One Year, 705 Posts, 4,800 Hits

It has been one year now since my first entry into the blogosphere. What prompted me, it's hard to say. An overall dissatisfaction with politics, in general, and with the Bushites, in particular would rank in the top three. Mostly, it was wanting simply to keep a few friends of mine politically informed without inundating their email boxes with countless links to stories I felt had relevance.

Once I had decided to blog, I concentrated on what would be my very first post. After Bush was installed in the White House in 2000, my relationship with my best friend started to sour. He became more and more openly bigoted and extreme, and it alienated me. When I had the audacity to feel hope that the 2004 election would vindicate those of us who believed Bush was in the White House illegally, he mocked me, and took personal pot shots at me. It was sort of like being swift-boated by my own friend. So, I had to end the friendship, and I did my first post (as well as my first diary at MyDD) about the ending of that friendship over political partisanship.

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Reinstating the Draft(s)

In the lead up to the 2004 Presidential race, drafting candidates into the Democratic primary was a pretty big game. It started as something of a joke with John Cusack, moved into more serious territory with Dennis Kucinich, and culminated with Wesley Clark, something I wrote a lot about at the time and Matt actively participated in. If today's Washington Post is to be believed, the 2008 race will be just as drafty, if not more so.

It seems, however, that most of the candidates being targeted by draft efforts this time around will probably wind up enlisting on their own. Russ Feingold, Hillary Clinton, and Mark Warner are all mentioned as having substantial groups of supporters working to draft them into the primaries. I'm not sure I know anyone who thinks that any of these three Democrats are not already openly interested in seeking the nomination. Either way, these draft efforts help to give them the appearance of grassroots outcry for their candidacies, regardless of how loud the outcry really is.

On the right, the one person mentioned as being targeted by a draft is Condoleezza Rice. I'd argue that the Draft Rice effort is the one that most looks like the Draft Clark movement of '03/'04. That is to say, it's clearly being driven by the grassroots, but it's certainly got some significant -- if very quiet -- establishment support.

The one name I was shocked to see left out of the article entirely was Al Gore. Talk about Gore '08 never seems to die down in the blogosphere, no matter how many times Gore says he won't run. The upcoming release of 'An Inconvenient Truth,' along with some of the curious news about Gore "getting the band back together" certainly has raised some eyebrows. But I agree with Chris that the Draft Gore efforts thus far have been less than impressive. Still, I'm becoming increasingly convinced that the Draft Gore campaigns are going to heat up over the coming months.

At this point, I'm most interested to see what draft campaigns for 2008 really take off after the midterms. I fully expect Brian Schweizer, Barack Obama, and Howard Dean all to be targeted, if not necessarily by completely serious efforts. Also of interest to me is the idea of candidates being targeted by third party draft campaigns. Will the anti-immigrant far rightists try to draft Tom Tancredo, for example? Could the few remaining Rockefeller Republicans try to draft billionaire New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg? Depending on how things play out in the Middle East and who wins the Republican and Democratic nominations, might there be an campaign to draft antiwar candidates from either the left or the right?

Bill Frist Is Not Howard Dean

As a musician, one of the first lessons I learned about self-promotion was that most journalists are fundamentally lazy. If you can write a good press release or one-sheet, you can count on most record reviewers to regurgitate the release, sometimes almost verbatim, and review the record based not on how it sounds, but how you tell them it sounds. As I got involved in politics, I was somewhat dismayed to learn that this wasn't just the case for rock writers.

The latest case in point? Washington Post blogger Chris Cillizza and his piece, "Bill Frist: The Howard Dean of the GOP?" Essentially, the post goes something like this: Hey look, a politician is using the internet! It's just like Howard Dean!
It's sort of like saying that George Allen is the Tiger Woods of the GOP because they both love playing golf.

On Frist's Volunteer PAC site, he offers visitors several ways to interact semi-directly with him. First, Frist has a blog that is updated regularly through which he seeks to take the temperature of visitors on controversial issues like immigration and judges. To date, the blog has received more than 20,000 posts from readers, and Frist aides insist the senator regularly participates in the online debate.

Frist also recently announced a podcast, a feature that has become de rigeur for the Web sites of aspiring 2008ers. But Frist is planning an interesting twist: He allows visitors to submit questions on the site that he then answers in the "iFrist" podcast....

Today Frist will launch a tool that allows users to participate in seven online mini campaigns. The options include taking a survey on national security, signing a petition in support of President Bush or endorsing the reelection campaigns of Sens. Jim Talent (Mo.) and Rick Santorum (Pa.). The site allows individuals to monitor the progress of the campaigns for which they volunteer online and allow them to invite friends to participate as well.

Is any of this news? Candidates who blog? Politicians with podcasts? Online polls and petitions? This is considered innovative in 2006? While it may be true that Frist's online presence may be the most significant of any of the 2008 Republican contenders, that certainly doesn't make him the right-wing Howard Dean.

Dean established himself as a credible political figure as the Governor of a small state and likely wouldn't have attained the level of national notoriety he did without the progressive netroots behind him. In contrast, Senator Frist is the Majority Leader of the United States Senate. He's already in the national spotlight. His PAC's website might be great, but that doesn't make him Howard Dean. Besides, Dean's base of internet support was not something created by consultants. It was a bottom-up creation of the grassroots whose support for Dean coalesced online. Dean's campaign was about much more than a website.

If there is any silver lining to this pretty much mindless piece, it's that the establishment media is recognizing that much of the political fight in 2008 will be carried out online. Access to the internet, and especially broadband technology, is becoming more and more widespread, ensuring that the internet will be a key battleground in the next Presidential election. But all of the technological bells and whistles in the world won't mean a thing if candidates aren't truly responsive to the off-line interests and concerns of the voters.

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What Is Wrong With George Allen?

We interrupt the glow of Tom DeLay's downfall to bring you this mildly interesting story about Sen. Allen.

First, Allen admits that he's not really doing his job. Then he indicates that he's not doing the job -- which, incidentally, is representing the people of Virginia in the United States Senate -- because he finds it boring. He follows that up with -- what else -- telling the good folks of Iowa that he wishes he was from their state as well, instead of his own. All this from a former Governor and current Senator who was primed to be one of the top Republican contenders for the 2008 Presidential nomination. Can it get any worse? It most certainly can.

A Senate Republican wants an Army general who drew criticism for church speeches casting the war on terrorism in religious terms to lead the U.S. special operations command.

In a letter to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Sen. George Allen, R-Va., recommended Lt. Gen. William G. (Jerry) Boykin, currently the Pentagon's deputy undersecretary for intelligence, for the post at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla.

The current commander, Army Gen. Bryan "Doug" Brown, is retiring, and the Pentagon has not filled the job.

"I am told, and I believe it to be true, that no special operations officer currently on active duty is more highly respected or admired by his superiors, peers or subordinates alike, than Jerry Boykin," Allen wrote in the letter dated March 31 and obtained by The Associated Press.

For those who need a refresher, Lt. Gen. Boykin is not simply guilty of "casting the war on terrorism in religious terms." That's a gross understatement at best. The problem with Boykin is not that he believes in God. His problem seems to be that he's delusional. He openly brags about the fact that a military psychologist tried to keep him out of Delta Force because of his extreme religious fervor. He even speaks proudly of the fact that, when his wife left him, it was because he was "a religious fanatic." But Boykin is, of course, most famous for his comments characterizing war in the Arab world as a holy war on Muslims.

...Boykin is the subject of an investigation by the Pentagon's inspector general over comments he made at several church presentations, in which he referred to the United States as a "Christian nation" joined in "spiritual battle" against Satan. On at least two occasions, he talked of seeing demonic forces in black marks on a photograph he took from a helicopter over Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993. And, in discussing a Somali Muslim militia leader, Boykin said, "I knew that my God was bigger than his."

And more to the point of Boykin being absolutely the wrong person for this promotion -- or any promotion, for that matter -- as Sidney Blumenthal uncovered for The Guardian, Boykin was one of the chief architects of the policies that led to the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. At first, I assumed Sen. Allen was being his recent, typical goofy self, asleep at the switch, giving an ill-advised recommendation without much thought or consideration. But I was wrong.

"Granted, these are issues which cause discomfort. But I firmly believe the nomination of General Boykin to be important enough to take a stand," Allen wrote.

This is where George Allen has decided to make his stand. I think that's got to tell you a lot about what kind of President he would be, and why he no longer ought to be representing Virginia in the Senate. I wonder what Jim Webb and Harris Miller have to say about this.

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Confidence On The Issues

We hear from so many Democrats -- quite often elected Democrats playing pundit -- that the party's problem is that people care first and foremost about national security and they don't like what they hear from Democrats. For too long, that's been the conventional wisdom. And such conventional wisdom leads to certain Democrats saying patently silly things like, "we need to talk tough about national security, and I will do that... in six months." So I really hope that everyone's paying attention to the signs indicating that the conventional wisdom has been overturned.

The AFL-CIO blog and Georgia10 point to a some new Gallup polling showing that Americans' top three concerns, in order, are access to healthcare, Social Security, and "availability and affordability of energy."Polling Report has the full results, which show people are more concerned about kitchen table issues than personally being attacked by terrorists. It's interesting to me that the poll did not include the war in Iraq as one of the "problems facing the country." Had it been included and a majority of those polled counted it among their top concerns, I think the results would still be good for Democrats. But aside from the civil war in Iraq, Americans seem to be incredibly uneasy with the direction of the country, and on the issues that concern them most, they've already rejected the Republicans.

Matt Singer at PLAN has an interesting and somewhat post praising former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber for his timing in launching his healthcare reform campaign, The Archimedes Movement. Many have seen Kitzhaber's campaign as the likely beginning to a 2008 Presidential run. With Joe Trippi on board as an adviser, that may well be true. But he's also a doctor, so it's clearly an issue he's legitimately interested in.

It's not as if I'm advocating an abdication of national security as an issue we should campaign on. What I'm saying is that Democrats need to act like winners on every issue. Even the Republican pollsters at Rasmussen acknowledge that Americans trust Congressional Democrats on national security matters more than they do the President. And I think when it comes to the Democrats' newly released national security document, we ought to focus more on the 'redeploy, eliminate Bin Laden' message and less on the specifics.

I guess my ultimate point here is that if Democrats act like they're on the defensive, it leads people to question their position. Look at what a little bit of stubborn cockiness has done for the Republicans over the years. The people are with us. That doesn't mean that we now rest on our laurels and coast to November. But acting like winners and showing a little confidence would certainly not be a bad thing for the Democrats right about now.


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