Whither the Netroots? A Party Within a Party

Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.- Otto von Bismarck

If you are an idealist, the world will eventually break your heart. Nowhere is this more certain than in the arena of politics. For those that thought a Democratic 110th Congress would end this Iraq War or instigate impeachment hearings against this administration, frustration is beginning to set in. But any journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step. Different bloggers are showing their frustration in different ways: Matt Stoller reminds his readers, "keep in mind, the public hates George Bush, and the public hates this war". That is true. And it means very little at the moment. Chris Bowers laments, "The New York Times reports what I knew since Thursday evening: progressive opposition to the supplemental is fading badly, and the current form of the bill is going to be the best we can do for now." Bowers wonders if the Progressives might not be making the correct parliamentary move by caving (see: sausages, broken hearts).

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Within the System and Without

Here is how Nanette put it.

There is a huge gulf between those that want a tweak... and those that feel that what is really needed is a change. Most of the kos and kos satellite blogs - bootrib, fdl, mydd, mlw to a lesser extent, etc - and participants are tweakers. They've convinced themselves (especially the mydd'ers... good god) that, yes, they really can be THE progressive movement, even if their ranks are made up of primarily comfortably well off white males. Tweakers. A mile wide and an inch deep... because, as I mentioned to Stoller, when whatever burr is in their hide (war in iraq, Bush in white house, etc) is removed, the slightly discomforted will be comfortable again and go on with their lives.

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MyDD: Still Carrying the Load

Ellen O. Tauscher (CA-10) decided to do a preemptive counterattack against the left-wing of the Democratic Party the week before the elections. Maybe she is trying to reassure Boeing, Wal-Mart, and Pfizer that the new wave of Democrats will be every bit the lap-dogs of their industries that Tom DeLay and the K Street project have been. Maybe she is just a stupid person. But we don't need this fight right now. Here Is what she said.

Representative Ellen O. Tauscher of California, a co-chairwoman of the 47-member New Democrat Coalition, said that 27 of the top 40 contested House seats were being pursued by Democrats who have pledged to become members of the group, which says its chief issues are national security and fiscal responsibility.

"I think there's tremendous agreement and awareness that getting the majority and running over the left cliff is what our Republican opponents would dearly love," Ms. Tauscher said, adding that this was something "we've got to fight."

That set Matt Stoller off here. And then Chris Bowers went off here and here.

They are not so much overreacting as they are stepping on this week's message. I am reminded of a Buddhist aphorism. A young monk and an old monk come to a stream where an attractive young lady is crying. Her leg has been badly injured and she cannot forge across the stream. The young monk says that they are prohibited from touching a woman and that he is sorry but they cannot help her. The old monk says, "Get on my back", and helps her across the stream. After the woman goes on her way, the young monk is outraged and asks the old monk how he could have done such a thing. The old monk turns to the young monk and says, "I have already put her down and you are still carrying her."

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fOtofair2006 is this weekend! Are you ready?

Is everyone ready?

Do you have your photos selected?

Have you figured out the templates?

Do you know when to post your fOtodiary?

We're getting close now: the fOtofair is this coming weekend. If you answered no to any of those questions, don't fear! There's still time to get involved, and the fOtofair team is here to help.

For this final diary, we'll post the links to all the previous diaries, take a look at next steps and what to expect this w/e, and open the diary to any questions and/or comments.

- Contents -
(Click to jump to a section)

Diaries and Links
Next Steps
What to Expect
Questions and Comments

::

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What-Ifs in the Lieberman Election

I am going to do something unusual here and ask someone else to do some research. But first I want to set up a scenario that I think is being ignored by the blogosphere.

A lot of people are suspicious that Joe Lieberman, if he wins re-election, will caucus with the GOP. I don't think that is very likely unless a very specific set of circumstances takes place. If Joe Lieberman is denied seniority by the Democratic caucus he will seriously consider caucusing with the Republican Party. But, knowing that, the Democrats will not deny Lieberman seniority unless they can afford to lose his vote and still maintain a majority. That means, the Dems would only consider stripping Lieberman of his seniority if they have a majority of 52. To get a majority of 52, the Dems would need to pick up seven seats. In order of likelihood, these are the seats we could pick up: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Montana, Rhode Island, Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia, Arizona.

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Curt Weldon's History as a Head-Case

With news that the Feds have "conducted six raids this morning - including at the homes of [Curt Weldon's (PA-07)] daughter and a longtime friend", I thought I might remind people just how crazy Weldon is.

Here's a picture of Rep. Curt Weldon (R, PA-07) giving a plaque to Moammar Qaddafi.

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Curt Weldon's History as a Head-Case

With news that the Feds have "conducted six raids this morning - including at the homes of [Curt Weldon's (PA-07)] daughter and a longtime friend", I thought I might remind people just how crazy Weldon is.

Here's a picture of Rep. Curt Weldon (R, PA-07) giving a plaque to Moammar Qaddafi.

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What if We Win the Senate?

Bumped from the diaries -- Jonathan... I don't necessarily see all of the committee assignments going similarly (I don't see two freshmen on Finance, for instance), but this is a very compelling study.

What would the Senate look like if the Democrats took it over? I have tried to figure it out. To do so, I analyzed the current committee positions of every Democrat, and the background of the most likely new Democrats that would be part of a takeover. For the purposes of my study I made the following optimistic assumptions:

1. That Robert Menendez will hold his seat in NJ.
2. That Bernie Sanders will replace Jim Jeffords in VT.
3. That Amy Klobuchar will replace Mark Dayton in Minnesota.
4. That Ben Cardin will win the Maryland primary and replace Paul Sarbanes.
5. That all incumbent Democrats will win.
6. That Ned Lamont will knock out Joe Lieberman.
7. That the following Democrats will knock out incumbent Republicans: Claire McCaskill in Missouri, Harold Ford, Jr. in Tennessee, Sheldon Whitehouse in Rhode Island, Jon Tester in Montana, Sherrod Brown in Ohio, Jim Webb in Virginia, and Bob Casey, Jr. in Pennsylvania.

If all that happens, the Democrats will have a 51-48 advanatage with Bernie Sanders in our caucus. I still have hopes for Pederson in Arizona and Carter in Nevada, but I did not include them.

My methodology assumes that no Senator can be the head of two committees at the same time. This required some adjustments. Max Baucus is the ranking member on both Finance and Environment. I gave him Finance. That elevated Barbara Boxer to the chairperson position on Environment. Paul Sarbanes is the ranking member on Banking. He is retiring. That elevated Chris Dodd to the ranking member. He is also the ranking member on Rules. I gave him banking and elevated Diane Feinstein to the chairperson on Rules. Joe Lieberman is the ranking member on Homeland Security. The next is line is Carl Levin. He has Armed Services. I left him there. After him comes Daniel Akaka who is the ranking member on Veteran's Affairs. I left him with Veteran's Affairs and elevated the next in line, Tom Carper, to chair Homeland Security.

All other committees simply flipped from the current Republican to the current ranking Democrat.

For all the new Democratic chairpersons I list the Republican they will be replacing.

Taking a quick look at my work it seems obvious that the most glaring advantages and dramatic improvements will be made in the Judiciary, and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committees. According to my projections, three Senators will acquire committees who are not even ranking members at the moment. Two of them are women. Check out my handywork below the fold and tell me what you think, and how it bodes for the country. All committees are listed in terms of seniority. And, in so far as possible (excepting committee chairs) I have aimed to have each Senator sit on at least 4 committees. Evan Bayh currently sits on six. He is the hardest working member of Congress.

True freshman are bolded.

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I Love You Son

WILLIAMS: Is there a palpable tension when you get together with the former president, who happens to be your father? A lot of the guys who worked for him are not happy with the direction of things.

BUSH: Oh no. My relationship is adoring son.

WILLIAMS: You talk shop?

BUSH: Sometimes, yeah, of course we do. But it's a really interesting question, it's kind of conspiracy theory at its most rampant. My dad means the world to me, as a loving dad. He gave me the greatest gift a father can give a child, which is unconditional love. And yeah, we go out and can float around there trying to catch some fish, and chat and talk, but he understands what it means to be president. He understands that often times I have information that he doesn't have. And he understands how difficult the world is today. And I explain my strategy to him, I explain exactly what I just explained to you back there how I view the current tensions, and he takes it on board, and leaves me with this thought, "I love you son."

Many, many fathers have had the misfortune to raise slow-witted sons. We can all picture the inner sadness they feel as they realize their child is never going to be able to make it in the world without assistance.

Sometimes, when they have just endured a particularly revealing example of their son's shallowness of thought, they must suppress a sigh, rest a reassuring hand on the shoulder, and say, "I love you son."

It even happens to Presidents and ex-Presidents. It is a bit strange to hear George W. Bush talk about it though. Evidently, he is unselfconscious about his ineptitude in the eyes of his father.

And what kind of worldview did George put to Poppy?

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Lieberman Shows His True Colors

[Become a member of the Frog Pond0

Unmoored from the Democratic Party, Joe Lieberman is free to show his true colors.  And he isn't sounding like he is acquainted with what we might call sanity.

"If we just pick up like Tom Harkin-[IA] Barbara Boxer-[CA] John Kerry-[MA] Edward M. Kennedy-[MA] Russell Feingold-[WI] Robert C. Byrd-[WV] Ned Lamont wants us to do, get out by a date certain, it will be taken as a tremendous victory by the same people who wanted to blow up these planes in this plot hatched in England," Mr. Lieberman said at a campaign event in Waterbury, Conn. "It will strengthen them, and they will strike again."


 

"I'm worried that too many people [Christropher Dodd-[CT], Hillary Clinton-[NY], Diane Feinstein-[CA], Barack Obama-[IL], Joseph Biden-[DE], Jay Rockefeller-[WV], Jack Reed-[RI]], both in politics and out, don't appreciate the seriousness of the threat to American security and the evil of the enemy that faces us," Mr. Lieberman said at the Waterbury event. He called that threat "more evil, or as evil, as Nazism and probably more dangerous than the Soviet Communists we fought during the long cold war."


I think Ned Lamont's response to this was spot on.

"Wow," Mr. Lamont said, after twice asking a reporter to read Mr. Lieberman's remark about him. "That comment sounds an awful lot like Vice President Cheney's comment on Wednesday. Both of them believe our invasion of Iraq has a lot to do with 9/11. That's a false premise."

To say the least, it is a false premise.  I'm also quite amazed to see Lieberman equate the evil of Islamic terrorism to that of the Nazis.  I'm even more amazed to see him suggest that they represent a greater danger than the Soviet Union did.  That's unhinged fearmongering.  

Just out of curiosity, I went back this morning and re-read Franklin Delano Roosevelt's speech to the nation after the attack on Pearl Harbor [posted below the fold].  I was looking, in particular, for any appeal to fear.  I was looking for any demonization of the enemy, any accusations that they were 'evil'.  I was looking to see what he appealed to in order to rally the nation for what would be our greatest struggle as a nation.  I didn't find anything that resembled the bullshit that Joe Lieberman is spewing.  

You know what?  He just said this, "The facts of yesterday speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation." That is how things stood on September 12, 2001.  We didn't need George W. Bush to explain to us that, "Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger." We understood that.  All we required was an explanation for who attacked us, why we were attacked, and how we might dissuade people from attacking us again.

We quickly learned that the terrorists were natives of Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.  All of these countries are formally allied with the United States and have been allied with us dating back to the Cold War.  Clearly, we were dealing with a political statement about our relationship with the rulers of those nations.  

But we were not told this.  Instead, we were told that we were attacked because these 'folks' hate our freedom.  That was the first betrayal.  The second betrayal was suggesting that Saddam Hussein had anything to do with 9/11, or that regime change in Iraq would matter to dissident groups in Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.  

Let's talk about freedom for a moment, because it is important.  When we look at a group like al-Qaeda, we need to keep two things in our head simultaneously.  First, they want to change conditions in their countries, but are powerless to do so through traditional political means.  Their powerlessness arises from the powerful internal security forces used to protect the House of Saud, the Hashemite King of Jordan, and the President-for-Life Hosni Mubarak.  The second thing to remember is that these terrorists are not looking to replace their despots with Jeffersonian democracies, but with Islamic theocracies.  It is in this latter sense that they lose the right to the sympathy a Republic like the United States might feel for those yearning to topple tyranny.

Bush has spelled out a vision for the Middle East wherein the people will have participatory democracy.  The theory is that they will opt for Jeffersonian democracy if given the ballot, as opposed to opting for something more akin to what Usama bin-Laden wants.  But we have had three electoral processes in the Middle East since Saddam was toppled.  In Lebanon, Hizbollah gained seats and was awarded ministries.  In Palestine, Hamas emerged victorious, leading to Israel's imprisonment of a big chunk of their parliament.  In Iraq, they chose to elect theocratic Shi'a parties aligned with Axis-of-Evil member, Iran.

Events such as these are world changing.  And they are complicated. We have a President that, prior to deciding to invade Iraq, didn't even know that the Islam has a Sunni branch and a Shi'a Branch.  I know that Joe Lieberman was aware of that, but it does not seem to have better informed his thinking.  

The terrorism we face today may, indeed, have a broader ideological basis than the pre-9/11 terrorism.  That terrorism was about our cozy relationship with tyrants in the Middle East.  The new terrorism may be about our complicity in the killing of hundreds of Lebanese, and the deaths of tens and tens of thousands of civilians in Iraq.  It may be simple revenge.  

But to compare jihadist ideology to Nazism is a gross exaggeration.  Ahmadinejad and other firebrand's rhetoric aside, the goals of the terrorists remain political.  They pose no existential threat to the United States, and they pose no realistic existential threat to Israel.  

As for the Soviet Union, their record does not compare favorably with the record of Khomeini's Iran, Assad's Syria, or with Hizbollah and Hamas.  The Soviet Union killed millions of their own citizens and ruthlessly oppressed Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Georgians, Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Moldovans, Poles, Czechs, Hungarians, Romanians, Slovaks, Jews, and other ethnic groups.  They had enough nuclear weapons to blow up the world and authorized their use in Cuba in 1962.  

Marxist-Leninism represented a coherent, non-sectarian, ethnic, or national ideology that had broad appeal.  Islamic terrorism remains divided along sectarian, ethnic, and national lines.  There is no prospect of an Islamic ruler uniting the terrorists under their banner and going forth to oppress non-Muslims.  There is no prospect of the terrorists capturing any territory other than by the very ballot box that Bush cynically pushes as the solution.  

There is no sense in which Islamic terrorism represents even the tiniest threat to us when compared to the Soviet Union.  Nor does it pose a similar threat to the Soviet's brand of communism for the people under their thumb.  To suggest otherwise is to either display the grossest ignorance of history and current conditions, or to engage in the basest of political fearmongering.  

The solution to Islamic terrorism begins in the occupied territories of Israel.  Once that conlict has a settlement, the swamp that breeds terrorism will be largely drained.  But we will still have to worry so long as our allies in the Middle East are oppressive and corrupt and we are seen as their enablers and protectors.

Joe Lieberman has now shown that he is little different from Dick Cheney in his vision of the Middle East.  In both cases they say our very nation is in peril, and yet neither of them call upon us to make any sacrifice.  When Roosevelt saw an existential threat emerging overseas he acted (and it required leadership).

The draft began in October 1940. By the early summer of 1941, President Roosevelt asked the U.S. Congress to extend the term of duty for the draftees beyond twelve months. The United States House of Representatives approved the extension by a single vote. The Senate approved it by a wider margin, and Roosevelt signed the bill into law.

For Cheney and Lieberman to compare the threat of terrorism to Nazism and the Soviet Empire, and to see Iraq go down in flames without even calling for a draft...is about the most irresponsible thing I've ever seen.  If they are right, then they will have lost the war and the country because they couldn't disrupt our college kids' plans.  But, they are wrong.

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