Tuesday, November 30, 2004

DFA Business for Nov-Dec

Next meeting of DFA Tucson will be 12/1 at 7PM at Dem HQ at 4639 E 1st St., Tucson 85711. Please come and chime in on your plans and dreams for collective action.

Previous Meeting Summary Notes
DFA/Tucson - November 18 2004

Sonja Stupel announced that Dec. 10 in recognition of International Human Rights Day she will have a writeathon at her house. Everyone is welcome. Contact sonjastupel@aol.com for details

Becky Schulman announced that the Democratic Party will have a booth at the 4th Ave. Street Fair the weekend on Dec. 10. They will do voter registration if issues surrounding Prop. 200 requirements for registration are resolved. Volunteers are needed. Contact Becky for details SchulMB@aol.com.

Diane Call announced that Jobs with Justice will hold a Grinch Party Dec. 4 at 6:00 p.m. at Carpenter's Hall, 606 S. Plumer. This is a fundraiser and $10 donation is requested.

Democratic Party Opportunities:
Laura Burge, long-time Deaniac and now Co-Chair of the Democratic Resource and Issues Committee discussed new party activities and committees.

Deaniacs are invited to participate in working on such issues as researching voting records of city councilpeople Dunbar and Ronstadt, fighting a gay marriage ban amendment, living wage, etc.

A subgroup will concentrate on voter fraud issues.

She will be a liaison to encourage that DFA/T and the party work in cordination on common issues to avoid unnecessary duplication.

The party is forming other committees including a hiking club, a book club, Information Technology committee and many others.

More than 150 people attended a potluck the previous week where people could sign up for work. All committes are still open to anyone who wants to join. Contact Democratic headquarters.

DFA/T Organization:
Anthea Scouffas started the discussion by saying that we need to define the organization and give it some structure. We will meet twice a month for at least the next few months.

She asked people to vote on a steering committee, but the group decided to approve by acclaim 11 people who have been involved in DFA/T and are willing to work: Anthea Scouffas, Barbara Tellman, Steve Cody, Sonja Stupel, Janet Telfer, Samantha Sabo, Omid Mahdavi, Eric Fuller, Rick Graap,Judy Miller, and Jen Prileson, These people will meet ahead of time and make recommendations at the next meeting. Anthea stressed that we need to get involved in concrete action items and divided the group in subgroups to come up with a few recommended action items. The summary follows.

Brief Summary of Discussion Group Results

Voting Reform
All groups expressed concern for reform of voting systems, making every vote count, specifically,

Support groups finding out the truth about 2003 election, recounts, etc., (e.g. blackboxvoting.org)

Electoral college change, either nationally or at the state level, making vote proportional or direct vote.

Make hand recounts legal in Arizona and require that a certain %of precincts randomly chosen get hand recounts to check the computer's accuracy.

Restore voting rights of felons who have served their time.

Insist that computer programs for vote counting be available for inspection, not proprietary.

Most groups expressed interest in doing something in this category
Identify, recruit and support progressive local candidates.

Work for changes in Prop. 200, maintain Clean Elections System in Arizona, and other progressive ballot issues at state and local level.

Promote Arizona Clean Elections systems to other states.

Support city elections by ward, investigate political impacts of annexation.

Promote Dean as Dem. Party chair.

Oppose gay marriage ban or similar measures if they come up.

Several groups felt we should get active on media issues.

Lobby to get AirAmerica in Pima County

Support Media Watch program, including letting sponsors of biased news know we do will not buy their products. Efforts to promote corporate responsibility.

Develop a marketing plan and ways to convey progressive ideas.

Have training in conveying ideas effectively.

National and International Issues
There was little agreement on which of these issues to adopt, but most had interest in this level of action.

Work with local peace groups to stop war, prevent attack on Iran, reduce military spending, etc.

Work for a living wage.

Work for improved economy, balanced budget, etc.

Form progressive Service Club

Pursue Dean Corps projects

Work on comprehensive energy policy and alternate energy sources.

Fairness in Social Security and Medicare

Work on environmental issues.

Community Relations
Work towards better communications among local groups with progressive agendas (environmental, health, peace, etc.) including forming a coalition or umbrella group.

Work on neighborhood organizing.

Work on ways to reach independents since they are the majority of voters.

Work with Democratic and Green Party committees.

Internal Organizing

Develop a rapid response team

Develop speakers bureau

Have a good web site.

Get more Hispanics in the group and learn how to reach them, especially students.

Define DFA and possibly incorporate, become a PAC, or become a Democratic Club.

Keep group open to Independents and Green Party members

GOP, Corporatism, WORSP and Sorelian myth

Corporate PAC spending in the 2004 cycle favored GOP candidates 10:1. You hardly need further proof of the absolute capture of the GOP by corporate interests. In America, unfortunately, money equates quite conveniently with political power. Such close alignment and cooperation between corporations and government as has been demonstrated by this Administration and the GOP in Congress is called Corporatism, which is what Mussolini called his spiffy new politico-administrative invention in the 1920s and 1930s.

You need only study the second Italo-Ethiopian war to see the parallels between its function for Italian fantasy ideology and Iraq's function for American fantasy ideology. Both deadly pageants are products of fantasy ideology meant to demonstrate certain core Sorelian myths, not wars in the Clausewitzian sense. For Italy, the Ethiopian invasion celebrated the myth that Mussolini's Italy was founding the Second Roman Empire. For America, the Iraq invasion is a celebration of the myth of the World's Only Remaining Super Power (WORSP). The myth of the WORSP requires that America be able to strike anywhere in the world and accomplish even nonsensical military missions, and that our armed forces be able to forestall any threat and eliminate all resistance. In short, Iraq is supposed to demonstrate to the world, and most importantly to ourselves, that no events are beyond our control. Iraq is overcompensation for the extreme insecurity induced by Al Qaeda's mythic attack upon us on 9/11. The shock of 9/11 called into question the central fantasies of the WORSP, requiring a mythic pageant to reassure us of our fantastical beliefs.

Of course, the Sorelian myth of WORSP is just fantasy. The brag by Administration insiders that they consider 'reality-based thinking' outmoded highlights the fantasy component of Administration decision- making. Bush, despite his electoral victory, is as disconnected from reality as Hitler in his bunker. We should all be very afraid of what new demonstrations the WORSP fantasy will require over the next four years to validate the fantasies of the true believers in Bush's inner circle and electoral base. So, too, should the stolid bankers and reality-dependent businesspersons of corporate America worry, but apparently they could not resist the temptation presented by the Federal cookie jar being wholly entrusted to their care. It is the same Faustian bargain the industrialists of Italy and Germany made in the late 1920s that brought Corporatist regimes to power in those societies, and which ultimately resulted in the complete ruination of their fortunes.

The limits those societies ran up against were different than those we face today. They faced the greater demographic and industrial potential of the United States as the ultimate reality check. We face reality checks in the form of the ecological limits of our planetary environment, our increasingly precarious position in the world's financial system, the overwhelming demographic advantages of the less-developed world, the disapproval of nearly every other industrialized nation for our acting out of the WORSP myth, and the intuitive fact that all military power, even ours, has limits as to the political goals it can accomplish. These limits will pull more and more Americans back into the reality-based community as we grind up against them. Hopefully, the consequences for our nation and the world will not become too grave before sufficient numbers re-awaken to reality and dislodge the Corporatists and WORSP fantasy ideologues from control of our government.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Bush Goes to Work on Iran

You would think the Bush Administration would be embarrassed to use the same ham-fisted diplomatic methods to make war against Iran as they used for Iraq. Bald-faced lies about the regime’s intentions and capabilities, supported only by undisclosed classified information, seconded by very shady opposition groups. Pushing for technical violations of treaty and/or UNSC resolution violations to bring the matter before the Security Council and obtain a fig leaf of concurrence from the UN for armed intervention. How many times are we supposed to fall for this schtick?

Powell apparently thinks he has some credibility left, as he leveled a completely unsubstantiated charge at the Iranians that they are deceiving the UN, seeking nuclear weapons, and modifying ballistic missiles to carry them. His only support came from a terrorist organization, the National Council for Resistance, which is banned in the US. So again the claim that a regime is attempting to hide it’s facilities from the world becomes a proxy for, and proof of, an intent to assemble nuclear weapons, which is used in proxy of the actual possession of nuclear weapons, and reason for supposing both the means and intent to use them on the US. Doesn’t this seem somehow familiar?

The noise and fuss is an attempt by the Bush Administration to get the IAEA to refer any violations of Iran’s obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to the UN Security Council. The hope is that sanctions and consequences can be won there which would lead to a pretext for military action – to take our Iran’s nuclear facilities, if not take down the regime. But El Baradei instead confirmed there were no violations of the NPT and affirmed the temporary and voluntary ‘confidence building’ freeze negotiated by several EU members seeking to defuse the American rhetoric and institute some permanent agreement that would allow the Iranians to proceed without further harassment.

Iran has actually been very open and transparent about its facilities for nuclear power, disclosing facilities and equipment for which disclosure was not required. The centrifuges that Washington is currently throwing a wobbly over are in this class of research facilities that needn’t be disclosed. Iran did not ‘hide’ anything from the world; this equipment was simply none of the world’s business. It seems that pesky concept of sovereignty is too troublesome for the Bush Administration to understand, except as it applies to the US and its asserted right to attack anyone who makes Bush nervous. So, even as the IAEA gives Iran a clean bill of health, the US reserves the right to take a treaty breach issue to the UNSC over the head of the monitoring agency set up by the treaty. A spokesperson for the Administration said, "Any member of the United Nations may bring to the attention of the Security Council any situation that might endanger the maintenance of international peace and security." This is rather like the schoolyard bully reporting Poindexter to the Principal for violation of the school’s ‘no bullying’ policy because he is inciting bullying by playing with his sliderule.

Iran maintains that they have no intent to develop nuclear weapons, I don’t dismiss this contention out of hand, nor accept it at face value. Any nation in Iran’s geo-strategic position, regardless of their diplomatic relations with the US, or form of self-governance, would have strong incentives to obtain nuclear weapons. I think it likely that Iran does want to have the ability to create nuclear weapons on short notice, or even to maintain a strategic ambiguity as to whether they possess them; much like Israel. But it is also possible that their claims are true, verifiable, and able to be accepted by the world community with sufficient confidence building and monitoring.

The rub lies in the confluence of technologies to manufacture enriched uranium for fuel, for nuclear weapons. Both activities look very much the same. If a nation builds the domestic capability for the ‘front end’ of the nuclear fuel cycle (mining, conversion, enrichment, and fabrication) for production of peaceful nuclear energy, a right granted by the Non-Proliferation Treaty, then they are only a step away from being able to build a nuclear weapon. The final steps can be so unobtrusive and hidden that it is really just a matter of political will that prevents a nation in Iran’s position from proceeding with a nuclear weapons program. The IAEA estimates that at least 40 nations are in precisely such a situation. Again, one has to question the motives for singling out Iran for special treatment in this group, and if our limited resources and diplomatic goodwill wouldn’t be better spent on higher-order threats.

Instead of relying on harassment and bluster and lies, perhaps addressing Iran’s underlying security concerns would be more effective in containing the possibility of Iranian leadership feeling the need for nuclear weapons as part of its strategic posture. Negative incentives are simply going to further embattle a regime that already feels itself hemmed in on all sides by American forces. Our history in Iran is not one to be proud of, and one which gives Iranians justifiable suspicion of our aims in seeking to constrain their internal affairs. Unfortunately, Americans have elected a tone-deaf Administration in a time of great tension in the region and great vulnerabilities in our military posture when a cultivated ear is needed to detect the overtures to peace amid what is sure to be strong and belligerent rhetoric from the Iranian regime.

Addendum, 11/30/04, 1:17am: I want to emphasize that the option of military pre-emption is only a tactic to put off the problem of Iran's supposed nuclear weapon capacity to a later date. Striking known nuclear-related targets in Iran will not end any possible treat. Indeed, in many ways it makes that potential threat all the more certain, even as it delays Iran's possible plans by some months or years. Even the nearly impossible option of regime change in Iran only delays Iran's nuclear development. It assumes that future Iranian regimes would be controllable by Washington, even if 'friendly', and that an allied Iranian government would have no incentives to pursue dual use nuclear technologies, or even nuclear weapons. Further, even entertaining the regime change option assumes Iranian retaliation for such an operation would come at an acceptable cost to our mission in Iraq, which is highly dependent upon the tolerance of Iran. Iran could easily make our presence in Iraq much more costly, and even untenable, by inciting and supporting the Shi'ite majority in armed rebellion, rather than using their influence to induce predominant tolerance of our occupation in the expectation of a dominant political role for Shi'ites in a post occupation government.

There is no good military solution to the challenge of Iranian nuclear development. Using political, financial, and diplomatic resources is likely to produce equal or superior security guarantees at much lower cost than military options. Unfortunately, non-violent options also carry a potentially unacceptable domestic political risk of appearing weak or of engaging in appeasement of a hostile regime. Whether Bush is willing to tolerate a risk of trouble within his base to increase the chances of success in Iraq, and Iran, is the main political calculus that will determine US foriegn policy toward Iran over the next four years: the early signs are not favorable.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

The Ten Region Analysis

Another interesting, far more useful, way of looking at American electoral demographics is the 10 region map.

In the 2004 election, the Big River Region, predicted to be key to the election, broke to Bush by a mere 50.1 percent. Just 10 counties made the difference, pushing Iowa into Bush's electoral bag. Combine this with extraordinary turnout in Appalachia, which kept Pennslyvania competitive and helped deliver Ohio to Bush, and you have Bush's electoral college victory.

Turnouts in Sagebrush areas of the Southwest put New Mexico in Bush column and kept Arizona, Colorado, and Nevada red. The surprise of the election however is where Bush's surprising 3.5 million popular vote margin can from; largely the Democratic bastions of the Northeast corridor. Areas of New York, including Staten Island, and Long Island, and Jersey's Ocean County all contributed hundreds of thousands of votes to Bush's victory. This, I suspect, is not a strategy that will work for any other Republican than Bush, or possibly Gulianni, because of 9/11.

What the 10 region map tells us is that Democrats must take back Big River by increasing their appeal to farming and rural voters. We need to reduce the staggering 61% margin for the Republicans in Appalachia, and increase the turnout in urban areas of the Southern Lowlands to be competitive in the upper South (VA, WV, NC, SC GA, TN, KY) and Florida. We must increase our appeal in El Norte to both urban and Hispanic voters, and suppress the 60% Republican margin in the southern portions of Sagebrush to take the Southwest (AZ, NM, CO, NV). The No South strategy remains valid, but we should work to close the gap in the Southern Lowlands, which have the highest minority populations in the South (up to 28%), and remain quite closely divided with a mere 51.5% margin for the Republicans.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

The No South Strategy

No Democrat has ever won the Presidency without carrying at least one state of the old Confederacy, or old South (which are those I said in an earlier post can get stuffed). Kerry aimed to be the first to do so, and designed his strategy around the fact that the Democrats are not currently competitive in national elections in the old South. Instead, he bet on winning the upper Midwest, including Ohio and Iowa, and the Southwest, possibly including New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Nevada. If he had actually won a few of those states, or even just Ohio, his strategy would have paid off, too.

Kerry’s run has pointed the party toward basing the party’s national asperations on domination of the NE and West Coast, and competitiveness in the Midwest and Southwest. The latter will be critical areas in which to learn how to appeal to rural and exurban voters and in which hone our appeal to fast growing Western Ideopoli, such as Phoenix and Austin, some of the few urban areas where the GOP kicked our rumps. We will need to work at crafting regional messages that can win the states of these regions as a block, instead of trying to pick them up state-by-state.

In the Southwest, at least, I think that means adopting NM Gov. Bill Richardson’s plan for an early regional primary including Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado (I would like to see Nevada, Oregon, Washington and possibly California in there, as well, to give the primary more delegate weight) to follow soon after New Hampshire. As much as I lament the ongoing front-loading of the primary cycle, it is critical that our 2008 nominee have a wide and universal appeal in the West if he or she is to be successful in the General. The West must become a future part of the Democratic base, and such a regional primary would nudge the party into addressing Western and rural issues in its core messages and a Western sensibility into its primary framing.

In the 2004 primaries we had a few Western states early in the schedule, but they were treated like stepping stones to Super-Tuesday. The candidates each cherry-picked a state they though they could win in order to stay viable and ignored the others. I would like to see a strong showing in a Western regional primary be a much more important kingmaker than Super-Tuesday. After all, Super-Tuesday is a relic of the Dixiecrat era, and the product of that long-defected or dead faction to dominate the nomination process. Besides Florida and maybe Louisiana, the Democrats no longer have any realistic near-term hope of winning Super-Tuesday states in the presidential election; so why should we allow their tastes dominate our nomination process?

Richardson’s idea isn’t new; Gov. Leavitt of UT attempted to organize a Western primary of 10 states in 2000. But with Kerry’s kissing off of the South, it is an idea whose time has come in 2008. Democrats need to winnow their candidates though the judgement of voters from a region we can and must win. Hopefully, whomever becomes DNC chair (fingers crossed for Dean, here) will see that it is time to seriously shake up the nomination process. We should be open to persuading Iowa to either surrender or share its place as the opening act with other Midwestern states (which I believe Dean would be willing to do). We should create early regional primaries in the areas that are priorities in our national strategy, i.e. where we are counting on swing states coming our way, such as the Upper Midwest, and the Southwest; areas where we want to improve such as the Big States (IL, OH, PA, FL, TX, CA, NY); or states which are part of our base, but where our margin has been slipping, such as California.

Part of restructuring the message of the Democratic Party to take back a majority is reshaping our primary processes to ensure our candidates have appeal to the voters we need on our side. I am not content to wait for demographic changes to swing the pendulum back to our side, I want the Presidency and Congress back ASAP.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

McCain no longer a loose canon

Why is McCain providing media air-cover for Porter Goss's purge of the old guard of the CIA? One thing is for certain, there is no connection between reform of the CIA and the high-level purge of career civil servants that Goss is carrying out. Goss is after a politically subservient CIA that Bush can count on to cover his ass; Goss's actions and choice of staff, not to mention his choice of targets clearly indicate this.

This absolutely is not about the plethora of bills to restructure and reform the CIA and other US intelligence agencies sitting on desks on the Hill. McCain's own bill, which he co-sponsored with Lieberman, backs the recomendations of the 9/11 commission and sets up a central Director of Intelligence who would have budgetary authority over the entire set of intelligence agencies across agencies. Bush opposes this plan. In fact, it is not at all clear that Bush supports any reform legislation given the deadlock his Administration inspired in the House on intel reform.

So why is McCain willing to cloak Goss's political long knives in the trappings of genuine reform with his comments to the effect that the CIA is 'dysfunctional' and 'like a rogue agency'? Surely he knows that Goss's moves have everything to do with gutting political opposition within the agency and nothing to do with actual operational reform. What goals for intel reform do McCain's comments further? None.

The only conclusion is that this is another chip in the kitty which now holds an endorsement, a public hug, and a rah-rah convention speech. Add to it the betrayal of the intelligence community to the tender mercies of Porter Goss and his gang of goons. It is no coincidence that the first whisper of 2008's Republican nominee that followed Bush's re-election eminated from McCain's direction. With Bush campaign director heading the RNC, and Bush's rolodex containing all those Pioneers, McCain needs Bush's active support if he is to run successfully in 2008.

McCain may have done a public service by trying to keep the candidate's civil, though arguably his admonitions placed the candidates in a position of moral and ethical equivalency on the issue of unsavory and dishonest attacks that Bush did not deserve, but such statesmanship is all over now, I suspect. For the next four years, it looks like McCain has decided to take the low road and become Bush's bitch.

Arizona Restoration Project

I attended a conference of the local Civil Rights Restoration Project today. Many people are aware that each state deals with removing the civil rights (especially voting rights) of felons, and restoring them in its own way. What is not well known is that states, localities, and the Federal government have a myriad of laws, regulations, and rules that disqualify convicted felons from a wide variety of benefits, privileges, and opportunities in many areas of life, from welfare, housing, and education, to the ability to enter certain trades.

The group aims to study the issue in Arizona. There is no full study of the effects of the crimal justice system on the rights and legal status of convicted felons in Arizona. A similar study to that proposed for Arizona was conducted in Ohio and turned up over 300 distinct legal detriments, which took a team of law students 6 months to ferret out. Eventually, the idea is to craft legislative solutions to eliminate many of those penalties, or to make the system more fair and simpler to apply to for restoration of rights.

The political climate is certainly a concern. How to sell the restoration of rights to ex-felons to a Republican controled state government? It’s a clearly an exercise in framing. One can approach it from a practical value basis: reducing the imediments to reintegration of ex-felons into society will help reduce recidivism and reduce crime and the cost of the prison system. There are basic ethical values appeals: we want to encourage self-reliance among those released from prison, placing barriers to achieving self-reliance in the form of a job, a family, stable housing, and so forth locks a person into the cycle of criminality. There is also the value of basic fairness: a person convicted of a crime should be informed of the complete penalty they face and the literally hundreds of penalties lurking in state laws and regulations constitute hidden, and perpetual penalties for a crime. Finally, there is a moral values at stake: as a society we value the idea that a person is redeemable, that every sinner can be saved and even the most inveterate reprobate can be rehabilitated. Some believe that only their God can work such a change, others, like myself, believe that people are essentially good natured, social beings. Most of the penalities for being a convicted felon are perpetual, having no time limits and method of challenge or appeal. Such finality violates the hope that people can eventually put their bad deeds behind them. Between these various framings, legal reform might eventually move ahead with bi-partisan support

Anyone interested in participating in the study group, or any of the break-out committees on public education, organizational out-reach, political networking, legal study, or strategy, contact Representative Ted Downing.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Arizona Caucus Member Votes on Ethics

So how did your Republican Representative vote on the rule change to allow indicted criminals to lead our Congress? The investigation is ongoing as the caucus vote is an unrecorded voice vote. Here's how it stands:

J.D. Hayworth has some balls and voted no, despite having recieved over 15K from DeLay's ARMPAC.

John Shadegg thinks his vote is none of your business. 4K from ARMPAC.

Jeff Flake (who just announced he's breaking his word on only serving 6 years) will be writing you a letter if you are a constituent, but otherwise isn't saying. 5K from ARMPAC.

Jim Kolbe is doing the same as Flake. 5K from ARMPAC.

Trent Franks voted yes to criminals in charge and doesn't care if you know it. 20K from ARMPAC... hmmm wonder if that had any influence with him?

Big Dick Renzi is avoiding his phone. Perhaps Katherine Harris is bugging him for a date. 20K from ARMPAC (Wonder how he voted considering most of him campaign was financed by leadership pacs?)

Sunday, November 21, 2004

The Red and The Blue

I’m sick of ‘red state’ vs. ‘blue state’ rhetoric. On average, 46% of voters in every red and blue state voted for the other party’s presidential candidate. When you denigrate ‘red staters’ or ‘blue staters’ you are insulting your own neighbors and family members, not distant strangers. Our nation is colored shades of purple, despite the stark results of the Electoral College. Even most individual voters are purple; many of us cross party lines for candidates we admire.

The invidious red vs. blue political shorthand focuses only upon our differences, and ignores our much greater common interests. It assumes there are always two sides, and only two sides, to every issue. And it elevates the value of group solidarity above that of individual reasoning and conscience.

We were never meant to be a nation led by parties. Most of America's Founding Fathers hated political parties, dismissing them as quarrelsome "factions" more interested in contending with each other than in working for the common good. They wanted individual citizens to vote for individual candidates, without parties acting as middlemen — but that was not to be.

The fact remains, however, that Americans are not, in the main, an ideological people, and this red vs. blue rhetoric is just the latest way for the political class to pit us against one another for political gain. We mustn’t let our domestic politics, or our international relations, devolve into a mindless‘us versus them’ struggle. The result would surely be the failure of the American experiment.

U.S. War Crimes in Fallujah

More important than the culpability of a particular soldier in combat, is the braoder question of international law pointed to by the Fallujah killing: did the armed force break international law in Fallujah and Iraq? Reports are coming in that 'weapon free' zones where designated in Fallujah. What this means is that there was no need to determine if a person were armed or a threat before use of deadly force; very similar to the 'free fire' zones in Vietnam. This policy would violate a combatant's duty to make reasonable efforts to protect non-combatants and to abide by hors de combat immunities of disabled or surrendered combatants.

Further, it is now apparent that the US has been deporting prisoners from Iraq, again in contravention of the Geneva Conventions. Expatriated detainees are subject to interrogation and torture, some of the very abuses the restrictions were adopted to address.

In this context comes Gonzales' nomination to be the chief law enforcement officer of the US. A man who aided the Administration's justification of shrugging off the inconvenient restrictions of international laws of war will be the embodiment of the rule of law in the US. If we are trying to make a grim joke for the world audience, no one is laughing.

Dumbing down the reds

Dittos to Anonymous who writes about why the Bush Administration treats red voters with more contempt for thier intelligence and moral reasoning than any any blue voter possibly could. Why does Anonymous write anonymously? Because he's afraid. That says more about how our political life has fallen into atavism than any argument possibly could.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Ten for tommorrow

Pissed about the election? Dreading the next four years? Join the club... and then get back to work. We have work to do in our own back yard to keep out Governor and other Democratic office holders. The epicenter of the effort is Maricopa. So contribute a minimum of $10 to the Maricopa Democratic Party today and tell your friends.

This fight is just begining. Fight it like it was the fight of your life. It is.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Justice Fallujah Style

A comment thread from my posting on the slaying of an unarmed prisoner in a Fallujah mosque garnered some interesting feedback.

At 11/17/2004 04:14:20 PM, benway said...

The passive morality you advocate is that of a dog, whipped by its master, that still happily returns to wag its tail and beg for food. The problem with your morality is this: we are human beings, not dogs.

At 11/17/2004 05:30:33 PM, Tiny Montgomery said...

It is active, human and moral to recognize and punish acts of behavior that violate international law. No need to bring canines into this discussion.

At 11/18/2004 01:22:16 AM, Michael said...

I sure would like to know what the fuck Benway is on about. Passive morality? The only reference I can find to such an idea is the mindless following of a leader who purports to be morally good. This aligns closely to the concept of the banality of evil in which responsibility for monstrous crimes is compartmentalized so that no one needs to assume responsibility. It seems to me that the Bush Administration's policy's effect on the American people is a good model of such passive evil.

Evil doesn't come from choosing to condemn and to act against what is morally repugnant, rather, it comes from selfishness, short-sightedness, arrogance and other mental deficits where the individual ignores morality to pursue goals thought to be higher or superior to conventional morality. The war on terror is the means by which the Iraq conflict is lifted beyond the reach of conventional moral obligations. The assault on Fallujah and the attendant suffering of the civilian population fits squarely into the matrix of moral passivity leading to banal evil. If anyone is demonstrating the 'passive morality' of an animal, it is those who support this war no matter how monstrous the means by which is fought become.

At 11/18/2004 03:13:39 PM, benway said...

The morality of which I wrote is the one where it's somehow evil and wrong for a person to kill someone who is trying to kill him, or associated with a group who is trying to kill him.

The Marine who shot the Iraqi terrorist had a member of his unit killed by a boobie trapped body the day before the incident. His decision to shoot the terrorist was rational and moral, regardless of how you choose to interpret international law. But what you advocate is that he, like the dog in my example, ignore his rationality and prior experience and sacrifice his own life. Dogs apparently don't know better, but people do, but you would have him go against rationality and human nature, all in the name of international law.

I think you're letting your hatred for Bush poison your rational faculties. ::SNIP::

I find this conversation quite illustrative of how the left and right often fail to communicate. For one, my hatred of Bush, which I readily admit of, come from my rational faculties. It is not, as some would suggest, some vesceral reaction to his swaggering smirky macho cowboy schtick. I'm from Arizona for god-sake, some of the most liberal people I know act exactly like Bush every day. I hate Bush because of what he's doing to this nation, nothing more, nothing less. Hatred for an enemy is perfectly rational. Bush is my enemy, and that of every liberal minded American.

Secondly, Benway suggests that this soldier perceived this unarmed, prone, wounded Iraqi a mortal threat. Because a DEAD body had been booby trapped, this soldier was justified in shooting a LIVE Iraqi whom he said he thought might be playing dead? That is the most insane justification for the use of deadly force I've ever heard. Apparently military officials also find the idea rather a stretch as the soldier's actions are being investigated.

What seems appartent to me is that the Right advocates that there should be no restraint on the conduct of our soliders in the field. Only they are competent to judge the morality of the actions and international standards designed to prevent the worst crimes in the name of war are irrelevant to judging their actions. Much like the torture at Abu Ghraib, the object of the Right's ire is not the actions of the soldiers, but the publicity of those actions. The publication of the photos recieves the brunt of the Right's rage, not the actions depicted. The same is now true of the press in general and Kevin Sites, the journalist who shot the footage in particular. It is not the commission of war crimes that is condemned, it is the exposure of those crimes to the world, and the judging of the crimes by the standards of the international community.

The AntiWar Blog cataloged some of the expressions of outrage on FreeRepublic and LGFs directed at the incident in question. Their outrage is directed at the press, and Kevin Sites in particular, not at the military commanders, or the soldier who killed in such a seemingly unjustified manner, or even at the enemy. It seems important that so much hate is directed at those who work to allow American citizens to see and to judge for themselves the actions being taken in our name. In my mind, the only reason for this ire is that these people feel that our soldiers are not, and should not be, accountable for anything they do. Perhaps they think there can be no immorality in war. Perhaps they feel all things are justified in dealing with an enemy who wishes to kill you, and the judgment of civilians not facing that danger and the heat of combat have no right to judge those who do.

That road leads to hell. Without restraint, without standards by which we judge the actions, even of those in the thickest of combat, our soldiers, who are our brothers and sisters and our fellow citizens, stop being human and become the moral equivalent of animals. Centuries of the worst cruelty and crimes in times of war informs the laws of warfare; they are not quaint relicts of a more innocent age, they are the hard-won wisdom of a far less civilized time.

Maybe this soldier was justified by the totality of the circumstances, or maybe his culpability is mitigated by those circumstances, I don't know. But the reason we must abide the laws of war is to afford our own people the protection of those laws, and to save our soldiers from their worst selves during war. The JAG will resolve this matter, hopefully in accord with the law of war. I'm actually not too worried that some measure of justice will be done. What concerns me is that when political considerations intrude on justice, as they have in the case of prisoner torture at Abu Ghraib and other military prisons, those who are ultimately responsible will not be held to account. What concerns me is that the commanding officers responsible for the assualt of Fallujah may have allowed such killings to become routine and failed to take steps to protect the civilian population of Fallujah. What concerns me is that some substantial portion of our electorate has ceased to be concerned about such matters. Some portion of our population have become so frightened of a small pack of vicious faith-poisoned killers that they have thrown aside all vestiges of civilization and pretense of moral reasoning or moral standards, willfully descending to their enemies' level in order to combat a threat that has grown monstrous in their own minds beyond any relation to reality.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Liberals Like Christ

If you want an example of how Liberals can take the religious road and kick the crap out of the hypocrites of the Right, visit Liberals Like Christ and get your holy rollin'!

Written in a lively and personable style, LLC uses the scripture to illustrate how far from Biblical values the money changers of the Right have become. It is an inspiring read, even if, like myself, you are an athiest or agnostic.

The Huns on the March

Get ready for the fight that will define the Bush Administration at The Social Security Network. Separate fact from falacy with this hard-hitting reality-based website. Get informed today and tell your friends.

Initiative politics

Shooter wrote to me today:

:: Supposedly there is a group trying to put an anti-gay-marraige amendment into the constitution. They are setting up a referendum for '06. I would like for this to fail, but considering the margins by which it has passed elsewhere I think it will almost certainly go through here in Arizona.

To counter this, I think that we should put together a civil unions initiative. Basically, we should have a vote to legalize same-sex civil union (to be defined as all the benefits and responsibilities as usual marraige, but with a different name) at the same time as the vote on outlawing gay marraige.

(1) Do you think this is a good idea?
(2) Is this something that we can do? I don't know much about the legalities and practicalities of voter intiatives.
(3) Do you think that the Arizona voters would approve such a measure?

Thanks for your thoughts. ::

Thanks for the subject of this post, Shooter.

I think that it would be a tragedy if such antediluvian clap-trap were encoded in our Constitution. Unfortunately, I think that it would pass quite handily. I also suspect that putting a civil union measure on the ballot opposite it would be asking for it to be defeated and may even drive turnout of social conservatives even higher.

Few people realize that all incorporated areas of Arizona have reserved to their voters the right to the initiative by the State's Constitution. This means that Pima County or Tucson could have an initiative placed on the ballot, generally by petition of 15% of the electorate of that jurisdiction in the last election. I think that a civil unions initiative would almost certainly pass if the electorate were only the residents of Pima County or Tucson. The relevant issue is what that aim of the law would be. Tucson already has a domestic partner registry, allowing visitation rights in any Tucson hospital and access to any city facilities as if the partner were a spouse. Could the city or county make further inroads that are likely to stand up to legal challenge? Are there measures domestic partners want which the Tucson City Counsil or Pima Board of Supervisors would be loathe to grant? It could be worth investigating.

In either case, statewide initiative or local, the organizational challenges are many. A very large number of registered voters must be canvassed requiring either lots of money for paid canvassers or lots of volunteers and good organization. Beyond that one has the challenge of explaining to voters what the objective of the initiative is, which requires a considerable public information and advertising campaign. One either needs very committed large dollar donors, or a dedicated and large pool of enthusiastic supporters willing to commit considerable time and what money they can to the uncertain cause of passing a law unpopular enough that it cannot be passed by the relevant representative body. It is obviously an uphill battle either way.

Unless the goal is a much more comprehensive domestic partnership law touching upon all the state rights of property inheritance, relationship dissolution, parental rights, and other appurtenances of marriage, that getting activist excited about it would be difficult. Reaching those state rights would likely not be possible with a city ordinance or county regulation, and those which can be granted, such as humanitarian issues like hospital visitation could likely be achieved even in our very conservative legislature with the right approach and sponsorship. Thus I would have to conclude that a statewide initiative would fail, and could possibly be counter-productive to defeating a DOMA-type anti-gay marriage initiative. The sort of local initiative that would be politically feasible seems to me easier to achieve through representative government, and stands a good chance to be simply duplicative of rights same-sex couples already enjoy.

That said, I do however think that there is much merit in the idea of placing one or more reformist/progressive initiatives on the Arizona ballot in 2006. They can play an important role in turning out our base and strongly presenting key issues to the electorate. Electoral integrity reform (paper trails, open source, non-partisan oversight, etc), electoral reform (proportional representation, IRV, election day registration), and economic issues (expanding SCHIP to all AZ children, increasing minimum wage) could all be interesting and useful initiatives to present to voters, and almost certainly none of them would stand a chance in hell of passing the legislature and could galvanize liberal voters.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Urbanism and Democratic Party Reform

It's the Cities, Stupid. When you examine the county by county, precinct by precinct election returns nation-wide, one obvious pattern emerges; the Democratic Party is the party of the cities. Kerry won nearly every urban area above 500K, and half of those between 50K and 500K.

Urban areas contain about 225 million Americans, only 55 million and falling call rural areas home. 85 million live in the bounds of large cities. These demographics are the future of the Democratic party. Pollster/Demographers Ruy Teixeira and John Judis have pointed to the same urbanizing trends (the growth of cities which they term 'post-industrial ideopoli') as the basis for an emerging Democratic majority. Their prediction fell short of their expectations this year (I expected Kerry to win by 300+ to be honest), but the trend-lines are moving the right direction to give Democrats an electoral base as large as 332 electoral votes by 2008.

The editors at The Stranger argue that Democrats should jettison every policy not directly related to building and intensifying that crucial urban base. If doing so alienates some rural voters, so be it. It's a stimulating and useful perspective, considering Democrats will be largely limited to making political progress in municipal and blue state governments for the next few years. As such we will be digging in and taking advantage of the bolt hole against domination of the Federal government by the opposition which the GOP built: Federalism or 'states rights'. Ironically the very Constitutional arguments used to defend Jim Crow and segregation will now be marshalled to defend gay marriage, stem cell research, health care expansion, and state prescription drug reforms.

National politics will be all about denying the GOP what victories we can, digging in our heels, and making ourselves a pain in the ass, not about laying out a positive agenda. The urban areas are where we must hone our agenda and our messages for taking back Congress in 2006. Innovative local politics on issues of national import will drive the agenda of the Democratic party for the next few years. Local activists and politicians will wield more power in the Party than ever in recent memory.

We must continue to mobilize the still passive urban voters who are still not voting despite the GOP having a knife to their throats. Urban areas are by far the most efficient places to mobilize new voters, and the overwhelming majority of those voters are ours. We can easily best the GOP's best mobilization efforts, we just have to keep pushing. Their GOTV efforts will hit diminishing returns long before ours do. Our demographics are superior, we simply need to demonstrate the organization, the ideas, and the will to push home our natural advantages.

A parable of the Iraqi war

The shooting of an unarmed prisoner by a US soldier is a microcosm of the war in Iraq as we are fighting it. In the broadest sense, that wounded prisoner lying unarmed on the floor, prostrate before the Marine, is Iraq. That Marine, no doubt angry at the sight of wounded and murdered comrades, disoriented by the strange culture in which he fights daily to stay alive, and armed to the teeth, is America.

Iraq was prostrate, lacking significant aggressive military ability, just like the prisoner. The prisoner was not in control of his body, as Iraq was not even in control of it's own territory or skies. Iraq was hammered down by years of brutal sanctions, as this prisoner was likely exhausted by trying to stay alive in Fallujah over weeks of daily aerial bombarment. Iraq's defenses largely consisted of bluff and the rumour of WMD which did not exist yet which prompted a deathblow from America, just as the threat implied by whatever motion or sound that this fallen prisoner may have made triggered the killing blow from the Marine was spurious.

The irony, if something this tragic can properly be said to contain irony, is that this Marine will likely stand accused before the world and be judged for any crime he may have committed. Those responsible for the greater crime of delivering a coup de grace to Iraq and all of it's people will likely never face any sort of reckoning, if the recent election is any indication of the moral state of the American people. Apparenltly, we can summon the moral courage to condemn gay marriage, but not a criminal war and brutal occupation that has claimed the lives of 100K of our fellow human beings, and the lives and health of thousands of our children, spouses, and siblings.

Have we come to a point where we are unable to concieve of and punish crimes larger than the actions of just one person? Have was lost the ability to assign blame to individuals for their parts in the actions of a collective evil? Did we ever have such an ability? Do we even have a moral vocabulary which describes the roles and assigns the blame for actions that may have been taken in good faith, but which result in monstrous evil? Is it all just a terrible unintended consequence with no one to blame, nothing to punish? These aren't rhetorical questions. I honestly don't know.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Recounts and Conspiracies

I can't call this election over. With the Green and Libertarian recounts in Ohio and New Hamshire looking likely to occur, counting still taking place in half a dozen close states such as Nevada and New Mexico, and very pronounced
statistical oddities pointing to systemic voter fraud in Ohio and Florida, this election will be rising back into the news like a Phoenix in the coming weeks.

Perhaps Bush is trying to establish an air of inevitability with all the early cabinet shuffling in the Administration, but if things break right his rearranging of the furniture isn't going to matter much. I don't give it good odds that the election will ultimately favor Kerry, but they aren't as long as most would suspect, either.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Democracy in the Balance

Damn, Bill Moyers can write. A needed jolt of inspiration in this season of bitter political winds.

Colorado May Be Blueprint for Democrats

The victory in CO of both Salazar brothers in the Senate and House, paired with Democrats retaking both State houses for the first time since 1960 shows the power of pairing progressive politics with a hearthfelt articulation of religious and ethical values. Both Salazar brothers opposed the hot-button issues of the religious right - they support abortion rights and oppose constitutional amendments to restrict marriage to heteros - and yet they spoke to values voters about their Catholic backgrounds and values. They connected with the populist leanings of evangelical and other 'values voters' without compromising their political convictions. The result is their surprising victories and the long coat-tails they demonstrated down-ticket in CO.

The Salazar brothers in many ways mirror Kerry's views and religious heritage, but they won their races. The difference is at least in part the opponents they faced, a neo-phyte tycoon and lobbyist, neither an incumbent, but maybe some portion of their margin can be attributed to their talking frequently and openly about their background and faith. If Kerry had done so more often, and more sincerely, perhaps he would have fared a little better with 'values voters' in close swing states - perhaps well enough to have claimed the POTUS.

'Values voters' may be the most overplayed story of the post-election news cycle, but it does have a few instructive nuggets embedded in the vast quantity of absolute bullshit being cranked out on the subject: the need for Democrats to embrace an ethical dialectic and not to shy away from speaking about religion sincerely is one such nugget.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Gonzales: Unsafe at any post

The expected nomination of Bush's Counsel to the Presdient Alberto Gonzales to be the next Attorney General is fraught with problems from both sides of the aisle. Undoubtedly, Bush has chosen Gonzales to replace Ashcroft for one very good reason: Bush thinks he can trust Gonzales as an ally to stave off and bog down any investigations of the Administration or its allies at the Justice Department. Bush knows that many scandals loom over his second term and Gonzales has proven his willingness over and over to compromise his professional and intellectual integrity for his patron's benefit.

Gonxales has a long history of questionable ethics and offering marginally colorable legal interpretations to serve his employer. Gonzales is implicated in the decisions which led directly to the torture of prisoners in American military prisons. His recommendation that the U.S. ignore the Geneva Conventions were proffered even while admitting that his advice could undermine military culture and compromise the legal status of American soldiers in the field. Gonzales earlier wrote opinions holding that Texas was not a party to the Vienna Convention to facilitate the execution of a Mexican national while Governor's Counsel in Texas. His contempt for international law seems manifest.

Further, Gonzales has a track record of questionable judgement, competency, and ethics. He failed to provide Bush, while Governor of Texas, with 57 allegedly deficient summaries on death penalty clemency requests, including that of an mentally retarded convict. He was partner in a firm which was counsel to Enron, which was also Gonzales' largest campaign donor while on the Texas State Supreme Court - a position from which Gonzales wrote a decision which handed a major legal victory to the Texas energy sector that directly benefitted Enron; part of a pattern by Gonzales of accepting ethically questionable donations. Gonzales is also a major proponent of a secretive and unaccountable Executive branch, helping to withold information on the Energy Task Force and memos written by Bush DC Circuit nominee Manuel Estrada from Congress under a widely discredited theory of Executive Privilege. Finally, during the Presidential campaign Gonzales campaigned for Bush actively, holding himself out as a 'Judge' Gonzales, though he has retired from the Texas bench. This use of of the judicial honorific in connection with an endorsement of a candidate for office is a violation of Texas judicial ethics.

While any candidate with this many questionable episodes in his past would almost certainly be considered a marginal nominee to a post as eminent as Attorney General, there will be ironic charges of racism and anti-Catholicism cascading out of the GOP when it is time to confirm Gonzales' nomination. To the contrary, the most insidious racism is indeed the 'soft bigotry of lowered expectations' with which Bush so often castigates affirmative action. Such 'lowered expectations' will almost certainly be in effect for the vote on Gonzales' nomination. We saw the same hypocrisy be successful in he campaign to confirm the nomination of Manuel Estrada, despite the recommendation of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus that Estrada not be confirmed. We will surely see the tactic used again. Not only is Gonzales ethically unsuited to be AG, his nomination is nothing but an attempt by Bush to install a political crony into the AG's office to protect his second term from scandal. He should not be confirmed.

Suprisingly, Bush may catch flack from the Right for Gonzales' nomination, especially if it is a Rovian prelude to an attempted appointment of Gonzales to the Supreme Court. Gonzales is not clearly an ideological zealot on the issue of abortion. Many on the Right would see his substitution for the ailing Rehnquist as a step backwards, swinging the court to the Left on abortion. More likely, Gonzales will cool his heels at AG until a more centrist Justice retires. Yet another example of the Right's hypocrisy - claiming outrage at activist judges, yet refusing to appoint any justices to the high court unless they are the 'Right' sort of activists.

Red, Purple and Blue

Some pallatives for the enclave madness sweeping Democratic voters. The standard red-blue map makes it appear that Dems are an endangered speices with a shrinking range. Not so. Reality is not nearly so stark. A population-weighted, county-by-county, more finely scaled percentage of the vote map illustrates the real geography of political life in America.

Thatrical Micromilitarism: The Fallujah Dialogs

James Wolcott offers some piquant observations about the nature and limits of American military power revealed by the assualt on Fallujah. What we are seeing is not a military operation, but a diplomatic message paired with domestic political posturing in the form of armed Kabuki theatre. Unfortunately, the extras are all killed by the end of the show, and several of the actors are sacrificed for the performance.

Fallujah will not result in tangible military gains, nor any proress toward the 'democratization' of Iraq, nor the 'Iraqification' of the conflict. In fact, just the opposite is likely as all of Iraq seethes with anger over the ham-fisted assault. What we are seeing is a phase of the war morally and strategically equivalent to the high-altitude bombing campaigns, free fire zones and body counts of Vietnam: combat operations cut to fit a political agenda instead of an attainable military objective. If you needed proof that Iraq has become a complete cluster-fuck, you now have it.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Beware the Values Voter

John Nichols of The Nation warns us to not swallow the snake with the snake oil on the matter of "moral values". He points out that we can compete for the religious vote, but unless we accept the viewpoints that hold Jim Crow to be an acceptable social arangement, we will never win Alabama. Every state of the Confederacy which fought to preserve slavery voted for Bush. We have to consider sharpening our game to capture the Presidency and Congress without the South, as Kerry had hoped to do, and very nearly did.

We certainly came close to unseating an incumbent President in war time, despite the now widely touted 'values gap'. Consider that among those citing jobs, the economy, or Iraq as their top concerns, Kerry won by margins of 3 to 4 to 1. Figures like that illustrate the brittleness of the GOP coalition. They have a single leg to stand on, undermine that foundation, and the they will fall.

So must we sharpen our language and rhetoric concerning values and morals? Absolutely. Should we modify or downplay some the positions on which Right Wingers are apparently scoring points from, such as gay marriage and unions, abortion, and stem cell research? No. We have to make our moral and ethical issues framing them more compelling. We should not, and cannot retreat on civil and human rights to accomodate backwards looking religious dogma in a vain attempt to win elections by become a pale immitation of the Theopublicans.

Rather we need to make our ecomonic security agenda more compelling on an ethical level, rather than a laundry list of programs and plans. We need to compete strongly and uncompromisingly for the moral high-ground on those issues on which the GOP is running on and winning. We Democrats tend to approach these hot-button wedge issues with trepidation and appeals aimed mainly at civil rights arguements, when we don't simply try to avoid the issue. We need to take them on as moral and religious issues, and win that arguement. We can and we must engage in that dialog. If we do, then we can pull some of those 'Values Voters' back into the Democratic column.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Dean Speaking to 2008 Election

The Dartmouth Online features Dean's comments on how the future of the Democratic party is tied to expanding the Democratic base - including Evangelical Christians.

I personally feel there is lots of room to bring religious people more firmly into the Democratic coalition, I agree that the fundamental values of the Democratic party are strongly informed by the best of Christian values, but I have serious doubts that we can split away those who feel their religious convictions about personal sexual morals and the sanctity of life are their primary issues.

More likely is that Evanglicals who vote on God, gays, guns, and gamettes (or as my wife derisively puts it, faith, fagots, firearms, and foetuses) will retreat again from political life as they realize that even at this highwater mark of the theocratic GOP, they aren't going to get much of what they want most.

Democrats in seeking the votes of Christians, and seeking to energize a religious electorate must focus not on personal, and I would argue private, moral issues, but on issues of public morality which inform how we actually govern; corruption, conflict of interest, use of public power for private advantage, a moral restraint on the conduct and initiation of warfare, the immorality of development of new nuclear weapons technology, this nation's highly iniquitous distribution of wealth, the basic services necessary for a human to live with a minimum measure of dignity thoughout a lifetime, the sanctity of all life AFTER birth, the issues of injustice surrounding our penal system and the ruinous war on drugs, and taking the initiative in advancing the moral conversation between well-intentioned Christians and Muslims about radical fundamentalism and intolerance on BOTH sides and how to avoid the tragic escalation of this "clash of civilizations" which some want the "war on terror" to become. These are the sort of moral values we need to open a conversation about, and the sort of conversation in which we will be more persausive.

At the same time, we need to draw the sting of the the GOP's use of wedge issues by working to withdraw many of theses issues of fundamentally private sexual and reproductive questions from the public sector. I have never has a problem with religion and morality having a place at the table in the Democratic party, I only despise the agenda, and most especially the politicians, which have exploited religious belief over the last 20 years. Democrats must demostrate that we can hold the moral high-ground without lording it over others, or crowding out the values of liberalism and secular government which form our civic religion.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Post Election Blues

Some surely have noted that I have not posted for some days now. The main reason for this is that I am in mourning for the nation's future. I didn't want to post the verbal equivalent of an outraged and disappointed scream. Until I have something useful and interesting to say, I've decided to say nothing.

The one thing that I think useful to say is that we Democrats aren't wrong. Our ideals aren't out of date. Our values aren't out of touch. 59 million Americans were wrong, for a number of more or less defensible reasons, to vote for the worst President since Grant - maybe ever. We should not feel, as we are already being encouraged to feel by the DLC and their ilk, that we should chase the Republicans into the burning building of nationalist jingoism, racial discrimination, theocratic authoritarianism, and fascist agression.

This election is not signal for our party to tack right; it is an alarm that the America people have lost contact with the values of liberalism upon which this nation was built. This election calls us to continue to affirm those values in our public lives, and unscores the need to carry on with the task of articulating those values to the voting public. We will not save the party by abandoning our values. Doing so, we may possibly win the battle, but lose the very reason we fight.

I will continue to write here for those who have come to look forward to what I may say, or are interested by the material I decide to point out. For some time my posting will less frequent as work and family life, long neglected, take back their rightful place. But I suspect it would be impossible to shut up and stop writing, even if the world stops listening.

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