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November 29, 2006

Eight Rules for Progressives

Chris Bowers of MyDD has jotted down 8 rules for progressives to follow in order to be successful in building "a progressive governing coalition".  Here it is:

  1. The Democratic Party is the primary vessel of the progressive coalition. It is impossible to enact real change without an electoral apparatus within your movement. In a two-party system, it is thus necessary to adopt one of the two parties as the electoral vessel of your coalition.
  2. Within the coalition, intra-party democracy must always be adhered to. All party nominees must be determined by an elective primary open to all registered members of the party in the relevant district. The winner of the primary must always be supported by all members of the party apparatus, and all rank and file members should vote for the nominee (especially those who voted in the primary).
  3. Party elections should be fair and open to all members of the party, and no one should ever be forced or muscled off of a ballot for a party office or nomination for public office.
  4. There are no litmus tests to join the coalition. No one has to read or sign off on any document stating support for a particular policy. If someone wants to join, registering as a Democrat should be the only requirement.
  5. Under no circumstances should any member of the party apparatus support any member of any opposing coalition, (in other words, any other political party).
  6. Outside of issues relating to corruption, Democrats must never criticize each other in the same manner that Republicans criticize Democrats.
  7. No Democrat should ever publicly call any Democrat unelectable, or publicly rank candidates based on perceived electability.
  8. Don't expect the party to change on it's own. Be prepared and willing to change it yourself.

I expect Chris would agree that the last one deserves most emphasis. Progressives are beginning to realize that we can do on a state and local level in 2008 and 2010 what we did at a national level in 2006.   It means getting involved in every LD, every county, every city and town council.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 29, 2006 at 07:05 AM in Inside Baseball | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 28, 2006

The Not So Funnies: The Real Iraq

Here are two first hand accounts of what it's really like in Iraq these days from two well-respected journalists who've quit toning down their reports:

Michael Ware

John Roberts

And the best explanation I've seen of why we are still in Iraq from Richard Clark writng at The New Republic.  Clark's article is behind a subscription wall but the Washington Monthly has the money quote:

In The March of Folly, Barbara Tuchman documented repeated instances when leaders persisted in disastrous policies well after they knew that success was no longer an available outcome. They did so because the personal consequences of admitting failure would be very high. So they postponed the disastrous end to their policy adventures, hoping for a deus ex machina or to eventually shift the blame.

There is no need to do that now. Everyone already knows who is to blame. It is time to stop the adventure, lower our sights, and focus on America's core interests. And that means withdrawal of major combat units.

Not really much else to be said. 


Posted by Lynn Allen on November 28, 2006 at 09:01 AM in Media, National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Funnies: Colbert with Jim Lehrer

This is hilarious.  "It takes a lot of courage to be boring five nights a week."  Stephen Colbert gets Jim Lehrer to say the funniest things.  It is in two parts.

Part 1

Part 2

Enjoy.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 28, 2006 at 08:45 AM in Media, National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 27, 2006

And Meanwhile . . .

While the Republicans begin to come to grips with reality, as a result of the recent elections and the deterioration in Iraq, Nancy Pelosi is running all out to actually fix the problems in this country.   

Swopa at Firedoglake reported that Pelosi announced last week that House Democrats will hold a forum to discuss the war in Iraq.  According to a press release from Pelosi's office as reported by Raw Story, the forum will be held next Tuesday, Dec. 5th.

Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, and Major General John Batiste will join current and new members of the Democratic Caucus in discussing options for a way forward in Iraq.

We know that ‘stay the course’ is not working, has not made our country safer, has not honored the commitment to our troops, and has not brought stability to the region. I look forward to hearing from our distinguished group of experts as House Democrats discuss the deteriorating situation in Iraq.

I personally hope they include Wesley Clark.  But, what a great plan to begin to educate the public and come up with a Democratic plan.

And, of course, that is just the beginning of what the Democratic leadership has going.  Kid Oakland reminds us that Pelosi and company have already prepared an agenda for the first 100 hours.  Here it is again.  It's great. 

1. Cleaning up Congress

a). Breaking the link between lobbyists and legislation
b). Commiting to Pay as You Go
c). No new Deficit Spending

2. Making our Nation Safer

a). Implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 commission

3. Making our Economy Fairer

a). Raising the Federal Minimum Wage
b). No new pay raises for Congress without a raise in the minimum wage

4. Making health care more affordable

a). Fixing the Medicare Prescription Drug Program by Negotiating Lower Prices
b). Promote Stem Cell Research

5. Broaden College Opportunity

a). Cut interest rates for student loans by half

6. Energize America for Energy Independence

a). Roll back subsidies for big oil companies

7. Guarantee a Dignified Retirement

a). Fight the attempt to privatize Social Security

And that doesn't include netroots plans for aiding the Democrats and making sure they stay on track.  That post later. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 27, 2006 at 10:04 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Norm Dicks a Possibility for Chair of Intel Committee?

Nancy Pelosi has been holding off selecting a Chair of the incredibly important House Intelligence Committee.  Most other committee chairs have been selected but both of the obvious choices, the ranking Democrats on the committee, Jane Harman of California and Alcee Hastings of Florida, are less than ideal.  Harman is smart and ambitious and has historically not stood up for the Democrats, a la Lieberman.  Pelosi has already signaled she will not choose Harman.  Hastings is the choice of the Congressional Black Caucus but he has been on trial for extortion and bribery.  He was acquitted but the ensuing publicity from that choice would be counter-productive to say the least.   

Newsweek's Michael Isikoff reports that Pelosi is now considering our own Norm Dicks or Silvestre Reyes of Texas.   Dicks, like his friend John Murtha, was a firm supporter of the Iraq War and now wants phased troop withdrawal.  However, Dicks is in line to be Chair of the Interior Appropriations Committee which would give him a critical position in determining federal environmental and natural resource policies.  Reyes, whose selection would help Pelosi with the Hispanic Caucus, is a former Border Patrol Official and the Democrats go-to guy on immigration affairs.  He also opposed the Iraq War from the outset.  Reyes would have no Committee Chair conflicts so he may be the more likely of the two. 

But boy would a Dicks selection be interesting to watch. 

Hat tip to Kitt, commenting at a previous EP post and to Howie, both of whom pointed me to Jeralyn at Talkleft

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 27, 2006 at 09:23 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (1)

November 24, 2006

Crumbling Facades

It began with the publication in October of Bob Woodward's latest book, State of Denial.   Now nearly the entire Republican establishment, along with the chattering class, is walking away from support for the Iraq war and the Administration.

When State of Denial was published in early October, the nation got its first inside look at the dishonesty at the core of the Bush administration.  From an interview with Mike Wallace on "Sixty Minutes" on Oct. 1st:

Woodward spent more than two years, interviewed more than 200 people including most of the top officials in the administration and came to a damning conclusion. He tells Mike Wallace that for the last three years the White house has not been honest with the American public.

"It is the oldest story in the coverage of government: the failure to tell the truth," Woodward charges.

Woodward detailed conversations with Administration and military insiders that indicated they knew long ago that the violence in Iraq was huge, was escalating and was out of our control.  They also reported, as Jack Murtha, had been saying, that "Defense  Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has so emasculated the joint chiefs that the chairman of the chiefs has become 'the parrot on Rumsfeld’s shoulder.'"

Then, of course, the voters spoke.  And suddenly the entire chattering class, Republicans as well as Democrats, behaved as if they had been released from a trance.  I remember seeing David Brooks on The NewsHour right after the election.  He looked like a man freed from a sorcerer's spell.  And he was not alone.  In the weeks since the election, we as a nation are back to talking about events with some level of reality.  That's a part of why it has all of a sudden seemed so much worse in Iraq.  We are actually hearing more of the truth.    

On Nov. 19th, Bill Kristol told Fox News that Republican support for Iraq will "crumble in 3 months".   The same day the WAPO's Peter Baker reported that Ken Adelman and Richard Perle, both strong neo-con supporters of the war and both members of the Defense Policy Advisory Board, had lost hope for the war and for Bush's ability to make good decisions or implement any plan.

In his opinion piece yesterday in the New York Times, David Brooks, of all people, called Dick Cheney the "secret emperor" and said that Cheney has "subverted the normal workings of government" and "avoided the normal checks and balances that might have helped to avoid the fiasco that is Iraq today".  Even more telling, he says,

"First, the vice president can’t have his own secret policy channel. He can’t sit silently at meetings and then, during private lunches with the president, countermand all that was accomplished."

The international community is not holding back either.  The New York Daily News reported a few days ago that former President George H. W. Bush had to defend his eldest son in front of a usually Bush-friendly audience at the World Leadership Summit in the United Arab Emirates held earlier this week.  Bush senior was there as an invited and presumable highly-paid speaker.  Here's a couple things he was forced to listen to after his talk was over during the Q&A session:

"We do honor Americans, and I believe that they are highly respected in our country. However, we do not respect your son, and we do not respect what you are doing all over the world," college student Nevine Al Rumeisi told the former President at a leadership conference in the United Arab Emirates.

Her comment was roundly cheered by the business and political leaders gathered in once pro-American Abu Dhabi.

The elder Bush just looked stunned.

<snip>

Another audience member said "he thought American wars are designed to open markets for U.S. companies - drawing more cheers and whoops". 

The timing is likely to be opportune for the Democrats.  (Clearly it would have been much better for the country, the world and especially the people of Iraq had it come four years ago but . . . given that this is where we are now)  It allows them to concentrate on making plans to rebuild the country while the Republicans and the media take on the job of dismantling the remains of the facade that we allowed these idiots to construct.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 24, 2006 at 11:47 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (6)

November 23, 2006

I was going to say Happy Turkey Day, but...

...Lynn beat me to it.  Not that that will stop me from smiling over all we have to be thankful for on this particular Thanksgiving.

But what I'm really posting about today is a sad anniversary that wasn't previously mentioned here.  I refer, of course, to yesterday -- November 22.  For those of us old enough to recall that horrid Friday in 1963, it was a world-changing event.  It truly marked a breakpoint in our history.  On that day, at exactly the moment a bullet destroyed the brain of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, we were instantaneously transformed from a "post-WWII" world to the world we still live in today.  The assassination, in my opinion, was truly the first day of "the '60s".

In previous years, I outlined my recollections of that day and expounded on the transformations it engendered on my own blog.  This year, my Peace Tree Farm entry on the anniversary of the assassination deals less with the event itself than with Kennedy's age -- he was only 46 when he died -- as well as the age-at-inauguration of other Presidents.  Until I researched it, I had no idea that nearly one-fifth of our 43 Presidents hadn't yet reached their 50th birthdays on the day they took the oath of office, and that of those eight men only Theodore Roosevelt wasn't elected at that tender age (then again, TR was re-elected at 46 and left office when he was 50).

I chose that particular angle because of the recent cattish speculation in the media and the punditocracy about the callow youth that is Barack Obama.  Why, he's so young that, if he were elected President in 2008, when he raised his right hand for the oath of office on January 20, 2009 he'd be older than Kennedy was when he died.  There are plenty of valid and meaningful arguments against an Obama-in-2008 campaign, but his age is decidedly not one of them.

That said, I return to today, and wish all readers of Evergreen Politics a happy, healthy, and delicious Thanksgiving!

Posted by Neal Traven on November 23, 2006 at 11:57 AM in Candidate Races, National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

While the Turkey is Cooking

We have a lot to be thankful for this year.  Here are some uplifting articles to read about and then talk about (or not) around the dinner table:

David Sirota on Public Financing, a critically important next step in rebuilding our democracy.

The Houston janitors, with the aid of the SEIU, won a pretty unlikely victory, showing all of us it can be done.

Charlie Cook confirms that we did have a wave.

Turns out that nasty DeLay-led, mid-decade redistricting in Texas means the state has no clout in a Democratic-led Congress.

James Wolcott muses on why it is that red states lead the nation in violent crime, divorce, illegitimacy, and incarceration, among other evils.

Meet Jerry McNerney, down-to-earth math whiz and alternative energy expert who took out Richard Pombo in CA-11

Take a moment to savor this incredible opening we have to rebuild our democracy.  And have a wonderful and relaxing day. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 23, 2006 at 07:10 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 22, 2006

Speaking of Strategy

Ezra Klein, writing at the American Prospect, has a list of items that will both help the country and "strengthen, expand and empower their coalition".  The Democrats have not typically been good at in the past at this kind of strategic thinking but heh, it's a new day and it looks like Democrats are learning.  Here's the short version of Ezra's list in the article entitled "How the Democrats can do good and help their friends":

1. Helping Unions

Pass the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA),which would introduce card check, allowing unionization to occur as soon as a majority of the workforce signed cards calling for a union. "It would radically increase the penalties on illegal union-busting techniques, and provide new avenues for mediation and arbitration of organizing disputes. The end result would be that more of the 57 million Americans who say they would like to join a union would be able to do so.

2. Voting Reform

Several good possibilities, including ensuring adequate supplies of voting machines, same-day voter registration, creating a voting holiday.  If these go well, Congress could go for felon re-enfranchisement.

3. Campaign Finance Reform

The best option is full public-financing as David Sirota calls for. 

4. Immigration Reform

The key is comprehensive immigration reform that provides a path to citizenship.  With both Bush and McCain on board, there's a chance to bring on a lot of voters predisposed to vote Democratic.

5.  PAYGO

"Pay-as-you-go is a proposed budgetary law that requires changes in either revenues or spending to be balanced in the budget; it would, some suggest, end this era of irresponsible tax cuts and budgetary demagoguery."

Ezra says about these and other possibilities:

If Democrats truly believe their political success benefits the majority of Americans, it's time they took ensuring their coalition's health and expanding its size as policy imperatives. All these proposals would help do that -- and would increase political participation and empower oft-marginalized voices. Call it Rovian altruism. Call it good politics.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 22, 2006 at 08:43 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (1)

Pelosi to Work House Members

New Speaker, new rules, more work to get done for the people.  In a departure, the House will convene on January 4th, as usual, but then they will stay around to get some work done.  Usually they go home until later in the month when the President delivers his State of the Union address.  This time, the focus will be on the Dems and their agenda, not on him.  Cool.

Marc Sandalow, writing on a SF Chronicle blog, has the news. 

Pelosi's team apparently figures there's no reason to allow President Bush to set the agenda in January by leaking bits of his speech. Instead the Democratic Congress will immediately plunge into its lengthy to-do list, starting with an ethics reform package, and perhaps have some bills on Bush's desk by the time the State of the Union is ready for delivery.

"From economic security to national security, the American people have resoundingly called for a new direction,'' Pelosi said in a just-released statement. "It is imperative that we waste no time in addressing the pressing needs facing our nation.''

I'm pretty confident we are going to be really proud of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and our Democrats this session.  And it's a good thing too.  We need more like them in 2008.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 22, 2006 at 08:25 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 21, 2006

Ron Kovic Still Working for Peace and Nonviolence

Truthdig has a lovely photo essay up on Ron Kovic, the Vietnam War veteran made famous by the movie "Born on the 4th of July".   Zuade Kaufman put the piece together about Kovic's life today.  Here's the introduction:

Paralyzed from the chest down by Vietnam War wounds, and confined to a wheelchair for almost 40 years, Ron Kovic stands as a symbol of the brutality of war. He also exemplifies a man’s ability to transform such tragedy into a lifelong pursuit of peace—for himself and his country.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 21, 2006 at 10:50 AM in Interviews, National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (1)

Bill Sali to Lead the Republican Freshmen

No kiddiing.  Crazy Bill Sali, newly elected Congressman from ID -01, has been elected class president of the incoming Republican House freshman.  A diarist at Dailykos, brittain33, tells us that the very small class of 13 new members chose Sali to represent them, as the class before them chose slightly less nutty Cathy McMorris.

CORRECTION: McMorris was the Freshman Class representative on the Steering Committee and on the Republican Whip Team, not the Class President.  As a commenter pointed out, Bobby Jindal (LA-01) was elected Republican Class President in 2004.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 21, 2006 at 10:47 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (4)

Now That Will be an Interesting Auto-Biography

Billmon has a fascinating piece up on Jim Webb's political turnabout over the last 25 years.  He says that Webb was a "died-in-the-wool reactionary".  To wit, he was a "vociferous spokesperson for the movement to scrap the design for the Vietnam War Memorial"; he refused to shake John Kerry's hand because of his role in publicizing U.S. war crimes in Vietnam; and, as Reagan's Navy Secretary, he was a "fanatical advocate of a 500-600-ship Navy, a defense contracting boondggle so egregious even the Reagan administration eventually abandoned it".   In the anti-Vietnam War memorial protests, he worked with the men who would go on to run the Swift boat campaign against Kerry in the 2004 election.

I hadn't caught that pattern in the cursory research on Webb I'd done before and after the election. 

Billmon is awed at the change.  Here's what he says:

I assumed he would end up pulling a seven-figure salary as a defense lobbyist and spend the rest of his days helping shovel pork down various congressional gullets and tending the shrine of St. Ronnie.

But instead, nearly two decades later, Webb's now the newly elected Senator from my native state (a stronghold of the Confederacy and the national "right-to-work" movement) who's lined up shoulder to shoulder with Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi and is writing op eds for the Wall Street Journal explicitly calling for what the Republican chattering classes sneeringly condemn as "class warfare".

Billmon goes on to talk about the sense of vertigo he gets when Jim Webb sounds like Abby Hoffman and Joe Lieberman, who was worked for civil rights and against the Vietnam War in the 1960's, is now behaving like John Mitchell, Nixon's Attorney General.

But if Jim Webb and I are now on the roughly same side on the big issues of the day -- the war, globalization, corporate power, economic fairness, social justice -- it tells you something has fundamentally changed in American politics. It may not be a realignment (a political system this polluted and decrepit may not be capable of such a thing) but when Senators from Virginia start talking like Walter Reuther, it sure the hell isn't business as usual.

I just picked up a domain name for Webb in Washington State in case he chooses to run for President in 2008.  After I shook my head clear of what I read on Billmon, I now think that possibility would be even more interesting.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 21, 2006 at 10:35 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 20, 2006

Olbermann on Bush in Vietnam

Keith Olbermann questions the lessons that Bush appeared to take from both his visit to Vietnam last week and from our war in Vietnam.  A typically great Special Comment from the master. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 20, 2006 at 10:29 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

We're Gonna Like These Guys

James Webb and Jon Tester were on Meet the Press on Sunday and boy, were they great.  MSNBC has several clips of one or both of them responding to Russert's questions and also has the entire show.

Webb talked about the need for diplomatic rather than military actions as a way to get us out of Iraq, about economic fairness as his primary focus in his service in the Senate, and about how he sees himself as being similar to former NY Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, someone who brings the intellectual world to bear on his political ideas and actions. 

Tester, who was on from his kitchen in Big Sandy, MT, talked about his focus on doing what's right for the middle class, on the economic situation facing folks in Montana, and about the need for transparency in government. 

Oh, did we get lucky. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 20, 2006 at 10:26 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (1)

Afghanistan Slipping Away

Christie at Firedoglake has a great post up about Afghanistan today, entitled "Breaking Our Word".  She says:

Afghanistan is sinking back into chaos and repression, especially in the Southern reaches where weak warlords and complicit officials have allowed the Taliban to retake power in exchange for some false sense of temporary stability as the repressive regime consolidates its stranglehold on the region and marches, ever onward, toward the prize of Kabul.

We gave our word when we invaded Afghanistan that the Taliban would be routed and that the repressive regime would be lifted so that young girls in the country would have a life outside layers and layers of forced cloth, so that they could have the hope of an education and some semblence of a potential future that allowed for them to make some choices about its course.  We gave our word.

As Christie says, we particularly gave our word to the Afghani women.  It looks like the women of Kabul are managing to rebuild their lives.  She points to a lovely set of video-clips that the WAPO has done about women in Kabul developing businesses, helping each other, creating lives for themselves and their families after decades of turmoil. 

BUT she also points to other stories in the WAPO discussing what it's like for women outside of Kabul and it's not pretty.  She quotes from women from the Taliban stronghold in the province of Helmand, who say:

"All of our lives are in danger now. Our schools are shut, and anyone who works for the government is branded as an infidel," said Ma Gul, 52, a teacher who traveled to the capital this week with 20 other women from Greshk, a town in Helmand 300 miles south, to demand better protection and the removal of weak regional officials.

Christie adds:

The Afghanistan that could have been, with its possibilities of hope and justice, is slipping away from us, and like sand grains scouring across the surface of a mirror, it leaves a reflection of our nation's soul — our lack of commitment, the breaking of our word…again…to these people who have lived under constant seige for decades with the promise that America would stand up for them — that has deeply marred flaws.

Afghanistan was cast aside by George Bush in his quest to topple Saddam Hussein…for whatever misguided, unsupported and unsubstantiated reasons, Iraq was the goal, and the land that had long served as a haven to al qaeda and Bin Laden's hatred of the West became a forgotten dusty relic for everyone but the troops we left behind there to clean up after our mess.  We caught Saddam Hussein well over a year ago, he was convicted last month in a messy show trial…and Iraq is still a mess.  Osama Bin Laden and his surrogates are still at large, and Pakistan is reportedly allowing the Taliban fighters who are injured in skirmishes with allied troops in Afghanistan to be treated in safe-houses across the border.

We have lost the battle for the hearts and minds of the peoples of this region by our sheer neglect of the issues that matter to them:  decent roads, food, shelter, economic prospects…keeping our word.  Any of these things would have done wonders — both in Afghanistan and also in Iraq early on — but because George Bush's Administration failed to adequately plan for the aftermath of the boom-boom portion of the invasion (you know, that point where the really hard work sets in…), we are now reaping a whirlwind of grief in a whole lot of places.

We cannot continue to have a foreign policy that is so haphazard, so piecemeal…so lazy and personally driven.  We cannot wage war on the cheap, and we cannot continue this ignorant failure to reach out to experts in the State Department and elsewhere in the government for help on rebuilding and nation-sustaining actions because the civilians running the Pentagon desire their own personal feifdom.  These decisions — or the lack thereof — have long-term consequences, for our current world and for the future, as what we do, or undo, ripples outward into the generations to come.  And the utter lack of accountability up to now has dire consequences for us all.

I wrote about the resurgence of the Taliban three weeks ago, based on a great NYT Magazine article by Elizabeth Ruben.  If you can stand to read more, it's here.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 20, 2006 at 08:53 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (1)

November 19, 2006

Reacting to the Suggestion of Impeachment

The issue of whether or not to aim for impeachment is heating up in the national blogs. Kid Oakland, one of my favorite national bloggers, address the debate about impeachment in a diary over at DailyKos. He calls the piece, "Common Sense". Here are a couple excerpts:

I think advocating impeachment right now is extremely poor tactics.  And, imo, has an underlying aspect of being poor politics. In this sense, as a result of the 2006 elections, the United States Constitution is already working its checks and balances and will work every day for the next two years. The people have spoken, and in our system of government, the people, as specifically represented in the United States Congress, have a great deal of power.

In my mind there is a philosophical flaw in the argument that in order to "defend the Constitution" we must impeach the President. The voters of the United States in effect just did that...and, yes, voters did that with the full knowledge that in addition to all the significant powers that Congress has above...that the House and the Senate can, as well, impeach members of the Executive Branch and the Judiciary if circumstances merit...as a grave and last resort.

What is missing from this "campaign for impeachment" is, in my mind, a sense of groundedness and realism about the Constitution and the political realities of the day. The left wing of the Democratic Party has a DNC chair, Howard Dean, and a Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and will have the Chairs of so many Congressional Committees that we are on the brink of a new day in D.C. politics. That "left lean" in our leadership, however, does NOT represent every member of our coalition. How we left Democrats manage this situation, and choose to lead, will reflect on all of us.

My Take

I agree that aiming for impeachment, itself, is off the mark.  It may come.  It may not.  We have investigations to attend to but, as importantly, we have a democracy to rebuild.
 
I think this is a "teachable moment" if you will.  Progressive Democrats get an opportunity to model good government nationally, and in our case, in the state government.  

The Republicans have been put on probation because they were not doing what the people want.  Let's do what the people want but also nudge them along (there's a reason for my handle). The First 100 Hours Agenda of Nancy Pelosi and the other Democratic leaders is a good start.  A reminder of what it includes:
 

Day One: Put new rules in place to "break the link between lobbyists and legislation."

Day Two: Enact all the recommendations made by the commission that investigated the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Time remaining until 100 hours: Raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, maybe in one step. Cut the interest rate on student loans in half. Allow the government to negotiate directly with the pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices for Medicare patients.

Broaden the types of stem cell research allowed with federal funds.

After that, it's pay as you go.  Whatever it is.  I am thrilled at what they've done and think this is part of what the electorate reacted positively to.

There is a set of paintings in the City Hall of Siena that blew my mind when I saw them many years ago.   The city commissioned Ambrogio Lorenzetti to paint two huge paintings, one on each side of the great hall in the building.  One is The Effects of Bad Government and the other is The Effects of Good Government.  In the painting about the effects of good government, both city and country were prosperous, people talked and listened to one another and enjoyed a civic life.  In the painting about the effects of bad government, the countryside was depleted, there was an army on the loose and people were fearful.

The paintings were completed in 1340.  They are crystal clear.  They have been right there in the City Hall of Siena ever since, reminding people of why it is important to bother with taking responsibility for creating good government.  For many centuries, I'm sure they were the civics lesson for most people, reading and writing being pretty much for the ruling class and the clergy.

The long-term goal is to have good government.  We will have to think strategically and act tactically to get to make this happen. We will have to be effective doing both.  If we can, as a broad progressive movement, develop a shared sense of how to do that, we will be in charge for a generation.

Will impeachment be effective either strategically or tactically?  Perhaps, at a later time.  Not now.  

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 19, 2006 at 10:38 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (4)

November 18, 2006

Women, War and Darcy

There was a brouhaha a couple of days ago over on Postman's blog due to an email exchange between Postman's fill-in, Jim Brunner, and Darcy Burner.  Brunner made a big deal of Darcy's talking about the difficulty that female Democratic candidate faced in this race in trying to ride the blue wave.  He titled his post, "A Glass Ceiling for Darcy?" and laughed about the absurdity of that idea in this state where women are so prominent in politics.

A bunch of Republican-types piled on in the comment section, no doubt glad to have somewhere they could crow in a week where they were otherwise badly cut off at the knees.

Anyway, as I've thought about this, I think Darcy is correct.  Darcy is at bottom a wonk and she did her homework before bringing this possibility up.  She looked at the 20 Democratic challengers who had raised $1 million by the end of June.  Of those, 13 won and 7 lost.  Of the 13 who won, Ed Perlmutter (CO-6), Joe Courtney (CT-2), Chris Murphy (CT-5), Ron Klein (FLA-22), Brad Ellsworth (IND-8), Baron Hill (IND-9), Heath Schuler (NC-11), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY-20), Charlie Wilson (OH-6), Joe Sestak (PA-7), Nick Lampson (TX-22), Peter Welch (VT-at large) and Steve Kagen (WI-8), all but one were men.  Of the 7 who lost, Burner (WA-8), Diane Farrell (CT-4), Tammy Duckworth (IL-6), Patricia Madrid (NM-1), John Cranley (OH-1), Mary Jo Kilroy (OH-15), Lois Murphy (PA-06), all but one were women.   

So, the statistics are with her.  Now, let's look at why this might be. 

We are in a time of war and this election was arguably about the war and getting America out of the war.  I have been saying to friends who asked that I don't think that this is a good time for Hillary Clinton to run for President because I don't think that Americans will vote for a woman for President in a time of war.  Just bad timing for Hillary because otherwise I think she'd be a fine President and likely our best shot to get a woman as President in a decade.  I may be wrong but I don't think so.  (In fact, it's why I think the Democratic candidate is likely to wind up being the dark horse, James Webb, the biggest, baddest fighter the Democrats could possibly put up and luckily a smart and articulate economic populist in the bargain.)

I don't think this war-angst and need for leaders who exude male strength applies to elections or candidates at the state level.  The voters know that states are about education and transportation and jobs and services.  Women are more than fine there.

It's at the federal level that voters want people who will get us out of Iraq with some shred of dignity and some consideration for what we leave behind.

Jim Brunner also held up Cantwell's win over McGavick.  Well, as I think about it, I think that McGavick lost for much the same kind of reason that the women candidates did.  He comes across as an affable, slightly tipsy uncle who shaves the truth for a good story.   At another time, McGavick's image, along with his political legacy, might have carried the day for him.  But, that's not what we want or need now. 

Cantwell, on the other hand, played it masterfully.  She talked about fighting for the people of Washington - against the large energy companies, against Ted Stevens (practically one and the same), against anyone who would do Puget Sound wrong.  She never talked about fighting the war in Iraq, since that was clearly a personal quagmire for her, but we all now see her as a fighter, just what we want in a time of war.  Especially given the alternative. 

In Darcy's race, she was up against an icon of a fighter, the sheriff.  Reichert played that to the hilt.  In fact, he never talked about any subject without bringing the discussion around to his time on the beat or his time as sheriff.  Never.  Darcy was a much more nuanced candidate with well thought out ideas, who came very close but couldn't manage to get enough voters to look past that sheriff image.  It's a shame but I think it's correct.   

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 18, 2006 at 10:22 AM in Candidate Races, National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (11)

November 17, 2006

Senator Ted Stevens to Run Again in 2008

CQPolitics is reporting that Senator Ted Stevens announced a couple days ago that he will seek re-election in 2008.  He had apparently considered passing in favor of his son, Ben Stevens, the Alaska state Senate president who did not seek re-election to his state legislative seat.  Unfortunately, his son is part of a group of mostly Republican Alaska lawmakers known to themselves as the "Corrupt Bastards Club".   Gives you a sense of why the FBI searched their offices for evidence of their connections to the VECO Corp., a company that has evidently been paying for favors for contracts with the state. 

When Stevens announced, he was asked about his new status as a member of the minority in the Senate.  Here's his response:

While the election “did not go my party’s way,” Stevens said, “I come out of the campaign more determined than ever to fight for Alaska’s interests in Washington, D.C.”

It's pretty scary to think about Stevens working even harder for the interests of his Alaskan constituents.  The senator to the north is one of the top two or three porkers in Congress.  Luckily it won't be quite so easy to rake it in while he's in the minority.

Here's a partial list of his porky habits:

  • Senator Ted Stevens became chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations committee in 1997.  Since then federal spending in Alaska has nearly doubled.  On a per capita basis, Alaska now leads the nation in the receipt of federal money, at nearly $12,000 for each resident, twice the national average.
  • Alaska also receives more in earmarked appropriations than any other state; Alaska now gets more than $611 in federal funds per capita for special earmarks. (The national average for earmarked pork projects is $19 per capita.)
  • Stevens has become a millionaire by using his position as chair of the committee that dispenses $800 billion in annual federal spending to steer government contracts and subsidies to businesses owned by friends, family members and business associates.
  • Senator Stevens’ son, Ben Stevens, has become rich serving as a lobbyist in DC for many organizations and companies that benefit from the Senator’s largess, including the Alaskan fisheries industry, oil pipeline representatives and the Alaska Special Olympics. 

And of course, Stevens is no friend of the Northwest or of the environment. 

  • Stevens “has redirected millions in federal funding away from the study of salmon stocks in Oregon, Washington and northern California, where the fish are endangered, up to salmon projects in Alaska, where fish populations are relatively stable.”
  • Stevens is against the Endangered Species Act, for drilling in ANWR, for the logging of the Tongass National forest and a big supporter of the useless Star Wars defense system being built mostly in Alaska.
  • Stevens introduced a bill to increase oil tanker traffic in the sound; BP who owns the largest oil refinery in Puget Sound, has worked with Stevens to open Puget Sound to more tanker traffic; BP is also a big contributor to Steven's political campaign.

Anyone for trying to defeat him? 

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 17, 2006 at 10:55 PM in Candidate Races, National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (5)

November 16, 2006

Beginning to Restore our Moral Grounding

Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) has introduced a bill that would restore Habeas Corpus, consistent adherence to the Geneva Conventions and  legal protections to detainees.  He calls it the Effective Terrorists Prosecution Act.  Dodd opposed the odious Military Commission Act of 2006 and this new bill seeks to repair the damage done in the previous Republican-sponsored bill.

Here's the information on the bill off his website.
 

The Effective Terrorists Prosecution Act:

  • Restores Habeas Corpus protections to detainees
  • Narrows the definition of unlawful enemy combatant to individuals who directly participate in hostilities against the United States who are not lawful combatants
  • Bars information gained through coercion from being introduced as evidence in trials
  • Empowers military judges to exclude hearsay evidence they deem to be unreliable
  • Authorizes the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces to review decisions by the Military commissions
  • Limits the authority of the President to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions and makes that authority subject to congressional and judicial oversight
  • Provides for expedited judicial review of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 to determine the constitutionally of its provisions

And so we begin to take our country back.  Thanks, Senator Dodd.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 16, 2006 at 10:29 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Whither Cheney?

Don't be surprised to see Cheney leave office soon.  The appointment of Robert Gates as Rumsfeld's replacement as Secretary of Defense marks the end of Cheney's dominance in this administration.  That's the assessment by Larry Johnon, former CIA agent and blogger at No Quarter.  He says:

Wednesday's surprising resignation/firing of Don Rumsfeld and the nomination of the CIA chief who served Bush 41, Robert Gates, was a dramatic and emphatic smack in the face of Dick Cheney.  While George W. Bush remains stubbornly committed to the present course in Iraq, there should be no doubt that he is no longer willing to be the Charlie McCarthy to Cheney's Edgar Bergen.  Cheney's hand is no longer firmly up Bush's ass and Bush is speaking for himself.

This was a stinging rebuke to Cheney, who had brought his mentor, Don Rumsfeld, into the Bush 43 tent over the strenuous objections of the Bush 41 crowd.  Cheney and Rumsfeld shared the same world view of the NeoCon crowd, which included a fierce distrust and anger toward the CIA.  During the last five years Cheney assisted Rumsfeld's quest to set up a completely independent intelligence operation in the Department of Defense.  At least with the DOD intel capability, the Pentagon and the White House could ignore the CIA view.

Johnson says that Gates is not an ideologue and is willing to admit outside ideas.  Although he may have "cooked" the intel books at the CIA in the 80's, folks on both sides of the political spectrum thought he did a good job at the CIA in the 90's.  "The Gates era at DOD will bring an end to Rummy's reign of terror".

Then he has more about Cheney's likely future:

Cheney has been conspicuously absent since the Republicans were routed at the polls.  His efforts to save Rummy were rebuffed.  And with the Senate in the hands of the Democrats, Cheney's influence on the Hill is over.  Don't be surprised if Dick Cheney develops a heart condition in the next couple of months that will force him to resign as the Vice President.  Whether he stays or goes, the era of Cheney's supremacy at the White House is done.  The neocons are discredited, as is Cheney, and their pet projects--from warrantless wiretapping to torture to trashing habeus corpus--are dead as well.

The results of last week's hard fought wins just get better and better.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 16, 2006 at 08:43 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 15, 2006

Webb on Class Struggle

In an opinion piece in today's Wall Street Journal, Jim Webb warns about the perils of ignoring the ever-widening divided between America's top tier and the rest of us.  His first sentence sets the tone:

The most important - and unfortunately the least debated - issue is politics today is our society's drift toward a class-based system, the likes of which we have not seen since the 19th century.

This is not an article that can be summed up in a few paragraphs.  It is chock full of critical statistics, like this one:

The top 1% now takes in an astounding 16% of national income, up from 8% in 1980. The tax codes protect them, just as they protect corporate America, through a vast system of loopholes.

Then he talks about what will likely happen if we ignore the warning signs, how we got so far into the situation without addressing it properly, and the opportunity we have now to confront and correct it.

More troubling is this: If it remains unchecked, this bifurcation of opportunities and advantages along class lines has the potential to bring a period of political unrest. Up to now, most American workers have simply been worried about their job prospects. Once they understand that there are (and were) clear alternatives to the policies that have dislocated careers and altered futures, they will demand more accountability from the leaders who have failed to protect their interests. The "Wal-Marting" of cheap consumer products brought in from places like China, and the easy money from low-interest home mortgage refinancing, have softened the blows in recent years. But the balance point is tipping in both cases, away from the consumer and away from our national interest.

The politics of the Karl Rove era were designed to distract and divide the very people who would ordinarily be rebelling against the deterioration of their way of life. Working Americans have been repeatedly seduced at the polls by emotional issues such as the predictable mantra of "God, guns, gays, abortion and the flag" while their way of life shifted ineluctably beneath their feet. But this election cycle showed an electorate that intends to hold government leaders accountable for allowing every American a fair opportunity to succeed.

With this new Congress, and heading into an important presidential election in 2008, American workers have a chance to be heard in ways that have eluded them for more than a decade. Nothing is more important for the health of our society than to grant them the validity of their concerns. And our government leaders have no greater duty than to confront the growing unfairness in this age of globalization.

Markos points us to the article, saying pretty much what I had said a few days ago about just how surprised those folks who called Webb "conservative" are going to be.   

Then, in an update on the article, Kos reports on what a friend in the labor movement says about Webb after reading the article:

This is the bluntest appeal on behalf of working class Americans, combined with a scathing critique of the inequities of American society, I've heard from any Senator in years, maybe since the death of Wellstone. Edwards/Webb, Obama/Webb, Richardson/Webb in '08--this guy is a MAJOR key to bring back white men to the Democratic party. I wish we had a dozen of him!

Personally, I think that we'll be hearing calls for him to run for President within months, as we learn more about him, about his fearlessness and about how prepared he really is.  Here's what I said:

I now think he is one of the best people this country could have as President.  He is new on the national political scene at that level.  But that doesn't mean he isn't prepared.  He may in fact be more prepared than anyone else because he has done so much outside the political realm, all of which have honed his ability to think well about our nation.  He has excelled as a military man, earning the Navy Cross for bravery; been a lawyer which has including stints in Congress as legal counsel; consulted to governments (ours and others); served as Secretary of the Navy; and been an award-winning journalist, and best-selling writer of both non-fiction and fiction.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 15, 2006 at 09:05 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Reichert in the Minority

Dave Reichert has some decisions to make.  Being in Congress when you are in the majority and have the leaders watching out for your interests and protecting your back for your next election is quite different than being in the minority. He will be stripped of his sub-committee chairmanship and is likely to lose two staff members.  His patron, Dennis Hastert, is out as Speaker of the House, and many say that Hastert is likely to leave the House altogether, given his huge loss of status and possible pending legal action over his role in the Mark Foley scandal.  Unless Dave Reichert is prepared to carve out a new role for himself, a role where he cooperates with the Democrats to further the interests of his constituents, he will be useless.

Our wonderful Democratic Congresscritters should know, having had that experience for the last 14 years.  In an article by Jonathan Martin in the Seattle Times today, Jim McDermott says:

It will be kind of a rude shock for him. He was in the majority and had a subcommittee chair. Now he loses about 90 percent of his power.

Part of what we'll go through with Dave is whether he wants to follow his leadership and play 'Let's defeat the Democrats' or to come across the line and work with us.

Jay Inslee said that the Democrats won't need Reichert's vote to pass their agenda but that the state delegation tends to work cooperatively on issues of priority to the region.  If Reichert chose to do so, he could act as liaison to the Bush Administration on issues such as renewable energy.  He added, "I'm going to take off my love-in hat and say Dave has not been terribly active on energy issues to date. If he gets up to speed on energy, that'd be great."

Reichert's chief of staff, Mike Shields, responded by saying that Reichert would not change his approach. 

What Reichert, and all Congresscritters, don't seem to get is that we - the netroots - will be documenting what he does this time around.  We helped a lot nationally and in this state in making this tremendous shift happen.  We're not going away.  We will watch our Democratic electeds' backs - when they deserve it - and that includes letting folks know how the Republicans respond when the Democrats begin to do what the voters asked for in this election.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 15, 2006 at 07:46 AM in Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (4)

November 14, 2006

This is not the end, but a new beginning…

Darcy Burner said that today near the end of brief thank-you to the enormous number of supporters on hand, as she formally ended her 2006 campaign.   She thanked us, talked about what we did accomplish with our amazing election wins last week and conceded the race.   The media was out in force and I'm sure that will be reflected on the local news this evening.  They were milling about afterwards talking with anyone who had a few minutes.  I think they needed to understand why there were so many people who had so energetically supported Darcy and who cared so much about her and about this campaign.  i suspect they don't often see that level of personal connection to a candidate.

A few days ago, I wrote a post thanking Darcy for making the run, saying,

In the last couple days since the election, we have shaken off our numbness and regained a small picture of hope as we absorb the implications of what we’ve done and think about what sane government might look like now. I thank you, Darcy, for holding that hope for us early and for never, ever giving up on it. 

Here's part of what she said today about what she saw when she began this race two years ago. 

We knew all along that we wanted to be part of changing the face of power in this nation, and we did just that. We knew all along that we could make this seat competitive, and we did just that. But there is always more to do. Our Congress must live up to the tasks of tackling our country’s most pressing issues. It’s up to us to help them do that and it’s up to us to make sure they do that.

In some way, Darcy did what she set out to do this year.  And, although she won't be there in Congress to help (and she would have been enormously effective), she will stay with the effort, as we all must.   

I've got a bit of a round-up of what others are saying after the fold.

UPDATE:  Jonathan Martin of the Seattle Times has an article this morning on Darcy's talk to her supporters and on what being in the minority is going to mean for Dave Reichert.  I'll cover the latter in a later post.  However, Howie pointed out this morning that there is a photo of Darcy giving me a hug at the event. 

From the Campaign

Darcy's campaign sent out an email thanks shortly afterwards with what she had said.   Here's a couple of excerpts from the letter which I hope will be on her website shortly. 

Last Tuesday, the voters of this country decided that it’s time to change course. We've elected new representatives and new leadership to take the helms of our House and Senate. For the first time in six years, accountability and integrity will be restored to the halls of our Congress.

And for the first time in the history of Washington’s 8th district, Democrats came together to not only make this race more competitive than it has ever been before, but to successfully change the political landscape of this district for years to come.

Two years ago when I decided to run, there were many who thought we didn’t stand a chance. But you and I knew what was at stake in this election. We knew that if we wanted a Congress that represented the working people of this country, that if we wanted to change the direction of this country, we needed to dig in our heels and get to work. And that’s what we did.

Regardless of the outcome of this race, your support forced the Republicans to spend $6 million in this district which helped pave the way for other Democrats across the country to win. Your support forced the Republicans to send out President Bush, Vice-President Cheney, Newt Gingrich, Rep. Dennis Hastert and others to campaign for Dave Reichert - who, despite the support of such heavy-hitters, is claiming victory by a very small margin.

Markos Chimes In

Markos said today that he hopes Darcy runs again next time. 

Burner ran an incredible campaign for a first-timer. If she comes back for the rematch, she'll be that much wiser, more battle-tested, with a more mature network of donors, grassroots activists, and netroots supporters.

Goldy on Reichert's "Pyrrhic Victory"

Goldy talked about Dave Reichert and his continuing misconceptions about why he won.  Then he says:

But… as personally disappointed as I am with the apparent outcome of this race, I fully understand on an intellectual level that both Darcy’s and Peter Goldmark’s campaigns were an integral part of a HUGE victory for the Democratic Party… and particularly for us netroots activists who embraced the 50-state strategy first enunciated by DNC chair Howard Dean. Darcy and Peter threw themselves into races the political and media establishment considered GOP gimmes, forcing the Republicans to draw money and resources away from races elsewhere.

And by fielding hardworking candidates who ran tough campaigns in races everybody expected them to lose, the Democrats showed local voters the type of respect that is absolutely necessary for the party to build towards victory in the future. Whoever the Democratic nominees are in 2008, their races will be made incredibly easier by the hard work Darcy and Peter put into 2006. That’s why I come away from this election with absolute confidence that every last ounce of passion and effort the netroots put into these races, and every last dime we raised, was totally worth it. We helped the Democrats take back Congress, and that after all, was the ultimate prize. The GOP may have successfully defended these seats – this year – but at a great cost.

Dan's Observations

Dan once again takes apart the media's attempts to portray Reichert as an independent and then makes this astute observation:

Reichert had to be oblivious to not recognize the seriousness of the threat against him. His exasperation at even having to appear at candidate forums and debates was clearly displayed during the campaign. While he wished to paint Darcy Burner as inexperienced (as compared to his whopping 2 years as congressman), he almost got beat by a skilled, quick learner who out-raised him during the heat of the campaign. What Darcy Burner lacked in years in politics she made up with her intelligence, understanding of the issues and her would be constituents, as well as her empathy towards people, attributes Reichert still lacks despite the outcome of this election.

And here's his take on Darcy and her future:

As for Darcy Burner, her strong showing, coming from nowhere, earning the support of donors, local volunteers and the national party, was a significant achievement. I suspect however, the type of person that Darcy is, she will not be comforted much by doing so well, yet not winning. She was in this to win from the beginning, and despite the odds and the history of this district she almost did against a well known, and highly financed incumbent. Whatever she chooses to do, and I would hope she will run for office again, she is a shining example of what makes this nation great: if you put your mind to something, work hard, treat people fairly and with compassion, and never let up, you can do great things. She got into this race for all the right reasons, and proved that the district was winnable. There's no turning back now.

Lastly, This Lovely Clip Again

Here’s a video-clip of Darcy at her election night party coming into a huge room of supporters, sharing her son with us for a few moments and then talking with us about how close the race was.  Dan filmed it.  Take a peek.  It’s very precious.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 14, 2006 at 09:10 PM in Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (0)

Post - Election Discussion This Evening at UW

A couple of UW organizations are hosting a panel discussion about last week's election this evening on campus.  The panel, hosted by Norm Rice, former mayor of Seattle, includes local consultants to both the Democratic and Republican parties.  More on time, location and sponsors here.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 14, 2006 at 02:51 PM in Inside Baseball | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 11, 2006

Webb a Conservative? Hardly

There has been much in the traditional media lately about the new crop of conservative Democrats.  These folks point to James Webb, former Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan who has only considered himself to be a Democrat for a short time.  Ha! Are they in for a surprise. 

Lou Dobbs interviewed Webb on CNN the other day and I don't think you could walk away from that interview thinking of Webb as a conservative.  In addition to his very sane position on this war, Webb is also focused on the income disparities between the rich and the rest of us and on the national policies that promote and exacerbate that disparity.  Best of all, he is able to articulate it (helps to be a writer, I tell you) in a way that people can hear.  He calls it "fairness".  I foresee the end of the Republicans ability to stop all conversation about this subject by saying "Oh, they're just fomenting class warfare". 

Here's a bit of what they talk about in this interview: re-instituting the idea of fairness in society, wages and salaries being at an all time low, a lack of accountability in corporate America, and the migration of wealth to the top 1%.   

Dobbs points his listeners to Webb's website for a picture of what we can expect Webb to focus on as a Senator:

Jim believes that solutions will be found using a progressive approach to policy that prioritizes fairness and justice, focused on four major themes:

    * Refocusing America's foreign and defense policies in a way that truly protects our national interests and seeks harmony where they are not threatened.

    * Repairing the country's basic infrastructure, which has eroded badly over the past decade, and developing more creative ways to assist disaster-stricken areas such as those in New Orleans and along the Gulf coast.

    * Reinstituting notions of true fairness in American society, including issues of race, class, and economic advantage; and

    * Restoring the Constitutional role of the Congress as an equal partner, reining in the unbridled power of the Presidency.

I don't have cable and don't watch Dobbs often but I do think of him as right on target on some key issues and a loose cannon on others.  He has focused on the issues of corporations taking jobs and money offshore.  Then he goes off on immigration and other issues in ways that just don't make sense to me.   However Dobbs has a large following.  He didn't anchor CNN's election coverage for nothing.  And I think of his listeners being in the "Reagan Democrats" mold.  (I may be off here but it seems likely.)  So, if Webb were able to make a consistent connection with Lou Dobbs and his listeners, I suspect we wouldn't have to worry about another election in a decade or more. 

Follow me over the fold for more on James Webb.

The above interview on CNN got me to do some research on Jim Webb.  I checked out both Webb's own personal site and the entry for him at wikipedia.  I came away even more impressed with him.

I now want to be one of the first to suggest that we seriously look at James Webb as the Democratic candidate for President in 2008.  I have been talking with a friend about this and had come to the conclusion that he needed more time as Senator under his belt before he ran.  But that was before I read his bios.

I now think he is one of the best people this country could have as President.  He is new on the national political scene at that level.  But that doesn't mean he isn't prepared.  He may in fact be more prepared than anyone else because he has done so much outside the political realm, all of which have honed his ability to think well about our nation.  He has excelled as a military man, earning the Navy Cross for bravery; been a lawyer which has including stints in Congress as legal counsel; consulted to governments (ours and others); served as Secretary of the Navy; and been an award-winning journalist, and best-selling writer of both non-fiction and fiction. 

And imagine what that stage would look like with Webb and his Vietnamese-American wife, an assortment of their children from previous marriages, and maybe Barack Obama as his Vice-Presidential choice.  Now that is modern America. 


Posted by Lynn Allen on November 11, 2006 at 09:33 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (2)

November 09, 2006

Thank You, Darcy

I have watched Darcy as a candidate since last fall.  I watched her negotiate a lovely understanding with Randy Gordon, the other early and similarly likeable candidate. They had talked early in the year and decided on some one or more criteria that would clarify which of them had the better chance to win.   Whatever that criteria was, Darcy came out of the discussion(s) the sole candidate.  I suspect it was related to Darcy being disciplined and willing to make calls six hours a day.  Two other contenders walked away a couple months later. 

I supported her actively since Andrew invited her to come and talk with us at the Bloggers’ Conference in Janauary.  First, we were pretty impressed that she knew enough to come and meet us and introduce herself and take our many questions and suggestions.  Then, we liked what she had to say, about how she saw the country going, about her background and what that meant about her, about her picture of the world and her ideas about how government ought to operate.  She was open and straight-forward and funny and personable.  She was clearly disciplined and gutsy and smart and she would give it everything she had.

The more I saw of Darcy, the more I liked her.  I could also see the impact she had on people.  At the Crab-fest in late February at St. Martin’s College, the crowd of Democratic Party PCO’s and Central Committee folk were wowed by Darcy.   I saw that happen again and again over the course of the campaign. She came to Drinking Liberally a couple times. 

I’ve hung around candidates and then Congressmen and women for over a dozen years, most of that time in California.  I’ve given them money when I had it and supported them because it just has mattered to me that we get better folks in Congress, folks who reflected a picture of the world a whole lot closer to mine.

So I have a basis for comparison.  Darcy is special and this year has been special, partly because courageous people like Darcy and Peter and Richard have left their cozy lives and taken on the very large task of running for Congress. 

I could see that Darcy had something we desperately needed and wanted and that was why we so wanted her to win.  She had a certainty that this country could be made right and an ability to communicate that certainty to all of us.

It has been an honor to be a minor part of her campaign because it has been a treasure to get to talk to people about her; it never failed to give people hope about our country.  That was true when I talked with friends or knocked on doorbells to talk with people in her district. I was able to tell them about a very bright, very committed young woman who wanted to change the direction of this country and was doing everything she knew to win this race. 

In the last couple days since the election, we have shaken off our numbness and regained a small picture of hope as we absorb the implications of what we’ve done and think about what sane government might look like now. 

I thank you, Darcy, for holding that hope for us early and for never, ever giving up on it.  Of course I hope that you do go on to become the incredible Congresswoman I know you could be.  But either way, I thank you for making this race.

Here’s a video-clip of Darcy at her election night party coming into a huge room of supporters, sharing her son with us for a few moments and then talking with us about how close the race was.  Take a peek.  It’s very precious.

Hat tip to Dan at On the Road to 2008.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 9, 2006 at 11:24 PM in Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (0)

How Gregoire Can Build Support in Rural Washington for 2008

Thankfully Initiative 933 failed. It was a terrible, corrupt initiative funded by big developers and the corrupt Farm Bureau to eliminate zoning and gut all growth management laws in Washington.

I was a volunteer speaker against the initiative and heard from a vocal minority that they are frustrated with environmental regulation of their property. I don't know the validity of their specific issues but I did get the sense that the King County Critical Areas Ordinance was pushed through in a way which energized a vocal minority on the losing side. There are a lot of horror stories and myths. Every angry person had some story that was pretty hard to believe - and mostly I didn't believe them. But, people would repeat those stories regardless of whether or not they were true. Regardless of the merits of these stories, many people in rural areas are upset.

I think Gregoire should come out with a simple plan to revisit the issues of property rights and land use. Set up a system for grievances to be heard. Get to the bottom of the stories of the angry minority. Listen. Talk about the importance of preserving the environment (clean air, clean water, etc.) but be willing to hear the effect on people's lives as well. Assess whether any changes to laws need to be made. I don't know enough about these issues and regulations to have a sense of whether the Washington State Growth Management Act and the King County CAO strike the right balance or not, but I do know that there is no harm in being willing to let people express their opinions on these issues.

I could imagine there are a small number of circumstances in which property owners have been affected in a way in which others of us might find unfair and some form of compensation might be appropriately legislated. I think there is enough energy here to explore the issue further. I've heard this from smart people I respect as well as city council officials at places where I visited.

I think if opening up these topics is done in a proactive, sincere, respectful and fair way, it could bring people together and build support for Gregoire in areas that might otherwise go to Rossi in 2008. I think Sims and King County would benefit to do the same.

All of this said, I want to reiterate that I think the Farm Bureau and its Initiative 933 was an entirely corrupt effort which disrespected every Washington citizen and our rights to clean air, water, a safe environment and a stable real estate market. Furthermore, the Farm Bureau and I933 supporters cynically and sinisterly fooled many Washingtonians into thinking this initiative was about protecting their rights when it was really about selling all of us out. Shame on the Farm Bureau. They are a shill for agribusiness and developers. If I could convince every small farmer in Washington to stop paying their dues, I would.


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Posted by Jeff on November 9, 2006 at 10:43 PM in Strategery | Permalink | Comments (7)

November 08, 2006

Am I the only one who thinks Washington is tallying votes too slowly?

The rest of the country has its results - and it's not like we're Oregon with a full mail in ballot yet. Wouldn't it be nice to know your new 8th District Congressperson? Although I expect that one to be so close, the mail-in ballots will have to be tallied before we know.

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Posted by Jeff on November 8, 2006 at 12:26 PM in Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (6)

Ivan Details Legislative Wins in WA State

The Washington Legislative races came out very nicely for the Democrats this year as well.  Ivan Weiss, irrepressible Chair of the 34th LD and one of this year's winners of the Maggie Award for Democrat of the Year,  has a great post at DailyKos on the 7 seats gained in the House and the 6 gained in the Senate (with a couple more possibilities to come).  He begins by talking about how important the spirited campaigns of Darcy and Peter were.  A couple of excerpts:

Nowhere was this more evident than in the Districts where Peter and Darcy were on the ballot. In the State Senate race in the 6th Legislative District (Spokane County), Chris Marr upset the odious homophobe and Wal-Mart lackey Brad Benson, heretofore considered a "rising young conservative star." and Democrat Don Barlow took out Incumbent Republican John Serben to capture a House seat in the 6th.

In the Legislative Districts that make up the 8th Congressional District, the "coattails" were even more pronounced. We scored clean sweeps in the 45th, 47th, and 48th Legislative Districts, and made serious inroads in the 31st.

Results in the 48th were especially sweet. Former Republican State Representative Rodney Tom, who could no longer tolerate his party's reactionary drift, made his Democratic electoral debut a smashing one, capturing the Senate seat from the closeted gay homophobe and reactionary ideologue Luke Esser, crippling the political hopes of another "rising young conservative star." Former Kirkland Mayor Deb Eddy won Tom's former House seat handily. Incumbent Democratic Representative Ross Hunter, who had orchestrated much of this activity, cruised to victory with two-thirds of the vote.

<snip>

Voters delivered another huge upraised middle finger to the GOP and the BIAW in suburban Tacoma's 28th District by re-electing freshman Rep. Tami Green, a powerful voice for labor, who had been their top target statewide. Tami cruised home with 55 percent of the vote with a strong boost from union volunteers. Joining her in the House will be teacher and small business owner Troy Kelley. This heavily militarized (Fort Lewis, McChord AFB) district was Dead Red only four years ago.

We scored another clean sweep just to the north in the 26th District, another one that had been targeted by the BIAW and especially the religious right. GOP Senator Bob Oke, far from the worst Republican in the state, retired due to health reasons, and first-term Democratic State Rep. Derek Kilmer stepped into the breach. Republican Jim Hines beat former state Rep. and religious right whack job Lois McMahan in the primary, but Kilmer trounced him, getting 60 percent of the vote. Keep your eye on this guy.

For a thorough picture of what we've managed to do in the state plus a lot of links, read the entire post.  Give him a recommend while you're there.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 8, 2006 at 11:42 AM in Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (4)

Sweet Victory

Democratic wins are huge around the country.  Here's the big picture in brief:

  • The Democrats have a minimum of 30 new seats, making Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the House and putting a passel of long-time Democratic stalwarts like Norm Dicks into key committee chair positions (that lead is likely to grow as the last 5 seats, Darcy's included, are finalized)
  • The Democrats are likely to get nominal control of the Senate (with Joe Lieberman as #51, it's dicey no question)
  • The Republicans did not pickup one single House, Senate or Governor's seat in the entire nation, unprecedented
  • Many of the worst Republican behavior and policy problem folks were defeated, thinking Curt Weldon in PA, John Sweeney in NY, and Richard Pombo in CA
  • Three important initiatives nationwide went the right way - the nasty anti-abortion bill in South Dakota and a bill that would have made gay marriage in Arizona unconstitutional were defeated handily and Missouri passed a bill supporting stem cell research
  • The blogs and the netroots, in support of Howard Dean's 50-state strategy, had a tremendous impact on the outcome

Northwest voters came through like troopers.  Again, the picture in brief:

  • Maria creamed McGavick statewide
  • The last of the BIAW-funded State Supreme Court candidates, Steve Johnson, went down to defeat (and somebody ought to be thinking about how we recognize Jenny Durkan for this one)
  • The initiatives in Washington State all went the right way easily - 920 and 933 went down and 937 passed
  • Democrats picked up 5-6 Senate seats in Washington State and at least that many House seats, giving us close to a super-majority
  • The Oregon House appears to have gone blue and Karen Minnis, Republican Majority Leader, may have lost
  • A slew of conservative initiatives failed in Oregon
  • The Idaho House picked up a few Democratic seats and it's possible that Larry Grant may still pull ID-01 out
  • Seattle voters passed the transportation levy and restricted taxpayers sports subsidies
  • Eastside voters are increasingly active in turning their part of the suburban crescent blue

We won't know about Darcy's race for awhile.  And Peter ran up against a despicable last minute Republican, nasty-tactics machine although it looks like he would have lost anyway.  I truly don't think we could have found better candidates and I hope that Peter stays with it (and Darcy if need be) and that we can all continue to dialog with the voters in the red, and especially rural counties, of Washington State and move them in a bluer direction over time. 

We have only begun to take our nation back.  I trust the Democrats at both the national and state level to make good use of this historic opportunity to clarify why we need Democrats in the majority for the next generation or two.  It's up to us to cover their backs, to continue to learn more about those issues and areas of public reach, i.e. the Port, the School Board, state issues, that we don't pay sufficient attention to, and to keep our elected Democrats on a pragmatic, progressive track.  It is also up to us to stay involved and be in dialog with folks from more rural areas of our state and region and country.    

Lastly, here's a song to celebrate by, compliments of Christy Hardin Smith at Firedoglake.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 8, 2006 at 09:32 AM in Candidate Races, Media, National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (3)

Waaaay down ballot.

While we're basking in the warm glow of a fantastic election, I wanted to send some congratulations out across the mountains and waaay down ballot to my friend Bonnie Mager, who is leading her race for Spokane County Comission seat 3.    It's great to see smart, progressive defenders of community and the environment running for -- and winning -- local office. 

Congratulations, Bonnie!  (And all of you other winners in the Evergreen State!)

Posted by Jon Stahl on November 8, 2006 at 08:28 AM in Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 07, 2006

A Happy Election Night To All

The polls aren't quite closed here yet, but early returns from the east coast are looking pretty good so far.  Let's keep our fingers crossed and have a great evening.

I'll be monitoring election results from an undisclosed location, but I'm sending good vibes down towards the Montlake Alehouse and the Drinking Liberally crew.

Posted by Jon Stahl on November 7, 2006 at 07:16 PM in Candidate Races, National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Harry Reid Says Thank You to the Netroots

Senate Minority Leader, hopefully soon to be Majority Leaders, says "Thank You" to the blogging community for all we've done to make this election what it is, which I believe will be a blow-out for the Democrats.   


Posted by Lynn Allen on November 7, 2006 at 02:00 PM in Candidate Races, Media | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 06, 2006

Good Night Song - Had Enough?

Here's a video-clip of a nice live performance of the catchy "Had Enough" song that's been going around.  Nice to go to bed by and get up and work hard tomorrow and get a good beginning on turning this country around.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 6, 2006 at 10:08 PM in Media, National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Really Interesting Numbers in the Burner-Reichert Race

The Burner-Reichert race has been a nail-biter, going back and forth for the last couple months, but the latest Survey USA poll to come out today shows them with 49% each and 3% undecided.  MoE is 3.8%.  The previous Survey USA had Burner behind 45% to 51% for Reichert. 

Goldy and Darryl have both noted that early voters are breaking for Burner.    As soon as I saw the numbers, I saw the same thing.  At the time of the poll, taken this last Friday-Sunday, 38% of the respondents had already voted and Darcy was up 54% to 46% amongst those folks.  Darcy was up 8 points when only 25% had voted in the earlier poll as well.   

I'm betting that this is a sign that Darcy will win.  I'm also going way out on a limb and predicting a real wave with some lovely surprises around the country.  Here's why.

Around the country, pollsters say that early voters have voted at a higher rate for Democrats than the polls are telling us they are getting from the general population of voters.  I was mentioning this early voting phenomenon to a couple of people at a party on Sunday.  One guy said, "Well, that's how the Democrats got fooled in 2004, because of faulty polling."  I thought about that for a moment and said, "Aw, yes.  But those polls were exit polls.  They depended on who it is that the person doing the interviewing chose to interview."  (I'm pretty sure this was the consensus about why those exit polls were so inaccurate in 2004). 

This Survey USA poll and others like it are is standard random-sampling polling.  So, those folks who are jazzed about voting and knew whom they wanted to vote for were more likely to vote early.  A higher percentage of those folks were Democrats.  So, the remaining 62% of the voters are going to have to vote in a significant higher percentage for Reichert (Darryl says 5% extra) for Reichert at this point if he is to win.  And, I think some of them are just not going to vote.  They are waiting because they just can't bring themselves to vote for Republicans this year and they can't bring themselves to vote for Democrats.  Plus, throw in some weather.   And some pretty motivated volunteers to get the Democrats out and . . . . .

We're gonna win!  Oh, and Dick Morris says so as well.  He's calling it a GOP Massacre! 

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 6, 2006 at 09:42 PM in Candidate Races, National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (2)

I don't trust Lieberman to caucus with Democrats

While I am optimistic Democrats will overcome vote fraud to win back the House tomorrow, I am less optimistic about the Senate. I believe we might add six seats but I just don't trust Lieberman to caucus with the Democrats, at least certainly not on issues related to Bush/Iraq/torture:

Kos writes:

There will be a full accounting after the election. Whether he wins or loses is irrelevant. Democrats made a choice between the grassroots/netroots and Joe Lieberman. That choice will haunt them for a long, long time.

Don't be surprised if Lieberman makes a big announcement on Wednesday clarifying where his loyalties lie - it's not like he's been unclear that he supports Bush/Cheney on many issues. Let's hope Connecticut voters stamp out Joe and vote for Ned Lamont.

Meanwhile, pundits shouldn't ignore the Lieberman wildcard when it comes to Democratic control over the Senate.

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Posted by Jeff on November 6, 2006 at 11:27 AM in Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (3)

A Birthday Present for Pat Tillman

Kevin Tillman, Pat's brother, who went into the military at the same time as Pat in 2002, wrote an article a few weeks ago about his brother's death and the Iraqi war.  Kevin was discharged last year.  He says:

It is Pat’s birthday on November 6, and elections are the day after.  It gets me thinking about a conversation I had with Pat before we joined the military.  He spoke about the risks with signing the papers.  How once we committed, we were at the mercy of the American leadership and the American people.  How we could be thrown in a direction not of our volition.  How fighting as a soldier would leave us without a voice… until we got out.

Much has happened since we handed over our voice:

Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can’t be called a civil war even though it is.  Something like that.

This is a lot more.  Take a look.  And then consider making your vote a way to give Pat Tillman a voice. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 6, 2006 at 08:49 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Battle for Governance

I've been doorbelling regularly now for Darcy in the 8th because it seems so very important to be in that district where the outcome is going to be so close.  Each time I was in the office yesterday, it was jammed with people calling and taking information to go out and talk to their fellow citizens.  It was great.  Darcy was there in the morning, thanking volunteers. Jay Inslee and his wife Trudee were there in the afternoon and also went out to doorbell.  Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray stopped by to talk with the volunteers.   I talked with my friend, the irrepressible Jack Smith, who had been on the phones nearly non-stop for days and patted Carl, a fellow blogger on the back as he was talking on the phones, yet again.  Dan and I went out for coffee after we finished walking our different precincts.  My friend, shoephone, emailed me later with her experiences talking to folks. Many people I know had been there other days, on the phone on on foot.

The more I talk to voters, the more I feel like this is the most important thing we can be doing.  I haven't been writing about it lately because Daniel and Natasha have been doing such a great job of it.

For those of us who live in solid blue areas and associate mostly with like-minded folks, active interactions with people of other political persuasions or none at all is important.  Kid Oakland, one of my favorite national bloggers, had a diary up at DailyKos entitled "The Battle for Governance", which I've taken for the title for this post as well.  He has been traveling from his very blue home in Oakland out to the more rural 11th CD in California.  This is the district where Democratic challenger Jerry McNerney is ahead of the truly awful Richard Pombo, who seems singlehanded to be dismantling environmental regulations built up over the last thirty-five years.   My brother has been volunteering there for a couple months so I've been paying a lot of attention and rooting as McNerney has been pulling ahead. 

Like Daniel and Natasha and me, Kid Oakland has stories about engaging folks with political opinions different from ours and changing their minds.  He has a diary up at DailyKos about doorbelling and "fighting for the hearts and minds of our fellow citizens".  Here's what he says about the effort:

I want to make a point that every last Democrat should take to heart regarding this election:

We Democrats are locked in a battle for governance of the United States.

That battle is for control of Congress, of the Judiciary, of all fifty State Houses and the Governor's desks of this land.  The 2006 mid-term elections are just one part of that battle. We are locked in a two-year struggle over which party will emerge as the majority party in the United States.

The outcome of this election alone, however, will not determine the victor of this battle. That would be misunderstanding this moment. In fact, given the hand-wringing and poll-wrangling we've seen online the last few days, it's critically important to understand the true location and significance of this battle for governance.

The focus of this battle for governance is not the halls of Congress or the desk in the Oval Office.  It's not the conference room of the Supreme Court or the chambers of the various State Capitals. It's easy to get distracted and think that's true.  But it isn't.

We Democrats are fighting for the hearts and minds of our fellow citizens. No more and no less. That's the real terrain of this battle field. And that's what we do when we GOTV. That's the point.

This is important to keep up these conversations no matter who wins which races.  I hope we can figure out a way to do that. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 6, 2006 at 08:27 AM in Candidate Races, Taking Action | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 05, 2006

More Great Ads and Video-Clips

They just keep coming in. Here's a video-clip about why we are working so hard to take back the House. It's entitled, "Freedom". Nice music too.

And Howard Dean talking to the American people about what the Democrats can offer them this election and what Democrats will be focused on achieving with a majority in Congress. This is really important.

And a sweet ad from a Democratic candidate in Nebraska, Scott Kleeb, who has a very good chance of taking a seat that Republicans have held for decades.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 5, 2006 at 10:51 PM in Media, National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Death of a Federal Oversight Program

A successful investigation of the wrong things will do that in a GOP environment. They want to prevent oversight of any kind on those federal programs that benefit their GOP friends or show them in a bad light. According to an article in the New York Times on Friday, as reported by un figlio della sinistra, a diarist at DailyKos, Special Inspector General Stewart Bowen's office has been shut down and he is expected to turn his inspections over to other offices and close this investigation by Oct. 2007:

The clause was inserted by the Republican side of the House Armed Services Committee over the objections of Democratic counterparts during a closed-door conference, and it has generated surprise and some outrage among lawmakers who say they had no idea it was in the final legislation.

Why it was only last Monday when the New York Times wrote about a report that Bowen's office issued about the lack of tracking of US armaments sent to Iraq. Here's what I said at the time in a piece I titled "Beyond Comprehension":

The American military has not been tracking weapons sent to the Iraqi security forces.  According to an article in the New York Times by James Glanz, Senator John Warner, Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, asked for an assessment in May of how the logistics operation for the Iraqi Reconstruction and military operations. 

. . . . . .

There were also significant discrepancies in the numbers of weapons purchased and those in Iraqi warehouses. While 176,866 semiautomatic pistols were purchased with American money, just 163,386 showed up in warehouses — meaning that more than 13,000 were unaccounted for. All 751 of the M1-F assault rifles sent to Iraq were missing, and nearly 100 MP-5 machine guns.

Oh my goodness. No wonder the Republicans are fighting tooth and nail to prevent one or both chambers of Congress to become Democratic.


Posted by Lynn Allen on November 5, 2006 at 10:31 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Chris Bowers - Criteria for a Wave

Chris Bowers of MyDD, whom I consider to be one of the most brilliant number-crunchers and strategists on our side, had a post up today that he's been keeping to himself for a year and a half - his criteria for a wave environment for Tuesday's election:

For about eighteen months now, I have kept a private checklist of conditions and metrics that I believed were necessary for a Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives. Since we are so close to election time, I see no point in keeping it private anymore. So, here they are:
1. Bush's job approval below 42.5%, either averaged across the last five polls or averaged across polls from the previous seven days (whichever one means more polls). Check 2. At least forty-five more Democratic challengers to Republican-held seats than Republican challenges to Democratic-held seats within the margin of error or better in independent polling. Check 3. Democratic lead in the generic ballot of at least 8.0%, either averaged across the last five polls or averaged across polls from the previous seven days (whichever one means more polls). Check

So, at least for now, we have met the basic conditions I laid out for myself to tell whether or not we were likely to retake the House of Representatives. It is a pretty extreme set of conditions, but I felt it was warranted given the horrors of 2000--2006. Beyond these requirements, I had an additional checklist that I used to let me know whether or not our chances of retaking the House were virtually 100%. Here is that checklist:

1. Democrats were actually ahead, even if by only 1%, according to independent polling, in thirty more Republican-held districts than Republicans were in Democratic-held districts. Check 2. None of the polls used in the Bush approval average showed him at 43% or higher. Check 3. None of the polls used in the generic ballot showed the Democratic margin lower than 8%. Requirement not fulfilled
The last condition was not met because a couple of polls just in the last couple days have shown the generic margin between Democrats and Republicans fall to 7% from 13% two weeks ago. That includes this Gallup Poll for USA Today from today. Chris has said several times that he thinks the magic number for control of the House is 8% so in the absence of that last condition being fulfilled, Chris thinks the odds of taking control drop a bit now - to between 80% and 90%. More polls needed to see what this means in terms of control. One thing is certain, he says: Democrats will make noticeable gains in the House, the Senate and Governorships as well as down-ticket races. There will probably be another couple polls showing up tomorrow that will help us see where we stand.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 5, 2006 at 10:20 PM in Strategery | Permalink | Comments (1)

Darcy Video Round-up

Darcy has a great ad up this weekend. It shows the playful, personable side of Darcy, a wonderful complement to the articulate, wonky side that digs deeply into the issues important to the people in her district. You've probably seen it. But if not, here it is.

A national union, AFSCME, also has an independent ad up.

There is also a nice clip from CNN on this race earlier this week. On The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, a CNN reporter has Joel Connelly pointing out how ironic it is that Dave Reichert is taking massive amounts of Republican leadership money to try to get the message out that he is independent of that leadership.

Now, I'm out shortly to doorbell for Darcy and am really, really hoping the rain holds off 'til later. Still time to join me and help out. Call Mina at (425) 454-0622 if you'd like to volunteer in these last couple days.

UPDATE: I got mixed up this morning and the first link above took folks to a Kermit the Frog video that I was saving for my 3-year old niece. My Internet connection went down before I could change it and had to get out doorbelling. Oops. Corrected now.


Posted by Lynn Allen on November 5, 2006 at 09:51 AM in Candidate Races, Media | Permalink | Comments (1)

November 03, 2006

Paul Newman Speaks Out for Ned

Paul Newman talks about why it's time for Joe to go and why he supports Ned. It's a good closer. Let's hope it works.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 3, 2006 at 11:14 PM in Candidate Races, Media | Permalink | Comments (0)

Deconstructing a GOP Security Blunder

Nothing trumps politicals for the Republicans. Certainly not good sense. Certainly not national security.

First it was outing Valerie Plame and the network of agents she worked with on a super-secret project.

Now it is putting information out on the Internet about how to build a nuclear bomb. In Arabic. Republican Congressman Peter Hoekstra, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, was determined that somewhere in the Iraqi government documents was information that would prove their claims that Saddam Hussein had been connected with Osama bin Laden despite all . They didn't have enough Arab translators to go through it so they pushed to have the materials de-classified without the proper national security review. In late 2005, Hoekstra decided that releasing the material would allow an "army of translators", i.e. right-wing bloggers (and since when do right-wing bloggers read Arabic?), journalists, and academics to dig through the material and find something that would counteract the decline in support for the war.

How and why did this happen? A post on DailyKos by georgia10, about information uncovered by Hunter, connects the dots.

The push to throw these documents to the dogs was part of a larger effort to counter waning support for the war.  Back in March, Stephen Hayes, senior writer at the Weekly Standard, was one of the most vocal cheerleaders for the documents' release. He recounted how the president was intent on releasing the documents, even over Negroponte's protests.  He described a February 16th conference call between the president, the vice-president, Indiana Republican Mike Pence, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, and U.S. Ambassador to IRaq Zalmay Khalilzad (via telephone).

The conference call began with Pence commenting on all the favorable news coverage the release of certain pre-Saddam audio tapes had garnered ("Mr. President, the war had its best night on the network news since the war ended.")  Hayes then described how the president wanted more pre-war information released.


And the unintended consequences of disregarding the standards?

Whether terrorists and rogue nations also found nothing remains to be seen.

We may never know whether malicious minds accessed the atom bomb information before the site was pulled, or whether other documents posted in haste have also endangered our national security.

What we do know is this:  the push to release these documents was political, aimed at bolstering the egos of those who championed this war.  They wanted this stuff out, and they wanted out it out now.  Through rushed and wrong action, they wanted to be proved right.

And the result? Why, it's the same result borne out of  every poorly planned, mismanaged, half-assed action taken by our government for the benefit of the Republican Party:  the American people got screwed, and are less safe as a result.

The Republican Party led the reckless charge to "put this stuff out." Now it's time to put them out of office on November 7th.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 3, 2006 at 11:07 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

SEA Ads

Boy, was that fast! Scientists and Engineers for America, SEAFORA - or SEA for short - has a couple of ads up to get their voice heard in this election. The organization is only a few weeks old and is already stepping into the conversation about this election, weighing in on the side of reinstating science into the realm of public policy.

Take a look here and here.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 3, 2006 at 09:55 PM in Media, Policy | Permalink | Comments (0)

Al-Jazeera in America

Al-Jazeera International is planning to begin broadcasting in the US on November 15th and hopes to be competitive with the likes of CNN and the BBC. It will bring a new perspective to the US news and will likely contribute to a new wave of YouTube clips that provide an entirely different picture of the way the US is seen in the world. The AP had the story a couple days ago.

"We have an edge over the other networks: We're already based in the Middle East. And we have a different perspective," director Wadah Khanfar told a news conference at the network's Doha headquarters Wednesday.

The timing seems pretty good. With Americans starting to be willing to look at what is really going on in Iraq, we will have a picture of the Middle East we are not accustomed to.

Of course the network is accustomed to shaking up their audiences. In the 10-years that Al-Jazeera has been operating in the Arab world, they have been banned from operating in 18 countries for periods of time. They've never been allowed in Saudia Arabia.

"It made the airwaves uncontrollable," Amjad Nasser wrote Wednesday in the London-based pan-Arab daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi.

Al-Jazeera will have more resources than some of their competitors.

Al-Jazeera International has hired more than 500 staffers, poaching some of the world's best-known journalists from networks including the British Broadcasting Corp., CNN, CNBC and ABC. It will broadcast in ultra-expensive high-definition TV with four chief broadcast centers rather than CNN's two or BBC's one.

They are working to get the backing they believe they will need to be credible.

Al-Jazeera has been trying to smooth its entry into the vital U.S. market by casting the channel as the ideal forum for the Bush administration to talk to the Muslim world. Al-Jazeera has had meetings in the White House, with members of Congress and at the State Department and Pentagon, Oliver said.

It has also met with American Jewish media leaders and interest groups to discuss its portrayal of Israel, Holtzman said.

Israel, one of the few countries in the Middle East that has never banned Al-Jazeera, is itself a lucrative target market.


Hold onto your seats. More change on the way.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 3, 2006 at 09:33 PM in Media | Permalink | Comments (0)

We Need Darcy in Congress

As you have undoubtedly noticed, I am passionate about doing whatever I can do to get Darcy elected; I write about her and about her opponent, I doorbell for Darcy, I ask friends and readers for donations and volunteer time. I am convinced that this country is ready for change and that Darcy is one of the leaders who will help make the changes that we need.

Initially my motivation was very simple. We need a minimum of 15 Congressional seats to change from Republican to Democratic in order to take over the House and begin to hold this President accountable for his actions. WA-08 is one of the seats on anyone’s list of possible turnovers. For at least a year I’ve been saying that our job in the Northwest is to take this seat to retake the House for the Democrats.

A Time of Quickening

But then, as the election approached, it has become apparent that we have a breeze at our back. The breeze is the people deciding they want their country back.

The electorate has become engaged in talking about the issues of our day – How are we going to get our troops out of Iraq with some kind of honor for our troops and for us? How are we going to deal with rising fuel prices and with global warming? How are we going to rebuild our relationships in the world? How will we be able to take care of our families? How do we fix this broken healthcare system?

The electorate has been having a conversation with the Democratic electeds, facilitated by both the national and the local bloggers plus the journalist/bloggers.

Out of that conversation has come a wave of support for the Democrats. In late summer, we began to think we might get Goldmark and/or Grant as well. Wow! If these two are in consideration, along with a huge number of other Democrats around the country that didn’t look possible six months ago, we might take the House with a 20-30 person margin.

Then in the last week or so, we see that the Senate is within reach. This is huge. We are going to have a Democratic House at the minimum. Republican scandals provide us that. But increasingly, it looks like we may have a large margin in the House and a working margin in the Senate. That would mean an ability to get to work on some solutions quickly without too much nonsense from the Republicans.

Put some good bills on energy independence and restoring student loans and increasing the minimum wage and providing for veterans in front of Bush. I suspect he will find it refreshing to actually do something that makes people happy and, may, just may, hold off the worst of the investigations into his administration.

I know. I’m an optimist.

Darcy – Prepared for a Time of Transition, a Time of Transformation

As Darcy says often, and has said from the beginning of her campaign, this country has to go in a different direction. That is what the voters are telling us.

And this is what Darcy is supremely qualified for. The experiences of her life have prepared her for the tasks to come. She grew up in a hard-working, working class family. Her Dad was in the military and then was a teacher. Her family is still working class. She has a brother serving in Iraq right now. She worked hard and well all through Junior High and High School in the Civil Air Patrol, learning how to work with other people young and old.

She got admitted to Harvard. Damn! How smart do you have to be in High School to get admitted to Harvard on a scholarship? She received degrees in Computer Science and Economics. Since then she’s been working in the high-tech field and rose to become a Group Manager at Microsoft, a position in which she had responsibility for changing the way software is built. She was very successful at it.

I spent 18 years working as a consultant and training in some of the biggest high-tech companies in the country, along with manufacturing companies and just-recently deregulated industries, the whole gamut.

The people who rose to the level of managing large groups of people in the fast-moving high-tech industry had to know how to pull people together into a team to focus on getting a lot of work done quickly. They had to be able to manage a complex budget. They had to know how to assess the marketplace, assess the client’s needs and understand the level of change that a client could absorb. They had to be comfortable talking with people at every level of the organization and recognizing that folks at every level had contributions to make. They had to coach the people who worked for them to get them to do their best. They had to set an example of the type of behavior they expected from others.

On top of that, she has a year of studying Constitutional Law under her belt. She deliberately spent a year studying law at the University of Washington, getting straight A’s in the process, in order to be prepared for the job ahead.

Darcy In-Depth

When you listen to her talk when she has room to roam past the usual stump speech, it is awesome. I listened to Monday’s KUOW conversation with Steve Sher two times. It was fascinating. Darcy is a wonk in a very personable package.

She has made it her business to learn the specifics of what is occurring in Iraq and Afghanistan and to work through how the United States needs to proceed to extricate ourselves from that quagmire in an honorable manner.

She has made it her business to listen to what working people need government to do to make their lives easier, including cutting taxes, providing better transportation and energy choices, better and cheaper healthcare, and more education and job opportunities.

She has made it her business to understand the economics of the businesses in the 8th district. She has an unshakable faith in the power of technology to help us transition into the future. She knows about the impacts of globalization on different industries. She knows what it is that the high-tech companies in the 8th district actually do.

Perhaps more importantly, Darcy is principled. She expects Congress to act in a principled manner and to do what is right for the American people and for the people in the world, like the Iraqis and Afghanis, whom we have impacted.

The experiences that Darcy has and the talents and skills and knowledge and curiosity that she brings to the job are exactly the what we will need in this next Congress. Can you imagine that Dave Reichert could really contribute much to this discussion? Or bring people together around issues of technology and science or education or the war on Iraq? Dream on. Plus, he will be stuck in the minority. He would be next to useless.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 3, 2006 at 10:55 AM in Candidate Races, National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (3)

Good Polling News for Initiatives

Our initiative campaigns got some good polling news today.

The state's first-ever Washington Poll found
that a majority of voters oppose Initiative 933, a land-use measure on
the ballot in Tuesday's general election.



The poll shows that a majority also oppose an initiative to repeal the state's estate tax.

Of
the three initiatives on the ballot, only I-937, the alternative energy
proposal, had the support of a majority of registered voters in the
survey.

Let's keep up the fight for the next few days.  Then we can all kick back and celebrate on election night!

Posted by Jon Stahl on November 3, 2006 at 09:31 AM in Ballot Initiatives | Permalink | Comments (1)

November 02, 2006

Seattle can have a tunnel and transit

Seattleites don’t need to choose between a tunnel for the downtown waterfront and improved transit in this region. The framing of a choice between the “tunnel” and the “surface and transit alternative,” is a false choice.

Seattle can have a tunnel and transit. Much of the potential funding for state highways comes from the gas tax. Alternately, transit funding comes from a variety of local, county, regional and state sources. Pro-transit leaders need to be clear about what the current and potential sources of funding are for transit improvements and work together to secure that funding, regardless of highway projects.

If the tunnel is rejected, and the proposed surface alternative is adopted, the state will reallocate existing earmarked funding for the viaduct replacement to other highway projects. As the debate over the replacement intensifies in Seattle, I have no doubt that pro-highway expansionists in suburban areas are salivating at the prospect of shifting viaduct replacement funds to I-405 or other suburban highway’s. Such expansions will only increase our regional congestion problems.

Increased funding for transit is critically important regardless of what happens with the viaduct. As a region we must work to create a transit system that offers an alternative to our car-based transportation system, and the timeline for making dramatic improvements is NOW. Funding must be accelerated so we don’t have to wait 20-30 years to complete several rail lines and create frequent bus service.

Cross Posted on Urban Transit

Posted by EzraBasom on November 2, 2006 at 08:33 PM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (2)

Political Ad Round-up

These last Democratic ads are powerful. The changing technology favors creativity and the Democrats are full of that this year. It sure looks to me like the Democrats are through that devastating, decade-long "deer in the headlights" phase that was so detrimental to the nation. Here's the round-up of great ads in key races from the last few days:

I truly like James Webb. I'm guessing this man, rather than that nasty George Allen or the suave Mark Warner, will be the next Virginian to run for President. Take a look.

Here's an ad put out by the very clever VoteVets group, with General Wesley Clark narrating. This ad is meant to innoculate the voters from whatever nonsense the Republicans through out there this weekend. Perfect.

Another favorite, Jon Tester, is just a guy you want to go up and hug. He is going to be a great Senator.

The DCCC has a good, "remember Iraq" up in the close House races.

And Ned, what can we say about this race? At least he's still got good ads, even if the poll numbers don't look so good. This one is hilarious, even if it makes a part of you cry to think the guy portrayed in the ad is likely to continue to represent Connecticut. Tell me again why it is that Republicans are selecting the Democratic (?) Senator from Connecticut?

Saved the best for last. It's a good ad of itself and may well be one of the best "remember Iraq" ads. But this guy, Jim Pederson, is winning amongst the 30% of voters who've already cast their ballots in the Arizona Senate race. This may be the sleeper win of this election.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 2, 2006 at 10:54 AM in Candidate Races, Media | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 01, 2006

Rails to Trails critical for region

One only needs to look at the popularity of the Burke Gilman trail in Seattle to appreciate the value and popularity of bicycle and walking trails in our region.  Negotiations from King County must move forward with the BNSF Railroad to acquire and make the 47-mile rail line on the Eastside publicly owned. The critical part of this issue is the ability of a public agency to have the resources to convert the 47-mile rail line into public ownership as part of the national “rails to trails” program.  If King County or another public agency fails to act, this virtually unused rail line will be sold to private interests and the public will be the big loser. The possible deal just announced by King County and the Port of Seattle makes sense on many different levels.  King County gains the financial means to acquire the trail by using an existing asset, and our region benefits by consolidating our major airports under a single management system.  The idea that the two airports are competing and that King County airport is losing money only hurts the taxpaying public in the long run. The critical part of this issue is the ability of a public agency to have the resources to convert the 47-mile rail line into public ownership as part of the national “rails to trails” program.  If King County or another public agency fails to act, this virtually unused rail line will be sold to private interests and the public will be the big loser. The possible deal just announced by King County and the Port of Seattle makes sense on many different levels.  King County gains the financial means to acquire the trail by using an existing asset, and our region benefits by consolidating our major airports under a single management system.  The idea that the two airports are competing and that King County airport is losing money only hurts the taxpaying public in the long run. What about the idea of making the 47 mile trail a transportation corridor for commuter rail?  Trying to implement this now would be costly and impractical, and only stymie the process of creating public ownership of the rail corridor.  However future commuter rail or light rail could be considered with “rail-banking.” Where the trail can be converted back to rail if there is a determined need.  The public doesn’t often have the benefit of a closer examination of the costs of creating mass transit, where costs that are often driven up substantially by the need to purchase privately owned land to build the rail line. As a region we must focus on creating funding for existing transit projects.  The Metro Transit Now proposal to be decided in two weeks is a critical first step in improving bus service in King County.  Sound Transit and the RTID will be critically important next year for transit.  After we pass these important measures as voters, I’ll be the first one to be looking for new funding ideas.

Cross Posted on Urban Transit

Posted by EzraBasom on November 1, 2006 at 06:38 PM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (3)

Why They Think They Can Get Away With It

Hunter had a great piece up on DailyKos today that goes a long way toward answering the question of how the Republicans get away with keeping folks like Bill Sali and Mark Foley and a whole rash of incompetent and/or corrupt people in positions of power in state and federal government. He quotes Atrios who is talking about Thomas Sowell, the conservative columnist who is a fellow at the Hoover Institution. Sowell had been passing along Republican talking points, most recently saying Nancy Pelosi doesn't want phone calls to and from terrorist to be monitored, a straight up lie.

Atrios says of Sowell:

Shameless dishonesty is all that the conservative movement has left. Expect them to employ it even more often than usual.

Then Hunter paints the bigger picture:

Ah, but spectacular lying, of course, is the entire problem with conservative "think tanks" and other attempts at partisan-based pseudo-intellectualism. The very mission of places like the Hoover Institution is to come up with the desired conservative premise or policy first, and manufacture some "facts" second. The mission is not science, or even policy -- it's publicity. Manufactured places to put out media messages with an aura of authority or intellectualism.

Tax cuts? Global warming? War? They can pretend to be experts at all of them. Figure out the policy you want to support, then have Sowell or someone else scribble down the Very Erudite Explanation of why black is actually white, the sky is actually magenta, or Saddam's secret still-really-really-existing WMDs have been spirited to the kitchen of an Applebee's in... oh, let's say "Syria", this time. The whole point of think tanks is rank dishonesty in areas where serious educators, intellectuals, government workers, and other experts in the field in question have unanimously come up with an answer that conservatives don't want to hear.

What I find interesting (in a strictly car wreck, we're-all-going-to-die sort of way) is while the think tanks started out to provide thin but important-sounding justifications for whatever conservative graft or manipulation was being attempted during any particular period, the think tank model has now entirely transferred to the White House itself. Listening to Tony Snow (or any of the previous press secretaries) is like listening to an off-off-Broadway theatrical production exploring the pathology of compulsive lying. They don't care what the truth is: after spending every minute of every day reinforcing their fragile little bubbles of newspeak, in fact, it's not even clear they know what the actual truth is.

Which is why, in a nutshell, we're in Iraq to begin with, the perfect think-tank-produced war -- because the policy came first, and actual knowledge was ignored as new "facts" were fixed around that desired policy. And all of those facts -- nearly every single one of the "big" facts used to enter the war -- turned out to be either fabricated or a product of extraordinary incompetence.

I'm not entirely sure why even the most intrinsically gullible in media and even among the true believers would not see the pattern, here. When you have a policy apparatus created specifically to counter actual expertise with made-up hokum, the outcomes of Doing That Hokum turn out to be, what a surprise, a clusterfuck in every particular.

So yeah, they're professional liars. That's what they're paid for. Killed a hell of a lot of people, in these last few years, and lost us our only significant chance at killing bin Laden when they decided that dedicating U.S. troops towards The Policy was more important than dealing with the actual realities of the world around them -- but that's what they do, and they don't have the slightest remorse about it.

Which is why of course it's time to get rid of as many of the worst of these Republicans as possible. We will still have to deal with the lying conservatives in the right-wing think tanks but we'll focus on that down the line.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 1, 2006 at 03:11 PM in Media, National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

And Then There's Bill Sali - Arrogant SOB

McJoan at DailyKos has noted an article from IdaBlue, a blogger in Idaho, that lays out a fraud - I don't think there is any other way to see this - that Bill Sali committed in May of 1998. Bill Sali is running for Congress from Idaho (Open seat in 01) - as a Republicn, natch. Luckily, there is an excellent Democratic candidate, Larry Grant, ready to step up and take the responsibility of being in Congress seriously.

From IdaBlue:

In May, 1998, Bill Sali was in an auto accident and subsequently sued for damages. I post below excerpts from various documents filed in that lawsuit. Most, if not all, of this info was reported by Dan Popkey in 2000, and led to the infamous Sali statements about having "brain fade" and "Much of the time in the legislature critical thinking skills are not necessarily needed."...

Sali alleged various injuries from the accident in addition to the closed head injury, which is another way of saying brain damage. Sali said that he suffered low back and left leg pain, weakness and loss of coordination of his left arm and leg, and more. He reported to his doctor in June 1999 that he experienced stuttering, poor sleep, difficulty concentrating, and slow thought processes. He said he felt like there was a tight band around his brain, and as if his face was sagging. The doctor considered psychomototor retardation and reactive depression. The doc also wrote that Sali had been making some progress in therapy, but "His therapist notes some inconsistencies in his lower limb weakness...". Sali tried various modalities, including Paxil, Zoloft, Acupuncture, and Ritalin.
As more doctors examined Sali, they learned more and doubts began to emerge. It appeared that Sali was exaggerating in an effort to pump up damages.

After months of treatment, requests by Sali for a variety of treatments and actions by his doctors, his physician withdrew from the case, writing

I have spoken with Dr. Beaver and the Brain Injury team coordinator at the Elks, Kath Smith. In a recent staffing meeting, several inconsistencies were discussed. These included inability to perform certain physical maneuvers while being obviously observed, but the patient was able to perform the same naeuvers freely when he though[t] he was not being observed. I have found inconsistencies in my own interviews and examinations, and Dr. Beaver feels that there are also inconsistencies. He feels that the clinical course does not suggest a brain injury.

I am very concerned about being used in appropriately to help this man build a large settlement case, and I do not wish to provide further medical care because of this. [Emphasis McJoan's.]


Posted by Lynn Allen on November 1, 2006 at 02:27 PM in Candidate Races, National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (1)

What a Surprise: Mark Foley Staying in Rehab

The AP is reporting that former Congressman Mark Foley has not yet checked out of the plush Tucson treatment center he entered on October 1st. You could pretty much see this one coming. A 30-day program would have put him out right before the elections. I don't think so. No word from his attorney or anyone else as to when he'll be out of the $30,000 per program center. Foley was seeking treatment for "alcoholism and other behavioral problems."

But who would want to come out, even if the Republicans allowed it? From the article:

Authorities are investigating whether Foley broke any state or federal laws, and a House ethics committee is questioning members of Congress about what they knew regarding Foley's inappropriate contacts.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 1, 2006 at 02:18 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)