Saturday, August 02, 2003

"Hating corruption and incompetence does not make you a liberal."

This was the response of a poster over on the Bartcop forum (thread here) to yet another commentary (this time an editorial in the Chicago Sun-Times) that suggests Dean will lead the Dems to disaster by dragging it "far to the left of mainstream American opinion." But liberalism has nothing to do with the Dean phenomena. It has everything to do with the desire for real leadership instead of the faux patriotism we get from the Bushies. It has everything to do with having an administration that actually cares about making the future better for all Americans, not just a few rich fundraisers. It has everything to do with being able to sleep at night knowing that the ship is being steered by people who have some clue that they know what they are doing. Until the commentators understand this they will continue to completely misunderstand what is driving the Dean campaign.

Friday, August 01, 2003

Fight goddamnit!

Dean is going to use some of the windfall from last weekends huge online fundraiser (approximately $200,000 of it) to put political ads on the air in Texas. This reminds me again why I was originally attracted to Dean. It didn't have anything to do with his stand on the issues, not even the Iraq war. All of that was just gravy. The meat of Dean's attraction was that he is a figher. When the rest of the establishment continued to quake at the mere suggestion of going up against the Bush juggernaut Dean got up and delivered a very simple message: you won't win anything if you don't fight for it. The Democratic establishment likes to talk about how the party needs to nominate someone who will look strong on national security. I agree completely. But looking strong on national defense is not just a matter of what policies you support. It also depends on your public demeanor. No amount of "tough" policy will win the election if the candidate delivers it with a mewl instead of a roar. Dean is roaring. The herd is starting to wake up.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Google News Democratic Poll for 7/30/03

  This Week (7/30) Last Week (7/23)
1 John Kerry 5130 18.4% -1.0 1 4880 19.3%
2 Bob Graham 5010 17.9% +2.8 3 3830 15.2%
3 Howard Dean 4760 17.0% +0.1 2 4280 17.0%
4 John Edwards 2860 10.2% +0.0 4 2580 10.2%
5 Joe Lieberman 2840 10.2% +0.2 5 2510 10.0%
6 Dick Gephardt 2520 9.0% +0.8 7 2080 8.2%
7 Dennis Kucinich 2290 8.2% -1.4 6 2420 9.6%
8 Al Sharpton 1600 5.7% -0.6 8 1590 6.3%
9 Carol Moseley Braun 922 3.3% -0.9 9 1050 4.2%

The biggest winner of the week was Bob Graham by a large margin. The release of the 9/11 report probably had a lot to do with this since he is the ranking Democrat on the Senate committee that wrote the report.

Dick Gephardt improved his standings a little for what reason I can't say.

Dennis Kucinich was the biggest loser. He got a temporary bump in media coverage because of Bush's Iraq problems but, as the focus turned off that a bit this past week, that bump disappeared. Kerry's share also dropped because of the same shift from Iraq to 9/11 most likely. What is interesting to note is that Dean, who also made a lot of splash because of Bush's Iraq problems, managed to hold on to his media share despite the change in media emphasis. Could this signify that his media appeal is broadening beyond just the anti-war question?

Joe Lieberman also manages to hold onto his share, but there were a lot of stories this past week about his polling problems so remember that media share covers both good and bad news.

(Methodology: All numbers are taken from the hit counts when searching on the Google News Service for news stories containing each candidate's name. Click on each name to rerun the search. You will likely get different results as the numbers are constantly changing. I make absolutely no claim that these numbers have any real meaning.)

More DLC backlash

As usual, Digby says it better in his response to the nonsense coming out of the DLC:
The DLC is still saying exactly what they said back in 1985, (which should be terribly embarrassing because it indicates that they have failed spectacularly to change the party’s image.) The truth is that they succeeded quite well at first, but the result was a GOP that saw the Democrats moving their way and seized the opportunity to move the goalposts ever further to the right and also become more aggressive and hostile. They did not meet us in the middle, guys, they just kept on going in the direction they wanted to go anyway. And they lost all compunction about tarring the opposition with outright lies and character assassination. The fact is that it does not matter if our candidate actually supported the war in Iraq or not. If John Kerry is the nominee rather than Howard Dean, do they actually believe that the Republicans will not find a way to portray him as soft on national security? Please. It. Does. Not. Matter. What. We. Actually. Do. We could sign on to a 0% tax rate for millionaires, repeal of Social Security, prison terms for homosexuality and oil rigs in the middle of San Francisco Bay and they would still say we are liberal, tax and spend, tree hugging, treasonous pacifists because it is in their interest to do so. Until we stop tugging our forelocks and sniveling around like beaten dogs, thereby validating their lies, they will be believed by a fair number of Americans. People who turn the other cheek when they are being unfairly and relentlessly attacked are either saints or pussies ... and the DLC aren’t saints. The way to change the Republican propaganda-created perception that the Democratic Party is a bunch of namby pamby, liberal, pacifist big spenders is to FIGHT BACK.
I am not the only one who finds it ironic that the DLC solution to the problem of Democrats appearing weak is to act even weaker. The Democrats need to fight back, EVEN AT THE RISK OF LOSING, because to do otherwise is to effectively surrender the field to the opposition.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

More uniting!

Just found this today but apparently the Japanese are planning on sending a thousand troops to Iraq. This will apparently be the first time Japanese troops have been sent to foreign soil since World War II. While the bill authorizing the deployment is expected to pass it has produced some opposition in the Japanese legislature. Click here for more pictures of the unity and peace Dubya is bringing to the world.

And another thing...

The horse brings up a good point about the DLC's attacks on Dean: by making the argument they are making they are essentially conceding the point that Bush is strong on national security.
2004 is likely to come down to another battle for the Moron-American vote, and we should not take for granted this crowd understands From to be speaking of "perceptions." We should take for granted they understand him to mean Bush is "strong" on national security, and we should take for granted that each time such a statement is uttered it reinforces that myth. Comments like From's are so clumsy many cannot help but wonder if he in fact does seek to perpetuate a perception of a "strong" Bush national security policy in hopes that more hawkish DLC candidates might fare better. If there were any truth to that, it would be "Irresponsible in the extreme."
Didn't anyone tell these idiots that you don't beat perceptions by first asserting that those perceptions are true? Do you think the Republican's would ever concede that the Democrats are strong on ANY issue? Of course not! You see, they understand that to win the political battle you have to paint the opposition as being incompetent on all points. You don't win points for admitting to the strengths of the opposition. The DLC leadership appears to be skilled at only one thing: raising money from business interests. When it comes to politics they are worse than incompetent.

Monday, July 28, 2003

From, Reed, Noise, Fury, Nothing

Okay, the DLC's vendetta against Dean has reached the point of farce. From and Reed are doing Karl Rove's work for him. He doesn't need to demoralize the Democrats when the DLC leadership is doing it for them. I'm tired of this shit. I have just one question for Mr. From and Mr. Reed and, until they answer it in the affirmative, I don't want to waste another second on their useless drivel. The question is simply this, "If Howard Dean wins the nomination will you work your butt off to get him elected in 2004?" Well, how about it Al? How about it Bruce? Put up or shut up! Update: Oh, and if anyone is wondering, yes, I will vote for whoever the Democrats nominate. Even Lieberman. I'm not yet sure whether I would "work my butt off" for Joe or not. Since I would consider such a candidacy a hopeless cause I'm not sure I'd want to waste my time on it. But then I'm just an "activist elistist" and not one of a dedicated politico like the DLC leaders.

The Grand Conspiracy

I talked previously about the book I am currently reading (Captain America and the Crusade against Evil -- The Dilemma of Zealous Nationalism by Robert Jewett and John Shelton Lawrence) and how it talks about the competing forces of zealotry and realism in American political life (actually, all political life, not just American). There is a fascinating chapter that discusses the phenomena of the Grand Conspiracy. This is the belief that all of the evils that beset us are actually just manifestations of a Grand Conspiracy of evil that seeks nothing less then the destruction of all that is good in the world. All the lesser conspiracies of evil are all just manifestations of this Grand Conspiracy and are instigated by the Grand Conspirator (Satan). The Grand Conspiracy theory has held sway in many cultures at many times and usually leads to crusades by the Chosen People against the Agents Of Evil. The theory being that, if the Chosen People could just wipe out the Agents Of Evil, then a paradise on earth would be ushered in, as promised to us so many times in prophecy. The problem with this theory is that the actual crusades never quite work out as well as planned (it worked so well in Vietnam, no?) and often, if not always, lead to even worse evils. Jewett and Lawrence have identified the flaw in this reasoning to be the arrogant presumption that any of us can possibly assume the mantle of God and purge the world of its evil influences. To do so IS a form of idolatry, but in this case the graven image we create is the idea that we have the power to destroy the evil doers. Idolatry is one of the big no-nos in monotheistic tradition quite simply because it encourages the arrogant presumption of God-like powers by mere mortals. It is when we begin to think that we have the right to judge and punish in God's name that we tend to commit the worst sorts of evil. Jewett and Lawrence have also identified the contrary tradition to this form of zealotry. They call it Prophetic Realism and they identify Jesus as one of its greatest proponents. The chapter on the Grand Conspiracy ends with their exegis of Jesus's message to his followers. Jesus lived at a time when Jewish zealotry was rampant and growing in influence. This zealotry pushed the idea that if the Jews could just rise up and purge the holy land of the Roman occupiers and all other Gentiles then, once again, paradise on earth would be achieved. All that was needed was the messiah who would lead the armies of God. Jesus was NOT the messiah they were expecting. Far from preaching the sword he instead preached to the Israelis that they should "fight" their enemies with love instead of hate. Jesus understood that the zealotry that was then rampant would eventually destroy and scatter the Jewish people (thus his prediction of the eventual destruction of the temple). His message was that the only way to save themselves was to leave it to God to sort out the wheat from the chaff. Jewett and Lawrence illustrate this via the story of the three temptations of Jesus which I'd like to quote extensively:
Jesus worked out his radical break with the popular myths of his time in a fundamental way in the temptation experience early in his ministry, which he later apparently told to his disciples in parabolic form. The parable portrayed the devil as a tempter who set the seductive motifs of the grand conspiracy before Jesus as strategies for ushering in the kingdom. Jesus' first temptation was to use divine power to eliminate the evil of poverty. To "turn stones into bread" would be to fulfill the pardisiacal conditions that the zealots were envisioning after the destruction of Satan's hordes, who they thought were taking food from the mouths of Jewish children. Jesus rejected this temptation as a demonic urge to transcend the human situation: we do not overcome the problems of life by eliminating evil but by living in the midst of it through faith in God's word: "Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that God utters" (Matt 4:4). Jesus' second temptation was to be given assurance in advance about the outcome of his ministry: to throw himself down from the pinnacle of the Temple to test whether the angels will "bear you up" is to gain precisely the kind of certainty that the grand conspiracy seemed to offer. Jesus judge this, too, to be a demonic distortion of the finite situation of humans in relation to God's future: "Scripture says again, 'You are not to put the Lord your God to the test'" (Matt. 4:7). The ideals of the great crusade against the sources of evil, in which victory is assured in advance no matter what the odds, are crumbling here under the impact of divine reality. And Jesus struck the final blow when, in the third temptation, he rejected the theocratic dream itself: the rule of the entire world by the saints after the demise of Satan. He equated falling prey to such a dream with worshiping the demonic. "Once again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their glory. 'All these,' he said, 'I will give to you, if you will only fall down and do me homage. But Jesus said, 'Begone, Satan! for it is written, "You shall do homage to the Lord your God and worship him alone"'" (Matt. 4:8-10). This is a penetrating and comprehensive rebuttal of the theology of the grand conspiracy. Jesus has exposed its subtle distortions of God's will into a graven image of human dreams, its flagrant violation of respect for God's open future, and its pretensions of being virtuous enough to carry out God's rule on earth. But most shocking of all, he has denoted as demonic not the presumed source of evil in the form of foreign conspiracies but rather the very belief in the theology of the grand conspiracy itself! The mystique of evil, which has fascinated true believers from Daniel to the John Birch Society, from the Book of Revelation to the Left Behind novels and videos, Jesus has deftly set aside and replaced with a realistic appraisal of the moral depravity of a particular political program. What is demonic is not some alien conspiracy against the good but rather the religious and political perversions by those who presume to act on God's behalf.
Now that's an interpretation of this story that I have never heard before, but it truly fits into a wider picture of the message of Jesus (and Mohammed as well, who also preached against those who would presume that they had the right to arbitrate God's will). There is evil in the world and it must be resisted lest it destroy us. But evil comes in many forms, one of which is the presumption that we can assume the mantle of holy crusaders to eliminate God's enemies from the world. God can certainly take care of those enemies without our assistance. To march off to destroy the evil-doer is to, in essence, tell God that we are tired of waiting for him to do it and we are going to take matters into our own hands. We must resist evil. But we cannot destroy it. That is God's option alone and he, for whatever reason, has chosen not to. Who are we to say he made the wrong choice?

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Electability again

Consider this: in order for Kerry to be more electable than Dean there must be at least a couple of swing states that Kerry would have a better chance of winning than Dean. What are they? I can think of at least a couple of swing states that Dean might have a better chance of winning than Kerry (West Virginia and Oregon), but I'm damned if I can think of a single state that Kerry would have a better chance of winning than Dean. (thanks to Keith Brekhus who brought up this question in the comments section of the Daily KOS).

End the feud now!

The DLC vs. Dean feud has been a puzzlement for many of us out here in the bleachers. Except for Dean's position on the war, there is very little substantial policy difference between the DLC and Dean. In fact, Dean's campaign is running an operation much along the lines that the DLC has been recommending for years. I'd hate to think it, but it is not outside the realm of possibility that the DLCs biggest problem with Dean is that he is successful despite the DLC, not because of it. What that means is that, if Dean were to win the big prize next November, without the backing of the DLC, then the DLC would lose a substantial amount of influence within the party. What I'd hate to think is that the DLC would rather the Democrats lose it all in 2004 if it meant Dean winning it all without their help. Having said all that, it is interesting to consider the peculiar situation of the DLC issuing a list of "Bush promised... but instead he delivered..." talking points not two days after Dean published a similar set of examples of Bush's misleadership? Isn't it about time for From and Reed to swallow their pride and start trying to work with Dean?