Amy, but in fact Kerry said little about religion in his acceptance speech that hasn't been part of his stump speeches for quite awhile, from the the fact that he doesn't wear his religion "on on my sleeve," to the Abraham Lincoln quotation he borrowed from John Edwards back in the ancient days of Democratic primary debates. You think they really had to slip in this stuff he's been saying for weeks at the last minute?

Maybe it's because you think this is true...
"Kerry made the first explicit step any Democratic presidential candidate ever has to open the door of the party to people of faith."
..but can you really believe that the Party that thrice nominated one of American history's most prominent fundamentalists, Williams Jenning Bryan, has never before been open to people of faith?

Oh, I get it. It's because of...
"...decades of either staying silent or actively backing away from the topic of religion..."
Let's see, those must be the decades since we elected Jimmy Carter, a devout Southern Baptist who famously observed that "You can't divorce religious belief and public service ... I've never detected any conflict between God's will and my political duty. If you violate one, you violate the other."

Or the decades since the election of his more recent co-religionist, Bill Clinton. Of course, Bill was a bit less explicit about his religious fervor than Jimmy, as was Al, but has there been a more faith-based candidate in Democratic Party history than Joe Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew? A man who cancelled campaign events for Shabbat observations?

Was that really so many decades ago?

And while we're at it, who are these people you keep talking about?

"I know there are those who believe that religion should never ever be acknowledged or discussed in politics."
I mean, there's no doubt that there are people who hold such a view, but can you name even one who holds a responsible position of influence in the Democratic Party? Even one? Didn't think so. After all, you just spent the best part of a week reveling in the wide range of overt and coded religious language from virtually everyone who mounted the podium at the Democratic National Convention. In fact, it's possible that the least conventionally religious speaker of the week was Ron Reagan, who's not a Democrat at all.

C'mon Amy, you got it right once.
"When it comes to talking about faith in politics, I think John Kerry is right and George W. Bush is absolutely wrong."
Can't you just leave well enough alone?

Every Tom, Dick and Momta Popat...

Via Blogitics, word of a victory for independent journalism.
President Bush’s re-election campaign insisted on knowing the race of an Arizona Daily Star journalist assigned to photograph Vice President Dick Cheney.

The Star refused to provide the information.
According to an article from The Star, managing editor Teri Hayt became suspicious of possible racial profiling when the unusual demand was made after the name of photographer Mamta Popat was submitted to the Bush/Cheney campaign.
Journalists covering the president or vice president must undergo a background check and are required to provide their name, date of birth and Social Security number. The Star provided that information Thursday for Popat and this reporter. "That's all anybody has been asked to provide," said Hayt, adding that this is the first time in her 26-year career that a journalist's race was made an issue.
So, what kind of rationale was provided for the extraordinary request?
Organizer Christine Walton asked for Popat's race in telephone conversations with two other Star editors before she spoke to Hayt. They also refused to provide the information. Walton told Hayt that Popat's race was necessary to allow the Secret Service to distinguish her from someone else who might have the same name.
Makes sense, I suppose. There must be an awful lot of photographers named Momta Popat in Arizona...

Uh huh.

Apparently Walton eventually realized they meant that Momta Popat, and allowed as how the photographer would "probably" be allowed to work if she appeared at the rally.

Hayt definitely deserves some kind of award for journalistic integrity.

CONference Board, CONsumer CONfidence...

...hmm, I think I see a pattern developing.

The consumer confidence figures have always seemed like one of the dodgier measures of economc health to me, so when the Conference Board reports that "..its index of consumer confidence in US business conditions jumped to 106.1 in July, up from 102.8 in June and well ahead of the figure of 102.0 that investors had been expecting. It was the highest level for the indicator since June 2002," well, my inner skeptic is immediately stimulated.

Robert Reich, who I tend to put a lot more faith in, offers some justification for my doubts.
...here’s a little-noticed fact: How confident you are about the economy depends largely on how much your family is earning. According to the University of Michigan survey of consumer sentiment, which takes account of income levels, families earning over $50,000 a year – roughly, the top half -- are indeed much more optimistic. But among families earning under $50,000 – the bottom half -- confidence in June actually declined.

Yes, the economy is bouncing back, and some families are starting to feel the benefits -- but not those in the bottom half. In fact, they seem to be feeling worse. Why? For one thing, the prices of food, gas, and health care have been rising briskly.
So there it is. If you don't eat, drive or get sick, you have every reason to be confident. The rest of us? Well...

(tip o' the cap to Greg at The Talent Show)

Blog biz...

A few changes to the sidebar. There's a new DCCC blogad for SpeakerPelosi.com, a new endorsement link for Mark Sidran, Upper Left's choice for WA Attorney General, and with the Kerry/Edwards campaign moving to post-convention federal funding, I've dropped the fundraising link for the campaign. They're encouraging donations to the DNC, but my personal recommendation is the DCCC Campaign for a New Majority. Whatever you choose, I hope you do what you can. And I really appreciate everyone who pitched in and helped the Upper Left Kerry Core fund grow to $1861.

I've had some formatting problems with the "I Got The News Today..." feed from Undelay feed, so I've removed it until I get smarter about how to use it. It still deserves your attention, and Undelay deserves the traffic, so pop over there and see what's up.

Finally, I added a link to the Washington Post Best Blogs of 2004contest. They're in nomination mode right now, and I'd sure be tickled to make the cut, so if any of the Upper Left faithful see fit to put me on the list, that would be grand. They've got a handful of categories, so I'll remind you that I'm definitely outside the Beltway, most definitely Democratic and absolutely plan to be here long after the 2004 elections. Follow the link for more details.

Also, you may have noticed the fine products I'm touting via Amazon. Buying them through the blog gets me a small kickback without costing you anything extra, so if you're in the market for books, CDs, etc., going to Amazon via Upper Left would be greatly appreciated.

Oh, and did I mention that the PayPal tip jar is still there?


UPDATE: For the time being, the "I Got The News Today..." feature via Undelay can be found by scrolling all the way to the bottom of the page, where it can be found just above the referer list.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Follow the bouncing ballot preference...

Ruy Teixeira, who knows more about polling than I want to learn, takes a look at the Newsweek poll that's being bandied about as evidence of the 'baby bounce' that Kerry got from the Convention.
But, as their story sheepishly admits, half of their poll was conducted on Thursday night, before Kerry had delivered his acceptance speech! Moreover, their results differ on the two nights, with Kerry leading by 2 points in the pre-acceptance speech data and by 10 points in the post-acceptance speech data.

What possible excuse can there be for presenting these data as measuring Kerry's bounce from the convention, when the effect of the most important event of the convention isn't included in half the data? Perhaps there is one, but I can't think of it.
People who actually study these things, as opposed to merely spinning them, are saying it will be sometime next week, or even next weekend, before we can get a true measurement of any statistical bounce. Right now, all the measures seem to be anectdotal at best, and having spent much of the weekend outside the political junkie bubble I too often operate within, I'd say things are looking very good indeed. People who know I've been on the Kerry bandwagon since last year, people whose positions have previously ranged from skeptical to totally disinterested, keep offering variations on "Hey, your guy sounded great! I think we can beat the S.O.B. in the White House."

And, hey, when you're already ahead, any bounce at all is all good.

There he goes again...

Credit Atrios with a pointer to this Philadelphia Inquirer report on the latest shenanigans of the Nader campaign...
Ralph Nader's presidential campaign this week abruptly abandoned the Center City office that housed its efforts to get on the Pennsylvania ballot, leaving behind a mess of accusations and a damaged building.

The office, on the 1500 block of Chestnut Street, was emptied Thursday after a raucous scene the night before. Police were called as dozens of homeless people lined up to collect money they said they were owed for circulating petitions on the candidate's behalf.

Many of the circulators were never paid, according to outreach workers and interviews with several men who had collected signatures.

"A lot of us were scammed," said Ed Seip, 52, who said he collected more than 200 signatures for Nader.
So the champion of the oppressed is reduced to ripping off the homeless and trashing buildings in his campaign for self-aggrandizement. It's so pathetic that I might feel sorry for him if I weren't so disgusted with him.

Reading to the end reveals the Naderite plan for setting up the next round of whining and Kerry bashing from the self proclaimed hero of progressive politics.

The 2-week-old effort to collect signatures using hired petition circulators also faced scrutiny last week after reporters witnessed several circulators repeatedly signing each other's forms and telling signers that they could use whatever name they wanted.

Slevin said circulators had been instructed to obey the law.

But one disgruntled circulator said they had not known the rules. "Everyone in the mission was just passing them around from person to person," said Michael Reed Jr., 21, who said he had not been paid.

Under Pennsylvania law, only registered voters may sign ballot petitions, and only once. Flawed petitions can be challenged in court, leading to a candidate's removal from the ballot.

Democrats plan to challenge the petitions after Nader turns them in next week to make sure the signatures are proper.
Of course, any Democratic challenge to Nader's unlawful signature gathering tactics will be denounced as a "dirty trick." Because, of course, the rules don't apply to Ralph Nader.
Except they do. And he's breaking them again.

And it's time for every progressive with any shred of integrity to break any tie with Ralph Nader.

Saturday, July 31, 2004

I'll be back...

...but probably not until tomorrow, since the Big Brother of Upper Left is getting married in a couple hours, and while the festivities which shall then ensue may not be on the same scale as what happened in Boston this week, they're every bit as significant in their own way.

I just want to use a bit of this space to say congratulations to the happy couple and tell Big Bro' how happy I am that he found a brilliant and beautiful bride of his very own.

I'll have a glass of bubbly for all y'all, and be back with more Proudly Partisan prattle on the 'morrow...

I told you so...

And frankly, I don't mind saying so at all. While I'm sympathetic to the idea of Anybody But Bush, the realitiy is that we had to pick somebody, and I've been convinced all along that the best choice was clear. John Kerry is not only the very best candidate we could put forward this year, but the one with the prospect of being a great American President. The greatest of my lifetime, better than any of the 11 that have passed by during that time.

After his home run speech in Boston, a lot of folks are starting to agree that might have had some reservations before. I think Jesse Berney's post at Kicking Ass speaks for many of them, and is worth your attention.

Some snippets...
We've all been ready to take the fight to George W. Bush and the Republicans for three years. But after last night — after that incredible home run of a speech laying out his vision — we are even more excited about putting John Kerry in the White House than we are about kicking Bush out.

How can we not be excited about John Kerry? Look at his life...

****

How can we not be excited about John Kerry? Look at his vision for our country's future...

****

How can we not be excited about John Kerry? Listen to the words of those who love him...

****
John Kerry is going to be the next president of the United States. We will win this election. What we learned in the last four days is that when he takes office, he will be one of the great ones.
Some of us knew that long before those four days came and went, but it's sure nice to see more folks coming to know it now.

I'm really liking this whole unity thing...

Uh oh...

Looks like Way New™ brand Sovereignty by Bushco® is in the shop for more adjustments. Can a complete product recall be far off?
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraq authorities abruptly put off Thursday a national conference of political, religious and civic leaders considered a crucial step on the road to democracy amid rising violence and disarray over choosing delegates and boycott threats by key factions.
Meanwhile, maintenance costs continue to go through the roof, with the coalition fatality count growing to 58 since the product rollout.

Of course, bad as things are since the "handover" took place, it's hard to say they've gotten worse...
WASHINGTON - U.S. civilian authorities in Baghdad failed to keep good track of nearly $1 billion in Iraqi money spent for reconstruction projects and can't produce records to show whether they got some services and products they paid for, a new audit concludes.

The former Coalition Provisional Authority paid nearly $200,000 for 15 police trucks without confirming they were delivered, and auditors have not located them, the report from the CPA's Inspector General said. Officials also didn't have records to justify the $24.7 million pricetag for replacing Iraqi currency which used to carry Saddam Hussein's portrait, the report said.

****

The investigators reviewed 43 contracts and found 29 had incomplete or missing documentation. For each of the 29, "we were unable to determine if the goods specified in the contract were ever received, the total amount of payments made to the contractor or if the contractor fully complied with the terms of the contract," investigators wrote.
Thankfully, Hope Is On The Way.

Friday, July 30, 2004

If you're among those...

...who has discovered that political conventions are compelling viewing, the good news is that there's another one coming up. The bad news is that it will be full of Republicans, and they're somewhat less compelling than the good guys. Still, there's stuff to watch for. The filmed candidate biography, for instance, has become a convention staple, and I'm sure no expense will be spared for George Bush's video hagiography.

Roger Ailes has compiled a handy list of highlights to look for in the GWB bio...
Failed to appear for flight physical

Failed to appear for duty, Alabama National Guard (or, alternatively, read magazines in lieu of actual military service)

Failed sobriety test

Failed businessman (Arbusto)

Failed candidate (U.S. Congress)

Member of failed G.H.W. Bush reelection committee

Failed governor (education, environment, etc.)

Failed to win popular vote

Failed to win necessary electoral college votes

Failed to prevent terrorist attacks on America

Failed to tell the truth about war with Iraq

"Mission Failed"

Failed to find WMDs

Failed economy

Osama who?
I mean, they've got to use that stuff, right? Because if they leave it out, well, what's left to say?

We have lots to celebrate...

...and lots to work like crazy to fix. A failing economy, for instance...
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of just 3 percent in the spring, a dramatic slowdown from the rapid pace of the past year, as consumer spending fell to the weakest rate since the slowdown of 2001, the government reported Friday.

The Commerce Department said that the gross domestic product, the country's total output of goods and services, slowed sharply in the April-June quarter from a 4.5 percent growth rate in the first three months of the year.
Of course, as proudly partisan as we may be here at Upper Left, we still feel compelled to share the "good news" with the bad...
In one piece of good news, inflation pressures eased with a key GDP inflation gauge that excludes energy and food rising at an annual rate of just 1.8 percent in the second quarter, down from a 2.1 percent increase in the first quarter.
See? If you don't eat, drive, heat your house or turn on the lights, things will be just fine!

Thank goodness that Hope Is On The Way.

"No confetti. No confetti. No confetti..."

"I want more balloons."


Blogitics has the great balloon boondoggle covered, but there were at least two conventioneers who seemed to think it went just fine...



"I'm John Kerry...



...and I'm reporting for duty."


Welcome aboard, Sir!

'Don't Panic' has been a recurring theme here at Upper Left, and it's been focused on the fact that every time John Kerry has needed to produce a persuasive argument, impressive result or inspiring performance, he's come through. No matter how pervasive or persistent the naysayers have been, no matter how bleak the prospects have sometimes appeared, since I started this blog up last fall I've kept the faith and encouraged the troops, believing that John Kerry would come through again, and I haven't been disappointed.

In his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, he came through again. Simply put, four years ago Al Gore ran for President as the candidate of Bill Clinton's Democratic Party. Tonight, the title was transferred. John Kerry is the undisputed leader of the Party, and he's on his way to becoming one of our greatest presidents.



We have such a fine tradition. We have such an outstanding ticket. We have such a promising future.
"It is time to reach for the next dream. It is time to look to the next horizon. For America, the hope is there. The sun is rising. Our best days are still to come."
Indeed.

And it was such a great Convention!



Thursday, July 29, 2004

"The long and steady...



...dedication of a lifetime."


The words he used to descibe JK's journey apply equally to Max Cleland. Meeting him remains a principle highlight of an exciting campaign year, and his word tonight only confirm that feeling.

Like John Kerry, Max Cleland is my brother and my hero, too.

And yes, Amy, you were completely and totally wrong.

OK, she's not the Party's greatest orator...

...but Nancy Pelosi will be a great Speaker of the House, and she had great news to share with the masses of folks who didn't know until she told them that we've already won three House races, and switched two seats from R to D, this year. That's always worth repeating.

And she gets it clearly and states it plainly.

"Democrats have it right."

SpeakerPelosi.com

Must be our conscience speaking...

I missed Dennis Kucinich's speech, but found this excerpt, and ya know, when he's right, he so right you've just got to pay attention.
"I've seen weapons of mass destruction in our cities. Poverty is a weapon of mass destruction. Joblessness is a weapon of mass destruction. Homelessness is a weapon of mass destruction. Racism is a weapon of mass destruction. Fear is a weapon of mass destruction. We must disarm these weapons."

Beyond Boston...

Juan Cole offers this sobering note.
Wire services report that 120 persons died in separate incidents in Iraq on Wednesday, the one-month anniversary of the "transfer of sovereignty" to the caretaker government of Iyad Allawi.
Meanwhile, the "coalition" fatality count grows to 1032, including 911 of the American soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen tht were applauded on the Convention floor last night.

Hope is on the way, and it can't arrive too soon.

Hope is on the way...



He said it. I believe it. I'm positive tomorrow will confirm it.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Great? Wow?

Wow, it was great.

What a moment for a Democratic National Convention. A three star General, Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy, introducing a four star, Gen. John Shalikasvili, and then a full chorus line of Generals and Admirals filling the stage. National security?

As of tonight, the Democratic Party owns the issue.

Check out the credentials on these folks...

Lieutenant General Edward D. Baca (United States Army, Retired), Chief of the National Guard Bureau

Lieutenant General Daniel W. Christman (United States Army, Retired), Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point

General Wesley K. Clark (United States Army, Retired), NATO Supreme Allied Commander

Admiral William J. Crowe (United States Navy, Retired), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Vice Admiral Lee F. Gunn (United States Navy, Retired), Inspector General of the Department of the Navy

General Joseph Hoar (United States Marine Corps, Retired), Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Central Command

Lieutenant General Claudia J. Kennedy (United States Army, Retired), Deputy Chief of Staff for Army Intelligence

Lieutenant General Donald Kerrick (United States Army, Retired), Deputy National Security Advisor to the President of the United States

General Merrill "Tony" A. McPeak (United States Air Force, Retired), Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force

General John M. Shalikashvili (United States Army, Retired), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Admiral Stansfield Turner (United States Navy, Retired), Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Commander of the U.S. Second Fleet and NATO Striking Fleet Atlantic

General Johnnie E. Wilson (United States Army, Retired), Commanding General of the U.S. Army Material Command

We own the issue, I tell ya. Got a question about our national security cred?

Bring. It. On.

Mmmmm, red meat!



Lots of grumbles are floating around about Rev. Al going off script, but I say good on him. The delegates deserve a little red meat, and so do the rest of us.

Did he say some stuff that wasn't on the teleprompter? No doubt. Did he say anything that wasn't true? No way.

Preach it, Rev.!

I wasn't born in a small town...

...not really, but I mostly grew up in 'em (although my small town became a big suburb and then one of those new-fangled edge cities). The Brilliant and Beautiful Bride of Upper Left is the real deal, though, a Nebraska-bred product of a one-room schoolhouse. And both of us were dancing around the living room like giddy teenage delegates when John Mellencamp rocked the Convention.

John Kerry is really, really, really the Democratic nominee for President.

Damn I feel great today.

It's official.

John Glenn put John Kerry over the top when he cast Ohio's vote, officially cinching the nomination with 2242 votes, and lots more to come. It's not quite unanimous. At the tip-over point, there were 31 Kucinich holdouts on record. It doesn't matter.

We won.

Yep, I'm taking a moment to gloat. Gee, was it just a few months ago that Deaners were wondering aloud why John Kerry, big loser that he was destined to be, should just yield to the inevitable and drop out of this thing altogether?

Well guess what. We won. We won with the finest Democratic nominee of my adult political life. A man I really believe will be the finest President of my lifetime.

Was it just this past winter that people laughed at me when I wrote about an impending Iowa surprise?

Well, we won. John Kerry won, so we all win.

Even the folks who weren't aboard then. We're in the same boat now, and we've got a terrific skipper.

Yeah, I'm gloating, but really, no hard feelings. It was a good, tough fight. It made John Kerry a better candidate. It makes the victory a little sweeter.

We won.

Wow.


Beyond Boston...

While the Stakeholder crew is busy blogging Boston, some of the DCCC staff stayed home in DC, where they've revamped SpeakerPelosi.com, which they've turned into an online headquarters for the Campaign for a New Majority. It's a fine place to spend some time and attention while you're waiting for the gavel to bring tonight's festivities to order.

Formalizing the nomination of our Presidential ticket is important business. Hearing the stars of our Party speak is variously informantive, inspiring and entertaining. Electing a Democratic majority to Congress, though, is something that simply can't be underestimated. Get informed. Get involved.

Get Nancy Pelosi a new job.

SpeakerPelosi.com. Be there.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Power to the Pupil



Yep, it was a big night in Boston. Ted and Howard and Tom and Dick and Janet and Barak and Ron and Theresa and more - all wonderful in their own various ways.

12 year old Kids for Kerry founder Ilana Wexler of Oakland California showed those political stars just why the stars of stage and screen caution against working with kids and dogs, though. They'll steal the show.

Ilana did just that. I don't know how much play she got on the networks (I could slightly make out her voice behind the talking heads on the PBS replay), but for the convention crowd and the C-SPAN audience, at least, she provided a distinctive highlight (and here's another interview some blogger ought to get!).

Ya just gotta love a kid who will give up summer camp to spend every day at Kerry headquarters, and ya got to love her even more when she can confidently deliver lines like this on the convention podium.
"When our vice president had a disagreement with a Democratic senator, he used a really bad word. If I said that word, I would be put in a timeout. I think he should be put in a timeout."
A long time out.

Girls rock!

So, who are all those people?

And why are they in Boston? Jesse Lee is the first con-blogger I've seen who's actually strayed down to the convention floor to find out, interviewing delegates from Texas and Georgia for The Stakeholder.

Pay attention, all y'all con-bloggers. That's the story we need from you. Not the celebs you saw across the room at last night's party. Not even the secret identity of Atrios (hi Duncan!) Tell us about the people who hustled their way through the delegate selection process and paid for their trip across the country because they're fired up Democrats. Who, how, why?

If you don't tell us, no one will.

And good work, Jesse!

Dean was fine...

...and I'm glad to have him fully on board, but why can't he understand that the Democratic National Convention is just chock full of people who never have been ashamed to call themselves Democrats.

Never, never, never.

Me neither.

Obama!

In a comment below, Chris from Cereffusion says it simply, but well.
Obama. Wow. That was history.
Jesse Taylor at Pandagon is similarly eloquent in brief form.
He entered this a star, he's leaving a Clinton.
No doubt. Obama was as striking as a representation of our Party's future as Ted Kennedy was in painting its legacy.

It's been quite a night at the DNC.

"The work goes on...


(AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

...the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die."


No, he didn't say it tonight as he drew a historical line from John Adams to John Kennedy to John Kerry, but he could have, because it's still true.

The AP lede says it all. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Democratic titan...

The Real Deal, TV style.

From the looks of the visitor logs, a lot of y'all are turning away from the computer screen toward the TV screen when the big speakers are coming on, a move I fully endorse. When you do that, though, I sure hope you're turning to C-SPAN, which is the closest you can get to a real delegate's eye view of the proceedings. Better than that, in some ways, in fact.

No cut aways for "What do you think" nonsense from the punditocracy, no ill informed speculation, no commercials, of course. All the speeches, all the special features, all the glory of our Party's biggest party.

And now Obama's on. Back in a bit.

Less Moore?

Writing about the reported ban on Bush bashing on the DNC podium, Josh Marshall reports a conversation with a Party functionary who told him that the Convention would not be a "Michael Moore event." As luck would have it, he later spotted Upper Left's favorite documentarian on a passing escalator and got in a quick Q&A.
So I ask him what he makes of all of this. No attacks on the president. Not even any mention of the man's name. It's like the anti-Michael Moore event. Or rather the non-Michael Moore event. (I caught myself the first time, realizing that hadn't come out precisely as I'd intended.)

Clearly, the guy didn't know what to make of me. And as he breezes by he says, "Oh, Really? I liked it. You don't even have to say it. Everyone knows how bad it is."

Think what you will about Michael Moore or evening one of the convention, I think that sums up precisely what this event is all about and the dynamic on which it's operating.
And that's it, isn't it. Everybody knows how bad it is. Simply laying out the facts is all that's called for, no angry rhetoric is needed.

Al Gore and Bill Clinton did that job admirably last night, telling America what happened four years ago and what the results have been. Now we just need to make the alternative clear.

America can do better. America must.

And there's no doubt. Our guy is better than their guy.


Monday, July 26, 2004

Beyond Boston...

...there's still a war on.

Via Financial Times.
The spate of post-transition violence in Iraq showed no sign of let-up yesterday, as insurgents bombed an airfield in Mosul, a senior interior ministry official was assassinated in Baghdad, gunmen opened fire on five women cleaners working for the US company Bechtel in Basra, and kidnappers seized two Jordanian drivers.
Everything we do, every day, every vote we find, everywhere, matters.

It really, really matters.

Quote of the Day

Lots of fine words spoken today, lots of admirable sentiments expressed, but this, from General Wesley Clark at the Veterans For Kerry meeting in Boston, takes the honors.
"That flag is our flag. We served under that flag. We got up and stood reveille formation, we stood taps, we fought under that flag. We've seen men die for that flag, and we've seen men buried under that flag. No Dick Cheney or John Ashcroft or Tom DeLay is going to take that flag away from us."
Damn straight.

Forget the balloon drop...

...the real convention story is the name drop. Where else will you find big stars from so many fields - press, politics and show biz, for instance - in one place at one time (have I mentioned, for instance, the night in '92 when I was chatting with Brian Lamb, Dick Cavett and Christopher Hitchens in a Madison Square Garden alcove when Sen. Jay Rockefeller passed by to say hello?).

Scanning the blogs, Arianna is the clear leader at this point, managing to slip Toni Morrison, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Uma Thurman, Barack Obama and Wonkette into a single post.

The bar is set, and set high, con-bloggers. Get to work.

We report...

...well, actually, Undelay reports. Undelay.org has been running a regular feature titled "I Got The News Today..." which features highlights from the DoD casualty reports. It's a constant reminder that the numbers you see in the news (907 US fatalities so far) are actual people from actual places, and they've graciously offered it up as a feed that I've added to the Upper Left sidebar.

'Thanks' is a peculiar word to use here. It's a valuable feature. I'm glad to have it. I think it's important that it be widely viewed. Just the same, it's not quite right to say I'm thankful for this particular content. I do appreciate the opportunity to be a vehicle for it, though, as sad as its neccessity may be.

So, thanks to Undelay, and I'll be thankful when I can drop the feed, too.

Blogging the night shift?

It looks like this is going to be a week for PM blogging, since most of the news will be made on the DNC podium in prime time, and early reports from around the blogosphere and elsewhere seem heavily focused on which party was where.

Still, a couple interesting tidbits from the future first family deserve notice. John Kerry's first pitch at Fenway may not have seemed to display major league stuff, but the curve ball he threw to get there was a solid strike. 'Politician goes to ball game' might not seem to be a big story, but it captured the news cycle for a couple reasons, not the least of which was the level of campaign discipline it took to keep the story under wraps until the press corps was on the plane. Altogether an all-star performance.

Re: the Theresa "shove it" flap, a couple notes. First, when Mrs. Kerry says something 'outrageous,' at least it can be quoted verbatim on the air and in family friendly blog space, unlike the output of, say, certain Vice Presidents. Other than that, I can only agree with the former first lady, Senator Clinton's advice to Theresa.

You go, girl.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Blogging the Con

Well, the convention bloggers have started to check in, though so far they're mostly offering tales of flights and hotel arrivals. Jesse from Pandagon, though, has staked a claim to the first post from the convention floor.
...you realize that this is as much a production as a concert or, well, anything else. This isn't a wellspring of patriotic fervor, or of partisan furor - it's a bunch of people trying to make the lights work and get their skin tones balanced for the camera, people trying to make sure that we can make phone calls and get on the internet.

***

The set itself looks beautiful, but nothing comes to mind so much as when I used to act. The set, the entrance, the preparation...precisely because this has turned into such a show, it seems as if the politics itself has bled out of it in favor of putting on the absolute best show.
He's right, of course. It's been that way for a long time now. It's a prime time production, with the delegates on hand as the 'cast of thousands' extras. That doesn't mean there won't be some good stories to be found, but they'll be human interest, not political drama. The bloggers may be the folks best situated to find those stories once they get past the initial rush of just being there (and being there is a rush, no matter what year you make it or what kind of credential you're packing).

I have high hopes for 'em, anyway. Dave Winer's conventionbloggers.com is a handy one-stop shop for keeping track.

Good luck to all of ya - make us proud!

By George, I think she's got it!

MoDo can drive me as crazy as she drives oh so many of us oh so often, but when she's on, well, she's wonderful. From today's NYT...

Maybe it's because I've been instructed to pack a respirator escape hood along with party dresses for the Boston convention. Maybe it's because our newspaper has assigned a terrorism reporter to cover a political convention. Maybe it's because George Bush is relaxing at his ranch down there (again) while Osama is planning a big attack up here (again). Maybe it's because there are just as many American soldiers dying in Iraq post-transfer, more Muslims more mad at us over fake W.M.D. intelligence and depravity at Abu Ghraib, and more terrorists in more diffuse networks hating us more.

Maybe it's because the F.B.I. is still learning how to Google and the C.I.A. has an acting head who spends most of his time acting defensive over his agency's failure to get anything right. Maybe it's because so many of those federal twits who missed the 10 chances to stop the 9/11 hijackers, who blew off our Paul Reveres - Richard Clarke, Coleen Rowley and the Phoenix memo author - still run things. Call me crazy, Mr. President, but I don't feel any safer.
Me neither...

Yeah, I'm around...

...but blogging will probably be a bit light again today, in no small part because of the demands of activities more, ahem, renumerative (as always, you could relieve some of that stress right here) and a desire to block off some time to dig through Matt Bai's epic 'whither the Party' piece in the New York Times Magazine, about which I will doubtless opine before the close of business.

I'll be in and out today, though, and invite you to do the same. Hey, it seems a little slow throughout the lefty blogosphere as we all tune up for the impending festivities. I'll do my bit to keep things going as best I can.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Different century, different war...

...same damn question.
Sgt. 1st Class James Tilley was on patrol on the road outside Ramadi later that afternoon, sitting in his Humvee for an hour or two in one spot - sweating profusely in the 105-degree heat - before moving a few hundred yards down the road to another place.

The patrol is designed to ward off insurgents from trying to put bombs in the road. "A lot of times, I look at this place and wonder what have we really done...When we first got here, we all wanted to change it and make it better, but now I don't give a s---," he said. "What the hell am I here for?"
via Damfacrats, which I'm pleased to report is back to full-tilt blogging.

Welcome back, we missed ya, man!

He's always been a Dick...

...but he wasn't always the Vice President. Once upon a time, Dick Cheney ran a multi-national 'oil services' company (although it seems to have been American taxpayers who were usually, ahem, 'serviced' by Haliburton).

Norbizness dips into the memory well to remind us about how very different some things were not so very long ago...
Cheney has frequently fought to lift US sanctions against Iran despite concerns about terrorist activity. Just last month, Cheney said that the US should lift sanctions against Iran and allow US oil companies to invest there. “There’s been a decision not to allow US firms to invest significantly in Iran, and I think that’s a mistake,” Cheney said.
2000 seems like, well, a whole different century, doesn't it?


Friday, July 23, 2004

Secrets of bloggers revealed.

Matt Stoller spills the beans.

Bloggers know how to levitate. Bloggers can see through walls. Bloggers can talk to the unicorns that are observing and protecting humanity at all times, unseen. Bloggers are also invariably prone to spin, lies, rumor, and innuendo, hapless against the wily ways of campaign consultants and PR people. Bloggers are real journalists, unconstrained by the normal rules of fashion. Bloggers are not real journalists, but they look great in blue. All of them. Bloggers are editors plus sprinkles and whipped cream. All bloggers want is to be loved by the establishment. Bloggers hate you. And bloggers can curse. F**k.
(Family friendly edit by me. We can curse, but we don't have to.)

And oh yeah, when confronted with arbitrary rules like this one...
In this post - which you are not under any circumstance allowed to link to, sending me delicious ego-gratifying trackbacks...
...we can just ignore them.

Senate Dems keep fighting back.

Before breaking for the Convention, the Senate Democrats turned back three more Bush US Court of Appeals nominees, Henry Saad, Richard Griffin and David McKeague, none of whom could muster more than 54 of the 60 votes they needed to close debate and move to a confirmation vote.

Senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin of Michigan led the filibusters against Saad, Griffin and McKeague. According to the AP,
The Democrats acknowledged the filibusters were payback for the Republicans' refusal to hold hearings on two of former President Clinton's judicial nominees from Michigan.
Even Senate Judiciary Chair Orrin Hatch, while critical of the filibusters, had to admit
"The two senators from Michigan have been very upset and if I'd put myself in their shoes I'd feel the same way."
Some people say payback's a bitch. I think it can be a beautiful thing.

It may be AFU...

...but the situation is anything but normal. Maybe I pay more attention to what's happening to our soldiers than the average citizen since, unlike most of the architects of our current war, I've been one. I understand that "supporting the troops" means a lot more than yellow ribbons, flowery rhetoric and flag-waving rallies. And failure to support the troops in more meaningful ways (little things like adequate equipment, decent chow, predictable deployments, accurate payrolls and all the other ways the Rumsfeld DoD has been failing them) can destroy any fighting force, no how dedicated its individual members may be. The fact is, our Army is damn near destroyed, and there seems to be new evidence every day.

For instance, stop loss orders, inactive reserve mobilizations, mobilization of the National Guard, deployment of training commands and tour extenstions haven't been enough to make up for Donald Rumsfeld's dramatically inadequate battle plan for Iraq, so now they're looking for troops willing to violate the GI's prime directive, "Never Volunteer."
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Army is asking some National Guard troops serving in Iraq to volunteer to stay on active duty beyond a statutory two-year limit for such service, officials said on Wednesday, in a fresh sign of the strain on the U.S. military amid operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said "we don't plan at the moment" to extend such reserve troops involuntarily beyond the two-year limit, but added "one should never say never."
...so when Rummy opines that "the two-year limit is an interesting question," someone should remind him that it's not a question at all. It's the law. A law about which every campaigning Congresscritter should be quizzed.

Because it's about to get even worse.
WASHINGTON, July 21 - In what critics say is another sign of increasing stress on the military, the Army has been forced to bring more new recruits immediately into the ranks to meet recruiting goals for 2004, instead of allowing them to defer entry until the next accounting year, which starts in October.

As a result, recruiters will enter the new year without the usual cushion of incoming soldiers, making it that much harder to make their quotas for 2005. Instead of knowing the names of nearly half the coming year's expected arrivals in October, as the Army did last year, or even the names of around one in three, as is the normal goal, this October the recruiting command will have identified only about one of five of the boot camp class of 2005 in advance.

****

Army officials disclosed Wednesday that none of the Army's five recruiting brigades met their missions between March and July, forcing the service to tap into its bank of recruits to make up the difference.
I hate a lot of things about the Bush administration, but I may hate what they've done to my Army most of all.

Just shut up, Ralph.

Of all the pathetically ridiculous words from America's most pathetically ridiculous Presidential candidate, this line delivered by Ridiculous Ralph Nader in an article by David Broder takes the cake.
"There is a propensity for whining, carping and dirty tricks on the Democratic side that exceeds that of Republicans."
Whining? There's a propensity for whining by Ralph Nader that exceeds that of the most petulant two year old. His biggest complaints continue to be about the insistence of Democrats, and state governments, and the courts, that he actually comply with the law in his attempts to get ballot access. For instance...
When I asked Nader if he had any qualms about accepting this boost from the GOP, he said, "Ordinarily, I would reject such help," but not after what the Democrats had done to him in Arizona...
What the Democrats did to Nader in Arizona, of course, is to point out that his paid signature gatherers repeatedly violated Arizona election law, and that many of his petitions were thus invalid.

I'm not unsympathetic to the difficulty that third parties and independents face when they try to get on the ballots of various states, but somehow it happens every year. It happens because groups like the Libertarians, Constitution Party, Socialist Workers Party and many others work hard within the law to get their ballot lines. Should they have to work quite so hard? Maybe not. That's why many disparate groups also work hard together on ballot access reform, all year, every year.

Ralph Nader thinks he deserves a pass on working hard within the law, because, well, because he's Ralph Nader, I suppose.

Next time he can take an easier path by running for the Republican nomination, which is where his money comes from and his support seems to lie.

Meanwhile he should just shut up.

The Report report.

I don't want to be the only political blogger on the planet with nothing to say about the 9/11 Commission Report, but I'm having a lot of trouble getting excited about it. There's plenty of bad news for Bush tucked inside (David Corn offers an excellent overview), but in terms of actual electoral effect, I'm afraid it will be largely an 'eye of the beholder' situation. Does anyone believe that a Bush supporter will be turned by the report? Does anyone really believe that a Bush antagonist will find themselves feeling more sympathetic to him because of the report? In fact, the Commission's dedication to achieving non-partisan unanimity was largely successful, so the utility of the report as a partisan instrument is largely non-existent.

Which would be fine, I suppose, if I believed that anything constructive was going to come from the report's recommendations. The Republican leadership has already made it clear that any real consideration is going to be put off until the next session, though, and that consideration is going to be heavily affected by the outcome of the November elections. My sense is that any changes that will be directly attributable to the Commission's work will be negligible, though some kind of nod will be made to the recommendations eventually, if only to provide cover against the continued demands of the 9/11 families for some kind of action.

Still, I'm glad the Commission was formed, and particularly grateful for the transparency of their efforts. One reason that the report seems somewhat anti-climactic to me is doubtless the extent of the public hearings the Commissioners held, some of which were dramatic, and some of which were truly informative (and in many cases, there was an inverser relationship between drama and true information). For that, we should also be grateful to the 9/11 families. Whenever and wherever Bush attempts to posture as grateful for, or interested in, the work of the Commission, everyone should keep this blast from the past in mind.
Bush Opposes 9/11 Query Panel

May 23, 2002

(CBS) President Bush took a few minutes during his trip to Europe Thursday to voice his opposition to establishing a special commission to probe how the government dealt with terror warnings before Sept. 11.

Mr. Bush said the matter should be dealt with by congressional intelligence committees.

CBS News Correspondent Bill Plante reports that Mr. Bush said the investigation should be confined to Congress because it deals with sensitive information that could reveal sources and methods of intelligence. Therefore, he said, the congressional investigation is "the best place" to probe the events leading up to the terrorist attacks.
Having the investigations handled outside the partisan controls in the Congress was a nightmare for Bush. His worst imaginings weren't quite realized, but as the David Corn piece cited above reveals, they weren't completely unfounded, either.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Welcome home, Dennis.

You know we've loved you all along...
July 22, 2004

A Message from Dennis Kucinich.

For the past two and a half years, I have led a national effort for peace, for social and economic justice and health care for all. My campaign reached every state and territory. We participated in every primary and caucus. We pointed our party towards new directions. I am here to say that the next critical step we must take is to help elect John Kerry the next President of the United States.

Today I am happy to endorse the Kerry-Edwards ticket. And I look forward to helping to lead the way to elect John Kerry President and John Edwards Vice President of the United States.
He took a long time, but he picked the right time. If I wasn't already represented by the Honorable Jim McDermott, I'd wish Dennis Kucinich was my Congressman.

Safer than what?

And safer from who?

While Bush doggedly sticks to his claims that Americans are safer today than we were in the pre 9/11 days, the facts seem to be just as stubbornly refuting those claims.

While much of his focus is on the merits of his international adventurism and the effect it has on our day to day security, his policy of cutting support for internal law enforcement, such as the COPS program, in order to put more money in billionaire's pockets is having a devastating impact. In fact, it's literally killing us.

Here's the latest...
A decade after police crackdowns on drug gangs helped lead to historically low crime rates in cities across the nation, gangs suddenly are re-emerging in waves of violence that have jolted officials in Tulsa, the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., and many other communities well beyond the groups' traditional big-city bases.

The resurgence of gangs whose names became symbols of the turf wars over crack cocaine during the 1980s - the Crips, the Bloods, the Mexican Mafia, the Gangster Disciples and others - is helping to lift homicide rates in several cities at a time when overall crime rates remain low.

****

"This thing is growing, but it has been masked to a great extent by reports about how overall crime has been coming down," (LA Police Chief William) Bratton says. "Not a lot of people are paying attention to this. But the way it's going, it has the potential to explode as it did in the early '90s."
Putting a lid on the activities of fanatics in foreign ports is important, no doubt, but it becomes meaningless if we turn our neighborhoods over to homegrown thugs.

Putting first things first means putting our First Responders back on the federal funding list. Homeland security doesn't mean much if you don't live to enjoy it.


Reasonable people can disagree...

...about the merits of the competing Democrats in the race for Washington State Attorney General. I've got friends in former Insurance Commissioner Deborah Senn's camp, and friends in former Seattle City Attorney Mark Sidran's camp, which is why, although I have a preference, I haven't had much to say.

One thing seems indisputable, though. This has got to be the best damn endorsement letter I've ever seen.
Dear Washington State Democrat,

As much as I hate to interfere in the election of another state (other than Florida), I feel that I must write in order to urge you to support Mark Sidran for Washington State Attorney General.

I have known Mark since I was accidentally admitted to Harvard in the late 1960’s. Mark, who got in on merit and merit alone, was a classmate of mine, and has made something of himself.

As you may know, he has spent the last 28 years as a prosecutor, Seattle City Attorney, and as a practicing lawyer. Mark’s experience is what I like to call one of his three E’s. The other two E’s are integrity and energy. Wait. Scrap integrity. Although Mark has it in spades, it does not start with an “E.” I remember learning that at Harvard. But I digress. Let’s get back to his experience.

As City Attorney, Mark took on some of the most egregious corporate polluters in Puget Sound. I could name names, but I may be planning to run for public office in Minnesota someday, and why burn a bridge?

Speaking of Minnesota, I was a good friend of Paul and Sheila Wellstone. Sheila, especially, was an advocate for women and children who were victims of domestic violence. Mark shares this passion. He created Seattle’s first domestic violence unit, which became a model for other communities in Washington.

As Attorney General, Mark will continue his fight on behalf of citizens by doubling the size of the state’s consumer protection division. Tired of finding out your senior citizen mother has been ripped off by scam artists? Besides telling your mom to be more alert, you can take action by electing Mark.

Oh, now I remember the other two “e’s”. Endorsements and Electability. Besides me, Mark has been endorsed by every single Democratic county prosecutor in the state. These are people, who unlike me, actually know what the Attorney General does. Bill Gates Sr., former president of the Washington State Bar and father of someone who I’d like to get to know better when I get ready to run for office, has endorsed Mark as well. So have civil rights leaders like Norm and Constance Rice. Others include environmentalists, led by Washington Conservation Voters, the State’s largest environmental political group, and a long list of elected officials such as Governor Gary Locke, Congressman Norm Dicks, former Governor Booth Gardner, many civic leaders and leading lawyers. Governor Locke, I have learned, is the only Asian American state governor to make an endorsement in this race. That alone says it all.

I could go on and on with the endorsements. But frankly, no one cares about endorsements. Let’s move on to what really matters to Democrats – electability. Republicans don’t want Mark to be the Democratic nominee because they know he will be the most difficult candidate to beat in a statewide race that isn’t fixed by the use of paperless machines. This is the first time in 12 years that the Attorney General’s seat has been open and the Republican Party and their special interests are salivating at the chance of putting one of their lackeys in one of the most powerful jobs in your state. Mark is a common sense Democrat with a proven track record and the clear ability to win in November or whenever the Department of Homeland Security allows us to vote.

George W. Bush does not want Mark Sidran to be your next Attorney General. Neither does Deborah Senn, who did not go to college with me.

In conclusion, give your vote, and if possible, your check to Mark Sidran. And if you really want to see more of those endorsements, check out the partial list below or visit Mark’s website, www.MarkSidran4AG.com. As you can tell from the “4,” this is one hip campaign.

Sincerely,

Al Franken
The humorless response from the Senn campaign does nothing to strenthen their hand, and tends to confirm my initial feelings about the race...I did mention that I have a preference, right?

I think I'll be a bit noisier about supporting Mark Sidran in the future.


Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Hypocritical bastards.

Yeah, that's relatively strong language in this space, but there's really no other way to describe the Bush administration at this point.
...White House officials opposed the tentative deal worked out between House and Senate Republican leaders that would have extended the tax cuts for two years at a cost of about $80 billion.

That left Republicans conceding that the tax-cutting effort is over, at least until Congress returns from its recess in September.
Yep, Bushco killed a Republican deal to maintain the middle class tax cuts. George Bush is going to raise your taxes, if you're married, if you're a parent, or if you're a working man or woman who was hoping to be included in the 10% tax bracket. Why would Bush kill those cuts?
...Republican Congressional officials said the administration did not want a deal that Democratic lawmakers might support, giving them a tax-cutting credential, too.
Of course, the ultimate reason, the thing that makes him willing to play partisan games with your personal paycheck, is simple.

George Bush does not care about you.

If it's Wednesday, it must be the...



Last week's Scandal Scorecard Update was dedicated to Tom DeLay, who makes an encore appearance this week as well, but we can't let seven more days slip by without a look at the Administration, and as is so often the case, Rummy's DoD obliges with an all too common case of contract irregularity.

The General Services Administration is reviewing a technology company, Affiliated Computer Services (ACS), for its role in using a technology contract to provide dozens of interrogators and intelligence support personnel at the U.S. naval base prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, according to an administration procurement official.
Although the $13.3 million contract was written for technology engineering services and managed by the Interior Department, the agreement has been used largely for hiring 30 intelligence analysts and 15 to 20 interrogators, according to Raul Duany, spokesman for the U.S. Southern Command, which oversees Guantanamo.

What's a high-tech rubber hose look like, anyway?

On the Congressional side, we have this via Off The Kuff.

Peter Cloeren, who owns a plastics company in Orange, Texas, is a good Republican. The kind with the means and the will to max out his contribution limits, as he did for East Texas congressional candidate Brian Babin, a Woodville dentist.
Enter Tom DeLay.
In an affidavit he gave House investigators two years later, Mr. Cloeren said he was frustrated that he couldn't do more for Dr. Babin. According to the affidavit, Mr. DeLay, then majority whip, replied that "it would not be a problem for him to find, in his words, 'additional vehicles,' " and Mr. DeLay told an aide to provide "details of how to funnel additional moneys" to the Babin campaign.

Within months, federal records show, Mr. Cloeren and his wife gave tens of thousands of dollars to out-of-state congressional campaigns and groups. Donors to some of those groups later assisted the Babin campaign.
In 1998, Cloeren filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission accusing Mr. DeLay of luring him into the alleged donation scheme. A Democratic attempt to hold a House Government Reform Committee investigation was blocked by committee Chairman Dan Burton, R-Ind.

When someone confesses to a crime, I'm inclined to believe them. When they implicate Tom DeLay, well, I see scandal.

That brings the Scorecard total to 52 items, which can be seen, today and every day, in full at the Scandal Scorecard homepage.

Black like...

...well, not like the leadership of some of the more prominent "Black" conservative groups. Following up on Kweisi Mfume's charge that some of those groups are little more than "make-believe black organizations," and a "collection of black hustlers" who have adopted a conservative agenda in return for "a few bucks a head," Joshua Holland does a little digging at The Gadflyer and proves Kweisi correct.
...I tuned into C-SPAN with interest to hear what a leading voice in the black conservative movement had to say. But then a funny thing happened: the African-American spokesperson for Project 21 caught a flat on the way to the studio, and the group's director had to fill in. And he was white.

As the segment began there was an awkward Wizard of Oz moment as C-SPAN's Robb Harlston – himself black – turned to Project 21's Caucasian director, David Almasi, and said, "Um...Project 21... a program for conservative African Americans...you're not African American."
Project 21, a subsidiary of the National Center for Public Policy Research, has a white president and vice president to go with their white executive director. Of course, that's not surprising. Those are probably the folks that NCPPR's all white board of directors know best. Still, kind of unusual for an organization billed as a leading voice for Black conservatism, don't you think?

Well, not that unusual at all, it turns out. For instance, the African American Republican Leadership Council, has a 15 member Advisory Panel. 13 of them are white, including the Free Congress Foundation's Paul Weyrich, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, the Reverend Lou Sheldon, Gary Bauer of the Family Research Council, David Keene of the American Conservative Union, and Fox News host Sean Hannity.

Uh-huh. Champions of civil rights, each and every one.

There's nothing wrong with white folks, of course, but something here's not right.

What's Cooking?

It's hard to tell sometimes, unless you can afford a pricey sub to the National Journal. This link, though (via Mark Kleiman- thanks!) will get you a free email copy of Charlie Cook's weekly column, and insights like this encouraging news...
This race has settled into a place that is not at all good for an incumbent, is remarkably stable, and one that is terrifying many Republican lawmakers, operatives and activists.

You win some...

...and then you win some more.

Congrats to shiny new Congressman G.K. Butterfield, whose victory in NC-1 yesterday gave the House Democrats a clean sweep of this year's special elections. One more step on the road to Speaker Pelosi.

Keep 'em marching! Toss a buck or two at the Campaign for a New Majority. The Upper Left Majority Makers page would be a dandy place to do it...

Senate success

I've had occasion to praise the House lately, where Democrats have reached across the aisle to forge some alliances that have led to some legislative victories, but yesterday the Democratic Senators got some help to win one themselves...
The Senate today blocked confirmation of William Myers to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Only 44 Senators voted to cut off debate, far fewer than the 60 required.
TalkLeft offers some insight into just how important it was to stop the Myers confirmation, courtesy of People For The American Way.
With no judicial experience, William Myers is one of the least qualified nominees the Bush Administration has put forward, and among the farthest from the mainstream of judicial philosophy. His record demonstrates his willingness to take his private-sector advocacy as a lobbyist for the mining and cattle industries directly to his job as a public servant at the Interior Department. His anti-environmental stance and disregard for the rights of Indian tribes have led to fierce opposition from environmental groups and tribal leaders.
Seems like I'm a little prouder to be a Democrat every day lately...and I was pretty damn proud in the first place.

There are always two sides...

...at the very least, and Sandy Berger's attorney, Lanny Breuer, fed Wolf some facts from another perspective yesterday


BLITZER: Let's talk about those notes for a second. Did he take notes -- did he take those notes from the room without authorization?

BREUER: He took notes and he did take them out. It's a violation of the Archives procedure. He took those notes. From the very beginning, he openly took the notes. He was allowed to take notes. And then he took the notes with him. He put them in his coat pocket and in his pants pocket...

BLITZER: He knew this was not authorized.

BREUER: Well, he knew it was a violation of Archives procedure. It's not against the law. No one has suggested to him it's against the law. The Department of Justice has not been concerned with it. And indeed, Wolf, in October, when the Archives contacted him, Sandy Berger returned those notes even though he wasn't asked for those notes.

BLITZER: I know Sandy Berger. You know Sandy Berger. Why would he violate Archives procedure?

BREUER: Because there's something more important than Archives procedure and that's the hard work of the 9/11 commission. Sandy Berger knew that he was going to be asked questions about what happened in the early '90s and mid '90s and that the 9/11 commission and the families of those victims had a right to know what happened.

BLITZER: You know that eyewitnesses, staffers at the National Archives say they saw him stuffing documents in his jacket, in his pants. And one even said he saw Sandy Berger put something in his socks.

BREUER: And you know that's categorically false and ridiculous.

****

BLITZER: Where is -- where does the criminal probe right now stand? You've been informed that your client, Samuel Berger, is under criminal investigation.

BREUER: I've been told since October that he was no more than a subject of this investigation. I was told to draw absolutely no negative inferences whatsoever from the fact that this investigation had been going on. I've been told by the Department of Justice that they couldn't be more pleased with the manner in which Sandy Berger and I have been handling this and have been cooperative. And I've been told that the Department of Justice had wanted to get this resolved.

The only thing that I had asked was that this not become a partisan affair and that people who didn't understand the facts would start making assertions. And, Wolf, that's exactly what happened this week when someone in the administration, some law enforcement person decided it was time to leak the document and treat this investigation not seriously.
There's more, and I'm glad that Berger's side of the story got at least some of the attention in the midst of the political feeding frenzy orchestrated by the Republicans yesterday, but it's a sad day when that kind of partisan combat shoves a story like the following down the page.

BLITZER: In Iraq, two U.S. Marines and two U.S. soldiers were killed west of Baghdad in an area that's been the scene of fierce fighting. The deaths raised the number of American troops killed in the war to 902. And in Basra, gunmen killed an Iraqi Council member along with his bodyguard and driver. It's the third straight days suspected insurgents have killed a prominent Iraqi government or political figure.
Priorities, people. Priorities.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Why legislate...

...when you can insinuate?

Port and airport security are in the news today. For instance, there's Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR).
"The American people deserve better than this. And frankly, we expect more than this."
Is he talking about the ineffectiveness of our container inspection program? The miles and miles of unpatrolled coastland? the ineffectiveness of the airport screening procedures?

Nope, he's just trying to score political points against John Kerry.

It seems that some of the documents that Sandy Berger carried away inadvertently from the National Archives while preparing for his 9/11 Commission testimony had to do with port and airport security, and John Kerry has, not suprisingly, urged that port and airport security be improved. He's hardly the only one. Up here in the Upper Left, our own Senator Patty Murray has been all over the issue for approximately forever.

But why address the issue when you can issue inuendo?

Smith's hardly the only guilty party. For instance, there's Bill "No-Budget" Frist.
The Republican majority leader, Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, told reporters in the Capitol he did not know whether the classified documents that Mr. Berger took had been sent to the Kerry campaign. "But I think it's pretty interesting that the press is now reporting that these documents had to do with airport security and seaport security, and that those are two areas where the Kerry campaign has seemed to focus on relative to alleged deficiencies in homeland security," Mr. Frist said.
I don't know whether Dr. Frist has sexual relations with domesticated animals, but I think it's pretty interesting that Bill Frist is from Tennessee, and there are pregnant dogs in Tennessee.

The borders are a problem, folks. Fishing for political leverage isn't a solution.


Update: Josh Marshall explains why it's silly season in the Senate.
That makes no sense. As someone who runs in those circles, I can tell you that there are at least half a dozen Democratic think-tank homeland security mavens who will happily go on about port security with you until you're ready to strangle them, or even until you do strangle them.

The thought that Kerry needed Sandy Berger to pilfer one of Richard Clarke's after-reports about the millenium terror alerts to get whatever boilerplate he discussed at this particular press conference is truly ridiculous....

If you're keeping score...

Matt Yglesias offers a handy half-time recap...

This much we know:

Joe Wilson's credibility: Not so hot, but not totally destroyed.

Niger Claim, strong version (Iraq got uranium): Dead.

Niger Claim, intermediate version (Iraq was likely to get uranium): Dead.

Niger Claim, weak version (Iraq sought uranium, but couldn't get it): Not so hot, but not totally destroyed.
And above all...

Exposing the identity of a covert CIA operative for partisan purposes: Still illegal.

Kossacks Go Krazy!

When Pennsylvania Republican Jim Greenwood decided to drop his re-election effort, it had to be one of the happiest days of Democratic candidate Ginny Schrader's life. She instantly moved from 'sacrificial lamb' to 'contender' in the eyes of many, not the least of those being the folks out there in the blogosphere who started kicking in dollars to a campaign that had generated little previous interest. She pulled in about 20 grand in an afternoon, basically doubling her take to date. It's not much in the grand scale of things, really (estimates of the price of a winning campaign in PA-8 run about $750,000), but it's a start.

I'm sure the news caught her by surprise, and she wasn't the only one. For any number of reasons, not the least of which was her status as a challenger against a popular incumbent, Schader wasn't on anyone's target list. There are hundreds of Democratic Congressional candidates, and even the Press Secretary of the DCCC is bound to come up a bit short on the details of each and every one of those. That's no doubt why Greg Speed was pretty generic in his comments to The Hill when they called for comment.
This is a very good opportunity for a Democratic pickup. This a district that is every day becoming Democratic," said Greg Speed, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

"Bucks County was carried by [Gov.] Ed Rendell [D-Pa.] by over 50,000 votes. We're watching developments closely and are optimistic should the seat open up," Speed said.

Speed declined to comment on whether Schrader could -- or even would -- be replaced with another candidate
Uh-oh.

Because Speed wouldn't respond to an unsourced rumor the Hill reporter was flogging that Democrats might be looking for a more formidable candidate now that the seat is open, Kos went off. And when Kos goes off, the Kossacks go wild. Of course, Speed also declined to comment on whether Schrader should be replaced, and on an incalculable number of other topics. Apparently Speed has somehow failed to maintain a knowledge of Pennsylvania election law, primary schedules, candidate profiles, and who knows what else at his fingertips. Based on the verb tenses he used, "...should the seat open up...", he doesn't even seem to be on Jim Greenwood's speed dial! There was stuff he actually didn't know! And he actually didn't talk about what he didn't know! Unlike, of course, those of us in the armchair punditocracy of the internet, who know all, and say more.

Not only did the DKos comments start to flow, but the overflow vitriol hit the DCCC blog, The Stakeholder, prompting Jesse Lee, the erstwhile blogger-in-chief there, to post a late night note that he didn't have any comment on Speed's non-comment. That only made matters worse, of course. How could anyone fail to instantly recognize the magnificance of Ginny Schrader! Hasn't every Democratic primary winner from time immemorial been the ideal candidate? And don't those DCCC staffers make the big bucks to maintain a close personal relationship with each and every one of them?

Now, maybe Kos was already intimately familiar with the race, but I, at least, didn't know a damn thing about Ginny Schrader, and having spent a couple hours reading her website and googling all the press coverage I could find of her race to date, I still don't know a whole lot. Seems like she's a very nice person, with a wonderful family, who has made her living as a staff attorney for an insurance company until she got excited about politics a couple years ago. She's got some fine boilerplate platititudes on a variety of issues, a handful of endorsements from her county Party, some elected officials and what I suppose are some prominent locals. Her endorsement list doesn't, curiously, include a single labor union, environmental group, women's organization, teacher's organization, civil rights organization or any other meaningful Democratic constituency (given her profession, I wouldn't expect to find the trial lawyers on the list, but not a single union? Not even a local? Whassup, Ginny?)

She also hasn't, to this point, got enough money to compete. Maybe the Kossacks will change all that. I hope so, but there's a long, long way to go. Maybe the union PACs will jump aboard now. I hope she merits and recieves their support. Maybe the DCCC will target the seat now that it's open. That would be good.

But trashing the DCCC because they weren't ready with a blogger-approved response to a blind question from a Capitol Hill reporter (and we still don't know what the question that Speed offered the 'no comment' response to was) is just silly, folks. There was no suggestion, from Greg Speed, Jesse Lee or any named source at all, that Ginny Schrader could, would or should be replaced. There is word from Schrader herself that "No one has asked me to step aside and I would not step aside."

I know that there's substantial suspicion of the Party heirarchy out there. Some of it is doubtless justified, but not over this. If Ginny Schrader is going to get elected, it will probably involve some degree of cooperation with the DCCC. If she's elected and hopes to be effective, it's going to take some degree of cooperation with the Caucus. Let's not poison the well, for her or anyone else.

If you want to drop some dollars on Schrader, you can do it right here.

But she's one of hundreds. While you're doing that, how about spreading a little of the wealth. You can help a bunch of folks at once by sharing a little with the Campaign for a New Majority right here.

Meanwhile, maybe some of y'all know what Ms. Schrader's position on plaintiff's rights might be. And why the unions have been so shy with their support.

And take a deep breath. There's an enemy out there, but they don't work for the DCCC. Really.