Not Counting Un-Hatched Chickens


The New York Times is running a story on the vastly important but largely un-reported contest for control of State Legislatures. Seats in state houses are almost exactly evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats control 19 state houses, Republicans 20. Ten states have one Democratic controlled chamber and one Republican controlled chamber. Nebraska is just fucking weird.

Just as the 2010 census is coming up, Democrats are poised to possibly make some major gains. Having Democrat controlled bodies in place when districts will be redrawn will certainly be a good thing. (Though we've learned that waiting for the census may not be necessary...)

A 'bottom up' revitalization of the party could happen this election, especially if 'coat tails' of Democratic challengers help down ticket Dems win in typically Red states.

* * * * *

The New York Times piece also had a great story about a state race in Iowa:
Mr. Wiskus is a 42-year-old Iowa farmer and lifelong Republican from the town of Centerville, about 100 miles south of the capital, who is making his first run for public office for a [State] House seat.

He became so outraged by his own party's efforts to elect him that he resigned last month in protest.

A mailing sent by the state committee told voters that Mr. Wiskus's Democratic opponent, a lawyer named Kurt Swaim, had defended a man charged with child molesting.

Mr. Wiskus knew that Mr. Swaim had been assigned the case by the court as a public defender, and decided the attack was unconscionable. He is now an independent, and said he would serve as an independent if elected.

"I was offended," Mr. Wiskus said in an interview. "I had promised and pledged to run a clean and ethical and honorable race, and I told the Republican Party I did not want any attack ads."
That must make Karl Rove's head spin.

Thank God I'm Married...

Otherwise I'd be the target population for the White House's new Abstinence program.

Did I mention I'm closer to 30 than 20?

From the USA Today:

The federal government's "no sex without marriage" message isn't just for kids anymore.

Now the government is targeting unmarried adults up to age 29 as part of its abstinence-only programs, which include millions of dollars in federal money that will be available to the states under revised federal grant guidelines for 2007.

The government says the change is a clarification. But critics say it's a clear signal of a more directed policy targeting the sexual behavior of adults.

"They've stepped over the line of common sense," said James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit that supports sex education. "To be preaching abstinence when 90% of people are having sex is in essence to lose touch with reality. It's an ideological campaign. It has nothing to do with public health."
Abstinence is probably the best policy for 14 year olds, though they should have accurate knowledge about contraception. When it comes to 17 year olds, the idea that 'just say no' will prevent pregnancy and STDs becomes silly. If we're talking about 24 year olds, it's downright ludicrous. At age 18, you're old enough to fight and die for your country in Iraq, vote, smoke, and be treated like an adult in the eyes of the law - but not old enough, apparently, to decide if a sexual relationship is ok outside of wedlock.

The National Center for Health Statistics puts the percentage of 20-29 year olds having sex at 90%.

Wade Horn, the Department of Health and Human Services' assistant secretary for children and families says that the reason for the targeting of 19-29 year olds is that 19-29 year olds have the most babies out of wedlock. "The message is 'It's better to wait until you're married to bear or father children' ... The only 100% effective way of getting there is abstinence."

My guess is that 19-29 year old women probably have the majority of babies period. I could be wrong, but I'm not.

The idea that the only acceptable form of a family is a 'Leave it to Beaver' sort of nuclear family is one deeply rooted in the Social Conservative mind. This change is an effort, funded by your federal tax dollars, to stigmatize anybody who doesn't fall in line with what a bunch of Christianist assholes think is right.

If a man and a woman (or two women or two men) decide that they want a child but don't want to get married, as adults, that's their business. The government shouldn't be interfering in their personal lives.

If the government's effort is to prevent accidental pregnancies among adults, 90% of which are sexually active, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that proper education about contraceptives is the better way to go.

Who says that the new, Radical Christianist Republican Party is out of touch with the real America?

Polls - One Week Out

As we essentially sit and wait for November 7th to come around, we entertain ourselves with polls from the Political Wire. My Summary:

Pennsylvania Senate: Casey (D) - 50%, Santorum (R) - 39%

New Jersey Senate: Menendez (D) - 49%, Kean (R) - 44%

Minnesota Gov: Hatch (D) - 45%, Pawlenty (R) - 39%, Hutchinson (I) - 9%

Virginia Senate
: Webb (D) - 50%, Allen (R) - 46%

Washington Senate
: Cantwell (D) - 52%, McGavick (R) - 41%

Wisconsin Gov: Doyle (D) - 50%, Green (R) - 36%

Ohio Senate: Brown (D) - 54%, DeWine (R) - 43%

Missouri Senate: McCaskill (D) - 49%, Talent (R) - 49%

Tennessee Senate: Corker (R) - 52%, Ford (D) - 44%.
All good news. Remember: Vote early and vote often!

Democratic Victory = "America Loses"

From the lips of George W. Bush.

Once you understand this, the logic (yes, logic) is perfect.

Democrats winning in this election is only 'bad for America' because it's bad for Republicans and really bad for George W. Bush himself. But then again, for GOoPers, it's always about them. That's why the insurgency in Iraq is about the midterm elections.

I know it's Halloween and all, but I think that they're starting to sound scared...


This Guy Has a Wider Audience Than I Do

And that's not fucking fair.

Sad News from Florida

Though there is hope that she will engage in amusing post-election antics, the impending defeat* of Katherine Harris by Ben Nelson in Florida means that Krazy Kathy won't be bringing laughter to the world for much longer. In the meantime, the Palm Beach Post has an interesting factoid:

There are 22 daily newspapers in Florida.

All 22 have endorsed Bill Nelson for re-election to the U.S. Senate.

The first was The Palm Beach Post, the latest two on Sunday were The Orlando Sentinel and the Jacksonville-based Florida Times-Union.

The only newspaper that has endorsed Republican candidate Harris is ironically named the Polk County Democrat, published four days a week in Harris' girlhood hometown, Bartow.
That's harsh. The fact that Katherine Harris is the strongest candidate that the GOP could find in a state where the President's brother is the governor is pretty sad.

* - Then again, maybe not...

With 8 Days to Go, Iraq Spirals Downward

The Guardian Unlimited reports that October will be the deadliest month for American Service People in Iraq since January:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - A bomb tore through food stalls and kiosks in a sprawling Shiite slum Monday, killing at least 31 people, while the U.S. military announced the death of the 100th servicemember in Iraq this month.

The 6:15 a.m. explosion in Sadr City targeted poor Shiites who gather there each morning hoping to be hired as construction workers. At least 51 people were wounded, said police Maj. Hashim al-Yasiri.
This isn't the benchmark BushCo. was hoping for...

Double-Plus Ungood

From Toward Freedom

Public Law 109-364, or the "John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007" (H.R.5122) (2), which was signed by the commander in chief on October 17th, 2006, in a private Oval Office ceremony, allows the President to declare a "public emergency" and station troops anywhere in America and take control of state-based National Guard units without the consent of the governor or local authorities, in order to "suppress public disorder."

President Bush seized this unprecedented power on the very same day that he signed the equally odious Military Commissions Act of 2006. In a sense, the two laws complement one another. One allows for torture and detention abroad, while the other seeks to enforce acquiescence at home, preparing to order the military onto the streets of America. Remember, the term for putting an area under military law enforcement control is precise; the term is "martial law."

Section 1076 of the massive Authorization Act, which grants the Pentagon another $500-plus-billion for its ill-advised adventures, is entitled, "Use of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies." Section 333, "Major public emergencies; interference with State and Federal law" states that "the President may employ the armed forces, including the National Guard in Federal service, to restore public order and enforce the laws of the United States when, as a result of a natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition in any State or possession of the United States, the President determines that domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the State or possession are incapable of ("refuse" or "fail" in) maintaining public order, "in order to suppress, in any State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy."
Like unfavorable election results?

Yellow Dogs Coming Home?

The Washington Post is running an op-ed by Michael Kinsley that makes a point rarely heard in either American politics or American political commentary - voting for a party rather than an individual is a good idea.

One of the axioms of small-d democratic piety in this country is that you vote for the person and not the party. People just love to say, "I evaluate each candidate on his or her own merits" -- even when it's not true.

But this year does seem to be different. You hear people say -- though rarely as forthrightly as the Times -- that they are voting for the party and not the person. The Republican candidate for the Senate or House may be saintlike in general, no worse than muddled on the war in Iraq and good on stem cell research. She may never even have met Jack Abramoff.

Meanwhile, the Democrat may be a grotesque hack just inches from indictment, whose views on Iraq are equally muddled with less excuse (since loyalty to the president is not a factor). Nevertheless, these New Yellow Dogs are voting for the Democrat, simply out of anger at or frustration with the Republican Party.


True, people might question your sanity if you were to declare that you were voting for the Democratic Party agenda. The what? If there's anything worse than ignoring that famous elephant in the room, it's imagining a donkey that's not in the room. Even so, a vote for the Democrat is a vote against the Republican. And voting "no" to a record of failure is more important for the functioning of democracy than voting "yes" to any number of promises about the future.
Ignoring the perpetuation of the myth that Democrats don't have a coherent platform, the point is a good one.

Your individual Senator, and to a greater degree, your Representative, don't make policy - his or her party does. In the American system, you essentially vote to have either the Republican Party setting policy or the Democratic Party setting policy. Chose the policy you like better and vote accordingly.

When you're standing in the voting booth, just remember this: What has 12 years of Conservatism gotten you? Where has it gotten our country?

A Dirth of Trust

Sebastian Mallaby's op-ed in the Washington Post looks at the current political climate through an interesting lens - trust:

You don't hear much about trust these days. Instead, we want accountability.


In the 1990s, after academics and pundits began talking about trust, the nation did actually become more trusting. The share of Americans saying they trust government "most of the time" or "just about always" rose from 21 percent in 1994 to 56 percent in 2002. Equally, elections became less abrasively focused on accountability. In 2000, according to John Geer of Vanderbilt University, a relatively low 40 percent of the messages in presidential TV spots were negative, down from 47 percent four years earlier.

But some time after the Iraq invasion, these trends reversed. In 2004 the share of Americans saying they trusted government fell to 47 percent, and this month a CBS News-New York Times poll put it at a rock-bottom 28 percent. Meanwhile Geer's measures show that in the 2004 election negative messages jumped to 50 percent of the total, and he guesses that this year's congressional races are the most negative in history.


But trust, when not abused, is nonetheless an asset. Accountants, lawyers and online training sessions impose costs on businesses; it would be cheaper to trust people if that were possible. Likewise, as Marc Hetherington of Vanderbilt University has demonstrated, government is constrained if nobody trusts it. The Great Society programs were possible because Americans trusted government in the 1960s; the creation of the Medicare prescription drug program arguably reflected the peaking of trust in government in 2003. But Bill Clinton's health care reform was thwarted in the low-trust early 1990s, and nobody now trusts government to modernize entitlements. Meanwhile President Bush had enormous foreign policy momentum in 2002-03 because Americans trusted him. Thanks to the Iraq mess, Americans are now focused on holding Bush accountable, and his options are limited.
To borrow a phrase, Americans tried the 'trust' thing and have moved on to 'verify.'

As a Liberal, I believe that government can be a great force for good. Enlightened government can affect change that no private citizen or private institution can achieve. This is only possible, though, if the population trusts its government.

As Mr. Mallaby notes, the dawn of the 21st century, both for good reasons and tragic ones, provided the American government with a population that didn't just trust its government, but hungered for it to act.

Unfortunately for America and the world, that government was lead by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Supported by the likes of Tom Delay, Duke Cunningham, Scooter Libby, Bob Ney, Armstrong Williams, Jack Abramoff, Mark Foley, Ken Lay, Denny Hastert, Rick Santorum, and the full weight of FoxNews, our government squandered that trust in an effort to enrich themselves and their supporters, enact legislation to divide America, engage in questionable foreign policy, and ensure their own continued power.

The 2006 election is shaping up the way it is because the people of America don't trust George W. Bush and don't trust a Republican congress to verify that he's acting in America's best interest.

The absence of trust isn't limited to America's internal politics. The idea that a French leader would echo De Gaulle's sentiment that "the word of the president of the United States is good enough for me" is laughable. The mistrust of the United States in the Middle East is bad enough, but even our long-time allies in Europe don't trust America.

As every person who has ever been in a relationship knows, trust is something that is easily broken and can take a long time to regain. A Democratic sweep of the House and Senate a week from today, even if the gains are retained and the presidency added in 2008 would only be a small step back towards a trustworthy government in America.

Santorum Fades

From a new Temple/Inquirer poll:

As U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum makes fighting global terrorism his closing pitch of the campaign, the latest Temple/Inquirer Poll shows that growing doubts about the Iraq war continue to erode support for Republicans.

More voters than a month ago say the war - which remains the defining issue in the November election - has made the country less safe from terrorism, while the percentage saying they feel safer has dropped. At the same time, a majority of voters, 52 percent, want the United States to either decrease troop levels in Iraq or pull out altogether.


The Temple/Inquirer poll shows Santorum has lost ground to his Democratic opponent, Bob Casey Jr. A month ago, Casey led the two-term senator by 11 points. The latest poll has Casey ahead 54 percent to 38 percent with 6 percent undecided.
A sixteen point spread is pretty impressive considering that the margin of error in the poll was only 3.8%.

The same poll found that Governor Rendell leads Lynn Swann 58-34.

It was also noted that in this election, Democrats were more loyal to their party, moderates we leaning very strongly towards Democratic candidates and even some moderate Republicans favored Dems.

All good news from the home state.


More stuff to point at

While we're waiting for November 7th:

notes that the IRS is 'Playing Politics' by waiting until after the election to start collecting back taxes in areas devastated by Bush's failures during Katrina.

The Political Wire reminds GOoPers that attacking Webb for including the fact that there was child prostitution going on in Saigon in his novels might be a bad idea. Right-wingers have a long list of seriously twisted sex scenes in their works of fiction.

The White House is denying that Cheney said that the United States uses torture despite the fact that, well, we do and he did. Said something you regret? Just deny it. "It's a no-brainer."

The only 'Benchmark' reached in Iraq so far is 2008 American deaths. Twenty eight Iraqis were killed today too.

And remember, Bill O'Reilly will be on Letterman tonight.

The Ad NBC Doesn't Want You To See

The new documentary about the Dixie Chicks, Shut up and Sing, wanted to advertise on NBC. NBC declined because it "cannot accept these spots as they are disparaging to President Bush."

The movie's distributor, Harvey Weinstein issued this statement:

It’s a sad commentary about the level of fear in our society that a movie about a group of courageous entertainers who were blacklisted for exercising their right of free speech is now itself being blacklisted by corporate America. The idea that anyone should be penalized for criticizing the president is profoundly un-American.
Blacklisting is back in Hollywood.

has video of the rejected ad.

If the movie is half as good as the Dixie Chicks are in concert, it's worth the money to go see it. The fact that you'll piss off Toby Keith in the process is just icing.

The Waiting Game

Twelve days 'til the election. All the news revolves around polls that haven't really moved and vicious, dirty campaign ads put out by desperate Republicans.

The Waiting Game has begun.

Nothing truly new will happen in the next two weeks. Journalists will run stories about polls and vicious attack ads by desperate Republicans. Bloggers will put up posts on polls,condemn Republicans for vicious and unethical (and untrue) attack ads, and remind their readers to go keep working, keep giving money, and to go vote. Candidates will run around trying to see every person in their districts, talk about attack ads (defending the ones they're running and condemning their opponents) and completely avoid the issues. Voters will watch attack ad after attack ad and remain unswayed. They know dirty politics when they see it.

For all the sound and the fury of the next two weeks, what we're really doing is waiting for election day. Only then does the action mean anything.

Irregularities, lines, and intimidation will be the story. And the weather - rain drives down the senior vote. Exit polling and projections. Big boards on the big networks counting Red Seats and Blue Seats. Reactions from 'experts' and predictions.

The groundwork has been laid for two narratives, either 'The Democratic version of 1994' or 'Republican GOTV saved the day.'

We'll find out which narrative wins soon enough.


Go Read This

Driftglass has a great piece up. Go read it.

Mini Link Dump

Two articles I wanted to point out but don't have time to blog about:

The Washington Post has a great piece on Sam Harris, author of "End of Faith" and "Letter to a Christian Nation." It's pretty long article by newspaper standards and worth the read. Go check it out.

CNN Money, via Fortune, has a fascinating op-ed by Matt Miller that predicts the people in the bottom half of the top 1% of America will be the ones leading the charge against the ultra-rich, not those of us somewhere in the middle or bottom of the pack...

Why Isn't This News?

From McClatchy:

WASHINGTON - Vice President Dick Cheney has confirmed that U.S. interrogators subjected captured senior al-Qaida suspects to a controversial interrogation technique called "water-boarding," which creates a sensation of drowning.

Cheney indicated that the Bush administration doesn't regard water-boarding as torture and allows the CIA to use it. "It's a no-brainer for me," Cheney said at one point in an interview.

Cheney's comments, in a White House interview on Tuesday with a conservative radio talk show host, appeared to reflect the Bush administration's view that the president has the constitutional power to do whatever he deems necessary to fight terrorism.
I won't hold my breath waiting for this to end up on the 11 o'clock news. Or for that matter, even on the 24 hour news channels.

There is a record of a sitting Vice President admitting that the United States of America engages in torture - but nobody cares.
Lee Ann McBride, a spokeswoman for Cheney, denied that Cheney confirmed that U.S. interrogators used water-boarding or endorsed the technique.

"What the vice president was referring to was an interrogation program without torture," she said. "The vice president never goes into what may or may not be techniques or methods of questioning."
The White House's official transcript seems to indicate otherwise:
Q [Scott Hennen] I've heard from a lot of listeners -- that's what we do for a living, talk to good folks in the Heartland every day -- and I've talked to as many who want an increased military presence in Iraq as want us out, which seems to be the larger debate, at least coming from the left -- cut and run, get out of there. One fax said, when you talk to the Vice President, ask him when shock and awe is coming back to Iraq. Let's finish the job once and for all.

And terrorist interrogations and that debate is another example. And I've had people call and say, please, let the Vice President know that if it takes dunking a terrorist in water, we're all for it, if it saves American lives. Again, this debate seems a little silly given the threat we face, would you agree?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I do agree. And I think the terrorist threat, for example, with respect to our ability to interrogate high value detainees like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, that's been a very important tool that we've had to be able to secure the nation. [Emphasis mine.]
Scott: Our listeners like water boarding, do you?

VP: Yes. "That's been a very important tool that we've had."
Think about that. They're doing this in your name.

Alexis de Tocqueville said "America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great." Dick Cheney probably prides himself on never listening to Frenchmen, but the Bush/Cheney prosecution of the Global War on Terrortm has done more to destroy America's 'Soft Power' and weaken our standing in the world than anything in the last 50 years. Even Vietnam was less damaging, if only because our power was seen as opposed to the Soviet Union.

My Grandparent's generation fought World War II and earned America her place atop the world's power structure. It took 405,399 American deaths and 671,846 wounded to earn the world's trust. It won't be regained in my life time. All so that BushCo and the Republicans can play 'tough guy' for political gain.

The Garden State Decision

The New Jersey Supreme Court wrote in a decision
released yesterday that,

"[a]lthough we cannot find that a fundamental right to same-sex marriage exists in this state, the unequal dispensation of rights and benefits to committed same-sex partners can no longer be tolerated under our state constitution."
The more I think about that decision the less I like it. The Court ruled that the either the expansion of marriage to include same-sex couples or allowing same sex couples to form civil unions which would give them all the same rights as a married couple.

While it is encouraging to see another state realize that gay couples deserve to be treated equally, it's alarming to see judges, people who should understand the fundamental flaw of 'separate but equal', decide that providing same-sex couples with something other than real marriage.

I have heard other people make the argument that the government shouldn't be involved in 'marriage' at all. These people argue that all couples, regardless of sex, should be 'civil unions' in the eyes of the state and that 'marriage' should be left to churches that can decide individually whether they want to marry same-sex couple.

While the idea held some appeal for me for a while, it has a vague feeling that it wouldn't really raise the rights of same-sex couples up to the level of opposite-sex couples so much as it would lower every body's rights. I don't really know if that's true, but I can hear the crazies spouting off about how the 'homosexual agenda' is trying to say that you're not married anymore.

Same-sex couples MUST be have the right to marry, not civil union-ize.

If this is a first step towards that goal, then I support the Court's decision. If this is an effort to 'throw a bone' to the gay community in the hopes that it will pacify them, then I withhold my support.

Turing to the political ramifications of the Courts decision, I'm not sure what to think. Coming just 13 days before a midterm election, the effects on both N.J. races and races across the nation could break either way.

For Democrats, there is no real down side to this decision. If anything, 'good news' might energize progressives to get to the polls. Social Conservatives, on the other hand, could break either way. Either they will be demoralized and stay home (they already feel that BushCo. and the Republicans haven't done enough to stop this sort of thing) or it will drive up fundie voter turn-out.

We'll have to wait and see.


N.J. Supreme Court Rules for Gay Marriage

The New Jersey State Supreme Court has ruled that under the state's constitution, same sex couples must have the same marriage rights as opposite sex couples. (Pdf of the ruling here.)

The New Jersey legislature has 6 months to act.

More as I get it...

New York Times / AP has the story up:

New Jersey's highest court ruled Wednesday that gay couples are entitled to the same rights as heterosexuals, but that lawmakers must determine whether the state will honor gay marriage or some other form of civil union.

Advocates on both sides of the issue believed New Jersey posed the best chance to become only the second after Massachusetts to legalize gay marriage because its high court has a history of extending civil rights protections.

Instead, the Supreme Court stopped short of fully approving gay marriage and gave lawmakers 180 days to rewrite marriage laws to either include gay couples or create new civil unions.

"The issue is not about the transformation of the traditional definition of marriage, but about the unequal dispensation of benefits and privileges to one of two similarly situated classes of people," the court said in its 4-3 ruling.
A great victory for civil rights is never shomething that should be seen as secondary, but this ruling, coming 13 days before a major election, brings up a big question: What will this do to the upcoming elections in New Jersey?

Citation du Jour

"Everything is done to preserve the Christian image -- President Bush as Pastor-in-Chief. Because when he's pastor-in-chief, Christians don't have to think critically."

-- David Kuo, Former White House aide in the Wall Street Journal

Poll Round Up

Here's a collection of recent polls from all over Taegan Goddard's Political Wire over the last few days:

Ohio Senate
Sherrod Brown (D) 47% - Sen. Mike DeWine (R) 39%

Rhode Island Senate
- Sheldon Whitehouse (D) 50% - Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R) 42%

New Jersey Senate
- Sen. Bob Menendez (D) 45% - Tom Kean, Jr. (R) 41%

Virginia Senate
- Jim Webb (D) 47% - Sen. George Allen (R) 44%

Missouri Semate
- Sen. Jim Talent (R)48% - Claire McCaskill (D) 45%

Tennessee Senate
- Bob Corker (R) 49% - Rep. Harold Ford, Jr. (D) 44%

Arizona Senate
- Sen. Jon Kyl (R) 47% - Jim Pederson (D) 41%

Pennsylvania Senate
- Bob Casey (D) 51% - Rick Santorum (R) 39%

Washington Senate
- Maria Cantwell (D) 52% - Mike McGavick (R) 37%

Montana Senate
- Jon Tester (D) 46% - Conrad Burns (R) 43%

Florida Governor
- Charlie Crist (R) 51% - Jim Davis (D) 42% (Republican Poll)

Georgia Governor
- Gov. Sonny Perdue (R) 51% - Mark Taylor (D) 32% - Garrett Hayes (Libertarian) 9% (Republican Poll)

Massachusetts Governor
- Deval Patrick (D) 56% - Kerry Healey (R) 31%

Ohio Governor
- Ted Strickland (D) 54% - Ken Blackwell (R) 34%

Pennsylvania Governor
- Gov. Ed Rendell (D) 56% - Lynn Swann (R) 35%

Texas Governor
- Rick Perry (R) 36% - Chris Bell (D) 26% - Carole Keeton Strayhorn (I) 19% - Kinky Friedman (I) 16%

Minnesota Governor
- Mike Hatch (D) 45% - Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) 44% [No Link Given]
Thirteen Days... Lots can happen, both good and bad, in that time.

The Issues Issue

From The Caucus, the New York Times' political blog:

At this point, we're pretty much used to politicians being cagey about, say, their friend Jack, their page Jordan or their mothers' Judaism, not to mention what exactly they've got in their freezers.

In fact, when they get sick of us asking those types of questions, they usually admonish us to "get back to the issues."

But fewer candidates are willing to do that, either, according to a new study of every candidate for United States Senate, House of Representatives, governor and state legislatures.

Only 48 percent of federal candidates, 43 percent of gubernatorial candidates and 26 percent of state legislative candidates answered "yes" to Project Vote Smart's National Political Awareness Test. The question: Are you willing to tell citizens your positions on the issues you will most likely face on their behalf?
This figure is the lowest in 10 years.

How stupid does a politician have to be to say 'no' when asked "would you tell your constituents your position on the issues?" Well, the problem is that Vote Smart won't give the politician a 'yes' unless the politician actually fills out an extensive questionnaire detailing their position.

Only 48%, evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, filled out the survey. Less than half! I'm tempted to say that there's something wrong with our political system, but it seems that there's something wrong with our politicians.


Stay the Course?

The 'Real Virginia'

From AP:

Members of the Manassas [Virginia] City Council are hearing plenty of opinions on whether a gay man should be allowed to open a massage therapy business in his home.

Howard Daniel is a former Marine Corps reservist who is also a certified massage therapist. He wants to open the business in his home, but nearly two dozen Manassas residents have spoken out against his application.

Daniel already offers his massage therapy services at the local hospital and in the homes of clients.
Two other applications for a home based massage business have been approved by the Manassas City Counsel in the past 3 years, yet half of the council's members have said they'd vote against Daniel's application.

I guess this is the 'Real Virginia' George Felix Allen talks about...

The 'Big Tent' is Collapsing

From the L.A. Times:

A major effort to draw Latinos and blacks into the Republican Party, a central element of the GOP plan to build a long-lasting majority, is in danger of collapse amid anger over the immigration debate and claims that Republican leaders have not delivered on promises to direct more money to church-based social services.

President Bush, strategist Karl Rove and other top Republicans have wooed Latino and black leaders, many of them evangelical clergy who lead large congregations, in hopes of peeling away the traditional Democratic base. But now some of the leaders who helped Bush win in 2004 are revisiting their loyalty to the Republican Party and, in some cases, abandoning it.


The Latino backlash has grown so intense that one prominent, typically pro-Republican organization, the Latino Coalition, has endorsed Democrats in competitive races this year in Tennessee, Nebraska and New Jersey. The coalition is chaired by Hector Barreto, the former administrator of the Small Business Administration under Bush; its president is a former strategist for the Republican National Committee.
What we see here is the results of governing by and for a 'base' that is both a minority of the population and outside the political mainstream. To win elections, the Republicans pursue legislation to excite the base. That legislation, the 'red meat,' included a strong anti-immigration stance that alienated Hispanic voters. Black voters, seen as receptive to GOP overtures based on religious and social conservatism are angered that while 'white' churches received money under the President's Faith Based Initiatives program, Black congregations did not.

And there was that whole Katrina thing, too.

The Latino Coalition released a study finding that registered voters of Latino decent favored Democrats over Republicans 56% to 19%. Not surprising when the GOP is calling for every undocumented immigrant to be kicked out. It plays real well in Kansas but when your mother or grandmother might be the one deported, it's different.

The Hard Truth

E.J. Dionne, whose columns I look forward to every week, has a new op-ed in today's Washington Post. As strong liberals, he has a message and a warning that we all need to hear:

President Bush's six-year effort to create an enduring Republican majority based on a right-leaning coalition is on the verge of collapse. The way he tried to create it could have the unintended consequence of opening the way for an alternative majority.

This incipient Democratic alliance, while tilting slightly leftward, would plant its foundations firmly in the middle of the road, because its success depends on overwhelming support from moderate voters. That's why a Democratic victory in November -- defined as taking one or both houses of Congress -- would have effects far beyond a single election year.


The strategy pursued by Bush and Karl Rove has frightened most of the political center into the arms of Democrats. Bush and Rove sought victory by building large turnouts among conservatives and cajoling just enough moderates the Republicans' way. But this approach created what may prove to be a fatal political disconnect: Adventurous policies designed to create enthusiasm on the right turned off a large number of less ideological voters.
As much as we hate to admit it, the majority of America resides somewhere between slightly left and slightly right on the political spectrum. When we have our majority (if we have our majority) we must be careful to bring moderates into our coalition. It might make progress slower but the current Conservative melt-down has taught us that governing with only the fringes may work for a while, but in the end you will alienate too large a portion of the electorate. 'Exciting the base' doesn't work forever.

I'm not suggesting that we abandon our ideals or water down our goals. We must remember to bring the middle with us, not ignore them as we govern. This is not a question of our policy or our ideology, it's a question of our attitude. The Republican Party's attitude towards moderates in the Bush Era was contempt. They drove them out of their party, demanded lock step agreement with the administration and punished dissent. If we treat moderates in the same way, we will find ourselves in the exact same position that the Republicans are now.

Well, we probably wouldn't start any unnecessary wars, so we'll call it a very similar position...

Citation du Jour

"We’re on the verge of chaos and the current plan is not working."

- Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Asked if Rumsfeld or top generals should be held responsible, Graham answered, "All of them. It’s their job to come up with a game plan to end the violence."

How about holding the President that got us into this mess responsible? The situation on the ground has gotten so bad that even he's abandoned the 'stay the course' mantra in favor of... Well, we'll find out soon enough.

The reason why nobody can come up with a viable plan for victory is that driving the car off the cliff limits your options. When George W. Bush invaded Iraq he destabilized a situation we didn't understand in a region we cannot relate to for reasons that the rest of the world cannot agree with.

So while the Iraq war costs tax payers $6,300.00 per second, we look for new ways to win in a situation where the chance for victory as defined by the Bush Administration has long since past.

Where is the politician that has the courage to stand up and say that? Why do more Americans need to die for what is a lost cause? And why does my pointing out that our civilian leaders in the Pentagon have royally fucked up get construed as me 'not supporting the troops?'


3, 2, 1, - Happy New Year!

The world is 6009 years old today - at least according to the Ussher-Lightfoot Calendar.

Make sure you ask any Creationist you know why Hallmark doens't make a card for the occasion. Better yet, tell James Dobson to boycott Hallmark because they don't have a Ussher-Lightfood Day Card.

Or not.

Captain Obvious Strikes Again

The LA Times runs a story about how Steven Colbert makes his guests look rediculous.

And newspapers wonder why their circulation is falling...

I Want what Novak's Smoking

Robert Novak on Meet the Press - Transcript Via Think Progress

RUSSERT: Would a Democratic majority go wild, or govern from the middle? Bob Novak?

NOVAK: There’s going to be a subpoena onslaught, which may or may not be politicaly beneficial. I have never found, in my time in Washington, that these congressional investigations are that effective. I know that in six years of investigating everything possible in the Clinton administration, the Republican Congress was not all that effective.

Tim, let me say this. All politicians always say that this is the most important election that we’ve ever been in, because it is to them. I would make the argument that this is one of the least important elections that I have seen because everybody is really looking ahead to 2008 as an important election. Because if the Democrats win the House, as is probable, they can make and pass a lot of legislation, get nowhere in the Senate — the Senate is a very difficult thing to get through — and the President will suddenly discover his veto pen that he had lost track of for six years. I don’t think that much will happen substantively. It is a nice thing for Nancy Pelosi to be Speaker of the House. But I don’t think there’s going to be much action out of her.
The least important election he's seen? Methinks Bob's a bit disengenous.

I guess with two weeks to go, the Right-Wing-Noise-Machine has gone into full damage control mode. How this squares with the 'If Dems Don't Win They're Irrelevent' meme, I don't know.

The Fall of the American Hegemony

Sebastian Mallaby's op-ed in the Washington Post comes to a conclusion I reached around February of 2002:

I'm not predicting the end of the American era, not by a long shot. The U.S. business culture is as pragmatic and effective as its political culture is dysfunctional. But has there been a worse moment for American power since Ronald Reagan celebrated morning in America almost a quarter of a century ago? I can't think of one.
Mr. Mallaby reaches this conclusion after examining America's failures in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Darfur. He considers Americas domestic problems as well. Rampant military spending, social security and an ageing population, the costs of pollution, the pressures of globalization and the growing divide between the rich and poor are expressions of the pressures that bring down empires. All that and Mr. Mallaby can't predict the end of the American Era.

I am predicting the end of the American era.

All empires fall. The greatest empires the world has ever known - the Babylonian Empire, the Roman Empire, the Mongol Empire, the Aztecs, the Incas, the Spanish, the British, the Ottoman Empire and most recently the Soviet Empire - all of them are gone. The American Empire will be no different.

The fall of the American Empire does not mean 'Mad Max' come to life or the sacking of Washington. As a colonial empire, our decline will look much like that of the British Empire.

Though that slow decline is inevitable, it has been hastened by President Bush. Since the end of the cold war, the United States lacked what every great 'force for good' (I don't want to use the word hero) needs - an opponent recognized by the wider community of nations as harmful. Without that opponent, super-powers must be careful to avoid breeding resentment among less powerful nations.

Obviously, George Bush has done quite the opposite.

This isn't to say that America's decline had to start here. The terror attacks on 9/11 provided not just an 'enemy' for America, but also a great deal of good will for America around the globe. This was an opportunity for America to rededicate itself to providing leadership in the world - to work towards greater freedom, liberty and openness around the world.

Instead, George W. Bush used to opportunity to settle old grudges and consolidate domestic political power. Harsh rhetoric and harsh policies alienated not just new American allies, gained in the aftermath of 9/11, but America's traditional allies as well.

There are multiple reasons why Bush and his Neocon backers so seriously misplayed their hand. First was an inability to realize and utilize what has been America's greatest strength for the last 50 years - the soft power of Americanism. Over the past half century, even in nations where the political establishment was anti-American, the populations were largely pro-American. The spread of rock and roll, Levis, McDonald's and Coca-Cola were the concrete expression of the perceived superiority of American ideals.

The reason for the rejection of 'soft power' by the Neocons is that it did not fit with the hyper-nationalistic attitude of the movement.

Though there had always been nations which rejected Americanism, the number and vehemence of these rejections has grown as a reaction to both American involvement in Iraq and to the increasingly harsh measures used in George W. Bush's 'Global War on Terrorism.'

This direct rejection, primarily among nations with large Muslim populations, is compounded by the growing unpopularity of American policy among the populations of Europe. Formerly pro-American Western Nations don't feel the need for an interventionalist America after the threat of Soviet invasion disappeared. The E.U., for all its hitches and problems, also decreases European economic dependence on the Dollar and the United States. The E.U.'s gross domestic product is actually the largest in the world - higher than America's.

Add this to the fact that a rising China and an emerging India are anxious to secure resources for their growing economies and willing to deal with nations outside American interests.

This recipe for decreased international influence is only increased by the Neocon's distaste for the United Nations. A symptom of the Neoconservative tenet of unilateral action, America has lost influence in the only legislative body that includes all the nations of the world - an institution built by America.

* * * * *

Even if the Democrats were to sweep into both the House and the Senate in two weeks, spend 2 years dismantling the system the Bush Administration has set up, then holds both Houses of Congress and gains the Presidency, the decline could only at best be slowed.

An entire generation in the Middle East is radicalized. The number of Europeans who remember American GIs coming to liberate them is dwindling. The time since America protected Europe from the Soviet Threat is growing. India and China aren't going to stop their climb towards being world powers because there's a Democratic President in the United States.

The best possible thing for America is for our politicians to plan for a soft landing. I'm not advocating that America give up on influencing events around the world, though I am concerned that as our influence wanes, we will succumb to the same miscalculation that has ended so many empires - diverting so many resources into maintaining influence that our way of life becomes unsustainable.

Of course acknowledging that America won't be the world's only super-power forever is a politically unpopular position.

I'd say the outlook for the American Era is bleak.



From the BBC:

Can the so-called "ticking bomb" defence - the argument that using some degree of torture may save lives - ever be a justification for mistreating suspects?

The findings of the opinion poll for the BBC World Service indicate that 59% of the world's citizens say "no": they are unwilling to compromise on the protection of human rights.
The shocking fact (other than only 59% of people think torture is bad) is that the United States, falls almost exactly on the average at 58%. The BBC provides this graphic:The survey included more than 27,000 people in 25 countries.

Interesting. The percentage of pro-torture Americans, 36%, is nearly identical to George W. Bush's approval rating...

The study didn't define 'torture' or provide examples. It relied on people to respond to the question according to what they believed constituted torture.

There was no link provided to the study, so I don't really have much analysis here. I wish I could compare U.S. reaction to Europe. I wish I could compare large countries to small countries. I wish I could compare nations that have recently seen war, terrorism or other violence on their soil to those who have not.

Go Read This

30,000 in Perspective at Punkassblog.

Curt Weldon: Republican's Republican

From the Delco Times:

But recent FEC reports also raise questions about Weldon’s latest statements regarding the federal probe that has ensnared his daughter and a longtime political associate.

Weldon told reporters Wednesday that an ex-FBI agent heard that Democrat Joseph Sestak’s campaign had inside information about the Justice Department investigation -- and when it would be leaked to the press.

"I’m telling you a retired FBI agent, whom I have named, came to me and said that a (Sestak) campaign worker told him three weeks ago that this was going to happen," he said.

While Weldon identified his source as Gregory Auld, he failed to mention that Auld has been on the campaign’s payroll since May.

Campaign finance reports filed this week show that Weldon Victory Committee has paid Auld & Associates Investigations $25,000 to conduct opposition research.
Curt, when you're involved in a corruption scandal, the best policy is probably not trying to lie your way out.

It really boggles the mind. How did the GOP become populated entirely by paranoid nut-jobs? The North Koreans conducted a nuclear test to help Democrats in November. The same with the violence in Iraq. Curt Weldon's crimes are only being investigated because the Democratic Party told the FBI to do it. Foley is a Democratic plant.

For a party that is the minority in both Houses of Congress, doesn't hold the Presidnecy, and whose appointees to the Supreme Court are also the minority, Republicans sure think we've got plenty of power.

Abstaining from the Facts

From The Guardian:

Government auditors reminded the Bush administration Thursday that literature distributed by federally funded abstinence programs must contain medically accurate information about condoms' effectiveness in preventing sexually transmitted diseases.

The Government Accountability Office did not make any judgment about the accuracy of the literature. But the government watchdog did say the Department of Health and Human Services is required by law to ensure that materials addressing sexually transmitted diseases "shall contain medically accurate information on condom effectiveness."
Reminded? And why is this in a British news source but not in any American ones? And why the fuck is the information contained in a government sex ed program incorrect?

Oh, right. Courting the fundies.

Iraq: Remade in the Republican Image

After the fall of Saddam, during the week that we were actually greeted as liberators, the Bush Administration probably drooled at the opportunity to build a country - from the ground up - where conservative ideals were made institutions, where all the goals of Conservatism could be reached and implemented without opposition.

That effort seems to be the only success BushCo can claim in Iraq.

From the Washington

UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 19 -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's office has instructed the country's health ministry to stop providing mortality figures to the United Nations, jeopardizing a key source of information on the number of civilian war dead in Iraq, according to a U.N. document.
Don't like the numbers? Just stop measuring them! It's the GOP's all purpose solution.

It's the governmental equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and yelling 'la la la la la' at the top of your lungs.

Jesus Saves - Republicans Run Up the Debt

Republicans trot out the 'Democrats = higher taxes' argument every two years. A new poll in Virgina shows that the argument may not be as effective as it once was. From the Washington

A large majority of Northern Virginia residents want the state to spend more money to fix the region's roads and rails, and more than three-quarters say they wanted the opportunity to raise local taxes to do it, a new Washington Post poll shows.
That's the thing about Republicans constantly bitching about already low taxes. Eventually, the government (local, state or national) can't live up to the population's expectations because it can't afford to provide the services that the people demand.

Taxes aren't money that the government steals from you. Taxes are a bill. The government uses that money for things like roads, military and police protection, a court system, and all the otherinfrastructure that makes life in the United States possible. The people of Norther Virginia (and I'm sure they're not the only ones) have figured that out. They've subconsciously done their cost/benefit analysis of higher taxes and better roads and decided that paying more for a better commute is worth it.

The GOP has handed the Democratic Party a wonderful opportunity. Their fiscal irresponsibility allow us to make this campaign speech:
A vote for Democratic candidate Smith is a vote for fiscal responsibility. Taxes are the bill for all of the good things that America gives to it's people. Roads, law enforcement, education, disaster assistance, clean water - things Americans have every right to expect from their government.

The Republicans have stopped paying the bills. On many things, it's even worse. My
Republican opponent, Sen. Johnson, voted with the rest of his party to borrow money to pay forXXXXX.

Sen. Johnson is going to try to scare you into voting for him by saying Democrats are going to raise taxes. Repealing tax breaks for the rich isn't raising taxes, it's going back to paying our bills. We have a lot of problems in this country and the government can't solve them for our people by running up the debt.
This does two things. It points out the devastatingly irresponsible way that the GOP has run our government and itinoculates voters against the tired 'tax and spend liberal' argument.

Nobody likes to pay taxes but a concerted effort to get people to understand what their getting from the taxes they pay would go a long way to making the Republican platform less appealing.

Shhh! Dubya in Virgina but Allen Doesn't Want You to Know

From the Washington Post:

As he [Va. Sen. George Felix Allen] and his wife, Susan, stood next to Bush in front of a huge U.S. flag, the president excoriated Democrats on national security and taxes. "They would have our country quit in Iraq before the job is done," Bush said. "That's why they are the party of cut and run. We will fight. We will stay. We will win in Iraq."

After the speech, the senator's aides brought Allen out to meet with reporters, where he softened the tone, saying that "America needs to adjust. Our battlefield commanders need to adjust and adapt to this evolving threat."
That's pretty sad. The Allen Campaign is so desperate to eek out a win in this thing that they've called in Dubya to raise money (about $500,000 last night) but within hours of standing next to him on the stage, the candidate all but tells the media he doesn't support the President's Iraq strategy. Why would Allen do that?
A Washington Post poll last week found that Bush's job approval among likely voters in the November election is at 43 percent in Virginia, about the same as nationally. In addition, 54 percent believe that the war in Iraq was not worth fighting, and 46 percent believe that "strongly."
Nearly a third of Virginia voters live in Northern Virginia, where political leanings are much more like Maryland's than Virginia's. Turnout numbers, especially the relative turnout of NoVa to the rest of Virginia could be the determining factor in the election.

Or George Felix Allen could say something dumb. Again. You never know.


Iraq - Faith Based Initiative?

Via the AFP:

The top US general defended the leadership of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, saying it is inspired by God.

"He leads in a way that the good Lord tells him is best for our country," said Marine General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
I wonder if that consoles the families of the 2787 soldiers who died in Iraq?
Rumsfeld is "a man whose patriotism focus, energy, drive, is exceeded by no one else I know ... quite simply, he works harder than anybody else in our building," Pace said at a ceremony at the Southern Command (Southcom) in Miami.
I'd say that Pace is angling for a promotion, but he's already the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs! Maybe he's trying to demonstrate loyalty in an effort to keep his job. BushCo, Rummy in particular, has shown that they're not above ruining (or ending) people's careers for 'disloyalty.'

God's gotta be getting pretty pissed at the Bush Administration. Bush was chosen by God to be president and promptly screwed up every part of the country he touched. His invasion of Iraq, as instructed by God, has proved to be an utter failure.

If God was really talking to George W. Bush, you think he might have mentioned that Katrina would be worse than the Administration assumed. He might have mentioned on September 10th that bad things were afoot.

I guess God only tells Bush things that help get Republicans elected. How strange...

Bill O'Reilly Wants to Frag Bloggers

The transcript of last night's show, from Think Progress:

SABATO: It’s very personal. And you’ve mentioned the blogs earlier.

O’REILLY: Oh, it was off the chart.

LARRY SABATO: Well, we both have experienced this. The blogs on left and right, and I mean way left and way right, the things they come up with daily, the vitriol, the vile nature of the comments. And then they have hundreds and hundreds of people e-mailing.

O’REILLY: I know for a fact that President Bush doesn’t know what’s going on in the Internet. I know that for a fact because I did ask around.

SABATO: Well, he’s lucky.


SABATO: He’s lucky.

O’REILLY: He is lucky, because these are hired guns. These are people hired — being paid very well to smear and try to destroy people. And that’s the difference, Dr. Schiller. That had never happened before. I’ll give you the last word.

BROWN POLITICAL SCIENTIST WENDY SCHILLER: Well, I think that one thing is for sure. The millions of voters that go to the polls in 2006 aren’t spending most of their working hours during the day reading blogs on the Internet. They’re working for a living. They’re taking those kids to school. They’re going on with their lives. So yes, there’s a lot of vitriol out there. It’s a marketplace of ideas. It’s a free country last time we all checked. And it still is. It’s a great country.

O’REILLY: All right.

SABATO: It’s free for that reason.

O’REILLY: I think - I have to say President Bush has a much healthier attitude toward this than I do. Because if I can get away with it, boy, I’d go in with a hand grenade.
I'll just say this: Bill O'Reilly decrying the personal vitriol in political discourse is pretty much the definition of the pot calling the kettle black.

Additionally, if anybody knows where I can sign up to be a "hired gun" and get "paid very well" for blogging, please let me know.

Keith Olbermann Rocks

"Did it ever occur to you once, that in just 27 months and two days from now when you leave office, some irresponsible future President and a "competent tribunal" of lackeys would be entitled, by the actions of your own hand, to declare the status of "Unlawful Enemy Combatant" for… and convene a Military Commission to try… not John Walker Lindh, but George Walker Bush?"

Plus he calls out the President's lies.

Crooks & Liars has the video.

Bush: Iraq = Vietnam may be Valid

In an interview with George Stephanopoulos, George Bush acknowledged that Tom Friedman's comparison of the events in Iraq and the Tet Offensive "could be right."

Unfortunately, I think the events in Iraq have more in common with the 'Bleeding Kansas' period leading up to the American Civil War.

Opposing factions, common territory, and guerrilla warfare - Kansas then and Iraq now.

Of course, Iraq may have moved beyond the 'skirmish' period before a full fledged civil war. Reuters reports that a Sunni Emirate with Sharia law has been declared in part of Iraq.

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Dozens of al Qaeda-linked gunmen took to the streets of Ramadi on Wednesday in a show of force to announce the city was joining an Islamic state comprising Iraq's mostly Sunni Arab provinces, Islamists and witnesses said.

Witnesses in Ramadi, the capital of western Anbar province, said gunmen dressed in white marched through the city as mosque loudspeakers broadcast the statement by the Mujahideen Shura Council, a Sunni militant group led by al Qaeda in Iraq.

"We are from Mujahideen Shura Council and our Amir (Prince) is Abu Omar al-Baghdadi. God willing we will set the law of Sharia here and we will fight the Americans," said a man who identified himself as Abu Harith, a Mujahideen field leader.

"We have announced the Islamic state. Ramadi is part of it. Our state will comprise all the Sunni provinces of Iraq," he told Reuters in a telephone interview.
This won't help Dick Cheney convince the American public (or Iraqis or the world) that the Government in Iraq is doing "remarkably well."

Two thirds of Americans already believe that Iraq is in the middle of a civil war.

Republicans don't want to lose their jobs over a bungled war and thousands of deaths so John Tester has formulated a secret plan for victory. Americans are dying right now in Iraq but you have to re-elect Tester to get him to actually use the plan to, you know, start winning.

The Fate of John McCain

Via Radio Iowa:

Arizona Senator and probable 2008 Republican presidential candidate John McCain jokingly says he would "commit suicide" if Democrats take control of the U.S. Senate in this November's election.
So if on November 8th, Dems take control of the Senate and John McCain is still alive, is it ok to label him a flip-flopper?

Kansas Republicans Cut and Run - to Become Democrats

Today's Washington Post:

Moderates in Kansas Decide They're Not in GOP Anymore

By Peter Slevin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 19, 2006; Page A01

WICHITA -- Paul Morrison, a career prosecutor who specializes in putting killers behind bars, has the bulletproof résumé and the rugged looks of a law-and-order Republican, which is what he was until last year. That was when he announced he would run for attorney general -- as a Democrat.

He is now running neck-and-neck with Republican Phill Kline, an iconic social conservative who made headlines by seeking the names of abortion-clinic patients and vowing to defend science-teaching standards that challenge Darwinian evolution. What's more, Morrison is raising money faster than Kline and pulling more cash from Republicans than Democrats.

Nor is Morrison alone. In a state that voted nearly 2 to 1 for President Bush in 2004, nine former Republicans will be on the November ballot as Democrats. Among them is Mark Parkinson, a former chairman of the Kansas Republican Party, who changed parties to run for lieutenant governor with the popular Democratic governor, Kathleen Sebelius.

"I'd reached a breaking point," Parkinson said, preparing for a rally in Wichita alongside Sebelius. "I want to work on relevant issues and not on a lot of things that don't matter."
Parkinson has given the Democrats a powerful meme to use in our run against the GOP.

"Vote for Democrats and we'll start to work on the real issues facing America."

This isn't to say that protecting a woman's right to chose, science curriculums from meddling Christianists, or working to make sure that all Americans are equal under the law isn't important, but to many voters, members of the squeezed middle class, issues like rising costs for health care stagnant wages and are the ones that are ever present in their lives. Worries about terrorism, energy independence, the War in Iraq, and the cost of college are what keep them up at night, not the specter of two married men or Terri Shiavo.

The Republican party isn't talking about any of those things. Well, the GOP is talking about Iraq and Terrorism, but voters are smart enough to realize that Republicans, from the Bush Administration on down, aren't leveling with them. It's not a discussion, it's not a debate. People don't feel like their concerns are being heard.

The defections in the Kansas GOP also illustrate a problem for the Republican party in general. Moderate 'governmental' conservatives - the 'old guard' interested in things like small government, fiscal responsibility, and 'classical' conservative notions about governmental interference in the personal lives of citizens - are squaring off against the rising power in the Republican coalition, socio-religious Conservatives interested in legislating morality.

The Democratic party should welcome any Republican that has reached the conclusion that the Republican Party of today is bad for America. At the same time, we should be careful that an influx of right-leaning politicians could change our position on central issues.

Plundering the Republican Ranks isn't the way to victory, though it may be a something that happens along the way.


A Greensboro, N.C. man is frightened by President Bush, now a zombie, who was attempting to eat his brain. The other restaurant patrons, upon realizing that their President was a mindless zombie immediately said "oh, now it all makes sense!" and went back to drinking their coffee.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak


10 Americans Killed in Iraq

Even while we anxiously await November 7th and enjoy the chaos leading to election day, American Troops are still stuck in an intractable war. Reuters reports that ten of them were killed yesterday.

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The U.S. military announced on Wednesday the deaths of 10 U.S. troops in Iraq on Tuesday, an unusually bloody day for American soldiers battling sectarian violence and a Sunni Arab insurgency.


At least 68 U.S. troops have been killed in October -- a pace, that if continues, would make it the deadliest month for U.S. forces since January 2005. At least 2,777 have died since the invasion in 2003.

After falling to 43 in July, the U.S. toll rose to 65 in August and to 71 in September. U.S. commanders, who have declared the fight for Baghdad the war's main effort, have conducted major security sweeps in the capital since August, massing neighborhoods with troops to flush out militants.
Icasualties.org reports that there were 776 Americans wounded in September. If the trends for fatalities holds for wounded, we're looking at more than 1,000 wounded Americans in October.

Bush's adventure in Iraq has become unsustainable. The Army is shouldering the majority of the work in this war. Because certain people were obsessed with a new 'light and flexible' force, the Army's effectiveness is being ground away.

James Baker is going to be releasing his report as soon as it won't be devastating to GOP election efforts. Hopefully it will advise some sort of withdrawal. Hopefully somebody in the Bush Administration will listen.

A New Look for Congress

Harold Meyerson has a great (speculative) look at the first few weeks of a Democrat controlled congress in his Washington Post column:

In the House, the Democrats have made clear that there's a first tier of legislation they mean to bring to a vote almost immediately after the new Congress convenes. It includes raising the minimum wage, repealing the Medicare legislation that forbids the government from negotiating with drug companies for lower prices, replenishing student loan programs, funding stem cell research and implementing those recommendations of the Sept. 11 commission that have thus far languished.

All these measures command massive popular support. The reason they've not been enacted is that House Republicans have passed rules making it impossible for the Democrats to offer amendments to any significant legislation, thereby sparing themselves the indignity of having to choose, say, between the interests of their financial backers in the drug industry and their constituents.

Cognizant that they will owe their victory in part to the public's revulsion at the way Congress does (or avoids) business, the Democrats also plan to revise House rules to enable the opposition party to introduce amendments and to sit on conference committees, from which Republicans have routinely excluded them since Tom DeLay became majority leader. They also will ban members from accepting gifts and paid trips from lobbyists.
Not stuff that Rove & Co. will be able to use to scare up support from 'the base' - or at least not enough rabid-right-wing-revulsion to change the election. In fact, as Mr. Meyerson notes, these are all extremely popular pieces of legislation. Do Republicans chance filibustering the minimum wage increase? (If they did, would the Dems go nuclear?) Will Bush veto stem cell research again? As a lame duck, would he become a veto machine, trying to derail the Democratic agenda at every turn? Hard to say. Hopefully we'll see.

The big issue, though - and the one that can't be fixed in a few votes over the course of a week or so - is Iraq. Mr. Meyerson notes that if the Baker Commission recommends phased withdrawal, Dems will be lucky. If that recommendation is accepted by the Bush Administration, it would make a draw-down possible. Even if George W. Bush stays the course on Staying the Course, the Baker Commission would provide some political cover.

If none of this materializes, the Democrats would be left with a thorny and complicated problem. They can't just ignore the War in Iraq - it was the issue that brought them the majority - but politics won't let them unilaterally withdraw either. Meyerson believes that they'd be reduced to using the power of the purse to force the President's hand.

Hopefully it won't come to that. We'll know in a month.

Just Trust the President!

What could possibly go wrong?

Falling like Flies

Wonkette has compiled a list of Bush administration officials, Bush appointees and/or Congressional Republicans that have been indicted/convicted/abruptly resigned "to spend more time with their families." I will now shamelessly reproduce it here:

Ken Lay — indicted, convicted, sentenced, killed

J. Clifford Baxter — sued over Enron ripoffs, killed

Thomas Noe — Coingate/Bush Pioneer indicted, convicted, imprisoned

David H. Safavian
— Bush aide/Abramoff agent indicted, resigned, convicted, imprisoned

John Ashcroft — why did Soaring Eagle resign? Plamegate? Anyway, he immediately became one of K Street’s top lobbyists.

Michael Brown — resigns as FEMA boss after Katrina disaster

Scooter Libby — indicted, resigned

Jack Abramoff — indicted, convicted, imprisoned, still bringing people down

Lil’ Jacks
— Ralph Reed, Grover Norquist, Michael Scanlon, Conrad Burns, John Doolittle, James Dobson, Richard Shelby, various other crooks

Duke Cunningham
— indicted, resigned, convicted, imprisoned

Kyle “Dusty” Foggo — resigns No. 3 CIA post, investigated by CIA Inspector General over Hookergate

Porter Goss — resigns CIA chief job along with Foggo

Claude Allen — Bush’s top domestic policy adviser resigns to “spend more time with family,” actually caught robbing local department stores

Andrew Card — Resigns as CoS to “spend more time with family”

Scott McClellan — Resigns as WH spokesman to spend more time with Andrew Card’s family

Tom DeLay — resigns as Speaker and then as congressman for being a crook & all-around asshole

Phillip MerrillExIm Bank boss, undersecretary of defense & NATO ambassador, assassinated

William H. Lash
— assistant secretary of commerce, “shoots self”

Bob Ney — indicted, convicted, resigns, rehab, prison

Ted Stevens
— Feds raid family offices and homes in Alaska

Mark Foley — resigned, rehab, FBI investigating

Susan Ralston — resigned as Karl Rove’s special aide after Abramoff bribes revealed

Curt Weldon
— FBI raids homes and offices of family and business associates; grand jury about to indict

Lester Crawford
— resigns FDA, indicted by DoJ, pleads guilty
That's quite a list. If I were truely dedicated, I'd make this a post somewhere on the side bar and keep updating it as the investigations that are surely to come after november start bringing other BushCo. criminals out of the wood work - but I'm not. So this is all you get.

Sen. Jim Webb, D-VA

Well, not yet. But the Washington Post has given him quite an endorsement:

THE U.S. SENATE race in Virginia pits a novice politician, Democrat James Webb , against a much more experienced one, incumbent Republican George Allen, who spent much of the early fall obliterating his reputation for amiable charm and political deftness. As Mr. Allen has partially admitted, his wounds in the close race have been mostly self-inflicted and have left a sour taste in the mouths of many Virginians. Still, there is an even better reason to vote against Mr. Allen: Quite simply, he is a mediocre senator whose six years of undistinguished service do not justify rehiring.

His opponent -- former Navy secretary, former assistant defense secretary, former Marine Corps officer and former Republican -- is admirably independent-minded. He was prescient in warning, back in 2002, that the war in Iraq risked stranding the United States in a long-term occupation without an exit strategy. An intelligent man with a record of integrity, he has resisted the packaging of political consultants, which can only be a good thing. Those assets, as well as his deep familiarity with military and national security affairs, offer the promise that he would make an able, if unorthodox, U.S. senator. And the fact that his youngest son is deployed as a marine in Iraq gives him a perspective that is rare in today's Congress.


Virginians deserve better and more enlightened representation. Mr. Webb offers that hope.
Allen still leads in the latest poll (October 16th) but only by three points, 47%-44%. That poll is the fourth consecutive poll in which Webb gained on Allen.

This election will come down to who's voters are more energized. It's all about get-out-the-vote.