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8/2/04 <link> (updated 8/7/04) (cross-posted at Election 04)
Democratic Convention, Kerry and post-convention polls: How did Kerry do?
Answer: The horserace bounce was small in absolute terms, but the internals of almost all polls show Kerry did pretty well; plus, he's leading the electoral vote count comfortably at this time

The Democratic Convention, in my opinion, was above my expectations. As much as one may be tempted to assign more drama than substance to such conventions, I think there is one thing that this particular convention achieved, which is worth noting. It made it clear that the Democratic Party is not about to lay low on issues of national security and foreign policy and aggressively challenge the so-called policies of the Republican Party in this area. This is long overdue, and in part it does move the party forward in the direction I had hoped, when I last wrote about this in 2002. Senator Kerry and Senator Edwards, along with others like Gen. Wesley Clark, Barack Obama (a rising star in the Party and running for Senate in Illinois), former President Bill Clinton, and Teresa Heinz Kerry, all spoke well and highlighted the key areas the party wants to focus on in this election, with Obama in particular surprising many with his passionate call to arms (so-to-speak). All-in-all a convention that made me genuinely more optimistic about the Democratic party, even though I continue to have misgivings about their political (as opposed to policy) competence at times, owing to the ineptitude with which they seem to be still approaching the fake GOP charges surrounding Kerry's vote (or lack thereof) for the $87B bill. That said, it was a good start to the campaign ahead; a summary of the Kerry-Edwards platform is available here.

Now to the post-Convention polls. Chris Bowers has nicely summarized the polls that are out so far. Not unexpectedly, there is a limited bounce for Kerry (considering the margin or error in these polls) - which is not altogether surprising, as I highlighted in my earlier post before the Convention. This may very well be because of the high degree of polarization in the electorate. The silver lining for Kerry, though, is that he has improved his standing on numerous issues quite significantly (high single digits to high teens in some cases), even if that does not reflect in the horserace totals. You can see that by clicking here (for example). Also, Atrios' summary says more than the horserace numbers.

WaPo/ABC:

Kerry leads Bush as "better qualified to be commander-in-chief," by 52 percent to 44 percent.

Anyway, here are the results from Chris:


Ruy Teixeira has definitely won me over when it comes to determining the most accurate most important trial heat models. For me, it is all about the two-way, registered voter trial heats:
ABC
940 RV, 7/30-8/1, MoE 3 (7/22-25 results)
Kerry 52 (48)
Bush  45 (49)

ARG
776 RV, 7/30-8/1, MoE 3.5 (7/1-7/3 results)
Kerry 49 (49)
Bush  46 (45)

CBS
991 RV, 7/30-8/1, MoE 3 (7/11-7/15 results)
Kerry 49 (49)
Bush  43 (44)

CNN
1,366 RV, 7/30-8/1, MoE 3 (7/19-7/21 results)
Kerry 48 (49)
Bush  48 (45)

Newsweek
1,010 RV, 7/29-7/30, MoE 3 (7/8-7/9 results)
Kerry 52 (51)
Bush  44 (45)

UPDATE 8/7/04: Another handy page, where you can see the three-way horse race results is 2.004k.com. Additional polls since the DNC continue to show Kerry in a good position, even if his apparent bounce per se is in the few % range.

Kerry by 5% USA 43-48-4-(4) LV 8/3 - 8/5 TIME Magazine
Kerry by 3%   " 45-48-3-(3.5) RV 8/3 - 8/5 Associated Press/Ipsos Poll
Kerry by 5%   " 44-49-4-(3.1) LV 8/2 - 8/5 Greenberg Quinlan Rosner
Kerry by 3%   " 42-45-5-(3.5) RV 8/2 - 8/5 Investor's Business Daily/TIPP
Kerry by 4%   " 42-46-2-(3) RV 8/3 - 8/4 FoxNews/Opinion Dynamics
Kerry by 5%   " 43-48-2-(2) RV 8/2 - 8/4 Economist/YouGov

John of Americablog (via Buzzflash) has a quick and dirty, but original, analysis that is worth noting. Rather than simply looking at Kerry's absolute bounce in the polls, John looks at the percentage of the undecided vote that Kerry picked up (temporarily or permanently? - that is TBD) in the bounce. This is clearly an important metric. The absolute bounce is clearly a function of the available undecided voters; thus, as I've stated before, in a closely divided populace with a historically low percentage undecided voters, there is less one may expect in terms of a bounce. Anyway, here is his conclusion: Kerry did as well as Clinton did in 1992 in capturing a similar percentage of the undecided voters. 

This election, as Newsweek notes, is NOT AT ALL AN AVERAGE ELECTION. There are MUCH FEWER voters up for grabs - most have already committed to one candidate or another. AP reports 75% of Kerry and Bush supporters say they will "definitely" vote for their candidate - that's a big jump from 1992, when fewer than half of Clinton's supporters said the same about their candidate going in to the convention.

Clinton in 1992 was able to use the convention to woo 16 of the 66 "up for grab" voters - or around 1 in 4 of the "up for grab" voters.

Last week, Kerry was able to woo 4 of the 17 "up for grab voters" - or 1 in 4 "up for grab voters." (And if you believe that only 10 percent of voters were "up for grabs," then Kerry won over 4 out of 10 voters as his convention bounce.) Using either figure - 1/4 or 4/10 - that's pretty darn good, and just as good if not better than Clinton did with his one-in-four "massive" bump.

...

Now I'm not arguing that Kerry got exactly the equivalent of a 16 or a 26 point bounce, BUT, the fact remains that Kerry inherited a very divided, set-in-its-ways electorate. If only ten percent of the electorate were in fact "up for grabs," and Kerry had gotten all 10 percent as a result of his convention bounce, the media would still be saying "gosh, Clinton got 16 percent, and Kerry only got 10%, so Kerry didn't do as well" - even though, in fact, KERRY WOULD HAVE GOTTEN ALL THE AVAILABLE VOTERS.

John also points out, that the internals of the Fox News poll, are very positive for Kerry. Kerry has gotten massive bumps in how voters perceive him on areas where he was trailing Bush significantly. William Saletan of Slate states the same thing based on other polls - that the internals of the latest polls are actually very favorable to Kerry and troublesome to Bush. Polling pundit Ruy Teixeira of DonkeyRising agrees. Chris Bowers' General Election Cattle Call shows Kerry is a pretty strong position. Chris also shows at MyDD how Bush's favorables MINUS unfavorables margin is poor compared to Kerry's. And via Brad DeLong, I learn that Frank Luntz (The GOP pollster) seems somewhat pessimistic about Bush's chances. 

All in all, Kerry has done well. Now the even harder work starts to keep the momentum and win the campaign. And, please, will someone tell the DNC and Kerry-Edwards to send COMPETENT people to the represent them in the media, not just well-meaning people who are often ignorant of the facts?

11/27/03 <link>
For Democrats the catch phrase may be incompetence, but for Republicans it is outright moral corruption
As British historian Lord Acton once said "Power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely". Nowhere is this statement more true than the national Republican Party of today. The leaders of the party (Sen. Frist, Rep DeLay, Pres. Bush) are overseeing an era where even the meager values the party once stood for are clearly no longer are in effect (small Government, fiscal conservatism, real states' rights, etc.). 

The GOP is not only spending money like there is no tomorrow, it continues its series of egregious, anti-Democratic acts, with even conservatives fuming over the latest machinations over the Medicare Bill. 

Spending

Washington Post (Dan Morgan and Helen Dewar report) (via Calpundit):

Way back before Republicans took over the House in 1995, GOP lawmakers pilloried Democrats for stuffing legislation with local projects that get little or no oversight but boost the popularity of the lawmakers who take credit for them.
In 1992, Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), the future House speaker, told colleagues: "Democrats . . . see no contradiction between adding a billion and a half dollars in pork-barrel [spending] for the politicians in their big-city machines and voting for a balanced budget amendment."
But a rising tide of GOP spending on home-district projects is making those Democrats of yesteryear look like mere pikers of pork, according to a 15-page study just released by the minority staff of the House Appropriations Committee.
The study finds that the number of home-state projects earmarked in various bills has skyrocketed under the GOP, despite the party's rhetorical commitment to reining in a profligate federal government.
Moreover, it contends, Republicans "have opened up broad new areas of government to the practice of earmarking that were previously not subject to earmarks."...

Here is the accompanying chart from the Washington Post, extracted from the study done by the Appropriations Committee Democrats. The key point to note is that Republicans took over Congress in 1995, and the earmarked spending spiked ever since George W. Bush took office. 

More from conservative Tim Cavanaugh in Reason.

Medicare Bill

Bob Novak, the disgraced Karl Rove sock-puppet "journalist" who freely lied to cover up his role in the Valerie Plame expose (Joseph Wilson's wife), has this to say in his regular column for the Chicago Sun-Times (bold text is my emphasis):

During 14 years in the Michigan Legislature and 11 years in Congress, Rep. Nick Smith had never experienced anything like it. House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, in the wee hours last Saturday morning, pressed him to vote for the Medicare bill. But Smith refused. Then things got personal. 
Smith, self term-limited, is leaving Congress. His lawyer son Brad is one of five Republicans seeking to replace him from a GOP district in Michigan's southern tier. On the House floor, Nick Smith was told business interests would give his son $100,000 in return for his father's vote. When he still declined, fellow Republican House members told him they would make sure Brad Smith never came to Congress. After Nick Smith voted no and the bill passed, Duke Cunningham of California and other Republicans taunted him that his son was dead meat.
The bill providing prescription drug benefits under Medicare would have been easily defeated by Republicans save for the most efficient party whip operation in congressional history. Although President Bush had to be awakened to collect the last two votes, Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Majority Whip Roy Blunt made it that close. ''DeLay the Hammer'' on Saturday morning was hammering fellow conservatives.
Last Friday night, Rep. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania hosted a dinner at the Hunan restaurant on Capitol Hill for 30 Republicans opposed to the bill. They agreed on a scaled-down plan devised by Toomey and Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana. It would cover only seniors without private prescription drug insurance, while retaining the bill's authorization of private health savings accounts. First, they had to defeat their president and their congressional leadership.
They almost did. There were only 210 yes votes after an hour (long past the usual time for House roll calls), against 224 no's. A weary George W. Bush, just returned from Europe, was awakened at 4 a.m. to make personal calls to House members.
Republicans voting against the bill were told they were endangering their political futures. Major contributors warned Rep. Jim DeMint they would cut off funding for his Senate race in South Carolina. A Missouri state legislator called Rep. Todd Akin to threaten a primary challenge against him.
Intense pressure, including a call from the president, was put on freshman Rep. Tom Feeney. As speaker of the Florida House, he was a stalwart for Bush in his state's 2000 vote recount. He is the Class of 2002's contact with the House leadership, marking him as a future party leader. But now, in those early morning hours, Feeney was told a ''no'' vote would delay his ascent into leadership by three years -- maybe more.
Feeney held firm against the bill. So did DeMint and Akin. And so did Nick Smith. A steadfast party regular, he has pioneered private Social Security accounts. But he could not swallow the unfunded liabilities in this Medicare bill. The 69-year-old former dairy farmer this week was still reeling from the threat to his son. ''It was absolutely too personal,'' he told me. Over the telephone from Michigan on Saturday, Brad Smith urged his father to vote his conscience.
However, the leadership was picking off Republican dissenters, including eight of 13 House members who signed a Sept. 17 letter authored by Toomey pledging to support only a Medicare bill very different from the measure on the floor Saturday. That raised the Republican total to 216, still two votes short.
The president took to the phone, but at least two Republicans turned him down. Finally, Bush talked Reps. Trent Franks of Arizona (a ninth defector from the Toomey letter) and Butch Otter of Idaho -- into voting ''yes.'' They were warned that if this measure failed, the much more liberal Democratic bill would be brought up and passed.
The conservative Club for Growth's Steve Moore, writing to the organization's directors and founders, said defeat of the Medicare bill ''would have been a shot across the bow at the Republican establishment that conservatives are sick of the spending splurge that is going on inside Washington these last few years.''
Hammering the conservatives to prevent that may have been only a short-term triumph.

Another conservative Norman Ormstein of the ultra-conservative American Enterprise Institute has this to say in the Washington Post (via Matthew Yglesias) - with bold text being my emphasis:

One of the most disgraceful moments in American sports came in the 1972 Olympics, when officials gave the Soviet Union's basketball team three chances to shoot the ball after the clock had apparently run out -- allowing it to defeat the U.S. team.
American politics now has its own version of that infamous game. Early last Sunday, starting at about 3 a.m., the House of Representatives began its roll call on the Medicare prescription drug plan -- the most significant vote of the year. The House votes by electronic device, with each vote normally taking 15 minutes. After the allotted time, the bill, supported by the president and the Republican leadership, was losing. The vote stayed open. Before long it became clear that an absolute majority of the House -- 218 of the 435 members -- had voted no, with only 216 in favor. But the vote stayed open until Republicans were able to bludgeon two of their members to switch sides. It took two hours and 51 minutes, the longest roll call in modern House history.
This was not, technically speaking, against the rules. House Rule XX, clause 2 (a) says that there is a 15-minute minimum for most votes by electronic device. There is no formal maximum. A vote is not final until the vote numbers have been read by the speaker and the result declared. But since electronic voting began in January 1973, the norm has been long established and clear: Fifteen minutes is the voting time.

In the 22 years that Democrats ran the House after the electronic voting system was put in place, there was only one time when the vote period substantially exceeded the 15 minutes. At the end of the session in 1987, under Speaker Jim Wright of Texas, the vote on the omnibus budget reconciliation bill -- a key piece of legislation -- was one vote short of passage when one of the bill's supporters, Marty Russo of Illinois, took offense at something, changed his vote to no, and left to catch a plane to his home district in Chicago. He was unaware that his switch altered the ultimate outcome. Caught by surprise, Wright kept the vote tally open for an extra 15 to 20 minutes until one of his aides could find another member, fellow Texan Jim Chapman, and draw him out of the cloakroom to change his nay vote to aye and pass the bill. Republicans went ballistic, using the example for years as evidence of Democrats' autocratic style and insensitivity to rules and basic fairness.

In 1995, soon after the Republicans gained the majority, Speaker Newt Gingrich declared his intention to make sure that votes would consistently be held in the 15-minute time frame. The "regular practice of the House," he said would be "a policy of closing electronic votes as soon as possible after the guaranteed period of 15 minutes." The policy was reiterated by Speaker Dennis J. Hastert when he assumed the post.
But faced with a series of tough votes and close margins, Republicans have ignored their own standards and adopted a practice that has in fact become frequent during the Bush presidency, of stretching out the vote when they were losing until they could twist enough arms to prevail. On at least a dozen occasions, they have gone well over the 15 minutes, sometimes up to an hour.

The Medicare prescription drug vote -- three hours instead of 15 minutes, hours after a clear majority of the House had signaled its will -- was the ugliest and most outrageous breach of standards in the modern history of the House. It was made dramatically worse when the speaker violated the longstanding tradition of the House floor's being off limits to lobbying by outsiders (other than former members) by allowing Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson on the floor during the vote to twist arms -- another shameful first.
The speaker of the House is the first government official mentioned in the Constitution. The speaker is selected by a vote of the whole House and represents the whole House. Hastert is a good and decent man who loves the House. But when the choice has been put to him, he has too often opted to abandon that role for partisan gain.
Democracy is a fragile web of laws, rules and norms. The norms are just as important to the legitimacy of the system as the rules. Blatant violations of them on a regular basis corrode the system. The ugliness of this one will linger
.

Let's not forget what else the GOP has been up to. Earlier this year, The New Republic (TNR) editor Peter Beinart wrote the following (with bold text, again, being my emphasis):

To conservatives, the Bush administration is everything its predecessor was not: decent, ethical, honest. It doesn't abuse government power or the public trust. As Wall Street Journal columnist and presidential hagiographer Peggy Noonan has put it, "Bush brings character to the table." 
That's the claim. Here's the record over the last eight months:
TEXAS
Since at least the 1960s, congressional redistricting has been governed by a simple rule: It occurs once per decade, following the national census. (The exception being when courts invalidate a state's redistricting plan, thus requiring a second one.) Usually, then, states draw the maps. But, when they cannot do so in a timely fashion, the Supreme Court has stated that judges may draw them themselves.
That's what happened in Texas in 2001. The state legislature deadlocked, so a three-judge panel drew new U.S. House districts. In November 2002, voters elected candidates in those new districts, and everyone assumed that would be that.
But those same elections handed the GOP control of both houses of the state legislature. And so Texas GOP boss and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay did something unprecedented: He redrew the map to create four more Republican seats. Republicans rushed the new plan through the state legislature until desperate Democratic legislators fled the state, thus preventing a quorum. GOP leaders then apparently urged Texas police to enlist the Department of Homeland Security in tracking down the missing Democrats. Now, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports, the Texas Department of Public Safety has inexplicably destroyed all documents concerning this abuse of federal power.
Think this wasn't part of a national strategy orchestrated by the White House? Then explain the fact that Colorado Republicans have done the exact same thing. Last November, Republicans won both houses of the state legislature there as well. This year, they used their new majority to replace a court-ordered redistricting plan with one that guarantees them more seats. (As in Texas, the Colorado GOP did this by packing blacks and Hispanics into overwhelmingly minority districts. And you thought Republicans opposed racial separatism.) The Houston Chronicle, which endorsed Bush for president, wrote last month that such actions "would set a precedent for redistricting any time a Washington bully wanted to impose it." Beltway conservatives, by contrast, have expressed not the slightest concern
.
FILIBUSTER
Throughout the Senate's history, its members have been able to block legislation through endless debate, or filibuster. Under Bill Clinton, Republicans filibustered the 1993 economic stimulus plan, campaign finance reform, and higher cigarette taxes. Now the Bush administration is upset that Democrats are filibustering two of its judicial nominees. So Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has called for eliminating the filibuster as we know it. Breaking a filibuster requires 60 votes, but Frist proposes changing that so 60 are required only on the initial filibuster vote; subsequent votes would require 57, then 54, then 51. The filibuster, in other words, could be broken with a simple majority--rendering the device virtually useless. Frist has also threatened to employ a rare parliamentary maneuver to ban filibusters on judicial nominees altogether. Had the Clinton administration tried that during the GOP's (far more frequent) filibustering in the 1990s, I suspect conservatives might have said something about abuse of executive power. Today, they seem unconcerned.
IRAQ
Once upon a time, conservatives thought presidential duplicity was a grave offense. Not anymore. On October 7, 2002, President Bush declared in a nationally televised speech that "Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] for missions targeting the United States." That was a functional lie. Iraq's drones, the Bush administration later admitted, had a maximum range of several hundred miles. They could reach the United States only if flown from a warship stationed off America's coast (a virtually impossible scenario given Iraq's almost nonexistent navy).
Three days later, the Senate authorized the president to use force against Iraq. And six days after that, the Bush administration announced that North Korea was enriching uranium to build a nuclear weapon. The news prompted a slew of questions about why the president was focused on Saddam Hussein when Kim Jong Il might represent a greater threat. But the North Korea revelation hadn't affected the Senate's Iraq vote because the Bush administration made sure senators hadn't known about it. For six days leading up to the vote, the White House kept Democratic senators in the dark about its North Korea discovery, preventing them from making a fully informed decision about one of the most important Senate votes in a generation.
Flash-forward to January 28, 2003. In his State of the Union speech, Bush noted that "the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." But, when the Bush administration handed over the documents that allegedly detailed Saddam's purchase to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the agency came back with a startling reply: They were forgeries. The Bush administration quietly admitted as much.
One sentence later in that State of the Union address, Bush claimed, "Our intelligence sources tell us that [Saddam] has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production." But, after investigating that claim, the IAEA insisted it too was false. The tubes Iraq had bought were far more appropriate for conventional rockets. Not everyone in the Bush administration was surprised--experts at the Department of Energy had been telling journalists the same thing for months. Confronted with the IAEA's conclusion, Colin Powell half-retreated, noting, "We still have an open question with respect to that."
 
These stories of Bush administration dishonesty and abuse have not been denied in the conservative press as much as they have been ignored. In researching this column, I could not find a single substantive defense of Bush's UAV claim, or his filibuster plan, or his uranium allegation, in any elite conservative publication. Fred Barnes last week defended the Texas redistricting plan in The Weekly Standard but, incredibly, never acknowledged the key issue: that states traditionally limit themselves to one redistricting per decade. For conservatives, it seems, this administration's decency and honesty are ideological axioms that require no empirical defense. President Bush is not President Clinton. That's all they need to know.

5/28/03 <link>
We now interrupt the ongoing anarchy and looting in Iraq to bring you some outright incompetence
Arianna Huffington has been on a tear recently, but her latest article on the Democratic Party is absolutely worth quoting in its entirely. I am tempted to guess that the Democratic Party of today will rank as one of the more incompetent ones in U.S. history - not for policy reasons - and while I certainly hope they win back at least one chamber of Congress in 2004, I think their behavior so far is highly deserving of further losses and getting wiped at the polls. Well, here's what Huffington has to say.  

"..."I a little bit disagree with chairman Roberts on that." That was Sen. Jay Rockefeller, the senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, kinda, sorta, not really taking exception to committee chairman Pat Roberts' assertion that we've turned the corner when it comes to keeping the peace in postwar Iraq. But it could just as easily serve as the motto for the whole Democratic Party: "Vote for us -- we kinda, sorta disagree." The party leaders are so timid, spineless and lacking in confidence that to compare them to jellyfish would be an insult to invertebrates. Call them the pusillanimous opposition. These dithering poltroons are so paralyzed by the fear of doing or saying something that could be turned against them in GOP attack ads that they've rendered themselves impotent when it comes to challenging President Bush on the two most important issues of the day: tax cuts and Iraq.

Exhibit A comes from Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle who, when asked on "Meet the Press" why the Democrats didn't offer a bold, full-throated alternative to the Bush tax cut plan, including the repeal of the 2001 cuts and a guaranteed balanced budget, timorously explained: "Well, we -- you got to take it one step at a time." You do -- why? Is this an AA meeting? Bush doesn't take it one step at a time. He's comfortable leading by leaps and bounds. And he's taking us along with him -- straight over a cliff. We're facing a trillion dollars of new debt, incurred by a president with the worst economic record since Herbert Hoover, and the best the leader of the opposition party can muster is a meaningless cliché? Quick, get that man a dose of political Viagra! At least get the blood flowing ... somewhere. Daschle's trumpet issued an equally uncertain call when it came to the war on Iraq. First, he helped draft the Senate's resolution on the use of force. Then, after sticking his finger in the political wind and catching a zephyr of antiwar sentiment, he blasted the president for failing "so miserably at diplomacy that we're now forced to war." When that comment, made the day before the war started, unleashed a torrent of criticism from ever vigilant Republican attack dogs, Daschle hemmed, hawed and executed another political pirouette, claiming that he "probably would have avoided making the statement" if he'd known we were on the brink of war.

But a quick check of the record reveals this to be an utterly disingenuous dodge: Word of the impending invasion was all over the media when Daschle opened fire on Bush. Maybe the senator's TV -- and his staff -- was on the fritz that day. It is precisely this kind of craven vacillation that has made possible the triumph of the fanatics in the White House. Democrats are wringing their hands over the "tactical genius" of Karl Rove, and the "brilliant political stagecraft" of his TV experts who always present the president in the best light. Such is the Democrats' fragility that the mere smoke and mirrors of posing the president in profile at Mount Rushmore, or asking the people standing behind him during a recent speech on the economy to take off their ties so they would look more like average Joes, leave them quaking in their boots.

But the Democratic National Committee's Terry McAuliffe needs to stop worrying about the GOP using footage of Bush's Top Gun landing on the Abraham Lincoln in campaign ads and start worrying about finding a presidential candidate who isn't afraid to take audacious and decisive stands on the party's core issues. If they can't compete on style, they should at least give it a shot on substance. After all, the problem isn't that Democrats are on the wrong side of the issues. It's that they are afraid to make an issue of being on the right side -- not to mention smack dab in the middle of the American mainstream.

For example, only one out of four Americans believe the latest round of tax cuts will significantly reduce their taxes, and just 29 percent think the cuts are the best way to help stimulate the economy. Yet Democrats seem congenitally incapable of challenging a president whose entire domestic agenda consists of more and more tax cuts for the wealthy. The numbers also favor the Democrats on the foreign policy front. According to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, 57 percent of Americans are opposed to investing the time and money needed to rebuild Iraq. But the Democrats sit idly by, their thumbs otherwise engaged, while the administration's Iraqi tar baby grows stickier by the day.

And on and on it goes: On the environment, Social Security, greater access to affordable healthcare, gun control and abortion, the majority of the American people are with the Democrats. Which makes their inability to offer an alternative to the White House juggernaut all the more nauseating. And disgraceful. And tragic. If this sorry state of affairs is going to change, the Democrats are going to have to jettison their reliance on the consultants who botched the 2002 midterm elections by advising party leaders to avoid taking on the president on tax cuts and Iraq and, instead, offer an unambiguous alternative to Bush's well-crafted image as a straight-shooting man of conviction. It's time for the Democrats to give up their broken play-it-safe politics and risk offending a few vocal members of a radical minority.

They seem to have forgotten the old sports adage that sometimes the best defense is a good offense. Well, here's a scoreboard update for Messrs. Daschle and McAuliffe, and the rest of the party leadership: You're down by three touchdowns and the electoral clock is starting to run down. It's time to stop taking things "one step at a time" and start throwing deep."

Mary Lynn Jones has an interesting review of Democratic incompetence as well - in the American Prospect

5/27/03 <link>
Laws don't apply when GOP runs the Government
Here's Adam Cohen's article in the New York Times.

For Partisan Gain, Republicans Decide Rules Were Meant to Be Broken
By ADAM COHEN

There was a lot not to like about the new Congressional district lines Republicans tried to push through in Texas this month, the ones that made Democratic legislators flee to Oklahoma to prevent a vote. Democratic Austin was sliced into four parts and parceled out to nearby Republican districts. A community on the Mexican border and one 300 miles away were painstakingly joined together and declared to be a single Congressional district. But the real problem was that Republicans were redrawing lines that had just been adopted in 2001, defying the rule that redistricting occurs only once a decade, after the census.

The Texas power grab is part of a trend. Republicans, who now control all three branches of the federal government, are not just pushing through their political agenda. They are increasingly ignoring the rules of government to do it. While the Texas redistricting effort failed, Republicans succeeded in enacting an equally partisan redistricting plan in Colorado. And Republicans in the Senate — notably those involved in the highly charged issue of judicial confirmations — have been just as quick to throw out the rulebook.

These partisan attacks on the rules of government may be more harmful, and more destabilizing, than bad policies, like the $320 billion tax cut. Modern states, the German sociologist Max Weber wrote, derive their legitimacy from "rational authority," a system in which rules apply in equal and predictable ways, and even those who lead are reined in by limits on their power. When the rules of government are stripped away, people can begin to regard their government as illegitimate.

The Texas redistricting effort was part of a national Republican effort to shore up the party's 229-to-205 House majority going into the 2004 elections. The House majority leader, Tom DeLay, who traveled to Austin to supervise the effort personally, was blunt about his motives: "I'm the majority leader, and I want more seats." Texas Republicans seized control of the Legislature last year, and they thought they could add five or more Republican Congressional seats. When the Democrats took off for Oklahoma, the Department of Homeland Security helped hunt down a plane filled with escaping legislators. Sixteen members of Congress from Texas wrote to Attorney General John Ashcroft asking him whether there had been "attempts to divert federal law enforcement resources for private political gain."

In Colorado, Republicans succeeded this month in redrawing the state's Congressional lines, which had been duly redrawn after the 2000 census. Republican state legislators, under the guidance of the presidential adviser Karl Rove, added thousands of Republicans to a district that Bob Beauprez, a Republican, won last year by just 121 votes, and excluded the Democrat who nearly beat him from the district. Democrats have gone to court, charging that Republicans violated Colorado's Open Meetings Law and legislative rules when they sneaked the plan through.

In the judicial battles in the Senate, Republican leaders, frustrated that Democrats have rejected a handful of Bush nominees, have declared war on longstanding Senate rules. Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has dispensed with procedures that allow senators to exercise their constitutional "advice and consent" function, in one case holding a single hearing for three controversial nominees, and he has stifled legitimate inquiry. When Senator Charles Schumer tried to ask one nominee about his legal beliefs, Senator Hatch snapped that he was asking "stupid questions."

The Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, has declared that filibusters, which allow senators to block action with just 41 votes, should not be used to reject judicial nominations, despite a history of using them to do just that. Abe Fortas was prevented from becoming chief justice in 1968 by a Republican-backed filibuster. While Senator Frist pushes "filibuster reform," Senate Republicans are also talking about a "nuclear option," in which Vice President Dick Cheney would preside over the Senate and hand down a ruling that Rule 22, which permits filibusters, does not apply to judicial nominations.

The Republicans' attack on the rules come at a time when they could easily afford to take a higher road. They have, by virtue of their control of the White House and Congress, extraordinary power to enact laws and shape the national agenda. And this administration is already getting far more of its judges confirmed, and more quickly, than the Clinton administration did.

Weber, in writing about rules, was concerned about what factors kept governments in power. That is not a concern in the United States — there is no uprising in the offing. But when Americans see their government flouting the rules, as they did during Watergate, they respond with cynicism.

In these hard times — with threats from abroad and a sour economy at home — our leaders should be bringing the nation together not by demonizing foreign countries, but by instilling greater faith in our own. They should be showing greater reverence for the rules of government, and looking for other ways — like tougher campaign finance laws — to assure Americans that their government operates evenhandedly.

How likely is that? The word in Texas is that Republicans may try their redistricting plan again. Senate Democrats are bracing for Senator Frist's "filibuster reform," or the "nuclear option."

And Mr. DeLay recently revealed how he felt about rules of general applicability. When he tried smoking a cigar in a restaurant on federal property, the manager told him it violated federal law. His response, according to The Washington Post , was, "I am the federal government."

3/13/03 <link>
We interrupt our ongoing war coverage to bring you some disgusting pettiness
These days, the GOP holds the advantage on pettiness. "...First it was french fries and french toast. Now the bones of U.S. servicemen are being dragged into the conflict between France and the United States over war in Iraq. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Brooksville, plans to introduce a bill today proposing that the families of the thousands of soldiers, sailors and airmen buried in France and Belgium be allowed to dig up their remains and have them shipped home...Mack McConn, 78, of Orlando, who survived the D-Day landings at Normandy, during which more than 10,000 Americans were killed, was outraged at the suggestion of moving the bodies. "That is ridiculous," the Navy veteran said. "I can tell you right now that I don't approve of it at all. We've had problems with the French before, but it's like a spat; you get over it. It would be ridiculous to open those graves."...On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives jumped on the bandwagon, striking the word"french" from House menus and replacing it with the word "freedom," as in freedom fries and freedom toast. At the French Embassy, deputy press counselor Agnes Vondermuhll reacted Wednesday to the french-fry flap with amusement andsangfroid.But she drew the line at disinterring bodies, calling Brown-Waite's proposal "astonishing." Vondermuhll assured Americans that "France has not forgotten the American contribution to our freedom and our democracy. We have a common goal: disarmament of Iraq. We simply have a difference of opinion on the timetable. It's not a war between France and America. We should be rational."..."

Someone actually elected these morons?

Talking of war, GOP congressman Tancredo from Colorado has this to say in Crossfire:
"...
BEGALA: Congressman Tancredo, let me come back to your earlier comment, because I was stunned about by it. I know you don't like the U.N.; I know you think it's a debating society. I got that. But surely you're not saying that because you don't like the U.N., it's OK for the government of the United States, the good guys, to be spreading things that are false, for our president to be telling us, not just the U.N. to be telling the people who pay his salary -- just a second -- falsehoods like this argument he gave us that the International Atomic Energy said Saddam Hussein is six months away from a nuclear weapon. Not true, says the IAEA. Like this nonsense that these aluminum tubes can be used to make nuclear weapons. Not true, say the weapons experts. Like a whole lot of very false thongs. You don't think just because we don't like the U.N. it's OK to say falsehoods, do you?
TANCREDO: Well, I'm not willing to accept their protestations here. I'm not willing to accept their statements about it or whether or not -- in fact, whether or not it is true, you know?
BEGALA: Well, but he said the U.N. agency, the IAEA, had a report that they didn't have. That's just -- that's either true or false, right?
TANCREDO: OK. Let me tell you. It is -- that's a relatively insignificant issue. I don't know -- I don't think we did that -- I wouldn't say...
(CROSSTALK)
TANCREDO: It's insignificant in the total scheme of things here as to whether the U.N. is relevant in this debate.
BEGALA: Insignificant falsehoods about nuclear weapons are OK, but you voted to impeach President Clinton about lying about a girlfriend. Just so we can get your record there, Congressman. (our emphasis).."


2/17/03 <link>
Growing evidence of GOP election fraud in 2002
We cover this under our section on media bias against Democrats/others - click here.

2/4/03 <link>
Prominent GOP senators/congressmen further destroy Conservative movement and its true ideals (via DailyKos)
William Welch writes (bold text is our emphasis):
"...
Bush's budget anticipates a federal deficit of $304 billion this year and $307 billion next year. That would nearly double last year's $157.8 billion deficit, which brought a sudden end to four years of surpluses...
Democrats, often vulnerable to the charge that they were increasing spending on domestic programs, now depict themselves as the party of fiscal prudence. Republicans once warned that today's borrowing would have to be repaid by tomorrow's taxpayers. Now, that's what Democrats are saying.
''He's passing the buck to our children,'' said Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., top Democrat on the Senate Budget Committee. ''History will not treat this kindly.'' Republicans, who once decried deficits for driving up long-term interest rates and forcing the government to pay more in interest costs, can expect to see their past rhetoric used against them:

*
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Don Nickles, R-Okla., insisted during the Clinton administration that deficits stood in the way of prosperity. ''When the budget is brought back into balance, jobs will be created, and families of all income groups will benefit,'' he said then. On Monday, Nickles explained the turnabout: ''Democrats were never concerned about deficits when it came to spending. The only time Democrats are concerned about deficits is when it comes to tax cuts.''

*
House Budget Committee Chairman Jim Nussle, R-Iowa, ran for office as an opponent of deficits. When he sought a second term in 1992, he said he would not seek re-election after 1996 if Congress had not sliced budget deficits in half. They did, and he stayed.
On Tuesday, Nussle canceled press appearances on the budget. Last week, he said the issue was ''a balance of cash flow'' and not the only priority.

* Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who led the Republican sweep of the House of Representatives in 1994, once called balancing the budget a ''moral imperative.'' Today, former House majority leader Dick Armey, Gingrich's top lieutenant at the time, says renewed borrowing is forced by the economic slowdown and terrorism...''

1/13/03 <link>
GOP for reform? NOT!
See how your "reform"-minded GOP Congressmen are eliminating rules to reduce corruption.

1/2/03 <link>
How liberal or conservative are our Senators from the 107th Congress?
This website (a very interesting one) ranks all our "outgoing" Senators on their liberalism - with Rank 1 reserved for most liberal. Higher ranks constitute more conservatism and the rankings are based on the senators' voting records. Here, we reproduce the ranks - but we encourage our readers to review the above link for details. Note how, Bill Frist is ranked essentially even with Lott and the fact that both of them are more conservative than Strom Thurmond, based on their voting records! So much for the glowing tales from the media about Sen. Frist. 

Source: voteview.uh.edu
The two parties are almost perfectly separated in the liberal-conservative ordering. 
Only Senator Miller of Georgia is to the right of the the left-most Republican -- Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island 
(and Senator Jeffords of Vermont before he switched from Republican to Independent).
(eRiposte Note: Ranking goes from most liberal - rank 1.000 
to most conservative - rank 102.00)

 107 49309 25 WISCONS D FEINGOLD      75  498   0.849   1.000
 107 40101 33 MINNESO D DAYTON        19  486   0.961   2.000
 107 40104 12 NEW JER D CORZINE       33  495   0.933   3.000
 107 49101 33 MINNESO D WELLSTONE      6  484   0.988   4.000
 107 15011 71 CALIFOR D BOXER         23  481   0.952   5.000
 107 13039 52 MARYLAN D SARBANES      14  498   0.972   6.500
 107 29142  5 RHODE I D REED          22  497   0.956   6.500
 107 10808  3 MASSACH D KENNEDY, ED   25  480   0.948   8.000
 107 15021 21 ILLINOI D DURBIN        24  496   0.952   9.000
 107 14230 31 IOWA    D HARKIN        29  488   0.941  10.000
 107 14213  1 CONNECT D DODD          25  483   0.948  11.000
 107 14400 82 HAWAII  D AKAKA         24  465   0.948  12.500
 107  1366 56 WEST VI D BYRD, ROBER   79  497   0.841  12.500
 107 14307  6 VERMONT D LEAHY         20  491   0.959  14.000
 107  4812 82 HAWAII  D INOUYE        26  465   0.944  15.000
 107 14709 23 MICHIGA D LEVIN, CARL   25  498   0.950  16.000
 107 15502 36 NORTH D D CONRAD        51  495   0.897  17.000
 107 29732 23 MICHIGA D STABENOW      29  497   0.942  18.000
 107 14440 52 MARYLAN D MIKULSKI      18  494   0.964  19.000
 107 15071 12 NEW JER D TORRICELLI    64  461   0.861  20.500
 107 14858 13 NEW YOR D SCHUMER       42  490   0.914  20.500
 107 40105 13 NEW YOR D CLINTON       30  494   0.939  22.000
 107 11204 48 SOUTH C D HOLLINGS      47  497   0.905  23.000
 107 15054 65 NEVADA  D REID          22  496   0.956  24.500
 107 14922 56 WEST VI D ROCKEFELLER   33  493   0.933  24.500
 107 14101 11 DELAWAR D BIDEN         34  489   0.930  26.000
 107 14920  3 MASSACH D KERRY, JOHN   21  483   0.957  27.000
 107 94240  6 VERMONT I JEFFORDS      41  332   0.877  28.000
 107 49308 73 WASHING D MURRAY        37  493   0.925  29.000
 107 39310 73 WASHING D CANTWELL      34  496   0.931  30.000
 107 14617 37 SOUTH D D DASCHLE       24  481   0.950  31.000
 107 15704  1 CONNECT D LIEBERMAN     32  489   0.935  32.000
 107 14871 72 OREGON  D WYDEN         50  498   0.900  33.000
 107 14812 36 NORTH D D DORGAN        41  493   0.917  34.000
 107 15503 43 FLORIDA D GRAHAM, BOB   41  498   0.918  35.000
 107 14912 66 NEW MEX D BINGAMAN      46  484   0.905  36.000
 107 14651 43 FLORIDA D NELSON, CLA   47  496   0.905  37.000
 107 49902 47 NORTH C D EDWARDS       27  496   0.946  38.000
 107 15703 25 WISCONS D KOHL          34  484   0.930  39.000
 107 40102 34 MISSOUR D CARNAHAN      50  489   0.898  40.000
 107 15425 37 SOUTH D D JOHNSON       41  493   0.917  41.500
 107 49300 71 CALIFOR D FEINSTEIN     46  493   0.907  41.500
 107 49901 22 INDIANA D BAYH          55  497   0.889  43.000
 107 40100 11 DELAWAR D CARPER        58  495   0.883  44.000
 107 49702 45 LOUISIA D LANDRIEU      44  486   0.909  45.000
 107 49701 44 GEORGIA D CLELAND       51  495   0.897  46.000
 107 29305 42 ARKANSA D LINCOLN       33  495   0.933  47.000
 107 14203 64 MONTANA D BAUCUS        41  486   0.916  48.000
 107 13056 45 LOUISIA D BREAUX        48  492   0.902  49.000
 107 40103 35 NEBRASK D NELSON, BEN   42  497   0.915  50.000
 107 49905  5 RHODE I R CHAFEE        82  497   0.835  51.000
 107 14240  6 VERMONT R JEFFORDS      18  143   0.874  52.000
 107 49904 44 GEORGIA D MILLER        68  476   0.857  53.000
 107 14910 14 PENNSYL R SPECTER       78  495   0.842  54.000
 107 14661  2 MAINE   R SNOWE         56  498   0.888  55.000
 107 49703  2 MAINE   R COLLINS       56  498   0.888  56.000
 107 15039 61 ARIZONA R MCCAIN       124  478   0.741  57.000
 107 49705 72 OREGON  R SMITH, GORD   57  493   0.884  58.000
 107 49900 21 ILLINOI R FITZGERALD    80  476   0.832  59.000
 107 14712 40 VIRGINI R WARNER        46  490   0.906  60.000
 107 14009 46 MISSISS R COCHRAN       39  498   0.922  61.000
 107 12109 81 ALASKA  R STEVENS       27  452   0.940  62.000
 107 94659 41 ALABAMA R SHELBY        55  488   0.887  63.500
 107 95407 62 COLORAD R CAMPBELL      47  482   0.902  63.500
 107 49700 41 ALABAMA R SESSIONS      54  481   0.888  65.000
 107 29306 42 ARKANSA R HUTCHINSON,   47  484   0.903  66.000
 107 49306 49 TEXAS   R HUTCHISON,    48  488   0.902  67.000
 107 15020 24 OHIO    R DEWINE        56  498   0.888  68.000
 107 14103 66 NEW MEX R DOMENICI      30  447   0.933  69.000
 107 99910 99 USA     R BUSH           2   63   0.968  70.500
 107 14907 81 ALASKA  R MURKOWSKI     26  459   0.943  70.500
 107 14506 22 INDIANA R LUGAR         46  498   0.908  72.000
 107 15701 64 MONTANA R BURNS         31  482   0.936  73.000
 107 14809 63 IDAHO   R CRAIG         23  492   0.953  74.000
 107 29345 63 IDAHO   R CRAPO         20  476   0.958  75.000
 107 29148 40 VIRGINI R ALLEN         43  495   0.913  76.000
 107 14226 31 IOWA    R GRASSLEY      43  498   0.914  77.000
 107 15501 34 MISSOUR R BOND          34  490   0.931  78.000
 107 14852 32 KANSAS  R ROBERTS       28  491   0.943  79.000
 107 14921 51 KENTUCK R MCCONNELL     22  498   0.956  80.000
 107 49307 67 UTAH    R BENNETT       25  482   0.948  81.000
 107 14503 67 UTAH    R HATCH         26  484   0.946  82.000
 107 49704 35 NEBRASK R HAGEL         36  492   0.927  83.000
 107 49903 24 OHIO    R VOINOVICH     57  486   0.883  84.000
 107 49503 54 TENNESS R THOMPSON      47  487   0.903  85.000
 107 29523 32 KANSAS  R BROWNBACK     39  488   0.920  87.000
 107 15424 53 OKLAHOM R INHOFE        32  483   0.934  87.000
 107 29141 14 PENNSYL R SANTORUM      29  491   0.941  87.000
 107  9369 48 SOUTH C R THURMOND      33  488   0.932  89.000
 107 49502 54 TENNESS R FRIST         20  491   0.959  90.000
 107 14031 46 MISSISS R LOTT          20  488   0.959  91.000
 107 14826  4 NEW HAM R GREGG         52  484   0.893  92.000
 107 15633 68 WYOMING R THOMAS        24  486   0.951  93.000
 107 49706 68 WYOMING R ENZI          38  483   0.921  94.000
 107 29108 62 COLORAD R ALLARD        30  492   0.939  95.000
 107 15406 51 KENTUCK R BUNNING       26  489   0.947  96.000
 107 14105 47 NORTH C R HELMS         17  358   0.953  97.000
 107 29537 65 NEVADA  R ENSIGN        54  479   0.887  98.000
 107 15116  4 NEW HAM R SMITH, ROBE   39  491   0.921  99.000
 107 14908 53 OKLAHOM R NICKLES, DO   30  495   0.939 100.000
 107 14628 49 TEXAS   R GRAMM, PHIL   24  480   0.950 101.000
 107 15429 61 ARIZONA R KYL           25  495   0.949 102.000

12/17/02 <link> (UPDATED 12/22/02)
The "colorful" truth about other Lott Republicans
With Mr. Lott in hot water, it is easy to forget the "true colors" of other prominent "leaders" in the GOP. So, here's a sampling of some recent re-discoveries of the "colorful" histories of some of these individuals.

Lott Republican Some relevant history
Sen. Bill Frist (R) 1-2-03: Based on voting records, Voteview ranks Bill Frist and Trent Lott more conservative 
than Strom Thurmond , and Bill Frist and Trent Lott are practically as conservative as 
each other.
12-28-02
: Eleanor Clift in Newsweek talks about the Eli Lilly link, among other things
12-24-02
: Liberal Oasis has a Top 10 list of reasons why Bill Frist is not what he 
claims to be. A must read.
12-23-02
: See Bob Herbert op-ed in NYT
12-22-02
: Atrios and the Free Republic point out the hypocrisy of Mr. Frist's stance being 
anti-abortion, while taking money from a family business that provides abortions
. Time does 
mention his anti-abortion stance, but also highlights Mr. Frist's openness to 
stem-cell research. This Newsweek interview goes further asking about the timing of the HCA 
settlement among other things.
12-21-02
: Nathan Newman also documents Frist's involvement with his family business 
(HCA) which is paying out ~ $1.7 billion to settle massive healthcare fraud cases. 
12-20-02
: Nathan Newman has a detailed history of Sen. Frist's voting record, pointing out 
how his voting disposition is not significantly different from Trent Lott on civil rights, let 
alone other crucial areas
. What is also appalling is his consistent anti-environmental and 
anti-healthcare, anti-AMA (but pro-business) positions, as also shown here by Vote 
Smart's history
. It is interesting that someone who is being paraded as a doctor 
extraordinaire, he has such low ratings from the American Medical Association!
12-20-02: Bill Frist the race baiter - information courtesy John Marshall. More on this here.
12-17-02
- 1, 2: Looks like he was the originator of the egregious Autism-related lawsuit 
exemption for Eli Lilly among others. (For more on the Autism-Thimerasol controversy, 
click here
.) Note also in link 2, how White House Budget Director, former Eli Lilly executive, 
conveniently lied about the provision.
Sen. George Allen (R) 12-23-02: Replaces Frist on National Republican Senatorial Committee and has a known 
history of catering to pro-Confederacy groups including maintaining a Confederacy Flag 
at home. Not to mention, as Bob Herbert points out, "...Mr. Allen issued a proclamation 
declaring April "Confederate History and Heritage Month." From Mr. Allen's 
pro-Confederate perspective, the Civil War was a struggle for "independence and sovereign 
rights." Independence, in this case, does not refer to the independence of black slaves.
.."
Sen. Don Nickles (R) 12-17-02: Known anti-gay bias. Also see Atrios.
12-16-02: Voting record on Civil Rights similar to Sen. Lott's
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) 12-20-02: Sarah Wildman writes about the Senator who is 
"worse than Lott" in The New Republic.
Rep. Cass Ballenger (R) 12-22-02: Look what Mr. Segregator did now!
12-20-02
: Admits segregationist feelings

Lest, we simply focus only on Congressmen, let's not forget the person who is responsible for enforcing all our Civil Rights (and other laws) - Mr. Ashcroft. Here's some less than thrilling history about him, and more on that here, here and here. Not to mention the history of the upholder of the Judiciary (so to speak) - Mr. Rehnquist. The list would be incomplete if we did not note the history of the most powerful of them all (Mr. Bush), here and other snippets here. So much for morality and leadership. These are strange times, indeed.

It is clear that the GOP is in denial of its race problem. More on this in the coverage from TalkLeft and Salon. (Not to mention its other problem: women.)

12/16/02 <link>
Al Gore not running in 2004
Here's the transcript of his interview. We're late to add this because we were depressed! Anyway, we are saddened. Here's a nice brief tribute to him by the New York Times' editors, whom we don't recall having said such nice things about him before (we could be wrong).

12/10/02 <link>
Karl Rove, by Ron Suskind
Please read it. Thank you Mr. Suskind.

12/9/02 <link> (CONTINUOUSLY UPDATED)
Trent Lott displays his true beliefs while gushing about Strom Thurmond's distinguished past racism

Of course, Mr. Lott stepped down as incoming Majority Leader finally, due to the severe criticism from various quarters (stating with some liberal bloggers like Atrios and Talking Points Memo) and of course, via an orchestration of the White House to get Bush-favorite Bill Frist installed. What is astonishing is that the mainstream Press and the populace seem comforted despite the fact that his vote will remain in the Senate! And that Frist, who is largely similar to Trent Lott - but more a Bush player than Lott - becomes incoming Majority Leader!

HISTORY
This ballot is what Mr. Lott praised. Before we go any further, here is a proposal: a new name for those in the GOP who have a history similar to or approaching Trent Lott's. You guessed right - Lott Republican. (Time to return the Daschle favor, don't you think?). 

What did the Free Press and the "We Report you Decide" Press have to say about it immediately? As Daily Howler points out, CNN and the Faux News Channel had the following to say - CNN's Bruce Morton used Conservative talking points to say this about Mr. Thurmond (while Judy Woodruff pointed out Mr. Thurmond's "enduring career") "...but it was politics probably more than true conviction. If nudism had been in, he’d run on that..."; Faux News said nothing (initially) as expected. Well, at least a lot of bloggers speedily covered this disgrace (see Atrios here for the various links) and we thank Mr. Gore for speaking out too. 

We heard Mr. Lott apologized. That's good, but his words and expression were so strong when he said the words he did that this apology certainly holds little water. And this other thing also doesn't help. At the New York Times, Paul Krugman, Adam Clymer and Bob Herbert ask what today's GOP really stands for. Mr. Krugman also credits Joshua Marshall of TPM and Atrios for forcing this story up to the mainstream Press, while John Podhoretz at the New York Post has much praise for the blogosphere in general for surfacing this issue.

Stanley Crouch in the New York Daily News takes the media to task for having Lott get away with so much nonsense over the years (see below) (so much for the liberal media huh?) (Timothy Noah incidentally exposes the myth that Thurmond somehow renounced his racist views as morally wrong.)

UPDATE: Since the above episode, a lot of bloggers have been dissecting Mr. Lott's past. In particular, Atrios has been a tremendous source of information. Here are some interesting findings:
1. Lott said practically the same things back in 1980 and 2000 - New York Times, MSNBC
2. Lott's membership in and praise for the white supremacist CCC and other, shall we say, non color-blind, characters and institutions - Salon, Salon, WP, TPM, FAIR
3. Lott's lying about his true "colors" and associations - TPM, Other, NRO
4. Lott's less than color-blind history on enforcing civil rights and equality - PFAW, Memphis Commercial Appeal
5. Lott's "missing" apology - Daily Howler
6. Lott's dissembling about the reason he said what he did - Salon, SelfMadePundit
7. Lott's filing an amicus curiae brief supporting Bob Jones' University's ban on interracial dating - TPM, Salon
8. Is Lott a curiosity or more common in the GOP than the common man thinks? - Time, San Jose Mercury News
Former President Bill Clinton says it exactly right. And Mr. Gore wasn't off the mark either.

12/8/02<link>
Mary Landrieu beats hand-picked Bush-nominee for Senate in close election
The Senate tally then is Republicans 51, Democrats 48, Independent 1 (votes with Democrats). Now, how many of our "analysts" and "experts" on Cable TV are going to attribute this to Pres. Bush's campaigning, like those who attributed some Democratic losses to former Pres. Clinton's campaigning? Something tells me the answer will be 0. Regardless of the fact that, as Lean Left points out, the Republicans said on their own website that this Louisiana election would be a reflection of a mandate for Mr. Bush. Now, of course, after the loss here is what they are saying:

"...Republicans had little to say about the defeat except that President Bush had nothing to do with it. Ms. Terrell had no public appearances. Scott McClellan, a spokesman for the White House, said that Ms. Terrell 'ran a strong campaign and came close' in a state that has not elected a Republican senator since Reconstruction. Chad Colby, a spokesman for the Louisiana Republican Party, said that a Congressional runoff election the same day in a heavily Republican district in the northeastern part of the state had led Republican voters to stay home. That hurt Ms. Terrell, Mr. Colby said. Alex Castellanos, a Republican consultant who helped Ms. Terrell's campaign, attributed the loss to quirks of the state. 'Just in case politics is not unusual enough, God invented Louisiana,' Mr. Castellanos said..."

It is also for certain that the spin-meisters will not mention the positive role Clinton played in Landrieu's election. As Daily Howler points out yet again, the B.S. about the Democratic Party having been thrashed in the elections is yet another example of the media bias against Democrats and liberals. Indeed, spin and bias queen Katharine Seelye who wrote the above articles on Landrieu's win, starts Paragraph 2 with "
...After a drubbing in the Nov. 5 elections,...", referring to the Democratic party. (Why is she a spin and bias queen you ask? Check out my anti-Gore bias page). 
I agree with Daily Howler wholeheartedly, and as I said in my earlier article:
"...Some pundits say that President Bush and the Republicans won a mandate in the most recent elections. What I believe they received was a vote of confidence, and that is to their credit. It is easy though to forget the closeness of critical races, the fact that Democrats did retain the bulk of their seats and that they captured a few Governorships, even in a state as Republican as Arizona. The totality of the evidence suggests that the country is still split nearly 50-50, with a very small (yet potent) percentage of the vote having tilted in favor of Republicans..."

12/6/02 <link>
Clinton to Dems: Stop being "missing in action" 
He chides Democrats on their relative silence on National Security issues and not defending against right-wing GOP attacks of honorable Democrats. On the National Security attacks, it seems we were on the mark

11/26/02 <link>
GOP Mandate? Not really.
The latest NYTimes/CBS poll has something else to say. The poll results are also interesting in that while President Bush was given a 65% approval rating, only 32% of the respondents are sure they will vote for Bush in 2004, with a big chunk (47%) undecided. This result, by the way, is buried in a separate window found in the top right of the above link, titled "Interactive Feature: Complete Results". Al Gore seems to have elicited less votes than in the most recent Time Poll, which is also a surprise. 

11/12/02 <link>
See our opinions on the Democratic Party debacle and what the Party needs to do now:
Part I, Part II

10/15/02 <link>
Do Democrats even deserve to win back the Senate in Elections 2002? 
It's not that we don't want them to win - at least to ensure there are balanced views at the National level. However, we have seen enough to predict that Republicans will take over both the Senate and Congress this November, in the absence of any magical or tumultuous event between now and then. Why? As we said before, the Democrats appear to be in disarray at the National level, with the lack of clear leadership and guiding principles. Moreover, criticisms of the Bush administration's policy are not usually being augmented by clear, well publicized and advocated, workable alternatives. The Democrats, themselves tainted by the recent business scandals, also don't have too much of a credible voice on that subject today. To repeat, as much as we would tend to vote Democratic (at least to retain a balance of power at the National level - which we believe is always beneficial, to prevent either party from going too far with their ideologies), we feel that the party is faltering badly and is in need of a serious, introspective, back-to-the-roots campaign and more soul-searching about whether its actions are really consistent with its philosophies anymore. 

10/8/02 <link>
Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman's collection of socioeconomic indicators
Rep. Waxman's list is interesting, but as with most of these lists, cause and effect are not so obvious. We can't possibly put bushels of blame on Bush for the bust following the boom years. Part of the responsibility for the excesses of the late 90s and the bust that followed, has to obviously fall on the lap of former President Bill Clinton and his economic team. What we do blame President Bush and his economic team for is displaying a singular lack of vision to fix the economic problems that have been uncovered since the bust began. 
Three areas in Waxman's list that we would associate largely with this administration are the: (a) massive budget deficits forecast into the foreseeable future - a big chunk of which has resulted from the unnecessary trillion-dollar-plus tax cut largely for the rich (we say that even though we would benefit fairly from this tax cut), (b) exploding health care costs, and (c) degradation of environmental controls and regulations.

10/7/02 <link>
The U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear the N. J. GOP's case
It is gratifying to note that the high court followed the law. So the N. J. Supreme Court's ruling holds. However, the N.J.  GOP and Forrester are still desperate to find every way to block Lautenberg's campaign, as these WP and NYTimes articles highlight. Fellas, wake up, and run a campaign. You've done in the past what the Democrats did in NJ - so don't act holier-than-thou. If you don't like the laws, fix the laws! 

10/6/02 <link>
Another wake-up call to Democrats - this time from Tom Friedman
On the heels of former Sen. Hart's WP op-ed (and Howard Fineman's article and our own earlier comments).

10/4/02 <link>
The nonsense from the N. J. GOP grows
In spite of significant precedent against them, in spite of their own party doing in the past what they claim is unacceptable today, their attacks continue. Here are some quotes from Joe Conason's note in Salon:"...The 'strict adherence' to the 'letter of the law' trumpeted by indignant Republicans is, in practice, about as strict as Newt Gingrich's monogamy. For them it isn't good enough that a Republican-dominated court voted unanimously to permit Lautenberg on the ballot. (Apparently Republicans appointed by Christie Whitman aren't Republican enough for Princeton legal scholar Robert George, whose bitter screed about their pro-choice views is posted on Forrester's Web site.) Petty consistency is all that matters.
So these same pettifogging Republicans must also believe that Bush and Cheney should have forfeited the electoral votes of Texas, since Cheney surely wasn't an 'inhabitant' of Wyoming as required by the Constitution's 12th amendment; and Mitt Romney ought to have been thrown off the Massachusetts ballot, since he obviously hasn't lived there for all of the past seven years, as required by that state's constitution; and Katherine Harris should have been bounced from the Florida ballot, since she admittedly backdated her 'resignation' to run for Congress..."

10/3/02 <link>
Democrats - where is your National security vision?
Former Senator Hart addresses similar issues that we raised in our comments yesterday (see comments on Howard Fineman's article below) on the Democratic Party's lack of leadership or vision on National Security and Foreign Policy.

When Republicans appointed last minute replacement candidates, the story was different
Thanks to Joe Conason we learn about how the Torch's resignation could easily have been arranged in a way that would have prevented any legal challenges. He also reports on past cases where Republicans named "last-minute" replacements (Minnesota and NJ) and the Democrats accepted it. 

10/2/02 <link>
Post-Torch N.J. developments
The New Jersey Supreme Court returns the correct, unanimous verdict (7-0) allowing a replacement candidate for Torricelli. As expected, the N. J. GOPers are heading to the U.S. Supreme Court. As the MSNBC article points out, the New Jersey court has 6 appointees of Christine Todd Whitman (former Republican Gov.) and 1 of the current Democratic governor. The affiliations of the justices were as follows: 4 Democrats, 2 Republicans and 1 Independent; but with a unanimous verdict they showed what true democracy was all about. Enough has been written in the past few days about the significant case history relating to Election laws where this kind of decision, in favor of voter choice, was handed down time and again. Hence, it would be a disaster if the U.S. Supreme Court decided to do otherwise.
Obviously, some GOP supporters will cry foul. What we have to say to them is this: 
(a) Be happy because you could be in a similar situation some day, and could use the precedent.
(b) Be happy because you *were* in a rather similar situation not too long ago in the same state and used some party help to select your candidate at the last minute (see Joe Conason's notes in Salon).
(c) Democracy and voter rights cannot be held hostage to arbitrary timelines. Recognize what is more important (at least this time around) - democracy, not election deadlines. 
(d) Your candidate Forrester might still win.

Sometimes, Fineman does have something sensible to say 
His article is titled "Democrats' fortunes unraveling?" is absolutely right on the money. The national Democratic Party, as far as we can tell, is highly disorganized and disunited, with no effective counter-plank on National Security. After repeatedly playing second fiddle to President Bush, even though they were the ones who pushed the Dept. of Homeland Security from day one, they are splintered on both National Security and Foreign Policy. There is no effective leadership, and no organized effort to rally Congressional Democrats and Democratic supporters across the nation. While the Iraq-a-thon on TV and in the media has definitely had some effect on their inability to get their message(s) across, it is our belief that if they lose this election (and there is a good chance they will in spite of the recent polls), it will be largely due to their political ineptitude. They have good ideas on many areas, but what we see missing is leadership, coordination, unity, and drive to keep the message firmly focused in every news release coming from Democrats. Given how little press coverage they have gotten relative to the President, they should have made doubly sure that the coverage focused on a consistent message. 

How much should candidates change their minds based on polls?
An interesting article by Michael Waldman exploring the ethics of campaigning-by-polls. We agree with the author to some extent. The problem with this approach is that bad candidates can poll their way to powerful positions and then do enormous damage once elected, making it impossible to vote them out for years. But it is also true that, in this information age, the response time for getting the pulse of the people is astounding. In our opinion, this can bring us closer to a true democracy, by enabling people to speak up quickly on an issue-by-issue basis. Why assume your representative in Congress can read your mind on every Law of interest to you, when you can tell him or her exactly what you want in 2 minutes? Indeed, we foresee a future where Congressional representatives would use the Internet to poll constituents on every issue to get real-time feedback on major issues. But wait! Although in principle, all this looks hunky-dory, major downsides exist for system abuse. The most significant one is that the use of majority opinion alone can produce disastrous results, since it is too presumptuous to assume the majority is always right. (Hasn't history shown that!) Does this mean we dump the idea, especially since the further growth of the information era is inevitable? We believe, as we do on almost all issues, that we need to adapt our lives rapidly to adjust to the only constant in our lives - change. It is time to find ways to intelligently use what technology affords us.  

9/30/02 <link>
The latest on what the masses are saying about Elections 2002

Newsweek reporting that the latest poll suggests people are likely to support Democrats over Republicans, although still by a thin margin that is likely statistically insignificant. A majority agree that raising questions before going to war is patriotic and essential. A solid majority is still looking for President Bush to get Congressional and U.N. approval before war with Iraq. That fact is also seen in a WP-ABC poll. The Washington Post-ABC poll is also showing the switch to Democratic support from Republicans. One very interesting statistic in the WP-ABC poll is reproduced below - that Democrats trail Republicans only in the perception of how well they will handle the war on terrorism. This is the strong message that the Democratic party needs to see, absorb and act accordingly. 

From WP-ABC Poll
13. Which political party, the (Democrats) or the (Republicans), do you trust to do a better job handling:

9/26/02 - Summary Table*:

                                                     Both    Neither    No
                            Democrats  Republicans  (vol.)    (vol.)    op.
a. The war on terrorism         30          51         6        6        8
b. Social Security              50          33         3        8        6 
c. The economy and jobs         47          39         3        6        5
d. Taxes                        44          44         3        6        4
e. The federal budget           43          43         3        7        4 
f. Education                    46          39         4        5        6
g. Health care                  50          35         4        5        6
h. Prescription drug  
   benefits for the 
   elderly                      48          35         4        5        8
i. The environment              55          31         3        4        6  
j. The situation with 
   Iraq and Saddam Hussein      33          52         6        4        6
k. The issue of financial 
   fraud and accounting 
   irregularities by large 
   business corporations        40          40         4        7        9

 

9/11/02 <link>
Look! My opponent in the Republican Primary is liberal like Hillary Clinton!

Oops! I lost! 
(Our note to such Republican candidates: Bashing the Clintons doesn't work any more. Get with the issues and run on them, rather than on negative BS).