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September 25, 2006


I watched Sodril on The News Hour tonight. It don't look like New England from here.

I haven't seen much polling on TX-14, but Ron Paul is in trouble if one looks at the billboards and yard signs this cycle. Apparently his opposition to the war in Iraq has cost our district some serious funding issues for necessary infrastucture improvements. Sklar's not advertising he is a Democrat either. Just a hunch. Been awhile since I've seen a Democrats billboard in the farmlands of Matagorda and Brazoria county though, I think it was when Pat Garret-D was still in office and Texas was a one party State.

Larry Sabato was on Hardball this afternoon and all but said he had heard George Allen use the "N-word" back in the early '70s when they were both students at U Va. He wouldn't directly say he heard it, but that was the clear implication, that it was in Allen's vocabulary.

Kate O'Beirne asked why this didn't come up 6 years ago when he ran against Robb, or even when he ran for Governor. Sabato talked about how Virginia is becoming more purple. My 2 cents is that it is the blogs plus You-Tube, which allow the wide dessemination of a bullying remark like the original "macaca," and then amplify each of Allen's attempts to deflect it. He is just off his game now. Webb has to do more to close the deal, but he now has a real chance to be heard. The clip is here.

And Keith Olbernam was really on fire. By all means watch the clip here. He is becoming the conscience of the Republic.

``but Americans know we need a sound and forward-looking energy policy to reduce dependence on foreign oil and begin to combat global warming.''

But how will they react when it becomes clear that they will have to give up pickup trucks and SUV's, never mind hummers. People will have to fly less and walk more, and passenger rail will have to be expanded, etc. What if the only way to get all this done is tax penalities on gas-guzzlers, on air travel, etc.?


In 1932 when FDR was elected, the Dem's gained 101 seats in the House and 12 in the Senate.

Time to define a real measure of success in my mind. That is what a conversion election looks like, and then in 1934 the Democrats lost nothing.

One of those Senators, Senator Buckley in Ohio, only served one term till he lost to Taft in 1938. One of my introductions to Party Politics was in 1948, when I lucked into attending a terribly exclusive public school, because we had temporarily rented an apartment on the edge of that exclusive community, namely Bratenahl along the lakeshore in Cleveland, and the daughter of Senator Buckley and his wife of seven months who had been his senatorial secretary, was my best friend.

I lived in a shotgun Apartment next to the streetcar tracks, and she lived in a 60 room estate with a beach on Lake Erie. Our Third Best Friend was the daughter of the owner of the Rand Corp -- an odd dad who lived in the carriage house and was trying to invent stuff such as a washer-dryer combo, and a mattress that would eliminate bed sores. I was one of the only essentially civil servant class kids in the environment -- My Dad worked for War Assets and the Navy -- but I actually organized the class (my class had 12 students) to do trick or treat, and we did the estates. The Humphrey who became Sec of Treasury in Eisenhower's cabinet misunderstood Holloween, and gave me a box of Wheaties. (Rand and Buckley were also so treated.) Then I took them out of that area so we could find some real candy.)

In 1948 my mom intended, and I suppose I should assume voted for Henry Wallace, but my Dad was for Truman. Anyhow at school, I said something about Dad being for Truman, and good lord, invite for dinner at the Buckley Estate, (have you ever eaten with gold flatware), and my mom was recruited to help find the few Democrats in the area and help Mrs. Buckley get them to the polls in her Studebaker. (My Mom did not drive). But I was about nine or ten when I introduced the fact that my Parents were definately liberals and probably pretty progressive to the Ohio Elite Machine, and the show was on. In a little very exclusive enclave where Robert Taft had friends with whom he spent the night, I found Democrats who recruited my folks into GOTV (even if my mom did vote for Wallace) and beside what my Dad said was the most important part of that campaign -- Hubert Humphrey's Sunshine Speech -- we weathered the Gold flatware at table, and took it all in.

Robert Taft, by the way, stayed with the Putnams (Publishing, Finance) during that campaign, and one of the servants who lived over the cows and the limo's quoted him as telling the Putnams that it was wrong that their son had died in the Army Air Corps during WWII because some lesser class guy could have assumed the job of being a bomber pilot. He assured them that the new Draft Law which he had sponsered would avoid that horrible. (That was the law in force during Vietnam. -- when I worked in the storefront draft counseling office. I never forgot that server's report of Taft's conversation at table. I only wish our University clients had not been so totally middle class.)

Of course one of the reasons Taft had won over Senator Buckley was because he had married his secretary after his wife died, and seven months later she had a baby. (my friend) OH GOD -- So I did not tucker to his table talk about why the lower class had to die in war while the upper class had exemptions. And while the secretary wife, mom of my friend, played better golf at the local club -- she was never accepted to anything. New Deal Secretary -- add words....

This year I think Democrats can take lots of seats, but only if we comprehend how to shade them with class and how class functions in US Society and Culture. This country is totally hungry for a discussion of class that makes sense.

I've not been posting for a few days, but that is because I have been reading -- Jonathan Alter's bio of FDR's first 100 days, and Douglas Brinkley's "The Great Deluge" and John Cornwell's "Seminary Boy" and Lawrence Wright's "The Looming Towers" and "Watching: the Story behind 9/11" -- about the people who photographed the event. I did a third of Fiasco and a third of the 1% Doctrine before I moved to better prose -- but now I am going back, though I still want more meat, and much more language.

But I am still deeply focused on my Bratenahl scene from the late 1940's -- really the fall of 48. The Former Senator's wife who was not accepted by the upper crust taking my mom around to deliver the Truman lit in her Studebaker, (excuse the fact that my mom planned to vote for Wallace), One of the Putnam servants who profoundly intended her son to be a priest, and who could not wait till he left home for minor seminary, but who reported the class nature of Taft's dinner table discourse. The son who they eventually sent off to seminary was one of the most denatured boys I can recall. He had no adventure or soul in him. Years later I would recall that they had taken him to see the Freedom Train with all the early American Documents on display, and they had jumped the line by getting in ahead of some "Niggers" as they put it. Kid's name was skipper, and I have always wondered if he got the irony of how he crashed the 14th Amendment? Did he survive to the Priesthood, and what did he do with it?

Back in those days the Cleveland Institute of Arts -- which owed a hell of a lot to my Dad who had done the accounting to bring out some of the German Refugees who were on staff -- had two lines for getting into the foreign film exhibits. Members and non-Members. Of course we could not afford to be Members, so we lined up in the non-Members line. As usual we had my friends from the Bratenahl estates with me, (Their families did not take them to Museum films,)even though they had family-endowment memberships. I actually remember the film --- Alexander Nevsky, an anti-German Eisenstein production, when one of our archival friends asked us in line where we wanted to sit (third row center, please) and seated us immediately. Bratenahl friends asked why we got ahead of even the members, -- and I just commented that it had to do with helping them migrate when it mattered. Later my dad arranged coke and a coffee and a chance for friends to tell their tale of how they had gotten out of Hitler's Europe. This was 48-49 and neither Republican nor Democratic Bratenahl friend had ever heard the story of even part of the holocaust. They certainly had not met the leader of the Social Democratic Student group who had street fought the Nazi's, and who was a grad of the U in Berlin, and now was a respected curator in E. European art at the Cleveland Museum, and had learned English as a doorman at the Portage Path Hotel in Akron -- the only job available when he arrived. His wife had a slightly better one, translator of organic chemistry materials for the rubber companies. Do you know how we managed Synthetic Rubber during WWII? Well -- she was part of how. What really bothers me about Jonathan Alter's Account in his recent FDR Book is that while he gives a mite of praise to Francis Perkins for her influence on FDR on social matters, -- he never got down to the gritty -- her signature on those papers that allowed over (or outside) the quota migration. Alter is to dainty about it all -- and dainty was not how it all worked. Otherwise a decent book for folk who have never read the first thing about FDR. The last chapters are horrid because they repeat the claim that FDR ignored or whatever, the demands to bomb the rail lines to Auschwitz. Or he didn't care, or whatever else. Thankfully the FDR Library produced Rich Rozen on Saturday Night Book TV doing a lecture from the FDR Library on just this issue, and he conflated most of the standard arguments, and said, if you have a problem with this, and my book, I am willing to debate. I want to read his book -- I think that it is an element of sanity on all this at least for those of us who have some memory of it all. (and we gettin old.)

One thing that was "good" in Alter's book was his constant refrain that no one who had not lived through 40 or 50% total unemployment could possibly understand the depression. I actually don't think he studied such a community. I was born into just such a place, and I remember old men knocking at the back door and asking for a piece of bread or a sandwich -- and it happened frequently. You never let them in, but you offered something even if it was a hardship. I remember my mom keeping a couple of hard boiled eggs in the fridge for just such a request. She had on offer egg salad if you could wait a few minutes. If you don't remember such requests, you hardly remember the depression. After one such visitor the point was made, no more till tomorrow. But I don't remember many who did anything but thank and praise the taste of the Egg Salad. There but for the Grace of God go I was all too real in those times. I don't think Alter actually captured that dimension of it all. He describes it third hand, but he doesn't really get to the heart of it. If you want to read the 30's better to read the works of WT Watkins, If you want it semi Fictional, well there is always Ruth McKinney's "Industrial Valley." Those of us who can say clearly that we were conceived because Goodyear coughed up an extra 3.50 per week to the office staff because of the demands of the tire builders (have to retain the class system afterall), are getting a little old.

Whatever the message, in order to get some of those authoritarian types (the ones who have no patience with nuance, or middle ground) there needs to be a black and white message about terror. It has to hit home and make all of Bush's posturing look weak and silly. Authoritarians like bullying so this is one part of Bush that they find themselves attracted to. There needs to be visual and a strong simple message about our national security that makes it clear that Bush makes us weaker on the national front. We have to hit this issue in order to win. Otherwise his attack will be quite effective. Something that explains how his bullying and crying wolf makes us weak.

How about Bush clips over and over and over about the immeninent danger. Then, "the boy who cried wolf". We have to make it clear that he wanted this war. My husband is liberal and authoritarian (alcoholic no longer drinking). He believes that Bush wants to get rid of the middle class and that war is one way to do it. He believes that the ultra wealthy need a working class but that the middle class is just a pain in their moral conscience. Bush and war profiteering would work. But the message needs to be simple. He didn't go to war to protect us but to make money off the war for his constituents. I am not saying that the message is reasonable. It needs to be abstract so it can't be disproven and it needs to attach to feelings (not facts ) that are already out there.

We need to capture that group, and we can turn the minds of an authoritarian personality if we are sufficiently judgmental and black and white. The authoritarian laugh at the complexity of language and the gray side of life. To them its a waste of time. Bush was wrong.

Could do it. Bush was wrong. Simple. Direct. Unprovable. The dems need to unify and get this message right and sell it like it's gold. It needs to happen "yesterday".

Dunno if I agree with your specific suggestion, Katie, but I couldn't agree more with the thrust of your comment. For the first time, I'm starting to think Markos is right about how this election will turn out; apparently Harry Reid's given the word that Dems not only won't be called on to block either of these deeply un-American pieces of legislation, but are being encouraged to vote for it to get it off the campaign table. (Per Glenn Greenwald, on the radio.) Profiles in courage...way to prove the party's strength. And not exactly the way to win over the libertarian-leaners who’ve been considering voting Democratic. This is the price we're paying for having been utterly absent during the latest debate (except when we proclaimed ourselves followers of the noble McCave). When, O when will the party's leaders understand that you don't look strong unless you ARE strong? They certainly get it when they're analyzing the Republicans, but don't take the obvious lesson: to quote a preeminent political analyst, "people would rather vote for someone who's strong and wrong than weak and right." I’m praying Greenwald’s sources are somehow wrong: I can’t imagine Reid actually thinks silent capitulation is actually a winning political strategy.

I'm still convinced that the message can be made clearly (Katie's black-and-white point is right, as is Sara’s on class):

They dragged us into a bait-and-switch war that has put us in greater danger while not getting the guys who actually attacked us. Why?
They don’t want anybody looking at how their corporate buddies have been making money on our troops’ blood and sweat, even as they’ve left those troops ill-equipped in theater and poorly served back home. Why?
They don’t want to spend the money we need to protect our borders and chemical plants from terrorists here, even as they’ve trashed our budget with handouts to those buddies in no-bid contracts and free passes on their corporate profits. Why?
They don’t want anybody to know who they’re listening to, ever, even the judges who always give them the okay, even though they can get that okay after they’ve already been listening for days. Why?
They want to keep doing stuff the Soviets did to get trumped-up political confessions, stuff we said we fought the Cold War because of, stuff that’ll now be done to our guys and we won’t be able to make a peep of complaint. In WWII, enemy soldiers would voluntarily surrender to our guys because the world knew what Americans were made of; what are we made of now?

It seems to me that none of that is particularly hard to understand; and per Katie’s prescription, I think it can all “attach to feelings (not facts ) that are already out there.” A little ridicule helps too: some “emperor’s new clothes” treatment related to the NIE might work. But I’m left praying that we’ve got enough new “fighting Dems” out there with juice that they’ll be able to do locally what the national party is clearly incapable of doing, and that enough of them will win to give the national party a desperately needed infusion of -- life.

Webb's new ad: "We need leaders not followers." Excellent sound bite for Virginia. Good model for other places.


Thank you for mentioning the ID-01 race. Our Democrat, Larry Grant, is an excellent person to face the very extreme Bill Sali. Larry is netroots endorsed via Kos-MyDD-Swing State Project(donate at ActBlue here: http://www.actblue.com/page/netrootscandidates#8944)
and the ID-01 is starting to make some lists of the Top 40-60 races to watch.

Hey, if we can turn THIS district purple, we will have a Dem-controlled Congress. Period.


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