Not Lying Down

As 2006 ends and 2007 begins, each of us must not only make the traditional resolutions, but resolve that we have had enough (remember our cry during the election), that we are not going to take it lying down any longer.

Six long years end, as we begin a run of the last two years of the Bush administration. An administration rote with abuse, corruption and intimidation.

Most of the American people have set back and watched as Bush and his cohorts have did their best to tear up the Constitution, leaving it frayed and bruised. Set back and watched as Diebold has disenfranchised their vote. Set back as our elected Representatives in Congress have been corrupted, and intimidated into allowing this destruction of our Constitution.

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FL-13: Seating Buchanan Is Not the End

Earlier today, Congressman Rush Holt (NJ-12) put out a statement that he will "take steps to put the U.S. House of Representatives on record as recognizing the justification of the electoral challenge filed by Congressional candidate Christine Jennings regarding the disputed election in Florida's 13th Congressional District, and making clear that any House proceedings on January 4, 2007, will not prejudice legal proceedings or legislative inquiry regarding the election's validity."

In other words, Holt will see to it that the House's seating of Republican Vern Buchanan is not taken as recognition of his victory (and thereby a rebuke of Jennings' challenge). Rep. Holt, the primary sponsor of the Voter Confidence and Accessibility Act, had this to say on the matter last month:

The inaccuracy of electronic touch-screen voting machines poses a direct threat to the integrity of our electoral system and to our nation's democracy. Once again this broken system has been exposed in Florida's 13th Congressional district where over 18,000 votes went uncounted. Without the means to fully guarantee that every vote is counted as fairly and accurately as possible, the authenticity of our recorded vote will always be uncertain and open to electoral and legal challenges.
Since then, others have speculated how to make matters right in this case. Following precedent, Howard Dean suggested Buchanan not be seated in the House, and Blue Jerseyencouraged Rep. Holt to lead that fight. Yet Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi has said little about the matter, and Jennings has now publicly relinquished opposition to seating Buchanan.

So, while Pelosi and other members of House leadership sit on the sidelines, Rep. Holt is getting in the game for democracy. In his latest statement, he clearly says

Under federal law, there is a procedure in place for reviewing contested elections. The House should do nothing to compromise or prejudice the case Ms. Jennings has before the Florida courts. I expect the evidence will show that the certification did not reflect the will of the voters and a re-vote is necessary. [Emphasis added]

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No, the Dems Did Not Win Because of "Faith Voters"

Another day, another story suggesting that "faith voters" are the key to the Democratic majorities. Today's culprit: The New York Times' David D. Kirkpatrick.

As Democrats turn toward the 2008 presidential race, a novice evangelical political operative is emerging as a rising star in the party, drawing both applause and alarm for her courtship of theological conservatives in the midterm elections.

Party strategists and nonpartisan pollsters credit the operative, Mara Vanderslice, and her 2-year-old consulting firm, Common Good Strategies, with helping a handful of Democratic candidates make deep inroads among white evangelical and churchgoing Roman Catholic voters in Kansas, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Exit polls show that Ms. Vanderslice's candidates did 10 percentage points or so better than Democrats nationally among those voters, who make up about a third of the electorate. As a group, Democrats did little better among those voters than Senator John Kerry's campaign did in 2004.

[...]

Ms. Vanderslice's success in 2006 is a sharp rebound from her first campaign, in 2004. She was hired, at age 29, to direct religious outreach for Mr. Kerry in his presidential campaign and was then quickly shoved aside, a casualty of a losing battle to persuade him to speak more openly about his Catholic faith, even if it meant taking on the potentially awkward subject of his support for abortion rights.

The midterm elections were a "proof point" for arguments that Ms. Vanderslice had made two years before, said Mike McCurry, a Democratic consultant and former spokesman for President Bill Clinton who worked with Ms. Vanderslice on the Kerry campaign. For the Democrats, Mr. McCurry said, Ms. Vanderslice and her company "were the only ones taking systematic, methodical steps to build a religious component in the practical campaign work."

Looking at numbers across the board, it's difficult to see any real gains made by Democrats among religiously observant voters. As I detailed not long after election day, Evangelicals and regular churchgoers moved from the Republicans to the Democrats at a far lower rate in 2006 than both the nation as a whole and actual swing demographics, like Hispanics and those without a high school diploma. While it's certainly possible that these "faith" outreach exercises helped swing non-Evangelicals and those who infrequently attend religious services while failing to substantially move these other segments, I have not seen data to prove that to be true.

And even if it is true that, as Kirkpatrick writes, "Vanderslice's candidates did 10 percentage points or so better than Democrats nationally among those voters" it's not entirely clear to me that this is a result of her actions. What's more, it's not entirely clear what this means -- that, in absolute terms, they did better or, accounting for other factors, they did better. My guess is that the former is the case, that a candidate like Bob Casey ran a net 11 points stronger than Democrats nationally in his race against Rick Santorum and so running 10 points better than other Democrats among religious voters is not quite as astonishing a feat as it seems on the surface.

But in some ways this is beside the point. Vanderslice and others like her might be worth an investment from Democratic candidates because they do help with outreach to a certain segment of the population that Democrats have had some trouble in reaching. Yet this segment is closely aligned with the GOP -- White Evangelicals voted about a net 50 points more Republican than the nation as a whole, those attending church at least weekly voted a net 19 points more Republican than the nation as a whole -- and the Democrats do not need them in order to win elections (as we saw on November 7). The Democrats would be significantly better served by investing to shore up the gains they made among Hispanics, those without a high school diploma, and other groups that shifted dramatically away from the GOP in 2006, thus solidifying their majority, than they would continuing the essentially quixotic and perhaps even futile attempt to steal away "faith voters" from the Republican Party.

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The Dangers of "Big Tofu"& the Weirdest of the Right in DMI Year In Review

(Crossposted from (DMIBlog.com))
Last week the blogs were been buzzing - or more accurately, guffawing over a piece by a rightwing columnist claiming that consuming soy makes babies gay. (Clearly, somebody needs to visit soy-loving Asia and read up on some basic science and gender studies texts but what do you expect). This great video by the folks at Politics TV does a smart and hilarious send-up of the "debate". If you're the person who hasn't seen it yet, do watch the video here.

Seriously loony, right? Well the Eye on the Right section of the Drum Major Institute's Year In Review reveals a better connected but just as nutty attack on all things soy authored by rightwing think tank, The Competitive Enterprise Institute.

In their report called "Put a Stop to 'Big Tofu" the think tank wrote "More powerful than Big Business or Big Oil is Big Tofu, which is exerting its coercive influence on the American diet." It should be no surprise that the CEI sticks up for big oil - going so far as to even deny global warming - because their funding comes from Texaco and Amoco.

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The 2006 Democrats of the Year

(cross-posted at Daily Kos)

Many of us have met Time's choice for Person of the Year - You - with some derision. If the criteria of the award were to be literally followed ("the individual or group of individuals who have had the biggest effect on the year's news"), then it would always be the entire human population.

However, I thought it would be a good exercise to write about who the 'Democrats of the Year' were in 2006. The mainstream media, as evidenced by Time, would probably select Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and Rahm Emanuel - those most often credited for the electoral victories a month ago. Here are mine, complete with requisite title:

John Murtha, Howard Dean, and Ned Lamont

How a political insider, a political outsider, and a political nobody rocked the American political landscape.

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