Let’s Not Repeat the Con Years

I should be drinking myself into oblivion just now.  Unless Massachusetts voters smarten up overnight, it looks like they’re poised to elect a certified Con to the Senate.  Just to give you an idea of this man’s priorities, he decided golf courses were more deserving of state funds than Red Cross workers, right after 9/11 – and he stands by that belief today.  He’s a noxious little jackass who’ll return us right to the bad old days of Con rule, because the Senate no longer functions on majority votes.  Apparently, Mass voters believe the state of affairs that gave us 9/11, two useless wars, torture, warrantless wiretapping, stagnant wages and nearly no job growth, deficits that soared to the stratosphere, and an economic crisis the likes of which we’ve not seen for nearly a hundred years is so desirable they want to return to those inglorious days ASAP.

And if that’s what they believe is best for the country, I have just two words for them: FUCK YOU.

I know the Dem base is disappointed with the pace of progress so far.  I know they’re disillusioned.  But returning us to Con rule is a dumbshit thing to do.  It’s not the way to register your displeasure, people.  You want Dems to wake up and listen to progressives?  Primary the fuckers:

So, how do liberals exert what power they have and have the results be interpreted the way we want it to be? The first would be through protest votes for a third party that resulted in Republican victory. (There is virtually no chance that any third party will ever gain real power short of a fundamental change in the way we elect our representatives, so protest is all it will be.) It’s been done before. And if you can live with the idea of voting in a Republican party in the thrall of extremists that make Bush and Cheney look like Rockefeller Republicans, I suppose that might be the way to go. I won’t judge you, but I am personally unwilling to put the world through any more of this failed right wing experiment at the moment.

There is a fairly compelling theory in political science that says that after political parties come into power, fulfill some pieces of their agenda, get fat and bloated and are finally removed from office, they then tend to deny the reality of their loss and blame it on everything but themselves until they lose enough elections that they finally realize that their ideology has failed. The current GOP is not there yet by a long shot. They are still in the process of doubling down on their radical agenda at a time when the economy is still in ruins, the effects of globalization are being fully felt, the planet is in peril and about to reach a tipping point, and a radical fundamentalist movement is trying to blow people up. I don’t think the world can take any more of the right’s prescriptions for these problems right now: Lindsay Graham is considered too liberal and neo-Hooverism is their economic program. Yes, the Democrats are corrupt and inept. But the other side is batshit insane.

However, that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing we can do but wring our hands about how the system is broken and fret ourselves into intertia. The other way to send messages to the Democratic party is through the unsatisfying and often thankless process of primary challenges. Nobody can have any problem understanding that message, not even Adam Nagourney.

It’s hard to find challengers and it’s no wonder. It’s expensive, time consuming and after all your hard work you will probably lose. It takes real commitment and a desire to not only win a seat in congress but do it by way of unseating an incumbent of your own party with whom you disagree, an act which is guaranted to make you an odd man out among the party hierarchy. But if you win, it can send shockwaves through the system.

And guess what? We are in the most favorable year for primary challenges in recent memory. The insane teabaggers aren’t going to allow any rational Republicans to run and the anti-uncumbent fever is going to be as high as it’s been since 1994. The Democratic base has an energetic activist faction, the netroots can raise money and there is a burning desire to show the party establishment that they cannot take liberals for granted. It’s a perfect environment for successful primary challenges.

And lucky for us, there are some brave progressives already out there taking on incumbents and there very well may be more. This time a few of them may win, and believe me if that happens, the Democratic party will not be able to spin those victories as being a sign that the party needs to move to the right.

Blue America has helpfully set up an Act Blue page with all the progressive challengers who have announced and we’ll add to it as more come forward. We’re calling it “Send The Democrats A Message They Can Understand.”

If you want a Democratic scalp, these candidates are out there offering to do the work to get it done. And you won’t be giving Adam Nagourney or Cokie Roberts or Glenn Beck what they want in the process. It’s a win that even the villagers and the party establishment can’t spin as good news for Republicans.

See?  No need to elect batshit fucking insane shitheels who will return to looting the country and shredding the last remaining bits of our Constitution and our dignity as soon as they’re back in power.  You can send the Dems a clear message without doing anything so stupid as electing the arsonists fire chief.

I’m going to conclude this screed with John Amato’s wise words:

There’s an impulse to say screw it all and not show up anymore because “they’re all the same,” but I can’t do that. For the most part, politicians will let us down because they are…well, politicians, but they aren’t all the same. There have been plenty of books written about Florida in 2000. If ballots had been properly labeled so that voters who wanted Gore instead of Pat Buchanan could have done so, we might have had a more fair election. And then the Supreme Court would have been left to watch election night like the rest of us and Bush wouldn’t have entered the White House in 2000.
Think of what that would have meant for the country:
  • The Bush tax cuts for the wealthy would never have been a reality.
  • I doubt we would have had the attacks of 9/11 because President Clinton warned that the greatest threat America would face was terrorism and Gore would have not ignored him like Bush did. But if we did get attacked, then you can bet that Gore would have handled it as an adult. He wouldn’t sought “revenge” against Saddam Hussein and prioritized control of all that oil. Gore wouldn’t have let Osama Bin Laden get away and the world would still be sympathetic to us.
  • Our efforts to put Afghanistan back together would be finished by now, assuming we even would have tried nation-building there.
  • More troops and people would be alive and we would have exited the Middle East with our heads held high.
  • America would never have invaded and occupied Iraq and over 4,000 troops and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians (if not millions) would be alive today.
  • Abu Ghraib would never have happened.
  • Terrorist recruitment would have stalled.
  • Torture would not be part of the American lexicon and the likes of Dick Cheney and John Yoo would never have descended upon the offices of the VP and OLC.
  • John Roberts and Sam Alito would not be on the Supreme Court and the makeup would probably be 6-3 against the radical Scalia-conservative agenda. A ruling on Citizens United is coming soon. Would the court ever have accepted that case? Not a chance and soon corporations will have a stranglehold on our election system much more than they have now.
  • George Bush would have been back home in Texas leading the state into secession along with his pal Alberto Gonzalez.
  • Nobody would have ever heard of Terry Schiavo.
  • A much swifter and more effective response to Hurricane Katrina would have been implemented.
You get my point. These are but a few things that would have been different if conservatives didn’t get their hands on the White House. Many of us are fighting for liberal and progressive values everyday and will continue to do so. But when our party fails us, I need to work harder to make sure the party stays on a liberal course, not throw up my hands and dismiss them as all the same.

More and better Dems, people.  Not Cons.

Let’s make it so.

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Apparently, They Haven’t Learned How to Read Polls

Look, if even Dana “Dino Farts Caused Global Warming” Rohrabacher knows that the Cons are being short-sighted, publicity-chasing, policy-challenged dumbfucks, you know the Republican party has sunk to new lows.  But to hear the other bunch of nitwits tell it, they’re in like Flint for the next election cycle.

Mitch McConnell isn’t the first Con who’s demonstrated a remarkable inability to read polls, merely the latest:

At a press conference this afternoon, a reporter asked Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to explain why such a low number of Americans (approximately 20 percent) self-identify as Republicans.
McConnell responded by dodging the question, saying, “You can pick out of polls what you want to focus on.” He then proceeded to pick out a number he wanted to focus on:

I think a very interesting question of most of the polls I’ve seen in the last few months is the question of the party generic ballot. That is, if the election were held today, would you be more likely to vote for the Republican or the Democrat? Most of the surveys that I’ve seen in the last three weeks or so have us close to even.

What surveys would those be, exactly, Mitch?  Because it’s obviously not this one:

Don’t look now, but by one measure, the GOP is in the same position as it was heading into the 2008 and 2006 elections, both of which resulted in crippling landslide losses for the Republican Party.
If you look at the generic Congressional matchup in the internals of the new Washington Post poll, you’ll see that the Dem advantage over the GOP is virtually identical to what it was heading into the two previous Congressional elections.
Right now, the poll finds that when respondents are asked whether they will vote for a Dem or a GOPer in the 2010 elections, 51% pick the Dem and 39% pick the Republican.
In June of 2008 (the most recent historical data in the WaPo poll), Dems led the generic matchup 52%-37%. And in early November of 2006 the Dem lead was 51%-45%. Today the spread is largely unchanged.

Despite this, GOP cockiness about the midterms is widespread. As GOP Rep John Shadegg put it, speaking about health care: “If they pass this bill, I wouldn’t want to be a Democrat standing for reelection in 2010.”

Um.  Put it like this… the only reason the numbers aren’t higher in Dem favor is because the Dems haven’t passed health care reform. If a good bill is successfully passed, the Dems will have absolutely nothing to worry about.  Some Cons know this, which is why they’re fighting reform tooth and nail.  Some don’t, but they’re fighting reform tooth and nail anyway because, hey, it’s something Dems want and therefore, Cons are automatically against it.

But set that aside.  And it’s just one poll.  Let’s take a look at some other polls, shall we?

Republicans have made gains, but Democrats still lead.
This can be easily demonstrated through a look at congressional generic ballot polling over the last four months of both 2005 and 2007, as well as a look at polling over the last two months of 2009 (that is, August 15th forward).  Using archived data from Polling Report (for 2006), Real Clear Politics (for 2008), and a combination of Pollster.com and Polling Report for 2010 (Pollster.com for most polls, but Polling report for Daily Kos, CBS, and NBC polls), we can quickly see that Republicans are in a better position than they were in either 2006 or 2008, but that they are still clearly behind Democrats:
Democratic Lead, Generic Congressional Ballot, Autumn 2009, 2007 and 2005
Methodology 2010 2008 2006
All Polls 3.8 11.2 9.3
1 Poll per Pollster 5.3 10.6 9.9
All Polls, no Rasmussen 6.0 10.0 9.3
1 Poll per pollster, No Rasmussen 6.0 9.5 9.9
  1. “All Polls” means every poll from every pollster, including multiple polls from pollsters with multiple polls.
  2. “1 Poll per Pollster” means the most recent poll from every pollster that conducted one in the given time frame
  3. the next two lines simply repeat #1 and #2, eliminating all Rasmussen polls
According to every measurement, even when Rasmussen polls are removed from the equation, Republicans are in a better position than they were in either the autumn of 2005 or the autumn of 2007. Even when it comes to the minimum gain of 3.5% gain for Republicans–represented in the fourth metric–there is still a greater than 90% chance that it is a real gain and not a statistical fluke.
At the same time, in every measurement, Democrats still hold a significant advantage well beyond the normal margin of error for polling averages of this sort. Even when all polls from every polling firm are included in the average–a method that currently shows Democrats only ahead by 3.8%–there is still a greater than 90% chance that Democrats would win the national House popular vote if the election were held today.

“Greater than 90% chance Dems would win” sure as shit doesn’t sound like “close to even.”  But, of course, reality’s always much messier than their fantasies.

Here’s the best poll of all, though:

Rachel Maddow talks to Rep. Alan Grayson about the trouble the Republicans have been having finding someone to run against him.

Maddow: So you now have somebody moving from another district—well two people—two candidates possibly moving from another district to run against you.

Grayson: Oh, they decided they’re in and three others—but you know we polled, we’ve already polled and we found out that people with fake names have better name recognition than people already in the race against me.

Maddow: You ran—you made up names…

Grayson: We made up names, right, we put them in a poll and the fake names did better than the current opponents. [emphasis added]

Excuse me a second.


HA HA HA HA BWA HA HA SNORT SNIFFLE HEE HEE HO HA HA HA HA THAT’S TOO AWESOME THAT IS HA HA HA MOTHERFUCKING PRICELESS.

Enjoy those rose-colored glasses while ye may, Cons.

My Thoughts Exactly

I’ve been meaning to write something impassioned and profound about how Americans should never ever in a thousand million trillion years ever vote Cons back into power again. I haven’t gotten round to it, and it’ll probably be best to wait until closer to election time anyway. But Nonny Mouse’s “Buyer’s Remorse” post is a good place to start reminding folks of consequences:

So over my morning toast and coffee, I read BoldProgressives’ article on Nancy Randolph, who with her husband were a modestly well-off married couple from Maine, and had paid for what they had thought was excellent health insurance… until Mr. Randolph was diagnosed with cancer and the insurance company denied him coverage. He died, and the couple ended up in bankruptcy. Heartbreaking, gut-roiling stuff. And my heart truly does go out to Nancy Randolph, hers is a terrible tragedy made so much worse by knowing it was preventable. But there was one small point that bothered me…

Nancy Randolph voted for Republican Olympia Snowe.

In the clip, Nancy explains she voted for Snowe because she thought the senator would be ‘independent’. What, she didn’t notice the great big R beside the candidate’s name on the ballot? She didn’t notice how ‘independent’ a certain senator from a nearby New England state has been?

Far, far too many people in this country have either voted Republican, or worse, didn’t vote at all, because they didn’t think all those issues progressive have been so annoyingly vocal about for years would ever affect them.

[snip]

We are all reaping the Republican whirlwind, and it will take all of us to get out of it. But that doesn’t mean we have to compromise in the name of ‘bi-partisanship’. Actually, this country is still wealthy enough to afford universal health care for all its citizens – what it can not afford, quite literally, is thinking we have to settle for Blue Dogs and the not-really-all-that-bad Republicans like Snowe, or so-called ‘compromises’ that are not compromises at all. We want… no, not want… we desperately need real progressive politics, so we must elect real progressives who support real progressive policies, and relentlessly hold them to their promises once they’re in office. We don’t have to settle for Blue Dogs or the not-really-all-that-bad Republicans like Snowe. We won’t settle for make-do, second best, get by, let-them-eat-cake, mealy-mouthed, half measure compromises.

We simply… can’t.

Precisely.

About that Republican Wave…

Something tells me the Cons won’t be excitedly trumpeting these special election results:

In the past two weeks, however, there have been actual votes counted around the country, and the results have been far from disastrous for the Democrats:

  • Curt Hanson held onto a swing legislative seat in southeastern Iowa, despite the fact that the Democrat was outspent by a 3-to-2 margin and the fact that an outside group (NOM) may well have spent more than either candidate trying to link the Democrat to the gay marriage issue.
  • Democrat Norbert Chabert held onto a state Senate seat in inhospitable territory (Obama got less than 30% of the vote in the district), scoring a nine-point win.
  • Democrat Robin Webb did one better, picking up a previously Republican state Senate seat in northern Kentucky, in a district that went nearly 3-to-2 Republican in last year’s presidential election.
  • Finally, although this one was not a general election, it was worth noting that the total vote in the special primary election to replace Ellen Tauscher in CA-10 broke down almost identically to both the Presidential and House partisan breakdown from 2008.

In other words, if there is a nascent Repubican wave in America, it hasn’t been apparent over the past few weeks.

These results don’t of course predict a third Dem wave (or even holding steady) in next year’s mid-terms, especially if they screw the pooch on health care reform. But it does tell me that a sizable portion of the American electorate is still far more irritated with Cons than Dems.

That makes me feel slightly better about our nation’s prospects. I’m still afraid that Americans will reflexively pull the lever for Cons next year simply because the Cons aren’t the party in power – but perhaps these results mean that a healthy majority of my countrymen are smart enough not to get Conned again.

I can but dream…

What Was That About Voter Fraud Again?

I think we have a bigger problem than a few bogus voter registration forms:

From Lexington, Kentucky’s NBC affiliate this afternoon:

Five Clay County officials, including the circuit court judge, the county clerk, and election officers were arrested Thursday after they were indicted on federal charges accusing them of using corrupt tactics to obtain political power and personal gain.

The 10-count indictment, unsealed Thursday, accused the defendants of a conspiracy from March 2002 until November 2006 that violated the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). RICO is a federal statute that prosecutors use to combat organized crime. The defendants were also indicted for extortion, mail fraud, obstruction of justice, conspiracy to injure voters’ rights and conspiracy to commit voter fraud.

According to the indictment, these alleged criminal actions affected the outcome of federal, local, and state primary and general elections in 2002, 2004, and 2006.

My oh my. Smells like election fraud.

Having now reviewed the indictment, as linked above, here are some additional details on the alleged conspiracy which included election fraud though the buying and selling of votes to be cast in a certain way, with the aid of one of the defendants who served as a poll worker during the Early Voting period. Also, at the polling place on Election Day with aid of poll workers, drafted as both Democratic and Republican judges, to elect a slate of candidates — some of them bribed — the conspirators would manipulate the votes of “qualified voters” at the voting machines themselves.

Many of the voters, it seems, had no idea that their votes were manipulated after they’d left the touch-screen voting machine. While the Early Voting scheme involved finding voters who might wish to be paid to have their vote cast a certain way, the Election Day scheme, carried out in primary and general elections in at least 2004 and 2006, was accomplished by taking advantage of a “feature” on all DRE (usually touch-screen) voting systems and “voter unfamiliarity with new voting machines.”

Essentially, they tricked voters into leaving the ‘booth’ after pressing the “Vote” button on the ES&S iVotronic. That button, does not actually cast the vote, as one might think (and as these voters were told), but instead, it brings up a review screen of the voter’s “ballot.”

Instructing the voters that they were done, the conspirators then, after the voter had left, would change the voters’ votes as they saw fit, before finally pressing the “Cast Ballot” button.

They also appear to have done a considerable amount of buying votes. And they’ve done this for several elections.

I can’t get clear information on which politicians were on the “slates” these fuckers worked from. One of the officials indicted was a Democrat. But I discovered that this county’s represented by Cons on both the state and national levels. And here’s a bit of interesting food for thought:

Early this morning CNN was making the point that there was scant interest in today’s election in Clay County. Today 649 Democrats voted (32%) and 2,569 Republicans voted (19.6%). Hillary took 85% of the Democratic vote and McCain took 74% of the Republican vote. On the Senate side Lunsford got 48.5% of the Democratic vote and Greg Fischer got 26.2%.

[snip]

That said, Kentucky Democrats gave a corrupt Zell Miller type quasi-Democrat, Bruce Lunsford, their nomination for the U.S. Senate, virtually guaranteeing another term for an even more reactionary and more corrupt Mitch McConnell.

If that Dem was attempting to help get Dems elected, he did a piss-poor job. He was probably in it for the money more than the power – it’s hard to believe a deep-red county could muster enough Dem candidates with the requisite power, money and questionable ethics to make it worth his while otherwise.

The point isn’t so much partisan anyway. It’s the fact that this was so easily done, and for so long. Cons can scream about Acorn all they like, but the real danger to democracy comes from election officials pulling these sorts of breathtaking dirty tricks, not a few nobodies who turn in fake applications so they can get paid without having to work, or the occasional dumbshit who votes twice. Those things are fairly easily caught, and they’re too small-scale to make much difference.

This kind of systemic fraud, on the other hand, is some serious shit indeed. And it’s something to remember the next time Cons dismiss election fraud as a non-starter while screaming to high heaven about voter fraud.

It’s Not Enough

Cujo359, breaking down a Jane Hamsher post to its essential elements, points out why a candidate has to be far more than a strong progressive to win:

Often times when you make a decision can be the difference between being right and wrong. I could see myself early in this process backing someone like Geoghegan, thinking that he was good on the issues and therefore worth backing. I can also see myself, later in the process, asking the same questions Jane did: Where’s the organization? What’s the plan? Do we have resources in place? If I could see that the answers to those questions were unsatisfactory, I’d conclude that this candidacy wasn’t a happening thing.

Recognizing signs of trouble early on will be key to ensuring that we don’t waste time and effort on campaigns that won’t work. That’s why it’s good to have discussions like this, and for everyone to remember that this really is a learning process, and that the problem itself is always changing.

Listen to the Official Thinking Brain Dog of En Tequila Es Verdad, young progressive candidates, and you might just win.