Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Karl Rove's Big Bad October Surprise Revealed

We knew it was coming.  We watched for it.  We expected it.  We fretted over it.  We chewed our fingernails and held our breath in anticipation.

And now, here on the final day of October--it has finally arrived, and not a moment too soon for the struggling Republican Party.

Come one, come all and see the Great October Surprise of Karl Rove the Magnificent--right below the fold!

There it is.  THAT's your October Surprise.

A big, fat, ugly, sociopathic man in an expensive suit that's worth more than he is.  Run and cower in fear--or don't.  Because after all, it IS just a big, fat, ugly, sociopathic man in an expensive suit.

That's all he is, after all.  THIS is your Architect--the Great Wizard of Oz behind the curtain.  The master of sleaze and vile political attacks.  The man whose supernatural political instincts predicted with glee the PERMANANCE of Republican majorities for decades to come.

The man who stopped the Foley scandal from coming out--or not.

The man who captured Bin Laden right before the election--or not.

The man who brokered a deal to prevent 103 of our troops from dying in Iraq--or not.

The man who raised Bush's approval ratings before the election--or not.

The man who invented and stuck with the brilliant "Stay the Course" phrase--or not.

Yeah, THAT man.  The man whose sleaze and filth attacks are working such wonders in Tennessee and Virginia today.  The man whose "play to the base at all costs" strategy is working such wonders with Independent voters by driving them all to the Democratic party.

The man who has staked his career--and even possibly his own personal liberty--on Democrats' never regaining power and calling his evil kleptocracy to account.

Yeah--him.  The man even this turd of a President finds distasteful enough to call "Turdblossom."  The man full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.  The mirage who melts as soon as get too close to him.  The paper tiger with all bark and no bite.  The man who lives and dies by nothing other than fear and manipulation.

And his great, predicted October surprise?  Just more fear and manipulation.  Nothing more.

Nothing, that is, but this:

Some surprise.  All we have to do now is get our voters to the polls and hang that empty suit back in the closet where he belongs.

I'm not afraid.  Are you?

Monday, October 30, 2006

This Election Will NOT Be Diebolded: A Call for Calm

Yes, the latest news out of Florida is deeply disturbing.  Yes, it's a big deal.  So what should you do about it?

If you don't live in Florida, then you should do NOTHING.  Let thoughts of bunnies and sweetly chirping birdies fill your minds; breathe deeply, close your eyes, and allow a sense of rested comfort to take hold of your body from your heart to tips of your hair.  Then go out and do your canvassing and calling with a renewed sense of hope, optimism and purpose.

Why?  Because THIS ELECTION WILL NOT BE DIEBOLDED.  It just won't--and I have the circumstantial evidence to do just about everything but PROVE it (which, of course, cannot be done; it's practically impossible to prove a negative.)

Now, I know that many people will dismiss this post angrily out of hand as Calm the Fuck Down Already Part Deux.  But hear me out, because I'm on your side.  Believe me--I know that the Diebold problem is a BIG deal.  I believe that the Max Cleland election was stolen outright; I believe that Chuck Hagel Diebolded himself to a landslide. I believe that Kerry was probably Diebolded in Ohio (and perhaps elsewhere as well) in 2004.

But NOT this year.  So at least do me and all of us a favor--and hear out my arguments before you flame me.

The reason they're not going to steal this election is simple: at this point, they're not giving themselves the CHANCE to steal it.

To understand why, let's consider an alternate universe: Let's say you're a political party looking at the possibility of stealing elections across the country using e-voting machines.  Call that political party The Demoncrats.  Perhaps, in this right-wing fantasy alternate universe, the Demoncrats are conspiring with the Venezuelan government to use Hugo Chavez' voting machines--no joke, people--to steal elections.  And the Demoncrats have put YOU in charge of stealing them.  You have to allocate resources in the best possible way to make the theft look believable, and to win as many seats as possible.  What do you do?

Well, you do what the GOP did with Cleland, where Chambliss was down by seven in the polls.  You do what they did with Kerry, where Bush was down by four in the Ohio polls.  You take races where the polling data says you are BEHIND--and do everything possible to make it CLOSE ENOUGH to steal with some degree of credibility.

Thus, if you wanted to steal the Senate for the "Demoncrats" in this alternate wingnut universe, you would ignore the Tester campaign: he's got that in the bag.  Same with Sherrod Brown and Bob Casey; too easy.  No, you would put all your time and resources into TENNESSEE, VIRGINIA, AND ARIZONA.  You would pull out both the tight races that showed you behind, and give Pederson a miracle victory that showed the strength of your "wave."  Heck, you might even give Phil Angelides in California a major resurgence.

What DON'T you do?  You DON'T Declare defeat in races where you're behind, to concentrate on races where you're ahead.  Which is exactly what the GOP has done this cycle: You DON'T pull out of Ohio, where you're behind, to focus on Tennessee and Virginia, where you're (presumably) ahead.  You DON'T send your Vice-President to Wyoming, where the polls show you ahead, and where no one would be surprised to see you win anyway.  You DON'T abandon Rick Santorum, darling of the conservative base, to the wolves in Pennsylvania, so that you can spend money on House races that weren't even on anyone's radar.  You DON'T spend $500,000 helping your ahead-in-the-polls incumbent win his PRIMARY in Rhode Island--only to abandon him to a drubbing by Sheldon Whitehouse in the general election.

No--you steal the close ones that show you ahead, and you make the ones that show you behind CLOSE ENOUGH to steal.

But that's been the OPPOSITE of what the GOP has been doing.  And at this point, there will be rioting in the streets if DeW(h)ine "beats" Brown, or Burns "beats" Tester, or Santorum "beats" Casey.  They wouldn't dare try.  And they're NOT trying.  They're not trying now, and they won't try later.


And what about Florida, you say?  Florida is...well...Florida.

But if I were the Democrats, I would thank my lucky stars that the GOP was trying to steal the election for a man who was already polling eight points ahead of his opponent only nine days away from the election.  That sounds to me like a fabulous venture to risk blowing your cover on.  What it tells me is that either these are just random glitches (doubtful)--or we have TRULY inept and politically stupid opponents who cower in so much fear that they rely on theft that is VISIBLE TO THE VOTER to help a candidate who appears to be coasting to victory.


So TAKE HEART.  End your despair, and end your handwringing.  The disenfranchisement will comes from OTHER directions that are more old-school suppression: voter roll purges, putting too few machines in Democratic districts, enforcing "Voter ID" requirements, etc. It will be the sort of thing that a good GOTV operation can counter.

But this election will NOT be Diebolded.  Because groundwork is the name of the game for the GOP--and they simply haven't even laid the basic groundwork to be ABLE to Diebold it.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

It's Not A Referendum on Allen, but on VIRGINIANS Themselves

Conventional wisdom states that any election featuring a well-known incumbent candidate (call him Candidate X) is intrinsically a referendum on Candidate X.  Thus, says the conventional wisdom, those voters who like the job that Candidate X is doing will turn out to vote for him; those who don't like the job he's doing will turn out for his opponent (almost regardless of who the opponent is); and those who don't care either way probably won't turn out.

And usually, that conventional wisdom is true.  It was true of the 2004 presidential election; it's true of most of the House and Senate races in 2006.

But it's NOT true in Virginia.  In Virginia, this Senate race is NOT a referendum on George Felix Allen--it is, rather, a referendum on Virginians themselves.

As such, it's not enough for those partisans on either side of the aisle to vote their "aye" or "nay" to Allen himself and how he has represented the state of Virginia, while the rest stay home; rather, it is imperative on ALL Virginians to take a stand and state quite clearly just what kind of Virginians they are--and what they want their state to mean to the rest of the country.

For, you see, this election in Virginia, more than any other major race this cycle, is not about the voting or experiential records of the candidates so much as it is about the CHARACTERS of the candidates themselves--and their reasons for entering Virginia politics.

Jim Webb's character and reasons are clear: he's tired of the way today's Republican Party does business, and he wants to change the course.  He lives in Virginia, and figures that Virginia would be a great place to start the cleanup.

Senator Felix Macaca's character and reasons, however are quite darker--and herein lies the crux of the matter.

The reason that George Felix Allen first came to Virginia is, by now, widespread knowledge among Virginians of BOTH political stripes.  The biggest can be found here:

"Allen said he came to Virginia because he wanted to play football in a place where 'blacks knew their place,'" said Dr. Ken Shelton, a white radiologist in North Carolina who played tight end for the University of Virginia football team when Allen was quarterback. "He used the N-word on a regular basis back then."

The rest of the history of this man--if he so merits the name--is also at least moderately well-known to Virginia voters: this is the man who put a noose in his office; who dragged his own sister upstairs by the hair and broke a pool cue over her boyfriend's head; who wore Confederate flag pins; who signed a "Confederate Heritage Month" proclamation; who called the NAACP an "extremist group"; who thinks people of Indian descent are monkeys; who spits on women; and who apparently stuffs the heads of dead animals into African-American families' mailboxes.

This is a man who grew up in Southern California, and so hated the comparative openness and freedom that he found there that he had to leave.  He had to get out.  He had to find another place to live; somewhere that the weather suited his clothes.

And where did he go?  He went to VIRGINIA.  And why did he go there?  Because he thought that Virginians would put up with his crap--and even support it--when Californians would not.

This is not the secret knowledge of the politically aware.  Most Virginians--even the electorally apathetic--know this.


That is why, in the end, this race isn't about Jim Webb or George Allen.

Virginians understand the stakes here: the stakes are no less than their very self-identity--and the image of their home state.  The stakes impact not just the politically aware in Virginia, but ALL Virginians.

For, you see, there are young, racist future George Allens growing up all across these United States.  This election is about nothing less than whether they, too, will believe that Virginia is a state where "blacks know their place."  Where it's okay to spit at women.  Where it's okay to hang nooses in your office and wear confederate flag pins.  Where it's okay to call people with darker skin "monkeys".

It is about whether Virginia will continue to be shame of tolerant and justice-loving people across the nation, or whether it will emerge from the cocoon of its past to embrace a new, brighter identity.


That is why, if you live in Virginia, it's up to you to remind your friends and neighbors OF ANY POLITICAL STRIPE just what the stakes are--and to make certain that they understand just how important this is.

That is why, if you do not live in Virginia (like me), but know friends or family who do, it is incumbent upon you to make clear to them how intently the gaze of the rest of the nation doth fall upon Virginia in anticipation of the possible emergence of the Butterfly of Tolerance from its Cocoon of Iniquity.

My stake?  As a Southern Californian myself, I want to make certain that no bigoted fellowman of mine looks to Virginia as a place where his bigotry may find a more comfortable home.

Because in Virginia, this election isn't about Bush.  It's not about torture, habeas corpus, Iraq, taxes, terrorism, healthcare, the economy or anything else.  It's not about George Allen, and it's not about Jim Webb.

This race is about VIRGINIA.  It's about Virginians.  The rest of the nation can only watch with bated breath to see what kind of people the good citizens of Virginia will choose to be.

[Cross-posted from My Left Wing, and on Raising Kaine]

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Republicans are the new "old" Democrats: The Macro-Trends

The GOP is going to get spanked this election.  If we work our fingers to the bone, call hundreds of numbers, and walk our poor legs off in the precincts, the GOP is going to get a truly legendary electoral spanking.

But it's going to be bad for them either way--I can almost guarantee it.  I guarantee it not because of the polls; not because of the scandals; not because of the incompetence; and not because of the weak motivation of their base.

No--I guarantee it as a focus group moderator and market researcher.

I guarantee it based on the GOP's behavioral and attitudinal trendlines.  Trendlines that make this election cycle's GOP look very much like the failing Democratic Party of years past.

Bear with me for a second as I supply you a little bit of background.  You see, there are two types of trendwatchers in the industry: those who obsess over micro-trends in product and media consumption, and those who observe more general shifts in consumer attitudes and behaviors across generational, gender, ethnic and other lines.

A micro-trend watcher obsesses over sales data for each brand against each other brand in various industries across market segment lines.  In politics, a micro-trend watcher carefully details demographic shifts in district after district and watches each poll with a close eye.  A political micro-trend watcher is the kind of person you want gerrymandering your districts for you.

I myself am among the latter; as a qualitative researcher, I specialize in the socio-political and consumer trends of the X and Millennial generations, and their impacts on society and the market as a whole.  As a specialist in this area, one has to be intimately involved with object of your study, and understand on a more basic level how behavioral and attitude shifts are occurring.  It's qualitative, rather than quantitative--and as such, it's an inexact science.  And yet, if you get it right, you can gain far more real insight than any micro-trend watcher can give you.

Now to my point: I've been watching politics very closely over the past long while, and I can tell you with supreme confidence that the macro-trends look very bad for the GOP.  

Yes, the polls also look bad for them--but the polls have deceived us before.  I don't trust polls--or any other quantitative data.  But I DO trust macro-trend analysis of attitudes and behaviors--and they give me great reason to hope this election cycle.

And the macro-trends I have observed put the Republicans in exactly the same position Democrats have been in for years.  Here are just a few:

1.  No Nationalized Message.  In previous years, it was the Dems who lacked a coherent national message.  Every issue was sui generis for us--on its own, unrelated to other issues.  Our messages on healthcare, abortion, foreign policy and every other issue were separate and disjointed.

Now, the Democratic message is simple and clear: Throw These Bums Out, Restore Sanity, and Work for the People instead of the Rich and Powerful.

the Republican message, meanwhile, is totally lost.  First it was supposed to be immigration and protecting the borders--but that only split their coalition.  Then it was "Save Us from Speaker Pelosi"--but nobody knew who she was.  Then it was TNT--Taxes and Terror--but then the American People stopped trusting them on terror.

Now their messaging is jumbled mess; some of them talk immigration, some talk Pelosi and "San Francisco values"; others still dare to talk about Bin Laden, while still others harp on taxes.  But there is no unity.  No coherent message for the Republicans.  The Democrats, meanwhile, have been rather good at beating the same drum again and again.  In short, they're playing by OUR framing for once, rather than the other way around.

2. Defending, Rather than Attacking.  Partly as a result of point #1 (and, of course, partly due to their horrid mismangement of the country), the GOP has found itself on Defense rather than on Offense on every framing debate this cycle.  Even their attacks are playing on our turf.  

Case in point: on my way through Central California's Kern Valley yesterday, I forced myself to flip through talk radio to get a sense of what people were saying on the ground on the GOP side.  No less than three different conservative stations were going on about cloning and Democratic disrespect for life.  Sean Hannity was interviewing Michael Steele about his sister with MS, and how Democrats don't care about life.

Why?  Because of the Michael J. Fox ad.  They're running petrified of it, and attempting to lambaste Dems on their own ground by talking about how evil emryonic research is.  But it won't work.  It didn't work for Dems in the past, and it won't work for the GOP today.

Another example of this is George Allen's latest smear on Webb.  Allen knows that one of Webb's strong suits is his upstanding character; most of even Allen's voters know that he's a bigoted scumbag.  So what does Allen do?  He says, "I know you are, but what am I?"  or "My opponent is just as big of a messed up, bigoted scumbag!"

Nice try, Felix.  But that doesn't work.  It never worked for us, and it's not going to work for you.

3.  Optimism  One of the GOP's longtime strong-suits has been their consistent messaging of sunny optimism.  Sure, they have always run vicious attack ads; but that has been complemented by a cheery can-do spirit that has appealed strongly to the American people--and made the Dems look like sourpusses by contrast.  Reagan showed it with his Morning in America campaign; Bush Senior didn't, and lost.  George W. Bush has it, for what it's worth.  Even George Allen has made it his trademark.  The Dems, by contrast, looked like shrewish scolds.

But now the GOP has essentially nothing but the politics of fear--and they've utterly lost ANY optimistic message they have.  Everything about the GOP this cycle is paternalistic, scolding, and sour.  Of all the GOP candidates, only Michael Steele in Maryland has run a consistently upbeat and positive campaign--and as a result, he's doing improbably well.  He still probably won't win, but it's a testament to the power of an optimistic campaign.

It is the Dems, meanwhile, who are providing the messages of change, hope and optimism.  It is the Dems who are running the positive campaigns--ABC News notwithstanding--while the GOP throws its mud far and wide.

And let me tell you: messages of change, hope and optimism win elections--regardless of what the polls say.

4.  The "Girly-Man" Factor.  There's no nice way around this: Strength Appeals to the American Voter.  Most American voters don't want to elect, in Ahnuld's words, "Girly-Men" to office.  Angelides is getting killed in the CA-Gov race because, quite frankly, he looks, acts and sounds like a wimp.

Now, it's certainly possible for a woman to look stronger than a man--but even those are trending OUR way.  Case in point: Claire McCaskill in Missouri, who looks like she could stare down Jim Talent into a corner without saying a word.

And in this election, the GOP candidates look soft and wimpy by and large--ours don't.  Look at the Fighting Dems.  Look at DeW(h)ine in Ohio versus Sherrod Brown.  Look at Jon Tester versus Conrad "my crazy grandpa" Burns in Montana.  Look at Jim Webb versus "Felix" Allen.  Whitehouse versus Chafee.  Eric "Mr. Bellows" Massa, for crying out loud.

In this election, WE have the strength--and even our women look like they have more balls than their men.

5.  Divided Coalition  Voters notice when a party seems to be in disarray.  It's a sign of weakness, and they don't trust it.

In years past, the Democrats have always looked just short of an implosion, as our various interest groups went at each others' throats for greater slices on an ever-shrinking pie.  But now, it seems that the GOP is ready for a full-scale implosion.  The rats are jumping ship, and the various elements of the coalition that make up the GOP's base are all blaming each other for the impending electoral disaster.

If journalists like Adam Nagourney were honest, and treated the GOP with anything but kid gloves, they'd be reporting on this every week.  They aren't--but the public can still sense it.

The Dems look united; the GOP looks fractured.  And the American people tack to strength--every time.


These are just a few examples.  I could go on and on about lesser trendlines and other issues.

The reasons for this change are numerous, and would be the subject of a whole other diary.  But the general idea is clear: the GOP is in serious trouble this election because their attitudes and behaviors are setting them up for defeat in greater margins than the polls would suggest.  Just as the same attitudes and behaviors doomed Democrats in previous election cycles.

Republicans, in short, are the new Democrats--attitudinally speaking.

And that is going to have a MAJOR impact that the poll-watchers and other micro-trend observers are not yet taking into account.

[Cross-posted from My Left Wing]

Thursday, October 26, 2006

How Webb Must Respond: FACT, NOT FICTION

So, the Internet is all atwitter with the latest smear by Senator Felix Macaca on Jim Webb, taking various disturbing pasages from fictional novels written by Webb.

Relevant passages include:

"A shirtless man walked toward them along a mud pathway. His muscles were young and hard, but his face was devastated with wrinkles. His eyes were so red that they appeared to be burned by fire. A naked boy ran happily toward him from a little plot of dirt. The man grabbed his young son in his arms, turned him upside down, and put the boy's penis in his mouth."


"Fogarty . . . watch[ed] a naked young stripper do the splits over a banana. She stood back up, her face smiling proudly and her round breasts glistening from a spotlight in the dim bar, and left the banana on the bar, cut in four equal sections by the muscles of her vagina."

The story is extremely young, but so far, there has no been no substantive response from the Webb campaign.

Now, all other things being equal, this might be a strong blow against the Webb campaign.  

And I sorry to say it, but it's true: A simple "Hey, it's just fiction!" response simply won't cut it here.  After all, we have made a big deal about Scooter Libby's girl-bear sex passages.  What a novelist writes can and does provide an insight into his or her own worldview and character. And these passages, if cut from whole-cloth straight from the imagination of an author, would be extremely disturbing and cast doubt on the moral character of the author himself.

That need not be the case here, however--because there's a great comeback that Webb can provide to this that should put Allen very much on the defensive, if the Webb campaign is smart enough to use it.

That defense lies NOT in the idea that these are works of FICTION, but rather that they are works of FACT.

What do I mean?  I'll tell you.

You see, if the public believes that Webb wrote these things straight from his own head and fertile imagination, Virginia voters will believe that he is one sick puppy with a sick imagination and a degrading view of women and children.

If, on the other hand, Webb comes out and says that these passages were based on actual experiences from the hellhole of Vietnam, the public will not only NOT view him as a pervert, but see him as a hero.  It can easily be that Webb, rather than write a memoir of the war, chose to channel expression of what he witnessed into a fictional account.

Above all, he can use the incident to draw more attention to the fact that WEBB served his country during Vietnam, while Allen did not.

His response should look like this:

"George Allen is dragging my name through the mud based on some scary passages that are in some of my books.  But I won't distance myself from those passages: I won't do it because they're based on REAL events that I saw with my own eyes in Vietnam.  That why none other than John McCain endorsed these books: because they relate the sorts of awful things that happened during that war.

Not that George Allen would know that, since he has never served his country, and was using racist slurs and stuffing doe's heads into the mailboxes of African-American families at the time."

And John McCain DID endorse him:

From Publishers Weekly

Webb's cultural and political portrayal of Vietnam 25 years after the war's end is delivered with such bold strokes and magical detail that it really doesn't matter that the plot itself is relegated to the backseat. This is a highly personal and empathetic look at today's Vietnam, a land of misery and inequity, yet one still vibrantly alive. The story follows the experiences of Brandon Condley, an ex-Marine whose job it is to find missing American soldiers, dead or alive. Condley is trying to track down Theodore Deville, an army grunt who not only deserted his unit in 1969 and killed a fellow serviceman, but then joined the ranks of the enemy. Condley is convinced Deville is still alive, operating somewhere in southeast Asia's underground economy. Webb introduces a rich cast of supporting characters as Condley pursues his quarry across Vietnam, Australia, the former Soviet Union and Thailand. Among the most delicately etched is Dzung, a former South Vietnamese officer now relegated, like thousands of others on the losing side, to a menial station in life, one that he and his family have no hope of escaping. Such characters, as well as the highly textured mood and atmosphere that Webb creates, tend to further eclipse the main narrative and shift the focus to the moral consequences and social fallout of the war. This detailed, lovingly drawn portrait of Vietnam reveals a sad, tortured country that has never recovered from the horrifying events of a quarter-century ago. Major print and radio advertising. (Sept. 4)Forecast: Webb (Fields of Fire) is no stranger to the bestseller lists; endorsements from heavy hitters like Sen. John McCain will help put him there once again.

That alone should put this to rest.

Above all, however, Webb must NOT fall into the trap of saying that this is just fiction.  That would be absolutely devastating.

Webb must come out on OFFENSE--and declare these passages to be based on the eyewitness experiences of a real solider, who served his country honorably during a real war, in writings endorsed by a real Republican war hero.

Webb is poised for a brutal and eviscerating counterattack--if he's smart enough to use it.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

How to Win the Coming Gay Marriage War

I mean the coming GOP war on "Gay Marriage" will now avalanche upon us in the wake of the New Jersey Supreme Court ruling granting gay Americans equal protections under the New Jersey Constitution.  By doing the right thing, the NJ Supreme Court has unfortunately made the path to a Democratic House and Senate that much more difficult--unless we counter their talking points IN ADVANCE.

The GOP, you see, has been desperate for something--anything--to take the minds of the voters off of Iraq, corruption, Foley, scandal, the Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan, "Stay the Course", and the middle-class economy.  They figured the "immigration" play would work this summer; it didn't.  They figured that the specter of Bin Laden would work again; it hasn't.

And they figured--rightly so--that playing the "gay marriage" card again would make them look ridiculous with so many other pressing matters of concern this election cycle.  But now, with the New Jersey ruling, their deepest wishes for a change of focus in this debate have come true.  That's why the GOP will be banging the Gay Marriage drum from now until November 7th.

Our answers must be unified.  They must be firm.  And they must be smart.  Above all, they must be unequivocal enough that any given candidate can get the talking points out of the way so that they can move to discuss more important issues facing our nation.

Adam B has a good frontpage post about this issue, but unfortunately even his points will not satisfy a mainstream American electorate still queasy about the idea of gay Americans getting married or having marriage rights.

But there ARE ways of talking about this issue that can satisfy all of the objectives listed above.

In order to frame this issue properly--and trust me, this issue above all others is ALL about framing--it will help to remember what I defined as the five core values for Democrats:

The Common Good.  

Equal Opportunity.

The Right to Privacy.

Accountable Government.

Respect Abroad.

For starters, let's talk about what words are anathema to Democrats' successfully talking about these issues:  There are two words to avoid at all costs:

1.  MARRIAGE  While in a perfect, progressive world gay Americans would have the same rights to marriage as any other American, political reality says that most of the electorate is just simply not ready for that yet.  Fortunately, however, "gay marriage" is really a misnomer, and terrible framing.

When most Americans hear the word "marriage", they think of a church-sanctioned union.  Most Americans are under the deluded assumption that by allowing "gay marriage", churches will be forced to give religious sanction to gay unions.  They're NOT thinking of a government license.

If anyone DOES bring up the "marriage" issue, the response is simple:

"This isn't about 'Marriage.'  Churches should be free to refuse marriage to whoever they want.  Look, this is really simple: I believe that gay American couples should be given the same basic opportunities and freedoms that straight Americans have.  Marriage has nothing to do with it.""

2. RIGHTS  I know, this is going to be very difficult for most Kossacks to swallow, but the word "rights" works against us here.  Moderate American voters have come to think of the word "rights" as a code word for "diversity-enhancing" interests ranging from Affirmative Action (unfairly associated with "Civil Rights") to illegal immigrant amnesty ("Immigrant Rights") to Gay Marriage ("Gay Rights").

Talking about granting Gay Americans the same "rights" as married heterosexuals does not work because marriage is viewed by these people as a "Sanction from God"--and that Marriage Rights are not individual Constitutional rights, but God-Given to married couples in the context of Holy Matrimony--and that as such, gays are not entitled to them.  And that doesn't include gays.

More importantly, however, the word "rights" is associated very closely with God in the minds of most Americans.  Rights are granted by God--"God-given Rights." Any good qualitative consultant will tell you that consumers interact with words and phrases like stars in constellations: certain words are intrinsically associated with certain other words in a constellation of understanding. The word "Rights", for most American voters, falls either into the constellation of "Political Correctness" (among the bigots) or into the constellation of "Religion" (among American of all stripes from conservative to progressive.)  And the key to winning this debate is to shift the debate away from words and phrases closely associated with God in the linguistic constellation of the voters' minds.

It's sad,  but it's true.


But there ARE simple words and phrases that anyone and everyone can use--and they're taken straight from the Five Core Values listed above:

a.  Freedom

b.  Opportunity

c.  Equality

d.  Privacy

And these work because that's what this whole debate is really about.  It's not about Marriage or Rights.  It's about exactly what Adam B said it is:

health insurance and family leave for same-sex spouses;

equal treatment under wills;

equal rights and obligations under family law for custody, visitation and support;

the rights to spousal and family benefits under such things as workmen's compensation law and survival benefits; and

the testimonial privilege given to the spouse of an accused in a criminal action.

And these issues are extremely important to American voters--because they play on down-home feelings of equality and basic fairness.  This is particularly true of the issues of medical vistation and death benefits, which are considered crucial decisions that every American should be free to make, without government interference.  

Put simply, there is a STRONG Libertarian streak in the average American voter--a streak that is STRONGER than the Puritan Religious streak--but only if the Libertarian Issues are separated from the Religious ones.

Here are some examples of what our candidates should be saying:

"This really comes down to an issue of freedom.  I believe that ALL Americans should have the FREEDOM to choose who can visit them in the hospital.  Gay Americans, Straight Americans--even Martian Americans.  Frankly, you're unAmerican if you think otherwise."

Apologies to Paul Hackett for stealing the last part, but that's really all that needs be said.  Or try this:

"EVERY American should have the OPPORTUNITY to give their stuff to anyone they want when they die.  It's an issue of basic FAIRNESS.  And I don't know any real American who would say no to that."

And if anyone dares to question on homosexuality itself, the answer is simple:

"That's a matter of privacy.  Consenting adults should be able to do whatever they want in the privacy of their own bedrooms. An individual's privacy is part of what America is all about."

You see?  It's really that simple.

Fairness.  Equality.  Privacy.  Opportunity.

Democrats can get in front of this issue and stop the oncoming GOP onslaught by appealing to these basic, libertarian, American values that cut across the political spectrum.

Or we can choke like John Kerry, talk about our religion, and hem and haw about Human Rights and the difference between Marriage and Civil Unions.

But above all, we must be ready with a unified message.  The onslaught is coming--and the battle will favor those who are best prepared to meet it.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The "Project"

This post is to assist Chris Bowers. If you don't know what I'm talking about, just ignore this post. ;-)

--AZ-Sen: Jon Kyl

--AZ-01: Rick Renzi

--AZ-05: J.D. Hayworth

--CA-04: John Doolittle

--CA-11: Richard Pombo

--CA-50: Brian Bilbray

--CO-04: Marilyn Musgrave

--CO-05: Doug Lamborn

--CO-07: Rick O'Donnell

--CT-04: Christopher Shays

--FL-13: Vernon Buchanan

--FL-16: Joe Negron

--FL-22: Clay Shaw

--ID-01: Bill Sali

--IL-06: Peter Roskam

--IL-10: Mark Kirk

--IL-14: Dennis Hastert

--IN-02: Chris Chocola

--IN-08: John Hostettler

--IA-01: Mike Whalen

--KS-02: Jim Ryun

--KY-03: Anne Northup

--KY-04: Geoff Davis

--MD-Sen: Michael Steele

--MN-01: Gil Gutknecht

--MN-06: Michele Bachmann

--MO-Sen: Jim Talent

--MT-Sen: Conrad Burns

--NV-03: Jon Porter

--NH-02: Charlie Bass

--NJ-07: Mike Ferguson

--NM-01: Heather Wilson

--NY-03: Peter King

--NY-20: John Sweeney

--NY-26: Tom Reynolds

--NY-29: Randy Kuhl

--NC-08: Robin Hayes

--NC-11: Charles Taylor

--OH-01: Steve Chabot

--OH-02: Jean Schmidt

--OH-15: Deborah Pryce

--OH-18: Joy Padgett

--PA-04: Melissa Hart

--PA-07: Curt Weldon

--PA-08: Mike Fitzpatrick

--PA-10: Don Sherwood

--RI-Sen: Lincoln Chafee

--TN-Sen: Bob Corker

--VA-Sen: George Allen

--VA-10: Frank Wolf

--WA-Sen: Mike McGavick

--WA-08: Dave Reichert

Monday, October 23, 2006

They Want to Talk About The ECONOMY?! Are you kidding me?

I swear this election gets more bizarre with every passing day.  Bush and his pals are apparently saying that they will be talking prominently about the economy over the next two days.  

From CNN:

President Bush, who gets higher marks for handling the economy than running the Iraq war, is spending two days this week trying to convince voters Republicans are the best stewards of matters affecting the wallet...hopes for strong third-quarter earnings lifted the Dow Jones industrial average past 12,000 for the first time on Wednesday. The Conference Board's index of U.S. leading economic indicators rose last month, and the government reported last week that consumer prices fell in September by the largest amount in 10 months.
The reason they are doing this, of course, is that the American public now feels better about the economy than it has in a long while, and certainly better than it does about Iraq.  And yet, from where I stand, there are few better ways to commit political suicide than for a Republican to talk about the Economy right now.  Either the GOP is desperate, or it believes its own press clippings.  Either way, the result is good news for Democrats.  Allow me to explain why:

Certainly, there are numbers for the GOP to tout.  Some of them are in the CNN article:

Overall, the economy grew at a 2.6 percent pace from April through June, compared with a 5.6 percent pace over the first three months of the year, which was the strongest spurt in 2½ years. Still, voters remain uneasy even though gasoline prices have started dropping, the stock market is hitting record highs, and interest rates on credit cards and adjustable mortgages are leveling off.

And, according to a Post-ABC poll taken around October 10th, the poll numbers are even better:

With the decline in gasoline prices, Americans are somewhat more positive about the economy, with 47 percent describing it as good or excellent -- the highest since July 2001 -- and 53 percent saying it is not so good or poor. Forty-one percent approve of how Bush has handled economic issues, about the same percentage as in August.

That--despite the fact that the ABC poll puts support for Bush's handling the economy at a tepid 41%--is ostensibly good news for the GOP.

Except that it's not.  Not at all.  And I refuse to believe that Bush's advisers and the Republicans would openly walk into this electoral trap.

And a trap it is, for two VERY important reasons:

1. The comparatively positive economic outlook of the electorate has very little to do with the Dow, or with unemployment numbers, with interest rates, or with the GDP.  It has to do with GAS PRICES--and every poll says so.

So what, you say?  I'll tell you.  There's one very important factor that you have to consider when talking about gas price-induced positive economic outlook: Valid or or not, more people believe that Bush and oil companies are manipulating gas prices than think he's doing a good job with the economy.  From USAToday:

According to a new Gallup poll, 42% of respondents agreed with the statement that the Bush administration "deliberately manipulated the price of gasoline so that it would decrease before this fall's elections." Fifty-three percent of those surveyed did not believe the conspiracy theory; 5% said they had no opinion.

Not surprising, almost two-thirds of those who suspect President Bush intervened to bring down energy prices before Election Day are registered Democrats, according to Gallup.

The corollary to that is that 1/3 of those who suspect this are Independents or even Republicans.

So let's get this straight: Americans are feeling better about the economy because gas prices are lower right now--but they also think the Republicans are so corrupt that they're trying to manipulate the economy to make them feel good before the election.  And either way, they trust Democrats more than Republicans on the economy in every poll--and have all year.

This is not an issue I would feel on VERY shaky ground talking about if I were a GOP Strategist.  Which I'm not, thank goodness.

2. It shows that the GOP is utterly out-of-touch.

You see, the idiots over at RedState and Free Republic have been urging Bush to run on his economic record for several months now.  Their argument, to date, can be partially seen on this RedState post:


Unemployment rate of approximately of 4.6%

·30 year average mortgage rates of approximately 6.37%

·6.6 million jobs created since august 2003

·1.7 million jobs created in the last 12 months

·37 months of job growth

·Stock Market hovering around 12,000

Never mind, of course, that Clinton created 22.5 million jobs, or that Clinton's jobs were created in the private sector, while a far greater number of Bush's jobs have been in the government sector.  Don't get me started.  If you want the full rundown, just read any given diary by bonddad.  As bonddad says:

So - we've lost high-paying jobs.  Wages have barely risen for the duration of this expansion - even after the economy hit full employment in December 2005.  Health care costs have skyrocketed, which is one of the reasons people aren't savings anymore.  And to maintain their lifestyle, people are taking out massive amounts of loans, the payments of which are taking a historically large percentage of income.

That's the Bush economy in action.

And that's God's honest truth.

Now, see, I assumed that Karl Rove knew better than this.  I assumed that the puppeteers of GOP policy and political witchcraft would stay away from talking about these issues too much, for fear of severly angering what little electorate they have left in the polls.  Apparently, I was wrong.

Republicans, you see, believe that only two things really matter to the economy:

A) The stock market and the state of their dividends (and, to a lesser degree, the state of housing).  This is how they make their money.  If stocks are doing well, they are doing well, and they feel good about the economy.  Even though most of the rest of the country participates barely or not at all in this speculative economy, it still matters a great deal to the country-club set.

B) Employment numbers.  In the worldview of the Republican strategist, the "rest of us" live in a wage-slave world that is starkly defined in the following way: "Either you have a job or you don't."

Factors like the quality of that job; or how many hours you have to work to get the same amount of pay for that job; or how much tuition or healthcare or housing any given dollar earned from that job will buy; all these things are irrelevant to their rentier-economy mindset.

Thus, if employment numbers look good on paper, they figure that the average American must be doing well financially.

And nothing, as we all know, could be further from the truth--because as we all know, the average American is really living and dying by his/her WAGES: Wages versus Inflation, Wages versus Productivity, and Wages versus Cost of Living.  Which are horrible right now--by design.

And there you have it.  Again, Karl Rove, Ken Mehlman and friends are either terribly desperate, or they've been reading their own press clippings so long that they've lost all touch with reality on the ground.


And what's the upshot?  The upshot is that the only thing that Bush and pals are going to accomplish by talking about the economy is to reinforce to the American voter that Bush is manipulating their votes and wallets, and more importantly that Republicans just don't get it.  That they have no clue what's actually happening on the ground in America any more than they understand what's happening on the ground in Iraq.

But you know what I say?  Go for it, Karl!  Go for it, George!!  Democrats could use the votes...

Sunday, October 22, 2006

CT-Sen: Not a Chance

That's how I see the situation in the Connecticut Senate race.  Not a chance.  No way.  No way in Hell.

No way, that is, that the actual election results will look ANYTHING like what the polls are currently saying.

This race has been a muddled, confusing, surprising mess from the beginning, with nothing in it conforming to expectations.  The current polls show Lamont trailing by double-digits--a fact that has caused everything from handwringing to outright obituaries all over the liberal blogophere.

Honestly, that's a load of horse manure.  The polls showing Lamont leading by double digits before the primary were out to lunch.  And so are the current polls.

NOTHING about the race as it's currently polling makes any sense--and it won't pan out that way.  Ned Lamont is going to win this election, and here are the reasons why: 

1.  The Bush Voters.  A full 44% of Connecticut voters voted for George W. Bush in 2004.  That's forty-four percent.  Connecticut is a Liberal State all right--but it ain't THAT liberal.

And yet every single poll shows the actual Republican Senate candidate polling at only 5-7 percentage points in the race.  That is simply NOT going to happen.  No way, no how.  You would have to convince me that a full 85% of Bush voters will cross over to vote for a Connecticut for Lieberman DEMOCRAT on this year's ballot.  Color me highly skeptical.

Lieberman may be a Bush toadie on the Occupation of Iraq, he may have his issues with women's rights, and he may be a corrupt bastard, but he votes with Democrats over 70% of the time.  Ashamed as we are to admit it today, he was our Vice-Presidential Candidate in 2000--running alongside AL GORE.

Republicans know this.  Social conservatives will NOT vote for Joe Lieberman.  Fiscal conservatives will NOT vote for Joe Lieberman, who fits the mold of an old-time "tax and spend" Democrat.  Not even to prevent Ned Lamont from getting elected.

Meanwhile, Schlesinger performed VERY well at the recent debate (not factored into the polls), and will tap into a lot of disaffected conservative sentiment in the state.

2. The embarrassed respondent factor.  "Centrist" hack Mickey Kaus has actually discussed this at some length in regard to the difference between robo-polling and actual human-to-human polling.  I'll take it a step further: when a pollster asks a respondent whom they are going to vote for, the respondent often tries to say the "respectable" thing--either because of the presence of the pollster, or perhaps because of family members or friends listening to the responses.

There has been a lot of pressure on Republican voters to vote for Lieberman; some Dem households are quite divided.  Saying that you'll vote for Lieberman is "respectable" in CT households of both political stripes.  But that doesn't mean that people will actually vote that way when they step into the booth--especially Republicans.  While Republicans may say they will vote for Lieberman on the phone, it will be too much for many of them to stomach when they're in the quiet privacy of a voting booth.

3.  Motivated voters.  Lieberman's voters are not terribly motivated.  There are really two kinds of Lieberman voters: a) Dems who are distrustful of change and are simply comfortable with the status quo; and b) Republicans who will vote against their own ideology to keep Lamont out of power.  Neither of these are the kind of voters that you can count on making it to the polls.  For these folks, if something else comes up on their schedule, voting will take second fiddle.

Ned Lamont's voters, on the other hand, are highly motivated and eager for a change.  They'll make it to the voting booth (or vote absentee) come hell or high water.

4.  The Ground Game.  This has been discussed at length, and requires no great explanation from me.  Psifighter37 mentioned this factor most recently and famously.  Markos himself says that the ground game alone will make up for about 5 polling points.

Me, I think it will be bigger than that.  Lieberman has literally NO ground game.  Nothing.  He's paying unmotivated high school kids--that's about it.  Meanwhile, Ned Lamont has the unions, the motivated voters, the grassroots, AND the Dem Party machinery behind him.  That's a big, big difference--especially in a state as relatively small at Connecticut.

5.  The Ballot.  The actual ballot does not favor Lieberman.  Not at all.  For several reasons. 

A) Lieberman's name comes at the bottom of the ballot--the worst possible position.

B) Alan Schlesinger's name comes at the TOP of the ballot.

C) GOP voters will see the big fat (R) right next to Schlesinger's name and be reminded that they have a populist, outsider GOP candidate to vote for.

D) Dem voters will see the (D) next to Lamont's name, and the (CfL) next to Lieberman's name--and be reminded of just who the Democratic candidate in this race really is.

The ballot alone will take a few points off of Lieberman's final tally.

6.  The Fundraising Scandals.  Two new scandals over Joe's campaign funds have come out just in the past few days.  First off, there's the White House slush fund that has been keeping Joe afloat financially--a story with legs that will only remind Dem voters of Lieberman's strong ties to Bush.  Second, Tim Tagaris informed us all yesterday about Joe's petty cash slush fund problem.  It should be amusing to see how he responds to questions concerning his multiple, flat-out law-breaking on campaign finance.

Most importantly, these two stories bite into one of Lieberman's strongest campaign arguments: that he's a man of "integrity."  It's hard to look senatorial and above-the-fray when you're caught red-handed violating the law and taking money from the opposition.

7.  The Endorsements.  John Kerry and Ted Kennedy have a LOT of pull in New England.  Both of them will be coming out strong for Lamont in the coming weeks.

Now, some say that the major Dems came out for Lieberman, and it didn't have an effect.  The counters to this argument are easy: 1) it was a primary, where tuned-in voters uneasily swayed by big names were doing the voting; 2) who's to say they didn't?  If Boxer and Clinton hadn't come out for Lieberman, his losses may well have been much more devastating.

8.  The Bush Factor.  A new Newsweek poll shows that a MAJORITY of Americans want to see Bush IMPEACHED.  That's right.  Impeached.  Remember that Al Gore found it necessary to run away from Bill Clinton because of his "taint", though Clinton's popularity remained high throughout the Republican witch-hunt.

And yet we're expected to believe that the man to whom Bush gave the Kiss of Death is going to receive the votes of the same Democrats who want to see Bush impeached?  Color me severely skeptical about this.

9. The Wave.  There is a Democratic wave afoot this election.  No doubt about it.  We're seeing it all over the country, as races thought to be unwinnable by Democrats have become competitive.

And yet, the only state appearing to buck this trend in the polls is Connecticut.  It makes absolutely no sense to any astute political observer.

As for me, I think the "Wave" will override whatever the polls are saying two weeks before the election.  Castles don't stay in the air forever.


To sum it up, All of these factors combined serve to erase in my mind even a double-digit Lieberman lead in the polls when the voters actually vote on election day.

The Bush voters will come home to the GOP to tune of at least 4 or 5 percentage points.

There are at least 1 or 2 percentage points worth of "embarrassed respondents" out there.

Lamont's motivated voters will swamp Lieberman's unmotivated cadre of weak Dems and disaffected Republicans to the tune of at least 3 percentage points.

Lamont's ground game will make up at least another couple of points.

The structure of the ballot itself will give Lamont at least another couple of points.

Joe's fundraising scandals may or may not have an impact on his image of respectability--I would say they are likely to do so.

Big heavyweight Dems coming to support Lamont will move at least a point or two of Democrats to Lamont's side.

And the Democratic Wave will swamp whatever additional support Lieberman may have over Lamont.

This race will be VERY close--and I expect Lamont will win it, if we work hard enough and things fall our way.  But DON'T get discouraged by the polls--because there's no way in Hell that this race will turn out that way. 

Lamont has every structural advantage, and it's HIS race--and OURS--to win.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Boxcutters and Bombs Don't Hijack Planes--People Do

The policy that forbids students who are legally licensed to carry in Virginia needs to be changed.

I am qualified and capable of carrying a concealed handgun and urge you to work with me to allow my most basic right of self-defense, and eliminate my entrusting my safety and the safety of my classmates to the government.

-- Roanoke Times op-ed

STOP SCHOOL SHOOTINGS: LET TEACHERS CARRY GUNS: Those "Gun-Free Zone" signs in front of public schools just aren't catching on. Or are they?

Is it just me or does anybody else see the obvious connection between "gun-free zones" and murder? Harris and Klebold at Columbine High School... John Lee Malvo in Baltimore... Charles McCoy in Columbus, Ohio... United 93...

-- Dr. Patrick Johnston at Right Remedy Ministries

I have had an epiphany.  Sometimes, there come events in a person's life that totally change their worldview.  These points usually come when seemingly unrelated ideas and experiences reach a nexus--a communion of intellectual transsubstatiation that makes real what could before have only been considered fantasy.

For me, that moment was last night.  You see, after arriving home on a grueling  flight from Boston to Los Angeles in which I waited an hour in a security line while perfumes and lip glosses were removed from elderly passengers, I happened to chance on writings from right-wing, God-fearing patriots advocating that we arm students to prevent future school shootings.

And then it hit me: a Modest Proposal for America.  Why not let ANYONE take ANYTHING onto a plane?  After all, boxcutters and bombs don't hijack planes--people do.

Yes, my fellow Americans.  It's as clear as day.  We would face far less terrorist threat if we were to allow every passenger the right to keep and bear arms on an airplane in order to protect their own safety.    After all, how much more effective would the "well-regulated militia" on Flight 93 have been if they were armed to the teeth?  Hell, they might have saved that plane from even going down!

And there's a precedent for this.  As my fellow right-wing patriots are quick to point out, the reason that urban crime rates are so high is because of strict gun control laws that only allow criminals to carry them.  These statistics have nothing to do with the fact that there is desperate poverty in urban slums and leads to violence which would increase with looser gun control--that's a liberal lie.  The kind of lie promoted crazy fringe wackos like the ones at DailyKos.  Rather, if EVERY urban citizen carried a weapon, the crime rate would almost disappear overnight.

And the same thing goes with planes.  You see, it's not that airplanes are greater threats for terrorist attack--the problem is that security measures make airplanes easy targets. If you take away the box-cutters and bombs from the people, only the terrorists will have box-cutters and bombs!

Now I know what you might be thinking:

"But wait!  Guns and bombs are inherently dangerous on airplanes.  They can cause the death of everyone on-boards all by themselves!  This is crazy!"
 All I can do is laugh--you've been duped by the Liberal Media.  That's just what they want you to believe.  First off, we need to fight fire with fire.  Second, The Truth is that God watches over his People and will not come to harm.  As Psalm 22 says, "Yea, though I pass through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for thy rod and thy staff, O God, shall support me. Let not Christians be afraid."

But let's say you're right.  Let's say that guns and bombs are inherently dangerous.  Well, there's nothing wrong with swords.  If my opinion, every red-blooded patriotic American should have the right--nay, be forced--to carry the personal protection of a trusty blade on board an aircraft.  And no, I ain't talking about some bullshit ninja-blade katana or some sissy French epee.  I'm talking about real Swords, for Real American Patriots.  The kind you can disembowel three TowelHead terrorists with in a single stroke.  Take THAT, Osama!

The point is, this whole security checkpoint thing is BULLSHIT.  Just like gun control laws in schools only hurt the victims of gun violence, the only people that Airport Security lines are protecting is TERRORISTS.  And Michael Chertoff and his buddies better get that figured out right quick.

Quite frankly, without my trusty weapon at my side, I don't really feel safe to fly anymore.  And neither does anyone else.  And that could hurt this wonderful economy Bush has created by giving me and my fellow hard-working Americans a $300 tax cut three years ago.

So please, America, it's time bring back some Common Sense.  It's time to exercise our Second Amendment Rights on airplanes.  It's for the good of the Children.  For the good of the Economy.  For the good of America.  For the good of God, Mom, Baseball and Apple Pie.

Me?  I'm a Patriot.  Next time I get on a plane, they'll take my bowie-knife when they can pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

And they wouldn't dare do that--God's Own Party needs my vote now more than ever.

To those who insist on calling this a "war"...

For the last time, please stop.  Because the reasons for stopping keep piling up--and the GOP's new rhetoric about Iraq demands that we stop doing so, or we are going to be put in a very difficult rhetorical position in the final weeks of this campaign.

In my previous diaries It's Not Defeat, Dammit and How Can You Surrender If There Was Never a War? I made the basic exposition of my case for ending the use of the word "war" to describe the Iraq Debacle.  The basic gist was that Iraq fit the description of an occupation, rather than a war; that wars can be won or lost, but that occupations can only end in annexation or withdrawal; and that American pride would not tolerate a "loss" in war, but would tolerate withdrawal from an occupation.  And that the distinction was real, not just rhetorical, because there is no literal way to "win" this conflict, even if you do want to call it a war.

And now we have yet another reason to stop calling this Iraq Occupation a "war."  A critically important reason, because our very victory in this election may depend on how we respond to the new GOP rhetoric concerning the situation in Iraq.

This new rhetoric can be found most prominently in a speech made by Donald Rumsfeld yesterday:

U.S. military too strong to lose Iraq War: Rumsfeld

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Tuesday the U.S. military is too strong to lose the war in Iraq, but ultimately political solutions will be needed to win.

"You've got a situation where it's not possible to lose militarily," Rumsfeld said. "It's also going to require more than military power to prevail.

Read that again.  "It's not possible to lose militarily..."  For once, Donald, you hit the nail on the head.  That's because it's not possible to "win" militarily, either.  Donald goes on to say that a political solution is necessary.  My response?  "Wait, Donald--I thought this was a war!"

But there's more to this than even that.  This rehtoric is a major change of course for this administration.  The old GOP meme was:

Liberals don't have the courage to stay the course, and don't support our troops.

Well, that hasn't worked.  The American people have seen the Fighting Dems; the American people have seen that the current course is unsustainable; and the American people have seen that the GOP denies body armor and veterans' benefits, while the Dems fight to provide those things.

So, the GOP tactics have changed.  Now it's:

Liberals don't think our military is STRONG enough to win this war.  That is, it's not that liberals don't support our troops.  Rather, liberals just think our troops SUCK.

You see the subtle difference?  Do you see the corner that the GOP is trying to paint us into?  Their new rhetoric says that we who want to see an end to this occupation don't have confidence in the strength, courage, and ability of our heroes on the ground in the Sandbox.  That we refuse to give the courageous Iraqis time to find their way to a political solution.

And that's BULLSHIT.  Because I and every other intelligent liberal know that that our troops are teh bravest and best-trained in the world--and that our military is the strongest the world has ever seen.  But we also know that's not the point.

It's not the point because it IS NOT A WAR.  The bravery or talent of our troops is irrelevant here.  Rather, the peacekeeping prowess, political skills, and occupational competence of this Administration is what is relevant.  The troops are merely a pawn in the game.  And why?  Because TROOPS win WARS.  But GOVERNMENTS make or break OCCUPATIONS.

My response to Donald Rumsfeld and the GOP?

No, you idiot.  I don't think the troops suck.  I think YOU suck.

Because that's what this election is and should be about.  It's a referendum on Bush.  On Rumsfeld.  On Rice.  On Cheney.  On the whole cabal.  It's NOT a referendum on the troops or the Iraqi people.

And the only way to keep that focus is by stopping calling the Iraq Mess a war--and by starting to call it the Occupation that it is.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

It's Not Defeat, Dammit!

I know folks here are used to lengthy, 1,000-word posts from me, but this one's gonna be an exception. This is going to be short and sweet.

STOP TALKING ABOUT "DEFEAT" IN IRAQ.  Hear it from your own thereisnospoon.  Say it with me slowly, loud and clear.

There.  Is.  No.  Such.  Thing.  As.  Defeat.  In.  Iraq.

There.  Is.  No.  Such.  Thing.  As.  Victory.  In.  Iraq.

Get over it.  Stop using those words because they are MEANINGLESS.

While I appreciate insightful diaires like L C Johnson's, talking about our "defeat" in Iraq is not only misguided and incoherent, it plays into Republican frames about how "we want America to lose", and how we're "defeatists in the face of the enemy."  Which is bullshit--because I, like every other patriotic Democratic American, want America to come a winner every time.

And it's not just diarists here.  The James Baker Commission just came out and Ruled Out Victory in Iraq.  Whatever that means.

The reason that terms like "victory" and "defeat" in Iraq are meaningless is because you can't "win" an OCCUPATION.  Wars you can win or lose; occupations can only end in withdrawal or annexation.

We can no more "win" or "lose" in Iraq that the British could have "won" or "lost" in India, or the French could have "won" or "lost" in Algeria.

Allow me to quote from my earlier diary on this subject called How Can You Surrender If There Was Never a War?:

The biggest and by far the most important bullshit assumption being made by all sides is that there is a WAR in Iraq.

THERE IS NO WAR IN IRAQ.  There is an OCCUPATION.  And there is a resistance to said occupation.  This resistance takes many forms: criminal thuggery, despicable terrorism, sectarian violence, and guerrilla warfare.

Allow me to repeat this again...

The "War" in Iraq is NOT A WAR.  It is an OCCUPATION.

And this is absolutely critical.  It's critical because there is a HUGE difference between wars and occupations: Occupations can end only in WITHDRAWAL or in ANNEXATION; Wars can end only in DEFEAT or VICTORY.

America is NOT ready to annex Iraq--even if such a thing were possible.  Cheney and Bush would like to, through the process of permanent bases--but the American public won't stand for it.  America IS ready to accept withdrawal from Iraq--But ONLY if it understands that what is happening in Iraq is an OCCUPATION and not a war.

Let me be very clear about this: America WINS by withdrawing from Iraq. We win because we're not spending $2 billion/week. We win because we're not losing more troops to targeted homegrown resistance. We win because we're not killing 600,000 more civilians and inflaming world anger. America wins by allowing Iraq to pursue its own destiny and stand up for itself. America wins by decreasing its foreign policy emphasis on oil. Most importantly, we win because we were never fighting an identifiable "enemy" once Saddam was toppled and imprisoned.

And that's not all.  Not only is it stupid from a purely factual point of view to talk about "defeat" in Iraq, it'll also lose you elections.  To quote from the same diary again:

When push comes to shove, Americans want to win.  Such is the eternal optimism of the American electorate that they will vote simultaneously for John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan--because both promised sunshine in the days ahead.  And no matter what they say in the polls leading up an election, when they actually step into the ballot box, they're going to vote for the people who appeal to their pride and tell them that they will WIN..

And with regard to Iraq, everything even our most progressive leaders say still falls into GOP traps guaranteed to ensure our defeat at the polls.

You see, no matter how you phrase it, a troop pullout of Iraq is by definition an admission of defeat in the context of a war, so long as the violence and unrest continues.  Certainly, one can declare "victory" and go home, as Nixon did in Vietnam, but the public knows better.

In the end, you can use the phrase "measured withdrawal", or you can use the phrase "cut and run."  When your average American goes to the ballot box, it all means one and the same thing: Surrender and Defeat in War.  And let me tell you something as sure as day: Americans don't accept surrender and defeat in war.

So STOP calling it a war.  Call it the Occupation that it is.

And for God's sakes stop talking about "victory" and "defeat".  Those words are meaningless and irrelevant to this conflict--and will cost Dems at the ballot box.

/end rant.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Time Declares "The End of the [Republican] Revolution"

If you believe the people at Time magazine, it's over.  The goose is cooked.  Stick a fork in it.  The GOP is done, at least for now.

Pending another reinvention and revolution, Time says in its cover story (the picture features the back on an elephant facing the darkness--a poignant image if ever there was one), the GOP is wandering adrift and lost in a deep-seated fundamental betrayal of its ideals and ideology.

And keep in mind that Time magazine is no friend of Democrats.  Joe Klein is the most liberal columnist Time magazine has--and that's not saying much.

The article is brutal, and shows just how far the tide has turned.  Follow me below the fold for a few glimpses.

In fact, the first sentence is the kicker:

Every revolution begins with the power of an idea and ends when clinging to power is the only idea left.

Amen to that.  The same story, again and again, from George Orwell's Animal Farm to the spaghetti western A Fistful of Dynamite, the message is always the same, and the cycle neverending.  But there IS hope for a progressive revolution: the very ideals of the progressive revolution we envision carry with them innate measures of accountability to those in power.  By our very nature, we will not be content to allow our leaders to betray our principles, at least in theory.

The best paragraphs of the article, however, follow shortly thereafter:

On conservative commentator Laura Ingraham's show, the longest-serving Republican House Speaker in history explained why he would not resign despite a sex scandal that has produced a hail of questions about his leadership and the failure to stop one of his members from cyberstalking teenage congressional pages. "If I fold up my tent and leave," Dennis Hastert told her, "then where does that leave us? If the Democrats sweep, then we'd have no ability to fight back and get our message out."

That quiet admission may have been the most damning one yet in the unfolding scandal surrounding Florida Congressman Mark Foley: holding on to power has become not just the means but also the end for the onetime reformers who in 1994 unseated a calcified and corrupted Democratic majority. Washington scandals, it seems, have been following a Moore's law of their own, coming at a faster clip every time there is a shift in control. It took 40 years for the House Democrats to exhaust their goodwill. It may take only 12 years for the Republicans to get there.

Indeed.  For those who say there is no difference between the parties, let me provide a small clue: you can know that one ideology is inherently corrupt, and the other simply corruptable, when it takes only 1/3 as much time to develop radically higher levels of corruption within the ranks.

To win votes back home, lawmakers have been spending taxpayer money like sailors on leave, producing the biggest budget deficits in U.S. history. And the party's approach to national security has taken the country into a war that most Americans now believe was a mistake and that the government's own intelligence experts say has shaped "a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives."

No shit.  The only issue at this point is, what took Time Magazine so long to figure this out?  Did they really have to wait for the Mark Foley scandal to point this out?  This should have been said by elements of the traditional media years ago...

The article goes on to say that being in power changed the Republicans--which, as we all know, is an outright lie.  Power was all they ever sought--power to drown the government in the bathtub, while the super-rich and the mega-corporations made out like bandits.  But fools must be awakened to error of their ways one step at a time, I suppose.

Then, after a lengthy explanation of the Foley scandal, we get this:

All this suggests that the Republican leaders were motivated much more by fear of electoral fallout than concern for the young pages in their care. And if they were worried that the revelation would hurt their chances of holding on to the House, they turned out to be right. Before the scandal broke, they were beginning to believe that the clouds were finally clearing for them. Their fabled get-out-the-vote and fund-raising operations were nearing full stride just as gas prices were dropping and the national debate was refocusing on their home-court issue of terrorism.

It seems likely that the party will instead need to reckon with sex and scandal throughout the final weeks of the election.

Yes, Time Magazine.  It may indeed take a sex scandal to bring down this regime--mostly because you and your brethren failed to report the far more serious crimes being committed in the meantime.  But again, better late than never, I suppose.

Another key paragraph:

G.O.P. leaders are so desperate to find someone else to blame that they have been reduced--with no indication that they see the irony--to blaming a vast left-wing conspiracy. "The people who want to see this thing blow up," Hastert told the Chicago Tribune, "are abc News and a lot of Democratic operatives, people funded by George Soros," the liberal financier who has become a bogeyman of the right. Hastert went on to say, without producing any proof, that the revelation was the work of Bill Clinton's operatives. But that line of argument, of course, suggests that Republicans would have preferred to keep Foley's secrets locked away, presumably at the pages' peril. And the Democrats for once are showing the good sense to stay out of the way when the other side is self-destructing. Sighed one of the younger House Republican aides who sits in on key meetings: "Foul play on the Democrats' side? If that is the only card left to play, then we are in serious trouble."

Yes, you are.  Serious.  Fucking.  Trouble.  And it's about fucking time.

The article then goes on to point out how gays within the Republican party are being scapegoated by the religious right, and that there may be a bloodletting of gay people working within the GOP.

And while the Time article closes with a suggestion that the GOP return to the "Gringrich revolution" roots (as if there ever were any such revolution in the first place!), I prefer to close this exposition of the article with this juicy graf:

"The Republican Party of 2006 is a tired, cranky shell of the aggressive, reformist movement that was swept into office in 1994 on a wave of positive change," Frank Luntz, one of the strategists of the G.O.P. takeover, wrote this week in a column for Time.com. "I worked for them. They were friends of mine. These Republicans are not those Republicans."

Actually, they ARE those Republicans, Frank.  But if you need to believe otherwise to vote for a Democrat, so be it.

Either way, the current GOP is looking very miserable as things stand.

The tide has certainly turned and, as I pointed out before, the walls are caving in faster than Karl Rove could ever hope to prop them up.

My only warning would be this: This GOP is a cornered animal, and is just as vicious as ever.  Be wary.  Be watchful.  These people will do literally ANYTHING to keep their hold on power.  And I do mean anything.  Watch their every move, and let's do all we can to ensure a long trip into the wilderness for these crooks and criminals.

Monday, October 02, 2006

As the Walls Cave In

I think it's time, my friends, to take a step back and realize the enormity and historicity of what has taken place here over the last three days.  There is now NO doubt in my mind that these, the final days of September and early days of October, will be seen in the history books as the time when the corrupt, Republican villainous League of Evil was finally subdued.

This country has been body-snatched; in its place has been substitued a changeling: the unwilling minion of a praeternaturally powerful and unholy alliance between three forces:

1) The undead ghoulish spawn of ancient Nixonian evil--Cheney, Rumsfeld, Kissinger, and all those who still believe that the true lesson of Vietnam and Watergate was that we pulled out too early, and that the Executive had too little power;

2) The pea-brained, fat-waisted giant slugs of Reaganite greed--the Karl Rove fat-cats who have gorged repulsively on the pork in the taxpayer trough, while leaving the emaciated middle class out to the dogs and crows, dangling from revolving wheels of consumer, foreign and national debt; and

3) The demonic hordes of hypocritical, pharisaical bigots who cloak themselves in righteousness and American flags; the Christianists who demand the blood sacrifice of the heathen, while waving crosses that their ideological ancestors ignited effortlessly with the aura of their own evil, in an effort to rid themselves, like Macbeth's Wife, of a Mark of Cain in their own souls that they projected onto the skins of their fellow man.

But now, their reign of terror is coming to an end.

This is it.  It's here.  It has finally happened.

The wheels have come off.  The rats and cockroaches are fleeing the ship.  The ghouls are howling back to the depths whence they came; the witches are melting in the showers of justice, as the vampires waste away in the now unshielded sunlight of truth.

The walls are caving in on their Castle of Vice, their Den of Iniquity; all it will take is simply to push--and push hard--and the entire structure will collapse upon them.  Dracula is subdued; all that is now required is to drive the stake through his dark heart.

In just three days, we have seen powerful revelations come to light, one cascading right after the other:

1) The entire GOP leadership protected and coddled a known sexual predator on underage children.  For the homophobic bigots out there, the additional fact that they were MALE underage victims stings doubly harshly, as though it were the vitriol of holy water on the face of Satan's own spawn.

And the entire world now knows about it--quite probably through the trumpets of the very angels whose tender wings they tried to stain.

2) The GOP leadership brushed off major concerns about Al-Qaeda only two months before 9/11.  The last bastion of the Evil Alliance--their Tower of Mordor--has been the assumption of superior vigilance against terrorist threats.  This fortress is now in danger of utter collapse--from the same man who brought down the the previous Tower--the King of the Journalists, Returning to take his crown.  And this only days after our White Knight, Bill Clinton, stormed into Roger Ailes' dragon's lair and first rescued the Truth from its distress from the smirking troll who held it captive.

Now there is no fortress left for them to defend, no stronghold for them to which to retreat.  They lie rhetorically exposed, awaiting only a final assault from the forces of Reality.

3) They, who were supposed to be our viziers and protectors, have urged surrender to the same evil creatures who attacked us in the most villainous strike against our lands since Pearl Harbor.  Like so many turncoat Sarumans, they would encourage us to give up hope and turn over power to our enemies--while simultaneously attacking and conquering innocent lands and killing their women and children.  And speaking of turncoats, we're about to rid ourselves of our own Grima Wormtongue...

4) A record spree of spending that would make Cleopatra seem miserly and bankrupt even King Croesus.  And yet, even in profligacy of this spending spree, this Alliance has yet shown the heart of the most wretched miser.


And there's MUCH more where those came from: from divisions over Bush's detainee bill to angry generals to everything in between.

It is a HISTORIC opportunity: and all that remains is for us to drive the nails into the coffin of Evil.

And now it is time to answer the call.

GIVE.  Give until it hurts.  CANVASS.  Walk until your poor feet give out.  CALL.  Call until your tongue will wag no more.

Do it, if not for yourselves, then for our children, and our children's children--the generations to come, and to whom these tales of historic deeds and valiant bravery in the face of terrifying wickedness will be told.

Their fortress is collapsing as we speak.  All that is required now is to PUSH--and their House of Evil will fall.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

It's Not Hypocrisy--It's What the Right is All About

It seems to be a textbook case: a pedophile in a position of power exploits underage minions, while hiding behind a cloak of virtue.  In fact, it seems that truth here is stranger than fiction.  It would take a literary hack, many would say, to write a lurid Washington novel about a Republican chair of the Missing and Exploited Children Caucus, himself sexually propositioning underage male pages.

"What blatant hypocrisy!" come the shouts from the left and the right.  "What a scumbag!" they all say.

"Above all," come the protestations from the right, "don't politicize this one case of sheer hypocrisy."  "This matter is beyond politics," they say.

But it's NOT hypocrisy.  It's PAR FOR THE COURSE.  And it's not above politics, either--because what Mark Foley has done is the perfect example of what "conservatism" is all about.


"A bold claim," you may say.  "Can you back it up, spoon?"

Yes, I can.

The fundamental difference, you see, between conservatives and liberals in the social sphere goes far beyond the petty points that make up modern politics.  Abortion, gay marriage, and the rest are but stars in the overall constellation of a philosophy that rests on the difference between openness and a false sense of propriety.

To a liberal, you see, mankind is flawed, but ultimately good.  Yes, we are greedy.  Yes, we are impulsive.  Yes, we are violent.  That's part of what makes us human.  And these selfish and destructive impulses need regulation through a system of laws, checks and balances.  As James Madison famously said, "If Men were Angels, no government would be necessary.  If Angels were to govern Men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary."

But we are also MORAL and RATIONAL--collectively and individually.  That means that, as rational creatures and the "Political Animals" that Aristotle rightly said we are, humans are capable of evolution in their moral thought.  That's what being a "progressive" is all about: the ability to end slavery, to end prejudice, to end all unnecessary war--and the realization that things we may take for granted today may be considered utterly immoral by our hopefully more enlightened descendants.

Reason, however, requires HONESTY.  One cannot make rational progress towards the greater good without being honest about what makes us human; without being honest about our behavior; without being honest about our fundamental needs.  Recognition of this basic fact is what makes people like Alfred Kinsey so great: human sexuality must be understood for healthy attitudes toward it to be adopted, for instance.

Thus, as liberals, we require OPENNESS about EVERYTHING.  We demand that gay people be allowed to come out of the closet.  That racism be studied honestly so that we may overcome it.  That scientific inquiry be pursued, wherever it may lead.  That frank admissions of who we are, and what we do, be taken into account.  In the arena of religion, our focus is on God's love, His mercy, His charity, and the unity of all beings, all life, and indeed all Creation--universal precepts visible in faiths worldwide, and even in the mouth of Master Yoda.

Above all, it does not matter to a liberal if a man talk a good game and behave piously in public, if he behave like a villain behind closed doors, unable to walk the walk.  It is not just the pharisaical hypocrisy that makes us cringe; it is also the fact that such hypocritical obscurantism denies the possibility of real progress.  Every hypocrite is a roadblock to a more honest, more open, more virtuous society.


A Conservative, on the other hand, believes just the opposite.

A Conservative believes that mankind is wicked.  A sinner.  An evil creature held together with his fellow man only by the bonds of necessity.

In religion, the emphasis of the Conservative is not on God's Love, but rather on Original Sin, and on the fires of Damnation--be it in the Muslim, Christian, Jewish or any other faith (in Hinduism, "conservatives" speak of bad karma and reincarnation as a cockroach).

A Conservative believes that ALL mankind has evil impulses, and that evil is our nature.  In order to keep peace and justice on earth, appeal must be made not only to the laws and constiutitions of men, but also to the laws of Higher Powers--without which they believe that chaos and anarchy would reign.

And because none of us is inherently GOOD, the only issue of real importance is whether we ACT as though we were good.  To a Conservative, APPEARANCES are everything--SUBSTANCE is nothing.

Clinton's great crime, therefore, was NOT having an affair with an intern.  To err is human.  His crime was getting CAUGHT.

Men having sex with men isn't the problem--being OPEN about having sex with men is the problem.  "Do it in your bedroom," they say, "but don't rub it in my face."

White-collar crime, behind spreadsheets, pay stubs and closed doors, is acceptable, because it is hidden.  More open robbery and assault is unacceptable, to the conservative.


And THAT is what the Foley business is all about.  It is why Foley was a Republican in the first place.

Mark Foley was forced to cover up the fact that he was gay.  He was forced into the closet.  He could not seek counseling for his pedophilic urges.  He could not, in short, be OPEN.

Instead, he was required by his Conservative philosophy to remain a Coward.  To accept the "truth" of his "Evil."  And to put the best possible face on his behavior.

And that's how he became the poster-boy for blatant, mind-blowing hypocrisy.

But we must keep forever in mind that this is NOT an isolated case.  Mark Foley is not just the poster-body for hypocrisy.  Mark Foley is, in fact, the poster-boy for CONSERVATISM.

I will NOT refrain from politicizing Mark Foley's case, because he is everything that Conservatism is all about: hiding Original Sin in a cloak of outward virtue and piety.

And I intend to hold CONSERVATISM forever accountable for ALL its evils: not only to the world; not only to America; not only to the victims like this page; but even for its evils to men like Mark Foley himself.

Because it's not just the man--it's the IDEOLOGY.