Schumer On Net Neutrality

I'm no fan of Chuck Schumer's political decision-making, as many of you know.  As a legislator, though, he can be great sometimes.  He did single-handedly keep the Bankrupcty Bill from passing for four years in the Senate.  And now he's out on net neutrality.

"I believe that Internet access for consumers must be protected, and that's why I support net neutrality. As the Internet continues to grow and evolve, we must make sure that average consumers can still use the web to learn, shop, and communicate. The Internet has the power to enhance one of the most fundamental values of our democracy: freedom of speech. That's why I support the free flow of information on the Internet and enforceable network neutrality. I will oppose the flawed and limiting provisions in Senator Stevens' bill, S. 2686, which would allow Internet providers to discriminate against the websites of their competitors--hurting the ability of consumers and everyday citizens to view the websites they want. If the Stevens bill is not changed to protect network neutrality, I will oppose it. Network neutrality has allowed the Internet to be an engine of economic innovation, democratic participation, and free speech. Eliminating it would be a serious mistake."

This is a very very good thing.  A thank you call to his Washington office at 202-224-6542 would help Schumer understand that net neutrality is something voters care about.  

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Tidal Wave Election Thoughts

I really can't figure out November.  Usually I have strong opinions on where things are going, but I'm really veering back and forth between the 'tidal wave' thesis that pundits just love and the reality of our electoral leadership.

Chuck Schumer and Rahm Emanuel are tactically superb but strategically ineffective committee leaders.  They both raise a lot of money, and have the mechanical skills to run elections and recruit candidates.  They inspire confidence in donors and insider journalists, and have found new and interesting ways to use the internet to push messaging.  They also create a fair amount of cohesion among Democratic incumbents, and can jump on certain types of messaging opportunities with vigor and skill.

On the other hand, I have serious concerns about their political judgment.  Schumer was heavily involved in recruiting right-wing Democrat Bob Casey, who is now on the verge of losing his massive lead to the most unpopular Senator in the country, and who has no field campaign to boot.  Harold Ford is stuck in the low 40s in the polls (and he has almost no chance statewide), despite what Schumer considers a mostly perfect campaign in that he ran on ports and gas prices.  Arizona candidate Jim Pederson's campaign was disastrous awhile back, and he's getting no traction, though the DSCC is quite willing to spend millions on his race, and I'm guessing that it's because he was a big donor to the Democratic Party.  Jack Carter in Nevada actually has a slim shot, but last I heard he's not getting help from anyone.  

Emanuel is very similar in outlook and attention span, though he has less control over the House races.  Early on, Rahm Emanuel got involved in primary fights all over the country, winning some and getting spanked in others, and meanwhile finding time to write a book with DLCer Bruce Reed whose thesis strongly implies that voters shouldn't bother to differentiate between the parties because Democrats are weak and have no ideas.  He's also been in a fair number of portraits of himself in the press attacking Howard Dean, and presided over the loss of the California 50th race on an ineffective 'culture of corruption' message while presumably drawing as the lesson that Busby's last minute gaffe swung the election, which it did not.

Unfortunately, the judgment errors don't end there.  The DSCC is putting out racist crypto-conservative ads that embrace the war on terror even as the vice-chair of that same body is supporting an independent over the Democratic nominee in Connecticut (and openly bragging about his own hypocrisy in the matter).  The latest terrorism threat looks like it might have been faked, but don't worry, you can count on Democrats Chuck Schumer and Rahm Emanuel to prosecure the falsified war on terror with even more fake vigor and superficial feel-good measures than our widely disliked and distrusted President.  Schumer also wants to ratify Bush's foreign policy with a nice shiny rubber stamp of right-wing sociopath John Bolton.

Does this sound like a tidal wave election to you?

On the other hand, the dynamic can be changed.  First of all, candidates could stop listening to the national party committees and the DC consultants.  Second of all, the progressive movement could change the conventional wisdom away from message-less partisanship and towards the politics of accountability.

What happened in Connecticut combined with Joe's new ride on the right-wing crazy-train goes a long way towards changing the second dynamic.  And if it really turns out that this latest terror plot was a fake, enough Democrats will probably come out against the fake war on terror and for accountability that we might be able to sneak this message in.

Anyway, that's where I am.  Hopefully we can all pull together in the final three months, and our strategic disagreements won't keep us from what really should be a tidal wave election.

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Bolton's Pull versus Lamont's Push

The reverberations from the Lieberman-Lamont primary are now rattling around the world, as foreign policy elites digest its implications.  Next month, it's going to be clear just how much certain Democrats are pinned between their donor base and the new progressive voting mood that beat down Lieberman.  While one would think that the Democratic Party will become more progressive on foreign policy in response to the loss, there are counterbalancing forces that suggest that leading Democrats will actually move to a more right-wing posture, while making a few limp symbolic gestures to the progressives.  Calling for Rumsfeld's resignation is one such gesture, since Kerry did it in 2004 and it is another version of the 'incompetence dodge'.  The political calculation is that Lieberman didn't lose because he was right-wing, he lost because he was a singularly awful politician.  As such, there's no need to move leftward since it's fairly easy to avoid a Lieberman-esque political backlash.

Now, the flip side is that the right-wing neocon leader of the party lost even though he carried the advantage of incumbency and outspent his opponent by an almost 2:1 margin, and it's pretty hard to argue with that.  So there's a debate over the meaning of Lamont victory, and nothing accelerates a debate like a political fight.  And while there are many possible places to have this fight, by far the most likely arenda in which to watch the different forces at play will be John Bolton's confirmation vote in the Senate in September.  We'll learn just how committed the Democratic Party insiders are to opposing Bush's foreign policy objectives in the wake of Ned Lamont's stunning victory.  

Here's a bit of a recap of who Bolton is, and why this fight matters.  John Bolton, an heir to Jesse Helms' pugnaciously nationalistic ideology, was successfully filibustered in 2005 by the Senate when Bush tried to appoint him as UN ambassador.  It was the first sign that the Democratic Party was willing to fight to change the disastrously unilateral foreign policy of the Bush administration.  Still, while Bolton wasn't confirmed, Bush did select him to the position as a recess appointee.  As a result, Bolton must be renominated and confirmed by the Senate.  The loss was a crushing blow to Bush's political momentum, and 2005 was a horrible political year for Bush.

Now, during the first filibuster, Lieberman didn't take a position for or against Bolton, and since Bolton didn't come up for a vote, he didn't have to.  But indications suggest that he would have voted for him. [update: As John Mills pointed out in the comments, the Thinkprogress post is wrong. Lieberman voted against cloture twice (roll call vote here and here), though he was heavily targeted by the White House as a potential supporter.] With Lieberman's defeat by Lamont and his consequent move towards a campaign based on fear-mongering and capturing Republican votes, I imagine that he'll become a reliable pro-Bolton vote.  But there's a bit more to it than that.

You see, both Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton are considering switching their vote on Bolton, and there's probably a bunch of Senators who will follow them.  Schumer in particular has been awful, publicly saying that there will probably be no filibuster of Bolton.  So here we have a clear progressive electoral victory over the most right-wing Democrat, combined with a horrible year for Bush and a clearly disastrous foreign policy, and yet his nominee to the UN has an easier path to nomination.  Why would Democrats even consider ratifying Bush's foreign policy through Bolton?

Many of you will not like this answer, just as I didn't like discovering it, but the reality is that right-wing wealthy neoconservatives whose pet project is Israel are the ones who are forcing the Democrats to the right.  After 9/11, a special breed of incredibly wealthy coastal elites that I call 'Bloomberg Democrats' after their desire to have Michael Bloomberg run on a third party Presidential unity ticket went sharply to the right in their foreign policy thinking.  Lieberman is part of this group, always supportive of Israeli hawkishness, but whose fearful instincts were unleashed by 9/11.  Torture, lies, dead soldiers, a collapse of American moral authority - all of these pale in comparison to Islamofascism, but it's cool, because they are pro-choice and made a lot of money.  That's the type.

While originally distinct from the main branch of neoconservatives whose focus was Iraq, the Bloomberg Democrats have gradually conflated their sympathies towards Israel with a bloody desire to get rid of the American 'honest broker' status in the Middle East, and have become fully integrated into the neoconservative mainstream.  While once they were just pro-Israel as I am, like many progressive Jews I moved left, while Bloomberg Democrats have graduated to become full-fledged neoconservative sociopaths.  Even as the Israeli public itself is no longer particularly enthusiastic about its Lebanese incursion, AIPAC's hold on Congress prevents any real discussion of American Israeli interests in any context but that of Israel getting 100% blind support for anything it wants to do, even if what it wants to do is spy on America.  It's the 'with us or against us' mindset.

This neocon PAC money is incredibly pervasive among both parties, and that it's now being used to push Bolton significantly changes the battle lines of his renomination.  Israel wasn't a factor in Bolton's first nomination; now Bolton and Israel are seen as the same thing, and the AIPAC neocons have moved in their artillery behind his nomination.  Schumer's amazingly successful DSCC fundraising has come at least in some part from this neoconservative money, and Senator Clinton is making  the rounds. Her latest fundraiser was with Norpac, a neoconservative Israel-focused PAC that has lent support to Bush/Cheney '04, Rick Santorum, Jon Kyl, Mike Ferguson, Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman, Steny Hoyer, Conrad Burns, Bob Menendez, and Nancy Pelosi.  Even though you might think that the Lieberman defeat would embolden the Democrats, the Bolton fight and the Lieberman loss have been linked together explicitly by neo-conservative PACs, and prominent orthodox right-wing Jewish leaders are calling on Jews to abandon the Democratic Party for being insufficiently supportive of Israel's failed war in Lebanon.  

The sad hijacking of Jewish political activism by right-wing neoconservative crazies is complete.  If you're not with Lieberman, if you're not with Bolton, if you're not with the far right of the Israeli political spectrum, you're not pro-Israel.  I have to say, it's pretty frustrating.  Every time I find a political obstacle to a more progressive American posture abroad, it seems like there's another more hidden and intractable one behind it.  It's shocking to me that there are no effective progressive Jewish groups focusing on foreign policy.  The only ones I've seen are pathetic, wonkified, and largely unwilling to deal with the reality of a crazy domestic right-wing leadership structure.  

Anyway, with the war in Lebanon ending and Lieberman's defeat showing that there's a political constituency for a sane multi-lateral approach to foreign policy, the Democratic Party has a real opportunity on its hands to stake out a progressive foreign policy path.  That starts with Bolton.  Or rather, Bolton will show which Democrats really understand what Connecticut Democrats were trying to say, and which ones are only listening, despite all the populist outrage in the hinterland, to the Beltway elite.

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Dems UnEndorse Joe Lieberman; Karl Rove Endorses

You can track former supporters of Joe Lieberman who are now backing Ned Lamont at Meanwhile, Karl Rove is going to bat for his favorite (former) Democrat:
According to a close Lieberman adviser, the President's political guru, Karl Rove, has reached out to the Lieberman camp with a message straight from the Oval Office: "The boss wants to help. Whatever we can do, we will do."

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CT-Sen: Joe, KO'd

Here's a great article by Michael Tomasky on CT-Sen ion=root&name=ViewWeb&articleId= 11785

Indeed, the question today is not the question the mainstream press has been asking, which is "What if Ned Lamont beats Lieberman?" The question today is: "What if Ned Lamont buries Lieberman?"

Journalists are beginning to expect Joe to lose. Ned is the favorite, kids. Not just in our optimistic circles, but among the national punditry. We're so close-- I can't wait for August 8th*.

*Ironically, I'll be camping in Colorado on the 8th of August and completely cut off from civilization...

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