Democratic Party: Which Direction?

Jeff Alworth

The midterms are just 13 months away, and yet amid the catastrophe of Bush's second term, local and national Dems seem totally at sea about which direction to turn.  Two factions have emerged: the base, who want a return to liberal politics, with firm stands on economic and social justice, and the moderates, who believe victory can only come by seizing swing voters who have become increasingly conservative in past decades. 

The question about the direction the Democratic Party is timely.  This weekend, the Oregon Dems will gather in Sunriver to discuss the question (characterized as Winning the West).  As if on cue, a group closely aligned with the Democratic Leadership Council yesterday released a report that offers a defense of the moderate position

The problem, as I see it, is that both camps have approached strategy in reaction to the success of the GOP machine.  The liberal base thinks it's adequate to brush off the old mid-century ideas (from our three-letter champions, FDR, JFK, and LBJ) and re-sell them to a duped population.  Moderates think we can borrow the most popular planks from the GOP platform--those that don't make a mockery of our own platform--and repackage them as Democratic ideas. That's a slightly overstated case, but the point is that neither group is asking the relevant question: what are the challenges of the 21st Century, and why are liberal politics better able to address them?  It's not a question of packaging--as Party thinkers seem to imagine--it's a question of core values and solutions. 

Modern American politics address problems defined by the Republican Party.  This wasn't always the case.  From the 1920s to the 1970s, Democrats argued for a politics based on one of America's twin founding beliefs: equality.  The gains made in social and economic justice throughout the era reflected that abiding belief.  It was the period of the "great compression," when the rich got poorer (but stayed rich) and the poor got middle class.  Liberals used this belief to address inequities in race, class, and even, as the Nazis mounted their campaign of genocide, foreign policy (though we needed a little shove on that one from Japan). 

In their ascent to political dominance following the election of Reagan in 1980, Republicans crafted a politics on the other founding belief--liberty--and have used it to redefine politics. The wealthy (and their political surrogates, the GOP) took a look at what America had become, and felt their liberty imperiled. They addressed this by dispatching with the thought of equality and emphasized liberty. Not of course, in those terms.  Instead, the virtues they promoted were of “personal responsibility;” the immorality they eschewed, those that supported “welfare queens.”  Down the line, Republicans refashioned their pro-rich agenda as a pro-individual agenda.  They clothed social Darwinism in the rhetoric of American freedom. Finally, they turned the "equality" argument on its head by claiming victimhood at the hands of a secular society.  Again, another's equality meant their liberty was threatened.  And so was added the Christian conservative dimension, which fuels the right's fear over gay rights, abortion, and Hollywood.

So we need to redifine politics again--not by reacting to the definitions set by the Republicans.  There are two challenges confronting the country in the 21st Century, and both are new.  The first is the collapse of the environment.  Far from an abstract problem, as we've seen with Rita and Katrina, its effect can be to kill hundreds and sack an economy--all within a matter of days.  The second is the threat of terrorism, which the GOP has been uniquely incompetent to address. There are other important issues as well--the economy central among them. Democratic views on the economy, however, have not substantially changed over the course of 50 years.  The Party still depends on labor and will always side with the interests of the middle-class and poor over the wealthy and corporate.  Whatever waffling we've seen is mostly political maneuvering.  Social justice issues, likewise, are not up for discussion.  We will never abandon a woman's right to choose nor equal rights nor civil liberties. 

In addressing all of these issues, we must return to the language of equality and connectivity, but transform it to 21st Century realities.  The environment and the war on terror are problems whose solutions can't be solved by cowboy politics.  They cross regional and national boundaries, and they tie us together--through the air, water, and through our increasingly mobile society. We the Bush administration to thank for at least one thing: they've shown the cowboy politics frame--that we can shoot our way to peace and buy our way to climate stability--is an undeniable failure.

So: which direction do we head--moderatism or old-school liberalism?  It's the wrong question.  We must fundamentally re-think politics. 

I've spoken almost exclusively about national issues here, but there are obvious local corrolaries.  I know grassroots movements and strategic thinkers have already begun work on sorting through these problems and their solutions.  It is actually more likely that local leaders will feel the freedom to think big and propose direction for the national party, which seems trapped in beltway-think.   I hope that these groups are leading the discussion this week in Sunriver. And, since some of them may stop by BlueOregon over the weekend, they might be interested to know what you think. 

Your thoughts?

  • Sid (unverified)

    Energy is a big one because it has to do with so many aspects of our lives: national security, the environment, economics. Dems need to embrace and own the concept of "bioneering".

  • Jesse O (unverified)

    The threat of terrorism is minimal, compared to other problems. A few hundred people worldwide die because of it on average each year. And, in the last four years, and before 2001, very very few people in the US die because of it (depending on how it's defined).

    Compared to hunger, death on highways, assault, toxic wastes, obesity, AIDS, etc., etc. terrorism is a made-up crisis -- it's trading on people's emotional reactions to September 11th, and one of the only issues that people might feel ok about George Bush on.

    We need to stop thinking of it as a serious threat. It's not. It's a tool to push huge contracts to business friends and keep people afraid and not deal with the real issues of poverty, inequality, corruption and the like.

  • (Show?)

    Jesse, call it what you want, but the threat from destabilized regions of the country is a greater threat than "a few hundred people." There is a tendency among liberals to retreat from foreign policy concerns, and it's been both literally and politically deadly--for Dems, soldiers, and innocents across the globe.

    Personally, what I'd argue for is a kind of EU-style participatory democracy. Conservatives are not wrong when they point out that the UN, for all its good, has no credibility when it allows compromised regimes to sit on the human rights committee and so on. The EU, I think inadvertently, created a model for democratic transformation. Countries wishing to receive the economic benefits of membership have transformed their political systems--and created greater and greater zones of stability.

    The other elements you've suggested--"hunger, toxic wastes, AIDS"--should also be key components of a Democratic foreign policy. The neocon notion that you can ignore AIDS and worldwide hunger and offer just the promise of "democracy" to transform destabilized regions has failed. Time to broaden the approach. I think this is very much a key challenge facing liberalism in the 21st Century.

  • Jesse O (unverified)

    Well, I'd argue that there's terrorism, and there's international civil wars, instability, etc. -- which are major problems, and need to be dealt with (not that they'll win any votes, but morally, yes, have to be dealt with). Calling out "terrorism" and relating all the issues you mention to it is letting the Republicans frame the debate.

    For example, our invasion of Iraq should not be considered part of the so-called war on terror.

  • (Show?)

    Sticking to your frame of Liberty~Equality, I'd like to see some introspection around the Equality component.

    Progressivism 101 teaches equality of opportunity (which we are still a long way from achieving) but not equality of outcome. No one has an inherent "right" to succeed at whatever goals they may have set for themselves.

    It's clear to me that although we on the Left use mostly the same buzzwords and arguments, we are divided by the basic perceptions of fairness.


    union movement

    I often carp about the unions and their demonstrated belief that all people will work exactly as hard as their peers at any given job. This belief that there is no such thing as a lazy or dishonest worker has no place in the reality based community. Some people need to get their butts fired, because they are gaming the system. These are people with no real money, but they share a moral code with the worst of the oligarchs. In my experience you can start with shop stewards on the company payroll who often do zero work for the money paid by their employers becase they are immune to being fired. Where are the ethics in that behavior?


    Starting with the assumption that every single Oregon teacher is totally dedicated and skilled, you will still have students that get less than perfect scores on their SATs. Some people are less motivated. Some are (gasp) less intelligent. Not everyone is going to Harvard.

    advocacy groups

    Regardless of the purity of motive or justice of cause, lefties are pretty much as bad as righties when it comes to lack of honesty, rigorous thought, objective analysis, etcetera. If we ever want street cred, we'll need to maybe raise our standards a bit.


    If a woman's right to choose had been made law by the legislative branch rather than the judicial branch, the Republicans would have been denied their most powerful organizational tool in the last 40 years. Gays are correct in demanding equal rights and they are justified in not wanting to wait one more second to get 'em. Nonetheless, I counsel patience as ramming things through in some quasilegal way often puts your goal out of reach due to the resentment engendered in the general population.

    The real conservatives have a point in that "we" have a tendency toward encouragement of the dreaded judicial activism. They are now emulating our example in many arenas of conflict. They drop the whole idea of states rights anytime that the states wish to do anything that's counter to the dogma that they imagine their core political followers hold.


    We do need to refashion our rhetoric and our thinking. If we were truly as empathic as we claim to be, we might gain a bit more insight into the fears and concerns in the general population that slow down the March to Utopia.

    Exhibit A on that one is the discussion currently raging on this blog about the T-shirt vs. SW Airlines. I yield to no one on this site in terms of prolonged streams of gratuitous obscenity, but how braindead do you have to be to see that your "right" to cuss like a drunken sailor runs head on into the rights of other passengers not to be forced to hear your crap, and the right of the privately owned airline to kick your butt out after the third appearance (on a single flight) of the offending garment. This kind of passive/agressive behavior seems to be the norm on the left.

  • LT (unverified)

    So we need to redifine politics again--not by reacting to the definitions set by the Republicans.

    Recently (forget where at the moment) I heard someone (on the radio I think) saying something very common sense. It was about activists who see a voter they hope to attract at the other end of the room and shout at them. But the wise politician walks over to the other end of the room, puts their arm around the voter (rhetorically at least with non threatening language) "and engages in conversation while walking them over to the other side of the room".

    I have seen this work with Republican friends. One says "Imigration is a big issue". I say "Fine, but it is a national issue and anyone serious about it can say publicly whether they support the McCain bill or the Kyl bill or something else". Such a statement shows fairly quickly if someone is looking for slogan or solution.

    One fed up Republican friend says he tells anyone who asks that he will support a Gov. candidate who talks about a vision for the next 10 years and the steps to make that vision happen. I suspect there are more voters like that than most activists (often involved in ideological debates that have gone on for years) want to admit. The same friend says abortion and gay marriage should be ignored until Oregon's economic problems are solved. Is that person in the "center" or do we need new labels?

    There are others who say secretly many "social conservatives" don't really want Roe overturned because then what would they use for a rallying cry? I read Nashif of Measure 36 fame as much as admitted that given the results of the 2nd Death with Dignity vote, that issue is not likely to come up in Oregon anytime soon.

    Perhaps the answer is providing straight information (like a prescription drug town hall meeting I went to last night). Didn't I hear that the Colorado success below the presidential level was because Democrats tackled every day concerns and Republicans were all talking about social issues and other things ordinary voters didn't care about?

  • Jeff Bull (unverified)

    I pulled together a quickie on this earlier today - at this point I'm basically watching the Demo-Con to see what they come up with. But, within that post, there's a basic idea that I think the Dems need to work on; I think the popular term for this now is "framing," but what I'm after is more fundamental than that. If I had one action to urge on the Dems as they meet in Sunriver, it'd be this: branding. The Democratic party needs to reclaim the short-hand definition of their party and it's got to be SIMPLE, short and sweet.

    What we're trying to overcome is the problem of what a given voter thinks when they stare at a ballot full of names they don't really recognize (call me a cynic, but I think the overwhelming majority of people vote blind - i.e. by party). As it now stands, courtesy of GOP counter-branding, a voter is like as not to walk into the booth, see the word "Democrat" next to a candidates name and think "Party of Big Government." The challenge is to change that short-hand. There are some decent ideas up there: the party of equality (though I'd run from that one as it plays too easily into the old conservative meme about socialism - besides that's not really what we're getting at, is it?).

    The specifics matter and, as a party, the Dems need to pay attention to that and have answers ready - good ones, mind you - when asked. But the main thing is associating the party with good things as the GOP is now associated with things many people find good (free-market/opportunity; public decency; you can say the GOP doesn't live up to either and you may be right, but the connection still pays off for them in the voting booth).

  • LT (unverified)

    My guess is that this last couple of weeks the Republicans as a party aren't looking very good (squabble about Miers, cronyism, corruption, etc) and no one paying any attention could mistake that the party in power made a mess of hurricane reaction with a few individual exceptions.

    And Democrats could have the greatest slogan in the world, but if they nominated a wingnut (Silber against Weld many years ago, Oregonian like Sumner and others whose names escape me at the moment) ordinary voters are more likely to oppose the wingnut than vote straight party. Maybe I feel this way because of the number of 2004 Bush/ Hooley voters I know.

    I also happen to think that this quote misunderstands ordinary voters. As it now stands, courtesy of GOP counter-branding, a voter is like as not to walk into the booth, see the word "Democrat" next to a candidates name and think "Party of Big Government."

    First of all, we haven't had voting booths in Oregon for years, and I am not really sure Oregonians can influence ordinary voters in other states.

    In 2002 a young relative moved to Washington County. I asked her who was on her ballot for state rep. several times and she said she would know when her ballot arrived. At a dinner a few weeks after the election I asked who she had voted for and she said "I can't remember the name--can you tell me the names of people who were running in my area? (she knows how much I follow politics) So I started naming off candidates and when I got to Avakian she said "That's who I voted for".

    Sorry, I don't think young people really vote party, they vote individuals.

  • activist kaza (unverified)


    I do hope some of the attendees from the Summit will stop by here, because there is far greater debate happening at BlueOregon than on the agenda of this event. And that is the real problem with the Democratic party today - where is this debate happening and how is it being reconciled?

    The Summit is the DPO's faux lovefest, and as useful as that might be (to unopposed Democratic candidates in the 2006 cycle), it isn't helping to resolve the larger question of the Party's direction. Meanwhile, there are plenty of left-leaning activists (myself included) that will give this a pass - and wait to see when (if ever) a party with some principles and a real platform will emerge.

  • Sid (unverified)

    Pat said: I often carp about the unions and their demonstrated belief that all people will work exactly as hard as their peers at any given job.

    So you're saying union people never get fired? Of course there are slackers out there, but do you punish all the union workers just because a small percentage of them are slackers while the rest of them are truly hard working people? Every single union worker I know works extremely hard.

    And your view on education and success is quite strange. Since when have progressives said that all people have the right to success? No, it's the right for the opportunity for success, which is a good education. What someone does with that is another story. Moreover, giving all America's children a top notch education will prepare us for the new world order where Chinese and Indian kids are currently getting uber-educations.

  • (Show?)

    ... wait to see when (if ever) a party with some principles and a real platform will emerge

    How is that going to happen if everyone who wants something different sits around and waits?

    Just askin'.

  • LT (unverified)

    Pat said: I often carp about the unions and their demonstrated belief that all people will work exactly as hard as their peers at any given job.

    Legislative staff are not unionized. Some of them in the 2005 session were quite hard working. Some would say "I can take down your opinion but not answer your question". Some would not respond to constituent emails--and not everyone can make a phone call to a legislative office during business hours.

    In stores and other private sector places of employment there are hardworking people and lazy people, and sometimes there are managers who work harder than employees and others who do as little as possible.

    I just don't get the mentality that unions as a group are worse than any other group of individuals. As I was saying on the phone to a friend this evening, anyone involved in Democratic politics at the grass roots level eventually meets lots of union people. And in my experience the best of them are hard working and know how to run a meeting better than anyone else I know. The worst of them are bullies and goons who love to enforce "orthodoxy" but are never around to do the hard work.

    I just don't buy the attitude of demeaning a whole group of people as lazy or not hard workers. Every group is made up of individuals, but there are some who would rather talk about group behavior than individual behavior. I don't accept "all Democrats..." or "all Republicans..." either, because I know wonderful individuals in both parties who don't fit the profile.

  • tom civiletti (unverified)

    The discussion about what the Dems should do arises from a longstanding lack of a clear unifying message, one embraced by candidates and elected officials as well as by the grassroots party. There are likely several reasons for this problem, but I think two stand out.

    Cognitive dissonance is unavoidable when the party of the people relies on the money of the rich and powerful to bankroll campaigns. There was a time when a significant number of the wealthy supported the building of a large middle class and were willing to back Dems if they addressed the issues important to the wealthy along with the interests of the working class. That time has passed. The rich are longer satisfied with more wealth, they want all the wealth. This leads Democratic officials to betray the interests of their base.

    Cognitive dissonance also results from Dems' support of sustainability, as demanded by the environmentally conscious, and, at the same time, embrace of continuous growth in order to create new jobs and increase government revenue. Sustainability with continuous growth is oxymoronic. Dems will never have a resonant message as long as they support both goals. This is one of the reasons that sustainability seems so ambiguous and amorphous. No Dem can speak about it clearly and comprehensively in the political realm without making obvious the inherent contradiction of the party's platform.

    On another point: Democrats from the 1920's to the 1960's were supportive of equality only if it was the racially separate variety. By the mid sixties Democrats realized that separate but equal was a pipedream. That meant losing the South where whites were unwilling to voluntarily integrate with blacks, but this realignment removed a glaring contradiction from the Democratic message.

    Republicans are relatively unbothered by inconsistency. Many of their voters are the single-issue variety and willing to ignore glaring contradictions in R rhetoric. Anyone able to swallow the Bible as unerring literal truth can take the whole Republican platform without gagging.

    R's have no problem keeping wealthy contributors on board, as most Republicans officeholders are loyal lap dogs, and most R working class voters will gladly vote against their own economic interest while blinded by emotionally charged positions on abortion, militarism, crime, immigration, and prayer, among others.

  • LT (unverified)

    Tom, about this quote: "Cognitive dissonance is unavoidable when the party of the people relies on the money of the rich and powerful to bankroll campaigns."

    I think that was the downside of the Clinton years.

    As it happens I was on the phone this evening with a Republican friend who is as fed up with the status quo as I am. We think there is anger out there in the populace akin to that fire on the news (in Clackamas County, I think) out in the country where some grass caught fire. A fire official was saying it will take a week of solid rain to quell the fire danger in such areas.

    We wonder if there ever might be an independent candidate (for state legislature perhaps, where it is a fairly small number of voters) who will be like a match dropping on dry grass and start a prarie fire.

    Isn't that basically what Tom Potter did in his campaign against Francesconi?

    Seems to me that there are ways to run for at least some of the down ballot offices in a way that costs less money: go to every community event humanly possible to attend, have volunteers put out mailings as Democrats used to do rather than paying a mailing house, etc. Word of mouth is the oldest form of advertising and some think it is the most effective. If your life is full of work and family, you dump political mailers in the recycle bin like all other junk mail, and don't listen to radio and TV ads, are those wasted on you?

    But if a friend says "Hey! I went to this event and heard this candidate..." isn't that more effective than all the paid ads that some campaign professionals make a living producing?

    My suspicion is that voters want someone who speaks clearly and actually cares about their problems more than they want partisan branding.

  • Richard Bolcavitch (unverified)


    The DP needs to make a clear distinction between the war on terror and the war in Iraq. On Friday the Senate gave Bush a free pass by voting 97-0 to appropriate $50B more for his misguided war effort. Why is the DP afraid to take Bush head on?

    You wrote: “The Party still depends on labor and will always side with the interests of the middle-class and poor over the wealthy and corporate.”

    If that is so, why didn’t the DP vigorously oppose the invasion of Iraq and why did CAFTA pass? And why can’t the DP of Oregon put forth a better senator than Ron Wyden?

    You wrote: “So: which direction do we head--moderatism or old-school liberalism? It's the wrong question. We must fundamentally re-think politics.”

    I agree. The DP needs to re-think America’s military presence in the world. Right now the US spends $466B for military expenditures out of a world wide total of $950B. The closest competitor is China with an expenditure of $65B.

    This huge budget helps to pay for our presence across the globe. According to the Dept of Defense, as of March 21, 2004, the U.S. had 1,425,887 active-duty personal in foreign counties.

    And while it is true that the total number of troops overseas is down from what it was 15 years ago, there is still a considerable amount in Europe, the Pacific, and other regions that should be drawn down. The CBO already has done some studies on possible options so the DP needs to loudly address these issues.

    One other thing the DP could do is to realize the war on drugs is a failure and that sending people to prison for using marijuana, heroin, ecstasy, or meth is unjust.

    As the Harm Reduction Project states in a Salt Lake Tribune editorial:

    “No matter how many laws we pass or how many prisons we build, no matter how many dedicated police officers and brave DEA agents seek to enforce those laws and fill those prisons, drug abuse is not a law enforcement problem susceptible to a law enforcement solution.

    It is a public health problem that will only be addressed—addressed, not eliminated—with a public health approach. The Harm Reduction Project, bravely hosted in Salt Lake City this past week by Mayor Rocky Anderson, is in the enlightened public health model of dealing with drug abuse and addiction.

    Harm Reduction abandons the pipe dream of a world without drugs and concentrates instead on educating people on how to avoid drugs, how to avoid overdosing on drugs and what to do if someone has overdosed. The idea is not to judge or punish, just to save lives. “

    Harm reduction is a different way of thinking about drugs which the DP should strongly support.

  • tom civiletti (unverified)


    Yes, Clinton was a good example of how wealthy interests compromise Democrats, but so are most members of Congress, governors and state legislatures. What Tom Potter did was wonderful, but his situation was atypical. Dems can run such campaigns and win, sometimes. They will not be able to compete accross the board running underfunded grassroots campaigns against well-funded R's. The problem is that most voters pay little attention to politics and are best influenced by the barrage of mail, radio, and especially television ads that big bucks buys. This is unfortunate, but it is reality. That is why fundmental campaign finance reform is so important. By fundamental, I don't mean the Shays-Meehan, McCain-Feingold half measures. It will take serious contribution limits as well as public campaign financing.

  • (Show?)

    The issue of the economy remains central in everyone's mind--rightly so. The modern Democratic Party was built on economic issues. While I agree completely that the party has wandered into dangerous territory with NAFTA/CAFTA, Clintonian corporatism and so on, these are issues in the margin. Clinton was trying to keep his own machine alive and found some corporate money; following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Dems were wooed by the notion that free economies were the panacea to all ills. I still find it hard to believe that as a general principle, the Democratic Party will abandon the interests of the poor and middle-class, particularly in the wake of the Bush/Minnis years.

    Pat, you "carped" on unions and public ed. As a proud union member, I can grant you the argument and say that it's a 1% issue. Unions may shield a very small number of slackers and incompetents. But with union membership so low, the real catstrophe is that something like 150 million workers have no control over their own paychecks, aren't able to bargain collectively, are losing health care benefits, and seeing their real wages fall. Should the Dems focus on the small misdemeanors of the unions or felonies of the GOP and their neo-gilded age policies?

    On the politics of economics, Democrats need to get comfortable talking equality rather than liberty. We need to say that companies who move offshore will pay huge penalties and not avoid taxes. We need to demand the wealthy pay a FAR higher share--even bumping it up to 40% would be start. We really need some kind of social safety net for medical care. It's inconceivable that the party hasn't taken a strong position on these issues. My thinking is it all comes down to making a fairness argument--and shifting the discussion away from liberty and back to equality.

  • (Show?)

    Oh, I should say that I think one of the main reasons we've failed to project a winning message on the economy is that we really have no plan there. Having agreed that government is bad and taxes are a symptom of evil, we've really abandoned our intellectual and ethical base.

    When the GOP swtiched the debate from equality to liberty, they had a couple of key issues--reducing government and returning taxes to juice the economy. Democrats also need something to argue for, not just against. I believe climate change provides the perfect opportunity. Without massive organization and leadership, we'll lumber along in our fossil fuel economy until catastrophe strikes. There's no one who can't look into the future and see that energy will have to come from other sources (the only real debate is when that will happen). If America took a leadership role there, we would accomplish two huge things: we would be addressing the greatest danger confronting us (with potent reminders from Rita and Katrina) and we would take a lead on developing the technologies that will guide the future.

    The math is obvious: finite oil + vast energy requirements = new energy. The country who's companies develop those technologies will, like America in the age of the automobile and computer, enjoy the greatest economic boost.

    If the Democratic Party (and this can be a local as well as national initiative) led the charge and offered this big, optimistic vision for the future, Americans would respond. Particularly when a gallon of gas costs the same as a pint of beer.

  • (Show?)

    Jeff sez,

    As a proud union member, I can grant you the argument and say that it's a 1% issue. Unions may shield a very small number of slackers and incompetents........Should the Dems focus on the small misdemeanors of the unions or felonies of the GOP and their neo-gilded age policies?

    I thought that you were asking in the original article about how "we" should position ourselves. Of course it's not up to the Democrats (or me personally) to address the perception problems that unions have out on the ground. It's up to the unions to see it, ackowledge it, and act to squelch the (perhaps somewhat false) perception.

    LT and Sid both jumped to the conclusion that I was saying that all or most members of that group are lazy, and of course if you read what I wrote, nothing could be further from the truth. What I am saying is that the perception needs to be addressed and a start to that would be the acknowledgement that there's a problem there. So far no luck on that one.

    Back to liberty vs. equality. I agree that we need to point out the growing inequality of opportunity. When we address liberty, we should challenge ourt listeners with the idea that liberty is almost always a two edged sword, and any issue where additional liberty is suggested for individuals or groups, there should be a concurrent concern with our responsiblity in excercising our liberties.

    I then used the T-shirt vs SW airlines as an example of one flaw that I believe to be fairly common among progressives, the tendency to get in the faces of the general public to dubious advantage.

    Here's another example:

    The anti-war protestors are constantly and defiantly arguing for their right to free speech. They are correct about the "right" but they automatically assume that what they're doing is useful in some way. I've seen precious little reflection within that group regarding whether they're making converts or just pissing people off. If both are true, are their actions a net plus for their cause or a net minus?

    There are many more activities that "we" engage in, that we don't measure for effectiveness.........Maybe we should have that as a guiding principle when deciding which new windmills on the list need a good and thorough tilting.

  • Andrew Hall (unverified)

    With all the discord in the Republican Party right now, it seems like a great time for Democrats to take the lead going into the 2006 elections. But I ask - where is the leadership on the Democratic side? Who is really going to step up and inspire people and lead people? The most inspiring speech I've heard by a Democrat in a long time was by Al Gore last month at the Oregon Convention Center - and as far as know he's not planning to run again. Maybe Gore will step up in 2006 and help congressional candidates. But who else is there? Harry Reid is very uninspiring and makes Tom Daschle look like John Kennedy. Until the Democratic Party has inspiring leadership again, America isn't going to get back behind it.

    Democrats also must start to go positive again and stop appearing as the anti-Republican, anti-Bush party. Sound bites in the media say little about what Democrats really stand for. Listen to Air America and mostly what you hear is all the bad news about the Republicans. Great, where is the good news from the Democrats? I know what Democrats/Progressives believe in, but we don't hear it from the mouths of Democrats very often these days.

    Say what you want about the Republican Contract For (on) America in 1994, but it was a masterful piece of campaigning, a positive "this is what we stand for" platform that got a coherent message across. Democrats need something similar in concept to get behind, along with the inspiring leaders to make it credible.

  • Rebel O'Leary (unverified)

    LT writes:


    Recently (forget where at the moment) I heard someone (on the radio I think) saying something very common sense. It was about activists who see a voter they hope to attract at the other end of the room and shout at them. But the wise politician walks over to the other end of the room, puts their arm around the voter (rhetorically at least with non threatening language) "and engages in conversation while walking them over to the other side of the room".


    I think this is a very astute observation and shows a great deal of wisdom.

    Recently, I read somewhere (I think here?) someone suggested that if the Democratic party really wanted to work up a viable strategy for winning some of the "Red States" back from the Republicans and creating a real foothold in the "Heartland" that they needed to create a pro-gun/pro-hunting liberal version of the NRA and go after all the disenfranchised pissed-off NRA members that are fiercly pro-gun but disillusioned with the Bush Regime, the Repuplican Party and the way that the NRA shamelessly and vigorously campaigned and pimped for Bush-Cheney in the last election.

    There is a huge untapped voter population out there that hate Dubya but care more about their right to legally own and bear firearms than they do about party lines. In the aftermath now of Hurricane Katrina when suburbia saw on the news just how little help can come and how dangerous it can get when things really hit the fan. More and more formerly anti-gun liberals are suddenly overnight facing the cold harsh reality that it's a lot better to have a gun and not need it than it is to need it and not have it. Especially when there's no power, water or phones and your start to hear strange bumps in the night.

    If The Left had a really organized NRA-style pro-gun pro-Democrat organization and mega-PR promo ad campaign like the Reps have with the current NRA it could be the niche in they need to get a real toehold into the Heartland and the Red States. It may well be The Left's only real hope of regaining any tangible strength and gaining victory over the current Evil Empire that has seized the reigns of power in Washington. It is wise to remember something else I read somewhere (I think here?) that a group of registered voters with a registered guns is a group of "citizens" while an unarmed group of anti-gun voters are "protesters" ...and we all know what this current President thinks about protest groups. Not at all.

    Think about it. It's weird and twisted, but then, so are the times we're living in. I am strongly against the Bush-Cheney Band of Thugs that are destroying our country. I'm a semi-retired Vietnam veteran and anti-war. But I'm also strongly pro-gun, pro-Bill of Rights, pro-Constitution, pro-Freedom and pro-States Rights. I voted for Bill Clinton twice, but since his term ended, the Democratic Party has become a sad joke to me and I can't say I foster any real support for them at present. Personally I supported Dean, and look how the Democrats treated him. They are their own worst enemy.

    This is all riduculous anyway. I mean really, can you imagine what a liberal style NRA would be like? I can imagine it now: "We're pro-gun but anti-bullet." or even banning live ammo altogether and only allowing rubber bullets ...or maybe just BB guns and slingshots. I'm sure it would make a funny SNL skit.
    I wonder what Al Frankin's take on it would be? Or Hillary Clinton's?


    R. O'Leary Freedom Fighter

  • LT (unverified)

    Ed Schultz has the right attitude on guns, it seems to me. Devoting parts of his show to stories about hunting, but not saying "you lefties must admire all us gun owners or you are going to lose elections". Actually, in an area where there are a lot of hunters, not putting gun owner issues at the top of the agenda would be stupid.

    By the same token, people who live where there is lots of gun crime (school shootings or high crime areas) have the right to question the gunshow loophole, cop-killer bullets, assault rifle ban etc. without being told "you admit we are right about guns or you will keep losing elections!". It seems to me that attitude is the equivalent of shouting to the voter at the other end of the room. Each and every voter has a right to their own opinion, and to debate issues rather than be told what the accepted view is.

    Today was a family birthday and I asked 2 relatives who are NOT political but do vote this question: "A friend of mine who is politically active thinks he knows the issue most people care about. I say that is a stretch because if you ask 100 people you just might get 100 answers".

    So I asked these relatives what answer they would give to the question about the most important issue, and the first response was "Gosh I don't know there are so many". The younger one didn't really have 1 issue. But then the middle aged relative said "Health care, and not having enough money for education and police on the highways".

    I happen to know this is someone who voted for Bush but against the gay marriage measure, someone whose rare political opinions are always informative because they show someone who thinks about politics in election years but not all the time.

    It seems to me that successful campaigns by anyone explain complex issues to people, are willing to debate rather than preach the revealed truth, are civil and answer questions and strike voters as having common sense.

    And as far as "public perception" of whether public employees in general or teachers in particular are lazy, underworked, over paid, etc. this relative comes from a family which, over 3 generations, has had 5 teachers, and seen first hand how hard they work and how challenging it can be if there are special needs kids in the class, crowded classrooms, etc.

    I know perception is important, but to claim there is some single-celled organism called "public perception" is a myth. I know 2 Republicans who ran for the legislature (one successful, one not) who are married to teachers. They are not people who tell us "the public perception is that teachers are lazy" because they know differently. One of the wives told me once she remembered Barbara Roberts had said something harsh and rude to teachers so she didn't like her.

    It is time to say "I have seen myself and heard from my friends..." rather than telling people a certain perception exists and is shared by all Oregonians.

    That and concrete proposals would go a long way to winning. Democrats were a few hundred votes in 3 districts away from a split House last year, so let's not get carried away and act as if all Democrats lost elections by landslides of 1984 Reagan/ Mondale proportions.

  • Gil Johnson (unverified)

    There are huge numbers of voters who should be voting for Democrats on economic issues, but don't because of non-economic issued or perceived cultural conflicts. Gun control is one of these obstacles, especially in rural Oregon. Personally, I'm never going to schedule a trip to Florida now that the state has almost mandated gun ownership, but I think Democrsts should follow the lead of Peter Defazio on this one and, um, bite the bullet.

    Another issue where we lose a lot of people is vulgarity, even though most of it is purveyed by Libertarians or hypocritial Republicans. The T-shirt vs. SW airlines brouhaha is one example and the recent Oregon Supreme Court decision equating live sex shows with free speech is another. A couple of months ago, a woman who heads an organization to fight smut on TV was interviewed in Willamette Week and in the next couple of issues, she was totally lambasted by letter writers. I read her comments and felt she had many valid points. Jeez, there's lots of stuff on TV I don't want my kids watching, particularly those commercial teasers for more adult shows that sneak into sports or family oriented programming.

    So where are our Democratic leaders on this issue? I'm sure there is at least one D in the legislature who thinks free speech should be defined to stop short of live sex shows. Why not get some legal minds together and introduce a constitutional amendment that defines free speech? Oh sure, this process could get bogged down into splitting hairs--pubic or not--over what is art and what is just a crass commercial proposition.

    I think we could define free speech a bit more narrowly and not lose our fundamental freedoms, at least as much as they apply to criticism of our government. Oh sure, we may lose the ardent support of the ACLU and a number of performance artists, but we could attract thousands of voters from the suburbs and rural areas who often think of Democrats as hedonistic heathens.

  • (Show?)

    John Kitzhaber made a fairly important speech last night in Sunriver that's relevant to this discussion, though it's captured on fairly crappy video at the DPO website (see link in the post below this one). I particularly liked this (my transcription, so blame me if he's misquoted):

    "The real question here, and the thing about which Democrats must be crystal clear, is what are the ideas and the principles and objectives for which we are willing to lose an election? For which we are willing to risk losing an election. For which we are willing to risk the majority. And if we can't clearly and compassionately and compellingly articulate the answer to that question, then it makes very little difference in terms of our state and its future who's in the majority and who's in control."

  • (Show?)

    Oh, one more:

    "We can't be hypocrites here. We want to distinguish ourselves from the other side, right? Not blend in. So the problem is not a presiding officer who exercises power to shape the agenda. The problem is that we have to make a better case to the voters why it's important to elect Democrats in the first place. The problem is not Karen Minnis; the problem is not the Republicans. The problem is our own party; the problem is our own message; the problem is the lack of clarity about what we stand for and about what we are willing to lose for. If we have to make a procedural argument to unseat a speaker, then our ideas are not good enough."

  • LT (unverified)

    Hooray for Dr. John Kitzhaber and for Jeff for posting so that those of us with dialup connections can know what happened!

    If there is no issue for which someone is willing lose an election or to say "Darned Right I voted that way and I'll tell you why..." then why are they in politics? Or as someone said years ago to a gathering of women candidates, "Know what you stand for, and if you don't stand for anything, sit down".

    Both my state rep. and my state senator are women Republicans. And I have more respect for my state senator than my state rep. for just that reason. They both voted in 2003 on what I consider the smart side of a controversial issue. The state rep. quietly did it, never making a speech or being in the newspaper. The state senator was in the newspaper saying "Yes it was a tough decision but after much thought I decided it was the only way I could vote in good conscience". Was her political life a bed or roses from that day forward? No. But she learned that people who didn't vote for her respected her for her courageous stand.

    There has been a lot of talk recently about political staffers and activists deciding this early "who has a chance and who doesn't" not on the basis of issues but on the R to D ratio of a district, or hypothetical matchups, or "we took a poll and found this person has a chance". And then they wonder why the public is fed up? Isn't it rather condesending to act as if "professionals" should choose the candidates rather than ordinary voters? Isn't that what elections are about?

    Somewhere I remember hearing about a book called "Cycles of History" and maybe the cycles were about 25 years? Ronald Reagan was elected 25 years ago, and not because some professionals did a poll and found out he had a chance. That movement is what we now see falling apart with all the Republican problems.

    But what will replace it--"well we looked at the makeup of the district and think this person has a chance?"

    David Brooks and John Kitzhaber have something in common. They believe in ideas. They believe in different ideas but each is capable of intelligently debating ideas.

    The current Gov. talks about creating new jobs, but why should that impress people who have been out of work for a year or more? The former Gov. is the father of the Oregon Health Plan. How many politicians/ candidates are willing to discuss that in detail and how many play it safe because they don't want the anti-taxers coming after them? How many know the most important issues to their particular district from talking with actual voters rather than taking a poll? My neighbor who drives a garbage truck has some strong opinions, but not along the lines of what is generally discussed here. I told him about a friend years ago hearing that there were concerns about county road crews when he ran for Linn County Comm. Democrat running for county office in Linn County, imagine that. He took the time to talk to every single road crew in the county, and ended up winning by 97 votes. When I told this to my neighbor, he asked "Do you suppose there were 97 people on road crews in that county?".

    That is why all this talk of "branding" bothers me. If Democrats can't be the party of solutions, why are they different from Republicans?

    Personally, I'd rather support an Independent who said "This is what I stand for, and I hope you will join my campaign for solutions to these problems" over a candidate of either party who uses talking points, a famous consultant, campaign vendors suggested by caucus staff.

    Carville and Begala tell a story in their book about being called in to turn around a failing campaign. They go to a staff meeting and hear concerns about the logo, the way people answer the phone, the content of a mailing piece. Then they start asking volunteers the purpose of the campaign. Finally, one says "I may not know much, but I thought the purpose of the campaign is for Smith to beat Jones because Smith has better ideas".

    So, what will it be? Will it be supporting X over Y because X has better ideas, or will it be trying to convince voters that Brand D is better than Brand R? You decide.

  • Rebel O'Leary, Jr. (unverified)

    LT opines: "It is time to say "I have seen myself and heard from my friends..." rather than telling people a certain perception exists and is shared by all Oregonians.

    That and concrete proposals would go a long way to winning. Democrats were a few hundred votes in 3 districts away from a split House last year, so let's not get carried away and act as if all Democrats lost elections by landslides of 1984 Reagan/ Mondale proportions."

    Dear LT,

    Okay, convinced me. I have seen myself and heard from my friends that a growing number of us think that the issues of gun ownership are indeed complex, but that "The Left" lacks and needs some form of tangible Democrat-based pro-gun vehicle to go face-up against the NRA which is zealously and fanatically pro-Republican Party.

    There, ...are you happy now? (grin)

  • Rebel O'Leary, Jr. (unverified)

    Gil Johnson wisely remarks: "There are huge numbers of voters who should be voting for Democrats on economic issues, but don't because of non-economic issued or perceived cultural conflicts. Gun control is one of these obstacles, especially in rural Oregon. ...So where are our Democratic leaders on this issue?"

    And Jeff Alworth astutely follows up with: "...The problem is that we have to make a better case to the voters why it's important to elect Democrats in the first place. ...The problem is our own party; the problem is our own message; the problem is the lack of clarity about what we stand for and about what we are willing to lose for."


    Gentlemen, this is at the very core of what I was getting at. I addressed a specific topic; gun ownership. Primarily because I have noticed that most people I know that voted for Bush perceive liberals and Democrats to be by-and-large "anti-gun".

    I have especially noticed this because while I have always voted Democrat myself, I am also a gun owner and lifetime NRA member. And as an NRA member, it really bothers me that the NRA has become so blatantly and rabidly pro-Republican. It's to the degree that all of their magazines and propaganda are geared to relentlessly pound members with the message that all Democrats and Liberals are anti-gun amd going to take away guns if elected.

    That is the perceived view. And sorry, but John Kerry parading around in $3,000. worth of Eddie Bauer and LL Bean duck-hunting gear with a shiny new shotgun didn't change that. I recall the NRA even printed photos of Kerry in his "duck costume" in American Rifleman and several other of their magazines and laughed at it because it was so obviously staged and phony.

    My point is that there IS a large segment of voters out there like me that lean towards liberal democrat views except when it comes to the issue of gun ownership. But while I still vote democrat, unlike me, an even larger number of voters I know, that lean "socially liberal/fiscally conservative" - instead - voted Republican in the last 2 elections because they perceived Democrats as massively anti-gun. And the NRA is a 24/7/365 ad & promo machine that constantly preaches that message and the Left has no vehicle to challenge and counter it at present.

    With regard to some of the perceived perceptions Gil Johnson also said: "...we may lose the ardent support of the ACLU and a number of performance artists, but we could attract thousands of voters from the suburbs and rural areas who often think of Democrats as hedonistic heathens."

    I think it's much worse than that Gil, they don't just think we're hedonistic heathens, ...they think we're also anti-gun pussies.

    I for one, would like to see the Democratic Party first assert some real leadership ideas and vision and secondly take on a more pro-gun view and devise a way to counter the NRA.

    Respectfully yours,

    Rebel O'Leary, Jr. Gun-toting dis-illusioned Democrat

  • Rebel O'Leary, Jr. (unverified)

    Gil Johnson also wrote: "...Personally, I'm never going to schedule a trip to Florida now that the state has almost mandated gun ownership..."

    Hahaha! Well Gil, you might want to reconsider that my friend. As a former resident of south Florida, I can tell you from personal experience that the highways and byways of the Sunshine State, as well as your own bedroom, are one place you don't want to find yourself un-armed when the margaritas & pina coladas hit the fan. Even Jimmy Buffett, Mickey Mouse and Carl Hiaasen are packin' heat these days!

    R. O'Leary, Jr. Mellow but Pistol-packin' crusty old Liberal Surferdude

  • LT (unverified)

    Dear Rebel and anyone else who uses the term: I don't know who specifically belongs to "the left". Surely not my old friend Mike Kopetski attacked by Denny Smith all those years ago as "too liberal" but who grew up in Pendleton and went hunting as a boy.

    Surely not the folks who threw out Jim Bunn (darling of the NRA as I recall) in favor of making Darlene Hooley a "3fer": 1st woman in 5th District 1st member from Clackamas County 1st not to be connected to NRA.

    I suspect "the left" means "those we disagree with" or groups like Handgun Control when Rebel uses it. As I recall, Dean as Gov. was endorsed by the NRA and now he is DNC chair. Is he a member of "the left"?

    I just don't like vague terms. But don't tell those who have legitimate concerns that (as some tried to do for years) everyone must follow the NRA party line or they will never win another election.

    Everyone has the right to campaign against those they disagree with. No one has the right to say "join our group or leave politics".

    The terms "right" and "left" are hundreds of years old. They originally came from where people sat at some convention following the French Revolution. But that made reference to a specific group of people.

    Is someone who gets a kick out of the conservatives who argue over Miers a member of "the left"? How about someone who says "usually I agree when right wingers attack someone, but they shouldn't be attacking Miers"?

    Or someone asked what issues are most important now and says "Health care and that there is not enough money for schools and police on the highway"? Was that a statement of someone on "the left" given that this person voted for Bush?

    I suspect it is shorthand because that is easier than identifying individuals one disagrees with.

  • Rebel O'Leary, Jr. (unverified)

    Dear LT,

    Either you just want to be a contentious gadfly or, like a lot of liberal democrats I know, you simply can't see the forest for the trees.

    Not only did you swerve onto a tangent that took the topic off point, you took it 20 miles down the road, over the hill, around the bend and into some strange dark dank alley full of weird odors and bad mojo.

    You type a lot of words but don't really say all that much with them. Kinda reminds me of a bad local-level Oregonian impression of Dennis Miller; lots of name-dropping and odd references, but not a lot of real substance or common sense.

    BTW, "Rebel" is my name, not a "term". It was also my father's name and I'm very proud of it. Unlike you, who hides behind vague initials, I'm not ashamed or scared to put my name to what I write.

    It's a sign of poor character and shallow intellect when a person begins a rant by insulting their challenger's name before even attempting to debate the issue and topic at hand. What next, you want to check my spelling and grammer too?

    For the record, when I use the term "Left" it does NOT mean "those I disagree with" simply means "Liberals against Bush and Right-wing Republican Idealogy" of which I count myself a proud "Lefty", albeit a gun-toting pro-firearms Lefty.

    Of coarse LT, you knew that when you read my post the first time. My meaning was perfectly clear to anyone of even minimal intellect, ...which leads me to my other conclusion, you just wanted to be contentious.

    Which also makes a fine example of what Jeff Alworth makes direct reference to: "...The problem is that we have to make a better case to the voters why it's important to elect Democrats in the first place....The problem is our own party; the problem is our own message; the problem is the lack of clarity about what we stand for and about what we are willing to lose for. If we have to make a procedural argument to unseat a speaker, then our ideas are not good enough."

    You say you don't like vague terms, but after reading your reply, it would be hard to find fault with someone for coming away from your rant with the fuzzy impression you think all true Democrats should in fact be "anti-gun" and pro Handgun Control. Is that indeed how you feel LT? A simply YES or NO will do.


    Rebel O'Leary, Jr. Proud gun-toting Lefty Liberal

  • Uncle Sam (unverified)

    Why the U.S. must leave Iraq Sen. Russ Feingold says it's time to admit the war was a disaster -- and accuses his fellow Democrats of going along with Bush out of fear. By Michael Scherer

    Oct. 10, 2005 | Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold has latched his political future to the third rail of American foreign policy. This summer, he proposed a date for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq: Dec. 31, 2006. The date raises a specter that no one in Washington -- and especially no Democrat -- has been willing to broach: that the American people should begin to prepare for a political failure in Iraq, at least a failure by President Bush's standard of establishing, before the troops leave, a fully functional, democratic Iraqi state.

    It is not the first time Feingold has gone out on a political limb. In September, he was the only Democratic senator with presidential ambitions to support John Roberts. He was the only senator to vote against the USA Patriot Act. Before that, he spent nearly a decade fighting the culture of political payola, a fight he won in 2002 with passage of the McCain-Feingold legislation.

    Salon sat down with Feingold last week in his Capitol Hill office, which he has decorated with the trophies of his career as a populist politician. There was a photo of his garage door, where he wrote out a contract to voters in 1992 during his first statewide race. There were the framed roll-call votes from the final passage of his campaign-finance legislation. And there was the senator himself, dressed in pinstripes and a blue-gray tie, speaking with the urgency of a politician with his eyes on the White House in 2008. In a wide-ranging interview, he spoke about the "timidity and weakness" of his own party, the mistakes of Sen. John Kerry, the qualifications of Harriet Miers and his plan for winning the War on Terror.

    If President Bush came to you this afternoon and said, "I've got trouble in Iraq. What should I do now?" what would you say to him?

    "Well, Mr. President," I would say, "we need to get the focus back on those who attacked us on 9/11." I would say to him that I was proud of the way he and his administration conducted themselves after 9/11. I thought his speech to the Congress after 9/11 was one of the best speeches I've ever heard by a president. I admired not only the focus but the bipartisanship of his approach in the lead-up to Afghanistan. We had a historic unity in this country, and I was pleased to be a part of it.

    I would then say to the president that I believe the Iraq war was a divergence from the real issue. Unfortunately, in many ways, it has played into the hands of those who attacked us on 9/11. I witnessed the connection that has grown between Osama bin Laden, al-Zarqawi and now Iraqis who have been radicalized because of our invasion of Iraq. So I would urge him to think in terms of a strategy where we finish the military mission. I would ask him to put forward a plan to identify what that mission is, what the benchmarks are that need to be achieved and when they can be achieved, and that he publicly announce a target withdrawal date, so that the American people, the Iraqi people and the world can see that this is in no way intended to be a permanent American occupation.

    Can you be any more specific about what that plan should entail?

    Well, I think it's his job to come up with the specifics. But among the things that I would certainly be looking for would be first a recognition that the military mission and the mission of having a democratic and stable Iraq are actually different things. There is a tunnel vision in the White House which suggests we are just going to go out and find the bad guys, we are going to kill them, and we are just going to stay there until that is done. Well, that actually plays into the hands of those who are trying to radicalize the Iraqi people.

    So the first thing is, I want the plan to recognize that drawing down our troops in a logical and safe way is a way to defuse the intensity of the insurgency, especially the continuing and growing presence of foreign insurgents. The second recognition of the plan should be that the current troops-on-the-ground military mission is not really the future for Iraq. Actually it calls into question the legitimacy of the current Iraqi government. The plan should recognize that it is our intention to continue joint military operations with the Iraqi government, with their permission, but targeted, laserlike attacks on terrorist elements, just as we are doing with other countries around the world, in the Philippines, Indonesia and other countries. In other words, we are not invading those countries. We are cooperating. We want to continue to have Iraq be part of the international fight against terrorism, but we need to have a course correction. That's the kind of effort where we would be on the offensive, instead of where we are now, which is on the defensive.

    Would it be acceptable for us to leave Iraq before it is politically stable, and before the insurgency is calmed down?

    If we don't leave, our not leaving is a big part of the political instability. So it's an absurdity to talk in terms of, "How can we leave before it is stable?" In fact, the presence of this huge American, and other [countries'], occupation of this country is what is destabilizing the country even more. It's a completely illogical conversation for people to talk in terms of what is already, many believe, almost a civil war, if not already a civil war. What we need to do is recognize that Iraqis are going to have to stand on their own. When I suggest that we withdraw the ground forces in a reasonable manner, this does not mean that we do not continue reconstruction, it does not mean that we do not continue to help the government, it does not mean that we do not have a very strong partnership with the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people on non-military issues as well as military issues.

    This is not just leaving as we did in Vietnam or as we did in Somalia. That's a mistake.

    If after President Bush left, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean came to your office and said, "We need a more unified Democratic message on Iraq," would you agree that there is a problem with the Democratic message?

    Absolutely. There is a real timidity and weakness in terms of Democrats being willing to stand up to this error of American foreign policy. I think one of the greatest errors in American foreign policy in our modern lives is the divergence into Iraq that was done by the president. It is not sufficient for Democrats to point out the dishonest way we were taken into war. Nor is it sufficient for Democrats to simply point out that what is being done now is extremely mistaken. Democrats have to talk in terms of a strategy that, if they were in the White House, they would implement to successfully finish this particular mission, but more importantly, to get back to the real focus on the terrorist networks that attacked us on 9/11.

    The Democratic message shouldn't begin with Iraq. The Democratic message should begin with, "We are committed to fighting and defeating the terrorist elements that attacked us on 9/11."

    Why don't you think the Democrats have taken these steps? Why is there this confusion, this hedging?


    Of what?

    Fear of being accused of not being supportive of the troops, which of course is an outrageous response to reasonable questions about Iraq. But it does tend to intimidate people. Fear that somehow people will be accused of being unpatriotic. Fear that the president will say, as he almost always does, that those criticizing the Iraq war don't understand the lessons of 9/11.

    I think it is President Bush who doesn't understand the lessons of 9/11. I think it's President Bush who hasn't even read carefully the 9/11 report, which clearly defines the threat we are facing. The threat we are facing is this international terrorist network that attacked us, and the amount of radicalism that may exist among Islamic peoples that can provide the recruits to fuel the international terrorist network. The president doesn't understand the difference between what is going on in Iraq and that effort.

    The conventional wisdom coming out of 2004 was that a big reason why John Kerry lost was because President Bush appeared to be a stronger leader on national security issues. The conventional wisdom now says that if a politician says we should leave Iraq before all of our goals are met that will be seen as a sign of weakness.

    The president has been masterful -- not in handling this war or explaining why it was done -- but he has been masterful in trying to scare Democrats from having a reasonable position, by saying that is a position of weakness. The response to that is that the terrorist organizations love the fact that we appear to be stuck in Iraq. It's not a sign of weakness to try to change course. It's a sign of intelligence. It's a sign of wanting to win the fight against terrorism. The Democrats have to be comfortable saying that.

    That is our biggest problem. The Democrats tend to think, "Oh, I can't question this." The way to deal with this is to make sure that we begin with the commitment to do this right. You don't begin by saying, "Let's just get out of Iraq." That shows the same kind of narrow focus and lack of understanding of the issue as the president has shown. A good way to say it in Iraq is not the be-all and end-all of national security. It happens to be an important place. But it was made more important by errors, not by good policy.

    You were involved in the 2004 race, supporting John Kerry. Looking back, what were the mistakes that he made or his staff made? What do you think cost him that race?

    I think the mistakes really began with the 2002 congressional election. We were doing very well in the Senate races. And we had a great chance to hold the Senate. I saw that many Democrats in the caucus understood that this Iraq war didn't make sense from the point of view of 9/11. It didn't really seem that persuasive on weapons of mass destruction. But what the party decided, it seemed, was, "OK, look we can't beat Bush on the national security stuff. We'll just cede foreign policy to the Bush administration, and we'll beat him on domestic issues, where clearly we had the upper hand." I felt at the time -- and I certainly voted against the war -- thinking, in part, that there is no way the American people are going to elect a party that only feels they are better on the domestic side.

    That's the context that this 2004 election occurred in. And that's the context, that people like John Kerry and John Edwards were stuck with votes in favor of the Iraq war. They were in a box. Those of us that didn't think it was a good idea and didn't think it related to 9/11 were able to say, as Howard Dean said, we never thought this made sense. It put Kerry in this terrible position, even though I think he did as well as he could, of having voted for the war but being critical. And then, of course, the really devastating piece was having voted against the $87 billion [in supplemental funding for the Iraq war], which I happened to have voted for. It just put him in a bind. I think it all related to the decisions that were made in 2002 for which we paid a price in 2004.

    So there is a chance of correcting that going into 2008?

    We have a wonderful opportunity to say, "Look, however people voted in 2002 on the Iraq war, clearly the war has not been conducted in a way that any reasonable senator could have expected." That is the fault of the administration. That's not the fault of the Congress. I don't think anyone can say it was the fault of the Congress. We should lay out the fact that this administration has failed to anticipate a number of scenarios that many of us have warned them about. They have mismanaged the situation. We as Democrats want to do two things. First, we want to make sure that this Iraq policy has a clear mission and a reasonable, flexible time frame for completion. And secondly, that we are going to return the primary focus of American national security to the overall fight against terrorist networks that are hitting us in Indonesia and the Middle East, in Europe and potentially the United States.

    It's fair to say, I think, that foreign policy is not the only area where Democrats have a problem right now. Where else do Democrats have to change course or strategy going into the 2006 and 2008 elections?

    I think we have to simplify our themes to the point where we portray ourselves ... as what David Ignatius recently referred to as a "party of performance." He recognized that the American people at this point, especially after Katrina and after the problems in Iraq, are looking for a party that can actually, simply do the job. Of course that relates to FEMA. But I think it also relates to foreign policy, to Iraq, to the fight against terrorism. It also relates to the issues, that if you listen to people, you will hear them talk about ... We should be willing to take a stand on the healthcare issue that is stronger than some people might be comfortable with.

    What is the stand?

    Guaranteed healthcare for all Americans, mandated by the federal government, but allowing the states to have some flexibility in how they implement it.

    Secondly, we should be a party that is not afraid to stand up to unfair trade agreements. Senators on both sides of the party have trouble with CAFTA and the results of NAFTA. We should break with the party's recent past and say we're not going to vote anymore for trade agreements that ship our jobs overseas and are not fair to the workers and the environment of those other countries. Third, there is an overwhelming desire for a real energy-independence approach in this country. People are ready to hear specifics, all the way from wind turbines, to fuel cells, to ethanol, that will make people believe we don't have to have these foreign countries who essentially have us, as I like to say, over the barrel.

    A number of people on the left were unhappy with how you voted on John Roberts. After the vote, Ralph Neas of People for the American Way was in the hallway saying you had voted against the interest of the Constitution.

    Yes, I read his quotes. The two most important votes about the Constitution were [for the confirmation of] John Roberts and John Ashcroft, according to Ralph Neas. I wonder where he was the day the USA Patriot Act was voted on and I was the only senator to vote no. I think he is a little confused about what are votes on the Constitution, which that was directly, and what are votes on individuals.

    But you have Roberts on the bench. Harriet Miers is heading toward the bench.

    Don't count on that.

    Well, whoever the president's next nominee is, it's very possible that the person could eat away at a number of legal principles that are Democratic foundations.

    It's very possible.

    But you voted, still, for Roberts.

    I have this odd sense that George Bush is going to pick whoever the justice is. So those who are yelling and screaming, apparently, have forgotten who gets to make the nomination. So the question is, what's the best we can get from George Bush? It was my judgment that John Roberts, based on everything I saw and heard, directly and indirectly, was the best possibility we could have to pick somebody who would be non-ideological in his nature, who would try to do the right thing on the court, even though he is certainly more conservative than I am, and who I think in the end will probably be less partisan than his predecessor, Chief Justice Rehnquist.

    So I thought it was the best possible scenario for the future of progressive concerns. I may be wrong. But that was my judgment and I think people who wanted a different choice than Roberts would have found out they got something worse.

    What is your take on Miers?

    I am puzzled. I don't really understand. I will need to be convinced that this is a person who is of the highest standing, who is qualified, in the first place, for the Supreme Court. Secondly, I am really troubled by the notion that her qualification is that she has a close personal relationship with the president. That strikes me as the opposite of the independence and objectivity that I actually admired with Roberts.

    You spoke out against the 527 groups in 2004. Democrats historically have depended much more on these large checks, whether it is through 527s or soft money. If the 527 loophole is closed before 2008, do you think it really handicaps the Democratic nominee?

    Yeah, everybody says that to ban soft money would be devastating to Democrats. Even Terry McAuliffe has admitted it did just the opposite. We broadened our base of supporters. It basically returned us to being something of the party of the people. The 527s, I think, were a negative for Democrats. I don't think they helped us. I think, on balance, the whole Swift Boat thing was devastating to John Kerry. These groups are just cheating. It's current law, under the 1974 law, not the McCain-Feingold bill, that they should not be able to do this. So I think we would be much better off having a clean message driven by the party and the candidates, rather than these groups. You know, frankly, they run ads sometimes that are obnoxious in terms of not showing Democrats to be respectful and I think that hurts us.

    The Swift Boat group was obviously the most effective for the money. But a lot of the big money was going into get-out-the-vote groups on the left and the advertising groups on the left. Do you think those hurt John Kerry's candidacy?

    My sense was that that kind of activity was not what was effective. It was the party. It was the organized work that was done in coordination between the state parties and the federal parties and the candidates.

    There is a theory in Washington that the Democratic Party is divided between insiders and outsiders, the conventional leadership of the party and the outside activists like bloggers. Do you buy into that?

    I think there is a problem with it. I don't know if there is a severe divide, but it is something we need to overcome. I think there are a lot of efforts being made by Democratic senators who have awakened to the reality.

    What is the problem that you see?

    Well, I think what Democratic senators are beginning to realize is that there is a tremendous potential base of support out there that is represented by the blogs and some elements of the Green Party and especially among young people, who the party has not done a very good job of appealing to. Certain votes that I have taken have caused me to have a lot of exposure to these individuals and groups. I just saw what it meant to people that a Democrat stood up on the USA Patriot Act, that Democrats voted against the Iraq war. This is the key to bringing in people who are looking for strong, alternative leadership to the Bush administration.

    We have an opening. We have an opportunity here. Republicans brilliantly figured out before we did direct mail and a number of other things that led to the Reagan revolution and the Contract With America. We have an opportunity here to, I think, be the ones who do a better job with the Internet, with the blogosphere, with the unbelievably democratic, with a little d, opportunities that this all presents. This is a sea change in American politics, giving the average person an opportunity to participate in this exciting, real-time way with the political process. I think we are better positioned to take advantage of that.

    -- By Michael Scherer

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    I read Kitzhaber's speech also, but I couldn't help feeling that here is a guy who has detached himself largely from Democratic politics. I have to take his advice with a grain of salt; I don't get a sense that he accomplished much while governor and hasn't been engaged since leaving the governorship.

    Ok, we need to stand for something but if we believe the electorate has or is moving to the right, then standing for "something" and losing election after election is not a viable strategy.

  • LT (unverified)

    Ok, we need to stand for something but if we believe the electorate has or is moving to the right, then standing for "something" and losing election after election is not a viable strategy.

    Define "moving to the right". Would that be Oregonians who voted straight ticket? What about Oregonians who voted for Bush and against Measure 36? Or who a year later have no clue which one was 36 and which one was 37? Or who voted in the Willamette Valley for Bush and Hooley? Or who are looking for a candidate who will actually stand for something?

    Last session Sen. Jackie Winters was a Ways and Means subcommittee chair who said publicly "some of these cuts are too severe and will not get out of my subcommittee as long as I am chair". Because she voted for the balanced legislative budget which became Measure 30 she was challenged by Zupancic when she ran for Congress. She lost the primary but won her home county. She also won the respect of people who had not voted for her, and people in Salem kept their Jackie for Congress bumperstickers on all fall. Does that make Zupancic "to the right" of Winters, or does that make her an admired local politician and give him the reputation of a juvenile dweeb?

    Personally, I think in this quote Kitzhaber is saying there are too few in either party willing to do what Sen. Winters did.

    "And I can't tell you how many times I have witnessed legislators, again of either party, refusing to cast a vote for or against a particular issue, not because of the merits of the policy involved but because there might be repercussions at the ballot box." Kitzhaber said that until Democrats figure out what they stand for -- and become willing to risk losing elections over their beliefs -- it won't matter much whether they run the state.

    "Willing to risk losing elections over their beliefs"--what a concept. Suppose someone campaigned on, "I've been hearing the cuts have been too deep. It is time to re-examine all tax breaks. Furthermore it is time to re-examine HJR 14. The supermajority to pass taxes in the legislature has not always existed. It was a legislative referral 10 years ago. Time to re-examine it and see if public support is still there for this idea".

    If that person loses, then indeed there is not public support for that idea. But suppose that person wins. Hard to say "the voters have spoken and we are not even allowed to discuss any topics related to taxes" when that candidate won on that specific issue.

    I'd support someone like that over the "we mustn't make waves" sort of candidate any day of the week. I don't happen to think "the electorate" is moving to the right. I have heard from people I know that some who don't usually make political remarks are getting a kick out of the fights on the right over Harriet Miers. And a Republican friend is upset that right wingers are attacking her, because to him Bush nominated her because he trusts her and that is all he needs to know.

    Elections should be about the stated concerns of individual voters and how the candidates match those concerns, not vague comments about what "the electorate" believes or what direction they are going.

    Among some commentators there is a healthy debate going on: should all good Republicans accept any Bush nominee because they are a Bush nominee? Or is David Brooks right that some got into politics to debate ideas and the previous sentence is basically "the statement of a monarch"?

    The way I heard it, Brooks and Kitzhaber are saying the same thing from different directions. That it is time to have intelligent debates about serious issues, not just polarize (as some do with "red state vs. blue state" or other binary choices) in a way that tells people to shut up and just choose sides.

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    I heard him to say something different in that speech. In my view, he was saying that the reason the electorate isn't voting for Dems has more to do with the Dems' lack of focus than our politics. I believe he was arguing for a focused, policy-based platform that is clear to the party and to voters. If we do that and are willing to sign on with conviction because it's the right thing (here is where his "willing to lose" talk comes in), only then will the voters follow. I think he's absolutely right.

    I have no idea what Kitzhaber's been up to over the past three years, either. I disagree that he accomplished nothing, though. He presided over the great rebellion of the right in the 90s and had to deal with the fallout from Measures 5 and 50. It was a time of enormous radicalization and polarization, which was abetted by our failed experiment with term-limits. He'll never be compared with McCall because he couldn't advance a big agenda, but given the time and politics, I'm not willing to say his governership was a failure.

  • Gil Johnson (unverified)

    Okay, I'm going to whack this horse one more time and if it doesn't move, I'll presume it to be dead. David Reinhard had a column in Sunday's Oregonian about the Oregon Supreme Court decision permitting live sex shows under Article 1, which protects "freedom of expression of opinion," as well as free speech, writing, etc. David Sarasohn's column called for rebuilding Fort Clatsop, a great idea that the O's lead editorial supported this morning. In other words, something Sarasohn didn't need to write about.

    Once again, the right picks up credibility with mainstream voters and Democrats look wimpy. I have yet to see or hear any Democratic politician take issue with the court's ruling (in fact, I don't think any Deomcratic official has even commented on it). Now this is not the most burning issue of the day, but we are giving the righties a free pass.

    Okay, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the vast majority of Oregonians thinks live sex acts are a fine way to express to the public one's inner feelings and that faking orgasms is an art form on a par with playing Hamlet. Maybe I missed something Kulongoski or Courtney or Kate Brown said. Somebody set me straight.

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    This Democrat is willing to say that I'm not sure when "free speech" started to mean "pornography is sacred." I frankly don't like it. I really don't care what people do in their own homes, but the mainstreaming of porn bugs me as a parent. I don't think it sends a good message to my kids. I'm not a prude; I just think it sends the wrong message as to what women are about and I find a lot of it incredibly misogynistic. It seems like every free speech case in Oregon is about pushing the boundaries of what's acceptable in commercial sex.

    Why does this matter to Democrats? The following is based on my notes from the Summit:

    Cornell Belcher, a Democratic pollster, has done a lot of work looking at the so-called "values voters." Many of these voters are what he terms Backlashers. Backlashers are anxious about everything: their jobs, national security, etc. They are fairly religious, usually attending church weekly, and they are usually fairly downscale economically and don't have a lot of education. They're the groups described so well in "What's the Matter with Kansas." They're the people who used to vote for Democrats.

    The conclusion that he draws from his research is that these folks feel like economics are beyond their control. The one place they feel they have some control is with their children and their ability to instill their values in their children.

    In studying the Backlashers, Belcher found that "moral values" barely trumps economic issues, but it does. He also found that while they say they're voting on moral values, abortion and gay marriage aren't anywhere near the top of their lists of values. He didn't say this explicitly, but what I drew from that is that the Backlashers are feel that Republicans are more aligned with their values in terms of culture. With these voters, Democrats lost by 62 points on the "moral values" question. That's because we're considered the party of pornography and Hollywood. (I've also heard Howard Dean say that what's really scaring a lot of people is trying to raise their children in the current cultural environment, so this is not new news.)

    The light at the end of the tunnel is that among all voters, there is much broader consensus around Democratic moral values (healthcare, ending poverty, etc.) than Republican moral values (abortion, gay marriage).

    One interesting statistic was than when faith voters were asked what are moral values, only 12 percent cited abortion, and only 5 percent cited gay marriage. Another gem was that of the Bush voters, 81 percent voted for Bush, not against Kerry. Of the Kerry voters, 53 percent were mostly voting against Bush, not necessarily for Kerry.

  • tom civiletti (unverified)


    I haven't seen anyone claim that pornography is sacred, but it is protected speech. There has been more than one unsuccessful attempt to limit Oregon's free speech protection by ballot measure.

    There's a lot not to like about pornography, strip bars, and the like, but there's a lot not to like about most popular culture. In other times and places black men were lynched over passing comments to or about white women, with much the same pretext used by enemies of porn. Being made uncomfortable is not a strong rational for limiting others expression.

    As a society, there's much room for improvement in our understanding and expression of sexuality. I don't think limiting speech is an effective way to approach the matter.

    Should Democrats jump on the moral crusade bandwagon? Not if they want to avoid being exposed as hypocrites.

  • LT (unverified)

    The language of polls dividing people into groups bothers me. Does "faith voters" mean both the followers of James Dobson, the people who belong to a church and voted for Bush and against Measure 36, the church members who campaigned against Measure 36, the church members who do emergency preparedness and operate a soup kitchen, the musical director of a church who has a minister in the family but who has no use for the "Christian right"? All the attention to this group last year made it sound like every employee of any polling organization could have spread out to all sorts of communities in mid November, stood outside any place of worship on the Sabbath (Saturday, Sunday, whatever) and watched the people come out of services. This was all said with such confidence they made it sound like if each of those people stopped the 10th person coming out the door and said "can you tell me why you voted for Bush" none of them would have said "actually, I voted for Kerry".

    I did read a very interesting piece last year interviewing members of Kerry's Boston congregation on how they felt about the election and the news coverage. That article treated them as individuals, not members of a group.

    I am reminded of the pilot for West Wing when the guy from the religious right group says to Bartlett "Is pornography too high a price for free speech? " and Bartlett makes a crack like saying $5 is too high a price to pay for pornography. Right before that scene, one of the group misquoted a Commandment and Toby said "if we have to sit thru this meeting at least we are going to get the Commandments straight. That was the third Commandment, and the first Commandment is...." and just then Bartlett walks in saying "I am the Lord your God. Thou shalt have no other gods before me."

    Telling people that ending porn and strip clubs is the most important issue when they worry about health care, school funding, and public safety is the equivalent of not listening to the customers in a sales situation and saying "no, that isn't the model you want--what you really want is...".

    Was it in 1994 we had that poorly worded measure which was supposed to clean up all this but the librarians and booksellers said it was too broadly worded and could lead to censorship? As I recall, their slogan was something like FREE DUM with a slash thru the FREE, and it was displayed in many bookstores. Some of the above discussion sounds like all those bookstore owners must be wimpy Democrats and their concerns must be ignored to please the Backlashers. I doubt it is that simple!

    My problem with this quote is about how you reach these people without offending others. Backlashers are feel that Republicans are more aligned with their values in terms of culture If people think the county road crews or emergency preparedness are the top issues, are Democrats going to say "no they aren't, not according to our research"?

    I still think the most important poll question is "understands my concerns and cares about my problems".

    This is a practical concern. What is the solution? Is it zoning? Is it censorship? Is it police presence around adult businesses?

    I think Democrats need to have more conversations with a variety of people instead of just looking at polls about what people believe. In that straw poll over the weekend, the only ones in double digits were Kitzhaber, Westlund, Hill. Those men have done significant things in their political careers. Are they members of a wimpy party while Republicans are "strong"? What of my Republican friend who wants all social issues ignored until the economy picks up. Doesn't he count?

    That is why I worry about generalities like Once again, the right picks up credibility with mainstream voters and Democrats look wimpy. And I think 3 word slogans (maybe community, reform, accountability) and the programs to back them up are more important than polls trying to read the minds of groups as if there are no individual voters.

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    Enemies of porn? Lynching blacks? Huh?

    Wow. Let me get my official Carrie Nation hatchet!

    All kidding aside--

    I'm just suggesting that we Democrats consider the political implications of failing to at least notice that the over-sexualization of our culture is a problem for many people. My personal feelings don't really have anything to do with it--I think it costs us votes.

    As for porn being sacred, that's sarcasm. But it does seem to me that a lot of the shrillest voices calling for "free speech" are practicing some of the worst of hate speech. A lot of what passes for contemporary porn relies on violence and humiliation and degradation, etc. of women. It ain't your father's Playboy.

    That said, let's not hijack this thread into a porn discussion. Those never end.

  • LT (unverified)

    All I was trying to say was that Democrats should ASK people what is important to them. Tipper Gore is an excellent example of being proactive, incl. the book RAISING PG KIDS IN AN X RATED WORLD.

    On any issue, start a debate on solutions rather than saying "we must be careful of this issue".

    My guess is that if 100 shoppers at a shopping mall were asked what is the most important issue, there might be as many as 90 different answers. I happened to be in a large shopping mall this weekend with some relatives, and wondered how many people there in the mall had even thought about the issues debated here.

  • tom civiletti (unverified)


    On the question of censorship, I'm with Frank Zappa, not Tipper Gore. Parents are justified in being concerned about their children's education in sexuality. censoring speech and expression is not the way to deal with that concern, though.

  • LT (unverified)

    Tom, that is a valid debate. It makes more sense than "Democrats should care about porn". My only point is that no one should assume that either the Tipper Gore or Frank Zappa point of view on this issue is more important to all voters (or even swing voters of the sort who voted Bush/ Hooley) than, for instance, economic issues.

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    That's not what I was saying at all! I'm was trying to relate what the pollsters have found about reasons why faith voters (defined as all voters who attend services at least once a week, conservative or not) vote against their own economic interests. The research shows that abortion and gay marriage are are not the values at the top of these folks' lists. While I don't think a jihad against commercial sex work is at all beneficial for the Dems, I do think we can empathize with parents who struggle to raise their kids with values that aren't supported by the culture. I am not advocating either censorship or making it a central issue. I just think the Dems need to acknowledge that parents worry about sex, commercialism, violence, etc.

    The DNC asked all the states to find out what top issues are in each state. Across the country, it's pretty universal: education, healthcare, jobs, and national security. Those are the issues our campaign will be built around. The messaging is being worked on as we speak, and I'm hopeful it will be delivered in the next month.

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    Well, this (the Jenny spur on the thread) goes back to framing question, doesn't it? To mangle George Will, if you polled 100 liberals on the 100 most important issues, the world "pornography" will appear nowhere in the 10k slots. Aligning Dems with porn is what the GOP does.

    The question I have is why Dems are still falling into this trap in the first place. Shouldn't we be talking health care, climate change, the economy, and so on? We need to keep our eyes on the big picture.

    Jenny, you make this observation: While I don't think a jihad against commercial sex work is at all beneficial for the Dems, I do think we can empathize with parents who struggle to raise their kids with values that aren't supported by the culture. I am not advocating either censorship or making it a central issue. I just think the Dems need to acknowledge that parents worry about sex, commercialism, violence, etc.

    The argument you make is based on a Republican frame. You're of course right that siding with strip club owners against parents is deadly politics. But is that actually the choice? It certainly one the GOP sees. And as long as Dems agree that it's the choice, we will continue to look mealy-mouthed, inconsistent, and indecisive. Dems need, rather, an entire new language.

    Likesay: "Are you out of your mind to offer up a stupid false dichomoty like that? As good Americans, I expect everyone in the country supports parents' efforts to protect and nurture their children. As a good Democrat, what I believe this entails is ensuring that we actually make them a priority. Rather than giving tax cuts to the wealthy and to corporations, I think we need to prioritize kids. We need those taxes to pay for public education, health care, and child care. It's all about priorities, the the GOP's are to serve the interests of the wealthy. It costs money, and that money comes out of schools."

  • Desoto58 (unverified)

    Posted by: Jeff Alworth:


    The question I have is why Dems are still falling into this trap in the first place. Shouldn't we be talking health care, climate change, the economy, and so on? We need to keep our eyes on the big picture.

    Jenny, you make this observation: While I don't think a jihad against commercial sex work is at all beneficial for the Dems, I do think we can empathize with parents who struggle to raise their kids with values that aren't supported by the culture. I am not advocating either censorship or making it a central issue. I just think the Dems need to acknowledge that parents worry about sex, commercialism, violence, etc.

    The argument you make is based on a Republican frame. You're of course right that siding with strip club owners against parents is deadly politics. But is that actually the choice? It certainly one the GOP sees. And as long as Dems agree that it's the choice, we will continue to look mealy-mouthed, inconsistent, and indecisive. Dems need, rather, an entire new language.

    ....Rather than giving tax cuts to the wealthy and to corporations, I think we need to prioritize kids. We need those taxes to pay for public education, health care, and child care. It's all about priorities, the the GOP's are to serve the interests of the wealthy. It costs money, and that money comes out of schools."


    Dear Mr. Jeff Alworth,

    Have you been smoking crack? What kind of stereo-type pea-brained idiot are you sir? You want the Dems to invent a "new language'? Hell son, you can't even make any damned sense with the one you already have.

    There isn't a single damn thing wrong with Jenny's observation or framing except that some jackass dunderheads can't seem to grasp the concept that raising good kids isn't something that can be bought and paid for like trendy meals at yuppie chain restaurants. You can't order up well-raised kids like a plate of buffalo wings at Applebee's.

    You say that her argument is based on a "Republican frame". What the hell does that mean? How is the concept of trying to raise a family of children in this day and age that are educated, well-adjusted, and healthy without having them exposed to hardcore "adult material" and outright degenerate pornography based on either a "Repuplican frame" or a Democratic frame? What a steaming pile of bull-hockey!

    You say it's all about priorities, but you don't seem to have even the slightest clue as to what those priorities are with regard to raising children. Raising kids, when it's done right, is a serious hand-on experience. Even the best daycare and "public education" does no more than produce by-product kids that become by-product citizens on the quality scale of human fastfood. Hell, just look at the quality of kids our public schools are turning out now. Human BigMacs.

    The message I got from Jenny's letter was that due to our downward spirel society's current "culture", that as a parent, she's concerned her kids are being more influenced by the "values" of hardcore internet porn and sex&violence video games than by the values she as a parent is trying to instill. What don't you get about that Jeff?

    It's hard when you're one parent against the mega industy that sex & violence is today whether it's a tv show, cable movie, web porn or video game. The "culture" the prevailing popular culture now has become so pervasive that it completely overshadows the ability of today's parent to provide a safe & healthy environment in most urban & suburan communities. (Remember, Hillary said: It takes a village.)

    Wheither one sides with Frank Zappa or Tipper Gore, it's still possible to be a liberal Democrat without being in favor of either censorship or public sex. ....or is it? That's what all those Red States think.

    And you Mr. Alworth, your remedy, your solution is - oh, just throw more tax dollars at it! You don't even understand what it is you want to throw money at or what you want those dollars to buy!

    Jeff, what I think Jenny is talking about can't be taxed & bought unless those tax dollars are being spent to create an environment to raise one's children where it's possible to take them to the park or mall or movies without having to explain and having them exposed to concepts like gangbangs, anal sex, personal lubricant, trans-gender pre-ops, and top ten homosexual sodomy & fellatio techniques. What don't you understand about that?

    Just curious Jeff, what framework does anal sex technique go in?

    I shudder to think what kind of personal lube you blind quackheaded self-aggrandizing spin doctors will spew all over this.

    Jeff, it's people like you that cause people like Jenny to either vote Republican or even worse ...not vote at all.

    You speak much, but say very little.

  • (Show?)

    I took a run into town today to meet with one of our gunslingers and I was listening to my pal Lars on the way in.

    Unlike Desoto and LT, I don't think that Jeff and Jenny are that far apart. Of course the supreme court decision is being used by the Right to tar all Libruls. That's what they get paid for. Ted Feriolli threw some gas on that fire in his LTE to the Oregonian today (very smart boy our Ted).

    Basically, although they are talking past each other a little bit, Jenny and Jeff seem to see that the point is the same. Whatever the sex industry is doing behind closed doors is not what's uppermost on the minds of the voters by any measure.

    Let's get back to healthcare, education, state police, etcetera. There will be very few occasions where voters will ask a candidate where they stand on live sex shows or the specific sexual practices of gay citizens, regardless of the wishes of Lars and Kevin. I say, let use up as much bandwidth as they want.

    Ignoring non-issues is not changing the subject.

  • Tenskwatawa (unverified)

    [[Pre-react: Desoto's "...people like you ..." is an illicit figure of speech, if you've ever listened to David Reinhard.]]

    [Editor's note: A metaphor runs through it -- four days. God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth." And there was evening, and there was morning -- the fifth day. Fruity birdy. Kitzhaber: What he said.]

    Boosting Sunriver, and Winning the West, was scheduled for former Congressman Tim Roemer crossing Portland with a stopover in Thom Hartmann's KPOJ 620 AM radio studio this morning (10/7). You can tell neither is Oregon-centric, as all of beaverfolk's conversations these days start with 'Who torched Fort Clatsop?,' which is the coined cover for the real political dig behind it: 'Who paid somebody to torch Fort Clatsop?'

    Tim and Thom, with worldlier views in common, talked terrorism. (Although that's behind what's behind "Who got the fort hot?" Didja notice the Governor's point-man reflex, even beating the reporter there? Oregon-centric.) To Thom, 'terrorism' began and remains nine-eleven. And Tim signed his oath on faithful Report as a member of the taxpayer-funded official government 9/11 Commission. So Thom asked Tim: 'What are the official Report findings regarding Building 7?," naming the third skyscraper that blew down, hours later, two blocks from the Twins. Tim described the findings of Building 7's event written in the Report. Except, what he said is not in the Report. Nothing is.

    The OMISSION of the fact that WTC 7 (which was not hit by an airplane and which had only small, localized fires) also COLLAPSED - an occurrence that FEMA admitted it could not explain, is No. 8 in the list of 100-plus lies compiled by David Ray Griffin for his book, The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions. Why does Roemer lie that Bldg. 7 is found in the Report? Hartmann probably asked him about it particularly because it is a mystery, it's not in the Report. A skyscraper falls down, no reason given, and Reporters don't ask, yet say they did. Definition of lying. Or as Griffin concludes his book in this, "far from lessening my suspicions about official complicity, has served to confirm them. Why would the minds in charge of this final report engage in such deception if they were not trying to cover up very high crimes?"

    Before talking directions to sail the Democratic Party, the time might matter to talk purposes in the voyage -- Who's in the boat? My sketchy understanding of Roemer's visit sees him seeking Sunriver votes in support of his bid for DLC Chairman. It wasn't religious-fanatic hijackers who planted explosives in Bldg.7, and therefore also in Bldg. 1 and 2, and whoever it was committed mass murder and the DLC helm steers to leave them in a harbor, shielded from the law, hidden, and so sail away the Party in new directions for the 21st Century. It is painful to donate money to Party accounts open to extortion and blackmail coercion of its voters. Volunteer efforts to elect sail-on Democratic candidates just doesn't yield personal value satisfaction to be complicit in harboring mass murderers.

    More than no joy for working the cruise, it is a boat of the damned. I wouldn't go aboard, knowing staying means I can't vote. This situational choice hinges in Pat Ryan's note, "lefties are pretty much as bad as righties when it comes to lack of honesty," and et cetera, 'bad' meaning damned crimes and Faust-taken souls. Pretty much as bad. Equal guilt cancels both sins. Relative to the other party. Bits of suggestive media have many mimics without reason -- starting a sound slogan and then biting the logic off of the end of it. If crime is no distinction between the partisans, then logically the next measure of them is their recovery from crime. It is the difference between a one-time offender and a lifelong offender. One time is an accident. We all fall in sin, okay. Who climbs out? Repents. Confesses. Recovers. Grows wiser. Pretty much lefties do, percentagewise, pretty much more than righties do. It's a distinction we can make. It's characteristic.

    No doubt sin is sea-deep and gets everyone the same wet, but let's follow the ones who lead us out of it, dry out and show that difference from the ones who stay in. 'Don't wallow in it,' oldtimers said. 'Lefties are pretty much as bad as righties,' is wallowing in it. Roemer effectively saying yeah, yeah, fageddaboudit, keep quiet and keep your pay, is wallowing in it. I suppose 'it' is self-pity. Leading down. Giving up on giving living their best. Charactercide. 'It.'

    And, while the pragmatics of 'what's possible' politics so often outstrip wishful idealisms, (or Jeff's "core values and solutions," developed in contemplation and conversation), yet, at some moments values statements take priority over habits of action, and today is one of those rare times. When a would-be DLC Chair, (I risk if I have Roemer rightly attributed in this, but let the player be interchangeable: Dean, Kerry, Hillary, and Bill, friggin' Wyden, our gang), condones -- hell, aids and abets, mass murder. Accepts it as dirty politics 'parity.' It's win the seat, stupid. Valueless.

    Such party gives no reward to be involved as canvasser, donor, or voter. Win or lose, big whoop. The parties are the same. That's when a statement of values, a principles white paper, takes priority. We agree how we're constituted first or I don't get in the boat. I know the likely alternative is disenfranchisement, go pound sand. I'll just have to pound sand. Not for any promethean rectitude on my part. More because I've been there, failed that, wised up, live to do better than sinning by habit. It may look like principles; however, it's just pragmatics in knowing rote actions always gets rote results. Betraying constituents reaps constituent betrayal. I'm outta here.

    Keeping to the moral high road through the nine-eleven murders works out to be worth more than compromising with peer pressures to go along and get along. Going along, making good time, has no value when we are lost. Hiding the events and motives of nine-eleven by revising history, turning aside, and going another way for the sake of getting away, move on sail off -- hiding history -- dooms those whom it is taken from, to repeat it. Killing history stories is killing democracy, extincting the basis of equality of opportunity to learn and grow. An all-knowing 'secret inner circle' is unAmerican. Traitor behavior. It betrays democracy to say it is along the low road, sub rosa, not open to all -- partial justice, and it misredeems the only worth of democracy.

    The nine-eleven murders must not be tossed aside as an irrelevant artifact of politics, an ordinary signal that doesn't tell any difference between righties and lefties, 'they both do it.' And the nine-eleven murders must not be submerged below the threshhold of notice, under the radar, not important. Maybe murder is commonplace, and masses of murders, too, every day. 'Boys will be boys' since time began and is a subtext down below in a footnote, unnoticed. If so, fine enough. Drop it and say the reason. Down the unsolved case hole into the dustbin of history.

    Recognize though, that personal injury was not the only crime involved. When premeditated and committed intentional lies are grown large from it, in forms of fear and terror of our selves and our very nature, such attack and assaults injure humankind, and they deny and defeat self-governance. Bury democracy. Bury America. In those extended lies premeditated and committed, the political crime against our constitution, is treason. 'Higher' crime than making persons victim is making culture victim. And by culture is meant the sense of people speaking of 'national,' our nation, our seed of sovereignty in our land, our political borders, what makes us 'we, the people.' Our very culture. Is victim. Of nine-eleven lies.

    High crimes don't fit in the dustbin of history, they break it. To dismiss nine-eleven murders as 'only another murder' is to dismiss democratic government as 'only another theory' (which is judging and condemning humankind to respire without aspiration). Who are these gods judging and condemning us all? Judging and condemning democracy's founders and our heritage. Traitors. Betrayers. That's who. And if premeditated treason indictment is too death-defying to adjudicate, justice might let the accused plea bargain out to a lesser charge, equivalent to evading taxes: Murder, in accomplis.

    Nine-eleven can't be spread around, (among elite politicians who 'know better what matters not you') and nine-eleven can't be played down, ('ain't it a crime oh well'). And swimming in it is a (2001) Member of Congress, now having accepted public money to write a Report of investigation which he failed to write. That describes a few hundred people, call it the status quo. I pick one who said on the radio the Report was written, whereas that's a lie. I charge that here, now it's his move regarding justice.

    The choice of direction of Democrats is not the Party's choice, it is voters' choices: stay in or get out. Roemer and enablers can 'stay in' by melting back into anonymous status, going along, shutting up, and don't go on the radio anymore. Go on standing in the bloc of co-guilty Commissioners, who all took pay for non-performance. Political 'reality' advice seems so sure that constituents can not organize strong enough to be able to 'get 'em all.' That was Cheney's coaching around his co-guilty circle, in June'04, after a month of torture-photo television-talk affecting people's perceptions, (like my narrative here is hoped to do). The veepster came back brazen at a reporter asking him What's the administration's next move?, with his surly James Cagney lip, "We'll make it if we all stick together," in stonewall to evidence of torture murders, ('we'll endure people's accusing glares, people can't do anything'). Status quo.

    A crop of the young, (born A.N., After Nixon; too young to notice when righties never mention him, as though rightie-ology world was creationism'ed in 444 days by Rongod Reagod), the next tier of politics players and office holders, they see the criminal corruptions in 'the game' and in both 'parties.' And they tell themselves to overlook it, stand by, 'work from inside,' and when their turn comes, b'gawd, they are going to 'clean it up.' It'll be different then. 'It': Charactercide. There are a million ways to drown in the sea of sin, which don't count. The ones whose bearing finds a way out, through the wave-tossed dinghy and junk issues, and who reach shore and stand on solid ground, they count.

    The wealth-holders in the young generation who fought the (1776) Colonial War, could have more easily floated along and gotten along for themselves in King George's sea of inhumane empire. (Some did float along, American Tories, issuing shore-party raiders who waved for War in 1812, and issuing descendants who paid their (1860) respects of tribute from their grandparents' old world in naming the Grand Old Party.) When anti-Tory separatists ultimately stood free on 'new land' (in Old World point-of-view), what counted and lasted in the deed was their establishing a Constitution and democracy among the landed. Politics is not a conduct of 'going in a direction,' but rather, is a conduct of inhabitation and standing the ground. The formation of democracy organized political powers into legislative, executive, and judicial counterbalance, for consolidating into settlement the imbued characteristics of people, after centuries in sin-violent seas of self-commanded privateering, grown worldly wise. 'Natural science' was ever the learned studies of humanity's nature, (later shortened to 'science,' denoting a difference beyond 'sentience,' from Latin sentio, like 'sentry,' meaning perception; which is in 'science,' from scire, for the knowledge that is memory accrued from perception. >Time out<, left fielder: The latest fashion in advertiser copywriting removes Latin vocabulary, with its acme of words for mental processes and thinking, and instead fixates intelligence in Greek lexicons, epic in drama and theistic theory, fantastical rhythmic pathos. >?<) Sense of natural powerlust and its corruption of human behavior containing it, is manifest in constituting humankind's three motivations separately -- mind, body, spirit. Legislative, Executive, Judicial. Money, sex, power -- cognition is money, creativity is sex (life), judgment is power.

    The national-league Member at 'Winning the West,' can maybe get support for his party 'leadership' and votes from the young players, teeth-gritted, and lead them in party unison, not to speak out, not to count. This blog thread, like many, may be symptomatic, asking, 'Well, so, what do we do now? Which way we going?' I think Jeff's analysis posts are getting better and better, as is, too, the thinking of many of the young establishment-in-waiting, with a lot to contribute to framing ideas. Him, for instance. (Jeff's posted "freedom - equality" plays better, IMO, as 'freedom - justice' to set the dichotomy. Justice is as valid as freedom; freedom - justice is the 'sovereignty - citizenry' balance of power. And Justice -- "equal under law" -- has got yer Equality built in. To be continued ....) Promising political talents fill the internet in these times and their word bulk flattens the conventional newspaper syndication of opinions, both of them. To hold our promise, it takes stronger wider understanding around than along the liberal-seesaw-conservative axis.

    Bloggers all talking at once ask their own questions -- 'Which way we going?,' and collect the replies of people who write their thoughts. This is a small minority of people. (Writing and reading, more than speaking, makes a politics player. Perhaps because reading is thought of in a person's own internal voice and time, while hearing speechifying is another's voice, thinking this time, convenient to it. LT notices this in the contrast of few citizens being interested and active in politics, and most citizens struggling along blinkered until election announcements rattle their TV.)

    Blogger-generation 'answers' come in two categories. On-the-ground practicality says this: 'Forget philosophy and principle and belief, we only exist as the Democratic Party We, when we win elections, by issue-in-hand to issue-in-hand combat, grinding it out with a ground game, and after victory, then we can find out what our purpose is, and why we do it. Election defines us and our direction.' Prominent-leader models tell the active players of the day, 'follow me, this is how We do it, skip the Why.' And then he leads or pulls the fresh lives into the crime sea of situational ethics -- 'pay to play,' and relative guilt -- 'no one's guilty if we all do it.' Actually, guilt is an ocean to emerge from.

    Time out.< Let's take a break. I am straining in this to keep the span between a concrete demonstration of Roemer-like D.Party direction, and conceptual reasons for going anywhere. Let's review and then return to conclude the narrative.

    For a post open to thoughts on D.Party direction, I present a narrative of the way Party leaders go on as silence-accomplices to murder and high crimes. Following their lead, it is immaterial which direction the Party goes, whether by drawing a map or going without. It's going campaigning, that's where it's going. It could be going crusading. Campaigning wins seats of office, crusading wins hearts and minds.

    I am crusading for justice in politics, but writing in 'campaign-speak.' Sound points. Bullet bites. (Maybe all bloggers are crusading.) Crusades take long comments since they involve nature and character and comprehension in humankind. Thank you for experimenting with me.

    It's not going to be which direction the D.Party boat sails, it's going to be whose direction. (Definition of politics.) Who's on the boat, what's the selection to get aboard? I can't crew for democracy traitors and expect us to get underway without it and sail off and reach it. Democracy is here right now, when each of us gets to speak. And justice is here when everyone's words get weighed.

    There have been lies spoken about the past, so it takes me longer to wiki-right my entry, my wiki-entry for Political History. The trouble with History is it's so long. >End of time out.<

    In current times, speaking campaign-wise, office seekers such as Roemer can run where they stay in the D.Party, blended in and not outspoken of justice, (but if justices can legislate from the bench, couldn't legislators enact justice from the bicameral chamber?), or they can run away from the D.Party, not looking at what's ahead, perhaps, only feeling steps inclined to higher ground, back up the slippery slope that all fall down.

    I say unjust inhumanity stays in and just humankind gets out. How does one get out? What does getting out look like?

    Getting out need not crawl and slog to high ground. It is done in a leap. The political mind thinks of balance, or justice, and so it is enacted -- standing on high ground.

    Histories of political leaps 'up,' or 'forward,' or 'out,' show that it is characteristic of human nature. In American history -- democratic history -- the great leap was itself inception. High ground. Political sovereignty around the world arose to it following it.

    The national mind can be shocked by war but it can't be shocked by peace. However, for the same effect as 'peace,' it can be shocked by injustice.

    A great leap of belief starts most nations. It happens to each of them once; that's what gets them started. It happens to a citizen once or more, too, in their political life, at a consolidation point where some experience 'hard sets' their politics. Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide, / In the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side. - James Russell Lowe, The Present Crisis.

    Older character dies away and new character is born out from it. Consolidation. Extension. Very much the sense of it is time coming in, yet each person upon recognition comes out themself to greet it. Life. Death.

    D.Party leaders choose to stay in or get out, the same vote anyone has. Royally silent inaction stays in. What action gets out?

    Repent. Confess. Recover. Grow wiser. Standard-issue 12-step advice and stock spiritual rite of passage. Epiphany in a twinkling: think justice, be adjusted.

    And why does this technique, this instruction, satisfy the soul, across cultures, across the ages? Because that soul is humankind's and people are human. Completing personal satisfaction comes in social acceptance for a politician stating his or her governing beliefs. And if the guiding belief leads them to renounce their past sin and crime mistakes, the community (society) accepts and supports them the more. "I'm Tim and I am a sinner." "Hi, Tim." "Hi, Tim." "Yo, Tim." "Hi, Tim." "Hi, Tim." "Hoo-hah." "Hi, Tim." We're all here. We been there. We support you here.

    Getting out of a sea of criminal corruption and sinful injustice looks like getting into recovery. There may be many imaginable uncertainties, ("the unknowns that we know" - Rum rot), before taking the leap but for a politician's qualms the strongest encouragement might be recognizing all the voters are here in recovery already, waiting for someone to vote for.

    The sound slogan, 'Dump your D.Party label and Keep your belief in Justice, ...' if not cut off there, (leaving it only a screech, only a plea), then logically extends to '... join us, consolidating to extend human nature a new way into the new century.' We can say what we believe, (it's in the Constitution), and where that puts us. Party leaders can lead the D.Party to and identify it with us. We can not say what the D.Party has to or is going to believe.

    And here are some ideas around us for adoption in a new fashioning of democracy politics.

    Don't campaign on issues, campaign on heritage. Special words are at work in that. A person's "issue" is her or his child(ren). (Tissue issues tissue. Ah-choo.) A child's (generation's) "heritage" is their parents, (and parents' parents, etc.) Politics dilutes the meaning of 'issue' when using it to mean topics politicians agree to debate to vote on, issuing 'talking points.' Democracy is not about office holders', the civil servants' talking points; democracy is about we, the people's talking points. We are hurting here and our points of pain are what representatives are to debate to vote on. Our representatives should confer with us, not with each other as their guides.

    'Do not campaign on issues, campaign on heritage,' means don't count your past votes, your 'hatchling offspring,' and don't count the issues that are about to hatch before they have. Count what you are made of, your stock; count what is in you, your beliefs. Your view in justice, (equality, and freedom).

    Because, by human nature, we all have our own sense of justice and can compare to match yours. (Whereas we don't all have a sense of knowing your 'talking points' and can not compare for likeness.)

    I can see a candidate's history of votes on a dozen 'issues,' dot by dot by dot, and still not connect them in a way that tells me what the candidate believes. Vice versa, I can find what a candidate believes and then know how it connects with dozens of 'issues' that come up. History doesn't show humanity. Humanity shows history. And future. Humanity in politics shows the history of politics. And the future of politics.

    Humankind knows justice. We don't know 'talking points.' Justice knows Roemer and Nown-Name D.Party leaders are corruptly injust, aiding and abetting, accomplices to murder.


    As an afterthought, to address debate on nine-eleven events: The debate is over. It concluded the three skyscrapers were demolished with explosives installed ahead, in the summer, 2001; an unmanned fuselage was steered into the Pentagon; and Flight 93 over Pennsylvania was shot down. There were no 19 fanatic alien hijackers; in those names some were duped and some were framed. This doesn't say what did happen. Investigation and confession are needed to get that. This says what did not happen: what government officials and television fantasizers said happened -- it did not.

    For many who have not personally concluded this, and deny it, 'they' can learn they are the minority when they meet the growing group, now becoming the majority, who can share the process by which 'we' each concluded (separately and differently) that nine-eleven was seditious mass murders by agents of our government.

    Also, there is a pattern if the nine-eleven Legend is a lie, and there is NO pattern if the nine-eleven Legend is true. In that the next thing, the next 'issue' after nine-eleven, for the invasion of Iraq, was a lie. Also as a majority has concluded. Lie one, lie two, thousands of innocents (being) murdered for each one -- that's a pattern. True one, lie two -- that's not a pattern. And, for more of the same compelling inductive "pattern" logic: A majority has concluded Florida 2000 was a lie. Gore got more votes when the ballots were finally counted. So that's lie one, lie two, lie three. And most news knowers have further supply of lies each knows that fits the pattern. So now include nine-eleven in lies you know. Yeah, the implications are staggering.

    All of us are implicated and all of us are staggering. Democracy, America, is staggering. We can never get our country back, our democracy, let alone 'our' D.Party, until we stand, together, we the people, and make justice our 'issue.' (Or equality, or freedom, but 'justice' enlivens more, and began our leap into reality: "We, the people, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ... do ordain and establish," our democracy's constitution. I've been reading "in order" as 'in the sequence,' and the preamble becomes for me instructions for assembly. "The people, in the sequence to form a more perfect union: first, establish Justice,' et cetera.)

    It is not: "What's the direction of the D.Party?" It is: We hold, and hold with, Justice, is the D.Party holding with us?

    Also, and lastly, if nine-eleven was not murderously preset and exploded skyscrapers, why has Roemer lied that he and the Commission Reported it was not? Answer: He lied because he has no evidence of hijackers. On the other hand, if nine-eleven was mass murder, why has Roemer lied that he and the Commission Reported is was not? Answer: He lied because he has only evidence it was pre-scheduled.

    Real hijackers break the pattern of government lies. Fantasy hijackers completes the pattern of government lies.


    Is the D.Party's direction going on to carry elections with terrorizing lies?

    Howard Dean says he doesn't see why blacks would join the R.Party. I don't see why blacks would join the D.Party. Nor how they could join, and yet avoid endorsing criminal enterprise, in the D.Party. Nor, by a process of Party elimination, and enthusiasm in holding opposite positions on each issued R.Party talking point, and even given a strong leader's direction in it -- no reason why they should join the D.Party.

    And for 'blacks,' substitute whites, browns, reds, yellows, greens, blues, and every color of humankind in between, in short, why or how people -- anyone -- would, could, or should, join the D.Party. I don't see it. I don't feel it.

    Human nature doesn't see it or feel it. No terror can change the fact that human nature sees and feels and knows justice. That can be a Party in politics. (It was a party, in Marbury vs. Madison, before D's and R's began their passing issues.) I don't see why Dean and Dems don't join us in justice, equality under law.

    We recognize in this industrial age apex of internetted computers, the time has come again as democracy began, for consolidating into settlement the characteristics of people awash in sin-violent seas of self-commanded privateering, grown worldly literate. That's the world wise web now. This time is suitable for version two-point-oh of democracy in America, a Consti2tional Congress. This time of internet politics when the co-complicit, co-accompliced, mainstream media's tide goes out.

    The first article for being elected as representing the majority Justice Party, is impeachment debate in the House of Representatives. As Constituted.

  • LT (unverified)

    That's not what I was saying at all! I'm was trying to relate what the pollsters have found about reasons why faith voters (defined as all voters who attend services at least once a week, conservative or not) vote against their own economic interests.

    And that is my point. Regardless of what a pollster says, I am one of those voters who attends services at least once a week, did so when I was working weekdays, and have been since I was laid off from a weekend sales job of almost 11 years. I reject the premise. I have had conversations about current events in the lobby after church with some friends, and know I am not the only person who sees things differently than "faith voters" supposedly believe. Last Sunday, an old family friend asked what I thought of Harriet Miers and then said he thought the whole thing hilarious. Does that mean he is not a "faith voter"?

    Just as I reject the premise that all emergency workers, store employees, news people, and anyone else whose work schedule conflicts with the schedule of the place of worship of their choice is not a "faith voter" if work schedule prevents attending services. If people only attend services at the worship of their choice when their work schedule allows, are the pollsters saying those people are not religious? By whose measurement?

    Maybe in big cities there are services scheduled which all the employees of the Sunday news/ talking head shows (camera operators to host) can attend, but that is not true in all locations.

    And that also assumes that church musicians and others who are part of the service all vote the same way because a poll says they do.

    There were church members who were active campaigners on both sides of Measure 36. But to listen to some of the rhetoric, those opposed were not "faith voters".

    "What's the matter with Kansas" is a brilliant book about a theory.

    But below the presidential level, Colorado went strongly Democratic. Colorado, the home of James Dobson went Democratic. The legislative majority was changed. The Salazar brothers were elected.

    The whole "faith voter" premise is that the members of Dobson's congregation are more powerful than the members of the congregation where the Salazar brothers attend church. From what I have read about them, I do think they attend church regularly.

    Barak Obama spoke of his pastor in his convention speech. Do any of you believe that everyone in his congregation voted straight Republican because that is what "faith voters" do? Or is it possible they voted for (or against) the guy they knew well?

    So call me atypical if you want, but I believe individuals vote, not stereotypes, groups or poll categories. I realize that is not a popular notion in some quarters.

    But I believe polls are not Gospel. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are Gospels. Polls are dependent on the wording of the questions, the size and demographics of the sample, when the poll was taken, the margin of error (and some of my friends also believe the hangup/ refusal rate).

    And I also seem to recall that the coverage of the poll results said that most of the "faith voters" or "backlashers" did not necessarily vote on hot button issues like abortion or gay rights, but on the character of candidates. Which leads me to believe what I have thought for quite some time. If there is a generic party candidate who says all the right things to please the partisans, and the opponent has lots of friends saying "let me tell you a strength of character story about my friend the candidate", the opponent wins. It is like the old formula about the one side using facts and figures and the other side telling a good story, and the good story almost always wins.

    I worry there are people looking for a formula message. Seems to me what works better is the old fashioned "these are my proposals and I hope you will agree because together we can solve problems" and in the lower level (local, legislative) campaigns going out there and talking with as many individuals as possible.

    I know there are those who want a "magic bullet". But in decades of working on winning and losing campaigns, nothing I have seen works better than the candidate who connects with ordinary people, plain old hard work, and some luck (like the opponent doing something stupid or some great stroke of free publicity for the candidate).

    I know that is an unpopular stand with some, but that is my experience.

  • Tom (unverified)

    The REAL problem with the Dems is they don't know what "values" means. I mean, how stupid do you have to be when you have sex acts made legal in Oregon? As a matter of ethics, I voted for Ralph Nader. I have heard how I should have voted for John Kerry, but why? So he could do the same things G.W. Bush has done? What fools these democrats be!

  • Desoto58 (unverified)

    Tenskwatawa opinies (at great lemgth):


    [[Pre-react: Desoto's "...people like you ..." is an illicit figure of speech, if you've ever listened to David Reinhard.]]

    [Editor's note: A metaphor runs through it -- four days. God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth." And there was evening, and there was morning -- the fifth day. Fruity birdy. Kitzhaber: What he said.]


    Dear Tenskwatawa,

    First, either you suffer from really bad verbal diarrhea or you simply just like to hear the sound of yourself typing. If you could stop trying to be pithy for a brief moment, almost every disillusioned point you attempt to make in your manic rant could be boiled down to about 4 more easily digestible paragraphs. Try it sometime. Please.

    Second, here I thought Jeff Alworth was the reigning champ of verbose lunacy, but you just stole the belt, Bubba! You are the undisputed King of the Long-winded Fruity Birds! And both you and David Reinhard can kiss my ass.

  • tom civiletti (unverified)

    Many great injustices have been committed in the name of protecting children. As a parent, I had little problem insulating my daughter from sexual material I deemed too mature for her. I do, however, become alarmed when I see my three year old nephew pretending to shoot and otherwise maim people in his play world, inspired by what he sees in cartoons and movies targeted at small children. Violence saturates public culture, and its effect is dangerous. Sex is perceived as a problem because there are many sexually repressed parents striving to raise equally sexually repressed children. These parents are alarmed at the possibility of simulated sex acts in nude bars. I suggest they stay away from nude bars and, for goodness sake, not take their children there.

    As to the poster ranting about anal sex technique, well, his psychological constriction is quite obvious. I doubt any media racier than that allowed under the pre-1960's censorship standards would keep his demons quiet.

    The reason that regulation of speech and expression should not reference content is that there will always be people who wish to censor whatever is allowed, whether it is sado-masochistic role-playing or women's faces. Human sexuality knows no bounds and neither does human desire to dictate others' behavior.

    Democrats, who have no values, according to one or more vapid posts above, raise some great kids without calling for censorship. They obviously have plenty to bring to public discourse about parenting, education, popular culture and sexuality, healthy and otherwise. The sexually repressed will not like it, and they are best ignored and contained.

    I am reminded of Surgeon General Elder’s attempt to open dialogue on masturbation. Democrats shrunk away, abandoned her, and missed an opportunity for an important discussion about healthy sexuality. If we are afraid to talk truth, we will either be silent or reinforce hatred and ignorance with our words.

  • (Show?)

    I think Desoto speaks well enough for himself--no reason to further indict him by me. But as a clarifier, I agree with Pat--Jenny and I are not far apart. It's a matter of emphasis, not direction. As a further clarifier, I know that Jenny is one of the most valuable members we have in the Democratic Party, a woman willing to do the hard work of bringing people together and motivating the footsoldiers. I have drunk a beer or two with her, and we had very little about which to disagree. But ain't discussion what BlueOregon was created for?

  • Desoto58 (unverified)

    Dear Tom Civiletti,

    You totally failed to grasp the meaning of my post. Allow me to clarify a few points for the record.

    1) I am totally in favor of nude bars and "live sex theatre" without censorship. I don't support those that would censor such on "moral" grounds. I am also in favor of legalized prostitution as well as legaization of most controlled substances. I have no problem with adult-themed businesses and am in no way sexually repressed.

    2) I don't suggest taking children to adult bars either and only an idiot would suggest such. You seem to have no problem with open sex but you sure seem to have a problem with violence. Are you violence-repressed? Harboring some pent-up dis-directed hostility perhaps?

    3) The point you weakly attempt to make regarding violence in movies, culture & video games is exactly the same as many parents are trying to make regarding sex in the media. We're NOT talking about censorship here. I specifically am concerned about the internet. I am NOT for censoring the internet, but I am for restricting and holding accountable all these porn spammers as well as spammers in general. I'd like to find the guy that invented pop-up ads and castrate him so he can't reproduce.

    4) You know Tom, just because a modern liberal Democrat parent chooses to try to raise healthy computer-literate & web-savvy kids without having them subjected at elementary school level via the internet and cable talk-news programs to things like bukakke, beastiality, scat freaks, gang bangs, buggery and homo-erotic fellatio techniques does not mean that the parent or the kids are "sexually repressed".

    5) For the record, I have no problem with homosexuals or the gay community. My concern as stated in point 4 has to do with the open and unrestricted mass spamming of this type of stuff in cyber venues that and spam mail that target everyone, adults & kids alike without concern of care to who the end viewer might be. I'm not against adults enjoying porn behind their own private walls anymore than I'm against photos of medical operations, but I don't want people spamming me photos of open knee surgery either.

    Funny how whenever someone attempts to get certain factions of the extreme Left to open their eyes a little and see the larger picture, these fanatical edge-dwellers aways want to shout censorship and such before they really have any comprehention or understanding of what the larger image is and how it might relate to others that don't share all of their interests. It also intriques and amuses me how you're so adamently in favor of masturbation and edgy sex but they idea of kids with toy guns alarms you.

    Rather than respond to the points I made or the issues I referenced, you chose instead to try to blow me off and paint me as some type of old geezer right-wing pro-censorship conservative Bible-thumper when I am so far from that that it's laughable. For the record, I'm 34 years old. I just got back from 11 months in Iraq working for a private contractor there doing humantarian aid. I'm belong to the Bahai faith. I play bass in a hardcore punk metal band and I date a single mother who used to work in a topless bar. I'm against the war and against the Bush-Cheney regime. So go crunch those numbers Buckwheat and then tell me what your poll says.

  • Desoto58 (unverified)

    Tenskwatawa practices "hate speak" when he writes: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ "We all fall in sin, okay. Who climbs out? Repents. Confesses. Recovers. Grows wiser. Pretty much lefties do, percentagewise, pretty much more than righties do. It's a distinction we can make. It's characteristic." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Boy, talk about an elitist holier-than-thou attitude. Jee-buz!!! Personally, I don't believe in the concept of "sin" myself, maybe you have some deep unresolved religious issues yourself, I don't know?

    But I do recall the old saying "There are none so blind as those that will not see." and "It is better to remove the log from your own eye first before attempting to remove the spinter from your brother's eye."

    You might want to especially think about that last part Tenskwatawa. It's some mighty fine wisdom you could benefit from pondering and reflecting on.

    Peace & Love, man.

  • tom civiletti (unverified)


    Your recent post addressing me was the only time the word "spam" has appeared in this string. So, what exactly have you been writing about? If it is cable television, then you should control your children's viewing as I did as a parent. There is real-time monitoring, there is V-chip technology, there is television without cable, as god forbid, there is the option of no television at all. There is constitutional protection of free speech, while there is no constitutional right to our preferred television content.

    If porno spam is your gripe, I'm with you completely. I'll hold the bastards down for you [and excise some of that repressed violence you mention].

    I mentioned media violence because I believe it is a much greater problem for children than media sex. It's fairly easy to prevent kids from watching explicit sex acts on television, and almost impossible to keep them from viewing repeated acts of violence. The ubiquity of violence, I am afraid, makes it seem acceptable. And frankly, I would rather my child some day engage in sex than someday kill some one. I would support a prohibition of gratuitous violence, as well as pornography, in children's programming.

    Ah yes, and as to your comment about masturbation: damn right, I am more comfortable with masturbation than with toy guns. The former relieves the sexual tension that leads many folk to desperate acts, the latter leads to a blasse attitude about spraying people's blood and vital organs about willy-nilly. As for edgy sex, the point is, to each his or her own. I am not recommending to you any of the sexual expression I insist should be constitutionally protected, no more than I recommend that you join a parade of Nazis, though that too, deserves protection as free speech.

    I am glad you oppose the war, and that you oppose censorship. incidentally, I have never met a Bahai I didn't like.

  • (Show?)

    OK, so the thread is hijacked...

    Thanks, DeSoto, I think you got my point across, as I apparently wasn't able to do myself!

    My thinking on the pervasive porn issue, particularly on the internet, changed radically when I became a parent. I really don't care what people do in the privacy of their own homes, sex clubs, or whatever. I don't have anything against sex (I grew up in the 70s for Pete's sake). I'm just trying to raise decent kids who respect women and have realistic views of them. I take them to the Oregon County Fair, which is about the only place they see "real" bodies. Why in the world, Tom, would you assume that anyone concerned about pervasive, misogynistic porn is sexually repressed? Because I don't want to have a gangbang or get cum sprayed on my face?

    I'm doing the right things...I have the computer in the living room, and I instituted parental controls after catching the 11-year-old downloading porn movies while I'm sitting on the couch 20 feet away. If it was the swimsuit edition, or even Playboy, I would have a chat, but not really be overly concerned. The problem is that the porn that's out there is pretty vicious and it's really easy to get to. It's unrealistic, promotes violence against women, and I think it may very well affect kids' sexuality in ways we don't yet understand.

    A Jocelyn Elders discussion about masturbation? Fine, no problem.

    I don't want to have to police my kids' computer use all the time. The parental controls block the sex sites, but they also block Planned Parenthood and other sites they should feel free to visit on their own. I don't want to have to sit down and laboriously enter any OK site I can think of. The 15-year-old's email is filled with invitations to porn sites--complete with pictures--and "find a fuck-buddy tonight!" ads. (Yes, we are getting new email accounts.) I recognize the right for these things to exist, but I wish the operators would be more responsible. "Click here only if you're 18 or over" does not do much to prevent a kid from entering a site. And there's plenty of nasty stuff to look at before you get to the point where a credit card is required.

    Again, I don't think censorship is the answer, nor is holier-than-thou moralism. But, jeez, how about a little empathy for parents if nothing else? Jeff has a point (and once more, for the record LT, I don't consider this a defining issue for Dems) that we should counter with something, but as a parent, saying I'm concerned about the pervasiveness of porn on the internet and getting a response about tax credits doesn't do much for me. Let's see if we can't come up with a better answer.

    It's not going to push me to vote Republican (as if!), but I can sure see how it might in some circles. As a Democrat, that does concern me. The place I was originally trying to go with this is that Cornell Belcher, who is the DNC's researchers, has evidence that cultural values are having an effect on our ability to elect Democrats. By hiding our heads in the sand and pretending that these issues don't matter to voters, we're being naive.

  • LT (unverified)

    I appreciate Jenny's concerns. But I just finished reading and posting on the "Christian left" topic and I was glad to see such heated debate.

    Cornell Belcher may be the greatest researcher in the world, but "ability to elect Democrats" seems awfully broad. A couple elections ago we had a State Senate campaign in our district where the opponents were equally matched--long community ties and had each been state rep. in the Senate district. They were so evenly matched that many think a misjudgement by one who sent out so many glossy mailers that it turned off undecided voters who voted for the other candidate to protest the junk mail was the deciding factor.

    And that is my point: individual voters often vote on which candidate they like best, not on which party has the best theory. "I'm voting for Rob over Karen because..." would be an example of that. How else to explain how few straight ticket voters there are in Oregon?

    I truly understand the concern, but "Internet porn is a problem" just doesn't seem a winning slogan for winning over people concerned about economic issues. Maybe there are non-candidate solutions (are there any in Tipper Gore's book or in new technology, for instance?).

    All I am saying is that unless Greg Walden or Karen Minnis or Wayne Scott makes porn an issue, I don't see how that gets us more Democratic legislators elected.

  • (Show?)


    A lot of what comes in as email is regulated by your ISP. I have a satellite uplink living out here in the woods, and they do a great job filtering spam.

    I have two email accounts, one at Yahoo and one on my computer.

    I keep Norton updated and running and I also have a product from Lavasoft that blocks a lot of popups and some malignant email.

    Bottom line: Out of 20+ messages today, two were spam on my home machine. One was for fake pharamceuticals and one for some creative Nigerian banking.

    zero porn and zero pictures.........


    Yahoo sorts for me before I get there so I can just empty the "bulk" folder. Virtually all of my email in the "In" box account is from alleged progressives of one stripe or another.


    I favor the judicious use of tech over regulation when possible

  • cricket420 (unverified)

    I recently moved to Portland from Baltimore, Maryland. Some friends at work told me about when they found out I was a "progressive Democrat" and I started reading the posts here and checking out the local scene.

    I don't know if it's just a "westcoast thing" or exactly what it is, but I have never read so much crazy chemically-imbalanced gibberish in my life or met as many completely whacked out people.

    I'd laugh myself silly if it wasn't so sad. It's like some bad SNL skit about liberals. I'm about as anti-Republican as they come, but some of the people here are enough to make even me consider rethinking my support of Oregon Democrats and Democrats in general.

    Seems as if the Left here has just as many hidden agendas, special interest corruption, and outright rancid pork as even the worst of the Right. Just a different side of the same piece of filthy lucre.

    It's to the point that I'm just about as disgusted with the Left here as I am with the Right. This two party quagmire just isn't working anymore. Is there any group or party out there that represents the interests, values and vision of the average working class anymore?

  • tom civiletti (unverified)


    After a post about the recent Oregon Supreme Court decision on sex shows, you wrote:

    This Democrat is willing to say that I'm not sure when "free speech" started to mean "pornography is sacred." I frankly don't like it.

    Since even pornographers would unlikely claim that their product is sacred, I assumed you were suggesting that pornography was was not worthy of free speech protection. This is just one step from supporting censorship, as only the free speech protections in the US and OR constitutions have prevented widesprerad censorship of sexual material here. If you were simply expressing as distaste for porn, what was the significance of your writing?

    I think few people would not be bothered by some porn. It often promotes degradation as a great thrill and sometimes extolls rape as good sex. There is child porn out there as well, even though it is not protected speech.

    Pat is correct that software and concerned internet providers can stop almost all spam. I never get sexual spam, except for an occasional tame one on male member augmentation, from my Comcast account. I realize that preventing children from accessing internet porn can be a chore, but supporting website porn censorship is not unlike supporting the purging of library shelves, since a child might run through the stacks and pull something unsavory before you can stop him.

    I do believe that many of those who support censorship are sexually suppressed. I did not mean that you, or other posters in particular are repressed.

  • LT (unverified)

    It's to the point that I'm just about as disgusted with the Left here as I am with the Right. This two party quagmire just isn't working anymore. Is there any group or party out there that represents the interests, values and vision of the average working class anymore?

    This is just the reason that so many in this state register outside major parties.

    But please don't equate Blue Oregon with all Oregon Democrats.

    Many of us living in this state would rather see the emphasis on economic issues than on social or religious issues. And that includes one Republican friend whose attitude is "can we please just shelve social issues like abortion and gay marriage until we get the unemployment rate down?".

    There are strong pressures in this state that there are 2 teams (D vs R or L vs R) but there are others of us who are tired of the polarization and constantly remind people that the opening of the Oregon Constitution is "We the People of the State of Oregon..".

    Personally, if there was an Independent candidate who met your criteria, I would be glad to work on that campaign.

  • glennskelton (unverified)
    <h2>Anecdotal comments do not help make any good platform decisions. The union steward mentioned could very well be in the employ of management [a company "prostitute" ] and after years in the unions I have never met a steward that dared to goldbrick on the job.</h2>

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