Jones Beats Moore In Close Result

Moore has not conceded, but the margin of victory is high enough to ensure no automatic recount.

African-American turnout played an important role in Jones’ victory.

Race played a bigger factor than education as white men AND WOMEN(!) preferred Moore.

Of the 20 counties that saw their turnout rise in comparison to the 2014 midterm elections in Alabama, an election comparable in size to the Senate special election, half were rural counties in the state’s agricultural “Black Belt” where African Americans make up between 59% of registered voters (Hale) to 82% (Greene). Based on unofficial but complete returns in those counties, Jones received between 69% of the vote (Hale) to 88% (Greene and Macon).

Four of the highest turnout counties contain state’s four largest cities: Jefferson County has Birmingham, Montgomery County is home to the state capital, Montgomery, Madison County has Huntsville and Mobile County has Mobile. Both Jefferson and Montgomery counties also have high numbers of African-American voters, 41% and 57%, respectively. Madison, an engineering and research hub with the US Army Redstone Arsenal and Marshall Space Flight Center, has fewer African-American voters, 23%. What it has in abundance is well-off and well-educated voters: it ranks second in all of the state’s 67 counties for college-educated adults, 39%, and the median household income of the county’s residents is the second-highest in the state. Jefferson and Montgomery counties also have the fourth and fifth highest share of four-year college educated voters, roughly 31% each.

Jones carried Jefferson with 68% and won Montgomery with 72%. Both of those are relative Democratic strongholds and Moore has never had much of a following in those major metro counties. In the 2012 election for the chief justice of the state Supreme Court (which Moore narrowly won), Democrat Bob Vance won Jefferson and Montgomery with 63% and 71%, respectively.

Jones’ victory in Madison County stands out. While Hillary Clinton carried both Jefferson and Montgomery in 2016, Trump carried Madison 55%-38%. His margin over Clinton was more 26,000 votes. Jones flipped the county winning 57%-40% over Moore. His margin of more than 19,000 votes in Madison is almost equal to his current statewide margin of 20,715 votes.

Mobile County is one where the median household income and the percentage of college-educated voters are lower than the state average. Some 35% of its voters are African-Americans. Like Madison, this was a county Moore lost in his 2012 state Supreme Court election. But Trump won Mobile 55%-42%. And it had to be satisfying for Democrats to see Jones prevail here 56%-42%.

Jones also benefited from big turnout in urban areas.

Taken together, the four big metro counties — Jefferson, Montgomery, Madison and Mobile — which have urban cores and suburbs, were by far the biggest contributor to Jones’ victory. His combined margin over Moore in these big four was almost 149,000 votes. In 21 largely rural Black Belt counties, Jones’ margin over Moore was just over 37,000.

In 13 other suburban and exurban counties, places like Shelby outside of Birmingham, Limestone next door to Huntsville and Baldwin adjacent to Mobile, Jones only lost by about 57,000 votes. In the 29 white rural counties, all won by Moore, his margin over Jones was only 108,000 votes.

And how did these groupings fare in terms of turnout? The big four metro counties combined saw their turnout increase by roughly 6.5% above the 2014 midterm levels. Turnout in the 13 other suburban and exurban counties was essentially even with 2014’s levels. In the 21 rural Black Belt counties, turnout was actually down slightly overall. But in those 29 white rural counties, turnout was down 5.4%.

But other than race and urban, the rest of the demographics fell to where you might expect. Young voters preferred Jones, born-again Christians preferred Moore, etc.

The other primary reason for Jones’ win was strong antipathy toward Moore among white, suburban, college-educated conservatives. Many of them chose to sit out the election or follow the lead of Sen. Richard Shelby and write in an option other than Moore.

So who loses (besides, of course, Moore?  Well, Steve Bannon I would think. He went full bore for Moore. Bannon spoke at two rallies for Moore over the past week, campaigned for him during the GOP runoff, and spoke at the victory party when Moore captured the GOP nomination. Bannon was in attendance at the Alabama Republican’s Tuesday victory party and had been expected to speak in the event of a Moore victory — a plan that was ultimately scrapped.

“Not only did Steve Bannon cost us a critical Senate seat in one of the most Republican states in the country, but he also dragged the president of the United States into his fiasco,” said Steven Law, who runs a “super PAC” controlled by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader.

Of course, the Bannon wing of the GOP is blaming McConnell and the establishment GOP. “They colluded with the Democrats to undermine a pro-Trump candidate like Judge Moore just like they are going to try to do that in 2018 to myself and other pro-Trump candidates,” said Corey Stewart, who is challenging Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia and attended Mr. Moore’s election night party. “We’re going through a civil war in the Republican Party.”

No kidding. 🙂

And what about Trump?  Yeah, not good for him either. He originally backed Moore’s primary challenger, Luther Strange. Strange lost. Then, Ignoring pleas from McConnell and other senior Republicans, Trump jumped in for Moore. Just days before the election, he went to the Florida Panhandle, just across the Alabama state line, to campaign for Moore. He also cut a robo-call for the candidate and he tweeted his support.

I guess the good news is that the Republican rift still exists, despite the loss for Bannon/Trump.

And good news for Democrats in general. Ever since the 2016 election, Dems have done very well, even in red states. Just look at how Democrats have overperformed from 2016 and previous races in these particular states and congressional districts:

  • KS-4 in 2016: Mike Pompeo 61%, Daniel Giroux 30% (R+31)
  • KS-4 in 2016 (presidential results): Trump 60%, Clinton 33% (R+27)
  • KS-4 in 2017: Ron Estes 53%, James Thompson 46% (R+7)
  • GA-6 in 2016: Tom Price 62%, Rodney Stooksbury 38% (R+24)
  • GA-6 in 2016 (presidential results): Trump 48%, Clinton 47% (R+1)
  • GA-6 in 2017 (initial round): Jon Ossoff 48%, Karen Handel 20%, Bob Gray 11%, Dan Moody 9%, Judson Hill 9%.
  • GA-6 in 2017 (runoff): Handel 52%, Ossoff 48% (R+4)
  • MT-AL in 2016: Ryan Zinke 56%, Denise Juneau 40% (R+16)
  • MT in 2016 (presidential results): Trump 57%, Clinton 36% (R+21)
  • MT-AL in 2017: Greg Gianforte 50%, Rob Quist 44% (R+6)
  • SC-5 in 2016: Mick Mulvaney 59%, Fran Person 39% (R+20)
  • SC-5 in 2016 (presidential results): Trump 57%, Clinton 39% (R+18)
  • SC-5 in 2017: Ralph Norman 51%, Archie Parnell 48% (R+3)
  • NJ GOV in 2013: Chris Christie 60%, Barbara Buono 38% (R+22)
  • NJ in 2016 (presidential results): Clinton 55%, Trump 41% (D+14)
  • NJ GOV in 2017: Phil Murphy 56%, Kim Guadagno 42% (D+14)
  • VA GOV in 2013: Terry McAuliffe 48%, Ken Cuccinelli 45% (D+3)
  • VA in 2016 (presidential results): Clinton 50%, Trump 44% (D+6)
  • VA GOV in 2017: Ralph Northam 54%, Ed Gillespie 45% (D+9)
  • AL SEN in 2016: Shelby 64%, Crumpton 36% (R+28)
  • AL in 2016 (presidential results): Trump 62%, Clinton 34% (R+28)
  • AL SEN in 2017: Doug Jones 50%, Roy Moore 48% (D+2)

2018 is looking good.

And Now It’s…. Oh Dear… Senator Al Franken’s Turn?

The sexual harassment purge is getting ugly.


Broadcaster and model Leeann Tweeden said Thursday that Al Franken “forcibly kissed” and groped her during a USO tour in 2006, two years before the Minnesota Democrat’s election to the U.S. Senate.

“You knew exactly what you were doing,” Tweeden wrote in a blog post for Los Angeles radio station KABC, for which she works as a morning news anchor. “You forcibly kissed me without my consent, grabbed my breasts while I was sleeping and had someone take a photo of you doing it, knowing I would see it later and be ashamed.”

The allegations came two days after a stunning hearing in Washington, where lawmakers acknowledged sexual harassment is a pervasive problem on Capitol Hill — and amid mounting sexual misconduct accusations against Alabama Republican Roy Moore, who has brushed off calls from Republican leaders to end his Senate campaign.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) immediately called on the Senate Ethics Committee to review the allegations against Franken, who issued a brief statement of apology.

Of course Mitch did. It took him three days to condemn Roy Moore, who groped several UNDERAGE girls, but he was on top of this within an hour.

In her blog post, Tweeden recalled that Franken “had written some skits for the show and brought props and costumes to go along with them. Like many USO shows before and since, the skits were full of sexual innuendo geared toward a young, male audience.”

Franken, she said, “had written a moment when his character comes at me for a ‘kiss’. I suspected what he was after, but I figured I could turn my head at the last minute or put my hand over his mouth, to get more laughs from the crowd.”

But on the day of the show, she wrote, “Franken and I were alone backstage going over our lines one last time. He said to me, “We need to rehearse the kiss.” I laughed and ignored him. Then he said it again. I said something like, ‘Relax Al, this isn’t SNL … we don’t need to rehearse the kiss.’

He continued to insist, and I was beginning to get uncomfortable.

He repeated that actors really need to rehearse everything and that we must practice the kiss. I said ‘okay’ so he would stop badgering me. We did the line leading up to the kiss and then he came at me, put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth.

I immediately pushed him away with both of my hands against his chest and told him if he ever did that to me again I wouldn’t be so nice about it the next time.

I walked away. All I could think about was getting to a bathroom as fast as possible to rinse the taste of him out of my mouth.

I felt disgusted and violated.

In a statement, Franken said: “I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann.

“As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it.”

Tweeden’s blog post included an image of Franken looking into a camera, his hands either over or on Tweeden’s chest as she slept.

This is that photo.

A few points:

(1) In the photo, I’m not sure he is touching her.

(2) I would feel much better if there was more than one accuser. While I am certain elements of her story are true, I wonder how much of it is exaggerated — in particular, the tongue down the throat. I’m not saying she is lying, but she may be mis-remembering it based on emotion.

(3) This is really really ugly, especially the art above.  But, standing alone, it does not show a pattern of predatory behavior.

(4) Franken should pay for this — censure, for sure.  I’m not 100% on board with resignation though, which many are calling for.  I’m about 85% there.


Franken is doing this right —

A further thought:

DNC Bloodshed

We knew things were bad with the DNC during the last presidential election. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwomen, was forced aside on the eve of the Democratic National Convention due to the release of thousands of embarrassing emails among party officials that appeared to show co­ordinated efforts to help Clinton at the expense of her rivals in the Democratic primaries. That contradicted claims by the party and the Clinton campaign that the process was open and fair for her leading challenger, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Donna Brazile was brought in to manage things. Now Brazile is telling us just how bad things really were.

Debbie was not a good manager. She hadn’t been very interested in controlling the party—she let Clinton’s headquarters in Brooklyn do as it desired so she didn’t have to inform the party officers how bad the situation was. How much control Brooklyn had and for how long was still something I had been trying to uncover for the last few weeks.

By September 7, the day I called Bernie, I had found my proof and it broke my heart.

The Saturday morning after the convention in July, I called Gary Gensler, the chief financial officer of Hillary’s campaign. He wasted no words. He told me the Democratic Party was broke and $2 million in debt.

That wasn’t true, he said. Officials from Hillary’s campaign had taken a look at the DNC’s books. Obama left the party $24 million in debt—$15 million in bank debt and more than $8 million owed to vendors after the 2012 campaign and had been paying that off very slowly. Obama’s campaign was not scheduled to pay it off until 2016. Hillary for America (the campaign) and the Hillary Victory Fund (its joint fundraising vehicle with the DNC) had taken care of 80 percent of the remaining debt in 2016, about $10 million, and had placed the party on an allowance.

Consider this for a moment. Senior leaders in the DNC had no idea of the finances within the DNC because Wasserman Schultz cut them out of the loop. Keep in mind that Brazile is finding out the DNC’s financial picture from the Clinton campaign’s CFO.

On the phone Gary told me the DNC had needed a $2 million loan, which the campaign had arranged.

“No! That can’t be true!” I said. “The party cannot take out a loan without the unanimous agreement of all of the officers.”

“Gary, how did they do this without me knowing?” I asked. “I don’t know how Debbie relates to the officers,” Gary said. He described the party as fully under the control of Hillary’s campaign, which seemed to confirm the suspicions of the Bernie camp. The campaign had the DNC on life support, giving it money every month to meet its basic expenses, while the campaign was using the party as a fund-raising clearing house. Under FEC law, an individual can contribute a maximum of $2,700 directly to a presidential campaign. But the limits are much higher for contributions to state parties and a party’s national committee.

Individuals who had maxed out their $2,700 contribution limit to the campaign could write an additional check for $353,400 to the Hillary Victory Fund—that figure represented $10,000 to each of the thirty-two states’ parties who were part of the Victory Fund agreement—$320,000—and $33,400 to the DNC. The money would be deposited in the states first, and transferred to the DNC shortly after that. Money in the battleground states usually stayed in that state, but all the other states funneled that money directly to the DNC, which quickly transferred the money to Brooklyn.

“Wait,” I said. “That victory fund was supposed to be for whoever was the nominee, and the state party races. You’re telling me that Hillary has been controlling it since before she got the nomination?”

Gary said the campaign had to do it or the party would collapse.

The Clinton campaign arranged a loan on behalf of the DNC without clearing it with the DNC board. The Clinton campaign was actually controlling and using funds that were donated to support Democrat candidates. Arguably, the Clinton campaign evaded federal campaign finance laws by basically “buying” the Democrat party – and by that I mean giving the DNC the choice between being controlled or bankruptcy – and milking it dry, sort of like the way old-time Mafia guys would “buy” a restaurant and milk it dry by skimming off cash.

The Bernie bots are screaming to high heaven again about a “rigged” election wherein the Clinton team had a stranglehold over all the resources — the money, the mailing lists, etc.

And the complaint has some basis, although Brazile herself is backing off from the “rigged” claim. But it seems to me that Bernie Sanders, NOT A DEMOCRAT, has little standing to complain. He became a member of the Democratic Party for purposes of the election only.  Does that excuse the Clinton campaign from virtually monopolizing the DNC? Of course not. And a nice purging of the Clintons from the DNC party structure would me a good thing.  But the Bernie Bros have GOT to shut up.

To be honest, I have little interest in relitigating the 2016 Democratic primaries. I AM a little annoyed with Brazile for giving this talking point gift-wrapped to the alt-right and Trump, especially as the Mueller investigation is heating up.

UPDATE – The Rude Pundit says:

Let’s put this as simply as possible regarding Donna Brazile’s “revelations” about the operation of the DNC:

We. Have. More. Important. Shit. To. Do. Than. Constantly. Fighting. About. The. 2016. Democratic. Nominating. Process.

I know some of you immediately wanna say, “I can be angry about more than one thing,” as if you’re somehow offering a compelling counterargument instead of sounding like a confused child. But you can’t do something about everything because there are only so many fucking hours in a fucking day.

I know some of you immediately wanna say, “You don’t get to decide what’s important.” To which I can only answer: Yes. Yes, I do.

I know some of you wanna say, “I guess you don’t want to change the Democratic Party,” usually followed by a blizzard of words like “rigged” and “fraud” and “stole” and “Grrrr-Hillary” and “Grrr-DSW” (not the shoe store), which is really part of a fantasy that Bernie Sanders would have won the election if the eeevil Democratic Party itself hadn’t conspired against him. Never mind that Clinton had been working within the Democratic Party for almost her entire adult life (putting aside that youthful Goldwater fling).

I know some of you wanna say that if we don’t fight about the future of the DNC now, we’ll never win, we’ll never get the disaffected Bernie-loving youth back, we’ll never get progressive ideas in the platform, we’ll never, we’ll never, we’ll never. And I’ll just say, “Fine. Get into the game and change it. But how about waiting until after the fucking midterms, huh? How about getting involved in the local races to make sure the candidate you want wins? How about getting into it on a local level? How about not making everything about the presidency because, as the GOP learned with Trump and the DNC learned with Barack Obama, someone is always gonna come along and fuck your nice plan up?”

If you’re already in the trenches, awesome. But the vast majority of people saying this shit aren’t. I promise you they aren’t.

I know you wanna say this shit because many of you have said this shit to me. And I get it. I totally fucking get it. But the fights that you want to have are the fights you have when you’re not facing a fucking existential crisis.

I could toss in a metaphor or two to this argument. “The house is burning down and you want to talk about the color of the drapes” or some such bullshit. At one point, I really thought about doing a whole Game of Thrones thing, since that seems to form the cultural foundation for so many people (seriously, fuck anyone who says, “Bend the knee” and isn’t being funny or is actually a character on Game of Thrones). I thought about comparing Trump to the Night King and people who would rather fight the old battles instead of the new ones to Cersei Lannister refusing to join Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen against the frozen zombies, but, then I thought I’d have people throwing all these geeky references at me and citing the books and whatever, and just imagining that gave me a headache.

It’s not as fun out here in Left Blogsylvania as it was pre-Twitter. And it’s absolutely a waste of fucking time to be arguing this shit when the barbarians aren’t at the gate anymore. They are sacking the joint.

By making something out of this genuine nothing, you have given Donald Trump and the GOP and the right-wing media monster enough fuel to last for months. By jumping into the fray on this, by decrying Clinton and DNC, you have allowed the narrative on the corruption of the Trump administration to be watered down. You are giving anyone who was on the fence a reason to cling to Trump.

I have to add to this as I have to add to all things regarding 2016: I voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary. I explained my reasons for doing that. And I had absolutely no trouble shifting to Hillary Clinton once the primaries are over. Because this shit isn’t about me and my hurt feelings.

Hillary Clinton didn’t rig anything. Even Donna Brazile said that today. She didn’t hack the vote during the primaries. She didn’t deliberately lose caucuses. What she did do was play politics, a filthy and dishonorable game. What she did do was expect the party that she had raised vast amounts of money for (for state and local races and party groups) to back her over the guy who all of a sudden decided he wanted to play and demanded that he be treated equal to the woman who spent her life working for the party.

You don’t like the fuckin’ rules? Then go to your local party headquarters. Volunteer. Answer phones. Work your way up the local hierarchy. Show you have more interest in the party than just every four years.

Any questions?

Interesting Poll Numbers From North Carolina — Trump Underwater

From PPP:

PPP’s new North Carolina poll finds strong, bipartisan opposition to cuts the General Assembly has made to the budget of the North Carolina Department of Justice. Only 18% of voters support the 10 million dollars in cuts that have been made, to 60% who say they are opposed to them. This opposition is shared by independents (9/68), Democrats (18/65), and Republicans (26/48) alike. Concern about the cuts is fueled by a sense that they will have the effect of making the state less safe- 59% of voters believe that will be the outcome of cuts to funding for the DOJ, while only 12% say they think the cuts will make the state safer.

A plurality of voters- 46%- think the Republicans in the General Assembly made the cuts just because the Attorney General is a Democrat. Only 21% think they did it because it’s good for the state, and 33% aren’t sure one way or another. This is one of several issues driving the popularity of the General Assembly- and the Republicans in it in particular- into the ground. Only 18% of voters approve of the job the General Assembly is doing, to 58% who disapprove. While the Democrats in the body aren’t popular- a 37/46 favorability rating- they come out far better than the Republicans who just 32% of voters see positively, with 55% viewing them in a negative light.

Democrats have an early 46-40 lead on the generic legislative ballot for next year. That includes a double digit lead among independent voters, at 39/29. One thing that’s particularly good news for the party is that enthusiasm is on their side- 57% of Democrats say they’re ‘very excited’ to vote in the election next year, compared to only 47% of Republicans who say that. Among just voters who say they’re ‘very excited’ about turning out in 2018, the generic ballot lead for Democrats more than doubles to 13 points at 52/39.

There continues to be a strong bipartisan consensus in support of nonpartisan redistricting in North Carolina. Overall 56% of voters support it, to just 14% who are opposed. Majorities of independents (63/10), Republicans (55/15), and Democrats (53/17) alike are in favor of shifting to that model for drawing district lines.

Roy Cooper:

Roy Cooper is off to a much better start as Governor than his two immediate predecessors. 48% of voters approve of the job he’s doing, to 33% who disapprove. He’s on solid ground with independents at 45/26, and his -32 approval with Republicans at 22/54 is actually well ahead of the curve for a politician across party lines in these heavily polarized times.

Cooper’s numbers look particularly good when compared to what PPP found for Pat McCrory and Bev Perdue in August of their first terms. Cooper’s the only one of the trio who hadn’t become unpopular within 7 months of taking office. His net approval is 27 points better than McCrory’s was at the same time, and 40 points better than Perdue’s was at the same time.

Governor Approval Rating, August of First Year in Office Net Approval
Roy Cooper 48/33 +15
Pat McCrory 39/51 -12
Bev Perdue 27/52 -25

Speaking of McCrory, voters say by a 44/37 spread that they think Cooper has been a better Governor than he was. Voters are closely divided in their feelings both about McCrory, and whether he should run again in 2020. 40% of voters see him favorably, to 41% with an unfavorable opinion of him. 41% of voters think he should run again for Governor in 2020, to 44% who think he should sit it out. Notably, among Republican voters McCrory has a 66/15 favorability rating while Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest’s is just 29/14.

National Issues:

-Donald Trump is unpopular in North Carolina, although his numbers are at least better than they are nationally. 44% of voters approve of the job he’s doing, to 50% who disapprove. Only 37% of voters think Trump has succeeded in his signature promise to ‘Make America Great Again,’ with 52% saying they believe he has failed on that front. 49% of North Carolinians say they wish they could have Barack Obama back as President, to just 45% who are happier with Trump.

One issue that’s not helping his image- or that of Republican Senators- in the state is health care. 47% of North Carolinians now support the Affordable Care Act, to only 38% who opposed to it. Repeal efforts have made it more and more popular. By contrast just 29% of voters say they support the health care repeal bill recently considered in Congress, to 51% who express opposition to that. 55% think the best path forward on health care is to keep the Affordable Care Act and make changes to it as necessary, to just 37% who think the best thing to do is repeal the ACA.

The health care vote could have long term implications for Thom Tillis. He already has weak approval numbers, with just 28% of voters approving of the job he’s doing to 45% who disapprove. By a 16 point margin voters say they’re less likely to vote in the future for someone who supported the health care repeal bill in Congress- 46% say being on the record in support of that makes them less likely to vote for someone, to only 30% who say it makes them more likely to vote for someone. That could be a problem for Tillis in 2020, and more short term for some Republican House members up for reelection next year, especially when the anger over health care is combined with the enthusiasm advantage Democrats are currently enjoying.

Full results here

Highlights From DNC Day 4

It was a very well-orchestrated Day 4 of the convention, with some extraordinary speeches.  Unfortunately, the networks and 24 hours cable news stations didn’t cover some of the best ones, like these:

(1) The father of a deceased Muslim soldier offering Trump his copy of the Constitution:

(2) North Carolina’s Own, Reverend Barber shakes the walls:

(3)  Friend of mine — David Wils (spelled wrong below):

Hillary’s speech was fine.  She’s not an orator.  But the speech itself was good.  It went a little to the left, a little more to the right, having laid the groundwork for welcoming in NeverTrumpers.

The Bernie Sanders deadenders who were delegates came and sat on their hands.  There were sporadic attempts to chant on their part, but they were always drowned out by the rest of the crowd.  Even during stirring speeches which should appeal to ANYONE, they just say on their hands like the skunk at the party.  Some apparently DID leave.

The truth is, those people are activists.  They don’t know what to do in the room where it happens.  They are better off (for all involved) being on the outside yelling in.

Trump, after bragging so much about his convention, is now claiming ignorance:

“I didn’t produce our show — I just showed up for the final speech on Thursday,” Trump told The New York Times in a phone call this week.


His claim that he had no hand in the convention programming was also eyebrow-raising, given that campaigns typically dictate the speaker roster and many of the RNC speakers had direct ties to Trump. Among those were five members of the Trump family, the manager of Trump Winery and ‘80s sitcom star Scott Baio, who said Trump personally invited him to speak at a campaign fundraiser.

The DNC earned applause from media observers for tightly hewing to schedule and drawing big names including Meryl Streep, Paul Simon, Katy Perry and President Barack Obama.

The Democratic convention outpaced the RNC’s ratings on multiple nights, according to Nielsen.

Also, Bill liked the balloons A LOT.

Here Bill sees the balloons for the first time:They are real, not just something he heard about in a storybook.He touches another.Bill can't believe his luck. He gets to play with these balloons?Bill gets to kick one.He holds one.He tries to kick a bunch of little ones.

Day Four Of The DNC Already?

The stream of news that usually comes from political conventions has been a torrent for the past two days.

This has not been a conventional convention.

On Day One, you had the homage to Bernie, which spilled into Day Two with the Bernie Deadenders (that’s what I’m going to call those Bernie supporters who won’t vote in unity behind Hillary Clinton).  Now, having some dissension in a political party isn’t new, and in fact, it livens the proceedings.  But this time it is particularly nasty.  As my twitter tweets suggest, I have a hard time with the Bernie deadenders.

And then we have Trump in between the convention days, saying and doing some pretty messed up stuff, like urging (“with sarcasm” he says) that Russia should located Hillary’s “missing” 30,000 emails and give them to the press.  Yeah, he was urging espionage on another political candidate.  The GOP has tried to turn it around and make it about Hillary’s email server, but that’s stale bread.  Especially since most of those emails were recovered and vetted by the FBI, so there are not “missing”.

But the convention itself has been amazing.  Bill Clinton gave an amazing speech.  As did many others.  Tim Kaine did well last night.  Michael Bloomberg — an Independent, self-made businessman AND politician — came out as the antithesis of Trump, and made the case for Hillary.

And of course, Obama, who has a high bar anyway, simply hit it out of the park.  An historic speech.

Here’s what Obama did without being obvious:

(1)  He reclaimed the patriotism mantle
(2)  He reclaimed the optimistic mantle
(3)  Rather than saying that Trump was a typical Republican, he cast Trump as NOT a Republican, giving a good place for NeverTrumpers to plant their flag (for this election)

It was magnificent.  And indeed, there is evidence that this election may end up finally dislodging the white, college educated demographic from the GOP, which has won them since the time polling first began.  Many of them can see that Trump is dangerous. Last night was an invitation from the Democratic party for them to leave the dark side and come into the light. And they did it with the most liberal platform in history. That’s a pretty neat trick.

The conservative reaction was….. jealousy:


Anyway, here are some takeaways from last night:

(1) Hillary has a team, Donald doesn’t

There were so many big name speakers in Wednesday night’s lineup that Democrats had to cut Sen. Sherrod Brown, for time (he’ll speak Thursday).

“There has never been a man or a woman — not me, not Bill, nobody — more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president of the United States,” President Obama said of his former rival, Hillary Clinton. Trump is essentially a party of one, who has no one with the gravitas or with the willingness to make a similar claim on his behalf.

Bloomberg, who wholeheartedly endorsed Clinton a night after Bernie Sanders did, pummeled Trump with billionaire-on-billionaire attacks that mocked the real estate mogul’s financial acumen. “Trump says he wants to run the nation like he’s run his business. God help us!” Bloomberg said. “I’m a New Yorker, and I know a con when we see one.”

But it remains to be seen if the surfeit of endorsements will actually pay off for Clinton, or, in a populist election year, if Donald Trump can spin them as only further proof that she is a product of a corrupt establishment that spans partisan boundaries.

(2) Trump’s World War III

While Trump complained about the lack of flags at the Democratic National Convention, Democrats fielded a former CIA director and secretary of defense, a retired Navy Admiral, a former Marine Corps captain, a president, a vice president, and a retinue of congressional foreign policy experts.

All essentially made one simple point: Donald Trump might very well start a nuclear war, potentially even by accident, if he’s president.

National security was almost completely absent from the first two nights of the DNC, and ISIS has still hardly come up. But the third night’s emphasis on national security was auspiciously timed. Earlier in the day, Trump at a press conference seemed to call on Russia to hack Clinton’s emails.

“This morning, he personally invited Russia to hack us. That’s not law and order. That’s criminal intent,” said retired Adm. John Hutson.

“Donald, you’re not fit to polish John McCain’s boots,” Hutson added, referring to Trump’s insults of the Arizona Senator and Vietnam veteran.

Throughout the night, Democrats suggested that it was Americans’ duty to stop Trump, adopting themes of patriotism that Republicans typically own.

“They say they believe in ‘Country First.’ What a joke,” Senate Minority Leader Reid said. “Republicans who won’t stand up to Trump believe in one thing and one thing only: ‘Party First.’

(3) Gun control is no longer a dirty word

Gun control was absent from the 2012 Democratic National Convention, which occurred just months before the Sandy Hook massacre that re-launched a moribund movement for new gun safety measures.

Gabby Giffords, the former Arizona Congresswoman who was partially paralyzed in a 2012 shooting, brought that year’s convention to the tears as she made one of her first public appearances since the massacre, barely able to speak.

This time, she returned with a full voice and a strong gait, having started a new gun control group with husband and fellow speaker, astronaut Mike Kelly. “Speaking is difficult for me,” Giffords said,” but come January, I want to say these two words: Madam President.”

And the crowd grew quiet and emotional as they heard from family members of the victims of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting.

(4)  We’ll Miss You, Uncle Joe

Vice President Joe Biden brought delegates from a hush to a roar Wednesday as he gave what could be one of the best received speeches of his career. Biden will be out of office for the first time in nearly half a century soon, having never fulfilled his long-held dream of giving a speech on the final night of a convention as the party’s nominee

But he can feel good about going out on the speech he delivered Wednesday, which had the crowd so rapt that “malarkey” became a huge applause line.

“No major party nominee in the history of this nation has ever known less or has ever been less prepared” than Trump, Biden said, taking the inverse line from Obama.

Rejecting the dire portrait of America painted at last week’s Republican National Convention, Biden expressed his optimism succinctly as he closed: “C’mon, this is America!”

(5) Tim Kaine is a walking dad joke and it’s great

Obama’s VP spent five months in the White House before The Onion helpedcreate the meme of Joe Biden, washing his Pontiac Thunderbird shirtless in the White House driveway. But a caricature of Kaine was born on his very first night as Clinton’s running mate: If Obama was a cool dad, Kaine is a dad dad

Standing on easily the biggest stage of his career, Kaine started off a bit unsteadily, but rose to the occasion in his own goofy way, which featured an endearing Trump impersonation.

Kaine’s “aw shucks” Midwestern humility is refreshing in cycle dominated by two deeply polarizing candidates. But it was hard for him to stand out in such a strong lineup.

That may not be his role, but it leaves the Democratic ticket bereft of a powerful orator, since Clinton has often admitted that big speeches are not her forte. Still, Democrats had Obama.

Let Me Remind You Fuckers Who I Am


What the fuck is your problem, America??

I’m Hillary goddamn Clinton. I’m a political prodigy, have been since I was 16. I have an insane network of powerful friends. I’m willing to spend the next eight years catching shit on all sides, all so I can fix this fucking country for you. And all you little bitches need to do is get off your asses one goddamn dayin November.

“Oh but what about your eeeemaaaaillls???” Shut the fuck up. Seriously, shut the fuck up and listen for one fucking second.

Here’s all you need to know about me:

  1. In 1992, I said I was proud to have followed my career instead of baking cookies.
  2. The GOP fucking dragged me for it. They made me bake cookies. They’rescared of me.
  3. Every time I have a job, y’all love me. Every time I run for anything, the GOP breaks out the big guns again and fucks me up good. And apparently it fucking works.

But you know what? I don’t fucking care. If I gave two shits about the haters I would’ve dropped the game decades ago.

You know why I keep fighting? Because we all want the same shit. We want economic and racial justice, we want to seriously attack climate change, we want everyone to be able to afford college and health care and housing and food, we want women to be treated like humans, yada yada yada.

And I’m the only person in this goddamn country who knows how to do it.

Because of course I do. Because I’ve been preparing my whole fucking life for this job. So stop making me dab on Ellen and just give me a fucking chance already.

If it seems like I have contempt for the American voter, it’s because I do. Frankly, most of you are fucking stupid. Most of you have no goddamn idea what it takes to run a country. I mean god damn, almost half of you think God created the Earth 10,000 years ago!

What the actual fuck????

Look, this is the big leagues. If you think any problem has a tweetable solution, you’re just wrong. If you think “border wall” or “muslims = bad” is gonna solve our problems, I don’t have time for your shit.

This is literally why we have a representative government. I know you don’t want to read long, boring things. So I do it for you, and I ask a bunch of smart people, and we come up with shit that works. Here’s my solution on energy.Here’s my solution on Wall Street. Here’s my solution on jobs. I have fucking binders full of this shit and you know it. I’m so fucking ready, America.

The GOP just spent their entire convention fantasizing about literally imprisoning me. They are terrified. They know what I can do.

I’ve spent my life clawing my way into a system that’s terrified of change. A system that just wants to let rich white dudes be rich white dudes. And holy shit, you guys, I could not have picked a better opponent for my final boss battle.

So lemme sign off with the same Nancy Scheibner poem I quoted back in 1969 (when I gave the commencement speech at my own fucking graduation, btw).

My entrance into the world of so-called “social problems”
Must be with quiet laughter, or not at all.
The hollow men of anger and bitterness
The bountiful ladies of righteous degradation
All must be left to a bygone age.
And the purpose of history is to provide a receptacle
For all those myths and oddments
Which oddly we have acquired
And from which we would become unburdened
To create a newer world
To translate the future into the past.
We have no need of false revolutions
In a world where categories tend to tyrannize our minds
And hang our wills up on narrow pegs.
It is well at every given moment to seek the limits in our lives.
And once those limits are understood
To understand that limitations no longer exist.
Earth could be fair. And you and I must be free
Not to save the world in a glorious crusade
Not to kill ourselves with a nameless gnawing pain
But to practice with all the skill of our being
The art of making possible.

(Flip flop my ass.)

Democrats Filibuster For Gun Control

Props to Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut for starting and leading a filibuster to enact some sort of gun control measure, something the Republican Congress won’t even consider, even in the light of such massacres as Newtown and the Orlando Pulse Club shootings.

Senate Democrats ended a nearly 15-hour filibuster early this morning after Republican Party leaders reportedly agreed to allow votes on two proposed gun control measures.

Filibusters aren’t easy.  By Senate rules, Murphy had to stand at his desk to maintain control of the floor. When asked by another senator how he was feeling just before 7:30 p.m., Murphy said rehabilitation from a back injury in his 20s had helped him build up endurance.

It’s been nearly a decade since Congress made any significant changes to federal gun laws. In April 2007, Congress passed a law to strengthen the instant background check system after a gunman at Virginia Tech was able to purchase his weapons because his mental health history was not in the instant background check database. Thirty-two people died in the shooting.

After what happened in Orlando, there may be some movement.  Some Fox News people are even saying enough is enough.  Trump is meeting with the NRA, thinking he can move them.

Meeting with Trump is fine, but the NRA is already in favor of what Trump seems to be proposing.  In fact, the NRA formally backed an approach favored by Senate Republicans that would allow a judge to arbitrate people who mistakenly end up on the terrorism watch list and want to buy guns, while Democrats prefer giving the Justice Department such authority. Both bills were voted down by the Senate in December.

Meanwhile, back in the Senate, the chamber is likely to vote on two Democratic-backed gun measures: a proposal from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) meant to bar those on federal terror watch lists from obtaining firearms, and a plan from Murphy and Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) mandating background checks for sales at gun shows and over the internet. Republicans are expected to put forward two of their own proposals for votes.\

I don’t expect anything significant to pass.  But I do think we can get people on the record, and hopefully get them out of office.

Breaking: Senate Democrats Engaging In Filibuster Re: Gun Control

About an hour and a half ago (around 11:30 am), Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) started embarking on a talking filibuster in order to push the Senate to address gun control in the wake of the deadly mass shooting in Orlando, Florida. Murphy and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) alternated speaking about gun control on the Senate floor, according to Fox 61 in Connecticut.

Democrats are signing up to speak — some as late as 10:30 pm.

The Rude Pundit On Clinton’s Debate Win

He’s not endorsed anyone yet, and yes, he’s rude, but he’s a great writer too:

See, after nearly three decades in the public spotlight, a good chunk of that spent in the cross-hairs of every scandal gun Republicans could load, nothing you can throw at Hillary Clinton is gonna dent her. She ran out of fucks sometime in 2008, and now, with no fucks to give, Clinton has become a loose, agile candidate who gives as good as she gets. When Chafee chided her on the private email server and moderator Anderson Cooper asked if she wanted to respond, her curt “No” was a goddamn brilliantly simple way to deny credibility to a bullshit topic. Once upon a time, Clinton would have overexplained herself for the millionth time. It would have seemed paranoid, as if she was cornered. It would have been boring. Instead, Clinton defused it by, more or less, brushing her shoulder. Imagine if her accuser was some Republican fuckwit like Trump or Marco Rubio, left sputtering about honesty and integrity while Clinton declined to engage. Imagine how small that Republican will look. Well, watch Chafee shrink in that moment and you get the idea.

Republicans are shitting blood today for lots of reasons. Clinton gave the barest preview of the arrows she has in her quiver for whichever sacrificial lamb the GOP finally clusterfucks into being the nominee. Right-wingers are all howling over Clinton declaring that Republicans are enemies that she’s made. Well, no shit. It would have been insulting to the GOP if she hadn’t said they were her enemies. The raison d’etre of Republicanism for a good chunk of the last 25 years has been to be one or the other Clinton’s bitter rival. So go fuck yourself with your sudden fainting couch act.

More importantly, though, Clinton tore shit up when she finally got to bring in women’s health issues. Asked about how she’d respond when Republicans attack her for wanting to spend money on family leave, Clinton wrecked the room: “Well, look, you know, when people say that — it’s always the Republicans or their sympathizers who say, ‘You can’t have paid leave, you can’t provide health care.’ They don’t mind having big government to interfere with a woman’s right to choose and to try to take down Planned Parenthood. They’re fine with big government when it comes to that. I’m sick of it.” She continued on this passionate counteroffensive, “We should not be paralyzed — we should not be paralyzed by the Republicans and their constant refrain, “big government this, big government that,” that except for what they want to impose on the American people. I know we can afford it, because we’re going to make the wealthy pay for it. That is the way to get it done.” And not a single fuck was given.

Read the whole thing.

Debate Wrapup


The point of any debate is to draw contrasts and attract new voters. Did anyone do that in last night’s first Democratic debate?

Perhaps, but only with those who hadn’t decided up until now.  I don’t think Sanders swayed any Hillary voters and I don’t think Hillary swayed any Sanders voters.

Still, it was a good debate in that it was an actual debate, rather than a food fight like you have seen on the Republican side.  The winner, without a doubt, was the Democratic Party showing itself to be the grown-ups.

Anderson Cooper, sadly, became a stand-in for all the media folk trying to make the Democratic contest about emails and Benghazi! and “socialism.”  But that was shut down pretty quickly because the candidates — and certainly the audience — were united in disdain for the superficiality of where Cooper and the other moderators wanted the discussion to go.  Note to journalists:  Democrats are not Republicans.

Equally annoying was the tokenist questions.  Seriously.  Cooper might just have easily said, “And now here’s a woman with a woman question.   And after that, a black guy with a black question.”  Really?

That said, Hillary Clinton did very well.  She was poised, polished and highly competent at appealing to various segments of the Democratic electorate. She was personable and authentic.  She did what she had to do.  Conservatives who hoped that she would fall flat on her face must have been sadly disappointed, and perhaps a little nervous.  (Conservatives pundits like to cast Hillary as “robotic” and calculating, and therefore inauthentic, but that was laid to rest by Clinton’s off-the-cuff quip to the fact that she urinates differently than her rivals).

Unfortunately, the media is being a tad hyperbolic about her performance. Mark Halperin, for example, gave Clinton a perfect A. The New York Times, which has been very tough on Clinton, was full of praise for her.  Politico says “Clinton Crushes It“.

Yes, that’s a bit much.  I think this is so they can play a “Clinton comeback” narrative, which annoys me because I don’t think Clinton was ever “down”.  The Benghazi/email thing has been a distraction, but only for the media.  As Sanders admitted, everybody (certainly on the left) is simply sick of hearing about the “damn emails.”  This morning, talking heads in the media are saying Sanders gave a “gift” to Clinton — no, that’s not what that comment was.  It was an indictment of the mainstream media’s obsession with the non-scandal.

Most of us NOT in the media didn’t think the ginned-up “controversy” sent Clinton into disarray.  Therefore, we don’t buy the notion that she “proved herself” last night.  After all, Clinton has been the frontrunner and nothing but the frontrunner. And last night, we merely saw why she is the frontrunner.

So saying that we saw a “Clinton comeback” last night is a bit like saying Tom Brady is making a “comeback” after Deflategate. Clinton’s political skills, like Brady’s QB skills, don’t have anything to come back from.

As for Sanders — well, truth be told, I am more politically aligned with him than I am with Hillary.  Except on guns.  For the life of me, I cannot fathom some of his positions on guns, in particular his past voting record on giving gun manufacturers immunity from liability, and his voting no (twice) on the Brady Bill.  Yes, I know that he voted against the Brady Bill because he thought states (rather than the federal government) should be the ones to limit firearms, but I don’t even agree with that.  Not that Sanders is terrible on guns — there are plenty of reasons why the NRA gives him an “F” — but I think he could be better on it.

[Note: In the interest of fairness, I will say that I have problems with some of Hillary’s positions, too, past and present.  Her voting records on the Iraq War, for example.  And her position on not reinstating Glass-Steagall regulations.]

But my problem with Sanders is that he shows no sign that he can work outside comfort zone.  I’m not saying that he is entrenched like the House Freedom Caucus; I’m saying that he seems a bit Johnny One-Note on issues of income inequality and Citizens United (yes, they’re related).  And while I wholeheartedly agree with him, and am energized by his passion on those domestic economic issues, I worry about other areas.   I’m not as comfortable with him in foreign policy — for instance, dealing with, say, Putin.

That said, Sanders had an extraordinary debate, especially for those who had never been exposed to him before.  I think he might appeal to “angry” independents who simply cannot stomach the Republican Party of “No”.  He’s appealing because he always looks like he’s too busy for the stupid shit. Or combs. I still predict that, even if his star rises in the short term, it has a limited life span after Iowa and New Hampshire.  But it is a good thing he is in this race, if only because it pulls Hillary to the left.

As for the other three, well…. the Democrats held their kids’ table debate and their main debate at the same time.

Lincoln “Block O’ Granite” Chafee looked like he wandered onstage by accident, and noted twice that he had never had a political scandal.  He voted against Glass-Stegall because it was his first day on the job and he got confused because his dad had just died.

Martin O’Malley defended his record as mayor in Baltimore, where there were riots this year, and seemed a little confused about foreign policy (Assad didn’t “invade” Syria; he became President of Syria — a not insignificant difference).

And Vietnam veteran Jim Webb, the candidate most likely to want you off his lawn, said his military service gave him leadership skills — he also humblebragged about killing a guy in ‘nam.  (In fairness to Webb, the stories behind his Navy Cross and Silver Star medals are interesting and worth a read.  The word “valor” applies to Webb, no doubt).

But Chafee and Webb clearly didn’t belong there.  I would vote for either of them before I would vote for ANY of the Republican offerings, but I don’t think they could ever be presidential material.  O’Malley would be a fine president; he’s just not the best choice by far (I especially liked his 90-second closing speech saying the Republican debates were lessons in intolerance).

As for the candidate NOT there — Joe Biden — I don’t have a lot to say.  I don’t think many Democrats were looking at Sanders and Hillary and thinking, “I hate BOTH of them.  I wish Biden would get in.”  Hillary’s performance might make Biden think twice about getting in (she’s a better debater), if he was planning on getting in at all.

UPDATE:  Conventional wisdom said that there would be fewer viewers watching the Democratic debate compared to the two GOP debates.  And conventional wisdom was right.  But there were far more viewers last night than expected.  While exact numbers are yet to be released, the 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. hours averaged an 11.2 household rating, meaning that 11% of all American homes with TVs were tuned in.  That breaks the previous Democratic debate record set in 2008, when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama squared off in prime time on ABC. That debate had an 8.9 household rating and 10.7 million total viewers.

UPDATE 2:  It was 15.3 million viewers.  And while that was significantly less than the 24 and 23 million viewers for the first two Republican debates, respectively, it shows that a vast segment of the country has not forgotten about the Democrats and is looking to them for answers.

Democratic Debate Tonight — The Also-Rans

Five Democrats take the stage tonight for the first Democratic Presidential Candidate Debate on CNN, and all eyes will be on Hillary Rodham of Chicago and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Here are the other three:

Martin O’Malley — former governor of Maryland

O’Malley is the only life-long Democrat in the Democratic field. He was a two-term governor and notched several progressive achievements, including passing legislationlegalizing same-sex marriage and outlawing the death penalty in Maryland. All he has to show for it are the anemic poll numbers above.

Still, O’Malley is a plausible candidate — he’s just been squeezed out so far. Clinton has racked up most of the endorsements from the Democratic mainstream, and Sanders has claimed the liberal alternative lane. O’Malley could try to push aside Sanders, but his record on policing as mayor of Baltimore and his past chairmanship of the moderate Democratic Leadership Council have hurt him in his appeals to liberal voters.

It’s a long shot, but O’Malley’s better bet is probably to position himself as the mainstream alternative to Clinton, especially if Joe Biden doesn’t run. If you’re looking for the candidate who can most benefit from the debate, O’Malley is the one. Of the three also-rans presented here, he is the only one who can claim a strong connection to Democratic powerbrokers and point to liberal achievements he made while in office.

Lincoln Chafee — former governor and senator from Rhode Island

  • National: 0.6 percent
  • Iowa: 0.5 percent
  • New Hampshire: 1.0 percent

Chafee is one of two Democratic candidates in the 2016 field never to win an election as a Democrat (Sanders is the other). Chafee was a Republican senator, then an independent governor, then became a Democrat while in office.

The biggest news Chafee’s campaign has made since it launched in early June came in his announcement speech, when he called for moving the United States to the metric system. He continues to talk about Clinton’s vote for the Iraq War, but most Democrats don’t careabout that much anymore. Even if they did care, Sanders also voted against the Iraq War.

When combining campaign and PAC money through July 31, Chafee raised the least amount of money of any of the major candidates running for either party’s nomination.

He’s unlikely to make much more noise during this campaign. Still, at least the metric system has a champion.

Jim Webb — former senator from Virginia

  • National: 1.2 percent
  • Iowa: 1.2 percent
  • New Hampshire: 1.0 percent

Webb is a candidate who’s out of time. He’s conservative for a Democrat — a former Reagan administration official whose position on the confederate flag has been mixed. He does have a niche, appealing mostly to white moderates.

Webb’s problem: The Democratic Party has become increasingly liberal and increasingly non-white. The percentage of non-whites has doubled over the last 25 years, while the percentage of liberals has risen by 14 percentage points over the last 15.

Webb’s best chance will come when the Democratic race moves away from the early states and into areas with more moderate and conservative white voters, such as Appalachia and the South. Perhaps he can use the debate to build strength among these shrinking Democratic constituencies.


The debate isn’t likely to make or break Chafee or Webb — neither has a strong base within the Democratic primary electorate. For O’Malley, however, it’s time to shine or risk continuing to shrink into the shadows.

Clinton has to come off as authentic and a “real person” with family and middle class values.  Sanders has to come off as “not so much like an old coot” to broaden his appeal beyond Iowa and New Hampshire.  I suspect both can succeed at this.

I won’t be watching (there will be at least five more of these debates, kids), and I have no predictions as to winners.

I DO predict the following:

(1)  Hillary will be asked more times than once about her email server.  She will say it was a mistake, but it wasn’t — you know — THAT bad.

(2)  Bernie will ask if he is really as socialist and what does that really mean.

(3)  There will be questions about Biden, because the horserace is more important that the issues.

(4)  There will be questions about Syria, for which there is no good answer.  Because it is beyond fixable (by us).

(5)  When it is over, Trump will say that the ratings were low because it was “boring” and he wasn’t there.

The Death Of The Moderate Republican

Yes, the moderate Republican is extinct.  Like the dodo bird of the days of yore.  But just in case you need a graph showing this, I proffer the following from the Washington Post wonkblog.

The graph employs a widely-used measure of political polarization, a score of ideology based on voting developed by Kenneth Poole and Howard Rosenthal.  Let’s look, for example, at the US House of Representatives over many decades.  Republicans in the the House have drifted away from the center far more rapidly than Democrats. The chart below, taken from the most recent slice of their data released just last month, illustrate this pretty clearly:


Put another way, are there any Republican moderates in the House?  This graph shows the Republican versus Democrat NON-moderates over time….


So there you go.

Short Takes

Yeah, I’m playing catch-up.  Been very busy since last week.  I have a little to say about a lot of things, so now comes a slam of quick posts.

(1)  As for the clash in Phoenix between Islamophobes and would-be terrorists, the Islamophobes went home disappointed.  No violence. No anything, really:

Protesters at Friday’s “Freedom of Speech” rally outside a Phoenix mosque were met by counterprotesters.

The two groups lined both sides of the street in front of the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix and yelled at each other, with a line of police officers standing in the middle of the street to keep them separated, CNN affiliate KNXV reported.


“When we see these two things … then obviously it becomes more of a concern,” [Imraan Siddiqi with the Council on American-Islamic Relations] said. “We’re advising people … it’s better to stay clear from the event, don’t engage with these people.”

Good advice.

(2)  Who has joined the 2016 presidential race since I last blogged:

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont (D)
Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley (D)
Former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee (D)
U.S. Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina (R)
Former New York Governor George Pataki (R)
Current Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) (just this morning)

That’s four Dems total.  And on the clown car side, that makes ten total (and we haven’t included Bush, Walker, Trump, Jindel or Christie)!

The Phrase Of The Day Is “Hippie Punching”

Yeah, despite my enjoyment of the GOP/Tea Party rift, I should keep in mind that there's some infighting on the left, too:

Top Obama adviser David Axelrod got an earful of the liberal blogosphere's anger at the White House moments ago, when a blogger on a conference call directly called out Axelrod over White House criticism of the left, accusing the administration of "hippie punching."

"We're the girl you'll take under the bleachers but you won't be seen with in the light of day," the blogger, Susan Madrak of Crooks and Liars, pointedly told Axelrod on the call, which was organzied for liberal bloggers and progressive media.

The call seemed to perfectly capture the tense dynamic that exists between the White House and the online and organized left: Though White House advisers in the past have dumped on the left, anonymously and even on the record, Axelrod repeatedly pleaded with the bloggers on the call for help in pumping up the flagging enthusiasm of rank and file Dems.

"You play a great role in informing people about the stakes of elections," Axelrod told the bloggers. "One of the reasons I was eager to expend time was to enlist you."

But hovering over the call was the obvious disconnect between this plea for help and statements like those of Robert Gibbs, who recently pilloried the "professional left" for being overly critical of the White House.

That tension burst out into the open when Madrak directly asked Axelrod: "Have you ever heard of hippie punching?" That prompted a long silence from Axelrod.

"You want us to help you, the first thing I would suggest is enough of the hippie punching," Madrak added. "We're the girl you'll take under the bleachers but you won't be seen with in the light of day."

Axelrod didn't engage on "hippie punching," but he said he agreed with the blogger. "To the extent that we shouldn't get involved in intramural skirmishing, I couldn't agree more," Axelrod said. "We just can't afford that. There are big things at stake here."

Madrak replied that Axelrod was missing the point — that the criticism of the left made it tougher for bloggers like herself to motivate the base. "Don't make our jobs harder," she said.

"Right back at'cha. Right back at'cha," Axelrod replied, a bit testily, an apparent reference to blogospheric criticism of the administration.

Who is right?  Unfortunately, they both are.

More Fire In The Belly Like This Please

The House was debating a bill last night that would provide up to $7.4 billion in health care aid to rescue and recovery workers who have faced health problems since their work in the wake of the September 11 attacks. The bill ultimately failed to get the needed two-thirds majority, 255-159.  This was largely due to Republicans, who support a $676 billion extension of tax cuts for the wealthy, but can't seem to cough up 1% of that to take care of workers who got sick at Ground Zero.

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) was not happy about it. Not one bit.

You must watch:

Third Party Comes To North Carolina

It always warms my heart when I read and hear about Tea Partiers rebelling against the Repubican Party and forming their own third party.  Nothing would ensure the future of the Democratic Party more than having conservatives divide their loyalty between the Grand Old Party and the Raging New Party.

Which is what makes me concerned about this:

North Carolina Democrats' votes against health care push labor to form party

RALEIGH, N.C. — A political rebellion is brewing inside an old funeral home near the state Capitol here. Frustrated liberals and labor organizers are taking aim at the Democratic Party, rushing to gather enough signatures to start a third party that they believe could help oust three Democratic congressmen.

Less than two years ago, this same funeral home was a command post for the grass-roots army that propelled Barack Obama to victory in this conservative swing state. Here is where supporters distributed signs and stickers, sorted lists of registered voters and rallied with a Johnny Cash cover band.

Now, some of Obama's supporters are mounting a defiant strike against the president's party.

So the unions are giving voice to progressive activists across this state who say they feel betrayed by Reps. Larry Kissell, Heath Shuler and Mike McIntyre, Democrats who sided with Republicans against the health-care bill.  And I can relate to their anger.

But a third party is not the answer for one simple reason:

The nascent third party, North Carolina First, could endanger the Democratic congressional majority by siphoning votes from incumbent Democrats in November's midterm election, potentially enabling Republican challengers to pick up the seats.

The better solution is simply to elect better Democrats.

Political Dictionary

"Obstructionism," only refers to Democratic minorities opposing Republican proposals.

"Tyranny" is found when an elected Democratic majority passes legislation that Republicans don't like.

"Reconciliation" describes a Senate process that Republicans are allowed to use to overcome Democratic "obstructionism."

"Terrorism" refers to acts of political violence committed by people who aren't white guys.

"Bipartisanship" is found when Democrats agree to pass Republican legislation.

"Big government" describes a dangerous phenomenon to be avoided, except in cases relating to reproductive rights or gays.

"Treason" refers to Democrats criticizing a Republican administration during a war.

"Patriotism" refers to Republicans criticizing a Democratic administration during a war.

"Fiscal responsibility" is a national priority related to keeping our deficit in check, which only applies when Republicans are in the minority.

"Parliamentarian" is a seemingly independent official on the Hill who Senate Republicans are allowed to fire when the GOP disapproves of his/her rulings.

"Government-run health care" doesn't refer to popular government-run health care programs like Medicare.

"The heartland" is the most wonderful place in America, even if no conservative pundit would be caught dead living there.

"Serving your country" is honorable if you're a Republican, but a subject of derision when Democrats do it.

[H/t Steve Benen and Kos]

The Golden Issue: Campaign Finance

If the Democrats were smart, they will take this issue and own it.  The issue: the recent Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, where the Supremes ruled 5-4 that corporations have the same rights as individuals when it comes to political speech and can therefore use their profits to support or oppose individual candidates. The decision appears to open the door to unlimited spending by corporations, trade groups and unions in the weeks leading up to an election, which has been explicitly banned for decades.

Obama has spoken out against it.  But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) among other Republican lawmakers have praised the ruling as a victory for free speech.  They have stated that they intend to oppose any legislation designed to gut the impact of the court's decision.

Why is this issue a good one for Democrats?  Because a huge number of people — of all political stripes — oppose the Supreme Court decision:

Our latest ABC News/Washington Post poll finds that 80 percent of Americans likewise oppose the ruling, including 65 percent who “strongly” oppose it, an unusually high intensity of sentiment.

Seventy-two percent, moreover, support the idea of a legislative workaround to try to reinstate the limits the court lifted.

The bipartisan nature of these views is striking in these largely partisan times. The court’s ruling is opposed, respectively, by 76, 81 and 85 percent of Republicans, independents and Democrats; and by 73, 85 and 86 percent of conservatives, moderates and liberals. Majorities in all these groups, ranging from 58 to 73 percent, not only oppose the ruling but feel strongly about it.

Even among people who agree at least somewhat with the Tea Party movement, which advocates less government regulation, 73 percent oppose the high court’s rejection of this particular law. Among the subset who agree strongly with the Tea Party’s positions on the issues – 14 percent of all adults – fewer but still most, 56 percent, oppose the high court in this case.

So here you have an issue where Democratic lawmakers are clearly on the side of the vast majority of Americans (including Tea Partiers!), and Republican lawmakers are staunchly opposed.  This is a great opportunity for Democrats to expose themselves as the real populists, and to expose Republicans as beholden to their corporate overlords.

By the way, for those who are wondering why I disagree with the court's ruling, I'll state it briefly.  I'm for free speech.  I believe in it, and the Constitution guarantees it.  But the Constitution and the Bill of Rights was not written for corporations and unions.  Pfizer, Inc is not an entity endowed by God with certain inalienable rights — I am, you are, but not Pfizer, or Exxon, or Bank of America, etc.

The Supreme Court lost sight of who the Bill of Rights was meant to protect.  Can the CEO of Pfizer contribute his own money to a candidate's campaign?  Certainly, as an American citizen protected by the First Amendment, he has that right.  But can he (and the rest of the Pfizer board) take corporate money (which, technically, belongs to the shareholders) and "speak" in such a manner?  No, in my view.  That's actually engaging in "compelled speech", the antithesis of free speech.

Most people instinctively recognize this.  And that's why Democrats need to put this issue front and center.

UPDATE:  Then again, this line of attack against the GOP is getting a lot of traction:


Does The Public Support Obama Or The GOP?

Nate Silver has an excellent post wherein he breaks down 25 major issues being pushed by Obama and the Democrats, and sizes them up against public opinion polling.

The bottom line?

Of these 25 issues, Obama's position appears to be on the right side of public opinion on 14: the bank tax, repealing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, campaign finance, the credit card bill, D.C. voting rights, fair pay, financial regulation, gays in the military, hate crimes, the jobs bill, mortgage relief, PAYGO, SCHIP, and Sotomayor. It would appear to be on the wrong side of public opinion on five issues: the GM/Chrysler bailout, Guantanamo Bay, health care, the extension of the TARP program, and terrorist trials. On the other six issues, the polling is probably too ambiguous to render a clear verdict.

Republicans, on the other hand, have been overwhelmingly opposed to almost all of these measures with the exception of Ben Bernanke and Afghanistan troops, both of which poll ambiguously, and the credit card bill, which polled well.

Obviously, this analysis is superficial in certain ways. All issues are by no means created equal, and health care in particular, which is unpopular, has weighed heavily upon the public's perception of the Democrats. In addition, there is probably another layer of 'meta-argument' that goes beyond specific issues, and at which the GOP has tended to excel.

Nevertheless, it runs in contrast to the objective evidence when one asserts, as Hanson does, that "On every issue … the Obama position polls 5-15 points below 50 percent." Rather, the votes taken by the Republican Congress have far more often been out of step with those of the median voter.

Silver's caveats are well-advised, but the larger point here is that Obama and the Democrats are, for the most part, doing what the people want.  One wonders then why they have a hard time actually getting things done.

Blue America

An analysis of Gallup Poll Daily tracking data from the first six months of 2009 was released to day, on the subject of political party affiliation.

The accompanying map shows each state's relative party strength  in the first half of 2009, which primarily covers the time since Barack Obama took office as president. States in which one of the parties enjoys a 10 or more percentage point advantage in leaned identification are considered solid supporters of that party. States with between a five- and nine-point advantage are considered leaning toward that party, and states with less than a five-point advantage for one of the parties are considered competitive.


Not much red there, huh?

Here's the state-by-state breakdown:


A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Nashville

Today, the Tennesee General Assembly met today to choose their House speaker.  The body consists of 99 representatives.  The breakdown after recent elections: 50 Republicans, 49 Democrats.

The Speaker is an important position; he chooses, among other things, who heads what committees, etc.

Mumpower The Republicans had their nominee in line.  They were going to choose Jason Mumpower (pictured, right), a wingnut from Bristol County.  

Mumpower was eager for the job, and he had an agenda: bans on gay adoption and fostering, new concealed weapons laws, new constitutional limits on abortion, new anti-immigrant legislation, and mandating the teaching of “intelligent design” in public schools, among them.

Everyone knew Mumpower would become Speaker.  The press knew it, the public knew it.  It was a fait accompli.

So at today's assembly, the new members were sworn in.  And the first order of business came up: choosing the next Speaker.

Then the comedy of errors started.

Mumpower called for an immediate vote on selection of the Speaker (i.e., him).  The Democrats wanted a 30-minute recess.  So, the assembly voted on whether to have the recess.  All Republicans voted against the recess, except for freshman Republican State Rep. Terry Lynn Weaver of Lancaster.  Terry Lynn, making her first vote ever in the assembly, purportedly hit the wrong button and cast her vote with the Democrats.

So the Democrats won, and a 30-minute recess was called for.

That was all they needed.

When they all came back, the Democrats had a plan.  After Mumpower was nominated for Speaker, the Democrats nominated a moderate Republican for Speaker — a man by the name of Kent Williams. 

And all the Democrats voted for Kent Williams, and (of course), Kent Williams voted for Kent Williams, making him Speaker by a vote of 50-49.

According to one report, "the official Republican nominee, Jason Mumpower, was left speechless, clutching the family bible that he had brought in preparation for taking the Speaker’s oath of office."

And that's how moderate Republican Kent Williams — not the fundamentalist wingnut — became Speaker of the Tennessee Assembly today.  As Williams went to the podium to accept his selection as the new Speaker, he was greeted with a chorus of boos from Republicans.

Nice manuevering from some state Dems.

More here.

Caroline Or Change?

Caroline2 Several A-list liberal bloggers are quite unhappy with the prospect of Caroline Kennedy taking over Clinton's Senate seat:

  • Firedoglake's Hamsher: "It seems Caroline Kennedy has decided she'd rather have a US Senate seat than a pony for Christmas. […] It appears Ms. Kennedy thinks that US Senate seats are something to lobbied for amongst political elites when one decides one wants them, and that the public should be happy to simply fall in line. The fact that one has a family political machine currently in the process of steamrolling David Paterson and a famous last name should be enough for the little people. I thought at least she'd get out before the cameras and start making her case to the public before she announced her intentions, because simply lobbying your well-connected buddies just oozes an outrageous sense of entitlement and insufferable pomposity."
  • Open Left's Chris Bowers: "Frankly, I consider [Kennedy] to be undeserving of the seat, given that she has never won an election and that basically her only qualification would be her family name. Further, at a time when Democrats are suffering from a major corruption scandal over Senate appointments, appointing a dynasty candidate would only add fuel to that fire. Republicans will run in 2010 on an argument that one-party rule leads to waste and corruption, so nepotism like this would be a bad idea."
  • Mother Jones' Kevin Drum: "Rich and famous people already have a huge leg up when it comes to winning political office, but at least they still have to run and win. Appointing them instead so they can avoid the whole messy business of engaging in a campaign is just a little too Habsburgian for my taste. Needless to say, I've got nothing against Kennedy. But appointing her to the Senate just isn't the right thing to do."
  • Daily Kos' Moulitsas: "When you're rich and come from a political family, and are heir to American royalty, you can apparently dispense with dealing with pesky voters by simply ringing up the governor. […] Kennedy might very well be a favorite of Democratic primary voters in a contested race (and current polls suggest that), but that would require her to run, and elections can expose candidate weaknesses not readily apparent before the harsh glare of the spotlight is trained on them. In 2002, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend lost her bid for the governorship of heavily Democratic Maryland despite entering the race with a 27-point lead in the polls. In 2004, Sen. Jean Carnahan lost the special election to the seat she was appointed to in 2002 after her husband was tragically killed in an airplane accident. But running for office is an icky process. It's hard work. Much harder, of course, than merely picking up the phone and calling the governor."

I respectfully dissent.  I think she would be an excellent choice.

Sure, she's a Kennedy, but I don't think that makes her less qualified than otherwise.  She's certainly been around politics her whole life; there's no learning curve there.  And it's not like she's going to be a Kennedy in the womanizing and getting-drunk sense.

Furthremore, she's a Columbia Law graduate and co-author of two books: In Our Defense: The Bill of Rights in Action and The Right to Privacy.  Having a senator cognizant of the Constitution is a good thing.  She will also be a champion for education and funding for the arts.  She's served on several prominent boards, including Obama's transition team.  And her "celebrity" status might bring some light to key progressive bills and legislation that might not otherwise be there.

Yes, it's true that she could have decided to be a politician decades ago.  And yes, she chose other paths, never having run for elected office.  But again, how does that make her a less able senator than someone who has been a career politician?  It's worth noting the seat she is seeking was held by both her Uncle Bobby and Hillary, neither of whom ran for political office before becoming a senator either.

RELATED:  In an article at Politico, discussing the "nepotism" of the Democratic Party (e.g., Caroline taking Hillary's seat; Jesse Jackson Jr. taking Obama's seat; Beau Biden taking Biden's seat), we find this quote:

“Democrats seem to lack a common man who can just win a good, old-fashioned election,” said Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-N.Y.), the former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. “They’ve got seat-warmers, seat-sellers and the making of pillows for the seats of royalty. No wonder the public wonders what’s going on in Washington.”

Excuse me?  Who is currently the president, and what was his father's prior occupation???

Blago Arrest

I guess everyone knows about the arrest this morning of Illinois governor Rod R. Blagojevich and his Chief of Staff, John Harris — on corruption charges.

What surprises me was how blatant his corruption was.  I mean, the governor of Illinois gets to choose who fills Obama's now-empty Senate seat, so he literally auctioned it off.

Or as the governor himself said (according to wiretaps): "I've got this thing and it's [expletive] golden, and, uh, uh, I'm just not giving it up for [expletive] nothing. I'm not gonna do it."

And noting that he was under political fire for suspected corruption, he thought maybe the Senate seat would serve as an escape hatch for himself: "And, and I can always use it. I can parachute me there."

Don't think that's gonna happen, now, governor.

The Best Thing About The Bush Presidency

It’s created a whole generation of progressives.

According to a new poll for the New York Times, CBS News, and MTV the 17-29 year olds lean Democratic.

Sixty-two percent of the 17-29 year olds support a single-payor health care system, while 47% of the general electorate does.

Seventy-seven percent of them plan to register to vote for next year, and by a 45%-25% margin they plan to vote in a Democratic primary or caucus rather than Republican. As for their actual vote for president, by a 54%-32% margin this age group plans to vote for the Democratic candidate.

Overall, 38% have a favorable view of the Republican Party, but 55% of them do not. Their feelings about the Democratic Party are inverse: 58% favorable, 36% unfavorable. 52% of them say the Democratic Party comes closest to sharing their moral values, while only 36% of them say the Republican Party does.

And the only presidential candidate among this group who has a better than 2-1 margin between favorable and unfavorable views is Barack Obama: 41% of 17-29 year olds view Obama favorably while only 19% view him unfavorably.

The Left And God

Discussions generated from fall out surrounding Amanda Marcotte’s departure from the John Edwards campaign are still taking up pixels in lefty blogger circles. Atrios has led the league in thoughts on the subject, and the New Donkey summarizes his thoughts and responds:

His basic argument, with which I basically agree, is that once "people of faith" inject their religious views into public discourse, the content of those views is fair game for commentary, dissent and even mockery, though mockery may be politically inadvisable if you are, say, involved in a presidential campaign.

I would offer one important qualifier to his general take: mocking the religious underpinnings of some political position is one thing; denying their sincerity is another.

Atrios responds: "I do agree that questioning the sincerity of peoples’ faith does anger them. … I’ve had this conversation with anti-choice progressives, who think it’s important for me to understand that their anti-choice views come from a sincere religious belief. The thing is, I just don’t care. The fact that your political beliefs are motivated by your religion doesn’t make them special to me."

Also responding to Atrios thoughts on the subject Kos writes: "If a candidate sincerely gets his or her values from religion, then that’s fine. The Bible is a wonderfully liberal text. … But religious values are no more superior than the values I learned from my [grandma] … They are no more superior than the values Tester learned on the farm from his farmer father and grandfather. Or the values that Webb learned while proudly wearing his uniform."

Kos’ post moved Rev. Jim Wallis to respond: "So Kos, let’s made a deal. How about if progressive religious folks, like me, make real sure that we never say, or even suggest, that values have to come from faith – and progressive secular folks, like you, never suggest that progressive values can’t come from faith (and perhaps concede that, in fact, they often do)." Kos thinks this is exactly what he already proposed. Talk Left‘s Big Tent Democrat comments: "With "friends" like Jim Wallis, Dems need no enemies."

Back at Eschaton, Atrios had moved on to addressing concerns from Jesse Lava that Atrios rhetoric, including calling religous language gibberish, often sounds dismissive to "devout Christians’ ears." Atrios responds: "How is that a barb? I’m not religious, I have only a passing familiarity with Christian theology, its associated customs, and the language used by its adherents when discussing it. Finnish is also gibberish to me … I’m not obligated to understand your traditions, and don’t claim to. It’s that simple."

Conservatism vs. Liberalism — And The Future

This is so good, I’m reprinting (almost) the whole thing.  From the Anonymous Liberal:

Over at The Corner today, Jonah Goldberg wrote the following:

Now, I don’t say any of this because I’m particularly bullish on conservatism’s immediate future. It’s got problems. But they’re not as fundamental as the problems liberalism faces. Conservatism has a problem putting its ideas into action. Liberalism has a problem figuring out what it’s ideas are. Taking the liberal mish-mash and simply declaring it a "new politics" doesn’t make it so.

It’s entirely understandable and predictable that in the wake of this election liberals would go into wishful thinking mode and declare that they’ve escaped history. But that doesn’t make it any less absurd.

Now I’ll readily admit that this election, however lopsided, does not spell the end of "conservatism." The conservative movement, in some form or other, will always be a potent force in American politics. We have a bipolar system and the debate is always shifting; the parties are constantly realigning around new issues.

That said, I have to take issue with Jonah’s suggestion that "conservatism has a problem putting its ideas into action" while "liberalism has a problem figuring out what its ideas are."

Let’s consider his first statement. I think he’s certainly right that conservatives have had a tough time implementing their ideas. But why is that? After all, the Republicans have controlled all the branches of government for the last six years.

Well, I think the explanation is actually pretty simple. Many of the most prominent conservative policy ideas are either 1) very unpopular, 2) totally unrealistic and unworkable, or 3) both. That’s why we haven’t privatized social security or created individualized health savings accounts. These are just bad ideas; they are policies crafted to fit a pre-conceived ideology, not to solve real world problems.

The most fundamental problem with the conservative approach to governing is that it encourages its adherents to approach all problems with ideological blinders on. The range of potential solutions to any given problem is always very limited because so much is taken off the table before the discussion even begins. This approach leads conservatives to endorse policy ideas that are at best sub-optimal and at worst disastrously ill-advised.

Which brings me to Jonah’s suggestion that "liberalism has a problem figuring out what its ideas are." It’s not surprising that a conservative like Jonah would think this. But as I’ve written a number of times before (and as the Bertrand Russell quote in the masthead illustrates) liberalism is better understood as a way of approaching problems, not as a rigid set of substantive principles. In other words, what Jonah points to as a bug is actually a feature of liberalism; indeed, I’d argue it’s the defining feature.

For instance, liberals are not interested in big government for big government’s sake. If a problem can better be addressed through a market-based approach, they’re all for it. It is certainly true that there are a number of policies which most liberals support. But the reason they support these policies is because they believe they have been demonstrated, through argument or experience, to be superior to the alternatives. And most liberals aren’t afraid to re-examine their policy preferences should experience and empirical data suggest that something else would work better.

The problem with conservatism is that it discourages this sort of periodic re-examination of policy preferences and the premises underlying them. The Democratic candidates who won on Tuesday are not a homogeneous bunch and they will almost certainly come to the table with different ideas and different policy preferences. But I think what they largely have in common is a determination to reach sensible solutions to pressing problems. At least I hope so, because that’s what liberalism is supposed to be about. It’s about having an open-minded and outcome-oriented approach to governance.

Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

Who Supports The Troops? Republicans Or Democrats?

The answer is Democrats.

The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America — a non-partisan veterans’ group — took a look at 324 legislative votes in the last five years which affected American troops and veterans. Legislative proposals included veterans’ benefits, healthcare, and medical research dedicated towards injured soldiers. Based on these votes, IAVA calculated which senators and congressmen had a history of supporting the troops, and which didn’t, and graded them on a curve.

Here are the results:


Yup, you’re reading that right.  All Senate Democrats ranked higher than every Senate Republican.  Via Bob Geiger.

Short Bites

Barring some miracle, blogging will be light to non-existent for the next few days.

But that won’t stop be from pointing to things I find amusing, like

(1)  the fact that robots think humans taste like bacon

(2)  What hath John Hodgman wrought?  He wrote a book in which he listed 700 hobo names.  Now, illustrators are providing drawings for each hobo.

(3)  Obama finally admits he is thinking about an ’08 prez bid.  Time magazine has his face on the cover, saying "Why Barack Obama Could Be The Next President."  Yeah.  I was saying that as far back as July 2004.

UPDATE:  Even neo-con Jonah Goldberg at the Corner admits to feeling a little love for Obama:

Well, since now is the time to divulge our feelings about the man, I’ll join the fray. I think Obama is a  compelling and attractive political figure. He’s got charisma. He’s legitimately bright. I thought his 2004 Convention speech was outstanding.

Still …there are some out there who think that Obama is — and they mean this literally — the Antichrist.  Meanwhile, "Obama" is the word of the day, and The American Street has a wrap-up of various thoughts from around the punditry, but Matt Stoller writes (in my view) the best piece: "Why Barack Obama Should Run For President"

(4)  The Dr. Laura Action figure doll.  Seriously.  I’ll bet if you pull the string, she’ll say something like "Matthew Shepard had it coming".

(5)  Death toll of U.S. soldiers in Iraq this month now at 89.  This makes it the bloodiest in 2006 (with a week still to go).  At the current rate of  3.87 soliders per day, it will be the worst month since 2/2005.

(6)  No, not "Snakes On A Plane".  It’s shrimps on a treadmill.

What It Means To Be Liberal

Law Professor Geoffrey Stone takes a stab at writing ten central tenets of "liberalism", since many people (even liberals) have a hard time identifying what liberalism is about.  I’d say he did a pretty good job:

Part of the problem is that liberals have failed to define themselves and to state clearly what they believe. As a liberal, I find that appalling.

In that light, I thought it might be interesting to try to articulate 10 propositions that seem to me to define "liberal" today. Undoubtedly, not all liberals embrace all of these propositions, and many conservatives embrace at least some of them.

Moreover, because 10 is a small number, the list is not exhaustive. And because these propositions will in some instances conflict, the "liberal" position on a specific issue may not always be predictable. My goal, however, is not to end discussion, but to invite debate.

1. Liberals believe individuals should doubt their own truths and consider fairly and open-mindedly the truths of others. This is at the very heart of liberalism. Liberals understand, as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once observed, that "time has upset many fighting faiths." Liberals are skeptical of censorship and celebrate free and open debate.

2. Liberals believe individuals should be tolerant and respectful of difference. It is liberals who have supported and continue to support the civil rights movement, affirmative action, the Equal Rights Amendment and the rights of gays and lesbians. (Note that a conflict between propositions 1 and 2 leads to divisions among liberals on issues like pornography and hate speech.)

3. Liberals believe individuals have a right and a responsibility to participate in public debate. It is liberals who have championed and continue to champion expansion of the franchise; the elimination of obstacles to voting; "one person, one vote;" limits on partisan gerrymandering; campaign-finance reform; and a more vibrant freedom of speech. They believe, with Justice Louis Brandeis, that "the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people."

4. Liberals believe "we the people" are the governors and not the subjects of government, and that government must treat each person with that in mind. It is liberals who have defended and continue to defend the freedom of the press to investigate and challenge the government, the protection of individual privacy from overbearing government monitoring, and the right of individuals to reproductive freedom. (Note that libertarians, often thought of as "conservatives," share this value with liberals.)

5. Liberals believe government must respect and affirmatively safeguard the liberty, equality and dignity of each individual. It is liberals who have championed and continue to champion the rights of racial, religious and ethnic minorities, political dissidents, persons accused of crime and the outcasts of society. It is liberals who have insisted on the right to counsel, a broad application of the right to due process of law and the principle of equal protection for all people.

6. Liberals believe government has a fundamental responsibility to help those who are less fortunate. It is liberals who have supported and continue to support government programs to improve health care, education, social security, job training and welfare for the neediest members of society. It is liberals who maintain that a national community is like a family and that government exists in part to "promote the general welfare."

7. Liberals believe government should never act on the basis of sectarian faith. It is liberals who have opposed and continue to oppose school prayer and the teaching of creationism in public schools and who support government funding for stem-cell research, the rights of gays and lesbians and the freedom of choice for women.

8. Liberals believe courts have a special responsibility to protect individual liberties. It is principally liberal judges and justices who have preserved and continue to preserve freedom of expression, individual privacy, freedom of religion and due process of law. (Conservative judges and justices more often wield judicial authority to protect property rights and the interests of corporations, commercial advertisers and the wealthy.)

9. Liberals believe government must protect the safety and security of the people, for without such protection liberalism is impossible. This, of course, is less a tenet of liberalism than a reply to those who attack liberalism. The accusation that liberals are unwilling to protect the nation from internal and external dangers is false. Because liberals respect competing values, such as procedural fairness and individual dignity, they weigh more carefully particular exercises of government power (such as the use of secret evidence, hearsay and torture), but they are no less willing to use government authority in other forms (such as expanded police forces and international diplomacy) to protect the nation and its citizens.

10. Liberals believe government must protect the safety and security of the people, without unnecessarily sacrificing constitutional values. It is liberals who have demanded and continue to demand legal protections to avoid the conviction of innocent people in the criminal justice system, reasonable restraints on government surveillance of American citizens, and fair procedures to ensure that alleged enemy combatants are in fact enemy combatants. Liberals adhere to the view expressed by Brandeis some 80 years ago: "Those who won our independence … did not exalt order at the cost of liberty."

Consider this an invitation. Are these propositions meaningful? Are they helpful? Are they simply wrong? As a liberal, how would you change them or modify the list? As a conservative, how would you draft a similar list for conservatives?

As for me, the only one I have a problem with is #8, but my gripe is more of semantics.  I don’t think the courts have a special responsibility to protect individual liberties — I think the courts have a special responsibility to follow the Constitution.  And the Constitution protects individual liberties.  Small difference, but an important one.

Quote Of The Day

"I am sick of Karl Rove’s bullshit."Bill Clinton in the latest New Yorker.

Sadly, the New Yorker doesn’t have the interview in its online version, but apparently that’s what the Big Dog actually said.

Other Clinton quotes from the article:

  • Clinton on the Kerry campaign: "Like a deer caught in the headlights."
  • Clinton on watching the World Cup Final in Berlin: "I’m totally psyched for this."
  • Clinton on the vote to go into Iraq: "I’m sick and tired of being told that if you voted for authorization you voted for the war. It was a mistake, and I would have made it, too….The administration did not shoot straight on the nuclear issue or on Saddam’s supposed ties to Al Qaeda prior to 9/11.
  • Clinton on the Bush administration: "It just makes me mad…I just wish I were there trying to articulate an alternative vision."
  • An Average Day In The Life Of Joe Republican

    A pretty decent explanation of why I’m a bleeding heart liberal pinko commie:

    Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards. With his first swallow of water, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to ensure their safety and that they work as advertised.

    All but $10 of his medications are paid for by his employer’s medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance – now Joe gets it, too.

    He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Joe’s bacon is safe to eat because some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.

    In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.

    Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for the laws to stop industries from polluting our air.

    He walks on the government-provided sidewalk to the subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work. It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation costs because some fancy-pants liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.

    Joe begins his work day. He has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe’s employer pays these standards because Joe’s employer doesn’t want his employees to call the union.

    If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he’ll get a worker compensation or an unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn’t think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.

    It is noontime and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe’s deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe’s money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression.

    Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and his below-market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Joe and the country would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime. Joe also forgets that his in addition to his federally subsidized student loans, he attended a state-funded university.

    Joe is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive. His car is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards to go along with the taxpayer- funded roads.

    He arrives at his boyhood home. His was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers’ Home Administration because bankers didn’t want to make rural loans.

    The house didn’t have electricity until some big-government liberal stuck his nose where it didn’t belong and demanded rural electrification.

    He is happy to see his father, who is now retired. His father lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine-drinking, cheese-eating liberals made sure Dad could take care of himself so Joe wouldn’t have to.

    Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn’t mention that the beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day. Joe agrees: “We don’t need those big-government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I’m a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of himself, just like I have.”

    Ann Richards R.I.P.

    The former governor of Texas passed away yesterday.  I’ll always remember her as the lady who quipped:

    “Poor George, he can’t help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.”

    The Power Of The Blogosphere

    I hate — really hate — the self-congratulatory aspect of the political blogosphere, where bloggers hoist themselves on their own petard thinking that, collectively, they can change the course of politics and, by extension, America.

    But Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, the proprietor of the most popular liberal blog Daily Kos, seems to really be making a difference, and has set himself up as a key player in shaping the state of the Democratic party.  As this article suggests, it may not be a good thing.

    What’s that saying about power and corruption?

    The Strange Crash Of Gary Dodds

    You need to read this story to believe it.

    Although, nobody’s sure what to believe.

    It involves NH congressional candidate Gary Dodds, a Democrat, who disappeared for 27 hours in April.  His car was found in a crash with a guardrail, and Dodds himself was found a mile away a day later.  His "story" of what happened, where he was going, etc. doesn’t hold together, and the police are openly suspicious.

    Corrupt Democrats

    Ever since the Abramoff scandal rained crap on many GOPers, the Republican establishment and their colleagues in the press have been looking for the equivalent level of corruption in Democrats.  They think they’ve found it.

    The headline reads "Reid Accepted Free Boxing Tickets While a Related Bill Was Pending":

    Senate Democratic Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) accepted free ringside tickets from the Nevada Athletic Commission to three professional boxing matches while that state agency was trying to influence him on federal regulation of boxing.

    Reid took the free seats for Las Vegas fights between 2003 and 2005 as he was pressing legislation to increase government oversight of the sport, including the creation of a federal boxing commission that Nevada’s agency feared might usurp its authority.

    Except it’s not that bad.  TPM Muckraker explains that "there is an exception for gifts from governmental agencies (like the Nevada Athletic Commission) in the Senate ethics rules. So there is nothing untoward about Reid having accepted the free tickets."

    Moreover, Reid voted against the legislation for which the Commission was seeking his support.

    Now, to be sure, this has the appearance of impropriety, and perhaps Reid should have been smarter.  (There’s no doubt he would not do this in a post-Abramoff world).  But it’s hardly comparable.

    If Al Gore Was President

    SnlgoreI don’t watch Saturday Night Live anymore, but I regret not seeing Al Gore open the show this past weekend.  He spoke as President Al Gore, looking back on his six years in office.

    Crooks and Liars has video. A snippet:

    As I speak, the gigantic national budget surplus is down to a perilously low $11 trillion dollars.

    And don’t get any ideas. That money is staying in the very successful lockbox. We’re not touching it.

    Of course, we could give economic aid to China, or lend money to the Saudis… again.

    But right now we’re already so loved by everyone in the world that American tourists can’t even go over to Europe anymore… without getting hugged.


    There have been some setbacks. Unfortunately, the confirmation process for Supreme Court Justice Michael Moore was bitter and devisive. However, I could not be more proud of how the House and Senate pulled together to confirm the nomination of Chief Justice George Clooney.

    The Catholic Vote

    Glenn Greenwald notes that part of Rove’s tactics for winning the 2004 election against Kerry was to take the Catholic vote.  Rove did this in part by impugning Kerry’s catholicism, i.e., Kerry wasn’t a "good" Catholic.  Part of the reprehensible tactics included parading Catholic Republicans in front of the microphones to suggest that Kerry shouldn’t receive communion because of his stance on abortion.

    And it seemed to work.  Bush (a Methodist) won 52% of the Catholic vote to Kerry’s 47%.

    But, as Glenn suggests, there is no earthly reason why such a tactic should work…

    …because scores of Republican policies, including their most prominent ones, are plainly contrary to Catholic doctrine and have been vigorously condemned both by John Paul II and by the current Pope. Those policies could not be any more anti-Catholic.

    Think about it:  The war in Iraq and the pre-emptive war doctrine?  Vehemently opposed by the Vatican.

    The death penalty?  The Catholic church opposes that.

    If, as Glenn prediects, the "Catholic strategy" is going to be deployed by Republicans in the 2006 elections, Democrats should be prepared to fight, because it is a fight we can win:

    The reality is that Catholicism translates politically into support for liberal views at least as much as it does for conservative views. Large majorities of Catholics support abortion rights generally, stem cell research, and oppose further tax cuts. There are also dormant and lurking religious tensions between evangelicals and Catholics which Bush opponents allow to remain hidden and unexamined, while Republicans exploit every cultural and religious division they can find. There is no virtue in continuing to win policy debates while losing elections due to a ceding of these submerged and ugly battlefields.

    Republicans have all sorts of vulnerabilities on these issues. So many of their leading pundits and political figures have personal lives filled with private moral atrocities or activities which so plainly violate the religious and cultural principles they claim to embody. Their flagship policies are squarely prohibited by core Catholic principles and have been condemned as immoral and unjust by the Vatican. How can that same party parade around as the true party of Catholicism?

    Exactly.   Maybe the sex scandals within the Catholic Church have cowed many Catholics into silence, or shamed them  into pulling the lever for the "Daddy" party.  But it’s time the raised their voice, and held to principle and returned to the Democratic Party.

    Fighting Dems

    The Fighting Dems series is meant to highlight men and women who have worn the uniform and have chosen to run on the Democratic ticket. Turns out — contrary to what you might think — there’s a heck of a lot more on our side than theirs. Check it out here — they are currently featuring Iraq War vets running for political office throughout the country.

    Harry Reid: Kicking Ass

    Whaa?!?  The hot breaking buzz is on Senator Harry Reid, and his surprise invocation of a rare closed door session of the Senate to discuss Iraq and the faulty intelligence during the run-up.  Frist is pissed, talking about the lack of senatorial courtesy (something which Republicans feel they have not been obligated to give, since they have a majority).

    CNN has the story.

    Via Pandagon, Reid’s booty-busting speech just prior to the session is posted below the fold.

    Well, Shit, John — No Duh.

    John Kerry admits that his pro-war vote was a mistake, adding:

    I understand that as much as we might wish it, we can’t rewind the tape of history. There is, as Robert Kennedy once said, `enough blame to go around,’ and I accept my share of the responsibility. But the mistakes of the past, no matter who made them, are no justification for marching ahead into a future of miscalculations and misjudgments and the loss of American lives with no end in sight. We each have a responsibility, to our country and our conscience, to be honest about where we should go from here. It is time for those of us who believe in a better course to say so plainly and unequivocally.

    Kerry now favors partial withdrawal.

    Oh, Yeah. Democrats.

    The Hill is reporting that the Democratic Party is working on a slogan for the 2006 midterm elections.  They reportedly have it narrowed down to two: "Together, We Can Do Better" or "Together, America Can Do Better".

    I kind of like the "do better" strategy, although I think it will cause many to think, "Well, a duck could do better".

    But given the two choices, the first one is preferable.  "We" is ambiguous enough to mean "we" as in "America" OR "we" as in "Democrats".  Let the listener decide.

    Wonkette imagines some of the rejected slogans:

    The Hill reports that "The message project considered ‘dozens’ of potential slogans," before settling on the "do better" strategy. Rejected slogans included, we hear, "You Could Do Worse," "It’s Not Like There’s a Third Party," and "Sorry About that Kerry Thing."

    Democratic Ideas – No. 10 (Last in a Series)

    Putting Prevention First.  Democrats are committed to reducing unintended pregnancies by increasing access to family planning services and improving contraceptive coverage.  We will increase funding for family planning and empower states to enable more women to take responsibility for their health.  We will also improve contraceptive coverage by assuring equity in prescription drug insurance.


    Democratic Idea No. 1: Standing With Our Troops

    Democratic Idea No. 2: Targeting The Terrorists More Effectively

    Democratic Idea No. 3: Fulfilling Our Duty to America’s Veterans

    Democratic Idea No. 4: Expanding Economic Opportunity

    Democratic Idea No. 5: Quality Education For All

    Democratic Idea No. 6: Making Health Care More Affordable

    Democratic Idea No. 7: Democracy Begins At Home

    Democratic Idea No. 8: Meeting Our Responsibility To Medicare Beneficiaries

    Democratic Idea No. 9: Fiscal Responsibility For A Sound Future

    Democratic Ideas – No. 9

    Fiscal Responsibility for a Sound Future.  Democrats know that fiscal mismanagement today only leads to greater problems for our children.  It is our responsibility to address the fiscal irresponsibility of the current Administration by imposing discipline today and Democrats are united to strengthen budgeting rules that require the government to live within its means. 


    Democratic Idea No. 1: Standing With Our Troops

    Democratic Idea No. 2: Targeting The Terrorists More Effectively

    Democratic Idea No. 3: Fulfilling Our Duty to America’s Veterans

    Democratic Idea No. 4: Expanding Economic Opportunity

    Democratic Idea No. 5: Quality Education For All

    Democratic Idea No. 6: Making Health Care More Affordable

    Democratic Idea No. 7: Democracy Begins At Home

    Democratic Idea No. 8: Meeting Our Responsibility To Medicare Beneficiaries

    Democratic Ideas – No. 8

    Meeting Our Responsibility to Medicare Beneficiaries.  Democrats will take the special interests out of the Medicare law by repealing the provision that prevents Medicare from negotiating better prices for seniors and eliminating the slush fund for HMOs. We will also improve the prescription drug benefit by phasing out the current doughnut hole where seniors pay a premium but get no benefit.  We will buy down the Part B premium so premium increases are not too steep.  We will address incentives that encourage employers to drop retiree benefits and we will ensure that no seniors are forced into HMOs while helping seniors in their transition to the new benefit.


    Democratic Idea No. 1: Standing With Our Troops

    Democratic Idea No. 2: Targeting The Terrorists More Effectively

    Democratic Idea No. 3: Fulfilling Our Duty to America’s Veterans

    Democratic Idea No. 4: Expanding Economic Opportunity

    Democratic Idea No. 5: Quality Education For All

    Democratic Idea No. 6: Making Health Care More Affordable

    Democratic Idea No. 7: Democracy Begins At Home

    Walter Has A Good Idea

    In a letter to the NY Times:

    To the Editor:

    Re "Democrats See Dream of ’06 Victory Taking Form" (front page, Oct. 13):

    The key to a Democratic success in next year’s Congressional election is clearly in the party leadership’s coming up with a campaign that does not concentrate on the Bush administration’s failures but offers alternative programs to fix what it believes is wrong with the Republican agenda.

    A suggestion by which the Democratic Party could command the greatest public attention for its positive agenda: It could within weeks call an extraordinary midterm convention to draw up its platform.

    The convention would not need to be expensive. The delegates could be those who attended the 2004 convention. Their meeting would be open to the public and of course the press.

    In sharp contrast to the secrecy of the Bush administration, it would let the public, if only remotely, share in the construction of the Democratic platform.

    Although local issues might cause some candidates in next year’s Congressional election to veer from the platform on comparatively minor issues, the basic principles of the party would be clearly apparent.

    The voting population would for the first time in many years have an unobstructed view of those principles that differentiate the Democratic Party from those of the Republican Party.

    Walter Cronkite
    New York, Oct. 13, 2005

    It’s a very good idea, especially since the public perception (rightly or wrongly) is that the Democrats have no plan.

    Democratic Ideas – No. 7

    Democracy Begins at Home. Equal opportunity in this country is based upon equal representation and fair voting.  Democrats are determined to reforming the voting system in this country to create Federal standards for our elections.  The bill adds verification, accountability and accuracy to the system.  It increases access to the polls with Election Day registration, shorter lines and early voting.  The bill also aims to modernize our election equipment and increase impartiality and provides the resources to our states to implement the bill.


    Democratic Idea No. 1: Standing With Our Troops

    Democratic Idea No. 2: Targeting The Terrorists More Effectively

    Democratic Idea No. 3: Fulfilling Our Duty to America’s Veterans

    Democratic Idea No. 4: Expanding Economic Opportunity

    Democratic Idea No. 5: Quality Education For All

    Democratic Idea No. 6: Making Health Care More Affordable

    Democratic Ideas – No. 6

    Making Health Care More Affordable.  Spiraling health care costs are putting the opportunity of America at risk, making it harder for families to buy health insurance and placing a difficult burden on small businesses and manufacturers.  Democrats will address these concerns by making prescription drugs more affordable through the legalization of prescription drug reimportation and more safe by ensuring drugs are monitored after they are approved for use.  Democrats will ensure that all children and pregnant women will have health care and protect Medicaid.  We will reduce the growing cost of health care to small businesses by offering tax credits while also modernizing health care to cut costs for patients and businesses.


    Democratic Idea No. 1: Standing With Our Troops

    Democratic Idea No. 2: Targeting The Terrorists More Effectively

    Democratic Idea No. 3: Fulfilling Our Duty to America’s Veterans

    Democratic Idea No. 4: Expanding Economic Opportunity

    Democratic Idea No. 5: Quality Education For All

    Democratic Ideas – No. 5

    Quality Education for All Democrats are committed to providing a quality education to all Americans because we recognize that education has always been the cornerstone of equal opportunity.  Democrats will keep our promise to our children by increasing support for pre-school education, fully funding No Child Left Behind and improving its implementation.  We are committed to providing safe and reliable transportation for our rural school children and meeting the Federal commitment to children with disabilities.  Democrats will also address the shortfall of math, science and special education teachers by creating tuition incentives for college students to major in those fields.  We will help expand educational opportunities for college by providing relief from skyrocketing college tuition, increasing the size and access to Pell Grants and supporting proven programs that encourage more young people to attend and succeed in college.\


    Democratic Idea No. 1: Standing With Our Troops

    Democratic Idea No. 2: Targeting The Terrorists More Effectively

    Democratic Idea No. 3: Fulfilling Our Duty to America’s Veterans

    Democratic Idea No. 4: Expanding Economic Opportunity

    Democratic Ideas – No. 4

    Expanding Economic Opportunity.  Democrats understand that the most effective means of increasing opportunity for our families is a high quality, good paying job.  Democrats will fight to restore overtime protection to 6 million workers and increase the minimum wage for 7.4 million workers.  We must do more to create good jobs today and in the future and the Democratic bill does so by eliminating tax incentives for companies that take jobs overseas, creating new jobs through an expansion of infrastructure programs to repair America’s backbone, and encouratrongging innovation in the American economy.  We are also determined to pursue a trade policy that protects American workers and addresses our record trade deficit.  Democrats will work to strengthen enforcement of our trade agreements while assisting those workers who have been unduly burdened by unfair trading practices of other nations.


    Democratic Idea No. 1: Standing With Our Troops

    Democratic Idea No. 2: Targeting The Terrorists More Effectively

    Democratic Idea No. 3: Fulfilling Our Duty to America’s Veterans