I'm offlien for the next four days, so while I'm gone I recommend you go read Damn Liberals. You may know this blogger as DailyKos and MYDD commenter Michael in Chicago. He's quickly becoming a favorite for me - so go check him out.
I'm tired of reading about how divided the Democrats are - when the Republicans have fissures in their party over the war in Iraq, immigration reform, the exploding deficit, and the increasing heft of the religious extremists.
Google "Democrats divided" and you'll get over 800 hits, with articles from media outlets in London, Moscow, and all of those here in the states. Just this week, we were treated to a WaPo article on the Democrats divide over the Iraq war - this in a week when Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel repeated his call for a timeline for pulling the troops and virtually labeled Bush a loser. The great Democratic divide is a media construct. Sure, we're not a single-minded entity. But the Dems are no more divided than the Pubs. We're just have a more vocal netroots community - one that hold the party accountable instead of marching in lockstep while we chant out the party talking points.
We need to challenge the media when it trots out the divided Dems theme and remind them that the great divide is actually democracy in action - different people with different ideas about how to solve the problems our country faces, in dialog and working together to find the right solution. Sure, we've got our DINOs that we diss and we hold our leaders accountable for abandoning principle in the cautious hope of not rocking the boat and losing their seat. But so do the Pubs. There's nothing happening on the left that isn't happening on the right when it comes to a lack of unity on what to do in Iraq. So let's not let the media pain us as divided while pretending the Pubs are in the midst of a Vulcan mind meld.
On a fairly regular basis, we hear Republican leaders like Bush and Cheney defend the war in Iraq on the basis of the benefits to women there. I've posted on this before, noting that I don't buy their convenient embrace of women's rights. Well I was right to be suspicious. Just read the following statement made by a loyal member of the neocon movement.
I mean, one hopes that the Iraqis protect women's social rights as much
as possible. It certainly seems clear that in protecting the political
rights, there's no discussion of women not having the right to vote. I
think it's important to remember that in the year 1900, for example, in
the United States, it was a democracy then. In 1900, women did not
have the right to vote. If Iraqis could develop a democracy that
resembled America in the 1900s, I think we'd all be thrilled. I mean,
women's social rights are not critical to the evolution of democracy.
We hope they're there. I think they will be there. But I think we need
to put this into perspective. Former Middle East specialist for the CIA, Reuel Marc Gerecht (Meet the Press, 8/21/05)
Hmm. I wonder what kind of outcry there would be if he said "Kurds social rights aren't critical to the evolution of democracy"? Quite a loud one, I think. But here we see that the equality of women in society is seen not as a central component of democracy but as a nice add-on. Screw him and those who would comfortably allow half the population to be excluded from participating in democracy. Screw him and those who would abandon Iraqi women to the oppressive male rule of Sharia, to the loss of such fundamental rights that they can't protect themselves, own their own property, escape an abusive husband, avoid physical harm and even death for behaviors we take for granted.
Girls going to school doesn't count for much if they are subordinate citizens without the protections and rights afforded men. If women in Iraq aren't given equal rights in Iraq then any claim that we've brought democracy there is an empty one.
These guys don't value women as equal citizens, as equal human beings with the same self-evident right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that men have.
They see the rights of women as good propaganda and a negotiating point to be abandoned as necessary. Crap like this, dished out on one of the top cable news shows and minimally challenged by the other men on the show, reminds me that there's a reason the ERA never passed here, that the ERA was the incentive that brought together the social and religious conservatives. Bush can campaign with a "W is for Women" theme, but it's really for war. Not just war against terrorists - but in some ways, war against women.
As an FYI, Reuel Marc Gerecht has his conservative credentials in order. He's a neocon, serving as the Director of the Middle East Initiative at the
Project for the New American Century -- PNAC is the heart of the neocon ideological movement. He's also a resident fellow at the American
Enterprise Institute - a leading conservative think tank. He's a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard. And he's a regular talking head on cable news shows. He's got hefty academic credentials and was a CIA analyst for nine years (left in 94). And he letting us know what the neocons really think.
There's a post on The Moderate Voice titled "Kerry Blasts GOP And Says Democratic Party Doesn't Need Much Change". It's one more post on the failure of the Democratic party to win over the hearts of a majority of Americans. In it's favor, it acknowledges the role of bad consultants in past losses. The post is interesting, but what's got me blogging about it (after a few weeks of being offline as I've immersed myself in a trying to help an actual progressive candidate win an actual congressional race) -- what's got me blogging about it is the comment thread. Here are a few excerpts:
Most voters, however, make choices based on something other than the
kind of visceral hatred which is the only thing the left understands
Unfortunately, the Democrats support for Roe v Wade leads to them
putting the "right to privacy" so high on their priorities that our
What the Democrats can't overcome could be called the "Roe Defect."
A party that believes anyone in a mother's womb has the moral status of
hamburger meat doesn't attract people with integrity.
But mainly, the Democratic party needs to support the war against terrorism, rather than undercut the government.
I think that the only Democrat who could beat a Republican
candidate for president would be a Democrat who can and will say that
he supports the president on the war, and when elected, will continue
to fight, not indict, terrorists.
The heart of a party has to be more than the killing of unborn
children, special privileges for special groups, more taxes,
anti-christian bias, surrender to terrorists, protecting the political
class, and hatred for a sitting president. The little guy has learned
that the Democratic party's high minded programs hurt the little guy.
But until the Dem's decide that this country is worth defending from
our enemies, until they even acknowledge that we're at war - I'm voting
straight Rep (even if I sometime have to hold my nose to do so).
To this life-long Democrat, our party has zero credibility on the
paramount question of protecting the nation and defending liberal
values from an ideology that wants to kill us or forcibly convert us to
seventh century Islamism.
The Democrats will continue to be marginalized until moderates and sane
liberals have the guts to read out of the party the discredited
leftists, Michael Moore moonbats, and rabid haters that unfortunately
have set the tone for the party.
The Dems today think they can be weak on the war and get elected.
Until the Dem's figure out that the GWOT is the real deal, and that
Iraq is the defining battle of that war, they will continue to be
thought of as completely untrustworthy in the eyes of the majority of
the electorate, regardless of how poorly Bush or his successor perform.
I'm so tired of being lectured to, told to change my party, based on inaccurate information or outright disinformation dished out by the far right. So here's the comment I posted - without a lot of thought put into it. And here's my question: How do we communicate that we take terrorism seriously, since I'm quite sure we do? How do we get our views on national security out there?
My comment on the Moderate Voice post: Wow. For a site called "The Moderate Voice" there's not much that's moderate in these comments.
Here, the Dem party is soundly thumped for not taking terrorism seriously. I fundamentally disagree that this is the case. I think instead that's it's the mantra that's been chanted so often that it's assumed to be true.
The reason Dems didn't support the invasion of Iraq is because it was a distraction from the real threat - terrorism. Of course, now Iraq really is the heart of the war on terror but it wasn't back when.
My reasons for not supporting Bush are broad, but the bottom line for me is that I don't believe he's making us safer, despite his talk. His handling of the war has been a fiasco and we can't afford that. Osama still roams the borders of Afghanistan with the blind-eye of Pakistan turned away. We've pissed off the very allies we need to fight terrorism across the globe, making it that much harder for us to protect ourselves. Homeland security has been neglected, with minimal efforts to protect our ports, our public transport systems, and our borders. We've undermined our moral authority by our treatment of detainees and given fodder to those who hate us in doing so. It's a national disgrace and I really don't understand how patriotic talk makes up for the disastrous leadership we have.
We can't fight and win if we don't make decisions based on the facts. If we need more troops, send them. Don't dismiss the military's desire for them as "one theory" as Bush did. If we need the help of allies, work with them - don't piss on them. If we need better armor for the troops, get it to them. Don't let our soldiers die because of a screwed up Pentagon procurement process. Don't cut taxes during a war time and pretend the costs of war don't affect the budget. Have the courage to put those costs in the budget and tell Americans that we need to sacrifice in the name of national security.
Don't tell me that I'm not a patriot, don't love my country, don't take national security seriously just because I don't salute a president who isn't doing a good job. Because I didn't think invading Iraq was the best way to defeat our enemy. Because I'm a Democrat.
The Dems are a minority party - an opposition party. They have ideas, proposals, solutions for a wide range of issues including fighting terrorism and protecting the homeland. You can find them online - just check out some Dem politician's web sites. No - the alleged liberal media doesn't cover Democratic ideas. They aren't considered newsworthy. But that doesn't mean they aren't there. What does get covered is Dem opposition to Republican proposals and criticism of Bush's leadership. That doesn't mean that the message in the media is the sum total of Dem thought.
Finally, I don't believe that the Dem party is on the verge of disintegration and I don't believe that the assumed ascendancy and endurance of the Pubs is a given. What people respond to is authenticity and our candidates have stupidly allowed themselves to be packaged and positioned. That's what has to end. People responded to Dean because he was authentic and he gave average citizens the opportunity to be involved. Yes, his opposition to the war got him noticed. But his authenticity got him support.
Those on the right can claim that the left has been co-opted by the fringe. But from my view, that's exactly what's happened to the right. It's getting to the point where disagreeing with the far right is an invitation to be labeled unAmerican, unpatriotic, sinful, evil, whacked. That's a shame and I hope those of you in the Pub party can reclaim it. I don't know if that will happen as long as the disdainful, wholesale denigration of the opposition continues.
Look. There are thoughtful patriots who care about the country on both sides of the aisle. And both sides have their fair share of wingnuts and moonbats. Maybe the first step in wresting the political process away from the extremists is to begin to treat each other with a modicum of respect and to listen to each other. I'll try. I hope others do to.
Let's see. President Bush has spent 20% of his presidency on vacation. Today is his 321st day of vacation since he was inaugurated in January 2001. By the end of his current vacation - a record breaking five week stint in Crawford, he'll have spent almost a full year of his time in office taking vacations.
I wonder, though, of the time he has been working, how much work he's done. He takes a two hour exercise break every day and prefers not to work nights or weekends. He spent most of his time in 2004 campaigning and quite a few days this year traveling around promoting his privatization scheme - not exactly how we want our Commander-in-Chief to spend his time when we're at war and our soldiers are dying. On the other hand, who knows how much worse things might be if worked harder.
Bush needs all this vacation because, as he has told us repeatedly, fighting the global war on terror struggle against extremism is hard work.
Did anyone explain to Bush that he could have spent all of his time in Crawford if he hadn't run for a second term? Too bad - he might have decided to go home.
You know, the problem with rigidly staying on message is this - people stop listening. Bush is famous for staying on message and the acclaim is deserved. But unfortunately, he doesn't saying anything new - not even when he gives a prime time address. How many times can we read or hear that we have to stay the course, that we can pull out of Iraq when Iraqis can defend themselves, that he's a "culture of life" guy who won't support stem cell research, that he wants to privatize social security, make tax cuts permanent, et al, - how many times can we hear the same thing before deciding that we don't have to pay attention to what the president says?
I'm guessing that we're near the tipping point. The fundamental assumption the public makes is that Bush isn't going to tell us anything we haven't already heard from him or don't already know. So why listen?
The administration's message discipline seemed so impressive a few years ago. But now, it's just a script that they keep reciting, even when it doesn't fit the facts. And America is tuning out.
Progressive around the country have been energized by Paul Hackett's close showing in the Ohio District 2 special election. Newt Gingrich read the tea leaves and warned Republicans to take note. But the word from Washington is this:
GOP officials in Washington said the race carried no significant
implications for the 2006 elections. They noted that special elections
are often poor predictors of election trends and said they saw nothing
to suggest real unhappiness with Bush or the GOP congressional
I can only hope that they mean it. The progressive community is energized and active. The Republican community seems like it's just pissed off at us that we're not getting in line, licking our wounds, and admitting the error of our ways. And, of course, they continue to claim that they're a persecuted and oppressed minority (that has majority control? oh, right - it's not about logic with them).
It's our advantage if they keep whining that we won't stay in our place, whining that we're oppressing them. Maybe then they won't notice that the public isn't really impressed with the job they've been doing and we can make their claim of minority status true.
I understand that some people really believe that human life begins at conception - that a tiny mass of cells floating in a fallopian tube is an actual human being with all the rights and protections that those outside the womb have. I understand that this is why some people oppose vehemently abortion.
I try to give those who oppose abortion the benefit of the doubt. I try to read the alarms rung by pro-choice groups with a grain of salt. By doing both, I hope to avoid demonizing those who disagree with me and keep from drinking any advocacy group's kool-aid. It's generally worked pretty well.
But I'm rethinking that. I may just radicalize. Why? Because they're going after birth control.
Wisconsin has passed a bill entitled UW Birth Control Ban-AB 343. This
bill prohibits University of Wisconsin campuses from prescribing,
dispensing and advertising all forms of birth control and emergency
contraceptives. Wisconsin State Rep. Dan LeMahieu, R-Oostburg,
introduced this bill based on the belief that “dispensing birth control
and emergency contraceptives leads to promiscuity.”(MNdaily.com)
Okay. I've researched the issue a bit more and here's the deal. A state assemblyman took umbrage when he discovered that there were ads at the University of Wisconsin, telling women to be sure to get emergency contraceptives before leaving for spring break. He took action and proposed Assembly Bill 343 which targets emergency contraception administered after sex - but is written in such a way that it could theoretically apply to all contraception. You see, the problem here is that emergency contraception is just a double dose of the pill - nothing unique about the medication at all. So it's tough to ban it when it's the very same thing used before sex to prevent pregnancy.
Because it's the same medication, the assemblyman was originally proposing that all oral contraceptives be banned. Hence the outrage, hoopla, and shock on the faces of 20 year old women who thought all the feminists were just old alarmists fighting battles already won. That shock was partnered with looks of pure disbelief, that this old fart, the assemblyman, actually believed that eliminating access to birth control would cause a spontaneous eruption of abstinence.
The real issue here is young women having sex when they want, with whom they want - the same issue Santorum keeps raising ad nauseum as he promotes his book. It's an outrage to these men that women are sexually independent and even (gasp) active. Santorum claims that birth control is harmful to women. And they all believe that it undermines all of society.
I don't really get it, in the same way I don't get why gay marriage is such a huge issue to them. These politicians aren't going to enter gay marriages. And these women aren't going to have sex with the politicians (could that be the problem?). And we're not talking fifteen year olds here. We're talking about women that the law recognizes as adults. So why is it so awful if they have sex? No-one is making any distinctions about who they have sex with - one night stands, long-term boyfriends, fiances, husbands even when it comes the UW law. So the issue isn't the the context in which these women are having sex - it's that THEY'RE HAVING SEX!.
These men in power are passing laws so that girls are lied to in high school abstinence programs and women are denied access to legal prescription drugs to prevent pregnancy once they get to college. These men might believe that their laws, limiting the rights of women, will result in abstinent and pregnancy-free young women, but I say that Wisconsin better get ready for its baby boom. And I look forward to the day when our rights aren't proscribed by the outmoded cultural values of men our father's or grandfather's age, men who seem to think women are the weaker sex.