Archive for the ‘Democrats’ category

So last century …

February 24, 2008

Oops, Nader wants to do it again

Today on Meet the Press, looking gaunt and showing every one of his 73 years, Ralph Nader told Tim Russert that he was going to run for president yet again.  His reason, the two “business parties” (translation:  Republicans and Democrats) should not “own” the voters and he would offer a “choice.”

Eight years after he proclaimed that there was “no difference” between Gore and Bush, he still will not admit that he has been proved wrong about that.  Eight years later after he helped tip the election to GWB, the country faces economic collapse, there is neverending war in Iraq and Afghanistan and ordinary Americans face job insecurity, rising prices on gas and groceries, and a shredded safety net.  But Nader won’t admit that things would have been different under a Gore administration. (more…)

Empowerment …

February 17, 2008

By now the  pair YouTube videos in support of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton respectively have  been viewed by  3.8 million (Yes we can) and hundreds of thousands at least (Hillary4U&Me).  As the saying goes, they have “gone viral.”

The “Yes we can” effort came first.  View it at:

And now we have “Hillary4U&Me” by a Clinton supporter.

There has been some derisive commentary about the amateurish quality of the Hillary video, especially in comparison with the professional slickness that is the hallmark of the  “yes we can ” piece.

However I think it might be  more telling to look beyond a comparison of the production values and  use them as a prism to learn something about the fundamental dynamics of the two campaigns. (more…)

Countdown to Iowa (or why the polls are wrong)

December 29, 2007

Most of what has been written about the upcoming Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses is probably wrong. Polls have been done that purport to “prove” what caucus-goers will do. But a look back at 2004 is instructive since the conventional wisdom predictions then were totally off-base.

I came across a Newsweek analysis of the Democratic field that came out a week before the 2004 Iowa caucuses. Boy, did they get it wrong! Let’s take a trip down Memory Lane and see what they said then — and what actually happened. (more…)

A form of murder?

November 24, 2007

I want to thank blogger Gayla McCord for drawing my attention to an article in the LA Times about the health care proposals of the leading GOP presidential candidates. To tell the truth I wasn’t aware any Republican even had a plan since the subject never seems to come up in the GOP debates and it is not prominently posted on their campaign websites. But it seems that I was wrong — they really do have some kind of a health care proposal. But the problem is simple — the plans are lousy market-based proposals and would not cover the life-saving cancer treatment that these guys received that enabled them be survive to run for President right now.

The LA Times looked at research on the proposed healthcare plans of Fred Thompson, a lymphoma survivor, Rudy Giuliani, who battled prostate cancer, and John McCain, who beat melanoma. None of these guys would be guaranteed coverage by their own plans.

So the health care that these guys are propose for the rest of us is NOT of the same quality that they themselves received. These guys receive premium government-run coverage with taxpayers picking up the tab. But its OK by these GOP candidates for ordinary Americans to be at the mercy of the big private insurance companies — the kind that reward employees for canceling coverage on seriously ill patients. In other words they can’t get canceled but ordinary Americans with the same life-threatening conditions (lymphoma, prostate cancer, melanoma) can lose their coverage while they are undergoing treatment and battling for survival. [For more information about the cancellation policies of big insurance companies, read my earlier post “Another Chapter for Michael Moore’s Sicko”] (more…)

Playing the gender card

November 4, 2007

Hillary Clinton has built her campaign on the premise that she is tough-as-nails and can go toe to toe with all comers, whether they be foreign heads of state, other candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, or right-wing political hacks.

One image that comes to mind with this assertion is a kind of roller derby with elbows flying and no holds barred.

Or maybe not so much.

During this week’s Democratic presidential debate, Hillary was targeted by her opponents with some criticism of her votes and her views. At one point John Edwards commented that he had heard Hillary say two contradictory things within the space of two minutes — a legitimate point to be pounced on by an adroit opposing candidate. Other candidates lobbed verbal attacks which appeared to be normal political discourse to those watching the interchanges.

But the next day, Hillary hid behind a metaphorical skirt, albeit her own. Hillary’s campaign staffers let everyone know that they felt that the debate was simply a case of all the boys piling on a girl. They pulled the gender card and called “foul”. It was not “nice” for all those boys to pick on the only girl.

This is playground stuff. It contradicts the image that Hillary has so carefully projected of a strong, competent leader who happens to be a woman. She always appears at these debates wearing a tailored pantsuit, never a skirt. Her concession to femininity in her attire is the choice of fabric and color, not the cut of her clothes.

My feminist core is outraged by Hillary’s campaign playing the gender card.

She can’t have it both ways. Either she is a strong, tough professional — or she is not.

Hiding behind a skirt is not an option if she wants to be sit behind the desk in the Oval Office.

Stark raving

October 21, 2007

There was in interesting discussion over at Firedoglake about Pelosi’s public rebuke of Pete Stark for his intemperate language during the SCHIP debate. Jane Hamsher, Digby and Scarecrow weigh in with their opinions laying out the situation as follows:

Scarecrow v. Jane v. Digby: A Debate on Pete Stark & Nancy Pelosi debate was triggered by Nancy Pelosi’s public rebuke of Pete Stark, and the rumor that Republicans will move on Monday to condemn Stark’s remarks in the House — jh)

JANE: Jesus Christ. What is wrong with her? She keeps doing stupid things like this and these McCarthy-ite resolutions will never end.

SCARECROW: Here are two scenarios:

1. During the debates over SCHIP, a member claims that the President enjoys blowing up US soldiers for the fun of it.

2. During the debates over SCHIP, no member makes any such claim but sticks to the merits of SCHIP.

I don’t have any problem saying I wish we were dealing with Scenario 2.

If you are the leadership, and you realize that under scenario 1, the member has just handed the Republicans a convenient distraction and a way to beat up on the image of your party, what should you do?

0. Commend the member for getting off a good one, because the other side is a bunch of jerks.

1. Ignore this.

2. Distance yourself/Party from the member’s remarks

3. Other?

In my opinion the discussion uses the wrong frame when analyzing Pelosi’s options. Instead of buying into the Republican frame that assumes that the Speaker is/was responsible for every word uttered by a member of her caucus and should be ready to leap to apologize if some Republican claimed to be offended by something said by a Democratic member of Congress, the Speaker should have taken a page from the Republican playbook. Pelosi should have re-framed the issue and done a adroit pivot to return the discussion to the urgent need for passage of the SCHIP bill and her intention to focus on that goal.

Here is the statement that Pelosi should have issued:

“I have known Pete Stark for a long time. He sometimes uses heated language in debate, particularly when talking something he cares deeply about, like the SCHIP bill. Members on both sides of the aisle sometimes use strong rhetoric in discussing issues on the floor of the House. We must remember that the important issue here is the passage of this crucial bill which is supported by a majority of the U.S. Congress and also a majority of the American people. The SCHIP is a bill which enjoys broad bi-partisan support in both houses of Congress. The SCHIP program has been successful in providing health insurance coverage to children in every state in the Union ever since it was first passed during the Clinton administration with the cooperation of a Republican-led Congress. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join me in finding a way to pass this vital bill with sufficient margin to override the President’s veto. ”

UPDATE:  In an unscientific CNN poll 88% said Stark did not need to apologize.  The consensus of the public at large seems to be contrary to Pelosi’s namby-pamby apologetic disavowal of Rep. Stark’s heated remarks on the House floor.

CNN is reporting that 88% of those voting in their Friday morning online poll say there is no reason Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) should apologize for remarks blasting President Bush on the floor of the House of Representatives.

In the course of debate on expanding SCHIP funding, Stark told Congressional Republicans (video, story), “You don’t have money to fund the war or children. But you’re going to spend it to blow up innocent people, if we could get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their head’s blow off for the president’s amusement.”

House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner quickly issued a statement demanding a retraction and apology, in which he said, “Our troops in Iraq are fighting against al-Qaeda and other radical jihadists hellbent on killing the people we are sent here to represent. Congressman Stark’s statement dishonors not only the Commander-in-Chief, but the thousands of courageous men and women of America’s armed forces who believe in their mission and are putting their lives on the line for our freedom and security.”

There has predictably been support for Stark on the left, along with endorsements of Boehner’s outrage on the right. A thread at the liberal Democratic Underground site asked members to “DU this CNN poll!” but also expressed amusement that the sentiment in favor of Stark was already running at 87% to 13%. One commenter suggested that “the poll has been Freeped, it was 89% before, now it’s 87%,” to which another replied “amazing what consitutes freeping these daze.”

“Freeping” is a reference to the practice initiated at the conservative Free Republic message board some years ago of sending members to overwhelm online polls with indications of support for right-wing policies and politicians. Liberal sites like Democratic Underground and Daily Kos then began countering this strategy with similar exhortations of their own.

The lopsided result of the CNN poll is striking, especially since the mainstream consensus seems to be that even if Stark was just shooting his mouth off, as he has many times in the past, he may have crossed a line of bad taste in suggesting that the president actively enjoys seeing American soldiers’ heads blown off.

For example, when Keith Olbermann indicated on his program that he felt there was “something refreshing about his at least refusal to back down,” guest Jonathan Alter responded that Stark’s comments were “silly and counterproductive, and the best thing for him to do would be to apologize and move on.”

MSNBC’s “First Read” blog eneumerated Stark’s history of inflammatory remarks: “On another occasion he publicly questioned the provenance of J.C. Watts’ offspring, comments that so enraged the former Oklahoma quarterback that he angrily marched up to Stark on the House floor and had to be restrained from beating the living daylights out of the 70-something liberal. Also, during a gun control debate some years back, Stark suggested that opponents of gun control were phallically challenged. And not too long ago, he called a GOP opponent on the Ways and Means committee a ‘fruitcake’ during committee proceedings.”

Spine and FISA

October 21, 2007

There is a lot of talk these days about Dems in Congress lacking backbone. But I’ve recently come across several examples of several who are demonstrating vertebrate behavior vis-a-vis the Bush administration.

First, there is my own Senator Ron Wyden. Despite the horrible cave-in of the Dem leadership on important issues concerning the so-called “compromise” on FISA. the senior Senator from Oregon managed to insert an amendment into the FISA bill that would protect the rights of Americans traveling or living abroad. He makes the legitimate point that our privacy rights do not stop at our shores but are carried with us wherever we go.

Wyden is a member of the Senate Intelligence committee and his word should carry weight with is colleagues. The handwringing “leaders” are warning that this provision will cause the entire bill to be vetoed. I say, so what? Without such protections of citizen’s rights overseas (and perhaps without giving a free pass to the telecoms) the bill may be a toothless wonder anyway. You can find more about Wyden’s smooth moves on FISA at blueoregon. It is interesting to note that there is another Senator joining Wyden in his dissent — Russ Feingold, the independent-minded former presidential candidate from Wisconsin.

Wyden: You keep your rights when you go overseas

From his perch on the Intelligence Committee, Senator Ron Wyden continues to press the Bush Administration on warrantless wiretapping – even though the majority Democrats have been pushing for a “compromise” reform bill. (more…)