Steaming about Dean

Howard Dean is in trouble again.  On Monday, he called Republicans "pretty much a white, Christian party."  His point roused outrage by mostly white, Christian Republicans, who, like Oregon's Gordon Smith, called it hate speech.  Had Democrats circled the wagons, though, the story might have died.  Instead, presidential hopefuls Joe Biden and John Edwards weighed in.  Biden distanced himself--and all Dems--from the Chairman: "[Dean] doesn't speak for me with that kind of rhetoric and I don't think he speaks for the majority of Democrats."  Edwards followed up by declaring that Dean "is not the spokesman for the party."

The resulting furor has Dems pitted against Dems.  In the blogosphere, some bloggers are washing their hands of Dean, while others are raising money for him.  Once again, the story isn't Dean's comments, it's Dean himself.  Is it a distraction for a party finally finding its footing after years in the political wilderness, or signs that a new leadership is emerging and challenging old party orthodoxy?  Is Howard Dean the solution or the problem?

Discuss.

Comments

  • (Show?)

    Dean is the solution! Its about time that one of our Democratic leaders shouted from the rooftops and called the republicans out. Dean knows that we must have a grassroots Renaissance of the democratic Party, both in funding and in member participation and the only way that will happen is if we confront the opposition.

    FYI: Dean has been doing a fantastic job building party structure and raising money.

    This whole brouhaha boils down to three things in my mind; the media being an extension and megaphone of the Repug power base, the hypocrisy and self-interest of the Democrats who spoke out against Dean and the Repugs who fear him as a motivator of the grassroots resurgence and Renaissance of the true core of the Democratic Party.

  • glenlivid (unverified)
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    Most of Howard Dean's soundbites are taken out of context, but I think I agree totally with what he said. The Democratic party is not very diverse, period. Go to any Blue Oregon happy hour function and look around you. What do you see? A lot of white people.

    I think Dean is trying to challenge that aspect of the democratic party, and rightfully so.

    Is Dean a problem? I don't think so. I don't think he'll ever be president, but as Chairman of the DNC, he is doing his job. Biden and Edwards are far to entrenched in the party the way it has been, and in my opinion they need to lighten the hell up, and get behind an overhaul of their party.

  • glenlivid (unverified)
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    I read his statement to say the Democratic party was a white Christian party, but I still stand by my statement.

    My quote from another thread: "Both parties are parties of white people; any diversity is token in leadership and high level involvement. I think Dean is trying to make the Dems realize that and do something about it. I think he's is trying rebuild from the ground up with diversity as the base.

    And yes, they need to overhaul the party. Let's face it, you can't make an honest, ethical Republican, but you can make a stronger and more meaningful democratic party."

    ...or maybe I should just shut the hell up.

  • afs (unverified)
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    I'll just let Katrina handle this one...

    ""Congressional Democrats never supported Dean for DNC chair. They wanted someone lower-profile and less hyperbolic. Apparently they wanted someone like RNC Chair Ken Mehlman. Still, it was more than a little surprising for Senator Joe Biden, who is not renown for his diplomatic temperament, to take a potshot at the chairman of his own party for rhetorical excess.

    When George Stephanopoulos played a clip of Dean on ABC's This Week saying that perhaps Republicans can wait in line to cast ballots because "... a lot of them have never made an honest living in their lives," Biden responded, "He doesn't speak for me with that kind of rhetoric. And I don't think he speaks for the majority of Democrats."

    Really? Outside the beltway, Dean is immensely popular with the party faithful. He has raised tons of money and is using it to rebuild the infrastructure at the state and local levels. The same infrastructure Biden will need if he decides to run for president.

    Besides, Dean's statement is precisely the kind of red meat party chairmen are supposed to throw to rev up their base. You don't hear Republicans pulling any punches.

    So enough of the infighting. (Or enough of this kind of infighting. If Dems want to get serious about real internal debates, let's have one about how to end the war and occupation.)

    But when it comes to taking on the GOP, Dean and Congressional Democrats should get together and smoke a peace pipe with some cancer patient's now illegal supply of medicinal marijuana. It will help ease the Party's suffering, and lead, perhaps, to better communication."

    Katrina vanden Heuvel is the editor of The Nation.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/06/08/opinion/main700520.shtml

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Democrats like Dean sure can get in trouble for telling the truth. Of course, it doesn't help when our officeholders are a bunch of sniveling cowards. R's can say the most outrageous lies with nary a peep from their brethren. When a D says something true that riles up things, the "moderates" distance themselves. No wonder D's are seen as weak.

  • (Show?)

    Boston Globe columnist Joan Vennochi has published a piece called "Dean Isn't the Problem" which makes a cogent case for that side of the issue, and with which I pretty much agree. However, she doesn't quote the particular statement cited above.

    Personally I think it's a pretty stupid statement. First, it gives fuel to Republican ability to re-energize the whiny "backlash" victim politics that us poor white males are the only ones with real complaints in modern America. Second, it really screws up on "Christian," which means different things to different people in the U.S.

    There is a large minority U.S. Christians who are Protestant fundamentalists, who form the bulk of the Christian right. Many of these people do not regard other Christians, including mainline Protestants, Catholics, Greek & Russian Orthodox and so on as really Christian. Their usage restricting "Christian" to themselves has enter mainstream media to the point where one NPR reporter on the choice of Joseph Ratzinger/ Benedict XVI as pope used the term that way, referring to Christian vs. Catholic views of it. Much of this minority regards themselves as persecuted by secular humanists who they think control everything. This crack will be cited as evidence to mobilize them.

    At the same time, there are a lot of white Christians, including Protestants of all stripes, including evangelicals, and Catholics, Orthodox and others, who are Dems and Independents, either males, or women related to males. The Republican spin doctors will also try to use this to say to them that the Democratic party is hostile to them, does not welcome them, puts other people's interests before them.

    I am all for Dean changing the culture of the DP away from apologizing for being Democrats, being liberals if we are that, progressives if we are that, moderates if we are that, and so on, and for vigorously calling out the Republicans on what's wrong with them. But what's wrong with them is not that they appeal to white Christian males. It is that they pursue policies that actively hurt a lot of people, including most people of color and most women, but also most white men, though more of the latter are in the minority benefitting from those policies and more may have illusions that they can benefit.

    Having never been to a BlueOregon function nor having any clear idea about how representative it is, I can't say if it is insufficiently diverse. Oregon is not a very diverse state. There are several African-American writers in BlueOregon's stable. I see one Japanese surname, one other surname that might be Latino. Given the rapid growth of the Latino population in the state, the relative importance of Asian-Americans (including Filipinos, the great hidden Asian-American group, and South Asians as well as East Asians), and the abiding importance of Native Americans to Oregon in ways political and otherwise, writing from people from and involved in those communities would be good to get.

    However, we should not project Oregon's ethnic profile nor that of the Oregon DP onto the national DP. There are some real issues at the national level about whether the party really responds to the interests of "minority" communities it counts on for parts of its base, but the problem isn't with inclusion of black or Latino people in the organization. It may be whether those included are representative, or maybe whether they are listened to. Or, it may just be the predominance of the voices saying "move to the center, act more like Republicans." People of color are disportionately in progressive-in-the-sense-of-further-to-the-left sectors of the party, while the organization is considerably to the right of its base constituencies, both in Oregon and nationally. The ethnic effect is a function of equality and social justice issues getting defined as "left" and therefore marginalized.

  • Marblex (unverified)
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    Uhm...well the GOP is a party of White people. However, it is an insult to Christians to call these antichristian dominionist fascists "christians".

    Attacking Dean for this comment is stupid, but something I would entirely expect wingnuttia to do.

    The Dems who have spoken out against him don't have enough political savy to realize that people are fed up with the religious bullshit and want the government to take care of things WE care about. People are READY FOR THIS DIALOGUE and if the Dems don't wise up and have it, then progressives will just leave despite Dean's efforts to keep us in line.

    Personally, after the Kerry debacle, I don't understand how any progressive can continue to stomach the party. The democrats are a second wing of the corporate and banking elite (witness their stunning support of the class action and bankruptcy legislation).

    TIME FOR A THIRD PARTY, FOLKS, AND THIS TIME, REAL PROGRESSIVE REFORM.

    No more "New Deal" placebos. This time, get rid of the banking system. Bankers (interestingly, the only people Jesus ever became truly angry with besides the corrupt Pharises ...hmmm...do I sense a pattern here...?) are the singlemost useless members of society who leach off everyone, create their obscene "wealth" out of thin air with inflationary, hell, usurious interest rates, etc. But think about it...what do bankers actually do? NOTHING.

    That's why they keep short hours. They don't have real jobs.

    The human race can do much better than deliver itself into slavery, beholden to these parasites, whilst praying to baby Jeeeesus.

    So...if Howard Dean wants to attack dilitantes and religio-facsists, I say, IT'S ABOUT DAMN TIME.

  • Harold Cade (unverified)
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    Even in the worse case, the fact is that a lot of people hear what Dean says and feel as though someone has given voice to their feelings. Dean speaks for that constituency and can only be blamed for either not ignoring us or not giving voice to corporate Amerika.

    There has been a real effect over the last 10 years to limit what is considered acceptable speach. From PC standards to PBS having to warn that "some viewers may be offended" every time they relate historical facts, the public discourse has become very narrow. At least on the left. Why doesn't TBN have to warn about offending people when they broadcast? How did any factual assertion that isn't in the passive voice or targeted at a collective noun become a "personal attack"?

    By defining speach as being outside the norm, the process forces such speach to be more extreme than it would otherwise be (notice that if I had used a more specific subject it would have sounded extremist). In the 19th century a guy named Roger Casement tried to report to the British House of Commons about the atrocities being commited by corporations in the Putumayo region of Columbia/Ecuador/Peru, during the rubber boom. He found it impossible to adequately communicate the horrors. If he used acceptable, Victorian language, he wasn't communicating what he saw. If he described exactly what was happening, his speach was too extreme. By acting extreme, corporations were able to live in a zone of silence. He became totally frustrated and participated in the 1916 Irish rebellion, and was hanged. Michael Taussig in his book, "Shamanism, Colonialism and the Wild Man", puts it well, I think; "In the social relation of the spoken to the published word, and of gossip to newsprint, there often comes a time when the latter not so much dignifies, frames, condesnses, generalizes, and affirms the former as it thereby holds up a mirror to the community as a whole- a means for making and fixing collective self-consciousness. In the case of the Putumayo atrocities, this type of confirmation of reality through newsprint involved the barely conscious tension of fascination and disgust, binding the fantasitc to the credible. Rarely do the two combine as they did so disturbingly in the Putumayo rubber boom where, to cite Peter Singleton-Gates' and Maurice Girodias's reaction to the denials of the Peruvian Legation in London alleging that La Sancion and La Felpa where dishonest papers and that their published stories were fantastic: "Fantastic as they were," contested Singleton-Gates and Girodias, "their very authenticity made them fantastic."

  • glenlivid (unverified)
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    "Oregon is not a very diverse state. There are several African-American writers in BlueOregon's stable. I see one Japanese surname, one other surname that might be Latino. Given the rapid growth of the Latino population in the state, the relative importance of Asian-Americans (including Filipinos, the great hidden Asian-American group, and South Asians as well as East Asians), and the abiding importance of Native Americans to Oregon in ways political and otherwise, writing from people from and involved in those communities would be good to get."

    Ahmen, Chris! A friend of mine and I used to joke that if you asked a room full of Portlanders if they thought Portland was diverse, almost all hands would go up. If you then asked them how many of them had been to more cosmopolitan cities in other countries almost all the hands would go down. I remember seeing an add for inPortland (should be called In the Pearl magazine, IMHO) magazine in the Willamette Week a couple of months ago that featured a white couple, in some goofy outfits, riding a funny looking bike. The caption was "Celebrate Diversity".

    For some reason both Portlanders and the Democratic party like to think of themselves as diverse, but I don't see it as much as they do. Sure, the Democratic Party is the more diverse of the two, but come on, truly diverse? I think not. I do think if the Democrats don't start finding a way to meaningfully address the concerns of the ethnic groups they seem to co-opt, instead of throwing together this pathetic quilt of issues every two years, you might as well just unite the two parties some time down the road and be done with it.

    Remember Al Gore standing up for the disenfranchised black voters in Florida back in 2000? Neither do I.

  • LT (unverified)
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    First, I think Dean had the right idea but the words came out wrong. Had he said the same substance with better chosen words, it would have been less of a story. But he's not the first public figure with that problem.

    I think it was Sen. Ben Nelson who said "Dean should switch to decaf" and I thought that was a great line.

    Too many in the press have ordained the main job of party chair as raising money. They must have loved McAuliffe--lots of money but where were the victories?

    Lest we forget, Blue Oregon is a small world. And there are lots of folks that, when asked for instance "Did you hear what finally happened to Gregoire?" say "WHO?" and need to be reminded that is the name of WA Gov.

    If Dean can have as much success reviving the Democratic Party down to the local level and winning elections in unexpected places as DFA did with Dean Dozen and Dean Endorsed candidates, such outspoken remarks will be forgotten.

    If 2006 is as bad a year as 2004 (and I think Democrats would have to be incompetent to lose off-year elections this time) then there will be lots of reasons given for failure.

    I went to the Edwards blog and it was very interesting the difference between the blog and the soundbites on TV.

    Some national commentators make it seem as if the structure of a national party is in the E. Coast corridor from DC north, that DNC members from states and groups like the Assoc. of State Democratic Chairs are just so much furniture. The "powers that be" can't handle Dean having been democratically elected as the chair of the Democratic Party. They are too used to the "establishment" back there deciding everything.

  • Brian (unverified)
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    Dean is the problem. Democrats have an amazing, and deeply disturbing, ability to shoot themselves in the foot just when they need to get moving with the most agility. Um, let's see: Dean's job is to take the progressive message into the Red states where Republican and Christian voters are dominant.

    So what does he do? He shoots his mouth off and alienates Republican and Christian voters. Gee, that should help expand the Democratic base. Dean should be replaced ASAP with a Chairman who is more concerned with getting progressives elected than with spouting off whatever he feels like saying.

    Bloggers can do that because we're not trying to win elections. Politicians can't, because they are. The truth can be expressed in a manner that doesn't offend those who have a different perspective. Canning Howard Dean doesn't mean forsaking the speaking of progressive truth--it just means that if the Democrats are ever going to become a majority national party again they have to learn the George Lakoff lesson: words matter.

  • (Show?)

    How is it that the GOP can get away with calling Democrats terrorists, the Taliban, Baathists, unpatriotic, latte drinking leftist whackos, and the rest of it all, and we get in trouble (mostly by squabbling among ourselves) when one person calls them white Christians? After all, FoxNews was saying that 78% of registered Republicans are white Christians. So, if Dean's mostly correct, the question is: what's wrong with us that we're so busy cannibalizing ourselves, running around trying not to say what we think, trying to hide in the gray middle, rather than fighting back against the common enemy?

    Dean's the kind of person we want - someone who'll speak his mind, who cares more about getting the point across than consulting with every two-bit consultant the national party prays to. He's not 100% great, but he's pretty damn good.

  • afs (unverified)
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    Marblex...

    I hate to admit this, but if Dean is driven out of the Chair position by the DLC center to right coalition, there really will be a mass exodus from the Democatic Party. Not even Howard Dean playing the good soldier after being driven from the Chair and begging activists to stay will keep them this time.

    Howard Dean is NOT liberal. Dean really is a centrist. He's a Jimmy Carter Democrat. He joined the party during the Carter campaign. He's pro-gun ownership. He supported the Afghan invasion. Remember when Jimmy Carter was called a conservative Southern Democrat? (Yeah. Times change, huh?) If there's no room for even Jimmy Carter Dems left in the Democratic Party, then the Party really is dead. Dean really is the last chance for the party to save itself.

  • Ruth Adkins (unverified)
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    The Republicans are the problem, followed closely by the corporate media, and Beltway "leaders" like Biden and Edwards.

    The Republicans are destroying our country, plain and simple.

    The media, ever fearful of being labeled liberal and ever mindful of their profits, ignore the real issues and focus on stirring up "controversy", knowing the Dems are an easy mark.

    The DC dems fall for it every time, attacking their own instead of reframing. When a snideass reporter breathlessly asks them if Dean is a problem, all they have to do is ignore the trap, pivot and respond with a positive Dem message.

    How long will it take Biden et al to figure out that these weak-minded appeals to the "middle" are a losing strategy? Don't they see how lame it looks compared to the powerful discipline and message control displayed by the R's?

  • JustaDog (unverified)
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    Edwards followed up by declaring that Dean "is not the spokesman for the party." - LOL, excuse me, but this IS the butthead that was elected to be the DNC Chair!

    He's your mouthpiece - love him or leave him. I think he really does represent one side of the Democrats - the far left, along with Hillary, Kennedy, Boxer, Kerry, and that whole gang!

  • (Show?)

    As a Christian, I wasn't offended by his remarks at all. I'm a Texas born and raised Southern Baptist and I saw no problem with his remarks. What actually offends me is the Republican Party that pretends to be Christian and then turns its back on the basic tenants (that whole love thy neighbor, helping the less fortunate, don't judge stuff).

    Dean isn't using it to divide. He's pointing out that the Republican Party is exclusive, not inclusive. The majority of its members are white and "Christian" (a better term would be Protestant). They court people of other religions and ethnic groups at election time and ignore them the rest of the time.

    Bush spent lots of time in Texas and the SW courting the Hispanic vote. However, since then what has he done to improve their lot in life? They're all but ignored the moment the election is over.

    I've said the exact same thing he said about the Republican Party and I've heard it dozens of times at conventions, fundraisers, meetings, and more.

    I guess these guys forget that these are exactly the type of comments that are typical at fundraisers and gatherings amongst Democrats. Oops, I forgot-- they're both the wishy-washy type of Democrats who will never win a national election in this country unless they grow a backbone.

    JustaDog-- Just so you know, Dean is not far left-- his politics actually place him as more of a centrist. I guess when you compare him to some of the elephants in donkey's clothing that are many of our elected officials now (DLC people), he would be far left.

  • afs (unverified)
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    Justadog...

    The only way you can lump together Hillary, Kennedy, Boxer, Kerry together on the far left is by using some bizarre method of measurement by which Cheney and Rumsfeld are measured as "lefties" James Dobson and Fred Phelps (the "God Hates Fags" minister) as centrists, and Sauron, the ring wraiths, and Mordor's orc minions slightly to the right of Phelps and Dobson.

  • (Show?)

    I blame the media for taking a small soundbite and beating it to death. The media created the story by interviewing politicians for their reaction to a statement taken out context, poof another fake news story is born..or should I say porn?

    Dean's statement is no better or worse than other statements made by George Bush, Chaney, Rice and Rumsfield. Don't you wonder how long it took Rove to activate members of the press (I use the term lightly) to report the story?

  • (Show?)

    today, at the DNC meeting in dc (shown on cspan), Howard Dean spoke of how much fun it was to be part of the Democratic Party -- because of its diversity. he said that by 2050, the rest of the country would be like California: no majorities, just some big minorities and then everyone else.

    he's right. we are a diverse party, sometimes to our political detriment. the Rs ain't. they can trot out their tokens all they want; the fact remains that they are dominated by whites and, increasingly, by radical pseudo-christians. and as he said, when we Dems get across the message that we are the party of moral values -- caring for children, keeping our promises, honesty, etc -- then we will win elections and the Rs, who stand for so little, will begin to diminish.

    i don't think Dr Dean can ever be careful in his statements; the wingnuts will always find something to twist. so he needs to keep speaking in his own way. he is becoming the voice of our party, and i say, Thank God!

  • (Show?)

    I didn't like Dean as a presidential candidate but think he's been doing a pretty good job as Chair. The R's make us regret what we say. Why do we let them? Or, why don't we make them regret what they say?

  • (Show?)

    Had Democrats circled the wagons, though, the story might have died.

    And there's the rub.

    When things get hot..the Dems go after each other. The Republicans will go after the Dems first...and if that doesn't work THEN they'll go after each other.

    Dean isn't the problem. He's the solution. And that's what has so many in power Democrats shaking in their shoes.

  • RealityCheck (unverified)
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    Frankly, we have to be much smarter than making these statements. It makes us sound like petulant school children. I know this is probably sacreligeous to say, but consider the following. First, Dean does not need to make such statements to energize the democratic base - this administration's actions does that sufficiently on its own. And fully mobilizing democratic loyalists is not sufficent to win elections, seeing that we just lost the last one. I know this is old hat, but it is the moderate voting block that decides elections - many of whom are christian or consider themselves moral (whatever that entails). By making such statments, Dean is providing Rs an opportunity to claim the moral high ground - even though Rep. policies belie this claim. We can certainly play hardball with the Republicans through our actions (or at least more intelligent rhetoric), rather then through sophmoric comments (albeit truthful).

  • Ed Bickford (unverified)
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    Go Howard! Whaddaya want? The guy with sharp elbows who calls R's on the carpet for being despicable hypocrites or the spineless DLC acolytes afraid to rock the boat? I'm grabbing the gunwhales haulin' for all I'm worth!

    That "Great Triangulator" strategy is a total washout. Playing nice with those gangster-types in charge of the Republican party will just get us knee-capped. Just as it did Bill.

    The unmitigated evil that motivates today's R's doesn't spring from the philosophy of their party. They are the opposition, not demons. Their extremists succeed by exploiting the politics of greed, as explicated in Paul Krugman's NY Times editorial "Losing Our Country" of yesterday, repeated in today's Oregonian. A letter to the editor of the NYT today says it succinctly: "In our quest to obtain what we deem absolutely necessary to our personal economic comfort, we have essentially lost any concern for the common good. Our self-centeredness makes us willing supporters of the politics of greed."

    The base that gave the R's the leg up isn't just the rich bastards that will "grind yer bones to make me bread" but all the ambitious folks who believe they'll improve their own finances by supporting them. Perhaps the fact that this constituency is largely the same one that claims to require a moral stand by their leaders is the key to breaking the spell.

    Krugman's editorial makes a sobering observation: "the middle-class society we have lost emerged only after the country was shaken by depression and war." We're half-way there...

  • glenlivid (unverified)
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    Some great points made in this thread; I hope Dean gets a chance to read them. This thread got me particularly fired up.

    I think, as Marblex said earlier:

    "after the Kerry debacle, I don't understand how any progressive can continue to stomach the party. The democrats are a second wing of the corporate and banking elite (witness their stunning support of the class action and bankruptcy legislation)."

    And Cody said:

    "How is it that the GOP can get away with calling Democrats terrorists, the Taliban, Baathists, unpatriotic, latte drinking leftist whackos, and the rest of it all, and we get in trouble (mostly by squabbling among ourselves) when one person calls them white Christians? After all, FoxNews was saying that 78% of registered Republicans are white Christians. So, if Dean's mostly correct, the question is: what's wrong with us that we're so busy cannibalizing ourselves, running around trying not to say what we think, trying to hide in the gray middle, rather than fighting back against the common enemy?"

    and Ruth said:

    "The Republicans are the problem, followed closely by the corporate media, and Beltway "leaders" like Biden and Edwards. The Republicans are destroying our country, plain and simple. The media, ever fearful of being labeled liberal and ever mindful of their profits, ignore the real issues and focus on stirring up "controversy", knowing the Dems are an easy mark. The DC dems fall for it every time, attacking their own instead of reframing. When a snideass reporter breathlessly asks them if Dean is a problem, all they have to do is ignore the trap, pivot and respond with a positive Dem message. How long will it take Biden et al to figure out that these weak-minded appeals to the "middle" are a losing strategy? Don't they see how lame it looks compared to the powerful discipline and message control displayed by the R's?"

    …and finally, Ed really got me angry (in a good way) when he said:

    "In our quest to obtain what we deem absolutely necessary to our personal economic comfort, we have essentially lost any concern for the common good. Our self-centeredness makes us willing supporters of the politics of greed."

    This is where the rubber meets the road; all the self-importance put onto personal morality is a cover-up for the same people kicking your grandma onto the street, along with your mentally ill uncle, soon to be followed by you if you don't get some health insurance. Deregulation will not save America because corporations will not save America; they only care about profits. All the lies being told in the name of "keeping our country from turning into one big handout" are, in the end, going to reduce our country to a point where we go back to depression era tactics to save it from utter destruction. Eventually, we as a nation will need one big handout if we don’t start turning the corner on the ideas that are going to ruin us all. The idea of the wealthy escaping with golden parachutes makes me sick. Where did they make their money?

    If the democrats don’t make an uncompromising stand to the following issues, they have handed themselves a defeat that will simply wait for the tide to turn. Judging by the way things have been going, I would say that is the current strategy.

    The main issues:

    1. We have a healthcare crisis in this country, and it’s time everyone wakes up to that. The current system will never work because there is no current system. If we continue to use the emergency room as our doctor’s office, we will all end up indebted to a "healthcare system" that has systematically protected profits above people. This is the most comprehensive plank the democrats have, period. It cuts across party lines, and it affects people from many different professions and income levels. The Bush tactic of bankruptcy reform was only intended to further empower the healthcare industry

    2. If the Democratic Party wants to pride itself on ethnic diversity and the goals of the workingman, it’s time they own up to the issues surrounding both in this country. Protecting a minimum wage, dealing with illegal aliens (realizing the problem is not going away and finding ways to accept illegals in a more sane method). Advance the ability of everyone to improve their own neighborhoods with federal money and/or tax breaks (this applies to the poor as well as minorities). Neighborhoods that are inhabited by the poor and/or ethnic groups are often pushed out by the wealthy developement groups that come in and do the very things ethnic minorities/poor people would do if they have the chance. This is the mindset that protects money over belief.

    Shipping labor overseas and companies protecting profits with offshore accounts: do the math on this yourself. The very people that make their greatest profits in our country depend on us to pay for the infrastructure in which they make they profits, and offer grants and political contributions in return. Talk to me about patriotism, loyalty and social responsibility, and I will point you in the direction of corporate America. When are corporations going to be held accountable for the same things all Americans are: paying taxes and supporting our economy?

    1. The army recruitment numbers and the popularity polls of the current president scream for action. Are we going to sit around and debate a statement Dean made about the GOP’s record of as a white/Christian party, or are we going to take the gloves off on the two most telling numbers in this country. Why are recruitment goals down? Because this war should never have happened, because our troops were never equipped properly, were never able to deal with an insurgency correctly, and the Mainstream Media doesn’t even cover this dilemma. Remember when George W. remarked on being surprised he won against an incumbent administration? Democrats fail to strike while the iron is hot. Don’t put a gag on Dean…take it off. The very statements Howard Dean makes could be the very catalyst the media needs to start addressing the real problem, instead of addressing his statements themselves (or runaway brides).

    2. Democrats should be mad as hell. Infuriated, like myself, everyday they get up in the morning. It seems they are willing to accept fighting against propaganda instead of exposing lies. To me, that’s like never fighting the school bully that takes your lunch money on a daily basis; it’s more like spending all of your time debating the kid that works on the school newspaper about the fight that will never happen.

    3. Stop trying to play exclusively to the seductive vote of the group in the middle...JUST STOP IT!! Appealing to the middle is worthless; you must fight from your strengths, which are the issues for all Americans that are not being addressed. I didn't even name a fraction of them, but they are real issues, not white elephants, and they are the difference between shadow boxing and fighting the real fight.

  • Kent (unverified)
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    Ha...

    writing in here from Texas I gotta tell you that all Dean would have to say is:

    "Sorry...my mistake....The Republicans really aren't a Christian Party"

    and you would see the fastest backpedaling you've ever seen.

    "No wait...??? we really are a Christian party....err...well....but we do have some minorities that vote for us...."

  • Kent (unverified)
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    For those of you who aren't up to speed on the Christian Fundamentalist takeover of the Republican Party in Texas:

    Platform of the Republican Party of Texas

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    Kent--

    Don't even get me started on their takeover of the Party in Texas...

    If the damned Democrats there hadn't gotten so lazy and so preoccupied fighting amongst themselves, it would've never happened.

    But the Christian Fundamentalists there were just waiting for the right moment to sieze control of the state and the Democrats handed it to them on a silver platter.

    The nice thing is watching town by town as the Christian Fundamentalists are being beaten at the local level, which is where they've had the most strength and the biggest stronghold on Texas.

  • Jim Holman (unverified)
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    Cody writes: "How is it that the GOP can get away with calling Democrats terrorists, the Taliban, Baathists, unpatriotic, latte drinking leftist whackos, and the rest of it all, and we get in trouble (mostly by squabbling among ourselves) when one person calls them white Christians?"

    The Republicans have a division of labor that allows them to do this. The stuff that you mention typically comes from Limbaugh, Michael Savage, and others of similar style, not from the professional politicians, who serve a different function. The divisions of labor has several effects:

    1) it energizes the right-wing faithful

    2) it pulls the whole political dialog to the right. In other words, the starting point of the discussion is now whether Democrats are terrorists, or whatever.

    3) it makes the Republican politicians sound moderate, by comparison. It allows them to reject the extreme message while still getting their licks in -- "No, I don't think that Democrats are terrorists, however their actions and words do sometimes give aid and comfort to terrorists.

    Through framing the issue in extreme terms at the start you end up with the "reasonable" idea that Democrats sometimes give aid and comfort to terrorists.

    The trick is that you need all three pieces: the hit men (and women) who will make such remarks, subservient media outlets that will propagate the remarks, and politicians who can distance themselves from the remarks and thus sound reasonable.

    The issue is not whether the Republicans are the party of white Christians; pretty much they are. The issue is who do you want communicating that message? You need a hit man for that. Then, ask Dean a question about that. Then Dean can be the voice of reasonableness: "No, the Republicans are not a party of white Christians. They do, however have individuals who would like to make it a party of white Christians, and unfortunately these individuals seem to be gaining influence." Here Dean gets to be the voice of reason; he rejects the extreme position, comes across as moderate, and still gets his licks in.

    This is how it's done. Maybe some day the Democrats will figure that out.

  • Ed Bickford (unverified)
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    Jim obviouly thinks we must succeed by out-republican-ing the R's. That is morally repugnant, and it makes me laugh to think of Howard trying that!

    Rather than the slick rhetorical maneuver, I prefer to concentrate on real issues. We have plenty of heavy ammunition, why waste time with potshots?

  • Harold Cade (unverified)
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    I think that Ed's comments about basic selfishness and Dean's comments about politicos that never had a real job are coming close to a legitimate issue about how government is run. When I lived in Holland I really liked the perspective that government was something that young people did to learn the system. After they knew something about how the world worked they'd quit government and join the private sector to make that knowlege work for them. Our system works in reverse, with people that have accumulated power and wealth entering government to help others like them accumulate more power and wealth.

    Portland's a good place to start. Why not start an initiative to promote government as service, not as just another career path with the same material expectations as any in the private sector. People in government are always talking about how you can't get good people unless you compete with the private sector in terms of compensation. I find that as offensive as Xtians that say that you can't choose to live the good moral theology part of Xtianity without having been converted or out of fear of hell. When I look at a city government salary, I see retirees on fixed incomes paying for it out of their property taxes. Most the people I've met in city government have an attitude that they're well intentioned and earn proportionally with the private sector, so they're good people. I would judge my accomplishments against an absolute criterion, was what I did enough to make a consequential differnce to the people I serve, and did I make the most of every penny of those retirees' contribution to my pay. Porland reminds me a lot of Ireland in the 1980s, underemployed but well educated and intentioned. Tom Potter could be just the guy to say that a city job is a service position, you work for minimum wage or whatever it takes to get by, and you don't look at that service as a way to get rich and/or retire. I've been a director at Charles Schwab with the commensurate salary and benefits; I would work as a director of the Parks Department, for example, for $10/hour. I'm sure there are A LOT of people here that think the same way. Why not try it?

  • Ruth Adkins (unverified)
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    The issue is who do you want communicating that message? You need a hit man for that. Then, ask Dean a question about that. Then Dean can be the voice of reasonableness:

    This is a good point, Jim. Although liberal talk radio is growing fast, we don't have the reach of Rush et al. quite yet, nor do we have the lockstep message discipline where all R's top to bottom are saying their scripted variations of the same message. Nor do we have a corresponding TV/print liberal media to push the message. It'll be a great day when we have 50 pundits asking talk show guests questions inspired by liberal talking points.

    Anyway, I still think Dean as attack dog would work if his fellow Dems backed him up.

    Note in the snide AP story in today's O, the R. spokeswoman says "Democrats have no vision and would rather pander to the maniacal fringe". This is the official view of the R. party.

    Did the media run to R. lawmakers and ask them if using negative phrases like "maniacal fringe" hurts their party? Would an R. lawmaker or leader ever undermine an R. spokesperson's statement? Unthinkable. This shows just how far the beltway Dems have sunk in the media game.

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    The R. thugs and henchmen led by Rove simply push a button and the anti-Dean spin cycle is activated. Ruth is correct, the DLC Dems take the bait EVERY time and apparently have learned nothing at all from the campaign of '03 wherein Dean was excoriated by fellow Dems for such outrageous comments as that we should be "even handed" with the Palestinians, that the world is not necessarily "safer with Saddam behind bars, and that the Democratic Party should be getting the votes of southern males with confederate flags and gun racks on their cars. What do these comments all have in common? They are either true or reasonable!!!

    Kent has such a good idea that it should be repeated far and wide to any whiny R. who thinks being called a Christian is hate speech for (I wanna say it but I won't) cripes' sake! Let's just say, okay, well then you're not Christian! Feel better now?

    Many kudos to Moses, Jenni, and t.a. barnhardt as well -- thank you for hitting it right out of the park on this one.

    But I really must commend glenlivid for the outstanding call to arms concerning the vital framing and discussion that we must make happen in place of this self destructive Dean bashing. Glenlivid, would you please take your comments and form them into an opinion piece and submit it to all the Op-ed people at the O? You could request that it be printed as the counter to the absurd anti-Dean polemic in today's Commentary section by the K. Parker of wingnuttia (love that one, thanks Marblex!) We need and deserve equal space on this issue in the O. Also let's all please write letters and share these thoughts with the other kool-aid news services. Also please click my name to go to THE place for preparing for the Dean Speaks for Me day of action and support, June 15th. Best response to the pathetic spineless wimps who are afraid to join Dean in calling out the R's? Fill the DNC coffers! Write reminder letters to every spineless Democrat who forgets that this party now belongs to US, not to the buffoon Republican-lite corporate synchophants who couldn't even beat a moron like Bush! They had their chance and blew it by taking down Dean in '03 and standing up Kerry to be a total punching bag and then letting him concede an election he actually won. How much more ridiculous does it have to get? Write! Donate! Fight! Howard, we have got your back.

  • Kent (unverified)
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    OK Harold:

    Great idea:

    We'll elect your neighborhood to be the first one in Portland without professional police protection. I'm sure you'll do just fine with your service-minded neighbors organizing a volunteer neighborhood walk with flashlights and armbands.

    Same thing with the fire protection and EMTs. I'm sure there are plenty of volunteer fire fighters on your block. And one of your neighbors will be happy to keep an ambulance in their drive for those late night emergencies.

    I also expect there are plenty of retired folks in the neighborhood willing and qualified teach in the schools as volunteers. Who needs professional teachers?

    Oh, wait. You weren't actually talking about VOLUNTEERING were you? You just want to pay public service professionals the same wages as kids working at McDonalds. So the families of Portland's police officers, fire fighters, and teachers will be on food stamps and won't be able to afford health insurance much less ever be able to afford even a one bedroom condo in the Portland metro area. And kids coming out of college won't even be able to service the interest on their college loans on a public service salary.

    Yep, I'm sure that will do wonders for the quality of public services and education in the Portland area.

  • Harold Cade (unverified)
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    Kent, I was referring to bureaucratic positions, paper pushers, middle management, etc. And those positions exist in the safety areas as well. Obviously where there are training/licensure requirments the idea isn't as valid, but who's to say there aren't qualifed candidates in those areas that would want to serve? Can you not imagine all the positions where this could save us a lot of money and we would get better service from people that actually cared? Why would you immediately think of only the areas where it wouldn't work? Does the first sentence describe your job? Enlighten me about the quality of service Portland is getting from its school administrators. Is it so naive to think we could get rid of 75% of the money being spent there and give it to the teachers/students? I am from Texas too, with an emphasis on FROM. I found the daily compromises I had to make to live there where just too much of a moral compromise. Does it irritate you to think that someplace is actually trying instead of glorying in homo sapiens' cult of personality and the worship of the "The Great Man"? At least I followed that favorite southern adage, "Love it or leave it". Would you really have us give up and live like Houstonians?

  • Kent (unverified)
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    Harold:

    I'm actually in the private sector at present. I do consulting work on fisheries policy for fishing industry and government clients out of a home office and make considerably more than I did while working for the National Marine Fisheries Service in Alaska. It's something I came into when I quit my government job to follow my wife to Texas while she does her medical residency here, and we bide our time until moving back to the Northwest. Strangely, there isn't much call for marine fisheries biologists in Central Texas.

    Now my own public-sector experience is limited to the Peace Corps and working for a Federal environmental agency. But it's been my experience in both the Peace Corps and NMFS that the mid and upper-level bureaucrats that you apparently have scorn for are the glue that keeps agencies functioning. Without them productivity would cease. And most of the ones I know live with high stress and huge hours for only modest pay. Now I don't really know anything about working in local government. But I suspect it really isn't that different.

    As for your own particular examples. Do you honestly think that the police, fire, and schools would function efficiently with amateurs in charge? Do you think the police force is going to have respect for amateur managers running the shop with no actual police experience? Or do you think that perhaps things will run better if the best and most experienced line officers are promoted up into managerial jobs as is the case with most bureaucratic organizations. In most organizations I am familiar with it is generally the most hardworking and dedicated line workers who get promoted up through the ranks. And with increased responsibility generally comes a modest increase in pay. Are you going to eliminate upward mobility for line workers?

    Maybe I just don't get who it is that you are talking about. If not actual managers with areas of responsibility are you perhaps talking about the support staff that work in most government agencies? The last several public sector secretaries and receptionists that I've known were single moms struggling to raise their kids on a very modest goverment clerical salary. Are those the ones you want to give a pay cut to?

  • LT (unverified)
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    The latest wrinkle in all this is that Cheney said some really harsh things about Dean which were the lead story on AOL when I signed on. He said "maybe his mother loves him but no one else" and "I doubt he ever won anything in his life".

    The next sentence in the article was that Dean was elected Gov. of Vt. 5 times.

    I think much of this is a tempest in a teapot. I wonder what percentage of the population knows even one quote from Dean (or that Dean is DNC chair). That Joan Vennochi piece quoted above says Dean has raised more money than McAuliffe so far in his first year of office (I think that was the statistic).

    If Dean has a great grass roots effort for next year and there are victories, all this will be forgotten.

    I read somewhere that the most telling poll question still is "cares about people like me, understands my problems". If the discussion next year is about the role of fundraising and professional consultants rather than economic and other issues concerning ordinary Americans, and Democrats don't get their act together sufficiently to win elections, Howard Dean could have been silent all year for all the difference that would make.

  • Ruth Adkins (unverified)
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    Amen, LT. Which is precisely why it is so infuriating that the Donna Braziles and Joe Bidens of DCWorld are falling for the smoke and mirror game of making Dean's comments into an issue. If we don't get a party and a candidate who can clearly articulate how Dems make peoples lives better, and who don't get sucked into the wobbly "pander to the middle" mentality, we are doomed.

    Dean will keep on doing what he is doing so well, "showing up" in all 50 states, speaking the truth, and helping build strong state parties. If we get a good candidate, then Dean's infrastructure transformation will make a huge difference in the next election.

  • glenlivid (unverified)
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    "The trick is that you need all three pieces: the hit men (and women) who will make such remarks, subservient media outlets that will propagate the remarks, and politicians who can distance themselves from the remarks and thus sound reasonable."

    That's textbook advice to fighting a war on the opponent’s terms. Then what? The Republicans change the rules and make the Democrats look they are fighting a war of propaganda?

    You want to fight the dominant party by their terms? Screw that.

    How about a much more simple approach? Before Dean makes any more comments, he sits down with Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and other leaders of the Senate and the House. He coordinates what he is going to say, because it follows a plan. Is that happening? If it is, than I feel foolish for proposing the idea that the Democratic Party needs a plan.

    I’d like to think that Dean is already working on a plan of attack; if I’m wrong, than we are putting too much importance on a man we think will overhaul the party. Maybe I’m putting too much faith in a party that gets its butt kicked so regularly it has accepted losing.

    Where is John Kerry? Where is Al Gore? Personally, I don't miss Gore, but why do we dismiss the major leaders of the Democratic Party? Weren't they on the front lines of what the party believes in? Bill Clinton was so solidly kicked in the balls that he has disappeared, and it’s not because Democrats thought Bill was a bad guy, it’s because he was dismissed by an efficient political machine.

    No one should distance themselves from the very people that had the guts to fight on the front lines. No one should be ashamed of Clinton, Gore, and Kerry because the opposition has tagged them as bad people. The Republicans have done their job; they have wrecked our party, our ideas and our leadership.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
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    One thing everyone seems to be missing is the media part of the "Dean" story.

    I first saw this "story" on MSNBC last week, then NBC news the next night, then ABC news the next night, then on one of the Sunday morning talk shows (George Will making a typical Republican jab, then taking it back). It was a typical media echo chamber. The same sound bites again and again, edited to make sure context doesn't interfere with the desired result.

    If I had any lingering doubts that the TV media has become a tool of the Republican Party, they have vanished with this "Dean" story. This level of journalism, now done by every news channel in this story, is at a level that would have resulted in termination of employment for a reporter 20 years ago. It is not balanced, it does not give any chance for rebuttal, it is out of context, no in depth study was done, a point of view preceeds the story (bias), and a misleading result comes from watching the story.

    How can I get the BBC into Prineville on a regular basis?

  • Harold Cade (unverified)
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    Maybe I need to be more explicit; I think most of us are on the same page with this. I'm assuming, perhaps naively, that very qualified people would volunteer, not just amateurs. That, plus a lot of interested amateurs could grow into the positions. Maybe we need some people that "don't get it" to really question the assumptions; that's what grass roots is about, to me at least. I also envision the service workforce as a purely volunteer thing, not something to be foisted on current employees involuntarily.

    I do have scorn for the mid-level funtionaries, particularly in the Not For Profits. I never felt that way until I moved to Portland five years ago. Now I really believe that the single most formidable obstacle to their functioning well is paid staff positions. I've seen too many depressing examples of eager volunteers being turned away for what seem like petty reasons, only to find that the person nixing their efforts was being paid to do largely the same thing, but wouldn't say so. It's the point that people let the good work of the organization supplant personal inspection of the work they're doing and whether it really makes a difference.

    So, back to Howard Dean. I think that Ralph Nader had a great idea, the way he always coupled a rabble-rousing speach with a call for people to formulate a concrete action plan, however modest, and then act on it. Without that it is too easy to attend a Dean rally because one is fed up with the system, purely for the gratification of hearing someone that sounds like-minded. Maybe I have it backwards, but I think it would be harder to attack Dean's speach just because he says something in his own characterstic way if it were closely tied to concrete action. The comment about the Rebpulican party being mainly white, Xtians is a good example. It'll get a lot of "yeah, man"s from the crowd, but what's the action item? Register more black, agnostic Republicans? Let it be known that white Xtians aren't welcome in the Democratic party? I think a statement like, too many white Xtians are trying to take over the country via the Republican party, so if you consider yourself a Xtian and disagree with that, don't attend a church that uses your donations to pursue that kind of agenda, works a lot better. Has the same sting, but I think the ability to act on the assertion makes the statement a different beast altogether. On Delay he could have said, "Let your representatives in Congress know that he doesn't represent you and that you think he should be serving time in Houston", instead of the actual words he used.

    Glenlivid, please don't take this as supporting the current crop of Republicans, but I think the trashing of Kerry and Gore (and Dukakis and Tsongas and Gary Hart, and on and on...) is largely the Dems fault. Like them or not, the Republicans stand by their career politians better, I think, regardless of their electoral victories or losses. Bob Dole is a great example. He paid his dues, did his time, and when his turn came they got behind him as the nominee, unpalatable as he was. Gore loses by a hair and the Dems pretend like they don't want to know him. At least that's the way it seems.

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    $10 an hour? Are you kidding? That isn't even a livable family wage. When you account in gas, child care, etc. you're bringing in about a buck an hour. For a position where you work from home (and therefore don't need to pay for things like gas and childcare), it's a more reasonable amount.

    I've worked in a government position before where I put in tons of work, yet made so little I qualified for food stamps. Sure I did it because I enjoyed it; however, it wears you out fairly quickly. Not only that, but you never improve your lot in life-- no house, no replacement car, no savings for your kids' college, etc.

    Now I agree that there are too many people in government service making over $70K. However, I'm not going to say the people in the $30-50K range are in it to get rich. In today's society that's the type of salary you need to live a comfortable life.

  • Harold Cade (unverified)
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    Jenni et al.- I'm sure your views are pretty representative. Maybe what I'm saying is just too far out for anyone to care to imagine. Maybe not.

    I have voluntarily cut my salary from well into 6 figures to $10/hour and live much, much more comfortably. The rub is what you expect from life and how you define advancement. Personally I've found that most of the comforts society tells us we need are only forms of dependence. I've given my car away. Sure it's harder to do things, but my comfort level is greater seeing that I'm in far better shape than I was sitting behind a wheel. If people that have had it better never choose to access the alternative infrastructure, how do we know it works? I brew my own beer, grow my own vegetables and have chosen not to have children, mainly so everyone else can. Biological urges do not constitute necessity. You might choose to use your brain and learning to pursue a genetic agenda, but you could choose otherwise. Sure I don't have a minute to relax with all the chores and a regular job, but what exactly would I do with that leisure time? Convince myself that I've chosen the recreation that I'd engage in when it would just be another opportunity for corporations to market to me? Sure there are as many problems as just accepting the status quo, but they're MY problems. I know why/how the problem came to be and I know what I have to do if I don't like it. I can't say that about sitting in traffic or trying to pay off a mortgage for an over-valued house.

    Again, maybe I'm just really naive, too idealistic or should have been a hermit, but I've met a lot of people in Portland that live just like I do. The problem with trying to be an organism in this world is that it can only be done with the consent of the dominant human culture. How many Salmon there are, where they live, or wolves or cougars or anyone that tries to move forward with human evolution, is not a choice any of us can make if that choice is contrary to the human monoculture's agenda. Do you realize how far down the phyla you have to go to find a species with more members than homo sapiens? I don't, but I know it's below rats and mice. I'll probably be killed on my bike by someone that needs an SUV to feel safe and has little regard for my life. I obviously haven't done much with it if I'm riding a bike.

    Back to grass roots initiative and Howard Dean- my basic assumption is that what costs money is not being able to do what you really want to. We spend an enormous amount in diversions and diversionary campaigning. When I moved to Holland I was shocked at how much more I had at the end of the month than when I lived in Texas and how much cheaper it was to run a political campaign. Everything was more expensive, taxes were higher, etc, but being able to directly pursue one's vision of happiness lead to a more valid, streamlined and affordable life. They would find it unimaginable that a person barely making ends meet would have to save for their kids' college or not be able to send them. Child care could be provided by other qualified volunteers with a similar vision.

    I imagine that Howard Dean might ask the same question. Fine, one might not like the vision, but where does the reaction come from that sounds like we're a threat of some kind? If I want to give up a lot of material things and work for nothing, doesn't that just leave more for those who disagree? If Dean is so crazy that no one will vote for him and he's bringing down the Dems, what are the Reps whining about? Maybe it's just my bias, but it sounds a lot like fear that if people questioned the assumptions the whole house of cards would come crashing down. It seems to me that our economy is more dependent on discretionary spending than most, maybe any other, and that depends on people feeling good and not thinking about things a lot. There is nothing more uncomfortable than being forced to do anything, particularly think, which Howard Dean does succeed in doing.

    Maybe Howard Dean's not a part of the problem or the solution, but a symptom of the disease.

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    Steve B., regarding the BBC, you have three options 1) If OPB reaches Prineville, rig up a tape recorder with a timer for whatever gawd-awful hour they have relegated their straight BBC broadcast to, in order to substitute the much weaker "The World" show during the daytime; 2) get a shortwave radio; 3) read it on the web -- the Beeb has a tremendous website. I'd guess if you have a fast connection you could listen to them that way, though since I don't have one, I'm not sure.

    Unfortunately Dean didn't say "white Christian Fundamentalists," or "white political extremists using religion as camouflage," he said "white Christians." If the RP is 78% white Christians, that number in itself probably is quite close to the population as a whole, to Independents, and to the DP, except that the DP "white" number will be lower only because of relatively greater numbers of black and Latino Christians -- but still majority white Christian.

    It would only be by breaking out "Christian" that you'd see the most relevant difference. The proportion of Christians who are Catholic is still considerably more D than R, and a lot of those who left the Dems since FDR's time probably are Independents rather than GOP. Conversely, the proportion of white Protestants who believe in the inerrent truth of the Bible is much higher among Republicans than among Democrats, with most of those who are not R probably also are not registered voters -- Christian Fundamentalism historically has been rather quietist when it came to politics.

    I want Dean to be out there being a bulldog, but he should focus on the extremism of the leadership, and turn their tired old "no ideas" attacks back on them. They are a party of bad ideas, that didn't work a century ago (polarization was much worse then, due partly to unregulated markets and corporate power, and quite violent) and don't work now.

    But being a bulldog does not require wearing a kick-me sign. Dean is great when he helps Democrats take off the DLC "let's try to act more like Republicans" type kick-me sign. But if he just puts on another sign that says, Kick me Hard, Right Here, in a different typeface, the basic value is lost.

    Attacking the identity of the R's grassroots base is just bad politics.

    Attacking that identity is even worse politics when done in a way that sweeps up people like someone I'm close to in the heart of what's now Nethercutt country, retired from actively running a wheat farm with her husband and from teaching high school after going to college after raising four kids, who has gotten elected for years to the (unpaid) school board despite being an open Dem. She gets elected because she's smart, competent, full of good sense about making things work, able to get other reasonable folks to cooperate to restrain the dolts who can be a real drag in small town life, and because she knows how to listen respectfully and consider different approaches to problems without giving up her own core beliefs. She finds motivation for many kinds of civic engagement, from public service to Habitat for Humanity to various charitable giving to serving on the board of her Evangelical Lutheran Church in America synod (that is a relatively liberal mainline denomination, btw, "evangelical" is another hijacked term) from a very deep personal engagement with her Christian faith, and reflection on what it calls for from her in the life of this world. I'd guess that any number of folks on this blog are such people themselves, as members of some faith community, or know and love persons like her.

    Her district used to elect Tom Foley to Congress. The path to his fall began with Jimmy Carter's grain embargo on Russia. The things Russell Sadler has pointed out about the rural and small-town implications of Bushite (unfortunately, also Clintonite) trade polices may similarly form a ground on which to fight back. It might be possible to regain some of those votes, with serious dialogue of the sort the Steve Bucknum has called for about rural issues. The aim should be to develop a coherent people's agenda that includes problems faced by rural-small town, big urban, suburban, and small city/big town folks, so that no one is written off merely due to geographical stereotypes and ignorance (this goes for rural stereotypes and ignorance about cities too, btw).

    That possibility won't be helped, however, by distracting people from what the R's policies are doing to them with ill-thought statements that can be read as either attacking or writing off core identities of a big chunk of people.

    I'm not a Christian, nor religious, but I have to say that a great many of the most consistent, persistent and reliable people I've worked with politically are people of faith. That is true whether they be Christian, Jewish, unorthodox Christian or no longer exactly Christian Unitarian or Quaker, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu or holders of other spiritualities. The DP should not seek to encourage in its ambit a grouping that engages in some analogy to the rancid politics of ostentatious and often superficial or hypocritical piety so common on the Christian Right. But is should be a party that is warmly accepting of people whose faith or spirituality leads them into ethical engagements in the world supportive of the same range of values the party purports to stand for, as well as those who arrive at such ethical engagements and values by more secular routes.

    It is possible for Dean to puncture the pompous hubris of bible-believing turned to self-righteous authoritarian vainglory, without leaving large openings for accusations that the DP is not a party for Christians or other people of faith to hit their mark. He should strive for that.

    The accusations will come regardless, of course. And the media will aid in that process of course. It's infuriating that the R's get a nearly free pass for the most outrageous and brazen false accusations, rhetorical excesses, distortions and manipulations, of course. But life isn't fair, and we have to deal with it.

    The question is, are we going to help make the R's accusations appear credible? Worse, do we send a message to religiously motivated people of good will that the DP won't be a comfortable political home for them, and thus demobilize or disspirit folks we want active on our side? We shouldn't, and Dean shouldn't.

  • Paul (unverified)
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    I think Chris Lowe hit it on the head. Whether he intends to or not, Dean's statement could be construed as alienating anyone of christian faith - or that is certainly how the Rs will spin it. Just because we strongly believe in a secular government does not mean the Dems do not include people of faith.

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    I've been on the road, so I missed this, but I did want to address Chris Lowe's comments:

    Having never been to a BlueOregon function nor having any clear idea about how representative it is, I can't say if it is insufficiently diverse. Oregon is not a very diverse state. There are several African-American writers in BlueOregon's stable. I see one Japanese surname, one other surname that might be Latino. Given the rapid growth of the Latino population in the state, the relative importance of Asian-Americans (including Filipinos, the great hidden Asian-American group, and South Asians as well as East Asians), and the abiding importance of Native Americans to Oregon in ways political and otherwise, writing from people from and involved in those communities would be good to get.

    First, BlueOregon has no functions. As our About Us page points out, "BlueOregon itself won't collectively endorse candidates, stage protests, or even go out for donuts."

    Second, we've continuously sought to improve the diversity of our authors here - with respect to ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, geography, flavor of progressive, age, etc. Beyond the guest columns (which open it up to just about anyone), we have made numerous calls for more writers.

  • Gregor (unverified)
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    Why is it that any mention of Christiantiy is interpreted as hate mongering? Is it an admission that the agenda of the televangelist-types has inspired extreme resentment, and that the response has fostered a serious back lash by the public? Or is it rather that these self-described Christians, such as Gordon Smith's Mormons, wish to be perceived as martyrs and therefore, by definition, honorable. Problem with that is that the term martyr is also used to describe suicide bombers. And that some of their behaviors I would not describe as Christian.

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    Edwards followed up by declaring that Dean "is not the spokesman for the party." - LOL, excuse me, but this IS the butthead that was elected to be the DNC Chair!

    And that's the rub here. The schism between Dean/DNC/grassroots and the entrenched and established elected Dems is showing here. There's a Reuters story which shows that DNC members continue to back Dean and have not backed away from him. Those in Congress who are being quoted as distancing themselves are the same people who have done so along, and represent the same factions that were trying to install more mediocre players at the DNC to begin with.

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    Gregor,

    Christianity in various organized forms has a long history of being persecuted and of persecuting others, not least other Christians. The "no establishment" clause of the constitution came about to forestall such persecution by one sect of Christians with state power against other Christians, as well as against non-Christians (mainly Jews in the late 18th c.).

    What you call "the televangelist-types," and what it most others who feel more less that Dean is just speaking an impolite truth seem to mean, are politicized fundamentalist Protestants who extend their conviction that their faith beliefs are Truth to their intepretation of what those beliefs should mean in the secular world, i.e. that not only is the Bible unerringly (inerrently) True, but so is their own quite human and fallible interpretation of what it means with respect to say tax policy.

    That's nonsense, and the arrogance of their belief in special and superior access to Truth gets truly vicious at times. But fundmentalist Protestants are a minority of Christians, and not even all fundamentalist Protestants take the approach of the politicized Christian Right.

    A great many other Christians would agree with you that some or even most of the actions and program of the Christian Right does not accord with their own faith beliefs about Christianity and how they ought to act in the world as Christians. The problem with Howard Dean's quote is not that he "mentioned" Christianity. It is that he attacked an identity label, "white Christian," that is composed mostly of people who aren't part of the Christian Right, and who are majority Democratic, Independent, or minor party affiliated rather than Republican. The R voters may be 78% white Christians, and maybe 30-40% white fundamentalist Protestants, but white Christians are probably about 60% non-Republican.

    Thus Dean ends up attacking Democrats and other folks whose votes he wants more than Republicans. Liberal and moderate and even social democratic white Christians are an important part of the Democratic activist base, although not organized in the manner of the Christian Right. Black Christians are crucial to Democrats in many areas, and may not like attacks on people's faith even if their skin color is different. Other white Christians are a big part of the unaffiliated group whose votes the DP needs.

    Dean needs to be calling out the religious Right on what they do, not who they are, either racially or religiously.

    A great many people in this discussion seem to have accepted the false claim of some fundamentalist Protestants to being the only true Christians, and to have fallen in with their practice of reserving the term "Christian" to refer only to people whose faith is very close to their own. Possibly Dean did the same thing.

    Those of us who are not Christians should not let James Dobson, Gary Bauer, Ralph Reed, Pat Robertson, and their ilk define Christianity for us. We should support the many Christians among us who strive to prevent right-wing ideologues from monopolizing that name to themselves, and from defining Christian duty or calling in this world in ways that many Christians find wrong-headed, repugnant or simply unrecognizable.

    Dean has let those folks down. It's not the end of the world. It's not a reason for Dean to step down. It need not even be Dean's last word on the subject. If he chooses to be smart about it, he could make lemonade out of his lemon by admitting a mistake and getting publicity for Christians who define their faith otherwise than the rightwing dogmatists and who support strong separation of church and state, working with them to take some wind out of the hard religious Right's biggoted and dogmatic sails.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)
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    The next time DNC Chairman Dr. Howard Dean debates RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman, I'd like the good doctor to ask this question:

    "Mr. Mehlman, how exactly does such a proud gay man like yourself run a political party that is against YOUR OWN PEOPLE?"

    Mehlman's predicted response: "Check, please!!!!"

  • Gregor (unverified)
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    <h2>Chris- Thanks for your lenghty and thoughtful response. I am a Christian, believe it or not, and I see your heart exposed with your response. I would tone it down if it wasn't so darn serious. I see the Adminstration as the Reich reincarnate and we have to get Congres back now.</h2>
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