• comment on a post Building a House Landslide, Part II over 8 years ago

    Shouldn't it be the responsibility of the DNC (or some other national body) to check that efforts are made to contest all seats?

    Folks complain when there's interference from DC in races where Dems are running: but, in districts where none are, interference isn't just permissible, it should be mandatory!

    And, if there are gaps in House seats, you must wonder what gaps there are with candidates for down-ticket races; and county committees; and precinct captains...

    For instance, if Dems want to make real progress in the US House and hold their gains, they will need to re-gerrymander stage leges and Congressional Districts. In most states, that will mean having control of the elected branches by the time redistricting for the 2010 Census comes round.

    And winning control of leges under existing districting arrangements - unlikely in some cases to be the work of a single year's elections.

    One has to wonder what Howard Dean has been doing in the last 12 months for the problem of unfilled challenger slots in GOP House districts to be left to last minute blogger fire-fighting.

    Perhaps the state of some state and county parties is so bad that he's had his work cut out. Just wondering...

  • comment on a post The 2006 Platform Rollout over 8 years ago

    I'm a little rusty on the rollout of the Contract for America. But I'm pretty sure it wasn't preceded by a statement from the RNC Chairman saying

    I'm not too worried about the timing...
    or
    The only thing I think we'll worry about [is] the time it takes to get people on the same page.

    The presentation sounds like Amateur Hour.

    On the substance,

    more access to affordable health care

    sounds pretty timid - tinkering, not making much inroads into the 45 million without coverage. Avoiding being Harry and Louise-d at all costs!

    And

    stronger national security

    sounds pretty feeble too. More Dem mee-too-ism with obfuscation as with the Iraq resolution, the Kerry campaign, and Iraq withdrawal.

    The consultants obviously think there's no possibility of the Dems' safely staking out a position of sanity given their record - rejecting outright the Bush plan to bring the world democracy at gunpoint, for instance.

    No doubt they focus-grouped ethical government - sounds prissy and goo-goo to me. Clearly the electorate is quite prepared to believe impossibilities: the GOP is for small government, notably. But I'm not sure whether they believe the Dems are in any position to give lectures (even if they've never heard of the ethics truce!); and they might well suspect Dems have in mind changing the rules only to benefit themselves and do down the GOP. (That sort of thing has happened before, I believe...)

    (When was there ever such a thing as ethical government? Name that year! Name that planet!)

  • comment on a post TX-28: District Profile over 8 years ago

    The initial count showed Rodriguez winning by only 145 votes. After a recount in which Zapata County officials found 177 extra votes for Cuellar and none extra for Rodriguez, Cuellar found himself ahead by 203 votes.

    Uh oh.

    Sounds like LBJ in 1948 - TX-28's close to George Parr country, too. In fact, the 2002 version included (parts of?) both Duval and Jim Wells.

    Plus ça change...

  • comment on a post The Next Bush Budget over 8 years ago

    Congressional Dems are pathologically risk averse.

    What with rampant gerrymandering and the advantages of incumbency, they expect to keep their seats indefinitely.

    Of course, a turnover in control would be nice, with committee chairmanships available and all. But not if it requires belligerent action, forgetting the Marquess of Queensbury's rules, a bit of bomb-throwing.

    (Think how John Kerry slotted back so nicely into his role as senator after 04. How much did the need to stay senatorial in case of losing affect his campaign, I wonder? In not immediately slapping down the Swifties, for instance.)

    Almost none of the 240-odd Dem members have any chance at their party's presidential nomination; so they have to think about keeping what they've got.

    (Plus, to compensate for the incumbency advantage, the numbers are historically very tight; a turnover in the TX elected branches, and the replacement of the GOP gerrymander with a Dem one would probably account for most of the GOP majority in the House.

    Anything might happen. But, if you've already lost your seat through doing something radical and upsetting people...)

  • comment on a post LoBiondo "Offensive" on Predatory Lending over 8 years ago

    The fact that this one Rep has been pissy in responding to constituents' letters shouldn't draw fire away from the mass of members in both houses of Congress (not all GOP by any means) with their tongues up the rectums of the loan sharks (as displayed notably during proceedings on the bankruptcy bill).

    For instance, one bill, HR 1295, was introduced just after the bankruptcy bill was passed. It apparently (PDF) helps out the credit industry in several juicy ways.

    And a good number of its sponsors are Dems. (Disproportionately Congressional Black Caucus members, from a rough count.)

    How 'bout that?

  • I agree. There must be tens of thousands of elected offices at all levels in the US, almost all with limited fame and prestige attached! Each is, at the minimum, an opportunity for a Dem to dip his toe in the water of electoral contest.

    But, in many cases, victory is possible, and a record of legislative or executive action can be established, ready for a try at a more important office.

    And - just as vital - such a record is a platform on which to approach local people on behalf of other Dem candidates.

    The GOP does the VRWC thing at the national level; but it also does the ground-up thing.

    I'm not sure that the Dems are doing much of either terribly effectively right now.

  • comment on a post 48 Unopposed Republicans over 8 years ago

    It's absurd.

    Surely these no-hope contests should be used to blood promising pols with a view to them moving to a more promising district in 08?

    And what about elections to the lege? And county elections? Surely, the longer the ticket, the better, if they're all reasonable candidates?

    Is cost the issue?

    (I have no answers here, just questions!)

  • Great idea!

    I'd nominate FDR's dog Fala - well, he was an icon in his time.

    Unfortunately, he was also a Scottish Terrier...

  • Surfing with images turned off, I'm clearly missing a vital element here!

    I wasn't around when the daily masthead iconic image was under discussion, so I'm not sure what the agreed qualification for inclusion was.

    Clearly, there are Democratic icons - John Calhoun, for instance - who are certainly not progressive on any plausible definition. And progressive icons - the LaFollettes, say - who weren't Democrats, or were not notably partisan at all (like most of those in the poll above!).

    I suspect that too rigid a litmus test - in particular raising anachronistic standards of action or belief - would be pointlessly exclusive.

    Still, US political history is endlessly fascinating, so the arguments should be fun in any case.

    (Jackson was also a slaveholder, of course: should that rule him out? What about Jefferson?)

  • I sense the pro-choice groups chose not put the pedal to the metal on Alito.

    Why? Perhaps they thought softly-softly would stand a better chance with easy-to-spook Dem senators. I've no idea.

    (Earlier diary on the strangeness of NARAL's part in all of this.)

  • Sounds like a blueprint for the future. (How distant, I wonder?)

    I can see why you'd want to go for one topic - and make that abortion rather than abuse of power: voters have at least some familiarity with, and grasp of, the issues involved in abortion law.

    But what about the senators? For example, the conference report on the Partial Birth Abortion Act of 2003 passed 64-34, with no fewer than 17 Dem senators voting for it.

    Fighting against the death by a thousand cuts of abortion rights is apparently embarrassing enough for a lot of Dem senators: think what taking a stand on principle would do for their equanimity!

    Plus the (so far as I can see) essentially fissiparous nature of Dem and Dem-friendly organization: there's not even (that I know of) the Dem equivalent of the infamous Grover Norquist Wednesday meeting.

    Clearly, it's possible to achieve the degree of coordination proposed - because the GOP manage it. But, then, they had humiliating decades in opposition in Congress to deflate egos and concentrate minds.

    Just one decade, I'm thinking, is nowhere near enough!

  • on a comment on Kaine's Response over 8 years ago

    Democrats look weaker on national security because, well, they just look weak, period.

    Never more succintly put.

    When Kerry took the Swifties' crap without an immediate and appropriate response - well, however much Holbrooke and Co were out-Scooping Scoop, the Dems' stones on national security were bound to be doubted!

  • comment on a post Bull point for the filibuster over 8 years ago

    So letting the base get all orgasmic about filibuster probably not the way to go.

    (Not but that the mood music from the leadership hasn't been mostly wet-blanket. So why have net lefties got so worked up if there was never any possibility of even an attempt at a filibuster?)

    This is all nothing if not educational!

  • comment on a post The Democratic Lobbying Reform Proposal over 8 years ago
    For one, they're a small part of discretionary spending - less than $30 billion a year, I think. Single defense programs come more expensive. (The corporatist defense industry seems to be the Bush model for business-government relations, so tightly meshed that you can't see where one stops and the other starts.)

    For another, members often like to wave them about like virility symbols - King of Pork Ted Stevens and his Bridge to Nowhere, for instance.

    The main drivers, as I mentioned above, are the members need for TV dollars and the immense value of corporate welfare they legislate each year. They're both practically impossible to eliminate.

    More disclosure is good; as long as it's sold as what it is - a band-aid, not a cure.

  • comment on a post The Democratic Lobbying Reform Proposal over 8 years ago
    Currently, we have the pols with a need (buying campaign airtime) which the corporate sector can satisfy (with a wall of money); and the corporate sector has a need (for welfare) that the pols can satisfy (by legislating).

    Even if - by a stretch as likely as the Second Coming in a comparable timescale - it were possible to dry off the pols' need for cash - by a constitutional amendment banning all TV political advertising except that paid for by public money (think of the NAB's spend stopping that baby!) - that would not do it.

    There would still be the pressure of the billions in benefits that Congress can (and does) provide each year in legislating welfare to the corporates (and their rich owners - death tax, anyone?).

    Don't tell me that a way wouldn't be found for a portion of those billions to find their way into politicians' pockets!

    (The letter itself is laughable: referring to the prescription drug benefit and energy subsidies when both the Medicare bill and the energy bill - HR 1 in the 108th and HR 6 in the 109th - would not have passed without the vote of Democratic members of Congress!

    And the pledge to enact and vigorously enforce their modest proposals insults the intelligence, given not only the lack of any sign - CREW complaint or no CREW complaint - that the House Dem leadership is abandoning the ethics truce any time soon; but the hard fact that the Dems are in no position to enact anything until further notice.)

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