Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Quote of the Day

"Those who supposed Kerry would disappear on vacation, put on a few pounds, grow a beard, make an American Express commercial, or teach at a small college raised their eyebrows: Kerry might actually be serious about playing an important role over the next few years..."
Heh.

Seems the hour has passed...

Any updates on this?
House Republicans have until noon today to propose any rules changes to inoculate Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) from losing his leadership position should he be indicted in a campaign-finance criminal probe back in Texas.

Republicans dismiss the investigation by Travis Country District Attorney Ronnie Earle as a politically motivated witch hunt, but GOP internal conference rules are clear that any elected member of the leadership must temporarily relinquish his position if indicted on a felony count that could lead to more than two years in prison.

The welcome mat is out...

Sounds like the Republican base is calling for a purge...
If they can't agree and support the president and the platform, then they ought to go over to the Democrats," said Jan LaRue, chief counsel for the conservative group Concerned Women for America.

...

The to-do list includes defending traditional marriage, banning human cloning, reforming Social Security, passing more-restrictive abortion laws and stepping up enforcement of obscenity laws, said Ms. LaRue of Concerned Women for America. And if moderates don't agree with those objectives, perhaps they don't belong in the GOP, she said.
Since the GOP willingly absorbed the segregationist wing of the Democratic Party back in the bad old days, it seems the least we can do is provide shelter to the last few rational minds trapped among the wingnuts.

Come on over!

Good hire.

No, there are no bright spots among the names being bandied about as replacements for the various Bushco quits. This is good news from the Democratic camp.

New York's Chuck Schumer is taking the reigns at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. I applaud the move. It increases the DSCC's national profile since Schumer is already a national figure. Schumer is one of the most formidable fundraisers in the Democratic Party. And frankly, I think the northeast liberal wing of the Party deserves some favorable attention in the middle of all the talk about how we should best compromise our values to get Republican votes - which is, of course, nonsense.

Sic 'em, Chuck!

Monday, November 15, 2004

Exactly.

Kos does the heavy lifting for me and writes what's essentially the mission statement for this place, as well...
This is a Democratic blog, a partisan blog. One that recognizes that Democrats run from left to right on the ideological spectrum, and yet we're all still in this fight together. We happily embrace centrists like NDN's Simon Rosenberg and Howard Dean, conservatives like Martin Frost and Brad Carson, and liberals like John Kerry and Barack Obama. Liberal? Yeah, we're liberal around here and we're proud. But it's not a liberal blog. It's a Democratic blog with one goal in mind: electoral victory.
I have to admit that I'm a little less inspired by his rhetoric about 'reform,' but that's probably because I've been in and around the Party for a long time and I've seen a lot of 'reforms' come and go. Yeah, as idealistic as I am in some ways, I'm fairly jaded in others.

But while I'm not always happy with the direction of our Party, or parts of our platform, or some of our leaders, one of the principle reasons that I'm Proudly Partisan is that we are a real 'big tent' party, one big enough to encompass differences, and we retain real ways for the rank and file members of the Party to have an influence on the things we might disagree with.
While I'll certainly advocate for a strong Democratic voice for collective bargaining rights, civil liberties, environental protection and other positions that I think are keys both to our identity and our success at the ballot box, you won't find any denunciations of other Democrats as "Vichy Dems" or "Quislings" (in fact, I won't compare anyone to a Nazi collaborator unless they're actually guilty of collaborating with Nazis, regardless of their party affiliation).

Upper Left is just what Kos said - a Democratic blog with one goal in mind: electoral victory.

Score one for "Old Europe"

Is there someone missing from this report?
"We have agreed to suspend nearly all activities related to (uranium) enrichment," Iranian national security adviser Hassan Rowhani said Sunday following talks with the ambassadors of Britain, France and Germany, who have been negotiating with Iran to halt its nuclear fuel activities.
Like, ummm, the self-declared leader of the "free world"?

Hey, they forgot Poland!

The WaPo disses our allies by exclusion...
The military said 38 U.S. troops had been killed and 275 wounded since the offensive operation began Nov. 8. Three of the fatalities resulted from noncombat injuries. Six Iraqi soldiers have been killed and more than 40 wounded.
If it's any consolation to our allies, they also left out the other 29 American GIs who've contributed to the highest daily death toll in Iraq since March, 2003.

Iraq-a-Mole

via the Independent:
American Marines from Falluja and Iraqi National Guard (ING) battalions from Kurdish autonomous region have deployed to Mosul to reinforce American and ING units based in the city, Kurdish and American military officials said. They said the local security forces had lost control of much of Mosul, Iraq's third largest city with an estimated population of 1.8 million Arabs, Kurds, Turcomen and Assyrian Christians.
Another opportunity to for liberation! Oh boy.

Ever wonder how many cities we "liberated" in South Vietnam? Hint - every damn one of them.

So how did that work out, anyway?

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Wow, him too.

Wolcott speaks for me...
Like a lot of people I've been speaking to lately, I've been limiting my cable news and Sunday morning talkshow viewing, not out of depression or sulky resentment, but because there's only so much inane twaddle a person can take. I have no interest in listening to a Chris Matthews panel speculate on who might replace this or that person in the cabinet, as if they were engaging in Rotisserie League baseball. I assume whomever Bush picks will have horns, cloven feet, and a connection to an oil company, so who cares what name the minion goes by?
I know traffic's down a bit around the blogosphere as folks take a post-election breather, but the numbers for the TV talkers have got to be really dismal.

Is anyone watching?


It started right here...

Before sorryeverybody.com, there was this...



...which informed Francophones everywhere that "We are sorry that our President is an idiot. We did not vote for him."

Turns out the label appears in the products from right here in the Upper Left! If a new messenger bag, laptop case or some such is on your holiday shopping list, be sure to check out the selection at the Tom Bihn Company of Port Angeles, WA (and as a alumnus of PA's Theodore Roosevelt Junior High, I take particular pride in noting the geographic source).

If your needs are less grand, here's another, maybe a better, idea. Binh is offering a t-shirt emblazoned with the label, and he's donating all the proceeds from t-shirt sales to the Seattle Vet Center's Homeless Vet Program.

Here's your chance to display a little satorial splendor, strike a blow for international harmony and help some folks who gave a piece of their lives to helping you in a single purchase. How ya' gonna beat that?

Some of us knew this all along...

... but it would have been nice if a few of the pundits that knew it too had mentioned it before the election...and it's a shame that it has to come from here even now...
Was Kerry a bad candidate? No. I have to assume that many of these critics never actually followed the candidate around, because close-up, Kerry was a pretty good candidate. I saw Kerry blow away crowds in New Hampshire. He gave a very good convention speech. He was excellent in the first presidential debate (but for the "global test" line, which haunted him afterwards). His day-to-day performance on the stump was also very fine--I saw him handle tough questions from voters with aplomb; and when he was interacting with a crowd, his rich and haughty caricature disappeared completely.

And let's not forget his résumé: Volunteered for service in Vietnam, saw combat, served as a prosecutor and then for two decades as a United States senator. In many ways, Kerry was a better candidate than Bush.
Is it really too much to expect more voices from our side speak up as forcefully in defense of our nominee?

Bring out your dea....

...but wait! He's not dead yet, and Atrios wisely reminds us that it's not our job to kill him off...
Whatever one thinks of Kerry or the campaign that was run, it's only the fragile egos of the terminally pathetic which are served by trying to kill the candidate a second time. I'm all for learning from mistakes, but the greater cause isn't served by throwing feces at the guy you were supposed to be working for. Anyone remember a thing called "loyalty?" And, right now Kerry is the effective leader of the Democratic party, though how long that will last and how much he makes of it remains to be seen. We've heard noises about him taking a prominent role - we'll see what he chooses to do - but at least for now he's the only one in the position to do so.
As I've said, John Kerry still possesses all the qualities that made me an early and enthusiastic supporter of his Presidential campaign. He has the opportunity to build on that campaign by establishing himself as a more forceful advocate for Democratic issues in the Senate, and we need him to take on that role. Harry Reid is a skilled parlimentarian and is likely to secure every advantage that the Senate rules provide for the Democratic caucus, but he's unlikely to be an aggressive spokesman for anything like a liberal agenda, a job he's not inclined toward by either temperment nor ideology.

If John Kerry wants another run at the White House, his ability to rise to the challenge of assuming informal Senate leadership, that is, leadership earned through advocacy and action rather than caucus office, will be and should be, a major determining factor in his ability to regain the nomination. He deserves support in any effort he makes to fill that role, because if he is successful, we all win.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

One ringy-dingy...

Here's a good idea that's getting some well deserved attention from our side (I got it from Jennifer at Fierce Planet who got it from Steve Gilliard who got it from Democratic Underground. You should pass it on wherever you can...)

So sad...the number ONE request at Walter Reed hospital is phone cards. Because the priority of our government is to continue tax cuts for the likes of Paris Hilton, the government doesn't pay LD phone charges and these guys, many of them amputees, are rationing their calls home.

Many will be there throughout the holidays.

Remember that most are from poor families. It is disgusting that they cannot keep in touch with family after what they have been asked to sacrifice for BushCo; especially this time of year.

Support the troops -- cuz BushCo doesn't. Send phone cards of any amount to:

Medical Family Assistance Center
Walter Reed Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20307-5001


They say they need an "endless" supply of these -- any amount even $5 is greatly appreciated.
Steve adds...
If conservatives weren't completely full of sh*t about their patriotism, Walter Reed would be swimming in phone cards and help for soldiers families.
Well, he's right, but liberals do a lot of "support the troops" talk these days, too. If it's up to us to create a sea of phone cards for injured GIs to swim in, let's get it done.

And while I'm at it...

...there's another thing that's bugging me lately.

Why are some Democrats going through every statistical hoop available to help the Republicans avoid giving credit to the ranks of the American Taliban for their success in the election?

Maybe gay bashing was the deciding factor in any particular precinct or state, maybe it wasn't. Maybe it was the insatiable desire of the country's radical clerics to invade the privacy of women instead. Or concerns over the perverse influence of Steven Spielberg, who dared to suggest that our valiant troops might be guilty of cursing in combat.

Maybe it was something completely unrelated to 'values' - moral or otherwise - and maybe it wasn't. Let the likes of Brooks and Krauthammer, so clearly embarrased by their party's dependence on the American mullahs for success, make the case. Since everybody's picking and choosing their own set of statistics, let's pick this one...
The Los Angeles Times notes that a new poll "found that born-again Christians voted for Bush over Kerry by a 62% to 38% margin." But the most striking statistic is that "although the born-again population constituted 38% of Americans, it represented 53% of the votes cast in the election."

The survey also notes "if the born again public had shown up proportional to its population size, Senator Kerry would have won the election by the same three-point margin of victory enjoyed by Mr. Bush."
Do the math. The portion of the 'born again' electorate that supported George Bush is about 23% of the overall electorate, but they want to take 100% of the credit for his victory, and they want to control 100% of his agenda. For instance...
"Business as usual isn't going to cut it, where the GOP rides to victory by espousing traditional family values and then turns around and rewards the liberals in its ranks," said Robert Knight, who heads an affiliate of Concerned Women for America, a Christian conservative advocacy group.

****

Bob Jones III, president of the Christian conservative Bob Jones University in South Carolina, recently urged Bush to purge moderates from the White House.

"If you have weaklings around you who do not share your biblical values, shed yourself of them," Jones said in a letter to Bush after the election. "Put your agenda on the front burner and let it boil. You owe the liberals nothing. They despise you because they despise your Christ."
...and Jerry Falwell is running around bragging about his hotline level access to Karl Rove.

Steve Gilliard's right...
...America has two coalition parties of the center-left and the center-right. The issue is how much of the center will the GOP hold. My guess, very little.
...and Greg at The Talent Show gets it.
With the religious conservative wing thinking they've been blessed with the opportunity to rebuild America to fit (their twisted interpretation of) God's plan, they're just laying the foundation for the marginalization of a moderate base that in the long-run they can't afford to lose.
So does Jeanne d'Arc...
It doesn't matter if I believe homophobes gave George Bush the presidency. It matters very much if George Bush believes it.
And believe you me, George Bush believes it. The question is what can he do about it, and how much will it cost him every time he tries.

Bush finds himself trying to govern within the confines of a trap he's built for himself. The demands being made by the radical minority that provided his narrow electoral edge are so extreme, so genuinely un-American, that he can't really expect the Republican Congress to deliver on the debt that Bush has incurred. On the other hand, if he doesn't deliver, he'll be under constant attack from Dobson, Fallwell, Robertsons and their ilk that their radical agenda will be more and more exposed, and the constituency they direct is likely to sit out elections in a sulk until we Democrats are once again a dominant national party.

That's when it gets tough for us. Gilliard's right about this, too. When the Republican coalition falls apart, "...we have to have an alternative vision, one which is compelling."

That's our challenge, and it's one worth taking on.

And along the line...

...of my last post, Josh Marshall is exactly right in saying this...
Any hired-gun who worked for John Kerry and is now publicly -- subtly or not so subtly -- slipping a shiv in his back: that's someone the Democratic party can do without. Clear the decks.

First you pick a side...

...and then you pick a fight. One of the more frustrating things about my daily romps through the blogosphere is the nearly non-stop Democrat bashing from some 'independent progressive' sources (another one of my frustrations is the widespread fear of using the word 'liberal'), with noxious references like "Vichy Democrats" popping up in far too many places.

I'm not talking about people engaged in the Party that are arguing for reform, whether of structure or message. I'm talking about folks that always talk about the Democratic Party as "them," never as "us," as though there were somewhere else for "us" to be if we're serious about having an impact in the electoral arena of American politics.

The nomination of Alberto R. Gonzales to replace John Ashcroft as US Attorney General has given rise, for instance, to some of the most heated attacks on Democrats, generally and specifically. Among those getting specific damnation from the 'independents' is Sen. Joe Biden, who opined that if he'd been offered the choice between Gonzales and Ashcroft a few months ago, Gonzales would have been a clearly better choice.

That doesn't mean, of course, that Joe Biden thinks Alberto Gonzales is the best choice for Attorney General, simply that, despite serious failings as a selection, he's a better choice that a man who's already proven to be a terrible choice. Yeah, I know about the torture memo, and I abhor it, but it doesn't put forward any ideas that Ashcroft didn't fully endorse himself. Gonzales, on the other hand, when serving on the Texas Supreme Court, offered at least some indication that he has a level of respect for established law (specifically in the area of privacy rights as they apply to reproductive choice) that Ashcroft completely lacks.

Do I want Alberto Gonzales to be the Attorney General? No, at all. I want the Attorney General to be John Kerry's nominee. Am I going to get my wish? No, not at all, not anything close.

On the other hand, venting my frustration by trashing Joe Biden, or Chuck Schumer, who has also opined that Gonzales may be as good as we can expect from a Bush administration, won't take me one step closer to my desires. It's probably a better investment of intellectual and emotional energy to laud the stated intentions of Democrats like Pat Leahy and Ted Kennedy, who are promising to make the Gonzales confirmation hearings a referendum on the torture scandals that followed Gonzales' horrible advice to Bush.
Gonzales' confirmation "may be the only remaining forum in which to examine more fully the steps that were taken to weaken U.S. policy on torture in the period that led to the prison scandals at Abu Ghraib and Afghanistan," said Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

****

"Even Secretary of State Powell objected to Mr. Gonzales memorandum undermining the Geneva Conventions, which Mr. Gonzales called 'obsolete' and 'quaint,'" said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.

****

"I raised it with him when I talked with him today, that of course we're going to ask questions about the memo and the detainees at Guantanamo and at Abu Ghraib," Leahy told PBS Wednesday, and "the question about whether the Geneva Convention should be set aside and his role in that."
Our energies need to be focused on making sure that Biden and Schumer are lined up with Leahy and Kennedy when the hearings come, not pretending that Biden and Schumer are our enemies in the fight against Bushism.

Gonzales' nomination has at least a couple of advantages for Democrats. One, of course, is that we can use it a pretext to reopen the Abu Grhaib issue to public scrutiny. The other is that by picking someone who once ruled against parental notification requirements in abortion cases, Bush has exposed himself to attack from the hard core anti-choice elements in his constituency, and any weakness in the GOP/fundie coalition can only work in our favor.

In the end, of course, we aren't going to stop Bush from assembling his new cabinet, and we're not going to like any of his choices. We're not going to strenghten our hand, though, by lashing out at Democratic officials, and by extension the Democratic Party, every time we lose a battle. We're in the minority in DC. We're going to lose a lot of battles. We can, though, inflict a lot of damage along the way, and set the stage for winning some larger and longer wars, if we can summon up a little solidarity along the way and focus on what we can win instead of what we're bound to lose.

It's time to choose up sides. If you can't find it in yourself to be a Democrat, at least resist the impulse to bash the Democrats. We've got hard fights ahead, and there are more than enough enemies on the other side already.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Quote of the day...

...maybe the quote of a generation...


"More than half of Iraq's 24 million people are children under the age of 15. That's 12 million kids. Kids like me. Well, I'm almost 13, so some are a little older, and some a lot younger, some boys instead of girls, some with brown hair, not red. But kids who are pretty much like me just the same. So take a look at me -- a good long look. Because I am what you should see in your head when you think about bombing Iraq. I am what you are going to destroy."

Charlotte Aldebron, 13, from Presque Isle, ME


(thanks to Natasha at Pacific Views for the pointer)

Falluja Follies

More and more I seem to find myself in agreement with unexpected sources. For instance, the best bottom line I've heard on Falluja comes from Charles Pena at the Cato Institute...
"For Falluja to be a success from the U.S. perspective, we would have to achieve something pretty close to total victory -- not just retaking real estate but accomplishing real strategic objectives. That could be capturing al-Zarqawi or being able to say we've destroyed his network, and that the net result is a reduction in the violence in Iraq and an increase in security.

"What do the bad guys have to do? They've got to not lose. And not lose just simply means surviving to fight another day. And that's exactly what they've done."
Meanwhile, our military leadership seems to be devoted to a strategy of diminished expectations, with Joint Chiefs Chair Richard Myers reduced to telling us what our actions won't do, rather than what we expect they will.
"If anybody thinks that Falluja's going to be the end of the insurgency in Iraq, that was never the objective, never our intention and even never our hope."
Whatever the objective of the attack on Falluja is supposed to be, the results offer little encouragement. It's true that so far the casualty rate, with US fatalities and 178 wounded in action as of yesterday, is lighter than I feared, but that seems to be the result of the insurgents following what Pena describes as their path to victory. While we conduct a house to house occupation of the city that's been built up in the popular imagination of the center of all that's wrong in Iraq, the battle seems to be spreading like wildfire.

Some highlights from the New York Times...
...insurgents elsewhere in Iraq appear to have opened up a second front in the fighting by overrunning police stations and laying siege to the provincial headquarters in Mosul.

****

In downtown Baghdad, a powerful suicide car bomb exploded on a busy commercial street Thursday morning, killing at least 17 people and wounding at least 30 others. In the evening, explosions rattled across the capital with a frequency not seen here since August, when American soldiers fought a Shiite uprising in the south.

****

Violence surged throughout the Sunni triangle west of Baghdad, with ambushes, bombings and mortar attacks jolting Tikrit, Kirkuk, Hawija, Samarra and the provincial capital of Ramadi, just 30 miles west of Falluja.
...and the battle for 'hearts and minds' doesn't seem to be going any better.
Thursday afternoon, the Muslim Scholars Association, a powerful group of Sunni clerics that says it represents 3,000 mosques, held a news conference in Baghdad at which it condemned the offensive in Falluja and renewed its call for a boycott of elections scheduled for January. It said it was in negotiations with other political groups to get them to join the boycott.
So much for the notion that the 'liberation' of Falluja was essential to the free and fair conduct of the January elections.

Of course, I blame Rumsfeld. In some ways the situation in Falluja is the whole war in Iraq in miniature. Just as Rummy's battle plan was predicated on the idea that capturing Baghdad would be the successful culmination of the original invasion, he sold the battle for Falluja as an mission that would "will deal a blow to the terrorists in the country and should move Iraq further away from a future of violence to one of freedom and opportunity for the Iraqi people." And just as the headlong rush to Baghdad only set the stage for a protracted guerilla war, the battle for Falluja seems to be producing more widespread violence in a setting of martial law.

And once again, the outcome is FUBAR.

Shouldn't it be completely apparent to every sentient being that Rummy's got to go?

Totally gratuitous today...



I can't come up with a clever context for this picture of the lovely and talented Audrey Hepcat, but ain't she a pretty thing?

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Can we all take a deep breath now?

Fraud! Theft! Outrage!

Hatmakers everywhere uncover shocking tin foil shortage!

And where's Kerry, anyway?!?

Well, John Kerry, or his legal team, anyway, is right where we'd expect - in Ohio making sure that they count every damn vote.
Lawyers with John Kerry's presidential campaign are gathering information from Ohio election boards about uncounted ballots and other unresolved issues from last week's election.

****

The Kerry campaign has compiled a list of more than 30 questions for local election officials, asking about the number of absentee and provisional ballots, any reports of equipment malfunctions on election night, and any ballots that still listed third-party challenger Ralph Nader as a candidate. (Nader was removed from the ballot by Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.)
Now it's true - the Kerry team doesn't expect to find enough votes to overturn the result of the election. They do expect every eligible vote to be counted by the time the election is certified.

The election system in this country is broken. We need a universal, verifiable, accessible way to conduct national elections. That one doesn't exist is not John Kerry's fault, and John Kerry hasn't abandoned his voters.

Is there anyone out there that imagines they're more disappointed with the outcome of the election than Kerry himself? Is there anyone who thinks that Kerry wouldn't turn over heaven and earth if he thought there were enough votes buried out there to change the outcome of the election?

I'm disappointed, too. Angry, even.

But enough with the self-destructive attacks on our own ticket and our own party.

Enough.

Happier for some of us...

I truly appreciate the "Happy Veteran's Day" messages I've received, but in some ways, 'Happy' Veteran's Day doesn't really capture my thoughts. As veteran's go, I'm a pretty happy one, because I'm a pretty lucky one. Some aren't so lucky. Some of us made it, some of us didn't, and some didn't quite.

Tom Paxton, an Army vet himself, wrote about that last group, which is way too many of us...
My son, John, was a good boy, and good to me.
When we had hard times, well, he stood by me.
We were in work and out of work and on the go.
If he had complaints, I never heard of one.
He would pitch in and help me like a full grown man.
My son, John. John, my son.

My son, John, went to college and he made his way.
Had to earn every penny, but he paid his way.
He worked summers and holidays and through the year,
And it was no easy struggle that he won.
But he laughed at the ones who thought he had it hard.
My son, John. John, my son.

My son, John, got his uniform and went away.
With a band playing marches, he was sent away.
And he wrote me a letter, when he had the time.
He was loosing his buddies one by one.
And I prayed, and tried not to read between the lines.
My son, John. John, my son.

My son, John, came home yesterday; he's here to stay.
Not a word, to his father, have I heard him say.
He seems glad to be home, but I can't be sure.
When I ask him what he'd seen and done.
He went up to his bedroom, and he closed the door.
My son, John, John my son.
He went up to his bedroom, and he closed the door.
My son, John, John my son.

(c) Tom Paxton
More thanks than words can express to all my brother and sister vets...

Well boo-freaking-hoo.

Sen. John McCain, appearing on Imus in the Morning, said he called Sen. John Kerry after the election but his call hasn't been returned.
Hopefully McCain's willingness to totally debase himself in the service of a man who has built a career on slandering the service of combat veterans (including McCain himself, for gawdsake) will finally disabuse everyone of the notion that the Senator is one of the "good" Republicans.

The only good Republican politician is a defeated Republican politician.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Brighter and Bluer

More good news from Cliff Schecter at The Gadflyer, who points to the consolidation of Democratic gains in Illinois. Following the 2002 elections, which saw the election of Governor Blagojevich and the capture of the Illinois state senate, 2004 saw a double digit Kerry victory and more.

Of course, there was Obama!, but perhaps an even better story was the victory of Melissa Bean over Congressman Phil Crane. Any Democrat taking out an incumbent Republican is good news, but defeating Crane is great news.

The bottom line? We've got lots to build on, and lots of success stories to learn from. 2006 is just around the corner, and if we keep our wits about us, it will be even brighter and bluer.

We're mainstream...

...they're extreme.

Matt Welch weighs in on the argument that the so-called "Michael Moore wing" of the Democratic Party is to blame for our losses. As he points out, that's a virtual non-entity, another straw man created by the radical right to cover up their own full embrace of political extremism. He offers examples...
Anyway, the main point is not to compare competing fringes, but mostly to point out that the Republicans' extremist fringe includes powerful senior elected politicians from their own party. Moore, for all his sitting-next-to-people action at the DNC, was not invited on the podium. Rick Santorum, the senator from Pennsylvania who has described outlawing gay marriage as "the ultimate Homeland security," gave a rousing speech to the Republicans. Tom Coburn, the new Republican Senator from Oklahoma, has advocated the death penalty for abortion doctors, and held up Fidel Castro's forced AIDS camps as a model worth emulating. Jim DeMint, your new Senator from South Carolina, thinks that single pregnant women shouldn't teach in public schools. If Bush wanted to deliver a "Sister Souljah moment," embracing cross-over moderation at the expense of his own party's fringe, he wouldn't need to take a swipe at a non-politician like Ann Coulter -- he could start in the august hall of the Unites States Senate.
Yep. They're anything but 'conservative' in any classic formulation of that ideology. They're radical. They're extreme. Heck, some of them are even proud of it.

Umm, yes. This is Upper Left...

...and I'm here, and everthing's fine - or will be in a couple hours or so when the problem with the server where I store all the graphics for this place is straightened out.

So we're pretty much text only for a bit.

But such wonderful text, right?

Fair Warning: The following comments thread contains text which ranges far from our usually family-friendly policy at Upper Left. On the other hand, from a certain perspective (mine, for instance), it's as hilarious as it is true. If you're terribly offended by the "F" word or your heart belongs to Dixie, consider yourself warned.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Chairman Dean?

It's not a bad idea at all, really. I did my share (and then some, according to a few of his fans - hi, Chris!) of Dean bashing back in the day, both because I thought he'd be a truly awful Presidential candidate for my party, and because I was a fierce proponent of Senator Kerrry. Just the same, he's impressed me during the general election campaign for both his willingness and his ability to soldier on in support of the ticket, regardless of how hard his fall from the top of the primary polls to his role as talk show surrogate must have been.

One notion that's got to be put down quickly is this note that appears at the bottom of an LA Times article on another subject altogether...
One of Kerry's presidential primary foes, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, is reportedly interested in seeking the party chairmanship - a development that could put the party far to the left of where many leaders think it could best sway voters in states that backed Bush.
That's just nonsense, of course. Despite the passionate support he received from some members of the anti-war left, Dean's record as Governor and the overall message of his Presidential campaign was very much in the mold of a moderate Democrat, emphasizing fiscal responsibility, international caution and the obligation of government to serve the social needs via 'hand up, not hand out' programs. Putting him in charge of the DNC would hardly indicate a major ideological shift for the Democratic Party.

How much he really wants the job, though, is still a question. Less so, I suspect, is his ability to get it if he wants it. He was, contrary to some impressions, popular with the DNC members, winning over many of them after his February, 2003 appearance before the Committee, and many of those members will doubtless continue to serve. I suspect that some of the new blood on the DNC (and there's some after every quadrennial reorganization of the party) will come from the ranks of Dean supporters who have increased their role in the party even as Dean's efforts during the general election campaign increased his stature in the eyes of many of us who didn't support his candidacy.

If he wants it, he has to decide, and then his partisans will have to get to work. I was a little suprised by this note from Kos the other day...
Now before anyone asks, I still don't know how a DNC chair is elected, but we'll be pushing hard for grassroots input. BlogPAC will likely seek to make an endorsement.
It's simple, really. The rules aren't hard to find, and the process is pretty straightforward. The DNC chair is elected by the 440 members of the Democratic National Committee, most of whom emerge from the party reorganization process that starts at the local level, with precinct level party officers electing State Committee members, who elect state chairs and statewide DNC representatives. The fact that someone as engaged as Markos wouldn't know how the process works, though, indicates a fundamental problem we face after every Presidential cycle. Lots of new people are inspired, but most of them have never been really engaged in party activity, and, sadly, most of them never get engaged in party activity. One of the benefits of a Dean run for the chair could be an increase in the ranks of the party rank and file, if they'll just look up the rules and turn out for the meetings.

It's like I've said before, the Democratic Party consists of the people who show up. Not the ones who just show up for the campaigns, or the fundraisers, but the ones who show up in church basements and VFW halls, sitting through long meetings with bad coffee in order to put together the nuts and bolts of an organization so that there will be a framework in place the next time there is a campaign.

Dean for the DNC? Go for it. But you've got to show up, early if you can, and you might have to stay late...

The Comeback...

...well, hardly a kid. John Kerry will be 64 in 2008, but hey, that's really not that old, is it?
Kerry fueled talk about a 2008 bid during remarks at a Washington restaurant Saturday night. He provoked a thunderous reaction by reminding about 400 campaign aides and volunteers that Ronald Reagan twice sought the Republican nomination for president before winning it in 1980.

"Sometimes God tests you," Kerry told the crowd at H20, a restaurant on the Potomac waterfront, according to an aide. "I'm a fighter, and I've come back before."
It's early to make an endorsement, of course, and we're still waiting for a field to develop. Kerry's ability to hold public attention by taking a more prominent role on the Senate floor, though, creates an opportunity that isn't always available to unsuccessful candidates, and it seems that there's some encouragement from important places...
Kerry confidants said in interviews Monday that key members of the campaign's finance team were planning to remain loyal to the 2004 nominee — even as potential 2008 contenders such as Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and John Edwards of North Carolina begin building support — in case he decides to run.

Those sentiments differ significantly from the attitudes expressed after Democratic losses in 1988 and 2000, when pressure mounted on nominees Michael S. Dukakis and Al Gore to step aside after what many party leaders considered error-plagued campaigns.

"After 1988 and 2000, there was a different sort of tone in the fundraising community," said Robert Farmer, who was campaign treasurer for Dukakis in 1988 and Kerry this year. "They felt they had been let down. I don't get that sense now."
His brother Cam makes some interesting points in the Boston Globe...
"He's in a position of national leadership," Cameron F. Kerry told the Globe. A Boston lawyer, the younger Kerry said he spoke with his brother several times in person and by phone about the senator's political future since the candidate conceded defeat Wednesday. "He's going to exercise that role and be a voice for the 55 million people who voted for him. The position he's in gives him a bully pulpit."

He added, "One of the things that John brings out of this campaign is a tremendous number of people have gotten organized, and that's something we've got to build upon."

Asked whether that might include another run for president, the younger brother replied: "That's conceivable. . . . I don't know why that [last week's loss] should necessarily be it. I think it's too early to assess. But I think that he is going to continue to fight on for the values, ideals, and issues this campaign is about."

And that's the bottom line. I still think John Kerry has the intellect, the integrity, the experience, all the qualities that convinced me years ago that he could be a great President, likely the greatest of my lifetime. Another shot, though, is going to be largely dependent on the strength and quality of that fight for those 'values, ideals and issues.' There's a gap in our party leadership that he's in a position to fill. The auditions are over, the stage is set and he's been cast in a starring role. How long the show will run depends on how much he impresses the reviewers.

I wouldn't be surprised to if he's a box office smash.

Imagine that...

Rummy talks to the Times...
In Washington today, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was asked whether the battle for Falluja would continue until there was a "clear and final" victory, unlike last spring's campaign for the city.

"I cannot imagine that it would stop without being completed," Mr. Rumsfeld said at a Pentagon news briefing.
Of course, Mr. Rumsfeld's failure of imagination is somewhat legendary.

There was Abu Grahib...
Rumsfeld said that he "could not imagine" that any officer would approve of the abuse.
...and administration honesty...
Q: Mr. Secretary, if I could just follow up, will there be any circumstances, as you prosecute this campaign, in which anyone in the Department of Defense will be authorized to lie to the news media in order to increase the chances of success of a military operation or gain some other advantage over your adversaries?

...The answer to your question is, no, I cannot imagine a situation. I don't recall that I've ever lied to the press...
...and, of course, the draft.
So I'm -- and I would add, just on the other subject you mentioned, I can't imagine our country going back to a draft.
Some stuff he's pretty sure of, though...
"I can't tell you if the use of force in Iraq today will last five days, five weeks or five months, but it won't last any longer than that,"
Have I mentioned that it's way past time for this guy to go?

It's still true...



Monday, November 08, 2004

Cancel the firing squad.

Alongside the question of who gets credit for the Bush win is the debate about who takes the blame for the Kerry loss. Among the targets in that debate I think we should discard are the candidate, his campaign and our Democratic values and platform. We had a great candidate, who stood for good things and we waged as good a national campaign as I can remember.

And we got beat. When push came to shove, Karl Rove lived up to his press clippings. He snookered us, by means legitimate and otherwise, and stole this election from right under our noses.

But no more self flagellation, please. Put me in the column with Al Giordano, who writes...
John Kerry put up the best fight that anyone in North American politics could have waged. He brought 55 million decent Americans to the polls (which, in 2000, would have won the race handily). He held the Gore 2000 states and added New Hampshire to the blue map. He adopted the best of Howard Dean's small donor-activist Internet strategy, and for the first time the Democrats had parity with the Republicans in the money game. He took it to Dubya, winning three debates in a row. He very nearly got 311 electoral votes that would have made the election a landslide on the other side. If he had, pundits would be falling all over each other today talking about the new electoral map in America. But two big Bush 2000 states where Kerry pulled close stayed in the red zone: Florida and Ohio, with their less than ethical governors, sleazy secretaries of state, and voter suppression tactics, proved to be insurmountable.

Amen.

Of all the general election votes I never got to cast, perhaps the one I think would have been the finest would have been for Gary Hart, the best of a long list of unsuccessful primary contenders I've lined up behind over the years. I've felt that way for a long time, and feel it more after reading his New York Times op-ed this morning.

He takes on the "values" question and points out in clear, convincing terms that religious values, far from being the exclusive province of the radical fundamentalist wing of the GOP, are central to the liberal vision.
Liberals are not against religion. They are against hypocrisy, exclusion and judgmentalism. They resist the notion that one side or the other possesses "the truth" to the exclusion of others. There is a great difference between Cotton Mather and John Wesley.
There is a strong tradition of faith, of many faiths, in American culture, but at it's best it has nothing to do with the American Taliban that claims credit for the re-election of George Bush. Hart is eloquently on point...
The religions of Abraham all teach a sense of personal and collective humility. It was a note briefly struck very early by Mr. Bush and largely abandoned thereafter. It would be well for those in the second Bush term to ponder that attribute. Whether Bush supporters care or not, people around the world now see America as arrogant, self-righteous and superior. These are not qualities of any traditional faith I am aware of.

If faith now drives our politics, at the very least let's make it a faith of inclusion, genuine compassion, humility, justice and accountability. In the words of the prophet Micah: "He hath shown thee, O man, what is good. What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" And, instead of "O man," let's insert "O America."
(tip o' the hat to John McCreery at Best of the Blogs for the pointer)

Hey, it wasn't our idea...

There's a lot of handwringing in Democratic circles about whether the result of the election can really be tracked to the most narrow minded, hate filled fundamentalist wing of the Republican constituency. They do indeed represent a marginal perspective, but as I've said for some time, the election was always going to be won in the margins.

Still, as liberals, we'd rather believe that the election turned on something more grand, more rational. So, in fact, would many people who claim to represent something called the Republican "mainstream," by which I think they mean people whose agenda might hurt most Americans, but is rooted in simple selfishness rather than blind hatred. Thus the wave of conservative opinion that insists it wasn't the fundies after all.

Still, whatever we, or the "mainstream" Republicans, may choose to believe, the fundies are out in full force, claiming full credit. To whit...
"The voters have delivered a moral mandate," D. James Kennedy, president of Coral Ridge Ministries in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., declared. "Now that values voters have delivered for George Bush, he must deliver for their values. The defense of innocent unborn human life, the protection of marriage and the nomination and confirmation of federal judges who will interpret the Constitution, not make law from the bench, must be first priorities, come January.”

...

"Now comes the revolution," Richard Viguerie, the conservative direct-mail fundraising pioneer, said Wednesday. More ominously, Viguerie wrote in a letter to other conservatives: "Make no mistake — conservative Christians and 'values voters' won this election for George W. Bush and Republicans in Congress. It's crucial that the Republican leadership not forget this — as much as some will try. Liberals, many in the media and inside the Republican Party, are urging the president to 'unite' the country by discarding the allies that earned him another four years. They're urging him to discard us conservative Catholics and Protestants, people for whom moral values are the most important issue."
There it is. They're claiming credit, and a corresponding right to impose their agenda, an agenda that is, in Viguerie's own characterization, revolutionary.

As in radical. As in the very opposite of the conservatism many people thought they were voting for, believed they were promised, hope will prevail.

The Bush administration is in the thrall of a radical group of people pursuing a basicly un-American agenda. That's a fact. They're going to claim their pound of flesh at every turn. We have to fight them every day, and one way to do that is to give them credit for their claims and expose their extremist agenda.

And, no, it's not their faith which which we contend. It's their dangerously radical, essentially un-American ideology.

We didn't pick this fight, but it's one that we can, and must, win.

Because we're mainstream. They're extreme.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

With friends like his...

"Today, because Saudi Arabia has seen the danger and has joined the war on terror, the American people are safer."

George W. Bush

BEIRUT, Lebanon - Prominent Saudi religious scholars urged Iraqis to support militants waging holy war against the U.S.-led coalition forces as American troops prepared Saturday for a major assault on the insurgent hotbed of Fallujah.

The 26 Saudi scholars and preachers said in an open letter to the Iraqi people that their appeal was prompted by "the extraordinary situation through which the Iraqis are passing which calls for unity and exchange of views."

Associated Press

Feeling safer yet?

Sorry...



Really. We are. Lots of us, anyway.

sorryeverybody.com

Wuz We Robbed?

I've largely avoided the subject, primarily to preserve my own mental health (it makes me crazy enough to think they beat us straight up), but the Blogging Of The President is all over the stealing of the Presidency story, with a list of links that will have you lining the whole house with tin foil by the time you're done with them.

OK, maybe they won't draft the kids...

...since they seem to have found a way to draft their dads instead.

HONOLULU - A veteran of the first Persian Gulf War is suing the Army after it ordered him to report for duty 13 years after he was honorably discharged from active duty and eight years after he left the reserves.

Kauai resident David Miyasato received word of his reactivation in September, but says he believes he completed his eight-year obligation to the Army long ago.

"I was shocked," Miyasato said Friday. "I never expected to see something like that after being out of the service for 13 years."

Here kitty, kitty, kitty...

Nope, no Sunday cat blogging, but here are a few more bright spots worthy of curling up in for a bit.

In a comment, Jennifer reports from Colorado...
...We turned a Republican Senate seat into a Democratic seat. We also voted for progressive programs in renewable energy and mass transit, and returned the state senate and legislature to Democratic hands for the first time in 40 years!
...and MyDD has more good news from legislatures across the country...
Democrats won the North Carolina House, where power had been shared since the last election.

they earned a tie in the Iowa Senate.

they broke a tie in Oregon's Senate by winning 3 seats and won 3 seats in the House.

in Minnesota, where they reduced a 30-seat Republican edge to a 68-66 GOP advantage.
Color Colorado, North Carolina and Iowa purple, not red. Democrats can win everywhere.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Because just bashing the R's is not enough...

...we'd all do well to pay heed to another set of marching orders from Bob Herbert.
Roll up your sleeves and do what you can. Talk to your neighbors. Call or write your elected officials. Volunteer to help in political campaigns. Circulate petitions. Attend meetings. Protest. Run for office. Support good candidates who are running for office. Register people to vote. Reach out to the young and the apathetic. Raise money. Stay informed. And vote, vote, vote - every chance you get.

Democracy is a breeze during good times. It's when the storms are raging that citizenship is put to the test. And there's a hell of a wind blowing right now.
Yep, time moves on, but the job remains the same.

Do something. Damn near anything.

Except one thing.

No surrender.

Sign me up!

Tom Schaller rallies the troops over at Daily Kos...
Marching order #1, therefore, is this: No matter whom you talk to outside our circles, begin to perpetuate the (false, exaggerated) notion that George Bush's victory was built not merely on values issues, but gay marriage specifically. If you feel a need to broaden it slightly, try depicting the GOP as a majority party synonymous with gay-haters, warmongers and country-clubbers. Because I, for one, am tired of hearing whiny complaints from conservatives that, not only do I not have values, but that I fail to properly respect the values of people who are all too happy to buy into, no less perpetuate, inaccurate caricatures of the 54+ million Americans who voted Tuesday for John Kerry. Criticizing the GOP ain't gonna build us a new national majority. But the process is brick by brick, or perhaps, brickbat by brickbat. We didn't decide the rules of engagement, but that's what they are and so we may as well start firing away.
)Of course, the great thing about depicting the Republicans as a bunch of gay-haters, warmongers and country-clubbers is that they're just chock full of gay-haters, warmongers and country-clubbers.

If the truth hurts, let the pain begin!

Now here's some good news!

Sounds like even Simon Rosenberg of the New Democratic Network has signed on to the Pelosi plan...
"What's changed in the Democratic psyche in the last two years is that we believe we have to oppose the Republicans because their agenda is not just different from ours but that it's dangerous. We don't see ourselves arguing in a debating society between two alternative points of view. . . . We are fighting with a missionary zeal."
One of the greatest exponents of that zeal in our leadership has been, of course, the Shadow Speaker, and with Sen. Reid in line for the top spot in the Senate caucus, that's probably going to be true for some time to come (he's just not the scrapper Nancy is). Now there's a chance to strengthen her hand. Two Louisiana House seats have been thrown to special elections on December 4, and naturally, the coffers everywhere have been drained - ours and theirs. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is trying to give our candidates a leg up financially.

If you haven't been able to chip in to the DCCC before, here's one more chance to help out. The securelink is right here. You know how important it is.

Oh, please.

While it's important to have a discussion about what our Democratic Party leadership should do next, there's clearly some things they shouldn't do. One of those things is feeding reporters stories that carry ledes like this...
WASHINGTON — Reeling from their party's loss in the presidential election, some key Democratic financiers and strategists say they have learned a clear lesson: Next time around, no Northeasterners need apply.
Oh really? Who sez?

Well, the dateline's Washington, the paper's in LA, but there's a particular regional flavor among the "financiers and strategists" they consulted.

We have to be very careful about the kind of candidate that we nominate and where that candidate comes from," said Scott Falmlen, executive director of the Democratic Party in North Carolina..."This party has got to get in a position where it does not write off an entire section of the country."

Dick Harpootlian, former chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, was more blunt. "As of now, Hillary Clinton's a bad idea," he said.

The standard-bearer should be a face from the South or the Midwest, he added, naming Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, this year's vice presidential nominee, or Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana as presidential possibilities.
OK, the Carolinas have been heard from. Thanks for the advice, guys, but you know, if I'm going to go around slamming a region of the country, I think I'd avoid the one that provided a solid wall of support for our nominee this year. And while I'm working up lists of candidates, I might consider folks from some states that a Democratic presidential ticket is actually likely to carry.

I'm not saying we have to go back to Massachusetts for our nominee again (though I'm wide open to the idea), but does anyone think that John Edwards or Evan Bayh, fine fellows both of 'em, would have outperformed John Kerry at the top of the ticket this year?

Yeah, we lost. Yeah, we're shocked that a gross incompetent like George W. Bush could beat anybody, but that's a partisan position. Any more objective analysis would consider how difficult it is to unseat an incumbent President during war time, while American troops are engaged in ground combat overseas. Does
"unprecedented" ring a bell? In that light, John Kerry's performance shines. He came closer, much closer, than anyone ever has under the circumstances, despite the dishonest, dishonorable campaign waged against him.

And would somebody tell the LA Times that we've got a few "key Democratic financiers and strategists" outside the Carolinas? Some of 'em are even in, of all places, Boston...

Friday, November 05, 2004

Kitty wisdom...



The lovely and talented Audrey Hepcat reminds us that in these trying times, it's important to look for the bright spots.

Like this.

Up here in the Upper Left, Democrats overthrew the Republican 25-24 majority in the State Senate, recapturing control with a Democratic majority of 26-23, while expanding their lead in the State House from 6 to 12 members.

Hooray for us!

Their math...

"Democrats face this terrible arithmetic in the Electoral College where if they don't carry any of the 11 Southern states [of the Old Confederacy] they need to win 70% of everything else," says Merle Black, an expert on Southern politics at Emory University.
...and ours.
"Republicans face this terrible arithmetic in the Electoral College where if they don't carry any of the 13 Northeastern states they need to win two-thirds of everything else," says Kevin Drum, an expert on simplistic arithmetic at the Washington Monthly.
While we're all busy figuring out what the key to victory is, remember to ignore any suggestion that we need to compromise our priniciples in pursuit of some kind of southern strategy. While a look at the map of Purple America reveals that there are still real opportunities for Democratic gains in the south, those aren't the only opportunities and there are some things we simply can't do in pursuit of votes.

One, for instance, would be to follow the advice that Bill Clinton apparently gave John Kerry to campaign in favor of the homophobic initiatives against marriage equality. You want proof we nominated the right guy? Kerry's rejection of that advice is all the proof I need (although hardly all the evidence there is). We knew all along that this election was going to be won in the margins, and sadly Bush was the one with a marginal victory. He got it, though, with votes we don't want, votes we can't afford to pay the price for.

Some people are moaning that it's unclear what Democrats stand for (if you're among them, Digby's list seems clear enough), it's perfectly apparent what the Republicans are about these days - hate and fear. How far can they get with that message? About as far as they've come. Have they got any more? Not that I can see. They've exposed themselves, and it's time for us to stay on the attack, because the battle never ends.

Drum is right...
Note to the media: it was a close election, just like it was four years ago. There were only a dozen swing states, and Republicans had no more chance of winning in California, New York, and Illinois than Democrats did in Georgia, Alabama, and Wyoming. A trivial swing of a hundred thousand votes in half a dozen states and you'd be writing pretentious thumbsuckers about how cultural issues were losing their ability to attract votes for Republicans. So knock it off, OK?
And while we're all entitled to our disappointment with Tuesday's results, there's just no time for despair. It was close. We're still right.

No surrender.

Good question.

Inquiring Brits want to know...


Thursday, November 04, 2004

Digby seems indignant...

...which is good for us, 'cause he's cranking out great stuff. Like this...
...These people aren't united by a common ideology or set of values. They are united by a common hatred of Democrats, fueled by a massive propaganda machine. They won this campaign by putting on a trash talking spectacle starring George W. Bush as Commander Codpiece. (Those who wanted to ban gay marriage got in two for the price of one.) The problem is that show biz conservatism has become the default channel for more Americans. It's about identity, not ideology.
...and this...
The election was won with 130,000 or so conservative evangelical votes in one state. That is decisive enough to declare victory in the election, but it is far too slim a margin to make the sweeping decision that the Democratic party needs to shelve its values of tolerance and civil rights to accomodate certain religious beliefs that are incompatible with them. The religious people are welcome to their beliefs, of course, but it's something on which we cannot compromise and have any of our own values left. (Oddly, I think that the truly religious people, as opposed to the poseur majority of republicans, might just understand that.)
Some days the guy's so good I wonder why the rest of us even try...

When I am old...

...I will vote purple.



(thanx to Jeff Culver)

Mandate?

What mandate?

Barry Ritholtz offers some reality based perspective...
-Bush got the lowest percentage of electoral votes (54%) of any incumbent running for reelection since Wilson.

-He will have won with the lowest percentage of the popular vote (51%) of any incumbent running for reelection since Truman (2-party race)

-He will have won by the lowest margin of the popular vote (3.5M) of any incumbent running for reelection since Truman (2.1M, and back then only 50M voted).

-He will have won the three states that put him over 270 (OH, NM and IA--assuming the last two go his way) by only 161,989 (not counting the provisional ballots, absentee, etc.).
Your 'capital' is insufficient to purchase my trust, Mr. Bush. I will not be 'reasonable.' I will not be 'cooperative.'

There is no mandate. Give no quarter.

No surrender.

More good news.

At least one part of the Republican strategy was a collosal failure...
Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader fell far short of his success in 2000, winning 400,000 votes, or 0.3%, after collecting 3 million votes four years ago.

No battleground state margins were close enough for Nader to have a significant effect, unlike the last election, when many Democrats saw Nader as a spoiler whose tallies in tight races like Florida helped tip the balance toward President Bush by siphoning votes from Al Gore.
Bye bye, Ralph. You won't be missed.

Keeping the faith(ful)

I've taken some hard shots at Amy Sullivan this year, but I've also tried to give her credit where it's due, and it's due for this post at Political Animal.
"Religious" does not mean Republican. And "moral" does not mean conservative. There's going to be a lot of discussion about all of this over the coming weeks and months, and it's incredibly important to make sure we're neither sloppy about our terms nor overly broad in how we characterize "the faithful."
I'd take it a bit further and argue that in the current political climate, Republicanism is inconsistent with the central doctrines of most religions, and that the brand of conservatism offered by the Republican establishment is immoral. As someone who considers myself part of "the faithful", I consider my liberalism a natural, no, a necessary, expression of that faith.

Virtually every world religion has some version of 'The Golden Rule,' recognizing that beyond our fealty to God, we hold an obligation to protect and sustain one another. The essence of contemporary liberalism is the recognition of that mutual obligation, and the recognition that sometimes it can only be met through common effort, with democratic government serving as the mediator for that effort. It is the most fundamentally moral political philosophy devised by man, and I would argue it is the one most likely to be favored by God. Best of all, you don't even have to believe in God to believe it.

Making that clear, and recapturing the moral high ground which has been usurped by the selfish, bigoted liars who oppose us, will be one of the key elements in a return to Democratic ascendency in American politics.

The fundies who supported the Bush agenda of lies and hate may be publically pious, but their piety covers a core that's essentially irreligious and immoral and we need to call them on it, out loud, every day while welcoming the true community of faith, the mainstream clergy and congregants of every faith, into our fold.

Because what John Kerry told us so many months ago is still true.

We're mainstream. They're extreme.

Ya know...

...maybe the hat isn't such a bad idea after all...


Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Bright spots.

Yeah, I'm always looking for the silver lining. Happily, there's always one to find.

Upper Lefties can celebrate the re-election of Senator Patty Murray (and the consequent retirement of George Nethercutt) along with the victories of all of our incumbent statewide Democratic officials, including the Lt. Governor, State Treasurer, Auditor and Insurance Commissioner.

More broadly, while the defeat of Tom Daschle stings, Stephanie Herseth held the seat she took away from the Republicans in this year's special election, providing a statewide win in South Dakota. Colorado Senator-elect Ken Salazar provides a valuable national focal point for Democratic outreach to Hispanic voters.

And, of course, Obama!

Perspective...

via Steve Gilliard...

My god, I know some of you are young, or new to politics, but change takes time. It took ten years from the Montgomery Bus Boycott to the Civil Rights act. It may well take eight years to hammer the GOP back. But we will fight that fight, together and organized. And with better tools and we will all be smarter.

No one got the America they wanted without struggle, not just one election. So stop crying in your beer and do some reading. Find out how we really built this country and people who suffered to do so. You not getting the right candidate is not the worst thing that has happened. They used to hang black people for looking at white women. We're a better country than that that today, and we will be better after this mess is over.
There might be a few people out there more disappointed in this outcome than I am, but most of them are probably named Kerry. This was the first election since 1972 in which I voted in the general election for a candidate I supported in the primaries, save the sole instance of the Clinton re-election, in which there was no primary contest. I really believe that John Kerry represents the best of my generation, and would have been the best President of my lifetime. I feel this one in my heart and in my guts.

But there's no time for mourning in America. There's work to do. And hard as it is to grasp this morning, there have been darker days.

Hmmm...

...run and hide?



Nah. I'll stand and fight with Opus & Louise at Best of the Blogs.
"..this is where we find out about courage. Everyone who believes the environment is more important than business profits has been told to sit down and shut up. Everyone who believes that abortion cannot be legislated has been told to sit down and shut up. Everyone who believes that government can and should help the poor and weak has been told to sit down and shut up. Everyone who believes that this war in Iraq should not have happened and has been criminally administered has been told to sit down and shut up. Everyone who believes that criticizing our government is not just our right, it's our obligation -- has been told to sit down and shut up.

"You know what? I WON'T SIT DOWN. I WON'T SHUT UP. This is where we find out who has courage and who doesn't. I'm not going to be among the latter."
No surrender.

In a way...

...this might have been an election we really didn't want to win. Not, anyway, when you consider the moral cost of victory.

Steve Soto posts an intriguing campaign post-mortem. I don't subscribe to every point he makes, but one certainly rings true.
...the religious right and the Cult controls this country. By cleverly placing gay marriage bans on the ballots in several key swing states, Rove was able to ensure that the values issues would overcome pocketbook or war concerns and drive up the vote amongst the right wing base at a time when a majority indicated concerns about Iraq, the economy, and the direction of the country were paramount to them.
It seems pretty clear that gay bashing initiatives made Oregon and Michigan much closer than they should have been, and in Ohio a particularly radical ballot proposition (it not only bans same-sex marriage, but state benefits for couples in heterosexual civil unions) seems to have been the decisive factor in the election of George Bush.

While Democrats fussed about whether Kerry should have spent more time focusing on the war or the economy, it turned out that it really didn't matter. He got the anti-war vote, and he got the economic responsiblity vote. But it wasn't fear of an ever-increasing body count or climbing deficits that made the difference. It was the fear of legal protection for people in love.

Frankly, since I'm an advocate of unrestricted rights for any and every adult couple, regardless of orientation, John Kerry was already as far away from my position as I could tolerate. I could accept his 'civil unions but not marriage' stance as a nod to political reality, but that couldn't calm the fears of the fundies, and I couldn't have supported a position that would have. If supporting legal rights for loving couples, even in the modest fashion that John Kerry advocated, cost us this election, well, it's a price worth paying.

We need to do the work that will neutralize the fear driven fundie haters in the electorate, no doubt. A lot of folks thought the youth vote might be the key this year, but it wasn't any more than it's been in years past. I'm not sure what the answer is, beyond the norman kind of voter education, identification and motivation that's already being done. I do think it's time for progressive people of faith to focus more energy on calling our fundie brethren to account for their distortion of the meaning of our faith. Haters will go to Hell. And we should be giving them hell.

No surrender.

Kerry may have bowed to the inevitable conclusion of this election, but we need not, no we must not, surrender in the fight against the Bushco agenda. Joel Connelly offers wisdom and a degree of solace in the Seattle Post Intelligencer...
Inevitably, as with 1960s liberals at high tide, these folks -- Bush uses the word, and so can I -- will overstep. Unchallenged power has a way of wrecking American presidencies. Apparently, when he was governor, George W. Bush never walked a few blocks to the Lyndon Johnson Library to learn its lessons.

Hence, a message to those wanting to bag it: Do not surrender to cynicism. Look at what you did and were willing to do in 2004, and recognize that there are more than 50 million American voters out there who want what you want.
We have tools today we didn't have before this campaign. We have friends we didn't know about before this campaign. And we have work to do well beyond this campaign.

No surrender.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Sic 'em, John!

"John Kerry and I made a promise to the American people that with this election, every vote would count and every vote would be counted. Tonight we are keeping our word and we will fight for every vote. You deserve no less."

(almost) Vice President-elect John Edwards


Count every damn vote!

I just gotta say...

...how very grateful I am that Air America made it to the Seattle airwaves before election day.

AM 1090 if you're in the neighborhood...

Fuque Faux

Faux News is apparently calling Ohio for Bush, but don't you believe it. They stole one, but this time the theme is no surrender.

Of the states still uncalled on the AP map as I write, Kerry has leads in Nevada, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and New Hampshire (Washington, I happily and proudly report, has finally been called for Kerry). New Mexico's a problem, with a 17,000 vote deficit, but it's also irrelevant if Ohio comes through, and Ohio's hardly done.

There's a substantial deficit, about 115,000 votes, but there are significant urban centers still reporting (Air America just reported that Cayahauga County is now turning in a report that shows a 195,000 vote bulge for Kerry) and there are about 150,000 provisional ballots that may be the final key to victory.

Dreams of landslides are gone, but this election isn't over until every vote is counted - including the wet foot heroes in Ohio.

Network projections are not election results. Count every damn vote.

The Spirit of '04

This election will be decided by heroes with wet feet.

Via Salon's War Room...
...At one polling place at an eastern Columbus library there were six voting booths in 2000; this year, despite historic levels of voter registration, there were only three, reports America Coming Together volunteer John Darrah, on the ground in Columbus. Mid-day ACT shifted people from ferrying voters to the polls to going to get them food and water. When Darrah left the library around 10 p.m., there were still several hundred African American voters waiting to vote. "I saw people standing in two inches of rain, for hours," says Darrah, angry but inspired. "And I only saw one person walk away."
God bless 'em, every one.

And when someone gets around to counting them, I think they'll elect our new President.

The picture's fuzzy...



...but it's clear to me that that's the most important, most satisfying ballot I've cast in 32 years of voting.

They're predicting an 84% statewide turnout in Washington, and if the line at my sleepy little suburban precinct, in the heart of a safe blue district in a safe blue state, is any indication, they're likely to be right.

We're doing it.

Wow.

Vote...

...because they couldn't...



...because they can't...



...because it matters.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Another reason...

...to read James Wolcott everyday comes disguised as the Quote of the Day.
"...the war in Iraq has made moral cowards of us all. To focus on whether or not the Bin Laden tape would give Bush a boost while thousands upon thousands of Iraqis die and Fallujah is about to pulverized without the slightest debate in this country is an indictment of our media, our political class, and the phony Christianity that so many of our dumpling patriots profess."

Uh oh...

Atrios is on to us.
There are days I think that all of these things are decided by a committee of freemasons in a dark dungeon somewhere...
It's true. Kerry's going to win, and it's all our fault...



...and you're very welcome.

I'm one, too.

Needlenose, via Oliver...
The truth is, there is a plot by the Democratic Party and its sympathizers to steal this election, and Needlenose is absolutely, 100 percent a willing co-conspirator in the scheme.

Our nefarious plan is to flood polling places from Hawaii to Florida and Maine with millions of voters who will seize this country back from the cult-like assortment of creeps, criminals, and fanatics who have taken control of it -- so many that even a systematic campaign of disruption is overwhelmed by the avalanche of democracy.

To our anonymous friend, that will probably feel like theft. But so be it. Get out there, everybody, and steal this election by voting! And thanks for being part of the plot!

Be Prepared

If you live in Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee or Washington, the ACLU has information you need for tomorrow.

Along with links to voter registration and absentee ballot information, polling place locators and contact info for the local ACLU and election officials, they've prepared Voter Empowerment Cards that summarize election law and your rights under those laws.

Go take a look, and take the time to print out a card to take to the polls. No matter how confident you are about your ability to cast your personal ballot, be ready to help a fellow citizen in distress with good information. There's a huge effort underway to make sure that every vote is counted, but to make that effort meaningful, we can't afford to let a single vote go uncast.

(Credit Carl Ballard at Washington State Political Report with the tip. Thanks, Carl!)

Sal sez...

...Kerry's going to win, but not by the margin I projected.

Sally, the Brilliant and Beautiful Bride of Upper Left, has her own notion of how things will play out tomorrow, and her map looks like this.



She's not buying my arguments in favor of Colorado (where she spent a significant chunk of her childhood) or Arkansas. I could write that off as the result of her excessive exposure to the mainstream media, but, in fact, it's probably got more to do with the fact that she's, well, brilliant.

Still, it comes out 316-222 in Kerry's favor, so if she's right and I'm wrong (something that occurs frequently enough to be likely) I'll be perfectly happy with the result.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

OK, maybe it was this.

First BC04 put their morally reprehensible spin on the Bin Laden tape...
A senior GOP strategist added, "anything that makes people nervous about their personal safety helps Bush."

He called it "a little gift," saying it helps the President but doesn't guarantee his reelection.
...and then the Sunday pundits dutifully lined up behind it. By midday Sunday, there was a concensus forming that OBL gave a big boost to GWB. As a result, there's a new wave of nervousness in some corners of the Kerry camp. But Bushco is wrong, the pundits are wrong, and by now we should all know better than to listen to any of them.

Political Wire offers some encouragement from a reliable Democratic source...
A Democracy Corps poll shows the release of the Osama bin Laden video is more likely -- by 46% to 36% -- to remind people that bin Laden hasn't been caught and remains a threat to the United States rather than give them positive feelings about President Bush as a fighter of terrorism.
...and Billmon's back with this note from Faux News' favorite pollster...
"While it has been said too many times to count, this race remains too-close-to-call with the outcome dependent on several key swing states," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman. "With less than two days to go, it is likely that any further last minute events will have little impact. However, it can be said the recent news of a bin Laden tape, while not necessarily hurting the incumbent, has clearly not helped him hold off Sen. Kerry."
If they can't keep Gorman on message, they're in bigger trouble than I might have thought.

If I were the kind of guy to say I told you so....well, I guess I am...

Aw, c'mon!

Hard as it may be to believe, there's still a few folks out there who haven't heard that panic is passe. Steve Gilliardoffers sage advice to one such...
It's not over, so curling up into a ball is silly. You can still do something to prevent what you fear. Volunteer for ACT or Kerry or the DNC. Do something besides worry and you'll at least know you did your part to prevent Bush from winning. Just printing up and handing our Move On Voter Protection Cards on your own may help people. Take $10, go to Staples, and run some off. Then just hand them out near a couple of polling places. You are not powerless and this is NOT over.

If you do nothing, you help Bush win. And your fears may well come true. But if you act, what you want may well happen.
When anxiety strikes, take Steve's advice.

Or use Zephyr's tips.

Or get in on Party For America's phone bank action.

Or just walk next door and ask you neighbor "If you screwed up your job as bad as Bush has screwed up his job, wouldn't you get fired?" and offer them a ride to the polls Tuesday.

Just do something. Because if we all do something, we'll get this thing done.

Got a minute?

Got a bunch of 'em?

If you've locked down every vote on your block and your cell phone has a national calling plan, you're not done yet.

The folks at Party For America have a job for you. They've teamed up with ACT to organize a national phone bank effort to GET OUT THE VOTE in Ohio. If you can help, the details are right here.

It's working. As of noon today, 148,000 PFA/ACT calls had poured into Ohio from across the country. Keep 'em coming!

Public service announcement...

...courtesy of Roger Ailes.
Don't forget to turn the clock forward 100 years on November 2.

Happy Halloween!



The Upper Left Department of Front Porch Security is gearing up. We've assembled a formidable arsenal of Snickers and peanut butter cups, hung up the spiders and spooky lights and the eerie sound effects should be in place well before the invasion.

I love Halloween. The more kids the better. I'm very grateful for one night of big fun, but very mindful that it's just the lead in to two days of hard work.

It's down to the final hours now, and frankly I don't thing there's any new information that's going to move any voters. It's all about person to person efforts, and every person is essential.

There are a lot of ways to get in the game. When all else fails, this is a game you can just put yourself into. Zephyr Teachout has some solid advice...
(1) Volunteer with a voter mobilization group. One of the best is American Coming Together. Go to www.acthere.com to learn more. As a volunteer, you'll have opportunities to canvass, phone bank, and pass out literature.

(2) Print out posters from www.udecide.org and pass them out.

(3) Take a sheet of paper and spend 20 minutes writing down names of all the people you know in swing states. Call them. Tell them to find their polling place here: www.pollingplacelocation.com.

(4) Create your own 8 hour GOTV plan for the last 48 hours.

Here's how you do it:

a. On Monday, spend two hours making plans. Call and email people you know who might want to work with you, and sign them up for these responsibilities for your dorm or street:
i. Literature drop captain(s) (to pass out information at doorsteps)
ii. Polling place captain(s) (to pass out information near polling places)
iii. Visibility captain(s) (to put up signs)
b. On Tuesday, meet first thing (in person or on the phone) with all the people who have agreed to help.
i. 8 A.M. Literature drop. Go to every dorm room and house where your friends live and drop off a reminder to vote for change, with accurate polling location info and a partisan candidate comparison. Include a map with written directions on the back. Use posters at www.udecide.com. The literature drop captain will be responsible for making copies and getting others to help distribute.
ii. 10 AM – 11 AM Call 10 people you know to remind them to vote.
iii. 12 PM Email everyone you know (text message and IM are good, too!). Include a reminder to vote, where to vote, and who to contact in case of a problem: 1-866-OUR-VOTE.
iv. Throughout the Day. Find people willing to stand near the polls and pass out literature. More is always better, so don't worry if others are there too – you can coordinate when you meet them!
v. Throughout the Day. Find people willing to poster signs about where the polls are, when and where and why they should vote.
...and remember...


Saturday, October 30, 2004

Marching Orders

"I see an America of rising opportunity. And I believe hope, not fear is our future. In three days, we can change the course of our country. I ask for your vote and I ask for your help. When you go to the polls next Tuesday, bring your friends, your family, your neighbors. No one can afford to stand on the sidelines or sit this one out. In three days, this campaign will end. The election is in your hands. You can vote now and every day until Election Day. And if you believe we need a fresh start in Iraq . if you believe we can create and keep good jobs here in America ... if you believe we need to get health care costs under control ... if you believe in the promise of stem cell research ... if you believe our deficits are too high and we're too dependent on Mideast oil ...then I ask you to join me and together we'll change America."

John Kerry, national radio address, 10/30/04
What will you do to change America today?

BOO!



I'm not entirely sure what the impact of the new Osama tape will be on the election, but my best guess is that it will range from none at all to a slight bump for Kerry. I am pretty sure, though, that the last thing Karl and George want at this point is a reminder that Bin Laden is alive, well and at large.

OBL has been Kerry's issue, and he's been clubbing Bush with it on a regular basis for weeks. Charges that he's politicizing this tape ring hollow because he's never dropped the issue, so he doesn't have to change his message to deal with the latest news.

All the nervous Nellies ready to score this as advantage Bush are ignoring his continual effort to hide the Bin Laden question behind the Saddam smokescreen and the continual spin that's come from Bush allies who have opined that Osama was either buried in the rubble or ill unto death in some vermin infested cave.

Nope. He's alive, well and at large, and that's bad for Bush. If you're tempted think otherwise, think again, and think once more before you speak. Josh Marshall is right...
Whether this OBL tape represents no-bump, a bump, or something more damaging than a bump, I don't know. But reactions can dictate and shape outcomes, especially in such a context as this where perception is the essence of the matter.
Don't give 'em an inch, especially not on our issues.

Get a grip. Get busy. Get out the vote.