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This is What Democracy Looks Like
Friday-Sunday, November 10-12, 2006
Saving American Lives
A few weeks ago I wrote an article about the Trophy system, which is an anti-anti-personnel carrier weapon that could save hundreds of American soldiers' lives. In tests by the Pentagon, it proved to be more than 98 percent effective, with even the lone rocket which mis-fired still hitting its target, thus causing the faux-terrorist missile to fall to the ground harmlessly.
In its stead, the Rumsfeld-led Defense Department still chose to go with a system from Raytheon, one of bush's "base" of "have and have mores" war profiteering companies, which won't be ready until, at least, 2010
The first order of business for the new Democratic majority in the House and Senate, and a new Secretary of Defense, should be to get that Raphael Trophy system from Israel installed on our armored vehicles. As the enemy has improvised with EIED's (Enhanced Improvised Explosive Devices), so should we be able to respond in kind.
Saving the lives of American Children in Iraq and Afghanistan should be "job one" while we come up with a way to get them out of there as soon as possible.
The New Democratic majority will do well to remember that part of the reason they won is because November 7, 2006 was finally the day that the American people realized that Bush and the GOP wasn't "the best we could do".
Nearly two years ago I made a kind of strange prediction. Cheney would resign before the end of Bush's 2nd term and the president would attempt to replace him with out-of-work brother, then former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Well, here's another semi- prediction. Since, with a Democratic Congress in place, it appears unlikely that Jeb would be able to achieve the number 2 spot under his brother. What about this scenario?
Because John McCain has been brown-nosing GW these past several months (maybe even a year) for his nod at the 2008 presidential nomination; and since these NeoCons still think that they can get another one of their boys, namely Jeb, in office in the not-so-distant future; then it stands to reason that, as a condition of his support, McCain, upon winning the GOP sweepstakes, would have to offer the VP slot to Jeb.
This would lead to an aging McCain only staying for a single term while Jeb runs as the sitting VP. Even if McCain was to actually do something productive in his only presidential term, Jeb would be sure to Bush-it, so to speak, during the next term. The NeoCons would have their guy back in, only a slightly smarter version, and America would be subject to more wars for profiteers and tax breaks for their "base" of "haves and have mores".
At least so says my slightly cloudy crystal ball.
Below is a list of ten strategic political goals that I think we advanced with the victory in the 06 election:
1). The election proved that the GOP maxed out its supporters in 04 and that it is unprepared to recruit voters among the demographic groups that are increasing and who will soon become politically potent: women; Hispanic voters and the threatened middle class. The latter group had been voting in increasing numbers for the GOP because of "values" issues;
2). The GOP saliency on "values" issues has been effectively blunted and the Democratic party's ideals of social equity, compassion and public virtue have been reinforced;
3). The permanent GOP majority that Bush and co., were trying to build as their party achieved numerical parity with the Democrats has been averted. As noted above the demographic trends favor the Democrats and I predict we will see a period of Democratic gains lasting until 2030 or beyond.
4). Democrats have consolidated gains in the mid-West and in the West that have made previously GOP states increasingly Democratic, there is still no region as solid as Dixie, but in the 06 election Dems won statewide offices in every State but Texas, and Alabama;
5). Conservatives lost seats- all the GOP incumbents who were defeated were more conservative than their Democratic counterparts lost, in states like Florida and Kentucky where Democrats tried to run as improved or compassionate conservatives the Dems lost. Even in Pennsylvania, where a pro-life Democrat beat Santorum, the Democrat, Bob Casey is an old fashioned Hubert Humphrey liberal;
6). The religious right got run out of town;
7). George Allen, the GOP version of Hillary Clinton lost; Rick Santorum the GOP version of Barak Obama lost, Bill Frist the GOP version of John Edwards was erased. The GOP cannot recover from having its top tier Presidential contenders wiped out. They have no recruiting pools and they spent so much money to lose that their credibility with the money boys has got to be tarnished.
8). John McCain will be forced into the national limelight months earlier than he anticipated and forced into the grueling and enervating campaign mode far more intensively than he had anticipated. He is 71 years old, he is not going to hold up to the intense scrutiny that he is about to get. The national political story of 07 is going to be the disintegration of McCain, this will be bad news for the whole year for the GOP. Romney is not ready for prime time either, but will come out in the end as their nominee, probably with the ticket balancer Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison as the Veep.
9). Best of all, Bush is irrelevant. He retains the institutional power of the office and he is not above using it, but he will be rejected over and over again. Congress will pass laws and specifically act to offset the signing statements that the President has used so effectively to shape legislation, Congress will revise the Executive budget requests to prevent the runaway growth of government and the government funding of conservative political operatives and ideologues. These battles will take place below the surface, but will hurt the GOP politically and set the stage for another good Democratic year in 08.
10). Success breeds success, as the above nine points show, the Dems will be able to build on 06 for 08, 08 for 2010 and redistricting and recruitment of legislative candidates for the state and federal levels. The Democratic successes in rural areas has shown that the Dems can win in the 60,000 rural jurisdictions whose paid elected officials form the GOP electoral cadre. The Dems can win some of these offices, get more officials and whittle down the GOP advantages: the Dean 50 state strategy has paid off handsomely.
The big thing to remember is that Bush is politically irrelevant he has gone from lame duck to dead duck status.
There were the doubters who said Dean was too extreme. There were the zany Republicans who quipped Dean is a scream. But, Dr. Dean was the remedy for what ailed the Democratic Party. He was a strong voice that never backed down from a fight with the Republicans.
Dr. Dean believed in the 50 state strategy and did it ever pay off. Democrats won House seats in Indiana and Kansas! Who would have ever predicted that in 2004? Congratulations Dr. Dean - you have been vindicated.
Carville Must Go
From Glenn Greenwald:
How myth gets built into conventional wisdom
Here are two examples perfectly illustrating how conventional wisdom is created by journalists and pundits who are either lazy, dishonest, or both:
(1) James Carville tells The New Republic's Ryan Lizza that he thinks Harold Ford should replace Howard Dean as DNC Chair. Lizza turns that into a claim that "some big name Democrats want to oust DNC Chairman Howard Dean, arguing that his stubborn commitment to the 50-state strategy and his stinginess with funds for House races cost the Democrats several pickup opportunities."
That in turn leads Anne Kornblut in her article today in The New York Times -- identifying the "winners and losers" in the midterm elections -- to assert that "the jury is still out on Howard Dean" because:
With rumblings of a movement to draft Mr. Ford to replace Mr. Dean at the national committee, several Democrats privately said Mr. Emanuel was winning the power struggle.
“It’s pretty clear that the committees work and the DNC. works, but they don’t work together,” said James Carville, the Democratic strategist. “And now we’re getting ready to gear up in a presidential year, and I think Harold Ford would be a great chairman.”
It's a "movement" of one, because all of this comes from James Carville's stray comment placed in TNR (and he's also the only one Kornblut quotes). But now this will be conventional wisdom -- tacitly accepted everywhere and never examined -- that Dean is in trouble, that a major faction of the Democratic Party wants Dean out as DNC Chair, that there is a war among various Democratic factions over Dean.
This will all now be "fact" even though Carville has no constituency whatsoever, represents nobody, has no way to oust Dean, and is simply venting long-standing animosity he has towards the insurgent, anti-establishment Dean (who, unlike an envious Carville, actually represents and is supported by large numbers of people). But Carville's one comment, to lazy reporters, means now that there is some major tension among "Democrats" and that some imagined "jury" is still out on Howard Dean. All of that is based on nothing.
I am absolutely steamed at Carville. It's clear to me that Carville planted a story at TNR. Now, it gets reported as fact by the lazy feckless media. Send an email to the DNC, DSCC and DCCC that they will lose your support if Dean is replaced by Ford. The net result of this is that the Dems should dump Carville for good.
-Forwarded and commented by Robert Scardapane
The people I work with at my 'day job' who are unhappy with the election results say 'OK - but you won. You probably stole the election. But you don't have an agenda. We'll be back in '08.'
Here's my agenda
1. Write or call Holt, Menendez, Lautenberg, Corzine, and my reps in Trenton twice a month – each. Write letters to the papers and e-mails to people.
2. Volunteer for a municipal and a county committee.
3. Next year - 2007, I will run a clean but very tough campaign for Manalapan town committee. It won't be easy - the Republicans fight dirty. Not to boast, but I can out-think, out-speak, and out-run any Republicanista punk. Especially with DFA and NJFD on my side.
1. Defeat Ferguson. Linda Stender came close. She can win – we will win – in ’08.
2. We need to build wind farms offshore.
3. We need solar panels on all the schools.
"You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake." - Jeannette Rankin
"The winners in a war are the soldiers who go home."
We must apologize to humanity.
We should declare 'peace with honor', admit that the mission was to 'get Saddam', announce ‘Mission Accomplished' (we mean it this time) and LEAVE!
Then pull our troops back to Iraqi Kurdistan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey, Pakistan, and aircraft carriers in the Gulf. We should re-establish a 'no-fly zone' and build a coalition - a true coalition. Our presence pours gasoline on a fire. If we pull back leave things will immediately cool down.
Then we must work with Iran Russia and Turkey. We have created a Frankenstein monster and a power vacuum that Russia and Iran will try to fill.
1. Demand Impeachment.
2. Demand investigations of Cheney’s ties to Enron and Halliburton.
3. Demand investigations into the no-bid contracts in Iraq and New Orleans.
4. Demand Accountability of the Outing of Valerie Plame.
5. Demand accountability for FEMA’s incompetence.
6. Demand health insurance for all 48 million Americans - 1 out of 6 - who have no health insurance. Fund it by raising the social security ceiling or with a progressive income tax. And while we're at it, demand health insurance for the entire country.
7. Demand funding for college education.
8. Demand that US elections be certified by the Carter Center – that we use “Open Source" electronic poll machines with a paper trail and with the source code verified by at least 3 independent and out of state university computer science departments, and that the same technology be used nationwide.
9. Demand that the Democrats attack the corrupt Republicanistas like pit bulls - latch on and don't let go! And that the Democratic wing of the Democratic party go after the corrupt Democrats.
10. Demand that we fight for clean energy, that we reduce greenhouse gases, etc. And Clean Energy does not include nuclear.
11. Demand the Constitution be upheld!
More Gay Bashing
The religious right is, predictably, freaking out that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last week swore in the new AIDS Czar and referred to his partner's mother as his "mother in law."
Naturally, America's hate groups swung into action in order to bash Rice and gays.
First the gay-bashing from the religious right hate group the Family Research Council:
"We have to face the fact that putting a homosexual in charge of AIDS policy is a bit like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse."
Gee, that's funny. Bashing a "fag" and "people with AIDS" in the same breath - can the n-word jokes be far behind?
As for Condi Rice, the article goes on to point out that the hate groups were profoundly offended that she treated the gay man with respect, and they were offended, apparently, that gay people were permitted to touch Bibles. (Which is ironic, because I'm offended that religious right pseudo-Christians are allowed to touch Bibles.)
In any case, the religious right is finally figuring out that gay Republicans are in the highest positions of power in the GOP. Duh.
-Submitted with comments by Victoria A. Brownworth, with thanks to John D in D.C.
CHANGE OF VENUE
by Victoria A. Brownworth
copyright c 2006, Journal-Register Newspapers, Inc
On election day, Americans went to the polls in droves. Overwhelmingly and throughout the country, voters made one thing perfectly clear: They disapprove of President Bush and his party and the way they are running the country. Democrats took back control of the Senate and the House of Representatives for the first time in 12 years.
Votes explained some of the reason for the change of venue, exit polls illuminated other reasons. Voters had a handful of serious concerns when they entered the voting booths, but chief among them were the war on Iraq, corruption in government and the economy (which despite the Republicans touting its surge upward, the improvements have overwhelmingly benefited the rich and widened the divide between the poor and wealthy).
The media was quick to address issues it had ignored in the weeks leading up to the election–first and foremost, a true Democratic agenda for change. But the resultant shift in the Washington power grid told the story for them. The media had wrung its collective hands and stated repetitively that the Democrats were “divided on Iraq” (they aren’t–they all want the U.S. out; the only differences are on the manner in which we withdraw) and that they “had no plan for change” (they do: increase the minimum wage, withdraw from Iraq, work for universal healthcare, strengthen the economy, cut government waste like the $40 billion earmarked for Halliburton’s rebuilding of Iraq which a BBC news investigative report revealed on November 10th has been being siphoned out of Iraq and into the pockets of the new corrupt government there).
As the tide was turning on election night and one after another Republican incumbent was being rejected by the voters, the pundits were also of a singular mind. Well, they asserted, the Democrats might be winning, but they are very conservative and the Congress will be more conservative than it was before this election.
The conservatives were almost gleeful in their assessments. ABC correspondent and columnist George Will predicted, “We could be seeing the creation of a more conservative House of Representatives than the one we just had.” Arch-conservative CNBC anchor Larry Kudlow claimed the "changeover in the House may well be a conservative victory, not a liberal one." Even the moderate Washington Post, in a front page analysis, declared that the election showed that the nation "leans slightly the right of center."
So much for the “liberal” media.
The election results were not at all a conservative landslide–quite the opposite. While conservative voters may have made their mark with some ballot initiatives, such as those banning same-sex marriage and those on immigration reforms, even on these initiatives the results were mixed. And other ballot initiatives, like the Missouri one on stem-cell research and the one in South Dakota on abortion, were resoundingly liberal decisions.
Where the definitive progressive move was evident, was in the clear change of venue in the Congress. Pennsylvania was a prime example of the shift in voter concerns. Incumbent two-term Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), the third most powerful Republican in the Senate, was overwhelmingly defeated by Democratic challenger Bob Casey, Jr.
No claims can be made for Casey being a liberal, but on certain issues–the war, the environment, birth control, same-sex unions–Casey is far to the left of Santorum. What’s more, the percent of difference in the votes–a 60/40 split, similar to that between incumbent Democratic Governor Ed Rendell and his losing Republican challenger, former NFL player Lynn Swann–was significant in a state that is almost wholly Republican in its center and only Democratic at the edges in Pittsburgh (Santorum and Swann’s home town) and Philadelphia (Rendell’s).
Casey, from Scranton, in the heart of Pennsylvania, had as much of a conservative following as he did a liberal one. Which meant that voters were tired of the extremism displayed by Santorum, who had a 98 percent voting record with George Bush.
The same held true in the House district races between Republican incumbents Mike Fitzpatrick and Curt Weldon (Weldon a ten term Congressman) and Democratic challengers Patrick Murphy and Joe Sestak. Both Murphy and Sestak were military men (Murphy served in Iraq, Sestak is a retired admiral who served in Vietnam) against the war. Fitzpatrick and Weldon, who never entered the military, were both solidly for it.
There were other races that mirrored these. In Ohio, Sherrod Brown soundly defeated Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH). Brown is a very progressive candidate. In Rhode Island, Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse unseated the most moderate Republican in the Senate, Lincoln Chafee, the only Republican to vote against the torture bill. Whitehouse is definitely a progressive.
So is Claire McCaskill, who won Missouri for the Democrats. McCaskill is so progressive that she was targeted that way in GOP attack ads. And it was McCaskill who created the controversy over Michael J. Fox’s political ad supporting her because she was strong on stem-cell research. She beat out a staunch conservative, Jim Talent (R-MO) in a traditionally “red” state.
Minnesota is a very blue state and provided the Congress with its first Muslim member of the House in this election. It also elected Amy Klobuchar, who may now be the most progressive woman in the Senate.
Meanwhile, in Montana, Republican incumbent Conrad Burns, one of the Republicans being investigated for corruption, was narrowly defeated. He was defeated by Jon Tester. With his Buzz Light-year haircut and football player stance, Tester may *look* Republican, but he’s an organic farmer who lives paycheck to paycheck and he has a clear progressive agenda: he's against the war, against an amendment banning gay marriage and against the Patriot Act. He’s for raising the minimum wage, lowering taxes on the poor and working poor and rolling back tax cuts for the rich. He's pro-choice. Yet the media has presented him as a “conservative.” Hardly–and particularly not in a red state like Montana.
One Democrat who ousted a Republican Senator (the overtly racist George Allen), Jim Webb in Virginia, is indeed more of a centrist. A former Republican who was Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan, Webb changed parties because he was fed up with the fiscal irresponsibility of the Republicans and he’s against the war. And unlike the majority of the chicken-hawk Republicans, Webb’s seen combat and his son is currently deployed to Iraq.
In addition to these Senate seats, there were two more Democratic House seats in Connecticut, four in Pennsylvania, two in Florida, three in New York, two in New Hampshire. All true progressives. And in New York, Hillary Clinton (D-NY) won re-election to the Senate by a landslide in a race many see as the precursor to her run for president in 2008.
Some progressives did lose. Ned Lamont had won the primary, but lost to the sitting Senator, Joe Lieberman, who changed from the Democratic Party to being an Independent when he lost to Lamont in the primary. Harold Ford (D-TN) lost his bid for the Senate also. But of the 28 House seats and eight Senate seats (including the two independents, Lieberman and Bernie Sanders, a Socialist, both of whom will vote with the Democrats in the Senate) won by the Democrats, nearly all can be defined as liberal progressive.
Each backs raising the minimum wage, advocates changing course in Iraq, opposes efforts to privatize Social Security. Only two oppose embryonic stem cell research and only five–including Casey–describe themselves as pro-life.
Thus the most significant political shift on election day was the end of the Newt Gingrich “Contract on America” Republican mandate. The so-called "Reagan Coalition" voting bloc of the past 20 years is now officially over.
As has been evidenced since the day after the election. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, an architect of the woefully mismanaged war on Iraq, resigned on November 8th. On November 10th, the head of the Republican National Committee, Ken Mehlman, said he would resign as of January.
Replacing Rumsfeld will be Bob Gates, a former CIA director and a current member of the Iraq Study Group that is focused on finding a way out of Iraq with minimal harm to both that country and U.S. troops. Gates is not unproblematic: he was unindicted but investigated during Iran-Contra and he was heavily involved in U.S. dealings with what eventually became the Taliban in Afghanistan during the Reagan Administration. However his current political stance appears to be one of conciliation, not further engagement in the war on Iraq.
And then there is Nancy Pelosi, poised to become the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives. Pelosi has been in the House since 1987 and has been outspoken in her criticisms of both President Bush and the war on Iraq. Pelosi, however, is known for being able to calm the waters. It is expected that she will focus the Democrats on her agenda, which includes an immediate $2.10 raise in the minimum wage, attention to health care and a succinct plan to withdraw troops from Iraq. Pelosi also favors amnesty for illegal immigrants and solid immigration reforms. And while President Bush will still have veto power over any bills that come his way, the message from the voters was loud and very clear on November 7th–people do not approve of his handling of either foreign or domestic issues. So those vetoes are unlikely.
Bush has said since the election that he plans to do all he can to work with the Democrats to avoid gridlock in Washington. The past six years of his Administration have been the most gridlocked in U.S. history. So it’s good he’s finally come to that conclusion, if by force.
All eyes will now be on the Democrats to see whether they can augur the change that Pelosi’s stalwart focus portends that they will. But Americans need to know that the attempts to spin the election as a win for conservatism are dead wrong. The election was a win for one thing: American democracy. We proved once again that the informed voter who votes his or her conscience can create change. Many of the races were extremely tight–Patrick Murphy won by only 1,100 votes, for example. And the tightness of many races suggest a nation split down the center on many issues–social and policy–and a need for what Pelosi promises: working together for a better America for all Americans.
It is to be hoped that the long dark nightmare of the past six years is drawing to an end. But there is a lot of work ahead and the electorate must keep its politicians accountable. Or in two years the tide might shift again. But for now, let us savor the moment and the promise that it holds for us all.
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