Tuesday, November 23, 2004

A heads up...

...from the Bugman.
"Much of the talk about Social Security and tax reform in Washington these days is about which will be tackled in the next two years, and which will be put off until after the 2006 elections," DeLay said, according to his prepared remarks for the closed-door speech. "The answer, if you're interested is - do I have your attention? The answer is that we're going to do both before the 2006 elections."
And that, friends, is why we have to save our filibusters for the fights we can win.

And why 2006 is going to be yet another "most important election of our lives."

What's up, Doc?

As I've said, I have no particular objection to the idea of Howard Dean as Chair of the DNC, although I suspect some of his more strenuous advocates overestimate the impact he - or anyone - will have in that role. The DNC Chair is the manager, not the leader, of the Democratic Party. Still, Dr. Dean would be an entertaining, perhaps compelling, presence on the Sunday shows and would be able to get the Party some headlines we might otherwise miss. He'd do fine.

Well, he would if he wanted the job, and that's not clear at all. On the one hand, we get reports like this...
WASHINGTON - A former presidential candidate, Governor Dean, is stepping up his lobbying effort to succeed Terence McAuliffe as chairman of the Democratic National Committee and is canvassing for support on Capitol Hill, House members said.

His focus has been on lawmakers who endorsed his White House bid, but the former Vermont governor is also lobbying members of Congress who backed Democratic primary rivals Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri and Senator Kerry. Dr. Dean has touted his success at grassroots politics and his fund-raising prowess as reasons why he should be elected to the post, arguing that he can lift the party out of the doldrums.
Fair enough. Of course, if he's arguing that his "success at grassroots politics and his fund-raising prowess" are the best reasons to elect him, maybe he'd better reassess his strengths. His "success at grassroots politics" led him to crushing defeats in every contest he entered in 2004 and his "fund-raising prowess" was virtually non-existant until Joe Trippi showed up on his doorstep with a fundraising vehicle that Dean had never imagined and never fully understood. (Of course, in judging the veracity of the NY Sun piece, it should be noted that they're still measuring the prospects of Alexis Herman and Tom Vilsack, both of whom have withdrawn their names from consideration.)

Still, he'd do fine as Chair, if he could just get his story straight. While the media that's supposed to have been so hostile to his Presidential aspirations touts him for Chair, Tom McMahon, the Executive Director of Democracy for America, which serves as the public voice of Howard Dean for whatever he wants to be tells another tale...
Let me begin by saying Governor Dean has not made a decision whether to pursue the job...

...Whatever the Governor ultimately decides, the DFA community will be the first to hear because you continue to be the foundation of our success. Thanks again for everything you all do and stay tuned!
So come on Howard! Where's a little of that famous spine? Do you want the job or not?

And are you going to let the "DFA community" in on those backroom converations in D.C.?

Or are you waiting for us to beg? Because, really, we have options...

Counting every vote...

...was the promise, and it's still the plan.
A top-ranking official with Democratic Senator John Kerry's presidential campaign told North County News last week that although unlikely, there is a recount effort being waged that could unseat Republican President George W. Bush.

"We have 17,000 lawyers working on this, and the grassroots accountability couldn't be any higher -no (irregularity) will go unchecked. Period," Kerry spokesman David Wade said.
When the time comes (and there's still too much dust in the air for that time to have arrived), it will be important to lay out a candid appraisal of both the strengths and mistakes of the Kerry/Edwards campaign, and there's a full share of each.

The notion, though, that his 'concession,' a statement that has no force whatsoever in law, means that he's abandoned his electorate without fighting to count every vote is just more Naderite claptrap. Most of the people advancing that notion should know better, and should just knock it off it they expect their views or our Party to be taken seriously.

Is there anybody out there that really believes they wanted John Kerry to win more than he wanted to win himself?

(Thanks to Jennifer at Fierce Planet for the pointer!)

Monday, November 22, 2004

He's disappointed, he says...

"I was disappointed the bill didn't pass. I thought it was going to pass up to the last minute."

George W. Bush on the intelligence reform bill.
...but of course, he just lies. Hey, don't take my word for it.
...there's been a lot of opposition to...Some of it is turf, you know, quite frankly. Some of it is from the Pentagon. Some of it, quite frankly, is from the White House, despite what the president has said.

Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), Chair, Senate Intelligence Committee

In Memorium...

May 29, 1917 - November 22, 1963

...and we may have done so much more, with his help.

We may never know, but the dream will never die...

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Their side...

"When you talk about protecting marriage, you need to talk about divorce," said Bryce Christensen, a Southern Utah University professor who writes frequently about family issues.


"If those initiatives are part of a broader effort to reaffirm lifetime fidelity in marriage, they're worthwhile," he said. "If they're isolated — if we don't address cohabitation and casual divorce and deliberate childlessness — then I think they're futile and will be brushed aside."

Our side...

We're right. They're wrong.

We're right. They're wrong.

It may not be "the economy, stupid" anymore (then again, it may), but Carville's still absolutely right about who's wrong.

As various folks try to pin down their Republican Congresscritters on the question of whether or not they're members of the "Shay's Handful" that ineffectually opposed the pre-pardon of Tom DeLay with the rules change in the House Republican Caucus, I'm more inclined to say it just doesn't matter.

How many of the handful are going to leave the Caucus over the issue? How many votes did Nancy Pelosi pick up for Speaker? Nope, they'll all dutifully line up behind Hastert and his henchmen in Republican leadership, and we'll see the full flower of the Republican agenda.

What might that be? Kevin Drum checks out the leading indicators...
Congressional Republicans have now been back in town for five days following their big election victory on the 2nd. So what are they using their newfound mandate for? Let's take a peek:
At the request of Rep. Ernest Istook (R-Oklahoma), passed a law giving Appropriations Committee chairmen the right to look at anyone's tax returns without regard to privacy rights. When caught by Democrats, they said it was all just a big mistake and promised they'd never actually use this authority.

Overwhelmingly revoked a rule stating that Republican congressional leaders have to step down if indicted of a felony. This was done to protect House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who appears to be on the verge of being indicted for a felony.
Approved funding to buy President Bush a yacht.

Killed long-awaited intelligence reform legislation that was widely supported by both Democrats and Republicans, the president, the 9/11 Commission, and 9/11 victims groups.
...and Kevin misses a big one. Our House Leader didn't, though. Here's what the Shadow Speaker had to say about one of their priorities...
"The Weldon amendment is essentially a domestic gag rule, restricting access to abortion counseling, referral, and information. Health care companies should not be able to prevent doctors from giving medically necessary information.

"This language makes a mockery of existing state and local laws, including many state constitutions. Under the Weldon Amendment, any law or regulation currently on the books to protect access to reproductive health services is at risk. The term 'discrimination' in this amendment is so vague that it could be used against any federal, state, or local government effort to provide reproductive health services.

"This language makes a mockery of Title X. The Title X family planning program provides much-needed reproductive health services that reach millions of low-income, uninsured individuals. And it really is sad because we all want to reduce the number of abortions in our country. That is a goal that we all share. And family planning is one way to do that. But under this amendment, clinics could participate in the Title X program without providing a full range of reproductive health services. Federal dollars should not be used to deny the federally-protected right to choose."
And make no mistake. It's a priority, although not, apparently, a point of pride.
"This language is a radical change in policy that the House has not debated on the floor, and the Senate has never considered, debated, or voted on. Republicans simply slipped it into the appropriations bill when they thought no one was looking. It is entirely outside of the scope of this omnibus spending bill. Yet it is a part of a 'must-pass' bill at the insistence of House Republican leaders."
So the next time a Republican claims to be "moderate" or "pro-choice" or "mainstream," ask 'em why they support a leadership that pursues a radical agenda through clandenstine tactics.

And the next time someone tells you they vote for "the person, not the party," don't just shake your head and walk away. Tell them to their face exactly how foolish they are.

Because in Congress, it's all about the Party, and we're right, and they're wrong.

(your diety here) Bless Tbogg.

He shoots, he scores...
The way I look at it: when life gives you lemons, throw them at the heads of people you don't like and then run like hell. It's all snark fodder to me.

Brand Dem's greatest hits...


Collect the whole set.


There's stuff to talk about, and of course I've got things to say about it, but most of my computing day has been occupied with trying to dump a renegade toolbar from my browser, which led to the discovery of all kinds of nasties on my hard drive.

Things seem to be cleared up for now, so stand by...

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Brand Dem

Mine's on order, yours is waiting right here.

Tip o' the cap to Oliver for taking care of business...hey! What about caps?

Update: Caps it is!

From the Credit Where it's Due Department...

With all the noise being made about Democratic Party reform in various circles, credit the Democracy For America folks for talking about doing the work rather than just pounding the table...
The next two months represent our best chance to influence the future of the Democratic Party. During this period, many local party committees will be undergoing a process of reorganization, where they elect new officers and executive committees. The only way for us to have a role in this process is to get involved and attend our local meetings at the town, county and state levels.
...and give 'em even more credit for knowing what the work is and providing tools to get it done.
Right now, DFA is compiling a scheduling database of local Democratic meetings around the country to help you get involved over the next few months....
I've long since warmed up to Dr. Dean, and some of those Deaners are looking better all the time, too (of course, Chris has always been tops around here).

This majik moment...

...comes courtesy of James Wolcott, who offers a pointer to Majikthise (aka Lindsay Beyerstein), who not only gets a coveted slot on the Wolcott blogroll, but looks to be about 30 years younger and 100% hipper than I'll ever be. But am I jealous?

No, not me.

In fact, I'm feeling magnamimous. This little rant in response to Jonathan Chait's suggestion that Democrats put the NEA on the sacrificial altar to curry favor with the Red State gods is more than sufficient to earn Majikthise a spot on our own Other Lefties list...
I'm sick of hearing privileged "liberals" cynically opining (in public, no less!) about which or our core constituencies we can cut loose in order to curry favor with the Red States. Gays? Women? Unions? Immigrants? You know, the people whose petty concerns will probably pale beside the Real values of the Democratic party. I say "probably" because the pundits tell me that we don't actually have a Vision yet--but the Marketing Team will be getting back to us soon.


Some people seem determined to live up to the right wing slander. When right accuses us of being unprincipled snobs, they leap up to validate the stereotype: "Why yessir, Mr. Limbaugh. Guilty as charged, sir. Might I flay an interpretive dancer for your listening pleasure and that of your mouth-breathing Jeebofascist drone army?"
Sic 'em, Lindsay!

Shorter David Brooks...

The Hammer's really a pussycat. Too bad he's a crook...

(and Mr. DeLay? If you've lost Brooks, maybe it's time to renew your exterminator's license.)

Speaking of Oliver...

...he takes me to task in a comment on the post below about Bill Clinton, saying that "...you've gotta be nutty to think he did nothing for the party."

I don't disagree, but my argument isn't that he did nothing for the Party. I agree with Pierce when he says that "...his primary accomplishment over his two terms was keeping the real wingnuts at bay..." and I agree that that accomplishment "...is not an inconsiderable one, given the present state of things."

It's probably worth noting his prodigious skill as a fundraiser, which has benefited the Party significantly.

It's also true, though, that Bill Clinton pursued a program that, for the most part, could have been embraced by, say, Dick Nixon. It can also be argued that much of his troubles were the consequence of losing Democratic control of the House of Representatives for the first time in a couple of generations, and that part of the blame for that loss could be put at the feet of an Administration that asked for support without providing much political cover. My biggest personal gripe is over his bungled attempt to develop a health care proposal that sold out the single payer constituency in an attempt to satisfy the private insurance industry, which ended up stabbing him in the back anyway. The drive for real health care reform was set back a couple of decades (which, in my view, is as good a reason as any to disqualify Hillary for a Presidential nomination).

But I don't really want to devote a lot of attention to dumping on Bill Clinton, who did, after all, serve a purpose and whose considerable personal appeal makes him a popular figure in Democratic circles despite his ideological inconsistency. However you feel about his role in Democratic Party history, I simply don't think he should play a significant role in crafting the Democratic future. Bring him out for special events, especially when there's money involved, if you like, but keep him away from the platform, please.

It's time to trade in the Big Dog for Big John...

Rapid Response.

Big John inspires Oliver...

By the way, Mr. Willis is looking for artistic assistance to generate some product. If you can help, give him a holler because I really covet a t-shirt with the 'getting warmed up' design...

Friday, November 19, 2004

Marching orders.

As far as this Democrat's concerned, until we get a new nominee for the top of the ticket, we've got a new leader. Unlike some unsuccessful nominees of the past, he's both positioned to, and seems intent to, provide real leadership for progressive change. He seems to be off to a good start in his new role...

I want to thank you personally for what you did in the election -- you rewrote the book on grassroots politics, taking control of campaigns away from big donors. No campaign will ever be the same.

You moved voters, helped hold George Bush accountable, and countered the attacks from big news organizations such as Fox, Sinclair Broadcasting, and conservative talk radio.

And your efforts count now more than ever. Despite the words of cooperation and moderate sounding promises, this administration is planning a right wing assault on values and ideals we hold most deeply. Healthy debate and diverse opinion are being eliminated from the State Department and CIA, and the cabinet is being remade to rubber stamp policies that will undermine Social Security, balloon the deficit, avoid real reforms in health care and education, weaken homeland security, and walk away from critical allies around the world.

Regardless of the outcome of this election, once all the votes are counted -- and they will be counted -- we will continue to challenge this administration. This is not a time for Democrats to retreat and accommodate extremists on critical principles -- it is a time to stand firm.

I will fight for a national standard for federal elections that has both transparency and accountability in our voting system. It's unacceptable in the United States that people still don't have full confidence in the integrity of the voting process.

I ask you to join me in this cause.

And we must fight not only against George Bush's extreme policies -- we must also uphold our own values. This is why on the first day Congress is in session next year, I will introduce a bill to provide every child in America with health insurance. And, with your help, that legislation will be accompanied by the support of hundreds of thousands of Americans.

There are more than eight million uninsured children in our nation.

That's eight million reasons for us to stay together and fight for a new direction. It is a disgrace that in the wealthiest nation on earth, eight million children go without health insurance.

Normally, a member of the Senate will first approach other senators and ask them to co-sponsor a bill before it is introduced -- instead, I am turning to you. Imagine the power of a bill co-sponsored by hundreds of thousands of Americans being presented on the floor of the United States Senate. You can make it happen. Sign our "Every Child Protected" pledge today and forward it to your family, friends, and neighbors:


This is the beginning of a second term effort to hold the Bush administration accountable and to stand up and fight for our principles and our values. They want you to disappear; they are counting on that. I'm confident you will prove them wrong, and you will rewrite history again.

Here is what I want you to know. I understand the strength, commitment, and passion that are at the core of what we built together -- and I am determined to make our collective energy and organization a force to be reckoned with in the weeks and months ahead.

Let's roll up our sleeves and get back to work for our country.

Thank you,

I'm glad someone said it first...

...so I don't sound too crazy to y'all, but Charles Pierce is absolutely right.
I think it's time for Bill Clinton, and his wife, and all the people who worked for him to shut up for a while. As time has ground on, I begin to realize that his primary accomplishment over his two terms was keeping the real wingnuts at bay -- which is not an inconsiderable one, given the present state of things. But, let us also admit that, on his best day, Clinton was a DLC Democrat and, even as one of those, he never got 55 percent of the popular vote. He signed an overly punitive welfare bill and he was the worst president on the Bill of Rights in my lifetime. He didn't do jack about building the party...
...and then there's his efforts to dismantle the Great Society programs, giving Bushco a clear shot at the New Deal. And the Defense Of (some) Marriage Act, which he signed despite opposition from Democrats like John Kerry. And his advice to Kerry (wisely rejected) that JK campaign openly for the anti-marriage rights initiatives across the country. And...well, you get the point.

Congratulations, Bill. The library's open, and it looks dandy. Now go cloister yourself in the stacks for a few years and leave us to repair the mess left in your wake.

Sure, she looks peaceful...

...but there's a squirrel in her sights...

(Fear not. Lovely and talented as she may be, squirrel-catching is not part of Audrey Hepcat's skill set. A girl's gotta dream, though...)

The Devil is in the details...

...but the whole damn thing has gone to Hell.

Juan Cole points out the problem with the particular...
It seems likely, however, that the Fallujah offensive has so deeply alienated the Sunni Arab populace of Iraq, which is probably 4 million to 4.5 million strong, that it has ensured that they will boycott the polls as American-sponsored. The political goals of the Fallujah campaign, in other words, were foredoomed to failure...
...but James Wolcott casts the net a bit wider.
Andrew Sullivan and Thomas Friedman can petition for more troops all they please. It's too late for more troops. We don't have troops to spare as it is, but even if we did, it's too late. It's too late for everything. The blundering mistakes that were made in the first days and weeks of the occupation can't be reversed now--they're incorrectible. The window of opportunity dropped like a guillotine while Donald Rumsfeld was regaling the press corps with his pithy wisdom.
They're both right, of course. Fallujah is anything but a victory, since there was never a question about our ability to assemble enough force to overrun the city. The only practical reasons for doing so, though, were to gain some larger political advantage, and that job has been botched irretrievably.

It's just a recapitulation, though, of the overall mess we've made in Iraq. Our ability to drive to Baghdad with an intensive armored attack supported by artillery and air support is hardly a remarkable achievement for the most powerful military power on the planet. The way we chose to do it, though, has left us with in a quagmire of our own making, the inevitable and totally predictable result of Rummy's indefensible battle plan.

I've been generally sympathetic to the view that we made the mess and we have some obligation to clean it up. The fact is, though, that we seem to break everything we touch in Iraq. We've sent a demolition crew to provide maid service and we're seemingly astonished that they're ill equipped for the job.

It's time to stop the insanity. It's taken a while to get there (arguably too long) but count me in with the "Out Now" crowd. We've sacrificed 1217 American lives to George and Rummy's false idol already. We're bound to lose more even if withdrawal started today.

And how do you ask someone to be the last one to die for a mistake?

Sure, you should...

...read Oliver Willis every day, but maybe you don't, so I'll start spreading the joy...

I said shut up, Donna...

...and I meant it.

Fournier updates his latest attack on John Kerry...
WASHINGTON - Under friendly fire, Sen. John Kerry likely will donate a substantial portion of his excess presidential campaign cash to help elect Democratic candidates in 2005 and 2006, advisers said Thursday.
That's right, The money will likely be gone long before 2008. And there probably won't be as much as you thought...
According to the two officials familiar with Kerry's account:

_ He has $16 million left from the primaries.

_ Some $4 million to $5 million of that will be transferred to a legal and compliance fund to help pay for the costs of fighting or resolving 16 Federal Election Commission complaints pending against Kerry. That legal fund already has $8 million.

_ Once the transfer is made and all primary season bills are paid, Kerry will have just shy of $10 million in his primary campaign account.
So he'll have some money left in an account that he was prohibited from using during the general election campaign, and he'll likely spread it around, which is hardly surprising, given his exemplary and unprecedented support for the Democratic Party and Democratic candidates, support which prompted this comment...
DNC spokesman Jano Cabrera said that was the largest contribution the DNC has ever received, and the first from a presidential primary campaign.

"With this donation, the campaign more than fulfilled its commitment to our general election plan," he said.
But some people are never satisfied...
"They're doing this now because they're being forced to, not because they want to," said Democratic consultant Donna Brazile, the most vocal critic of Kerry's spending. "They still don't have a defense for why they hung on to the money."
Actually, Brazile seems to be the only vocal critic of Kerry's spending, since Fournier can't seem to get anyone else on the record. Which, of course, prompts some questions.

Hey, Donna, you managed Gore 2000. What was your defense for ending up with $6.5 million in the bank and sitting on it for four years? Might that have been used to drum up a few hundred votes in Florida? Or to pick up a House seat or two in 2002? Or something?

Of course, there's no good answer to my questions, because Donna is well down the path to indefensible.

Pessimist at the Left Coaster has alternate advice for Ms. Brazile, and it's pretty good advice at that...
Donna, why don't you go have a nice chat with Ed Gillespie like you did before the primary season got going? Maybe he'll offer you a new job. That would be good, because you aren't very good at the one you have. Just remember - do as well for them as you did for us.
So sure, Donna, chat away with Ed, but when a reporter calls, just shut up.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Inside looking out.

The buzz on a number of lefty blogs is all about 'reform' these days. To read some of what's out there, you'd think 'reform' was a brand new idea rather than the commonplace recriminations that overtake the Democratic Party after every Presidential defeat.

A piece by Glenn Smith at BOPnews is typical in that it betrays seeming confusion about who the Democratic Party is, and how it's organized. Smith appears to conflate "Democratic Party leaders..." with "Top Democratic consultants...", and complains that
...we shouldn't expect reform from those who stand to lose from the reforms. The Democratic establishment has absolutely no motivation to do things differently. It doesn't really matter to them who is in office. (It does matter to them who wins primaries, however, because if they lose their Dem consultant competitor wins, gets a larger market share, and that is bad for business.)
First of all, I've done business with a lot of Democratic consultants over the years, and have, on a modest scale, been one myself, and my experience is that people tend to become Democratic consultants precisely because it does matter to them who is in office. Those whose instincts are purely mercenary (and there are some) tend to blur their partisan linkage, because frankly, most years, in most races, there's more money to be made on the other side.

But the Democratic consultants aren't, for the most part, the Democratic leaders. They may, depending on their skill and interests, become Democratic media stars, but by definition, leaders are people with followers, and consultants don't have followers, they have clients.

No, the Party leadership consists of local and state Party Chairs and county, state and national Committee Members. Even the DNC Chair is overrated as a Party "leader." He's a hired hand who gets his policy direction from the Committee and the Convention and is taksed primarily as a fundraiser and manager. Most all of the true members of leadership hold their postitions because of a following they've gained among the Party grassroots who elect them to their positions. Of course, a lot of the newly minted 'netroots' folks assume they're part of the Party grassroots by virtue of their interest, but they're too often not interested in doing actual Party work. As I've said before, maintaining the grassroots Party is a pretty unglamorous affair. It falls to the folks who show up, who become precinct officers, who walk those precincts in the off years when there's nothing but a sewer commissioner and a school levy on the ballot, who do the paperwork, keep the rosters, and who, in return, get to elect the real Party leaders.

Some of the ignorance of the actual Party structure is revealed in the lists of DNC members that are in circulation by those who are lobbying the net for one candidate or another for DNC Chair. The list commonly offered for Washington state, for instance, includes our Democratic Governor, who will lose his seat since he's retiring from office in January, before the DNC reorganization at the winter meeting in February. It includes our State Chair, who is facing at least two challengers at our state reorganization in January and may or may not retain his position. Likewise, all of our elected DNC members are subject to election in January, and while I haven't heard about organized challenges, they wouldn't be all that surprising, either.

A similar reorganization is taking place in virtually every state Party. In other words, whatever you think you know about the makeup of the DNC, by February, everything you know may be wrong.

And the people who will make those decisions? They're not the people who've written the most blog posts this year, or attended the most Meet Ups, or even written the biggest checks. They're the people who've been showing up, month after month, year after year, almost unnoticed by the people who now want to reform a Party whose structure they're largely oblivious to.

There's also a widespread disconnect with Party history among some of the reformers, as reflected in Smith's observation that...
...conservative Democrats used the failed McGovern candidacy in 1972 to discourage the reformers. Nixon resigned, the Vietnam War ended, and some of the steam was lost from the movement -- because of its successes, not its failures.
...when in fact, McGovern Democrats used the failure of that campaign as the pretext to sieze control of the Party and institute a wide ranging set of reforms that were aimed at upsetting the old machine system and increasing the influence of the grassroots by emphasizing the role of the various state caucuses and primaries. That's right, the Iowa caucuses that are the targets of such widespread disdain among today's reformers owe much of their prominence in the nomination process to the reforms of the 1970s. Sometimes you need to be careful what you ask for...

Smith admits that the differences are largely about process, not policy, and his own list of policy interests (his original post is worth checking out for that alone) is, for the most part, a recapitualtion of the John Kerry campaign agenda. No, he's drawing his line between "insiders" and "outsiders" on
"...the point that we, the insurgents, want to win because our futures depend upon it. You, the insiders, no longer seem to care."
But I think he's confused about who the "you" he's talking to might be. In fact, the Democratic consultants and media stars aren't really the "insiders," though they may play them on TV. The real insiders, the grassroots, are people just like me, a grassroots Party regular for over 30 years, and we, in fact, care very much.

So much that we are inside - inside those church basements and Legion halls building a Party for the outsiders to bitch about.

But the door's wide open. Want to reform the Democratic Party?

Come on in.

Quote of the day.

"The truth is the president of the United States used the same device that Slobodan Milosevic used in Serbia. When you appeal to homophobia, when you appeal to sexism, when you appeal to racism, that is extraordinarily damaging to the country. I know George Bush. I served with him for six years [as a fellow governor]. He's not a homophobe. He's not a racist. He's not a sexist. In some ways, what he did was worse ... because he knew better."

Howard Dean

The $15 milllion furor.

It started with this item from the AP's Ron Fournier...
WASHINGTON - Democratic Party leaders said Wednesday they want to know why Sen. John Kerry ended his presidential campaign with more than $15 million in the bank, money that could have helped Democratic candidates across the country.
Naturally, Fournier's startling expose was very well sourced. Let's see, there was...
...Some, as in "Some said..."

...the ever-quotable Donna Brazile

...unnamed "Congressional Democrats and labor leaders..."

and "Three former Kerry campaign aides..." who were "...also demanding anonymity..."
So basically, there was Donna Brazile, the persistent self-promoter who insisted that "He's going to have to give some of it up for 2005 and beyond. The party will demand it." Which is kind of interesting, since the last campaign that Ms. Brazile managed, way back in 2000, was still sitting on about $6.5 million in April of 2004, when Al Gore finally decided to drain his Presidential coffers with donations to the DNC, DSCC and DCCC. Funny, I would have thought that there might have been a race or two in the 2002 cycle that could have used a buck or two...or maybe Brazile thought she'd have a job in 2004.

In fact, Gore was a big piker compared to Kerry, who doled out about $40 million while his campaign was still active to all of the above, plus a variety of state Party organizations and the Democratic Governors Association. It was more support, by a wide margin, than any Presidential nominee had ever given to other Party organizations.

I don't know how many campaigns Mr. Fournier has ever had to wrap up, but I've done quite a few, on a much smaller scale than a Presidential race, and I've never seen one, even a local one, that had all the bills in hand and paid off two weeks after the votes were counted. There's a reason that Kerry's last report isn't due for a month, and a reason that those 'final' reports are so often amended later.

No one knows how much money John Kerry will really have in his coffers after the final accounting, or what his plans are for any surplus. What we do know is his willingness to provide generous support to Democrats at every level is well established.

And, oh yeah.

We know that Donna Brazile should just shut up.

They understand...


(Thanks to Karlo at Swerve Left for the pointer)


Nancy's back.

No surprise, really, but good news anyway...
Washington, D.C. - House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke at a news conference in the Capitol this morning after being unanimously re-elected to serve as House Democratic Leader in the 109th Congress. She was joined by the entire Democratic Leadership team, all re-elected by acclamation, Whip Steny Hoyer, Caucus Chair Bob Menendez, Caucus Vice-Chair James E. Clyburn, and Assistant to the Minority Leader John Spratt.
I'm pleased, too, to see her mention of a project lunched to little fanfare late in the 2004 campaign, the New Partnership for America's Future. If you missed it (and many did, I'm afraid) it's an action plan for Democratic success based on core values that not only represent the tradition of the Democratic Party, but are values that actually have meaning for the real lives of real Americans, rather than the false piety of the so-called Republican 'values' debate that focuses on dividing the American people over wedge issues that have little impact on the real needs and concerns of the nation.
"Democrats will continue the historic unity we had this year. We will continue to highlight the differences between Democrats and Republicans. And our New Partnership of America's Future will be the foundation of our legislative agenda. We will always be true to its core values of security, prosperity, opportunity, community, fairness, and accountability."
I'm convinced that properly presented (and much as I appreciate the work of the DCCC, a multi-page .pdf file isn't the proper presentation. Think 'fits on a file card,' folks), the New Partnership can be a key to victory in 2006 and beyond.

Good news for Corporal Marshall...

...but it shouldn't take local headlines to get decent treatment for our nation's warriors.
Cpl. Artist Marshall's father died homeless nearly a year ago at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, but it took eight months before his family learned the news. By then, the 23-year-old Marine had deployed to Iraq, and his mother chose not to tell him because she didn't want him to worry while he was in the middle of a war zone. Marshall finally found out this month through a friend of the family.

His unit in Iraq initially denied him an emergency leave typically granted to troops who lose an immediate family member. The reason, he said, was because his father had died so long ago.

After a Seattle Times article yesterday detailing the unusual circumstances, his unit approved his leave.
The lesson? If you know someone in Iraq, or someone returned from Iraq, or someone scheduled for deployment to Iraq, it's a reasonable assumption that Rummy's military will screw them over every time unless we make noise at home.

In every war, one of the questions is what do we do on the homefront to "support the troops." In the past, that's included things like buying war bonds and sending care packages. In this war, part of the answer is that it's our obligation to embarrass the government into providing decent treatment to those troops, because there seems to be no will in the DoD to do so without prompting.

I hate what they've done to my Army. And my brother's Marine Corps. And every man and woman in uniform.


BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - The recapture of Fallujah has not broken the insurgents' will to fight and may not pay the big dividend U.S. planners had hoped — to improve security enough to hold national elections in Sunni Muslim areas of central Iraq, according to U.S. and Iraqi assessments.

Instead, the battle for control of the Sunni city 40 miles west of Baghdad has sharpened divisions among Iraq's major ethnic and religious groups, fueled anti-American sentiment and stoked the 18-month-old Sunni insurgency.
Of course, maybe the pacification of Fallujah hasn't produced the intended result because Falluhah hasn't been, you know, pacified...
FALLUJA, Iraq (Reuters) - U.S. artillery pummeled Falluja on Wednesday and troops hunted guerrillas still fighting days after Washington said its offensive had destroyed rebel control of the Sunni Muslim city west of Baghdad.
Double oops.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Maybe he's not pushing for a recount...

...because he's still waiting for the first count...
In his first extensive interview since his Nov. 2 defeat, Kerry was asked by the Fox News affiliate in Boston about running again in 2008 and reminded the questioner that Ohio is still counting votes from 2004.

Simple enough.

To: Members of the GOP House Conference

We, the undersigned, demand that you respect your long-standing rules prohibiting Members under state indictment from serving in a leadership post.
Sure, they'll doubtless ignore us. Still, it's important, as Jesse says, to cast shame.

Sign the petition.

There's a lot to learn...

...but it's important to learn the right lessons.

Pessimist at the Left Coaster takes note of the goings on up the coast a bit...
The race for Governor of Washington is quietly becoming the example of just how evenly divided this nation is. The two candidates, Democrat Christine Gregoire and Republican Dino Rossi, are currently separated by just 19 votes, with Rossi in the lead.
The race is indeed that tight, but any claim that it's evidence of an even divide is a misinterpretation of the result. If they're spinning it that way in the California or national press, they're misleading you.

In fact, Kerry won the state handily, despite early Republican claims that they could make it a battleground. Patty Murray was returned to the Senate with a comfortable margin, as were all of our Democratic Congressmen. We had gains in both houses of the legislature, recapturing control of the State Senate. All our statewide incumbents were re-elected, though our challengers fared less well.
If there's a lesson to be learned from the Governor's race, in fact, it's that Democrats do less well when we blur the divisions. Both candidates ran full steam for the center, with Rossi presenting a more mainstream message (if not reality) than the state Republicans had delivered in decades, running on a theme of change after 24 years of Democratic control of the Governor's mansion.

Chris Gregoire ran on competence, not ideology. Unfortunately, some missteps in her management of the Attorney General's office undercut that message, and many people who voted for a Democratic President, Senator and Congressman punched the Republican button for Governor. The important partisan differences were never emphasized by either candidate.

Vote counts continue, and we're gearing up for a mandatory recount, but whatever the outcome, it's hardly a sign of even division in our bright blue state.

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..."

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


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.


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.


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.


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.