Saturday, November 11, 2006

Without a Name

for my parents, olvlzl

All of the dead, some in uniform, parents, old, children too young.
Holes in families, empty houses. Shadows on people. A name in rock.

A person remembers someone. A town, a life.
Countries give speeches. Speeches about speeches.
Speeches about people. Too far away to know.

And I can't tell you. You had to see them. In their towns. Both sides.

Troubled Youth, The Green Party At the Age Of Majority

Posted by olvlzl.

John Eder, the only Green State Legislator in Maine is listed in Wikipedia as the highest office holder in the history of the Green Party of the United States*. I was truly sorry to read that he had lost his reelection bid. I like John. He’s smart and daring and has a future in practical politics. The Greens should have a presence in the Maine Legislature, more than just one person. I would love to see a Green caucus that could hold the balance of power in coalition with progressive Democrats and such independents as might constitute a leftist block. This time John Eder’s constituents in Portland didn’t see it that way, electing a Democrat to replace him. But his loss and his position as the Green holding the highest office after twenty-one years of dedication, hard work and great expense by Green Party members all with wildly disproportionate publicity forces a number of questions.

Why would rank-and-file Greens continue allowing the show candidacies favored by their leadership when it has proven to be counter-productive? Nader in 2000 was certainly enough for any sane person to learn that a Green Presidential candidate can only serve to put the worst president in the history of the country into place. That is the only political result that Greens have achieved in a presidential election, certainly not what they hoped for.

This year’s Green candidate for the Senate in Pennsylvania, Carl Romanelli, with the clear and gloating financial help of Republican fat-cats, came one court ruling away from risking the return of Rick Santorum to the Senate. As we have seen that would have made Dick Cheney the deciding vote in a dead-locked Senate. Instead of Leahy running the Judiciary Committee it would have been Arlen “Rubber Stamp for Roberts and Alito” Specter again. And that’s only one committee in the Senate. It’s time for Green Party Members to force their leadership to stop playing pretend before it contributes to the extension of Republican control of the United States.

In the election just concluded, two Greens who ran for governor are listed on the national party’s website as their great successes. Rich Whitney in Illinois got 11% of the vote, Pat LaMarche, again in Maine, got just under 10% of the vote. Clearly neither came close to being elected.

In Maine, my home state, it seemed for a time that Pat LaMarche and the two other “third- party” candidates on the ballot could have succeeded in only one thing, insuring a victory by the paleo-Republican, Chandler Woodcock over the Democrat, Governor John Baldacci. Along with the certain negative direction for the environment and possible overturning of recently passed gay rights legislation, that a Woodcock administration would bring; his victory would have brought the end of Dirigo Health, Baldacci’s attempt at expanding health care to all uninsured Mainers. I wonder how many Greens are uninsured. I wonder how many of them are not fully-covered, white-collar workers who aren’t dependent on the minimum wage. That certainly wouldn’t have been raised by a Chandler Woodcock with a veto pen anymore than a Republican controlled Congress would have. And to top it off, LaMarch wasn’t even the top vote getter among the not-a-chance, “third-party” candidates in the race, Barbara Merrill getting much more than double her percentage of the vote. Though she did swamp People's Hero Phillip Morris NaPier** who got about one-percent.

While I would never downplay the honorable, very important and often thankless job of serving in local government, the Greens have not even had much success on that level. In the figures available for this election they have had a grand total of 38 wins listed on their national web-site.

Greens who look at the glossed over election figures touted as such a great success by the parties leadership should really ask themselves if they are getting their time and money’s worth. Clearly not. I don’t see that they have ever gotten close to a thousand office holders nationwide, thought I haven’t had much luck finding those figures. Why not trumpet the success by the numbers? Non-Greens should look at the Green’s seldom mentioned electoral record to see what the twenty-one years of struggle by Greens in the United States has built. Those who hope for a national third party should seriously consider, with all that work and hype and the history of failed third-parties here, if that is anything but a romantic pipe-dream.

Am I suggesting that Greens give up? Not at all. After twenty-one years they should grow up. Greens are not a national party, there is no chance that they will win national office without a lot of ground work taking decades. They should stop wasting their supporters’ time, money and hope on these stupid, counter-productive, show candidacies. Getting on the ballot doesn’t matter much when there is no chance that it’s going to win you any elections. Study the electoral history of those states where Greens have been on the ballot if you doubt that is true. One, only one state legislative seat in one of the Greenest states in the country and that in one of the greenest cities in the country, now lost.

When they first started in my state I was hoping that Greens would present a real alternative to the, then, failing Democrats. Tip O’Neill, Tom Foley and a host of other ineffectual leaders had me tearing my hair too. The Greens’ decision to have a radically decentralized structure gave me hope that they were going to build from the grass roots, though even I knew that any leftist political meeting that ran on the basis of consensus wouldn’t work.

How did such an allegedly decentralized party start down the path of nominating that black hole of ego, Ralph Nader? Someone too conceited to even join the party that honored him with its nomination? Who was responsible for encouraging Romanelli in his Republican financed, Republican enabling spoiler campaign? Anyone in the leadership of the party who was enthusiastic about those is just too stupid to listen to, they should be replaced with people who have a clear head.

Greens, look at where you have actually had some success on the local level. Build in those places, get more than one person on the local bodies and make certain that they do a good job. That is where your resources and time will get you the success you deserve. Work with progressive Democrats and independents to form an effective power base. Get the people their money’s worth of vital services, educate their children, make their streets safe and then you can ask them to trust you with larger responsibilities. If you have built strong bridges with the Democrats in your area they might sometimes agree to not run a weaker candidate against a stronger Green one. They might also nominate a Green who looks like a safer bet. It’s certainly worth trying. Look at Sanders in Vermont. What has the present strategy gotten you?

A state legislature is the logical next step but only if your candidates can win. Don’t run against anyone if the results will be an even worse candidate has a good chance to win the race. That is the Nader-spoiler model, it will only win you enemies who could have been your allies.

I began this by praising the daring of John Eder. I should have said intelligent daring. In their wrap up of the elections the U.S. Greens include this statement:

Strong antiwar vote in favor of warhawk Democrats shows a disconnect in U.S. politics; only Greens offered an antiwar platform; Greens warn that Democrats in Congress will do little to reverse Bush's foreign policy

Democrats? Since it was the Green candidate Nader who helped put Bush in place to wage his war of conquest this prediction presented in the form fact isn’t daring, it’s intolerable arrogance. It is dishonesty of Rovian proportions. There would be no Iraq war if Bush had not squeaked out a stolen election with the aid of the Green candidate that year.

You’re not going to be forgiven another spoiler on the national level or even on the State level. One more of those, the now strained friendship is over. On their website the U.S. Greens anticipate their presidential bid in 2008, for crying out loud. Read the links to their own web site paying attention to the numbers of successful candidates, many of those winners of non-partisan elections. You’ll see what I mean.

* Here is the election summary for the year 2002 on the Green’s national website.

Greens Continue Growth in 2002.

The Green Party had a successful Nov 5 election day and elected more Greens in 2002 than any previous year. With some results still coming in, we have elected at least 71 people this year and have a new officeholder count of 170. We achieved our main goal of electing someone to a state house - John Eder in Maine. We elected our first people in Texas and North Carolina. Tuesday's election was a defeat for the Democratic Party, but not for the progressive values that they hide from. Nonetheless, our government has moved to the right and our challenges are greater than ever. This country needs a political party that confronts those challenges directly and the Green Party is ready to stand up to the challenge.

Notice the hostility is directed towards Democrats and not Republicans, that is a continuing feature of Green discourse. After six years of Bush II it’s gotten absurdly old. Also notice the number of office holders and people elected.

** His legal name, I kid you not. Actually he was both entertaining and not as crazy as this sounds. His being on the ballot shows how easy it is to get on here, however.

Isn't This Worse Than Having That Justin Timberlake Creep Rip Your Blouse?

Are there any laws that Laura Ingraham encouraged her listeners to break?

Full transcript:

DEAN (recorded): We have a hotline — 1 888 DEM VOTE — anybody can call that. If they feel like there are voting irregularities, we’ll send some folks over to the polling place in a matter of minutes.

(Phone ringing) OPERATOR: Leave a message with your question or press pound to be transferred at no extra charge to your local election protection team or the state Democratic Party. (Dialing) Your call cannot be completed at this time. Please try your call again later.

INGRAHAM: Wait a second! So — (Laughter) you call 1 888 DEM VOTE — otherwise ‘Dim Bulb Vote’ or ‘Dumb Vote’ — and all you do is get tranferred to muzak, then they cut you off. This is what I’m thinking. Tell me if you think I’m crazy. This is what I’m thinking. I think we all need to call 1 888 DEM VOTE all at the same time. And, by the way, when you call, when you call the number — and remember, it’s ‘Dem Vote’ not ‘Dumb Vote’ — when you call the number, as we did, and we got transferred, transferred, then we just got hung up upon. You know, we’re supposed to have these election teams within a matter of minutes, they’re supposed to be coming to the polls. Can you imagine what those people look like? Halloween all over again. So if you have trouble with the poll, you’re supposed to call, via 1 888 ‘Dumb Vote,’ and this is what you get.

OPERATOR: Thank you for calling 1 888 DEM VOTE. To continue in English, press 1. Para continuar in Espanol, oprima el dos.

INGRAHAM: Oh, and if you’re Saddam Hussein, no problem. Vote absentee, in Maryland or Ohio.

If you want to hear one of the quality folk who took Ingraham's advice you can hear one here.

So, there it is. Laura Ingraham was encouraging crank phone calls for the purpose of covering up problems Voters had in exercising not only their rights but their responsiblitites as citizens. Shouldn't there be a criminal investegation in those places where it might be illegal to encourage this kind of behavior? And shouldn't the FCC fine any station that carried this? Cancel the questionmark. This should be grounds for loss of a broadcasting license.

We Need What Works, Not Nice Sounding Words

Posted by olvlzl.

"Berger's approach to politics flowed from his understanding that there was no immediate prospect for a transition to socialism in the United States -- or, for that matter, in any other part of the world. That led him to take the long view, and to seek alliances with other reformers. Among other things he was a leader of the Milwaukee local of the International Typographical Union and editor of the Milwaukee Federated Trades council's official publication. This approach led his detractors to call Berger a
"sewer socialist" -- a reference to the Milwaukee local's promise to build a sewage system designed to last fifty years. In fact, the sewer was built, and it was only a part of the local reforms and stable electoral organizations that Berger championed -- all of which helped to make him the party's most successful politician." [James Weinstein: 2003 The Long Detour]

Of course, in the America of those days sewage and safe drinking water were life or death issues. Having bad water meant serious illness or a horrible and rapid death. No antibiotics. Often the purity of the water improved with income, sometimes not. A good sewage system meant life. While his more ideologically pure contemporaries might have scoffed at these reforms, perhaps believing that they were unworthy of their lofty goals, or for their exalted persons, Victor Berger helped get the sewer built. One assumes that this action saved lives, improved lives, perhaps made people stronger to fight for their rights. One of the most important political results would have been that it provided a tangible example of what the left could do for people. Nothing impresses people like not having to worry that the water is going to kill their children. Avoiding such vulgar projects, the pure of heart felt a higher calling. Which produced talk.

Victor Berger might have failed to enter the pantheon of the more legendary leftists, he was not a failure with the voters. Milwaukee sent him to the congress in 1910, the first Socialist to be elected to the congress and seated. It elected him again in 1920, though by then he had been convicted of essentially opposing the First World War and was not allowed to take the seat. Eventually his constituents kept electing him and he did serve in Congress for three more terms. But even that first time he did serve in congress he racked up a record that betters most of the more remembered leftists in our history. And after winning the right to his seat in court he was reelected twice in the 1920s.

What does this mean for us a hundred years later? Berger's practicality, of facing the situation without wishful thinking and working with the means possible to produce real improvements for people is the model we need to follow. Nothing contained in the most brilliant minds with the highest ideals with the greatest daring and the most solid commitment to the cause is as radical as a bill voted on and made into a law that overturns a bad law. No brilliant idea, rigorous in its logic and comprehensive in its supporting facts is as good as a small civil service project that improves living conditions for people. It is only when the idea is made into law by people who hold elected office that the truly radical can happen, lives improve. Words, true and well chosen, only matter when they are put into effect and change material reality. It is simply a fact that political change relies on politicians who are dependent on the consent of the governed. If the governed see results they will support the politicians who deliver them. These days sewage and safe drinking water are still life or death issues.

Post Script:
Bernie Sanders became the first Socialist elected to the Senate last Tuesday. He represents the position farthest left in the coalition that just barely dominates the Senate. This coalition is what we’ve got to work with we’ve got no other one. The alternative is what we’ve had for the past six years. In our coalition there are lots of competing viewpoints and needs. We’ve got to choose our issues and concentrate on the most important ones that can be achieved now.

There are voices on the left who were trying to promote a situation which would lead to nothing getting done, holding out on principle for the glorious future that we never seem to get closer to. I’ve gone on and on here about how it seems that strict adherence to some principles is getting us nowhere on the left. Maybe we’ve got to choose among our principles too, those which will lead to the coalition falling apart before it even takes over are the first to toss.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Increase Your Volume In Just Days

I thought this e-mail I got today was about how to get bouffant Southern-style hair:

It is possible today with excellent formula
It's the best thing you had ever seen!
Any man wants to last longer and make his partner happy with that. Try it now!

Until I caught that word "man" and that verb "last".

What I really want to know is this: Will the volume stay increased all the time? And how does one accommodate that? Will all the jeans have to be re-tailored? Are wheelbarrows perhaps necessary?

More seriously, this stuff is a little like the continuous pressure on women to sprout bigger breasts.

From the Peerless Molly Ivins

She is so good:

The sheer pleasure of getting lessons in etiquette from Karl Rove and the right-wing media passeth all understanding. Ever since 1994, the Republican Party has gone after Democrats with the frenzy of a foaming mad dog. There was the impeachment of Bill Clinton, not to mention the trashing of both Clinton and his wife -- accused of everything from selling drugs to murder -- all orchestrated by that paragon of manners, Tom DeLay.

Media Matters collected some gems of fairness. For instance, Monica Crowley with MSNBC, in the wake of John Kerry's botched program, astutely observed "how lucky we are that he was not elected president. ... The Republicans remain the grown-ups, the responsible ones on national security."

How many dead Americans has this grown-up war resulted in?

And how darling of Fox's Juan Williams, upon learning polls show the people favor Democrats on taxes, to say, "To me, that's crazy."

And how many times did Chris Matthews use the Republican talking points about Nancy Pelosi? Extremist, uncooperative, incapable, unwilling to work with the president.

So after 12 years of tolerating lying, cheating and corruption, the press is prepared to lecture Democrats on how to behave with bipartisan manners.

And just a small reminder how bipartisanship worked under the wingnut rule in 2003:

The morning began routinely enough. The 41-member Ways and Means Committee convened in 1100 Longworth to consider a bipartisan bill that would revise the nation's pension and retirement-saving system.

Democrats objected when the panel's acerbic chairman, Bill Thomas (R-Calif.), brought up a 90-page substitute measure that had been released shortly before midnight the night before. Democrats said they needed more time to read it. Thomas disagreed.

In response, Democrats objected to a normally perfunctory motion to dispense with the reading of the dense legislation. A clerk obligingly began reading it line by line, pausing only when Thomas interrupted to announce: "In the House, the minority can delay. They cannot deny."

As the reading resumed, the Democrats departed to a library just off the main hearing room, leaving only Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark (D-Calif.) to prevent the Republicans from obtaining unanimous consent to skip the reading. After a few minutes, Thomas asked again for the unanimous consent, and instantly brought down his gavel. Stark told reporters he had objected, but Thomas had replied, "You're too late."

Even before Thomas gaveled the reading to an end, he had dispatched the Capitol Police to remove the Democrats from the ornate library. Two officers arrived and, realizing they wanted no part of arresting House members for milling in a library, called a watch commander.

Now, none of this means that I'm urging the Democrats to behave as badly. But why is the media whipping the ones who indeed have behaved fairly well?

Front Page News

In Washington Post is the name of Pelosi's tailor (or what would be called a tailor if Pelosi was a man). The associated article states:

But what does a woman of great power look like? Does she choose her own version of camouflage and, as Hillary Rodham Clinton famously did during her first campaign for the Senate, wear a black pantsuit as a personal uniform? Does she wear stiffly tailored suits and a lapel festooned with patriotic brooches in the manner of former secretary of state Madeleine Albright? Or, like current Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, does she mix professorial reserve with a hint of confident sex appeal?

Pelosi had to decide how a woman who will be second in line of succession to the presidency should look. And what she came up with is someone who wears a neutral-colored, softly tailored power suit. One that is accessorized with style rather than rote references to love of country. She looks dignified and serious. And in this case, she also happens to look quite good.

And yes, the article is in the fashion section, and yes, it is true that we really don't have a clear dress language for powerful women who are powerful because of their own professional achievements. But isn't it interesting how quickly we have decided to talk about clothes?

Oh, and just for comparison: The current Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert (on the left):

The Sensible Center

I've got this thing in my throat. I keep gagging and it will NOT come up. Mostly because the traditional media keeps poking it back down there, "it" being the new myth that is being created right now: The Democrats MUST go to the center because Americans are conservatives. This is the only sensible approach to the horrible and negative victory the Democratic party somehow accidentally gained. Otherwise disaster will follow as surely as night follows day.

Do you remember a similar campaign telling the wingnuts that all will be lost if they choose to rule from the extreme right wing of their base? Neither do I.

Of course the Democrats must try to engage moderate Republicans, of course. But the same urgings were not applied in reverse. The wingnuts were allowed to stomp and reap wherever they wanted. Why are different rules applied to the Democrats?

I'm grumpy, because I'm not allowed to enjoy this honeymoon we have all so vastly deserved in peace.

Added later: Come to think of it, where are the exhortations to the Republicans to move more towards the center? They lost, after all.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Natural Next Stage

After victory comes a certain period of gloating and rest. So while I'm engaged in that (having my muse Erato pop grapes into my mouth) I decided to Write A Book. Wonkette did that and look what happened! She transmogrified into two guys and got herself a studious job.

Not that I want to get a job (too much work), but a book would be very nice. The covers could be made of simulated snakeskin with a facsimile of my fangs for a bookmark. The only question that remains to be answered is what it should be all about. Any suggestions are received with eager arms.

Though I do have a tentative name for the book: My Life As An Old Man. Note that I don't plan the title to have anything to do with the contents; it's just too good a title not to use.

On Social Conservatism

Is social conservatism less distasteful to liberals and progressives than economic conservatism? Or does it matter less, in the grand scheme of things?

The answer may depend on whom you ask. For white heterosexual men social conservatism is something which is annoying and may be harmful when children are taught religion in biology classes, but it's not going to impinge on their own lives that much. For the rest of us social conservatism is much more painful. In its extreme form it puts women and gays into tiny little boxes, puts the lid on those boxes and throws the keys away. And it keeps blacks at the bottom of the society.

For that reason it's hard for me to see certain liberals and progressives suggest that we should welcome social conservatives with open arms, without at least checking what they mean by being a "social" or "cultural" conservative. I'm not going to be in a big tent with someone who plans to put me into a box, sorry.

Today's Funny Pic

From Glenn Greenwald's blog, this picture of George Bush with Nancy Pelosi speaks volumes to me. Heh.

A Wild Thought For The Day

This is really extreme stuff: But do you think we might have come to a point where the word "liberal" could take its old meaning and be differentiated from "communist", "extremist" and "radical"?


Digesting the Election Results

It's quite difficult to do, this getting used to the world being turned upside down in a minor way, and I see a fairly desperate attempt to explain that nothing has really changed even though everything has changed. The truth is something in the middle, of course. We still live in the Bush reign, he is still going to decide on the foreign policy of this country, but it will now be more difficult to stomp on the Constitution, and the general brakes of this country have been fixed. And those brakes are certainly needed, because we need accountability and oversight and real debates in the Congress. The Republicans refused to have the Democrats in any of these debates, refused bipartisanship. So we had one party in power everywhere, and within that party its extreme wing ran most things, trying to make wild and impossible delusions into reality.

That was the faith-based reality. The real reality wasn't budged by any of those wishes, and the consequences were very bad. The reason I'm elated with the election results is not because they would be good for people who think like I do (which they may or may not be), but because they are good for the country and for the world at least in a band-aid sense, and this sense is not to be belittled. A band-aid stuck in at the right time can staunch a bleeding which unattended can kill a civilization.

That's how far I've managed to digest the results.

Purity Balls

Amanda has a video of the Father-Daughter Purity Balls. Watch at your own risk.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Tweety Has A Large Yellow Head

So some minor Greek goddesses say, Tweety being Chris Matthews. Those same goddesses add that a large yellow head is not among the first ten items on the list of things that make men hawt.

However did I get so nasty? I do that in defense only, and the reason is this:

Discussing the victory speeches of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA) during MSNBC's special election coverage on November 7, co-anchor Chris Matthews told Republican pollster Frank Luntz that Clinton gave a "barn-burner speech, which is harder to give for a woman; it can grate on some men when they listen to it -- fingernails on a blackboard." Matthews then noted that Pelosi, who will likely be elected House speaker now that the Democrats have gained control of the U.S. House of Representatives, will "have to do the good fight with the president over issues" such as the minimum wage and prescription drugs. He then asked: "How does she do it without screaming? How does she do it without becoming grating?" Matthews later returned to criticizing Clinton, when, during a conversation with co-anchor Keith Olbermann and with a clip of Clinton's victory event playing in the background, Matthews stated that Clinton's "clapping" was "not appealing" and that "it's Chinese or something," as's weblog The War Room noted. Matthews added that former President Bill Clinton, who was standing behind Sen. Clinton at the podium, was a "gigantic guy behind her and he's just there," adding: "It's a strange sight."

Bolds mine.

Many thanks, Tweety (the one with the large yellow head), for just making it a lot harder for women in politics.

Echidne Puts On A Pundit Helmet

After staying up all night following the election results and eating far too many chocolate M&Ms I turned on my radio to hear what the local Nice, Polite Republicans have to say on the elections. And I found out that I know no-o-o-thing! Nothing. So.

This is what I learned, seriously: The Congress is becoming more conservative, because moderate Republicans were thrown out but dyed-in-the-wool extreme wingnuts retained their seats. AND the new Democrats are more conservative than, say, Noam Chomsky, which means, by simple arithmetic, that Americans are becoming more right-wing. So this was a victory for conservatism. (Just to keep a small ray of sanity in this game, might I remind the experts at the NPR that the Democrats just took the House and probably the Senate, too. FROM the Republican party.)

I need a new radio, by the way, which is sad but I was also elated by the sudden realization that Echidne, too, could be a pundit in the media. Though I need some training in how to explain why a conservative Democrat is to the right of a moderate Republican in every single case.

Ezra Klein posted about a somewhat more refined version of the same myth:

It's nice to finally write one of these election wrap-ups that doesn't have to account for a massive Democratic disappointment. Change is good, right? What it does have to do is punch back against the remarkably coordinated and quick campaign from the right (and sometimes the right includes the left) seeking to paint this election as some sort of victory for ... conservatism.

The ideological spectrum is a tricky thing. Take Heath Schuler, exhibit A in the rightwing Democrats meme. He's a cultural conservative, no doubt. But however far right he drifts on those issues -- which, under a Democratic Congress, he won't be voting on because they won't be brought to floor -- he's notably left on economic issues. Today, for instance, he's giving a press conference under the auspices of the United Steelworkers with Great Liberal Hope Sherrod Brown, where they'll discuss the need for new trade policies and their success in making active opposition to NAFTA a winning issue. That's not centrist Democrat. It's not moderate liberal. That's populism, kids, and it's leftier than polite company has allowed for quite some time.

See how quickly the so-called liberal media functions to rearrange our memories and understanding? We are becoming more conservative.....more conservative....your eyes are closing....more're feeling sleepy...

If you are one of the group which can't be hypnotized perhaps you'd care for a nice plateful of the sensible center? That's the other new meme, eagerly disseminated by pundits in the know:

In private talks before the election, Emanuel and other top Democrats told their members they cannot allow the party's liberal wing to dominate the agenda next year. Democrats will hold 30 or 35 seats that went for Bush in the past, meaning that Democratic candidates such as Brad Ellsworth in rural Indiana are likely to face competitive races again in 2008. Still, their interests are likely to collide with those of veteran liberals such as Reps. Henry A. Waxman (Calif.) and John Conyers Jr., (Mich.), who will chair committees.

Now this is fascinating, especially when you compare it to this quote from the very same article:

The loss provoked the start of what could be a painful period of self-examination among Republicans eager to find answers, or place blame. With moderates in the Northeast falling, the Republican conference will grow more conservative. Some said they expect Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (Ill.) to step aside as party leader after the fallout from the page scandal and a new younger generation vowing to return to the promise and principles of the Gingrich revolution hopes to take the reins. Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), one of several younger conservatives who has lashed out at his party's veering from core fiscal and social principles, is planning to run for leadership.

So the wingnuts will move out towards the most extreme wing, the one that just gently tickles Attila the Hun's tinfoil helmet, and the Democrats crawl behind them towards the mythical middle. Ok.

Here comes the Echidne-in-a-serious-pundit-suit bit: The election was mostly a loud scream of rage at the Bush administration and at the corruption and the twisted sexuality scandals of the wingnut party. A tsunami of screams, if you like, and in some areas the tsunami took away moderate Republicans because there was a less moderate non-Republican alternative, and in other areas it took away more conservative Republicans and let the somewhat less conservative Democrats stay alive. In some places the conservatism was too ingrained to move with the tsunami. And that's why the landscape looks like it does today.

This didn't cost you anything, either, though you could send me some chocolate for my blogiversary if you so desire. Or money for it...

Just a Second, Before You Go Getting All Palsy Across the Aisle

Posted by olvlzl

I want to know who stole the money, how much they stole and I want it back in the American People’s Treasury where it belongs.

There is probably going to be a real downturn in the economy with the new year, the Democrats in the House and maybe in the Senate need to document the full scale theft of everything the Republicans stole over the past six years. They need to be able to hold up the guilty and the evidence of their guilt for the People to see. We need to document it and get it back. From Haliburton, Bechtel, Blackwater, wherever . We need to prosecute where possible and nail the hides of those corporations to the fence as a warning to others who would try to rob the American People.

We also need to be able to explain how this wholesale theft happened and who was holding the door open for the crooks to come in and steal everything, including the credit cards.

Democrats have won control of the congress, they have to fulfill their obligations for oversight as specified by the Constitution. They should be happy to do their duty, they asked for the responsibility.

Another thing, The Voters. The Voters have to be taken care of. We have to get rid of those stinking, vote stealing machines and replace them with a National Ballot for the four federal Constitutional offices. All across the country, one form of ballot, one way to mark it, one way to count it. The United States will never be a safe democracy without that. We have to spend more on the most important part of government, THE ROOTS than we do on the frills and perks of the Executive branch and the Courts.

The People, The Vote, they should always be capitalized. The People are the supreme power in the government. Their Vote is the supreme act of government. Never again should a Supreme Court “justice” have the ability to say that The People have no right to vote. No judge, no “justice” no “chief justice” no one, holds their office with any legitimacy except that derived from the results of The People’s Vote. Never again should any court or corrupt Secretary of State have the ability to steal an election for their party. And yes, that means the Republican Party in all its corrupt infamy.

And in the culture at large, nothing, no joke no entertainment should ever belittle The People or The Vote. Nothing that discourages the vote should be allowed to go unchallenged. We have had the benefit of the cynical belittling of both over the past six years. That isn’t a job for The Congress, that is a job for all of us. Democracy dies in a cess pool of cynicism. It can’t survive in the filthy spew of Murdoch style entertainment. We need a new birth of clear-eyed, strong-willed, idealism free of lying sentimentality and wishful thinking. We need to change the culture of cynicism. Democracy, decency and our lives depend on it.

Listening to Bush's Press Conference

I can't help wondering why he can't cover up his grumpiness just a little better. He is the president, after all, not some undergraduate student who got a D- on an exam paper. Though of course an undergraduate can't get rid of the blame by firing Donald Rumsfeld.

Hugs And Kisses

To you, my lovely and talented readers. Thank you for these three years. Have lots of fun today and lots of chocolate always.

Good News For All Women

The South Dakota abortion ban was voted down. In Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline lost his re-election bid. Kline is famous for his extreme anti-choice stance. These are very good news for women.

Chirpy, Chirpy, Chip, Chip

Which is nonsense, but sounds happy. This is a good site for seeing the overall votes.

Women did quite well in gubernatorial races, "well" being interpreted in comparison to the modest past base.

A proper post on the feminist implications of the elections must await until some sleep. I'm still celebrating...

O Happy, Happy Day!

O Joy! O Happiness! O Chocolaty Cuddliness Everywhere! Orgasms! Enlightenment! Windows which clean themselves! Your heart's deepest desires satisfied at no cost!

And why is this the happiest of all days? Two good reasons: First, we are slightly less likely to slide into WWIII now that the Democrats took a majority in the House at least. Second, this blog is THREE today!

So is the blog of my good friend Mustang Bobby. We were separated at birth.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

2006 Election Watch: Women in The House and The Senate

This is a good website for following the statistics on women in the United States Congress. It updates every few minutes.

In governor races Janet Napolitano, a Democrat in Arizona, appears to have been re-elected and so has Jodi M. Rell, a Republican in Connecticut.
Another site updating every few minutes is Emily's List.
So far (via Eschaton) the South Dakota almost-total abortion ban is losing:

With 194 of 818 precincts reporting results, 60 percent of voters cast "no" votes, according to results from the Secretary of State's Office.

At 11:38 p.m. EST, Think Progress reports that the South Dakota abortion ban was defeated. YES! It's not a final victory, but at least I can now visit South Dakota again.

And Nancy Pelosi looks to be the first female Speaker of the House. Nice.
12:22 am EST:
Carol Shea-Porter just picked up New Hampshire's first congressional district. This was a surprise addition to the number of women in the House.
12:43 am EST:
Chris Matthews (Tweety) complains about Nancy Pelosi's speech: "She's giving a barn-burner speech, which is hard for a woman. Lot of men don't like that. Nails on a blackboard."

Well, at least she doesn't have a large, yellow head. A lot of women don't like that.
1:02 am EST:
Tweety is really showing his fear of women in power. Now he's bashing Hillary Clinton. Imagine what would happen to a political pundit who said similar things about a black politician? Yet I bet Tweety won't have to resign for any of this. Because it's sorta ok to bash women.
1:22 am EST:
It looks somewhat better in terms of women's representation in the Congress:

This is shaping up as the Year of the Woman.

Nancy Pelosi is poised to become the first female Speaker of the House and a record number of women will be in the U.S. Senate.

Every female senator up for re-election has been projected as a winner.

With incumbent senators Hillary Clinton, Debbie Stabenow, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Maria Cantwell, Dianne Feinstein, and Olympia Snowe projected winners and new senator-elect Amy Klobuchar projected as the winner in Minnesota, there will be a history-making number of female senators on Capitol Hill. At least 15 in the new Congress.

Except that it's really quite disgusting to call these types of creepy-crawly low numbers by the name of "the year of the woman".
1:53 am EST:
This is very, very good news for women:

Democrat Nancy Boyda defeated five-term Republican Rep. Jim Ryun in the 2nd Congressional District on Tuesday, a stunning reversal of their race two years ago.

With 74 percent of the precincts reporting, Boyda had 51 percent of the vote to Ryun's 47 percent. Reform Party candidate Roger Tucker pulled the remaining 2 percent.

Not only in the sense of a woman getting elected but also in the sense of us getting rid of a man who doesn't think women deserve many rights at all.
2:36 am EST:
Claire McCaskill is predicted as the winner in Missouri's Senate race against Jim Talent.

Election Watch 2006

I hope you have your nectar and popcorn near at hand. I have M&Ms and I pick a different color for each race that is declared. So far it looks like Blackwell lost which is only justice. Santorum seems to have lost, too, which is just mercy for all the rest of us. Harris lost,too, in Florida. Also justice, given her role in the 2000 Florida elections.

The governor races are fun to watch. Massachusetts has its first black governor.

I found this post by Kos very interesting as I was called a tinfoil-helmeted goddess for my insistence on writing about it earlier. Not by Kos, but more generally:

Today is the end of the electronic voting machine

Republicans are complaining about voting irregularities as loudly as we are today. A Republican governor, two Republican congressmen turned away from the polls. Votes supposedly switching in electronic voting machines in New Jersey. Complaints coming from New Mexico and elsewhere.

Here's the bottom line -- no one trusts those machines anymore. And not only do they damage the integrity of our democracy, but they give losing campaigns an excuse to grandstand and further erode faith in our system. Paper ballots (or optical scan) is a solution, but it doesn't solve the problem of voter turnout, voter intimidation, the problems with inclement weather, and lack of voter education when entering the booth.

Some recent results from Think Progress:

– 8:27 PM ET: CBS News has called New Jersey's Senate race for Sen. Bob Menendez (D) over Tom Kean Jr. (R).

– 8:24 PM ET: CBS News has called Ohio's Senate race for Rep. Sherrod Brown (D) over Sen. Mike DeWine (R).

– 8:21 PM ET: ABC News has called Pennsylvania's Senate race for Bob Casey Jr. (D) over Rick Santorum (R).

– 8:17 PM ET: AP: "It could be a sign of a long night for the GOP if Democrats knock off Reps. John Hostettler, Chris Chocola and Mike Sodrel in Indiana and Ron Lewis, Anne Northup and Geoff Davis in Kentucky."

– 8:11 PM ET: Race to watch — FL-16 Negron (R) currently leading Mahoney (D) 49.2% v. 48.2% in Mark Foley's former district. Results here.

– 8:07 PM ET: Katherine Harris (R) has lost her intrepid bid for Florida's Senate seat. Sen. Nelson (D) retains.

– 8:05 PM ET: Kennedy (D-Mass.), Lott (R-Miss.), Snow (R-Maine) re-elected to Senate, Fox News reports.

At 9:28 EST:

– 9:19 PM ET: Race to watch — MD-Sen CNN has called Maryland’s Senate race for Cardin (D) over Steele (R).

– 9:12 PM ET: CBS News and CNN have called Connecticut’s Senate race for Joe Lieberman (I).

At 10:06 EST:

– 9:39 PM ET: Race to watch — RI-Sen CNN projects Democratic win in Rhode Island, beating incumbent Lincoln Chafee, giving the Democrats three of the six pickups they need to take control of the Senate.
9:57 PM ET: NBC News projects that Republican (and President Bush-dodger) Charlie Crist will be elected Florida governor, taking the place of fellow Republican Jeb Bush.

At 10:18 EST:

– 10:08 PM ET: Race to watch — CT-5 Chris Murphy (D) has defeated Rep. Nancy Johnson (R).

– 10:05 PM ET: Race to watch — NH-2 “ has learned that Republican U.S. Rep. Charles Bass is preparing to call Paul Hodes and congratulate the Democrat on his victory.”

At 10:51 EST:

– 10:30 PM ET: Fox News has called that Zack Space (D) has won in OH 18, the district formally occupied by ex-Rep. Bob Ney (R). Also, Reps. Don Sherwood (R-PA) and Curt Weldon (R-PA) have lost re-election.

- 10:42 PM ET: Minnesota voters elected Keith Ellison, a black Democrat, as the first Muslim in Congress on Tuesday.

At 11:06 EST:

– 11:01 PM ET: “CNN and MSNBC call NC 11 for Heath Shuler (D) over Rep. Charles Taylor (R).”

– 10:55 PM ET: Tim Mahoney (D-FL) has won Mark Foley’s former district.

At 12:42 EST:

– 11:34 PM ET: Race to watch — NY-20 Rep. John Sweeney (R) has lost re-election.

– 11:31 PM ET: "MSNBC changes House prediction to 234 Dems and 201 GOPers (adding yet another seat for the Dems)."

Monday, November 06, 2006

Dove Ad

An interesting glimpse into how our definitions of beauty are arrived at:


When I was a child I knew an old lady who got out her best clothes to go and vote. She was a very frugal woman and kept her clothes in mothballs for decades, so her best outfit included a little pill hat with a spotted veil, and she stuck that on her head with a long pin. I remember how mesmerizing all this was: the odd old-fashioned outfit, the smell of mothballs and her great excitement with all the preparations of the day.

She remembered a time when women could not vote at all and she took her right to vote very seriously. Perhaps she knew that people had given their lives for that right.

I could write a long post about the game of voting, about how each of our votes is just one lonely drop seeking in vain for the ocean surf, about how it might make more sense not to bother, about how the system is rigged against certain votes, about the pointlessness of it all, and it would be interesting in an intellectual masturbatory way and perhaps even useful in some longer-term sense.

But what is really important is the fundamental values of democracy. If you believe in those you vote. You put on your pill-hat with the veil and you grab your walking cane and go out to vote. Or you get in your sneakers and put on your baseball cap and go out to vote. If you can't vote, go out and help someone else to get to the polls by giving them a ride or by doing their chores for them as one of my commenters suggested. Democracy. It's not just a word.

And neither is the Supreme Court of the United States just a bunch of people in black bathrobes...

On Ted Haggard and Control

Haggard called the "forces of evil" in the society Control. Control tried to have him killed in the form of a witch with a knife, he said, and it was Control his flock fought when pouring oil at sinful intersections in the city of Colorado Springs. He fought Control by having vigils outside gay bars and the houses of witches. And he believed himself successful in chasing out Control.

But it is really control he himself desired, yearned for, control over his own sexuality and more generally control over all sexuality. Hence this statement about his own sexuality in a letter that was read to his congregation after the revelations that Haggard had visited a male prostitute:

I am a sinner. I have fallen," Haggard wrote. "The fact is, I'm guilty of sexual immorality." Mike Jones' allegations, the pastor insisted, are not all true, but "enough of them are true."

"Part of my life is so repugnant and dark," Haggard said in the letter Stockstill read. "I've been warring against it all my life." He told of how he had sought counseling to address his sexuality, which he said cured him for spells. But then, he wrote, "the dirt I thought was gone would resurface ... the darkness increased and dominated." Haggard asked his congregation for forgiveness for him, and also for his accuser, who he suggested was inspired by God to reveal his "deception and sensuality."

Dirt and darkness. Sin. That is how sexual desire looked to Haggard.

Here is what I think: It isn't only homosexual desire that Haggard and others like him fear, but all desire. Because desire makes you weak at the knees, makes you lose control.

And that is why the fundamentalists control their women so tightly, why women must make a vow to be always available to the men who own them, really. Why women must not say no, ever, but must also never demand anything from the men. That way the men can always stay in control.

After Haggard's letter was read to the congregation, a letter from his wife was also read:

Haggard's letter was followed by one from his wife, Gayle, addressed to her husband's female former congregants. "What I want you ladies to know is I love my husband Ted Haggard with all my heart. I am committed to him with all my heart." Her words, which echo the guide to marriage the Haggards published earlier this year (still on sale here in the bookstore outside the sanctuary), inspired a standing ovation.

The term "committed" has a special meaning in the fundamentalist dictionary. It means to relinquish control. Ted Haggard doesn't have to worry about losing control over his wife, because she has committed herself to him.

The fear of losing control applies even more strongly to the comments of another pastor, the one from the Mars Hill patriarchal church, who in a long list of advice to pastors on how not to lose control (never travel alone, have a heterosexual male secretary with you) suggested that pastors' wives must not let themselves ever go ugly or be sexually unavailable:

"Most pastors I know do not have satisfying, free, sexual conversations and liberties with their wives. At the risk of being even more widely despised than I currently am, I will lean over the plate and take one for the team on this. It is not uncommon to meet pastors' wives who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness. A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband in the ways that the Song of Songs is so frank about is not responsible for her husband's sin, but she may not be helping him either."

Men are to have control and women are to make it easy for the men to be in control.

Too bad that this doesn't solve the control over gay sex. Is this the real secret reason for homophobia? And the way it all links with the subjugation of women?

Robo Calls

I'm trying to think how I could use this brilliant idea by the Republican party in my private life: First you make a recorded call to a voter, pretending that you are calling from the Democratic party. If the voter hangs up, you keep calling back like seven times in a row! If the voter listens to the whole recording the call turns out to be against the Democratic candidate. So either way the Democrats get smeared. That is so splendid! So values-filled! So civil and polite!

The Republicans are doing this all over the country in over fifty races! Bob Menendez has been attacked this way, Lois Murphy has been attacked this way, Paul Hodes has been attacked this way. So have Diane Farrel, Tammy Duckworth and Heath Shuler.

To Remind Ourselves Why

It is so important to vote, watch this summary video of the Bush era at the Reaction blog.

And then there is this spoof of Bush made in November 2000!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Two More Days To Find Out If We Live In A Republic or a Republican-Despotism

Posted by olvlzl

This election is the reason I started blogging in the first place. It is a pivotal election, it could be the end of real democracy in the United States or it could be the beginning, the start of its rebirth.

If Democrats do not win back either house then the struggle will be harder, a lot harder but we will have to continue. There is no chance that the Republicans will not try to prevent democracy happening, it’s what they do. And they’ve never been closer to turning this into an oligarchic despotism than they are now. Fully prepare for a total disaster, the Republicans are going to deliver if they get the chance. I’m not convinced that it won’t be partly in the form of an entirely idiotic attack on Iran. The only bright spot is that they will almost certainly have a narrower majority than before.

If Democrats take both the house and Senate then we have to put pressure on the Senate to refuse to confirm any more judges who are not acceptable. The practice of pretending that no one knows exactly what the Federalist Society stooges will do if they are confirmed has to stop. Stop the game of let’s pretend, get the stupid hearings off of TV where the Republicans can stage their costume dramas to manipulate what should be a serious deliberation. We will have to push the Senate out of its usual nap time stupor and get them to see that we are in danger of exactly what those old time conservatives warned us of, judicial tyranny. Only they never told us that it was they who would be the tyrants. They will steal the country for their patrons, they have proven that in Bush v. Gore. The Senate is our Achilles heel, we will have to give it special attention under any circumstances.

Without both houses it will be impossible to move the progressive agenda very much so we shouldn’t get our hopes up unrealistically high. But just stopping the head-long rush into despotism will be a great improvement.

If Democrats take the house but not the Senate it will be harder but the House under Nancy Pelosi will probably be eager to start exposing the corruption that has built up under Republicans. We will have to give those efforts our strongest support in the face of a full gale of media lies and distortions. They will do everything in their power to prevent even a tenth the investigation of the Bush II crimes that they fully supported on the trumped up charges against Clinton. Again, it’s what Republicans and their media shills do.

One thing that is absolutely essential to start working on right now. The broadcast and cable media are the tools that the Republicans have used to convince the American People that lies are the truth and that the truth is a lie. No democracy can stand in face of that. Pretending that radio and TV are the same as print and that they should be treated the same way is sheer, willful blindness. They sold us the Bush putsch and the most disastrous foreign war in our history, something that generations of Americans not born yet will be paying for. We have to force these lie machines to stop undermining democracy, to stop being Republican brothels and force them to fulfill the function of the press in a democratic society. Community service and fairness are requirements that they have to have forced on them BECAUSE IT IS NECESSARY TO RETAIN A DEMOCRACY. We have to do it because without it we won’t have a democracy any more.

The right of the people to govern themselves and to be free are more important than any corporate right. All rights held by media corporations are granted by a free people to news media that serves them, not a right that is inherent in the corporate press.

One small thing would be for any public broadcasting to be placed under community service and fairness requirements as a condition of receiving government funds. That is something that a Democratic Congress could force if they wanted to. Just refusing to appropriate the funds unless NPR, PBS, PRI and any other public broadcaster signed binding pledges would likely be enough. I don’t know if it would be possible to force other broadcast and cable to sign onto binding pledges but that should be investigated.

Bush is going to try every dirty trick in the book, or maybe I should say Cheney will. Cheney is the real executive, why pretend that Bush is anything but the figurehead he is anymore? We don’t have time to take a very long rest, no matter what happens we’ve got a lot of work to do.

Lady In The Dark II

Posted by olvlzl

Sandra Day O'Connor is just full of regrets about the low standing of the courts today. She just doesn't understand what went wrong. While she is hardly alone in the level of cluelessness among those who wear black robes she is one of the most persistently immune to learning from experience. Now as she faces the prospect of her own Republican conservatives stripping courts of their independence she begins to get a glimmer that something she participated in could have something to do with it.

Some court-watchers believe the assault on independent judges has been fueled by a 2002 Supreme Court decision, Republican Party v. White, which found that the First Amendment allows judges running for office to say in advance how they would rule on legal matters. Sandra Day O'Connor, who joined the 5-4 majority, said after she retired that she regretted her vote because it has grossly politicized the judiciary in the 47 states that elect at least some judges. Indeed, multimillion-dollar campaigns, negative ads, and pandering to special interests have all infected judicial races following the decision. The ballot questions are just more of that baleful trend.

You wonder if she ever thinks back to another 5-4 decision she was the swing vote on, the one that held that Voters don't have a right to cast a vote, have it counted and the results mean anything. I suspect we won't ever hear her regret that one.

Don't Let The Name Fool You

Roger Ailes Blog is always worth a look:

Success Has A Thousand Fathers, Failure Just Has These Bastards

Having grown bored of dead Iraqis and American soldiers, various neocon guttersnipers have now morphed into a circular firing squad.

Ahmed Chalabi, Richard Perle, David Frum, Micheal Ledeen... All My Neo-cons.