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Thursday, November 30, 2006

DC pundits vs. the American People

Once in awhile, Josh Marshall just hits the nail on the head with impunity. This piece is one of those moments:

It really does seem as though the cardinals of DC punditry are constitutionally incapable of believing that George W. Bush has ever -- in the real sense -- gotten anything wrong or that they, the Washington establishment, has gotten anything wrong over the last six years.

I don't like to use such words but I can only think to call the denial and buck-passing sickening. I can't think of another word that captures the gut reaction.

Sickening, that's a strong word coming from Josh who is not known for peddling easy outrage. Is it merited? Take a look at this passage Marshall quotes from a recent Roll Call piece by beltway "cardinal" Mort Kondracke:

President Bush bet his presidency — and America’s world leadership — on the war in Iraq. Tragically, it looks as though he bit off more than the American people were willing to chew.

The U.S. is failing in Iraq. Bush’s policy was repudiated by the American people in the last election. And now America’s enemies and rivals are pressing their advantage...

Sickening is not a word I would use for that passage however apt. Chilling is more like it.

There's something sinister going on here. President Bush has never had a problem claiming a mandate from any previous election, no matter how narrow his or his party's victory. 2006, however, was not like 2000, 2002 or 2004. The 2006 election was clear cut.

Now it seems the DC pundit class is joining this president in casually repudiating the will of the American electorate when it doesn't suit them. Lacking any "mandate" for staying the course in Iraq, these pundits now join the president in blaming the American voters for demanding a change of course in 2006. According to Kondracke, it's not just Democrats who are "emboldening terrorists" anymore...it's the American voters themselves.

Something stinks here. The solution, however, is simple: a dose of outside the beltway common sense.

The American public made two clear demands with this election.

a) the voters called for a change of leadership in Washington
b) the voters called for a change of course in Iraq

If the DC pundit class wants to side with the President in turning a deaf ear to these two clarion calls, they can make their bed and join the president. In doing so, however, they will be rejecting the clearest mandate in American politics in over a decade.

The 110th Congress will rightly have a different perogative. The Constitution and the the will of the American voters gives this Congress the power and obligation to follow the dual mandate of 2006 election: a change of course in Iraq and a change of leadership in Washington.

From anywhere but the most oblivious desks in DC it's clear that "Beltway Pundits + Bush" versus "Congress + the American Voters" is a battle that one side is destined to lose.

Big time.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Pelosi's 100 Hours

I want to confess that I'm left scratching my (very bald) head about Democratic public relations post-election, especially headed into the all-important Turkey Day political love-fest that we call Thanksgiving Dinner Discussion with our relatives.

As far as I can tell there is one thing that everyone in the country is aware of regarding what our new Democratic majority is going to do in what promises to be an action-packed January. That one thing is Speaker-elect Pelosi's program for the first 100 Hours of a Democratic-controlled House. Why aren't more people talking about the specifics of this? If the GOP had a 100 Hours program they'd be selling it like it was going out of style.

Heck, we in the netroots should be able to run down the list of that Democratic program as if it were the menu for Thursday's Thanksgiving dinner.

I'd like to offer a brief break-down of this 100 Hour Plan (w/ links) and speculate on how we in the netroots fit in to Democratic strategy a bit...

Let's take a look at Speaker-elect Pelosi's plan:

The Democratic One Hundred Hour Plan

1. Cleaning up Congress

a). Breaking the link between lobbyists and legislation
b). Commiting to Pay as You Go
c). No new Deficit Spending

2. Making our Nation Safer

a). Implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 commission

3. Making our Economy Fairer

a). Raising the Federal Minimum Wage
b). No new pay raises for Congress without a raise in the minimum wage

4. Making health care more affordable

a). Fixing the Medicare Prescription Drug Program by Negotiating Lower Prices
b). Promote Stem Cell Research

5. Broaden College Opportunity

a). Cut interest rates for student loans by half

6. Energize America for Energy Independence

a). Roll back subsidies for big oil companies

7. Guarantee a Dignified Retirement

a). Fight the attempt to privatize Social Security

That's seven planks with 10 action items. Step one for the "Democratic netroots framing brigades" should be to learn this list, critique it, and practice selling the hell out of it. Hell, we've been talking about framing the debate for years now. Here's some policy...we're all heading into the critical Turkey Day political melt down...let's do some work on Pay as You Go and Minimum Wage, let's move the ball on Lobbying Reform and Stem Cell Research. Let's examine what the specifics of the Oil Industry Subsidy roll backs will be.

I wrote a post-election diary on MyDD called Crafting the 60 percent position. The point of that essay was that we Democrats and our newly-minted majorities need to get focused on taking action and delivering the goods for this country on policy. Outrage and opposition won't cut it anymore. It's time to craft and win with majority positions. Let me be frank, I think we liberals and progressives have a lot to learn in this department. FDR knew how to craft majority positions, we should too.

Now, there are naturally debates within the Democratic Party and the netroots about strategy going forward. I've got some thoughts on that that I'll share below. But, before I dive into that I'd like to make this simple point. Everybody in the country knows that Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic Party have a 100 hours program. Shouldn't we all get behind it and talk about it a bit?

The netroots and Pelosi's 100 Hours

The exact wording of these bills are still open for debate and amendment. Let's get involved. If we in the netroots are going to be more than ACTBlue ATMs for campaigns, we've got to have a hand in shaping and impacting policy.

Here are two netroots-related programs we should push for inclusion as part of, or in addition to, the 100 Hours push.

1. The netroots should advance the effort to have legislation available to the public ahead of time enunciated at ReadtheBill.org. Imo, folks should contact Speaker-elect Pelosi and push for this great idea.

2. The netroots should insist that some aspect of net neutrality be a part or follow fast upon the 100 hours. We helped in the victory. There should be a netroots specific action as a part of or soon following the 100 hours.

Second, I want to address oversight and impeachment. We've had some cart and horse debates about impeachment here in the progressive netroots. I think most of us have come to a point where we all can respect that some folks have differing views. For myself, I am for oversight and investigation, period, end of sentence. I think advancing impeachment as a part of that now is a mistake. Coming out of those debates, however, I have one suggestion I'd like to make to those who think our highest priority in 2007 should be oversight and impeachment: focus on the Unitary Executive.

The Unitary Executive theory is the lynchpin of the Bush/Cheney defense of the legality of their actions, and is at the heart of their power grab in the balance of powers. With the Democrats controlling Congress, the Unitary Executive is now an active issue. We will see this debate play out in 2007 over and over again. What will signing statements mean? Is there a way to combat them? How will the executive branch respond to Congressional subpeonas and investigations? How will the Bush Administration respond to Congressional legislation on torture and rendition? My advice to the broad swath of the netroots that has focused on impeachement over the last years and months is this: focus on the Unitary Executive debate. That is where the action is and, I think, the best and most effective focus for anyone concerned with holding this administration accountable.

Finally, I'd like to address Iraq and the 100 Hours.

We all agree that this election was a referendum on Bush policy in Iraq. To say that the 100 hours does not address Iraq or military policy is both stating the obvious and no small thing. This is an issue. Let's talk about that.

In conversations with friends and dicussions online, I've found myself perplexed by a conundrum: American voters re-elected Bush in 2004 and gave the Democrats control of Congress in 2006. Given that, most folks I talk to over-estimate what Congress can do to change American policy in Iraq. The conundrum is this. The one zone that we all agree the 2006 elections were about is the one zone where the executive branch still maintains a very large degree of autonomy and control: foreign policy.

I have three ideas in this regard:

1. The voters wanted to put a check on the Bush Administration. Let's give it to them.

This will sound counter-intuitive, but I'll make the argument anyway. We need to build the votes to override a Bush veto on Stem Cells in order to visibly show the country that this Congress is serious about providing a check to the power of the Bush Administration. Beating a Bush veto on Stem Cells would send a strong message about Bush's ability to override the will of Congress, and the American people. That will impact how folks view Bush's mandate on Iraq. In effect, Congressional Democrats should use the Stem Cell veto battle to prime the pump for passage of a new Iraq war resolution expressing the will of Congress.

Any new resolution Democrats make regarding Iraq will only be taken seriously within a clear cut redefinition of Congressional power versus the Executive Branch. We should use Stem Cells to define that balance of power and then pass a resolution on Iraq.

2. Use the Purple Finger

Bush has talked ad nauseum about bringing Democracy to Iraq. It's time for the Democratic Party to use the power of the purple finger to implement a phased-withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

We need to craft a withdrawal plan that incorporates a vote by, and hence the implied cooperation of, the Iraqi people on that withdrawal. We should send a Congressional delegation to Iraq to coordinate with the Iraqi government so that this can be implemented. Whatever resolution we endorse should have a "purple finger" moment written into it. Congress must advance a plan that can be sealed with a "purple finger" vote in Iraq.

3. Focus on our Troops

The Hundred Hour Plan does not have a focus on our troops. It should. This is the one aspect that I think we should demand that Pelosi add to the 100 hours.

We in the netroots should make clear to Speaker-elect Pelosi that the 100 Hour Plan, while it cannot come up with an "instant solution" in Iraq, should send a clear message of support and reform to every last American in uniform.

Whether it's body armor legislation, or reforming veteran's health benefits, or holding oversight hearings on how our National Guard and Reserves have been stretched to the limit, I would propose incorporating one defining moment to the first one hundred hours of the Democratic Congress: we should have a moment where we listen directly to our troops.

The first voices, the first feedback that the Democratic Congress should take in should be the feedback of veterans from Iraq. Perhaps this could be our first order of business at the 100 hour mark. We should give rank and file veterans center stage. We should make it clear that we are listening to them. I think that would send the strongest message to this nation about what the Democratic Party's priorities are. The troops should be a front and center part of the 100 hours.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

a beautiful day

A crystal clear autumn sun rose over Northern California today. What a beautiful day!

Take it to heart, savor it.

We defeated Congressman Richard Pombo. So many of you played a part in that. It is our shared victory.

Nationally, we Democrats have taken the House. We have won the United States Senate. We have taken the majority of Governorships. We have won victories in so many State Houses.

Savor that. Don't let anyone tell you or spin you otherwise. The national election of November 2006 was a repudiation of Republican governance. George and Laura Bush could not rescue candidates. They lost in district after disctict, and state after state. Their Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, has resigned in utter and shameful disgrace.

That says something.

I have a message to all those who worked so hard on GOTV and covering all these campaigns: thank you. This victory is for you and by you. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Whether it's the folks who propelled Carol Shea-Porter and Paul Hodes to victory in New Hampshire or the Democrats who stood firm to defeat Ann Northup in Kentucky...or the legions of activists who came out to defeat Richard Pombo in Northern California or unseat George Allen in Virginia...or any of the myriad races around the nation:

We have done something lasting and good.

What we have accomplished is not simply an electoral victory, though the magnitude and signficance of that victory cannot be understated...what we've accomplished is a change in ourselves: we have won this victory together. We have learned how, in race after race, in precinct after precinct, win or lose...how to stand firm and fight side by side, we learned the nuts and bolts of GOTV, we have learned the extra hustle that spells victory on election day.

We fought to win, and we won.

The sun shines bright on Northern California today. It is a beautiful day.

Take this election to heart. It is the beginning of something. There so much here to be savored...and to learn from going forward.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

some reasons for confidence

One year ago, in the fall of 2005, I was locked down in the process of ghost-writing a grant proposal to fund an effort to empower blogs to help Democrats take back the House of Representatives.

My first task in writing that proposal was to convince people a Democratic take-back of the House was even remotely possible.

Things have changed.

None of us will know the reults of the 2006 mid-term elections till...well..later tonight.  But here's a couple reasons I'm confident and here's some of the exit poll data I'll be looking out for...

Reasons for Confidence:

1. I think history will look back and see the election of Democrat Tim Kaine in Virginia in 2005 as a turning point in United States politics.  

The GOP put everything they had into that race and lost. The President's effort did not produce a victory in a red state.  That election, admittedly for a governorship, proved that the Democratic domestic agenda had real appeal in a state like Virginia.  Kaine was a good, but not great candidate, his victory was telling us that Democrats could win in the post-2004, post-9/11 environment.

2. There are a number of key races where we should be more vulnerable than we are, and there are also races that we are surprisingly competitive.

The Washington and Minnesota Senate races are surprisingly uncompetitive. Both Republican opponents could easily have mounted better campaigns. However, given that, the GOP is simply not threatening the Democrats in two states where two, four or six years ago, they likely would have done so.

That is a reason for confidence tonight. Our surpising competitiveness, however, is an even greater reason.

There are races like CA-11, which I've seen first hand, and CA-04, which I've seen from a distance, where the GOP was re-districted into a safe seat in 2000...and despite that fact, the GOP is facing honest-to-goodness challenges from Democratic insurgents.  These races should be GOP cake walks.

The fact that the nation will have to tune in tonight to see if Jerry McNerney defeats Richard Pombo says something enormous, imo, about the state of domestic politics in the US.

3. Murtha, the War and "Cut and Run"

Americans want a change of course in Iraq. I think history will see the "smack down" that greeted Representative Murtha as the central GOP mistake of the 2006 elections.

The GOP Congress failed to understand that Americans wanted a change of course in Iraq. The proper strategic response to Murtha would have been legislation that agreed with or co-opted Murtha's message.

Instead the GOP Congress vilified Murtha.  That sent a clear message to the nation.  Whatever one thinks about the Democrats vs. the GOP on national defense and security issues, at the end of the "Murtha moment" it was clear that there was only one party interested in offering a change of course and an exit strategy in Iraq.  Imo, the GOP will lose Senate and House seats on that moment alone.

Those are my three reasons for confidence.  Here's the three exit poll factors I'm looking for:

1. How do Catholics vote?

Studying the GOP weak "band" that stretches from NH, upstate NY, into PA and OH and Indiana makes me wonder if the GOP has begun to lose some Catholic voters in that region who had "held on" to the GOP over social issues. I will be watching the Catholic vote.

2. How do Latinos vote?

From what I saw doing GOTV in California, the GOP assault on immigration policy may have created a backlash among Latino voters. (Not enough to change the tide of the CA Governor's race...I don't think.) I am very interested in how Latinos vote and how strongly they identify with one party or the other.  The GOP may have created a critical weakness in the West and Mountain West by indulging immigration rhetoric that put off millions of Latinos and came off as simply xenophobic and anti-immigrant.

That issue may be the stealth issue that costs Richard Pombo his seat in Congress. (JD Hayworth too?)

3. Finally, I'm very interested in how Parents with Children vote.

The Democrats lost this demographic cruelly in 2004.  An even modest return to split household voting could have enormous impact on races around the country.

Families with children are the one demographic who interact with out political system at pretty much every level (schools, health care, senior policy, home ownership, taxation etc. etc.)  If families move, even slightly, back to being receptive to Democratic domestic policy iniatives, we are looking for a whole new playing field for the 2008 Presidential election.

I have no predictions to make.  But I am confident that signficant changes are happening within the American electorate.

I look forward with hope and interest to the returns tonight.  There's alot here to examine and learn from.

CT GOP: vote for us and we'll stop Robo Calls

This is a new twist in the Robo Call dirty trick game: Robo Call Blackmail.

chickens and geese

We're past crunch time.  We're at the 12 hour moment. It's election day.  I'm coming from Jerry McNerney's phone bank in Oakland.  It was packed.  I did GOTV at West Oakland BART this morning; voters were receptive....right now I'm outside my assigned precinct off the Lake in Oakland...

I have a really simple message to everyone considering volunteering today who hasn't quite screwed up the courage.

I've done GOTV every election day, primary or general, for years now. I can guarantee you that whatever volunteering or Get Out the Vote effort you make between now and poll closing tommorrow will mean votes for our side.

Every time I've ever gone out that has been my experience.  Sure, GOTV can be personally rewarding. But I'm talking about something pragmatic: your activism might very well make the difference on election night in a race you care about. Your GOTV wins votes.

That's something to consider tonight: Do More than Vote.


Now, I've titled this diary chickens and geese.

There's a reason for that.

I've got a couple things to say about chickens.  And, in honor of all the trolls haunting these parts lately, I will follow that with a special recipe for roast goose.


I have a couple rules about chickens on election day.

1. Don't listen to chicken littles.

2. Don't count your chickens before they're hatched.

3. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's not a chicken. (A win is a win and a loss is a loss.  The only way to find out is to count the votes.)

4. Election night is when the chickens come home to roost and chickenhawks become an endandgered species...bawk, bawk!!

5. And, finally, it's okay to be a little "chicken" about Getting Out the Vote, but even if you're feeling "chicken" about GOTV, tommorrow is to time to get off your ass and cross the damn road.


An Election Day Recipe for Roast Goose

Take a whole goose and pluck it of it's majority in the House of Representatives.

Heartily season your goose with primary challenges and fighting Dem insurgent candidates.

Crack the bones of your goose's hold on the United States Senate.

Baste your goose in the volunteer power of several hundred thousand grassroots and netroots activists.

Cook your goose at 350 degrees in a basting pan, until the Governor's desks of 28 to 30 states have attained an appetizing Democratic glow.

Slather your goose in Democratic gains in State Legislatures and County-wide offices.

Stuff your goose with a stuffing made of door-knocking, precinct-walking, phone-banking, poll-counting, election-monitering, leaflet-passing, voter-education, voter-transporting and voter suppression resistance.

And finaly, keep your goose juicy and tender with incisive blogging and up to the minute media-watching.

Now, some of us will differ on exactly how long to roast this goose. (Hell, some of us are vegans!...Soy goose?) But, friends, whatever you to this election day, there's one critical thing you have to do to follow this special election-day recipe...

You gotta cook the goose.

Let's GOTV and bring this one home. See you on the other side.

Monday, November 06, 2006

the Mainstream Media now covering GOP Robo Call controversy

ABC News number one story on Political Radar this afternoon has this headline: Stop Illegal Robocalling: Dems send Cease and Desist Letter to Republicans:

ABC News' Ellen Davis Reports: Bob Bauer, General Counsel for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent a cease and desist letter to Don McGahn, General Counsel of the National Republican Campaign Committee requesting a stop to what he alleges is an illegal form of random calling of voter's residences using recorded political messages, often known as 'Robo-calling'.

Kossack, and CNN watcher, StarkyLove reports that CNN featured Talking Points Memo's reportage on Robo Calling this afternoon and mentioned that the blogs were "abuzz" with the news.

Update: You can see the CNN coverage on Crooks and Liars. Josh Marshall is also reporting that some media outlets chickened out of covering this story.

Robo Calling may yet prove a net negative for the GOP.

MyDD and TPM on Robo Calls

Adam Conner at MyDD has a great post up about Robo Calls and dirty tricks:

With a bit more than 26 hours before the polls close here in Ohio, and across the country the Republicans are in the last throes of their campaign.

You see a pretty stark and fundamental difference between the parties emerge now in the final days of the campaign. Democrats getting out the vote. Republicans trying to suppress the vote. It's the part of the 72-hour program Republicans don't talk about.

But if you think about it, theirs is a campaign tactics that fundamentally undermines democracy itself. They don't want people to vote. Flat out don't want them to vote. Because on a level playing field they lose.

By suppressing voters they're suppressing Democracy. And everyone should be outraged by that.

Josh Marshall, per usual, nails it in a couple sentences:

Only one party has a nationwide campaign to deliver millions of intentionally-harassing calls disguised to appear that they're from the opposite party. That party is the Republican party. And the calls are funded by the NRCC -- the House GOP election committee.

It's the party of election subversion. Deal with it.

another local paper covers GOP Robo Calls

GOP robo calls are emerging as the story of the last two days of the election cycle.

Here, the Times Herald Record in New York's 19th Congressional District writes:

Republicans say they are not behind a barrage of calls to voters over the weekend that Democrats say are part of a campaign of "dirty tricks" to steal tomorrow's election in the 19th Congressional District.

The automated calls attacking Democratic congressional candidate John Hall started sometime Saturday and rolled through Sunday, interrupting football games and family dinners throughout the region.

But what might have been a minor election-season annoyance approached harassment, when the machine repeatedly called back — as many as seven times — until its entire message was heard, several recipients said.

Hall campaign spokesman Tom Staudter says the campaign received angry calls from recipients who did not listen to the entire script and, in turn, blamed Hall for the annoyance. He said the tactic could cost Hall critical votes in his against incumbent Rep. Sue Kelly, R-Katonah.

"This is the worst of dirty tricks," Staudter said.

The GOP will stoop to any dirty trick to hold onto power. The robo call story is gaining momentum. More local press stories will emerge before election day.

Local news coverage of Robo Calls in New Hampshire

Blogger keener of NH-02 has been covering the NRCC Robo Call campaign from the beginning.

Voters are reporting that the NRCC is making repeated, harassing Robo Calls that pretend to be from the Democratic Candidate but clearly aren't. Now the local news media, WHDH in Boston, is covering this:

But a spokesman for the NRCC said Sunday that are no plans to curtail the campaign that has resulted in a flood of calls to the state Democratic Party from angry voters who think the messages are made on behalf of Democratic congressional challenger Paul Hodes.

Instead, they were coming from the National Republican Congressional Committee on behalf of Rep. Charles Bass, but sound, at first, as though they may be from the Hodes' campaign.

"It's a clear effort on behalf of the Republican Party to annoy and upset New Hampshire residents ... and people are under the assumption they are coming from Paul Hodes," Democratic Party spokeswoman Kathleen Strand said.

take a look inside a GOP Robo Call

Local blog Take 19 has audio of a GOP Robo Call being used in New York's 19th Congressional District on behalf of vulnerable GOP incumbent Sue Kelley. This call does identify itself as being from the NRCC. Apparently, however, the call was used to harass targeted voters with repeated messages.

One New York 19 voter writes:

When I called Representative Kelly's office to register my unhappiness about this I was told that "unfortunately there are outside groups involved that they have no control over". Sorry, but that excuse is unacceptable. Sue Kelly is responsible and will be held responsible at the polls.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

GOP Robo Calls represent an attempt to steal this election with dirty tricks

Josh Marshall reports that right at the tail end of a hard-fought campaign, thousands of voters are receiving repeated harassing phone calls purporting to be from the Democratic candidate. Some Democrats are fighting back directly. Chris Murphy in Connecticut has released this press release.

The reality is that these calls are coming from the Republican National Congressional Committee which is breaking the law both in misleading voters to think these calls are coming from Democrats and in having their machines call back repeatedly even after the receiving party has hung up. Further, they are calling folks listed on the national do not call registry.

This robo-call operation is a dirty trick. The GOP, having run out of ideas, is using it in an attempt to sabotage this election.

I will cover this story as news comes up through election day.

an open letter to my fellow Californians

{I wrote this piece on dKos three nights ago. It still holds.}

Tonight is an exciting night. As I write this diary, President Clinton is making a stop in Stockton California on behalf of Democrat Jerry McNerney...a candiates who stands a solid shot at winning an upset victory on November 7th.

Even those of us who were confident that the race in CA-11 would be close this election cycle, even those of us who fought early and hard for Jerry, would have been hard pressed to predict the "Clinton Seal of Approval" at this point in the campaign...

but here we are.

As hopeful as this moment is for all Californians, however, I'd like take one moment and ask all of us here in the Golden State to do a five minute gut check.

There's so much more to do this election, and going forward.

We California Democrats have our work cut our for us.


You see, as I write this tonight there's also not a political prognosticator in the country who gives Democrat Phil Angelides a bat's chance in hell of defeating Arnold Schwarzenegger for Governor of the Golden State.

Phil's been written off, blown off, sold down the river and ignored.  Phil's campaign has wounds that are self-inflicted and senseless...and wounds that are the product of willful neglect, misprision and cynical calculation by some who should have known better.

And, you know what? Either way, whomever's to blame for this state of affairs, I think we all can agree that it's a crying shame.

We can debate the myriad reasons for the situation California Democrats find ourselves in after the election, and we should, but for now I'd like to make three simple points for every Californian for the home stretch:

#1. The Ballot Initiatives are important this year.  Learn them well enough that you can teach your friends.

Here's a simple mnemonic to guide you if you seek to cast a vote for the "progressive position":

Learn the Core Four

No! on 85 (Teen Safety/Parental Notification)

Yes! on 87 (Alternative Energy)

Yes! on 89 (Campaign Financing)

No! on 90 (Eminent Domain)

If you want to know more about all of the intiatives and use the guide that I'll be following this election follow this link: Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club and download their pdf.

And finally, if there's one proposition that you should focus your attention on, one that stands a chance of winning and making US ALL REGRET IT, it's the one davej wrote so persuasively about the other day:

NO on 90!!

2. Learn about Debra Bowen, running for Secretary of State and John Garamendi, running for Lieutenant Governor.  Tell your friends about these two Democrats, you won't regret it.

These two candidates are extraordinarily capable, well-liked Democrats.  We could use both of them in office for their talents and their leadership.  On top of that, both of their Republican opponents stink.  No "moderate" Arnold-style fakery from Tom McClintock or Bruce McPherson.  These guys are Cheney-style Republicans.

Let me put it this way. Garamendi and Bowen = Democrats wearing white hats running for important state-wide positions.  McClintock and McPherson = Republicans wearing black hats. You will deeply regret if McClintock and McPherson get elected on the 7th and you didn't do all you could to stop them. Trust me.

3. Finally, Voting is a Muscle.

Phil Angelides may be like the skinny kid from the Charles Atlas ad.  But the only way to stand up to a bully like Arnold Schwarzenegger is to USE the mucles we got.

That takes Democratic votes.  That takes Democratic GOTV. That takes turning out voters this year knowing we might lose because we will need them the next time around...and the time after that.

Let me put it this way.  If the core Democratic counties in L.A. and the S.F. Bay Area do not turn out this election...regardless of whether Phil wins or loses...we will have lost so much.

The Party that votes together, stays together.  If we vote, we flex our Democratic muscles.  We work out, we keep toned, win or lose.

If we slack off and let things slide, we will only have ourselves to blame when that bully Arnold Schwarzenegger kicks sand in our face for four years.

And trust me, given the chance, he will.

So that's it:

The Core Four: NO on 90!!

Bowen and Garamendi

Flex your voting Muscles

Yeah, we California Democrats have a tough road ahead.  Hopefully Jerry and Charlie and Debra and John...and Phil...will give us reason to celebrate on election night.

But take nothing for granted, friends.  There's nothing more bitter than a mouthful of sand from a bully.  And that's what's going down if we don't stand up soon and do something about it.

a Quick look at State House races

This morning I had an hour-long coffee conversation with Joshua Grossman, founder and brain behind both Progressive Kick and Progressive Punch.

Joshua and I collaborated on a piece in December of 2005 here on k/o called Starting with the Districts. That piece has held up, imo.

Given that, I'd like to share with another aspect of the occasional conversations Joshua and I have about the state of US politics: a quick look at the races for State Legislatures.


For anyone concerned about the bedrock health of our democracy, it's hard to underemphasize the importance of the battle for state legislatures. State legislatures represent both a "laboratory" for new domestic policy ideas, and critically, as we approach the 2010 census, the bodies that will determine redistricting and the make up of the House of Representatives for the upcoming decade. (Given the way different states stage and cycle their elections, paying attention to this in 2010 will be too late. This is something we need to pay attention to every year for the next five years.) State legislatures are also where progressives have some of our best chances to advance candidates and causes we hold dear.

In sum, the battle for State House control is a real measure of the health of the local Democratic Party and broad trends in US politics as a whole.

State legislative races, however, are rarely polled and tend to be "micro" enough that few pay attention until election night or afterwards. This diary represents a quick "cheat sheet" for what to look out for.

A visit to NCSL.org, the website for the National Conference of State Legislatures, is a great place to familiarize oneself with the balance and make up of the State Legislatures that interest you.

For someone like Joshua, who follows these races as a part of his profession, there are a couple "short cuts" that we can use to highlight States to focus on election night.

States with Fluid State Houses

The following ten states have, in general, the most fluid State Houses.  In a year that sees big moves on the US national political scene, these states will likely reflect that and show big moves in their State Houses.  These are the states to watch for national and regional trends on election night:


New Hampshire









States with Closely-Contested State Houses

These states, which include some of those listed above, have State Houses where the battle for partisan control will be an issue in the 2006 election. In some of them a swing of a few seats could either change the control of one or both houses...or lay the groundwork for a trend within State Party control. (ie. vetoes, super-majorities, future swings in control.)  These are State House "races to watch" for partisan control on election night:


New Hampshire (Sen)

New York (Sen)

Pennsylvania (Chance to move closer)

Ohio (Dem gains might give Strickland veto protection)

Indiana (House)

Michigan (Both)

Wisconsin (Senate)

Minnesota (House)

Iowa (Both Houses)

Oregon (House)

Colorado (House)

Montana (Both)

Nevada (Senate)

Kentucky (Senate)

Tennessee (Senate)

Oklahoma (House)

Washington (Democratic gains likely)

Texas (Defense operation)

This just a rough sketch of the states and State Houses Joshua and I covered in our conversation.  Clearly, the upper Midwest and the industrial Midwest are going to be zones of focus on Tuesday.  Given that, it is unfortunate that the Michigan state Democratic Party is not experiencing the resurgence we've seen in the Democratic Party in Ohio.

Clearly, what happens in Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and Indiana and Ohio will serve as bellwethers for trends in regional party control and the 2008 presidential election.  Elsewhere, Colorado and Nevada will remain focal points in the battle for partisan control in Mountain West. (Nevada is another under-performing zone for a state Democratic Party, unfortunately.)

Please feel free to add any state specific information or ideas you might have below.  State House races are not the most "sexy" of stories on election night.

That does not mean they aren't significant.

take a look at Abel Guillen

I'd like to invite my fellow Oakland residents to take a look at Abel Guillen who is running for Peralta Community College Board. (These are the folks who run Laney and hence, set the higher education agenda in service of the majority of the residents of the East Bay. Healthy community colleges are essential to any progressive urban agenda.)

Abel is a strong, progressive candidate whose insurgent campaign against the long term incumbent represents a fresh voice in Oakland politics. Abel has won the endorsement of labor, the Greens, the Oakland Tribune, the Bay Guardian and the Peralta Federation of Teachers. That is no small accomplishment.

Oakland politics is seeing a resurgence, and Abel Guillen is perhaps the best representative of a new way of doing politics in our city. Abel is getting young people involved at every step of the process; Abel's commitment to both innovation in serving the community and to excellence in oversight represent a break from the current pattern of business as usual. "Good enough" does not cut it for Oakland anymore; Abel's campaign is about serving our entire community with distinction and energy.

You will not go wrong in supporting Abel Guillen. I highly recommend you take a look at his campaign.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

McCaskill, Stender, Lamont, Walz and Webb: the heat is up all over

Check these out:

  • A BlueStem Prairie reports that the Winona Daily News has come out for Tim Walz. Winona is a lovely town on the Mississippi home to a great fish restaurant and some gorgeous bluffs. Both my mom and dad lived there in their college years. Go Walz!
    (On top of that musician Martin Zellar is rallying for Walz; that's news to warm the heart of any flannel-flying Minnesotan of my generation.)
  • Blue Jersey reports the HUGE news that Politics New Jersey is calling New Jersey 7 a "toss up". For those of us who've been targeting Mike Ferguson for months that is music to our ears. Go Linda Stender!
  • My Left Nutmeg has this GREAT new Lamont ad. Check it out, it'll warm your heart...one of the best political ads this season...Ned Lamont, with alot of help from Frank Capra.
  • Lowell at Raising Kaine heard it right. George Allen's goose is cooked.
  • And, finally, SMART a blog out of Missouri has this great news about another Claire Mc Caskill endorsement. Woohoo!

  • Wednesday, November 01, 2006

    Conservative AZ editorial board switches from Hayworth to Mitchell

    This endorsement from the Arizona Republic, favoring Democrat Harry Mitchell over incumbent GOP blowhard JD Hayworth in Arizona's 5th Congressional district can serve as a stand in for why the Republican Party's goose is cooked this year. It's called Mitchell over the Bully and here are the key grafs:

    The Arizona Republic has recommended Hayworth's election each of the past six times he has run for Congress. In those editorials, we noted his characteristic bluster and needlessly confrontational attitude but also praised his strong work ethic and dedication to serving his district's constituents.

    Not this time. This time, we're going to recommend his opponent, Harry Mitchell.

    Mitchell, a Democrat, has served this community for more than three decades, as a city councilman and long-time mayor of Tempe and most recently as state senator. He is a consensus-builder, respected by community leaders and supported by high-profile Republicans in this race.

    It isn't The Republic that has changed since 1994, when Hayworth was first elected to Congress. It's Hayworth. He no longer reflects the 5th Congressional District, which, while solidly Republican, has a progressive and moderate complexion. The district includes Tempe, Scottsdale, Ahwatukee, Fountain Hills and parts of the East Valley.

    During this past term, Hayworth has devolved from a windy and sometimes cartoonish politician into an angry demagogue who has shamelessly and divisively exploited the immigration issue, arguably the No. 1 concern of Arizonans.

    I think that bolded sentence is critical. GOP conservatism has changed nationwide, even since the 2004 elections, which is hard to believe possible.

    But it's true. Whether it's JD Hayworth and Rick Renzi in Arizona or Marilyn Musgrave in Colorado or Richard Pombo in California, GOP blowhards blew harder.

    Even their former friends and allies are abandoning them now.