longship's Journal - Archives
*** The Political Scene in Autumn 2006 ***
A quick rundown of the political environment and why I think it might not be possible to be overly optimistic this election.
The professional vote counters are very, very conservative, not necessarily in the political sense, but in the cautious sense. The reason why none of them are stepping out on a limb is because they make their money by being cautious and deliberate. That's why none of them will be predicting the size of the actual swing next month. This will be okay for them, and far, far better than if they predicted a political tsunami which never materializes.
Unlike the pros, I won't lose money if I'm wrong here. I can afford to go out on a limb because I'll just lose face here at DU. I know you will all forgive me. However, I think wild optimism is called for here.
** The Senate **
The Senate is going to go all the way, with seven or eight more seats in the Dem column for January. That's all that's realistically possible, but we're going to get it all. We're not going to lose a single Dem-held Senate seat. Too bad Dem Jack Carter in NV has had health problems or that one might be competitive now. However, watch AZ closely for a global indicator. If Kyl continues to sink it's going to be an extraordinarily bad year for Republican Senators.
** The House **
This is going to be wild and woolly. The House is shaping up to be very, very ugly for the neocons. If it goes like the Senate, all the way, there is no practical limit to the number of seats that the Democrats could take. I'm having real problems measuring this since the House candidate polls are all over the place. But, there is one thing we can see, the number of Repuke House seats becoming competitive is increasing every single day. That's currently about three dozen or more. There's no telling where this will end by November 7th. The Repukes are literally bleeding to death in the House of Representatives.
Taking everything into account, including projecting these wild trends, I am becoming increasingly comfortable with 50 House seats. This is just a scientific wild-assed guess. With all 435 seats in play, there's going to be more than one surprise. I've even heard of the possibility of one in KS!! Watch the election prognosticators in the next two to three weeks. If they start making rumblings about an upcoming Democratic tsunami, hang on tightly.
Please. Do not reply to this post with "It'll be stolen" screeching and not expect me to explain why this is too big for that. If you really think that Rove is Santa Claus then you have the right to that opinion. However, I think that if you sit back and look at the accumulated information, instead of focusing on one particular negative issue, you'll see that the electorate has indeed awakened. They are ultra pissed at this administration and they are going to act accordingly in November. I'm not saying that the Repukes won't try to jigger things. I'm just saying that it won't be enough this time. The margins and the number of races are just too large for them. Their organization is literally falling apart before our very eyes.
If this was poker, Men "The Master" Nguyen might shove all his chips into the pot and say,
"All you can eat."
Thanks for your indulgence.
Posted by longship in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Sat Oct 07th 2006, 01:36 PM
I don't know if these people are just in a funk about the last six years, or if they truly believe that there's nothing we can do to turn things areound. Either way, these gloom and doom pronouncements cannot, by themselves, do any good.
The solution to the problem is simple. Get lots and lots of people on the problem on the 7th. That means volunteering as poll workers and watchers. It means having media people and lawyers ready to respond the instant a problem is detected. We don't need permission from party leaders to do this. Write LTTEs. Contact Congress critters. Write Democratic Party leaders.
If you are going to post "Gloom and doom" at least make an effort to propose actions which will defuse the issue. Otherwise you will be viewed as merely being a screecher.
Posted by longship in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Mon Oct 02nd 2006, 11:54 PM
Sure, it keeps you warm for a while. But soon, and often when you just need it the most, the ends of the threads start fraying. So you pick off a little fluff, and then a little more. The fluffiness goes and the sweater begins looking like an old wire screen. Finally, somebody pulls at a loose end. The end starts unravelling at the edge, and as one pulls at the yarn it all comes undone.
No more warmth. No more security. Just a hand full of tattered yarn.
Posted by longship in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Mon Oct 02nd 2006, 11:39 AM
KS -- Sebelius -- Likely Democrat to Solid Democrat
OH -- Open -- Lean Democrat to Likely Democrat
OK -- Henry -- Likely Democrat to Solid Democrat
Cook Political Report
I won't bother with the historic contexts. We have no need of invoking Godwin here. So I will use another metaphor. The United States of America has just crossed the River Styx to a realm this sad world has not seen for decades.
Today, we've seen a legislation enacted which will surely be put into law in the next 48 hours. The consequences of this action are yet unknown, but I think all of us here at DU have an idea of where this is leading, just as many of you already know where I am taking this argument.
This evening I am watching V for Vendetta for probably the dozenth time, if not more. I am pouring myself martinis and sipping them while I toast to the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence--individually!! I am not drunk, and given my tendency to moderation, I'll likely stop before that happens. Were I not like that, I'd be in the bag already. Unfortunately, I'll likely stay just sober enough to continue to understand precisely the consequences of what I read earlier when the damned fool senate bill was posted.
I am a very emotional person and am not afraid to show my emotions. However, tonight I have become like steel in my resolve to defeat this evil affliction which is pervading my country. I am too focussed on things to cry, although the tears for my country's loss would certainly be justified. I am angry, but not at my fellow Democrats, nor my Democratic government representatives.
The word enervate means to defeat through sapping of strength. After almost six years we see how little is left of our party, our government, our way of life, our world. The Rovian plan, from the very beginning, has been the enervation of the Democratic Party. Today, we have seen a prominent domino in the plan fall. Today, we've just begun to hear the rhetoric which we all know is just the beginning of a political battle for our very lives.
Our resident Chimp invoked FDR and Truman today to illustrate what the Democratic Party once was and then used them to portray today's Democrats as being somehow weak. Just maybe, for once, the Chimp was correct. There was no reason why S.3930 should have been allowed to pass. But because of the nearly completely enervation of our party in Congress the outcome was inevitable. There was really no hope to defeat this enabling act. We put up a helluva fight--I called over fifty Senators myself this morning.
So, now what to do. Get pissed off at our powerless party leaders? Vote for third party candidates? Not vote at all? Or, heaven forbid, vote for Repukes?
The game is afoot. We can't let them control us any longer. Above all, we have to support our party leaders who are fighting battles under circumstances which can only be described as severe handicap. In the House, Democrats hold absolutely zero power. In the Senate, less so, however today we saw how little power in actuality the party can wield.
I am like steel tonight. Although my representatives are enervated, I am not. We are not.
As I pour my fourth martini I will continue my dedication to those who made this wonderful country possible, as Franklin said, "if we can keep it."
... and on it goes. As must we.
Ideas are bullet-proof.
This is a great site with an entire new look and now with a fresh inflush of staff and very timely daily updates.
Amongst the polls cited are new Senate race polls for AZ, NV, PA, and VT.
AZ - Kyl 50/Pederson 39 - Rasmussen
NV - Ensign 58/Carter 35 - Mason-Dixon
PA - Casey 54/Santorum 40 - Quinnipiac
VT - Sanders 64/Tarrant 32 - Rasmussen
See lots and lots more at Election Predictions
Just like the creationist stuff. Just like the intelligent design stuff. Just like the Apollo moon hoax bull. Just like the 9/11 conspiracy theory stuff. None of it rises to the level required by real science or by real investigations. Yet that is precisely where the debate is taking place about the failure modes of the WTC towers (1, 2, and 7). There are papers debating these things in academic journals all over the many relevant disciplines with more being published all the time.
You would think that the conspiracy theorists, with all their screeching, would be publishing like crazy--getting their so-called theories some substantive credibility that only a refereed journal can bestow. Yet all we hear is the chirping of crickets, and ever more screeching here at DU.
These people want the credibility that only science and standard investigatory methodologies can give. However, for some strange reason they never, ever play by the only rules which would give them credibility. Instead, the conspiracy kooks use the liberal media to spew their crap. There, they find a few people who are regrettably ignorant of the science and investigatory requirements. And there, they are able to apply their dysfunctional logic to a favorable audience who are more than willing to give them comfort.
Why? Because there is already a disposition in places like DU to distrust ChimpCo. So the kooks' conspiracies find easy purchase here. People want to believe that 9/11 was part of a huge government conspiracy--the entire thing planned and executed by the Chimp himself. Or, was it Cheney?
However, there has to be evidence. Unfortunately, what the conspiracy theory crowd has is not evidence. It's a contrived hoax meant to inflame, not to find the truth.
That's why, when they are seriously challenged, they dodge any and all substantive issues and spew their silly dichotomy: it's either the entire 9/11 commission report or the grand conspiracy. Bull-pucky. This is one of the more easily recognized techniques used by all the most Rovian tacticians. To anybody falling for that silly ploy I've got a bridge for sale. No wonder ChimpCo was elected twice. People are ignorant enough and naive enough to fall for the bull.
That's why I defend the path to truth so vigorously here. If we ever let the path to truth be sodden with such tripe as is spewed in "Loose Change", we'll never get to the end of the path. This is also precisely why giving these theories comfort in absense of skepticism is very wrong.
I would love to debate the issues on the substance, and have tried to do so on many occasions. However, the conspiracy crowd here seems to only know "The Big Dichotomy" as a response.
I suddenly had this feeling that everything was connected. It was like I could see the whole thing, one long chain of events that stretched all the way back before Larkhill. I felt like I could see everything that had happened and everything that was going to happen. It was like a perfect pattern laid out in front of me and I realized that we were all a part of it and all trapped by it.
Thus, the intrepid Chief Inspector Finch sets the stage for the climax of V for Vendetta. I, too, cannot get certain feelings out of my mind. Like the good inspector, I was lead down this path by certain events which I cannot help but interpret as non-coincidental. I very well may be misinterpreting things, but that doesn't explain why the thoughts refuse to budge no matter how hard I try to rationalize them away.
First, there seems to be a disconnect between the big issue polls and the specific candidate polls. The candidate polls are showing things to be much tighter for November than the big issue polls. The one exception is presidential approval which has somehow ticked up the past couple of weeks. But when one looks at the big issue polls, one only observes a monolithic down slide, all in the Dem's direction. I know the simple answer to this, that people somehow do not see their representative as responsible. But I do not think that is the dynamic this year. Here's why.
There is much talk about the failure of the O'Neill principle, "All politics is local." I've heard and read it from several informed sources. If true, this midterm election seems to have taken on a solely national character, with local politics playing a reduced role. So why are the individual candidate polls so disconnected? Is it really that people like their representatives? Or are the polls missing something, or some group of people?
Looking at the candidate specific polls, one sees them jumping around, flipping back and forth. They're up one week, down the next. These polls look volatile and there seems to be no universal agreement among the collection. Are the magnitudes of these discrepancies normal? I don't know, but I can't help but think that when one looks at the bigger picture that this appearance of volatility may be more than statistical jitter. I think one can include the Chimp approval poll in this group.
Consider all the anecdotal evidence which is being reported from all quarters. Every day we see more of it. Republicans switching parties, former died-in-the-wool Chimp supporters changing their minds, former Republicans running under the Democratic Party banner, polls showing increasing numbers of independents supporting Dem candidates, people being convinced to remove ChimpCo bumper stickers, etc. The collective record of these events shows that anger against ChimpCo seems to be both deep and pervasive. And it is all going one direction.
Then, there is the current disposition of the 2006 campaign predictions from prognosticators on both sides. There are dozens of Republican-held seats in play, with more every week. The number in serious danger of flipping is above what we need in the House, and near the mark in the Senate. Yet, not a single Democrat-held seat is in similar danger. Not one! The closest race for the Dems is Menendez in NJ, and no others equal it in either the House or the Senate.
There's one poll number that is consistent in both value and trend. That's the Congressional approval rating, which has continued its slow, deliberate descent throughout the past months. It's current value is a positively tiny 25%.
ChimpCo is showing lots of signs that it is very scared. They are doing all sorts of weird things, taking positions counter to their best interests. There's talk of them beginning to lose fundie support. Prominent Republicans are failing to support ChimpCo on important issues. The Chimp himself is acting very, very strangely. His speech patterns are even more broken up than usual--he seems incapable of speaking in anything other than short bursts of phrases and sentence fragments. His outbursts of anger are truly worrisome.
Then, there's the torture issue. There's talk from important insiders that things are going to break on this story soon. Does anybody seriously believe that the good American people will stand for this? (No, I'm not talking about the 25%.)
In my over forty years of political activism I don't think I've never seen anything like this, not even during Nixon. Are we seeing a confluence of monolithic forces which indicate something big is afoot? If so, maybe it's something that the polls, the pundits, the journalists, and the candidates are not picking up? Or, maybe it's something of which they are not speaking? Is it possible, with them all focused on individual, narrow domains and events, that they are seeing the trees, but not the forest?
Many here at DU similarly focus on minutia, or on a single issue. It is the source of much stress around here and many, including myself, conflate individual events well beyond their probable significance. Why are we so tempted to see only individual events, detached from their context? From my thinking, this cannot be correct.
There might be another apt metaphor in chaos theory. When a system is strained beyond its operating limits it can begin exhibiting chaotic behavior. The ability to predict outcomes becomes impossible as the system flips erratically from one state to another. However, the end result of all these crazy fluctuations can be a complete state change, like when water freezes.
ChimpCo has been flying the ship of state well beyond it's recommended operating parameters. The tipping point may have been reached long ago. We may be in the throes of a state change. Maybe all we need to do is to see to it that the system settles into a state that favor's America's future. Let's all keep pushing our advantage.
Sorry for the long screed. It's just that these thoughts won't go away.
I was a high school math teacher here in California. When NCLB came on the scene the environment in the schools changed dramatically and for the worse. The administrations began doing all sorts of things to undermine academic freedom. The state education department began making stupid decisions which had profoundly bad repercussions in the classroom.
Here's an example. California began a program statewide to put every student through a "high school exit exam". The consequences of this were most severe in the math curriculum. The test was to be given during the junior year. It included both algebra and geometry on the exam. My school was an at-risk school in the LA suburbs where the vast majority of students are Latin American immigrants, many of whom do not have the language skills that most people would expect at the secondary level. Yes, we had an agressive ESL program, but that didn't help us too much in the math department.
Because of the algebra-geometry requirement of the exit exam, the decision was made to mainstream every single ninth grade student into the academic algebra curriculum. This curriculum was agressive and actually quite good. (At least our district was doing their job on that.) However, many more than half the students in these classes did not have the academic standing in mathematics to survive such an agressive curriculum. Close to a third of my students could not even multiply two numbers. The results were horrible. The failure rate in ninth grade algebra was never better than about 75%. The district's policies meant that the failing students would repeat the class. Of the repeating students, the failure rate was even higher, always over 80%. So every time students repeated the class--and many of them took it three or four times during their high school careers, success was vastly diminished. In spite of this the district continued to simply put the students through the same damned meat grinder over and over again.
Now, here's the really bad part. All the districts in SoCal are begging for math teachers. My academic record and prior experience in teaching at the college level made me a perfect candidate for an internship. I did not have any education credits, but the rest of my credentials were flawless. I was one of six teachers in the mathematics department at my high school who were without a full state credential. However, somebody decided that the reason why all the students were failing was because they hadn't hired good enough teachers. The district's policy was "With NCLB we can only afford to hire the most qualified teachers. So they let all six of the teachers without full credential at my high school go at the end of my third year of teaching.
This action devastated the math department. The district was not able to replace six teachers at an at-risk school and was forced to use some long-term substitutes (maximum 30 days each) in freshman algebra. Failures rose to over 90%!! That was two school years ago. I hear from my former compatriots that the math department has still not recovered. They are just now getting the failure rate back down to the level it was when I was there. The administration is still complaining about the quality of the teachers. The environment for the teachers is repressive and authoritarian. Fearing invocation of NCLB remedies, the administration's sole response is to blame the faculty. Teachers are are leaving the profession entirely or are retiring early.
All this happened because of NCLB. From the state board of education down to the principals in the schools, NCLB's results are completely opposite of its intentions. The children are being left behind.
NCLB is an utter disaster.
In spite of the six years of desolation and destruction of the ChimpCo administration, I have to remain optimistic that this country will do the right thing, even if it is not now, even if things take a turn for the worse this November. This is the only way I have to cope with the sense of horror that resides in my soul these past years.
I know how many of you are hurting. I see it in your faces, or at least in your posts. Things are indeed desperate for us. And things may indeed get worse before they improve. Myself, I think I'll go completely insane if we can't triumph in November. Were it not for my family and my friends, especially those here at DU, I would likely already have been ready for the rubber room.
We all see the dangers around us. We have an enemy who is cunning and determined to destroy us. Our movement is suffering from a thousand cuts from as many different directions. But, that should not stop us from continuing to fight with all our vigor.
The Internet is an incredible tool for activists. We've been using it very effectively these past years to bring the battle forward to the enemy. However, the effectiveness of this tool has also made it possible for some to bring despair to the battlefield. On the eve of a possible great victory this is something we can ill afford.
There was another time, in another place, when a people suffered under similar desperate circumstance. Maybe we can all learn a lesson in optimism by looking into the past and hearing and reading what one particular individual did to keep the battle going in the face of horrific events. I speak of Britain during the two years when they stood absolutely alone against Germany. At that time they did not shirk their duty to fight back. They did so in a most spectacular way.
It's October 29, 1941. Britain stands alone against Germany. In spite of recent positive events in the Battle of Britain, there are plentiful worries that things could turn dramatically worse at any moment. The entire country is, in effect, under siege and being overtaken by events. Many were afraid. Many others were despondent. Winston Churchill had long since realized that without hope his entire country might not hold out.
On that date, Churchill gives his periodic speech to the students and faculty at Harrow School, where he attended as a boy. He uses this opportunity to give one of his most optimistic speeches of his career. From that speech there are two paragraphs which show what it takes for a people to triumph at a time that the whole world around them had crumbled into absolute chaos. Is there something here for us DUers? I share this with you in the hopes that we can stick together and work even more dilligently to defeat these bastards.
You cannot tell from appearances how things will go. Sometimes imagination makes things out far worse than they are; yet without imagination not much can be done. Those people who are imaginative see many more dangers than perhaps exist; certainly many more than will happen; but then they must also pray to be given that extra courage to carry this far-reaching imagination. But for everyone, surely, what we have gone through in this period - I am addressing myself to the School - surely from this period of ten months this is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy. We stood all alone a year ago, and to many countries it seemed that our account was closed, we were finished. All this tradition of ours, our School history, our songs, this part of the history of this country, were gone and finished and liquidated.
Very different is the mood today. Britain, other nations thought, had drawn a sponge across her slate. But instead our country stood in the gap. There was no flinching and no thought of giving in; and by what seemed almost a miracle to those outside these Islands, though we ourselves never doubted it, we now find ourselves in a position where I say that we can be sure that we have only to persevere to conquer.
DUers! We must never, never, never give in.
I posted this speech this weekend and it got one response. I have reformatted it and added some commentary in the hopes that it gets better response today.
Much love to you all.
Thank you for indulging my preaching.
Here is Churchill's 1941 Harrow speech in its entirety:
Never Give In, Never, Never, Never
From "The Churchill Centre" Web Site.
Here is that speech in its entirety in MP3 audio. This was recorded by Churchill after the war as part of his memoirs and the publishing of his Nobel Prize winning book series, "The Second World War".
These are great days
(MP3, 1.7MB, 4:13 -- Click to stream or Right-click and "Save as...")
Posted by longship in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Tue Sep 12th 2006, 10:18 AM
Ideologues use the artificial dichotomy when opposition points out problems with their claims. It's just like Chimp's "If you disagree with us; you're supporting the terrorists." To the MIHOP crowd, it's "You either support our paranoid delusions, or you must be accepting the official government report."
Well, I utterly reject the wacky fringe madness that has seeped into the 9/11 truth movement and I also reject the official government report. Like many liberals on this issue, I see both as delusional. E.G., there's no way that anything but the documented airliners flown by Islamic terrorists hit those buildings. There's no way that ChimpCo wasn't asleep at the switch on 9/11.
What happened on 9/11 was horrible and ChimpCo's complicity in it is thick. However, like every other debacle on their watch, the fault lies in their total incompetence in governing, not in some contrived grand plan.
The sole thing that the Repugs do well is politics. The reason they achieve success in that venue is simply because that's their sole concern. Terror, war, disaster relief, and everything else is secondary. So, as ChimpCo goes from one debacle to another, they are working very hard to keep in power by using the only tools they know how to use, politics. They see nothing but the events in the political sphere. They know of no responses except political responses to political events. They are totally incapable of any kind of action except political action. It's what they do.
The sooner people open their eyes to these facts, the sooner we will succeed in defeating this abomination of an administration and the sooner we will start winning elections again. Allowing fringe ideas from fringe groups to get a strong foothold won't help our cause. The 9/11 truth movement is nearly powerless because of the ease that the opposition can credibly say that "they're all a bunch of conspiracy kooks". I find my sentiments bordering on that opinion as well. They aren't *all* kooky, but a very vocal fringe is really sucking the air out of the dialog. This adds fuel directly into ChimpCo's political machine.
Speak truth to power. Speak truth to everybody, and especially those who want to preempt the dialog to promote a fringe belief.
From TPM Cafe:
Yep, it's come to this: If you don't vote for the pro-war candidate in your district, you will die. That's literally the message in a new ad that a conservative think tank, The Center For Security Policy, has now released in time for the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11. The ad shows images of the burning Twin Towers and Americans held hostage and concludes by flashing on the screen: "Vote as if your life depends on it. Because it does." While the ad mentions no candidates or parties, it's clearly meant to tell you that you should be very, very afraid of, well, dying should Dems -- OK, unnamed antiwar pols -- win their races. We're trying to determine where the ad's running -- stay tuned.
More here, including Video.
With Malloy gone, people may have a need for similar type of talk host. I offer Bernie Ward as that host.
Bernie Ward is a real treasure.
Nobody can take down a Freeper like "The Lion of the Left" (Bernie Intro--Short MP3. Listen--Smile.)
When Malloy was still on AAR, a liberal could actually listen to 10 continuous hours of *fire-breathing* liberal radio.
Mike Malloy 7-10PM
Bernie Ward (KGO) 10PM-1AM
Ray Taliaferro (KGO) 1AM-4AM
And when I say fire-breathing, I *mean* fire-breathing. None of these three give an inch of ground to numbnut Freepers.
KGO 810 AM Web page (link fixed)
Yes, they have archives for podcasting, most recent 24 hours.
Posted by longship in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Tue Sep 05th 2006, 04:35 PM
Moderates have no say in party decisions, like who gets support to run for office.
I don't know specifics about this FL primary, but it's likely that either none of the candidates are moderates, or they are totally unsupported by the party.
This is a result of Pat Robertson's campaign (when he ran for president) to rig the party machinery. He started in Michigan where he did well in the presidential Repuke primary that year. This was a signal to many of us that the Christian Coalition was getting huge numbers of precinct committeepersons nationwide. Once you control the precincts, you've got the district. Once you have the district, you can take over the state party. Once you have the state delegates... You get the idea.
So here we are a couple of decades later and the Republican Party is from bottom-to-top operated by this fringe group of radicals who places ideological purity above all else. Moderates are totally ennervated. They have no say in the decisions. They have little chance to mount a successful campaign against the ideologues.
That's the precise problem with the Repukes right now. The precise reason why moderate Republicans are finding comfort amongst the Democrats is that we are *not* a party of exclusion. We've *never* been and hopefully never will be such a thing.
I am a fierce, fire-breathing liberal. But I am also a yellow dog Democrat. I have voted for many Democrats who do not hold my opinions on many issues. As a party officer in Kansas in the 1990's there were many candidates, good Democrats all, with whom I disagreed. That didn't stop me from walking precincts, licking envelopes, and raising money for them.
The Democrats must embrace the disenfranchised. That's one of our strongest planks and always has been. I'm not talking about having the DLC run our party, because that's not going to work either. But liberals like many of us and moderates like many of us have to work together to build a better country.
All that is wrong with today's Republican Party can be traced back to its adopting a policy of ideological exclusion. It is not only wrong for Democrats to go down that same path, it would doom us just like it is dooming the Republicans now.
The ten most recent threads posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums.
FL GOP tries to close state pension system to new workers, yet take THEIR pension at 2X accrual rate
FL GOP denies $51 billion federal Medicaid to poor, yet order cheap health care for themselves
Happy Mother's Day
I love DU2!
Florida Senate President Don Gaetz (R) ran company now accused of Medicaid fraud (Rick Scott redux)
Mediterranean diet cuts risk of heart dis-ease
By No Elephants
The ten most recommended threads posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums in the last 24 hours.
Use the tools below to keep track of updates to this Journal.
Today's Featured Forums