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Archive for the ‘Democrats’ Category

An open letter to a congressional candidate

Posted by Charles II on September 26, 2011

Dear Mr. _______

I am writing in response to your solicitation for campaign funds. I receive dozens of such solicitations every year, and am more than generous. Because I believe that having contested elections in all districts is vital to democracy, I devote approximately 4% of my income per year to political donations. I support even very unlikely candidacies when those candidates are serious and capable.

So, why should I support you?

Your campaign so far is largely based on airy, feel-good generalities. It shows little grasp of complex issues. Where it is specific, it often gets lost in details. Even to get an understanding of where you stand on issues takes way too much effort, requiring one to scroll through many Facebook pages. So, while I’m delighted that you promise to defend Social Security and Medicare—would that more Democrats would make the promise—the job you’re applying for is a lot more than “being progressive” or “standing for real Democratic values.” When he was a Democrat, Joe Lieberman ran on similar slogans.

I don’t expect you to agree with me on all my pet issues. If a candidate came out with an idea for controlling health care costs through faith healing—and had credible data to back it up—I’d drop my attachment to the public option. If a candidate were serious about paying for all of America’s wars, it would make me less critical of his belligerent propensities. I’m persuadable, but I’m not a fool. I know that once a candidate gets to Washington, he’ll face 434 people with other opinions. He’ll have to deal. I need to know who and what he’ll sacrifice. I need to know what he won’t sacrifice. And I need to know how far he’ll go to defend those beliefs.

Let’s get down to basics. So far, you’re not just a lousy candidate. You’re a lousy campaigner. I sent you early money so you could reach out beyond the small circle of progressive donors. Instead, you’ve spent 20% of that money just on direct mail to me! We don’t have millions of dollars to waste on electronic campaigns. For that matter, we hate sending money to you just so that you can give it to FOX and CNN. You need to be using that money a lot more wisely than you are. Think like an entrepreneur. You might get a chance to talk to an investor on an elevator going from the first to the third floor. You have 25 words or less in which to tell him about your business and give him a card. What words do you choose?

Here are some specific ideas.

First, you have to know who you are. I love the warm and fuzzy family pictures, but they don’t open my wallet. I have to know exactly what in your life gives you insight into the problems of the district. For example, “I was a school teacher. A family came to me because they were running out of food at the end of the month. I worked with a local food pantry and a church near their home to help them. I will support Food Stamps and school lunches no matter what.” Sincerity is really, really important. An honest-seeming idiot beats a clever hypocrite any day.

In that regard, let me add that most voters believe that Washington is corrupt, that votes are outright bought. This perception will only change when there is no connection whatsoever between legislation and campaign funding. Just sayin': you want to be thought of as honest, tell people what you’ll do to end the corruption.

Second, I’d like to believe that once you go to Washington, you will listen to me rather than the big donors. You could start that process by calling people, not asking for funds, but for ideas and concerns. Don’t just call progressives or the people who show up at your $100-a-plate fundraisers. Call conservative Democrats, corporate Republicans, Tea Party people, John Birchers, anti-abortion zealots. You want to represent the district. They live in the district. Talk to them. If nothing else, you’ll learn not to panic when faced by ignorant, rude, selfish, hateful people, so maybe you won’t sell out your base when the phone starts ringing off the hook over President Obama’s birth certificate. And just by politely listening to the opposition, you’ll make it harder for the troglodyte you will inevitably face to demonize you.

Third, you don’t need clever slogans. You need thematic unity. Clever slogans come from understanding issues in depth, and seeing how they intertwine. My personal clever slogan is “America needs a raise.” This plays off of a series of issues: stagnant family incomes, the Depression (with the accompanying depression) that permeates our country, and the Christian theme that serving justice requires sacrifice. But you don’t have to like my slogan. If you understand the issues you care about, and think deeply about why they’re important, slogans will occur to you. They form the 25 words of your elevator speech.

Finally, let’s talk about reaching voters. Here are some ideas.

Your website sucking—that can be fixed, and fast. Add pages on issues, bio, etc. to bring it up to standard. Supporters need a central place to go to know where you stand. Facebook is great, but is not organized enough to be that place.

Second, there are a lot of unemployed people. You can offer them work, even if it only pays carfare, lunch, and a chance to network. Since you’ll have lots of volunteers, consider making a video that each of them can watch (since it will inevitably leak, make sure that even short snippets won’t embarrass you). That way you minimize training time by permanent staff.

Third, there are public places where volunteers can talk to the public. Some supermarkets or malls will still let you put up a table. It’s not illegal to walk the streets with a sandwich sign. They can’t run you out of a park, and during some seasons those are packed.

Fourth, refuse to run ads or appear on hostile media—and demand that fellow Democrats do the same. Media are incredibly dependent on revenues from campaigns. And you rob them of credibility by refusing to play their game. Our goal is not just to win a congressional seat. We want to fundamentally change the game so that all voices are heard, not just those with money—and not just even our own. We want democracy.

Fifth, the Republicans are making a concerted effort to deny people the right to vote. You need to call them out for wanting to re-establish an aristocracy where only some people have a say. You also need practical methods to counter voter suppression. You might even have to sue the state to knock down a requirement that people buy their birth certificate just to vote, a poll tax if there ever was one. Think ahead.

Well, this is a start. It took me an hour of stream-of-consciousness to come up with these recommendations. If you and your staff can’t do better, you should quit now before you waste money that could be going to serious candidates. And if you can, well, my wallet is open.

Will be crossposted at DK.

Posted in Congress, Democrats, election theft | Comments Off on An open letter to a congressional candidate

“A reasonable Republican would run the other direction. Try and find one.” –KO

Posted by Charles II on September 3, 2011

I found one. Mike Lofgren, writing on Truthout:

To be sure, the party, like any political party on earth, has always had its share of crackpots, like Robert K. Dornan or William E. Dannemeyer. But the crackpot outliers of two decades ago have become the vital center today: Steve King, Michele Bachman (now a leading presidential candidate as well), Paul Broun, Patrick McHenry, Virginia Foxx, Louie Gohmert, Allen West. The Congressional directory now reads like a casebook of lunacy.

It was this cast of characters and the pernicious ideas they represent that impelled me to end a nearly 30-year career as a professional staff member on Capitol Hill.

A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress’s generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner.

most Republican officeholders seem strangely uninterested in the effective repeal of Fourth Amendment protections by the Patriot Act, the weakening of habeas corpus and self-incrimination protections in the public hysteria following 9/11 or the unpalatable fact that the United States has the largest incarcerated population of any country on earth.

The reader may think that I am attributing Svengali-like powers to GOP operatives able to manipulate a zombie base to do their bidding. It is more complicated than that. Historical circumstances produced the raw material: the deindustrialization and financialization of America since about 1970 has spawned an increasingly downscale white middle class – without job security (or even without jobs), with pensions and health benefits evaporating and with their principal asset deflating in the collapse of the housing bubble. Their fears are not imaginary; their standard of living is shrinking.

What do the Democrats offer these people? Essentially nothing.

The article is a bit long, but it’s worth reading. It gives greater insight into why the Democrats are dysfunctional than most other political writing.

Posted in Democrats, Good Things, government, Republicans | 2 Comments »

Happy Birthday, Gabby Giffords!

Posted by MEC on June 12, 2011

On the Hon. Gabrielle Giffords’ birthday, her staff has released a recent photo, showing her thin but smiling, with only small outward signs that she was seriously wounded.

She still has a long, hard road ahead of her, but it’s a gift for us to see her smile and the intelligence in her bright eyes.

Posted in Democrats, Gabrielle Giffords | 3 Comments »

Try talking to me

Posted by Charles II on March 31, 2011

Amy Klobuchar’s recent fundraising letter:

And though our nation has experienced turbulent times, no matter where I go, no matter who I talk to, Minnesotans overwhelmingly ask for one thing from their elected officials:

Put partisan politics aside, unite rather than divide, and JUST GET THINGS DONE.

My response to her:

I don’t want you to put partisan politics aside. I want you to be a Democrat. The only one-party states in this world are dictatorships.

Doesn’t anyone get this very basic point? This is what James Madison said in Federalist 10:

There are two methods of curing the mischiefs of faction: the one, by removing its causes; the other, by controlling its effects.

There are again two methods of removing the causes of faction: the one, by destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence; the other, by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests.

It could never be more truly said than of the first remedy, that it was worse than the disease. Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.

The second expedient is as impracticable as the first would be unwise. As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed. As long as the connection subsists between his reason and his self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other; and the former will be objects to which the latter will attach themselves. The diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights of property originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is the first object of government. From the protection of different and unequal faculties of acquiring property, the possession of different degrees and kinds of property immediately results; and from the influence of these on the sentiments and views of the respective proprietors, ensues a division of the society into different interests and parties….

We’re supposed to fight! If we don’t, we are not free!

Posted in Democrats | 2 Comments »

Murphy can has Congress?

Posted by Charles II on March 26, 2011

Via DDay, Ian Murphy, who spoofed Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, is running for Congress as a Green.

I’ve never supported a Green before. I’m seriously thinking about it. Left independents in Congress, like Bernie Sanders, have done more to keep the Democratic Party honest than any of the regulars.

Posted in Democrats, liberals | 1 Comment »

Obama tax plan is not 100% the Bush plan

Posted by Charles II on February 18, 2011

It’s only 81% identical. And the Republicans, ever willing to split the difference, will settle for 150% of Bush.

Citizens for Tax Justice:

Preliminary Analysis of President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2012 Budget:
Plan Would Make Permanent 81 Percent of the Bush Tax Cuts

The budget outline released by President Obama this week, just like last year’s proposal,
includes about $3.5 trillion in tax cuts over ten years. Most of that cost comes from his $3.1
trillion proposal to make permanent most of the Bush tax cuts, which would cost 81 percent as
much as extending all the Bush tax cuts.

The President’s budget outline does include several laudable provisions to raise revenue, but
not nearly enough to offset the costs of the proposed tax cuts.

The net effect of the tax proposals in the budget plan would be to reduce federal revenue by
$2.8 trillion over ten years, compared to what would happen if the Bush tax cuts simply
expired (as they will under current law if Congress does nothing).

I can’t understand this man. He is killing the Democratic Party. Washington Democrats seem to be cheering him on.

Posted in Barack Obama, Democrats, taxes | 2 Comments »

The Democrats’ sellout on filibuster reform

Posted by Charles II on January 26, 2011

To get a sense of how cynical a betrayal this is, I suggest reading Gold and Gupta. Issues related to rules changes have been a problem for almost a hundred years. In 1979, Robert Byrd laid out the reasoning for how filibuster reform could be accomplished. The principle is well known: one Congress may not bind another. Otherwise, the nation could face a danger and be unable to defend itself from it because of obsolete legislation. The original Senate operated by rules that allowed debate to be ended by majority vote on any issue; in 1806, unlimited debate was introduced essentially by accident. And the Senate has itself used the Constitutional option, first–when isolationists attempted to block American ships from defending themselves from U-Boats– to set rules on cloture, then to reduce the number of votes needed for cloture:

Article I, Section 5 of the U.S. Constitution empowers the Senate to “determine the Rule of its Proceedings.” In 1917 and on many occasions since 1917, the Senate has debated whether this constitutional rulemaking power allows a simple majority to alter the Senate’s Standing Rules at will. At least four times, changes to the Senate Standing Rules were influenced by attempts to use the constitutional option. And throughout Senate history, a simple majority has changed Senate procedures governing debate by setting precedents or adopting Standing Orders that altered the operation of the Standing Rules without amending their actual text. Over two centuries, the Senate’s constitutional rulemaking power has been exercised in a variety of ways to change Senate procedures. As Senate parliamentary process further evolves, this power plainly will be exercised again. At issue is when, how, and to what effect.

So, what was accomplished today? No filibuster reform. We might see the following reforms:

limit the number of executive branch nominations subject to Senate confirmation; make it more difficult for senators to anonymously block legislation or nominees; and end a stall tactic that lets senators force clerks to read aloud the complete text of a bill if the measure has been made public.

That is, if the Republicans are so nice as to let the Senate do these things.

I have rarely been as disgusted with the Democratic Party as I have been today. If there is a renewed financial crisis– or a natural disaster, or any other reason to pass legislation in a hurry– the Democrats have left the Senate Republicans, who represent a clear minority of Americans– in control of their body. This is not an exaggeration: they will let Americans suffer or die rather than confront how corrupt the Senate has become. We know, because tens of thousands of Americans have been dying every year for lack of medical insurance while these sons of b—–s sat on their hands and said there was nothing they could do.

Added: the citation is THE CONSTITUTIONAL OPTION TO CHANGE SENATE RULES AND PROCEDURES:
A MAJORITARIAN MEANS TO OVER COME THE FILIBUSTER* MARTIN B. GOLD** & DIMPLE GUPTA Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy Volume 28 (2004)

Posted in Democrats, Senate | 4 Comments »

AdAge Debunks The GOP/Media Complex’s Favorite Lie

Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 17, 2010

The favorite lie of the GOP/Media Complex is that Democrats must always move to the right and be like Republicans. Never mind that the most conservative, Republican-ish Democrats were the ones that took the biggest hit at the ballot box earlier this month, the media arm of the GOP/Media Complex has remained on message and is still blanketing the nation’s TVs and radios with this crapola.

But what do the actual media experts, the advertising professionals, have to say? You won’t find it on the evening news, but you will find it in AdAge — and guess what? The take is not that the Democrats and Obama lost big because they didn’t suck up enough to the far right, but that they lost because they abandoned their liberal and progressive base:

Listenomics dictates that constituencies are not aggregated because you’ve sweet-talked them into the fold. They are there because they care. They feel a proprietary stake in what they’ve signed up for. You ignore them at your peril, not only because they’re a resource, but because they are rendered useless or worse once they feel betrayed — which, very quickly in the Obama administration, they did.

When the health-care bill was facing a GOP stonewall, before logrolling for swing votes with reluctant Senate Democrats, the president should have gone to his peeps explaining his options and asking for guidance. For starters, they would have put political heat on the bill’s opponents. For another, they would not have felt blindsided by his ultimate compromises. Instead, he disappointed a broad swath of his base who wondered if the vision they’d been baited with was switched for standard-issue political expediency.

Posted in 2010, Democrats, GOP/Media Complex | Comments Off on AdAge Debunks The GOP/Media Complex’s Favorite Lie

Things Found On Twitter

Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 16, 2010

PhoenixWomanMN Phoenix Woman
@pwire Rep Larson:”We had a Roosevelt moment & responded like Hoover” http://pwire.at/cJdGbd

ABetterMN ABetterMinnesota.org
Minnesota’s History of Close Elections http://aBetter.MN/NI #stribpol #p2

PatKessler Patrick Kessler
At MN GOP press conf announcing legislature overhaul, more lobbyists in the room than reporters & lawmakers– combined.

SuzanneTwoTon Suzanne TwoTon
Gropey Joe: Lieberman “Comes Down on the Side of Pat-Downs” before TSA Hearing (VIDEO) http://fdl.me/bzqKnd from @firedoglake

SuzanneTwoTon Suzanne TwoTon
Tea Party FAIL: GOP’s Historic Ban on Earmarks Already History http://fdl.me/9fViuR from @firedoglake

SuzanneTwoTon Suzanne TwoTon
Schakowsky Releases Progressive Deficit Reduction Plan http://fdl.me/dCjSZp from @firedoglake

CharlieQuimby Charlie Quimby
Bachmann, whose family owns a business, doesn’t know diff between gross & personal income. Scary either way. http://bit.ly/c9iklJ

Posted in Democrats, Democrats with spines, economy, hypocrites, Minnesota, Republicans, Republicans acting badly | Tagged: | Comments Off on Things Found On Twitter

Purgemania!

Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 7, 2010

One of the darkly amusing things of late has been to hear talk of a “Plato purge” at DFL headquarters. Ironically enough, much of this talk seems to be driven by people who live in abject fear of the lefty purity police. But I digress.

The idea is that since it’s obviously — in their minds — the local party’s fault that the local lege flipped (as did nearly twenty other state leges in this massive GOP wave year, but hey, let’s not look into that), then the local party bigwigs must go (and just maybe, maybe, be replaced, of course by the purge advocates and/or their allies?).

Well, I was reminded the other day by Javier Morillo-Alicea that this talk is all somewhat moot, if not downright silly.

Much as a Democratic president or presidential nominee is considered the de facto head of the national Democratic Party, the person who won the Democratic Farmer-Labor nomination holds a similar position in the DFL. In other words, any decisions about who stays and who goes will be made by that person and his/her close associates. Period.

Whatever happens at Plato Boulevard in the coming weeks and months, it won’t be a glorious purge. Some people will leave, some people will come in to replace them, new-media-savvy people will have higher priority than before, but it won’t be what the purgers (many of whom seemed to have been quite happy with the DFL bigwigs when it was their candidates that were riding high at the time) want or expect. Besides, the GOP’s House majority is broad but very, very shallow: If 700 votes in key races had gone the other way, the DFL would still hold the House. That’s 700 votes out of over 3 million votes cast.

Oh, and as for the lefty purity police? Well, we Professional Lefties don’t need to go around hollering for a purge, locally or nationally, because guess what? The majority of the people we might have targeted have, to our utter non-surprise, managed to purge themselves despite our having warned them for months on the danger they were in thanks to their weak-tea actions and inactions on the weak economy, which was and is most Americans’ main concern. (They still had a chance, one last chance, when they had the unemployment benefits extension bill in front of them — and they blew it.) In the meantime, with the Blue Dogs and other DINOs having taken the brunt of voter disappointment, the House Progressive Caucus is poised to grow and to be a lot stronger than it was a week ago.

And that is that.

Posted in 2010, Democrats, Minnesota | Tagged: | 2 Comments »