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Friday, June 30, 2006

Update On Statistics and Polls...

Raising Kaine has results from still another poll, this one an internal done for Webb’s campaign by the Benenson Stategy Group of Washington, DC. According to this poll, George Allen has 46%, Webb 39% and 15% are undecided.

To me, that seems more realistic than the SurveyUSA poll. I’m not out to kill the messenger and I think Webb has a lot of work to do to stay competitive. For example, in both polls Webb’s numbers are similar, 37% in SurveyUSA and 39% in the Benenson poll. It’s Allen’s percentage points that are way high in SurveyUSA, which could simply be attributable to his greater name recognition and the success of his constant commercials. But I just can’t believe that only 3% are undecided as SurveyUSA claims. I’m not a statistician but my gut just tells me that number of undecideds is way too low. Eight to 15% feels more right to me.

The internal poll also provides a fuller picture of where the electorate stands right now. Only 31% think the nation is heading in the right direction and 57% think it’s heading in the wrong direction. Meanwhile, 56% think Virginia is heading in the right direction and only 30% think Virginia is heading in the wrong direction. And While 51% think Allen is doing a good job, only 36% view Bush as doing a good job. And 68% say they want an independent senator who will challenge Bush and only 24% want a senator who will support Bush.

So a very clear campaign strategy is emerging for Webb. Webb already has the support of Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, the two Virginia governors most responsible for making Virginia work. Especially Warner still enjoys support of about 70% or more among Virginians. So with him campaigning for Webb as he did for Kaine in 2005, Webb could soon pick up more voters. And it would benefit Warner too. If he campaigns heavily for Webb and it leads to still another victory in "red state" Virginia, the national party is going to look at Warner long and hard for a presidential run. The man who turned Virginia blue in three races would look mighty formidable.

Then Webb needs to tie George Allen to the failed and unpopular policies of George Bush. Webb also needs to convince voters that he’s the one to challenge Bush on policies. His major campaign theme should be that 6 years of Republican rule with no congressional oversight has produced a government that is both incompetent and abuses its power.

Webb should have a few signature issues, not just the war in Iraq, but the economy, education, infrastructure and contrast how he would vote as compared to Allen’s actual voting record. His main task, though, is to convince voters that he is the independent thinker with a clear vision of the direction that the country should be moving in. The main thing is to acknowledge that people are uneasy with the way things are going and they are looking for a positive change. To just be against something is not enough. Webb also needs to provide a positive alternative to give people a reason to vote for him.

And More Good News

In other good news, the Washington Post has a great report on Mark Warner pledging his support for Webb. Warner said that a “united Virginia Democratic Party stands behind Webb.” He also promised to personally host a fundraiser for Webb.

And speaking about succesful fundraising, Jim Webb met and exceeded his fundraising goal of $100,000. He raised $150,000 for this quarter. It’s a drop in the bucket compared to Allen’s millions. But we’re on our way.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Lies, Damned Lies, And Campaign Polls

Everybody’s familiar with Mark Twain’s famous quote: “There are lies, damned lies and statistics.”

Well, Not Larry Sabato ruined my morning cup of coffee by posting the latest SurveyUSA poll on the Webb-Allen race. And it doesn’t look good at all. In fact, I wish it were lies or even damned lies rather than statistics.

According to SurveyUSA, George Allen is leading Jim Webb by 56 to 37 percent. A lot of the comments on NLS’s site were from wounded Webb loyalists sounding a great deal like Dick Wadhams, Allen’s campaign manager, last week when a Zogby poll showed Webb within five points of Allen. Then it was the Democrats’ turn to crow as Wadhams tried to discredit Zogby’s numbers. Today we were the ones trying to shoot the messenger.

I have mixed opinions about this latest poll. First of all, as some of the comments on NLS pointed out, SurveyUSA has had a good track record in other races, predicting Tim Kaine’s victory over Jerry Kilgore in 2005. But that prediction came a few days before the election not five months out.

At this point, any poll is just a snapshot of where the candidates stand at that particular moment. And it’s a pretty blurry snapshot at best.

So far, all the SurveyUSA poll really proves is that George Allen has greater name recognition than Jim Webb. The Zogby poll, on the other hand, was taken immediately after Webb had beaten Harris Miller and Webb’s name was all over the front page of every newspaper in the state. He had the halo of a candidate who had just emerged triumphant from a race. So he got a bump up in the polls.

Right now, I’d take any poll with a grain of salt. But I also wouldn’t shoot that messenger. And if I were the manager of either campaign, I wouldn’t panic.

All this poll proves is that a lot more people know who George Allen is and associate him with favorables. And why not?

He’s been running a lot of ads to boost both his name recognition and his favorables. Currently it’s morning in Virginia and George Felix, the family man, is responsible for it all. And he has the power of incumbency. He’s already a senator and has been a governor. He has won statewide races. People know the name and know the face.

So, do the Webb people need to start their own expensive TV ads across the state right this minute?

No. All Allen is proving right now is two things:

1. He’s actually pretty nervous about the competition.
2. He has lots of money to piss away on ads in June when nobody is listening.

What Webb’s people need to do is concentrate on raising some bucks as fast as they can. They are going to need it come late August and early September, which is when they will have to mount their TV campaign.

Until then, they need to start getting out Jim Webb’s name and familiarizing the public with his biography and his stand on the issues that matter to voters. The best way to do that during the summer is by getting out to fairs, parades, picnics – any place people go in large numbers – and leafleting and talking to people. Now is the time for retail politics. Webb and his staff, volunteers, and supporters need to go face-to-face to meet the voters.

The dumbest thing they could do is panic and shoot their financial wad on expensive TV ads this early in the campaign. In fact, that’s what the Allen people want to see Webb do. It’s part of a clever strategy. Allen knows he will have the financial advantage. That’s just a fact of life. So if he can get Webb to spend his money too early, Allen will be able to go on the attack in October and leave the Webb campaign short of funds to mount an adequate defense and attack back when it will really matter.

And make no mistake, Webb is willing to attack and defend his flank. Timidity is not one of his failings. But lack of funds could be, if his campaign doesn’t build their own war chest.

Webb will need to run a tight, disciplined campaign that makes up for lack of funds by using what he has to get the most favorable publicity he can when he needs it. He will need to find cost effective ways to get his message out and connect with voters. But he will have some help.

The party will come through with some funds and extra locations for phone banking. He will need more than just one location in Arlington to cover Northern Virginia, for example. Unions will also provide phone banking and door-to-door canvassing of their own members and they’ll run voter education drives and GOTV efforts aimed at union families.

I’ve heard that Jim Webb doesn’t like fund raising. He’ll have to get over that and pick up the damned phone. Every candidate has to do it. It’s an unpleasant fact of politics. But it might comfort him to know that, ironically, very wealthy candidates, such as Steve Forbes and Michael Huffington, who have attempted to self-fund their entire campaigns, have usually lost their elections. The public views them as cranky millionaires trying to buy the election. For some reason the ability to get others to contribute to one’s campaign seems to make candidates appear more credible.

Somebody needs to tell that to Jim Webb, hand him the phone and then go out and leaflet a county fair.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Of Rocks and Glass Houses

This link to Craiglist, provided by Waldo Jaquith, made me laugh, so I'm passing it on to anybody who may have missed it. And then this report from Virginia Centrist made me angry.

Basically, it's a report on the fact that Jerome Armstrong supposedly believes in Astrology and has used it to chart candidate's political prospects. Virginia Centrist links to various Republican blogs who are making hay about this and having a fine old time ridiculing Armstrong's New Age beliefs.

Here's my reply, which I originally posted on Virginia Centrist's blog.

"You know, unless you are a materialist reductionist, you actually shouldn't laugh at somebody else's quasi religious beliefs.I view Astrology as a pseudo-science without much evidence for its accuracy too. But I also think it could be considered crazy by some to believe that 500,000 people walked through the Red Sea, which miraculously parted for them then closed back up, drowning the Egyptians.

It's also highly dubious that the same 500,000 people wandered for 40 years through a desert and left not a trace of pottery or anything else for archaelogists to discover. Or that God inscribed 10 commandments on stone tablets and handed them to Moses.

Then we get to a virgin being impregnated by the Holy Spirit and giving birth to God, who walked on water, ascended into heaven, etc. I am sure plenty of the same people laughing at Armstrong the astrolger hold some equally unscientific beliefs such as those I've mentioned above.By the way, I also hold a few of those beliefs too. The truth is, though, unless you are a scientific materialist, an atheist, or at very least, an agnostic, perhaps you shouldn't ridicule somebody elses's woo hoo beliefs. Tolerance consists of knowing when you live in a glass house and refraining from throwing rocks. Anybody with any belief that isn't backed by hard scientific evidence(and I count myself here as holding beliefs that are religious not scientific) should know that theirs is just such a glass house and tolerance would be more gracious than ridicule."

My point is not to poke fun at Fundamentalists or orthodox Christians. Or even Orthodox Jews, who believe the Bible is God's written word too.

It is, instead, to plea for a little tolerance. Most of those making fun of Jerome Armstrong are not really interested in furthering science and they certainly don't believe that faith in the supernatural is silly. Indeed, they are frequently on the receiving end of ridicule from atheists who are every bit as intolerant as some religious people are.

Basically their disagreement with Armstrong's belief in Astrology is a theological dispute. Nobody can prove that Jesus was God and not just human. Nobody can prove beyond certainty that the Red Sea parted. Lots of biblical minimalists think the whole Bible is untrue. And certainly lots of scientists dispute that there is even a God.

They have a right to their unbelief. And those who do believe have a right to their faith. Nobody has yet proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that God does not exist. The reason two rational and intelligent people can disagree on this is because there is no proof either way. There is only faith. Faith that there is a God despite lack of a smoking gun, or faith that God does not exist, despite lack of evidence for lack of God's existence because it is impossible to prove a negative.

On the other hand, those who believe in heaven, hell, and purgatory, should not make fun of those who believe in reincarnation. Or Astrology. Those are theological, not scientific differences of opinion. Whether you believe in the Western orthodox Judeo Christian faiths or in the conglomeration of New Age beliefs, neither group is talking scientific fact, but only theological opinion. We all accept our beliefs on faith. That alone should humble us. And teach us tolerance.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Jim Webb Biting the Hand That Endorsed Him?

In today’s Washington Post, there’s an article in the Metro section about Jim Webb saying that he would not have voted for John Kerry’s proposal to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq in a year.

Here’s a quote from Rosalind S. Helderman’s article.
“Webb, whose early opposition to the war has been a driving force behind his candidacy, said he opposes setting deadlines for redeployment and instead suggested that with his national security experience, he could have persuaded Kerry (D-Mass.) and other Democrats not to pursue the Senate vote. Webb is a former Marine and served as secretary of the Navy under President Ronald Reagan.”

Webb said, in the article:
"I don't think an artificial timeline emanating from the Congress is a workable concept," Honestly, if I were in the Senate, I would have been able to talk to people about perhaps different ways of looking at this."

George Allen’s campaign manager, Dick Wadhams, promptly jumped at the chance to go negative and accuse Webb of “flip flopping” because Webb dared to go public with his disagreement with some Democrats.

Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. Webb is not a flip flopper. His strategy for how to get out of the mess in Iraq has been posted on his website for a while. It involves engaging other Middle Eastern countries who have a stake in stabilizing the region and bringing in participation from our global allies who also are interested in seeing that area of the world stable and free of terrorism. He’d like to see a true coalition committed to a responsible withdrawal that leaves the world safer, not more vulnerable to terrorism.

Although Webb argued even before the invasion that Iraq was the wrong war, once we were there, he never said anything about timelines or cutting and running. As a former secretary of the Navy and Annapolis graduate, he knows that would be an irresponsible solution to the mess this reckless administration got us into.

Wadhams and Allen know Webb’s real position. However, they will try to paint him with the same tired slogan that he is just another flipping flopping Democrat. But the paint on that brush faded long ago. It’s an old, dried up argument that won’t work against Webb. The truth is that publicly airing his disagreement over policy with Kerry was the best thing Webb could have done for himself in Virginia.

He just established himself as an independent thinker who will stand up to even those whose support he needs. He’s not a yes man. I think his campaign staff needs to drive that point home in their campaign message. Unlike George Allen, who voted 97 percent of the time with this unpopular president, Webb will fight for what he knows to be right whether it’s the convenient thing to do or not.

That will play very well in Virginia, where voters are increasingly independent-minded moderates. In fact, staying true to what you know to be right would play well anywhere in the country. It’s what Democrats have been begging their leaders to do for a long time. And it’s what voters will reward in general elections.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Vince, Good Luck and Godspeed!

Greg Bouchillon probably should have the final word on Vince Too Conservative Harris leaving Virginia to go to school in Texas. Anyway, Greg is too funny. There's no way to top what he has to say, so I'll just link to it. If you haven't already read The Daily Whackjob, go over now and have a laugh.

By the way, I always get tickled when I go over to Too Conservative and see my blog's name on Vince's blogroll. I know it's just a fluke of the alphabet, but how do I explain to my very liberal family that I'm actually listed right below Ann Coulter on a Republican blog?

And you wonder why I'll miss Vince?

Thanks Vince, for your great blog that, yes, even Democrats enjoy.

Good luck and Godspeed.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Update On Minimum Wage Vote

Dan has a great post on today's Senate minimum wage vote over at Raising Kaine, where he reports that Sen. George Allen voted against it. On the other hand, John Warner, Virginia's senior senator, was one of those brave Republicans who broke ranks with their leadership to vote for the minimum wage.

Also, courtesy of Raising Kaine, here's a link to the complete list of how all the senators voted on this issue.

America Deserves A Raise

But the greedy Republicans in Congress aren't about to give it to us. The Senate today voted down a raise in the minimum wage that would have brought it up from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour.

The vote was actually 52 senators in favor of raising the minimum wage. Six Republicans broke ranks with their party leadership to vote for it. And all the Democrats voted for the increase to the minimum wage.

But the Republican leadership, seeing they would be defeated, stuck a procedural clause into the bill that required it to pass by 60 votes. Thus they proved that rather than risk a fair up or down vote, they would change the rules to guarantee their favored outcome. So much for fairness and democracy.

It’s important to realize that a typical minimum wage earner is often a single mother who is the sole support of her family, struggling to get by on a salary of $10,712 a year. She hasn’t had a raise – an increase in the minimum wage - since 1997. In that same time period, Congress has voted to increase its own salary by almost $35,000.

Those who voted against the minimum wage cited the same tired arguments for opposing it that they always give, including the following: 1) Higher wages will cause a loss of jobs because it puts an undue burden on small business owners and slows down the economy; 2) the marketplace should determine the value of peoples’ work and the salaries they are paid.

We can shoot down the first argument quickly. There is no proven link between raising the minimum wage and economic slowdown. Nor has it ever been proven that raising the minimum wage leads to an overall loss of jobs.

But what has been proven is that prices are rising and wages are staying flat at all levels of the workforce. Wage earners are not keeping pace with inflation and it's a special burden for those at the lowest rung of the ladder.

And the argument about letting the marketplace decide the value of wages is a laughable objection coming from this Congress.

After all, where was that marketplace when Congress unilaterally decided to raise its own salary? Where's Congress' concern for the slowdown of the economy or the undue burden on the small businessman, whose taxes presumably went to pay for that wage increase? Heck, where was its concern for the little guy taxpayer like you or me?

Since politicians take polls all the time, I think they should poll us, the taxpaying public, to see who we want to see get a raise?

Do we want to give Congress a $35,000 salary increase, or give a raise of $7.25 an hour to some single mom working as a clerk in Wal Mart?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

They Did It With Smoke And Mirrors

Two book reviews, one in the New York Times, and the other in the Washington Post, examine Ron Suskind’s new book, “The One Percent Solution.”

The book’s title comes from Cheney’s post-9/11 doctrine that if there is even a one percent chance that a horrific terrorist attack could happen, the government should treat it as a certainty, and act with all due haste to prevent it. As Cheney described it, “it’s not about our analysis, it’s about our response.”

After enduring the destruction of the Twin Towers in New York City and the damage to the Pentagon in Virginia/Washington, people were shaken up enough for that to sound like a plausible doctrine to follow.

The only problem is that in practice it led to cherry picking intelligence and doctoring facts beyond recognition. Worse, it didn’t lead us to a more effective strategy to defeat Al Quaeda in Afghanistan but only to a misdirected turning of our attention to Saddam Hussein in Iraq, which never was a threat to us.

This book and these two reviews make it clear that Cheney and Rumsfeld held a deeply flawed doctrine and searched out and promoted deeply flawed intelligence to support their obsession with Iraq while the really bad guys got away with murder. Literally.

One of the book’s vignettes portrays the capture of Abu Zubaydah, who the administration touted as Al Quaeda’s chief of operations. The capture was much ballyhooed, and he was the first detainee shipped away to a secret overseas prison. Meanwhile, Zubaydah, despite the hype, turned out to be merely the conduit for arranging travel for wives and other minor logistical duties. And when he was caught, intelligence agents quickly recognized that he was actually mentally ill, suffering from split personality. Both Bush and Cheney were briefed about this. And at the request of George Bush, intelligence agents used “harsh interrogation techniques” on him. So, before you know it, this mentally ill guy is spinning plots and schemes, each more dire than the last because he’s both delusional and being tortured. He’ll say anything at that point. Great way to gather intelligence about something serious.

And the next thing you know, we spent all of 2004 responding to yellow and orange alerts all over the place as U.S. agents rushed hither and dither to follow up on the rantings of a mentally ill person who under torture was giving them what they wanted to hear, whether it had any basis in reality or not.

Listen, when good people like John Kerry, John Edwards and others in Congress admit that they were wrong to vote for this war because they were misled by faulty intelligence, it’s true. We were all snookered. Even George Tenet, the much maligned CIA chief, comes out looking like a conflicted public servant trying to be loyal to his president by providing information that he knew Bush and Cheney wanted to hear rather than what was actually true. So how do you fault people in Congress for their votes, given the disinformation and the climate of fear that prevailed and that was deliberately manipulated by a cynical government which no longer respected truth or facts?

And those who refused to be deceived, like Han Blix; the UN weapons inspector; Bob Graham of Florida, who served as the Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee; Richard Clark, a top White House Security Adviser; and Paul O’Neill, former Treasury Secretary; found their careers and their personal reputations ruined by an administration that aggressively attacked and slimed any critic.

In fact, this administration is still trying to do it. Look at their attempts to paint critics like John Murtha as cowards. The administration’s favorite attack is now to accuse every critic of wanting to “cut and run.”

But it’s no longer working. There’s now a host of the most highly decorated officers from the Iraqi war who have retired or resigned their posts just to speak out. And the public realizes that what critics, like Jim Webb among others, has said from the beginning is true. You can’t just invade a hostile country without an exit strategy, without even a plan once you’ve won. We won the battle but we’re losing the war we never should have entered in the first place.

And meanwhile as Saddam Hussein is marched around like a show pony at a show trial, our true enemy, Osama bin Laden grows stronger in the mountains of Pakistan after we let him slip through our fingers. Something else, by the way, those intelligence analysts tried to warn the administration about and which the administration ignored. And this book lays it all out.

And now it’s time that we demand that they give us a timeline and get our troops out. That’s not cutting and running. That’s resource management. And common sense.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Miller is Gracious And A Loyal Democrat

Lowell, at Raising Kaine, posted this very gracious concession from Harris Miller. (You'll need to scroll down a bit to find it) It goes beyond the obligatory pledge of unity that the defeated candidate makes on election night.

I disagreed with Miller on one issue, but it was a major one. However, in the end, despite the hot rhetoric of the campaign, I had decided that I would get behind whoever won the Democratic primary. I posted my plea for unity at the end of my rather long endorsement of Jim Webb.

Despite the reservations I had at the time, about the outsourcing issue, I'm very, very glad I was working my way toward supporting unity regardless of who won. And the reason is that Miller has proven to be a class act.

A heartfelt Thank You Harris Miller.

How Sweet It Is

When I walked into the Hilton Crystal City for the Webb victory party on Tuesday evening the first people I ran into were Leslie and Larry Byrne. They were confident. As the returns started filtering in, Larry kept saying "it's over." Of course, that's what Larry always tells me about the Yankees winning the World Series too. Every year at the beginning of baseball season, he assures me it''s over. We've got it in the bag. Sometimes he's even right.

I'm more of a nervous Nellie. The gnashing of teeth continued until about 10 o'clock, when even I was ready to concede that it was indeed over and I could not only relax but really party. I hugged everybody I could. This was a sweet victory.

It's a cliche,but I think Virginia was the big winner. We got a strong candidate who can beat George Allen. Even more important, the Democratic Party got what I've been hoping for. Somebody who stands for something and can articulate it. In Jim Webb, we nominated a war hero who courageously served his country as a Marine and who will stand on principle.

I think the blogosphere also won.

There will be a lot of talk about the netroots succeeded in getting their choice nominated. I think we are an influence on elections. And our influence will continue to grow with each election cycle. But let's not blow it out of proportion.

The blogs and the Net are one component of a successful campaign. They are a communication tool just as printed media, phone banking, knocking on doors, talking to people, television ads, radio talk shows, debates, and editorials are.

The blogs have proven their ability to raise funds and excite activists. That funnels needed resources into campaigns. Bloggers also can help a campaign get out its message to people who don't rely on traditional news sources.

Many voters know that a 30 second sound byte and a political ad don't provide enough information on which to form an opinion or cast a ballot. They've also grown distrustful of mainstream media, such as television newscasts and newspaper articles, because they've seen how the press has rolled over for Bush. They've caught the media elites with their pants down and their biases exposed. So they seek alternate media in addition to the the traditional news source. Bloggers aren't going to replace newspapers. But they are a valuable supplement.

Bloggers also aren't going to replace the rest of the campaign fundamentals. And what is striking to me is that every blogger I've met is not just a netroots activist but also an old fashioned grassroots activist. Lowell Feld, Josh Chernila, Ben Tribett, Teddy Goodson, James Martin, and so many others out there don't just sit in an ivory tower and pontificate through their blogs. Every one of them is also a foot soldier who has been out there passing out campaign literature at fairs, staffing the phone banks, knocking on doors, working the polls and doing the thousand other very traditional things that activists always do in elections. In fact, if you want to meet your favorite blogger, just show up at campaign headquarters and chance are that person will also be volunteering there.

Political scientists tell us that phone banks and knocking on doors are the most effective ways to convince voters to come out for a candidate. Nothing replaces the personal touch. But blogs help to get the activists revved up to do that work. And blogs also communicate to voters. I think they are seen as more trustworthy than t.v. ads or even newscasts by the professionals. People know we are passionate advocates. However, the best written blogs also do their research and post their links so others can see the original sources upon which we base our arguments.

For all these reasons I think the blogs will grow in influence and respect. But just as it takes a village, it also takes a bunch of different techniques to run a successful campaign. Blogging is one component. A necessary one. But so are all the other activities that go into a campaign.

But the most important element to a successful campaign is a great candidate. For all the hard work that was done, and every bit of it was important, the victory and the congratulations go to Jim Webb for being a superb candidate who will do us proud come November.

Savor the victory. We've got work to do. He came through for us. It's our turn to once again come through for him.

Monday, June 12, 2006

VOTE!!! FOR JIM WEBB FOR SENATE, TUESDAY, JUNE 13TH

Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

What more needs to be said?

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Jim Webb-John Kerry Campaign Rally Tomorrow, June 12 at 3:30 PM

Come on down to Jim Webb’s headquarters tomorrow at 3:30 to meet John Kerry and Jim Webb at a special election eve rally. Everybody is welcome to come and meet these two great Americans and loyal Democrats.

Webb’s campaign headquarters is at 1916 Wilson Boulevard. It’s easily accessible by Metro. Get off at the Court House station and it’s a short two-block walk. For directions, or to RSVP for the rally, call campaign headquarters at 703-778-4080. And while you’re there, volunteer to help out for the last great push to get out the vote for Jim Webb.

It will be well worth the effort. I can tell you from personal experience, you’ll feel great after you volunteer some of your time to make a difference in this important race to take back the Senate for real Democrats.

I just got back from Webb campaign headquarters, where I phone banked for a couple of hours. I know it’s the 11th hour, just two more days until the election results are in. Tuesday is the primary. That leaves tomorrow and Tuesday to get that vote out. Polls open at 6 am and close at 7 pm on Tuesday.

In that time, there’s still a lot of work to do. In fact, the hardest, most frenetic push takes place now. It’s like D-Day. And all hands on deck are needed.

Even if you haven’t been active until now, there’s still time to go to headquarters to make calls and encourage people to vote for Webb. Or if you’d like, there are going to be sign wavers at strategic spots and people handing out literature at Metro stations. To find out what you can do, come by or call the headquarters, 703-778-4080.

In fact, even today, Sunday, when I got to the Metro station at Dunn Loring to head downtown to work the phone bank, I ran into a Webb volunteer handing out literature.

In the past two days of phone banking, I never had so much fun. I met great people. The joint was jumping. At one point there were so many of us we had to wait for a phone line to be vacant before placing the next call. Folks were even using their cell phones because all the landlines were in use. While waiting for a phone line, conversations would break out amongst the volunteers and I was impressed by the intelligence, enthusiasm, and dedication of my fellow volunteers. Also, I got to see some great Democrats whom I've known for years, like Rose Chou. And I got to meet people whose names I knew from the blogosphere, like Teddy Goodson, who posts at Raising Kaine.

And so many of the people I called were fantastic. If you’re at all like me, you might dread cold calling strangers. We can’t all be super salespeople, like Teddy – she’s fantastic on a phone. Me, I pray that nobody’s home so I can just leave a message. I’m afraid I’ll get tongue-tied and blow it for my candidate.

But I got so many favorable responses from people who were going to vote for Webb. Of course, at this point, the campaign has identified those most likely to vote for Webb and all we were doing was the last minute push to get our supporters out. Makes it easier. You’re not going to get too many irate Miller supporters slamming the phone on you.

But I did get a few undecideds, and actually even convinced a couple of them to go for Webb. There’s no better feeling in the world than persuading somebody to vote for the candidate you believe in, especially somebody as capable, honorable, and decent as Jim Webb.

So, take some time and get down to the rally tomorrow, and contact the Webb campaign to see what you can do to help. You can have the satisfaction that you helped make a difference for America and Virginia.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Please Vote For Jim Webb Tuesday, June 13th

THE ENDORSEMENT

I don’t think it’s any secret or that anybody is shocked that I’m going to endorse Jim Webb. I’ve done that time and again on this blog. So, this is one last pitch rather than an earth-stopping announcement.

Yes, I endorse Jim Webb for the U.S. Senate primary, Tuesday, June 13th. I believe that he will make the more competitive candidate to go up against George Allen. Jim Webb is the more attractive and competitive Democrat for many reasons.

First, there is his compelling biography. He is a Virginia native so all talk that he is a national candidate not a true Virginian is nonsense. He is also a much decorated war hero. As an Annapolis graduate and a Marine, he won the Navy Cross, Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts in Vietnam. In a state with so many military families and veterans, that history counts for a lot.

In addition, as a former Secretary of the Navy, Webb has a stronger grasp of veterans’ issues. He also has a better and deeper understanding of foreign policy and military strategy than his opponent, Harris Miller.

Webb was an early opponent of the war in Iraq. In October 2001 he wrote an op ed piece in The New York Times, where he described it as the wrong war. Webb is not an anti-war, liberal. Not a dove. He has a fine strategic mind and a grasp of complex foreign policy issues. He basically came to the same conclusions as Bob Graham, the Florida Democrat who served as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Graham, who was privy to much more of the true intelligence information during the run up to the Iraqi war than most senators, was a constant critic of the administration’s foreign policy because he felt we were ignoring the true terrorist threat and targeting a country that did not pose a real danger to U.S. interest.

As subsequent events proved, Graham was right. And so was Jim Webb when he pointed out that we were pouring precious resources into a battle that weakened us. Iraq was the wrong target.

On the other hand, Miller was an early and enthusiastic supporter of the Iraqi war. Then just recently he began to switch his position. And what is his strategy for getting us out of Iraq?

Calling for Donald Rumsfeld to be fired as Secretary of Defense and cutting off funds to the troops in Iraq. Both of these are silly suggestions. And one is dangerous and irresponsible.

Secretary Rumsfeld serves at the pleasure of the President. If calling for his resignation would have convinced Bush to get rid of him, then Rumsfeld would be long gone by now. Others far more influential than Miller have already done so. And even if Rumsfeld was gone, at this point we would still have to clean up the mess we’ve made in Iraq.

And Miller’s second solution, calling for cutting off funds is truly reckless. Even the most ardent opponent of that war has not gone that far. It’s the suggestion of a Johnny-come-lately who wants to prove he’s as strong in his opposition as all those who were against the war earlier than him.

Webb, who actually did oppose the war from its earliest days, and for the right reasons, understands that we can’t simply cut off funds, pull up and leave. Unfortunately, Collin Powell’s famous “pottery rule” is correct.

If you break it you own. Well, we broke Iraq badly. And while we don’t own it, we do owe it to the Iraqis to try to leave that country in better shape than it is currently in.

Jim Webb’s solution is to make sure that Iraqis understand that we have no permanent plan to occupy their country. Nor do we have the desire to stay there indefinitely. Then, we have to engage other Middle-eastern nations in the peace building process. And we’ve got to encourage our global allies to participate in peacekeeping with us. And most important, we’ve got make sure that the Iraqis themselves are capable of defending their own country. We have to rebuild their military and their police.

The Bush administration shows no understanding of how to accomplish these goals and there appears to be no end in sight to the mess we are mired in. And Miller shows no understanding of the complex tasks that need to be undertaken to accomplish withdrawal from Iraq without endangering the rest of the world.

Jim Webb also has a better grasp of the economic issues affecting our country. His platform calls for addressing the growing inequality between the upper one percent of the country who own most of the nation’s wealth, and the middle class, which perceives itself as losing the economic race and, worse still, is watching its American Dream slip through its fingers like fine grains of sand on a stormy beach.

Webb is at least speaking to the concerns of ordinary people. He shows that he understands the issues of class and race inequity and the way the sense of privilege and cronyism are eroding our way of life.

Miller, on the other hand, has been the king of outsourcing and off shoring. His work as president of the ITAA has enriched the coffers of the largest corporations, their CEOs, and large investors at the expense of hard working and educated employees. His claim that the answer is for workers to re-educate themselves to be more competitive rings false. Most of the jobs that are being outsourced to India are the well-paying jobs that required advanced education. But a skilled engineer or computer programmer can do the work remotely from a country with a much lower living standard than ours. Miller is responsible for the Wal-Martization of the IT field. He has made it a race to the bottom for the educated middle-class.

Miller, the Washington Post, and other free trade advocates always claim that all that’s needed for American workers to be competitive is more education. But they fail to point to the specific jobs and fields for which we should be educating ourselves so that we can continue to be employed lucratively. The reason is that those new skills and industries for which we should be educating ourselves to take the place of the jobs we’ve lost just don’t exist. The high tech field was the new industry we were all urged to re-educate ourselves for after losing all the high paying manufacturing jobs to China.

And to prove that Miller actually knows that, he has made statements, when testifying before Congressional committees and while being interviewed for tech industry journals, that high tech workers and unions, will just have to get used to lower wages to be competitive in the global market. And he and the CEOs that he has lobbied for have made a fortune with that line of reasoning.

However, Jim Webb would take just the opposite approach. He supports finding the means to keep good jobs in America. He would re-examine the tax and trade policies that have rewarded corporations with tax breaks for off shoring their operations. He would also enforce existing trade laws and write new ones that encourage fair as well as free trade. He would write laws to make it beneficial for corporations to hire Americans again. That is a more productive approach than pitting business against workers as Miller has done.

For all these reasons and more, I support Jim Webb and urge everybody who reads this and agrees with me to get out and vote for him on Tuesday, June 13th.

NOW, THE PITCH FOR PARTY UNITY

Having said that, I will support whoever wins the primary. Earlier I had serious doubts that I could support Harris Miller should he win. The truth is I still do have reservations about Miller, but there are compelling reasons to support the Democratic ticket.

The first of which is that George Allen would be no friendlier or better for workers than Miller has been. And because Miller will want to unify the party behind him, including the Democratic base, which includes labor, there would be more of an open door to his office than to Allen’s. Labor is not part of the Republican base. So working people and their unions will have even less influence over Allen than even Miller. I had forgotten one important lesson of politics: I’d rather support a 50 per center than somebody whose door is permanently shut in my face.

Also, and this is the most convincing reason to support Miller. The Democrats are within striking distance of taking back the House and Senate this time. We may never get a shot this good. The country is finally seeing through Republican policy failures and they are fed up. But I think it’s going to be a close contest.

I would hate for it to come down to our being one state away from a Senate majority and realizing that it could have been Virginia that tipped the balance, but that I was one of the people responsible for our state going Republican and losing the Senate because I didn’t get behind our candidate.

I may not completely trust Harris Miller but I do trust Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer and others in the Democratic leadership to protect the Supreme Court from its drift into rightwing extremism. I also trust them to insist on proper oversight of the administration, with greater checks and balances on presidential power, as the founding fathers intended it to be. And I trust them to write fairer laws that protect Americans. I will write more in depth about this after the primary. But I do think it’s important to maintain unity whoever wins.

Having said that, I still think Webb, for the reasons I gave above, is the better candidate, with a better platform, and better ideas for the future of Virginia and the country. And given that I think it’s going to be the Democrats’ year, I think he is the more electible Democrat in Virginia to run against George Allen. Please vote for him and, hopefully, Virginia will contribute to the new Democratic majority in Congress.

Friday, June 09, 2006

The First Actual Republican Endorsement of Jim Webb?

And maybe a harbinger of successes to come.

Vince Harris, of Too Conservative, in a post titled "If I Was A Democrat," gives this rousing endorsement of Jim Webb. He calls Harris Miller "the incarnation of a Northern Virginia liberal” who won’t be able to pick up the mantle of the Mark Warner centrists, and so will probably lose Southwest and the outer suburbs, even in Northern Virginia.

Webb, on the other hand, could pick up a cross over vote from moderate Republicans as well as Independents, both groups necessary for victory in a Virginia election

Here’s the money quote:

"James Webb gives the Democrats something to be proud of. He should also make every Allen supporter scared. Webb brings a wealth of experience to the table in various fields which Miller doesn’t closely comparing to. For those of you who haven’t met him, trust me….Webb has an edge to him. His positions on the war will win him support statewide, while his views on issues such as affirmatve action and gun’s will help him in Southside and the Valley"


Good job Vince and thanks!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Coming Soon - Maybe A Reason to Vote for Miller in The General Election

I'm not talking about in the primary. God no. I wouldn't do that. And I'm still on the fence about supporting him in the general election. But I believe there may be a compelling reason for us to rethink this. We are in striking distance of regaining a majority in both the House and Senate.

I would hate for it to come down to our losing out on being the majority in the Senate because we in Virginia had refused to unite behind a Democrat.

I am taking tomorrow off, but I'll discuss all the implications of regaining the majority and its importance on Friday night or Saturday morning.

Band Of Brothers - Kerry Calls For Webb

I usually don't answer my phone when the caller ID shows that its an out of town call, especially not at 6 or 7 at night. If they are interrupting dinner time, it usually means somebody is calling to ask for money. So, I don't know what made me pick up the phone tonight at 7 pm. But I'm sure glad I did.

It was John Kerry robo-calling to ask for support for Jim Webb. He spoke glowingly about Webb's courage, calling him the bravest man he knows. Kerry expressed confidence that Webb would fight to keep American jobs in America and to end the war in Iraq. And of course, Kerry urged that we go out and vote for Webb in the primary.

All this reminded me that when John Kerry ran for president, in 2004, he always had his band of brothers surrounding him. Those were the fellow veterans who had served with him in Vietnam and who had stayed friends and supporters through the years.

Of course, Kerry and Webb had not been friends at all. They have had real and bitter differences over the war in Vietnam. That war had divided the country and my whole generation. It's time to put it behind us. We are all Americans and we need to deal with current events, not past history.

But more importantly, both Jim Webb and John Kerry served honorably. Both were decorated for valor. Both risked their lives for other people. Both went and were willing, if need be, to make the ultimate sacrifice for the country and their bands of brothers and sisters.

Despite their differences, there always should have been more that united them than divided them. I'm glad that they mended those difference. I hope there is real healing on both sides. They belong to that larger band of brothers and sisters who served when called. And who still answer the call to serve.

Jim Webb and John Kerry. Now that's a combination I like seeing. And hearing on a robo call, even at dinner time.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Godless on 6-6-06

Godless, the new Ann Coulter book, came out today, the day of the Beast.

And she was not even raptured away for her efforts. That’s a relief, of course, because it means that the rest of us godless liberals have not been left behind.

But it’s a little sad too because it means we can look forward to even more opportunistic invective and attack spewing from her in the future.

In Godless, Coulter asserts that liberals like to claim that they are not religious. But they practice a godless religion called liberalism. This is not a particularly original charge. Indeed, it harks back to the Cold War when opponents of communism claimed that that was a godless religion too. In fact, she’s hoping her audience will make the connection between godless communism and godless liberalism. But it’s a false connection where modern liberalism is concerned. And yes it's slander - something she knows a lot about since she also once wrote a book by that title.

First of all, communists really were atheists. But not all liberals claim to be non-religious or even godless. The bookshelves that Coulter shares, in most bookstores, are filled with tomes by the likes of Rabbi Michael Lerner, Reverend Jim Wallis, Reverend Tony Campolo, Reverend Brian McLaren and author Philip Yancey. All these authors are either self-described liberals or left of center moderates. And all of them, except for Rabbi Lerner, are respected Evangelicals who are published by Christian publishing houses such as Zondervan, Nelson, and InterVarsity. Ann Coulter may not like their religion, but they are hardly godless.

But another reason that hers is an utterly specious argument is that only eight percent of the population calls themselves atheists. But if you use even the most conservative estimate, about a quarter of the population considers themselves liberals. Democrats, of whatever stripe, are about half the country. So how do you expand 8 percent to 25 percent to 50 percent? And, of course there's not even proof that all atheists consider themselves liberals. Some may even be Republicans. So the numbers just aren't there

Ann Coulter can only make the claims that she does because she is about as astute at mathematics as she is at science and logic.

The problem with Coulter’s work is that she doesn’t actually make logical arguments at all. Instead, she attacks, inflames, and seduces her audience. Her metaphors, similes, ad hominen attacks, red herrings, straw men arguments, and just plain irrelevant juxtapositions carom wildly around, crashing, colliding, and banging into each other like the bumper cars we played with as children.

While it’s wildly entertaining to read her verbal pyrotechnics, believing her arguments could actually be dangerous to your health.

For example, she claims that scientists have lied to us about AIDS. She even attacks C. Everett Coop, Ronald Reagan’s Surgeon General and an Evangelical himself, who decided it was more important to be a doctor than an ideologue and urged people involved with multiple sex partners to use condoms to prevent HIV/AIDS.

According to Coulter, though, scientists lied to us. AIDS is not a heterosexual disease caused by the exchange of bodily fluids. Instead, it is caused by certain homosexual acts that she finds aesthetically displeasing, notably anal sex. In the book, Coulter keeps asking – actually hectoring – “where is the heterosexual AIDS epidemic that was predicted?” She quotes everybody from reputable CDC doctors to Oprah, who all warned people to alter their behavior and to practice safe sex because otherwise we would be inundated by a pandemic of HIV/AIDS.

And in the industrialized first world that epidemic hasn’t materialized, just as Coulter points out. But that’s not because AIDS is a gay disease, caused by anal intercourse, which makes it nearly impossible for straights to get. Instead the predicted epidemic failed to materialize precisely because of all the warnings that were made in the eighties and early nineties. Because of a massive and appropriate public education campaign, people changed their behavior.

More people, gay and straight, do use condoms and observe safe sex practices. People do get tested. And people have cut down on sexual activity since the 70s and 80s, which was the heyday of the sexual revolution. Sociological studies regularly report a decline in sexual activity among high school and college students. And many people with HIV/AIDS, both gay and straight, are able to live fairly normal lives with the disease because of pharmaceutical advances.
However, if you want to find the AIDS epidemic that jumped to the heterosexual population, look no further than Africa. Despite Coulter’s worthless claims, that continent continues to be devastated by AIDS, and it affects women as well as men and in equal numbers. And it affects children because infected mothers really do pass it on to their babies. So much for the gay disease!

On a personal note, I had a relative who was heterosexual and who contracted AIDS and passed it on to his wife. Both died. So if you’re young, conservative and enjoy reading Ann Coulter, please don’t let her seduce you into a false sense of security. Unless you really are going to be celibate or monogamous, please, please practice safe sex. AIDS – regardless of how you view gay people – is not just a gay disease. That’s not godless liberal religion, it’s medical fact.

Coulter, of course, also takes on the Religious Right’s favorite topic, evolution. Here too, she bends the science, misrepresents what evolutionists say, sets up straw dog arguments and then shoots them down.

The thing is Coulter is actually a very bright woman, who not only is capable of making a logical argument, she probably knows the art of rhetoric and all the logical fallacies to avoid far better than I do. She’s an accomplished lawyer who has written legal briefs and argued before the courts.

However, she’s not interested in logic. Primarily, she’s here to inflame passions and to entertain her audience of adoring young, rightwing men and women smitten with her glamour and her audacious style.

In the book, Comedy Writing Step By Step, author Gene Perret defines comedy as the ability to make startling and unusual connections, also known as a sense of irony. He also says that a comedic writer needs to have a facility for language and a sense of imagery and visualization to make that language concrete to the audience.

At that, Ann Coulter has no peer. She can make connections between seemingly polar opposites. She has a well-honed sense of irony and a great facility for words. She certainly is expert in her use of visualization and imagery and can paint her metaphors and similes like an artist on a canvas to make it all a concrete word picture for her readers.

However, in the end, she is not serious. This is simply clowning, not a logical argument for conservatism. But oh my how it sells. Especially when it’s Godless on 6-6-06.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Webb-Peterson-Byrne Old School Barbecue

I just returned from the Old School Barbecue for Jim Webb, held at Chap Peterson's parents' home in Fairfax City. Lowell Feld, at Raising Kaine, has an excellent, in depth report on it. Since I don't believe in repeating what somebody else has already done a great job of reporting, just go over to Raising Kaine for the details.

My perception of Webb is that he continues to be impressive. His speech covered all the bases, including ensuring America's national security, fighting terrorism effectively, finding an effective exit strategy for Iraq, and making sure that we keep well paying jobs in America. After the speeches, when Too Conservative's Vince Harrris questioned Webb about his positions on gay marriage and Roe v Wade, Webb was unequivocal in supporting abortion rights and civil unions. He knew he was speaking to a blogger who didn't agree with him. But he didn't even try to say what he thought Vince wanted to hear. He said straight out what he truly believed.

Webb said that he always supported Roe v. Wade. On civil unions here's a Webb quote (warning, it's not exact because I wasn't taking notes but it's pretty accurate). "I know what religion says about marriage between a man and a woman. I'm a Christian too. But this is a political issue not a religious one. The issue is that the state should not be involved in deciding domestic contracts between individuals."

It's a simple separation of church and state issue. I don't want to put words in Webb's mouth. The following is simply my take on the issue and what I think Webb was getting at. Far be it from anybody to tell any religion or denomination who they should bless with the sanctity of the marriage sacrament. Especially, if it's not my denomination, it's not by business.

But the area of property rights and contracts is the state's business. And the state should not be dictating who may or may not be able to enter into contracts about shared property, medical consent, and other domestic property rights solely based on sexual orientation. That is not the state's business.

Anyway, I admired Webb's forthright expression of his beliefs.

I also have tremendous admiration for both Chap Peterson and Leslie Byrne, who put last year's campaign behind them to unite behind Webb. As both Chap and Leslie pointed out, they showed Virginia how to conduct a primary, differ over issues, fight a hard and fair fight, and still be able to unite afterwards. They were able to do this because they kept it fair, honest and clean. They should be commended.

It was also fun to meet fellow bloggers, Republitarian and Mrs. Republitarian, Too Conservative, and James Martin, of the Virginia Progessive. It was also great to see Not Larry Sabato, an old friend who's done a lot to help promote my blog. And best of all was meeting Raising Kaine's Lowell, whose encouragement was what kept me blogging when I was having computer troubles and almost threw in the towel (he didn't know that part).

Also if you go over to Raising Kaine, there are a bunch of pictures of Webb, Byrne and Peterson, and the last picture is the passel of bloggers. I'm front and center in it - the one with the short blond bob, blue jeans and a wine colored shirt. One look at the photo convinced me it's definitely time to sign up with Weight Watchers before the summer hits officially.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Let's Take Back The Majority State By State

This is an excellent article in today's New York Times, by Daniel Galvin, a doctoral candidate in political science, who will become an assistant professor at Northwestern University. His basic point is that Howard Dean's plan to build the party by putting funds into statewide party building efforts is a sound one.

As Galvin points out, Emmanuel Rahm disagrees. He argues that funds should go to key congressional races that are competitive so that we can take back the House or Senate this year.

It's tempting to go for the short term gain. But as Galvin argues, Republicans have built up their enduring success by putting money, training, and recruitment efforts precisely into areas that the pundits of the day thought they'd never win.

It's hard to remember now but places like South Carolina were solidly Democratic when the Republicans began their party building efforts back in the 50s. But they put money and effort into creating organizations that could train activists and candidates. They worked hard to recruit good candidates and encouraged people to run by delivering solid support.

Democrats largely abandoned those efforts. They depended on allies in labor to provide the foot soldiers and organization for elections. They also let incumbents fend for themselves, using the power of their own incumbency to win races. And it worked for a long time. But, ultimately, with no real organization, the party lost clout.

The irony is the Democrats were unparalleled at one time in party organizaton. They invented much of the grassroots techniques for get out the vote efforts that even Republicans still use. But Democrats got complacent. They placed their faith in overpaid consultants, expensive television ads, and professional mailers to send out literature. Republicans beat them on the new technology of setting up databases, doing direct mailings, and establishing small donor networks. Democrats, of all people, relied on wealthy donors and professionals rather than volunteers.

Old school Democrats, veterans of the successful machines, would tell anybody who would listen that they'd rather have the dollar of the small donor than the large corporate donation because the little guy who gave the dollar to a campaign would get out through hell and high water to vote. But the large corporation was just covering all bases and their executives were going to vote Republican regardless of what they gave. Also a volunteer who works for the candidate will be more likely to vote and get his family and neighbors to vote too.

Political scientists have also documented that the candidate who has had personal contact with the voter, whether through knocking on doors (shown to be the most effective method) or phone banking, is more often successful than the guy with slickest ads.

We have a chance to turn things around this time, not just with one election, but to reclaim lasting majority status. Galvin argues that Dean is right. We've got to build the party state by state to make lasting change not quick, temporary gains.

Harris Miller and Yellow Dog Democrats

The first time I ever heard the expression “yellow dog Democrat” was while I was living in Jacksonville. A friend of mine with a North Florida drawl (yes, in Northern Florida, they do have Southern accents) told me what it meant. “Ah’d rathah vote for a yeller dawg than a Republican.”

Well, I’ve been a yellow dog Democrat since. So, what do I do about a possible Harris Miller victory in the primary?

As some may have mistakenly concluded from my last post, I do not intend to vote for George Allen. That would be going way too far. Yes I’d vote for Harris Miller rather than George Allen. Somehow a proto racist, who thinks the combination of a miniature noose and a confederate flag are cute office decorations, doesn’t inspire me to get out and vote for him. Even I know that’s worse than supporting off shoring.

But not much!

I could, of course, go out and find a big old yellow dog, asks its owner the dog’s name and write that in.

Or I could find a credible third party candidate and cast a protest vote for somebody I know won’t win. But at least that vote will register. If a Green Party candidate gets that vote, would a professional consultant, who later analyzes the election results, conclude that Miller was the wrong candidate? Would Democrats then get the message that they have to appeal to a wider centrist audience while not completely alienating their base?

I want a strong Democratic Party. But I want a Democratic Party that stands up for the interests of working Americans and the middle class. I don’t want a Democratic Party that panders to the greediest demands of big business. Nor do I want a Democratic Party that panders to the narrowest of organized labor’s interests either. I am pro-labor just as I am a pro-choice feminist. And I strongly believe in the separation of church and state. I don’t want to see the 10 commandments posted in every courtroom because I respect Buddhist and Hindu citizens as much as I do Christian, Jewish and Muslim citizens. And I believe the First Amendment should protect their rights too. But I also believe that the Democratic Party must attract independents and moderates to win elections.

So, what would Harris Miller have to do to get my vote and possibly the votes of many other Democrats who are profoundly disturbed by his past history as President of the ITAA?

I think he would have to at least acknowledge that he was wrong to support some of the legislation that he lobbied for. And he’d have to be big enough to admit that a lot of his efforts threw others out of well paying jobs and hurt them economically.

He could point out, in his defense, that in the early nineties, there was a huge IT bubble and well paying jobs were abundant. He might say that at the time he just didn’t realize the harm his efforts could cause since salaries were high and job growth was dazzling. The economy back then was sizzling and there appeared to be a shortage of workers in many fields.

He could also say that as a Senator, he would work hard to undo the damage that he helped cause and that he would strive to improve the situation for workers. He could say that because of his industry ties and his knowledge and understanding of big business, he was in the position to work with his former allies to convince them that it was in their greater self-interest to have a strong, well-paid American workforce that could afford to buy the products that they make. Miller could even promise to point out to his business allies that destroying the middle class also destroys their own markets.

But Miller would have to say all this sooner rather than later. After the primary, it will just appear that he is out for votes, not sincere. In fact, I’m not sure, even now, if he could pull it off or if there’s simply too much bitter water under the bridge. I’m not sure if even I would buy it.

But I’d be willing to listen should he be the actual nominee. Until then, I’m still strongly for Jim Webb. And I hope Webb wins so that I don’t ever have to choose between Harris Miller and a big ole yeller dog.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Top Reason to Refuse to Support Harris Miller in a General Election

That's right, I said in the general election, not just the primary.

For starters because his campaign has turned a nice, mild mannered, middle-aged woman who believes in civility into a frothing at the mouth lunatic. That would be me. And ok, I probably exaggerate but not by much.

I just received my latest poison pen campaign mailing from the Miller Campaign. It's a large, slick, glossy postcard. The front of it has a big picture of Ronald Reagan that covers most of the card. Beside the picture is a quote from Jim Webb. "Ronald Reagan was a really fine president on the issues that I cared about." Then under it is a much smaller picture of Jim Webb with one of those balloons that you see in the cartoon strips when a character speaks. It says, "Senate candidate Jim Webb in his own words."

If you read the quote carefully, all it really says is that on the particular issues that Webb cared about, he liked Reagan. Those issue were probably Reagan's pro-military, pro-Vietnam, and strong defense stands. And lots of veterans felt exactly the same as Jim Webb did. In fact, until the Iraq War it was hard to find many veterans in the Democratic Party. Too many people agreed with Webb's view that the Democrats were soft on defense and couldn't be trusted with national security.

Of course that view was not the whole truth. There were veterans, like Al Gore, John Kerry, Bob Kerrey, Max Cleland, and John Murtha who served honorably in Vietnam and came home and became Democrats. But unfortunately the Democratic Party was perceived to be the "anti-war" party for a long time.

It's only because of the debacle in Iraq and the general incompetence of the Bush administration, that people's opinions are finally being changed. And that more veterans are coming home to our party.

But Webb, in the eighties, was an angry young man who believed that the nation had vilified the Vietnam veterans when they returned home. So he, like many others, found a temporary home in the Republican Party. And on the issues he cared about back then, Reagan seemed like a fine president.

I have often said that I admire the Republicans for their strategic smarts but not their issues. Suppose I ran for office. Somebody could take my statement out of context and post a cartoon balloon next to a picture of Tom Delay and say that I said I admire the Republicans' smarts and it would be the exact same type of sleazy, desperate attack as this.

However, the worst thing about this this particular piece of campaign literature is that it could be a mortal wound because if, as I hope, Webb is our nominee, it's the one that George Allen will turn against us. It's the one that all Democrats may have to explain in the general election.

I have not criticized Miller or his campaign people until now for running a hard fought campaign. They have every right to run hard and to run to win. Compare and contrast ads and even questioning Webb's loyalty and consistency are fair game.

This ad, though, goes well beyond anything that is fair game. As Miller loses ground and loses support, his campaign grows more shrill and more self-destructive.

This is the ad that burns any bridge back to party unity because it's the ad that declares that Miller would rather see the party lose than elect anybody but him. And that's plain selfish.

But then Miller has made a career and a lifestyle out of pure selfish greed. And out of hypocrisy. He has supported outsourcing, guest worker programs and privatization of the federal workforce, all of which harm the middle class and are especially destructive in a government town like Fairfax, where so many earn their living in the high tech field and as federal employees. Even Tom Davis is friendlier to government workers than Miller is.

But worse, Harris Miller, while criticizing Webb for taking a principled stand, gave generous contributions to top Republican leaders like Spencer Abraham, Dennis Hastert and Arlen Specter, not for any principled reason, but because they supported his lobbying efforts to enrich corporations at the expense of workers.

And Harris Miller proved his loyalty to Democrats with whom he disagrees by refusing to support Leslie Byrne after she won the nomination to be Lieutenant Governor in 2005. All because ten years earlier she had voted against NAFTA, and with labor, when she was in Congress.

Here's the deal for me. I believe two things. One is the golden rule. Do unto others as you would have them do to you. And also that you teach people how you want to be treated by how you treat them.

So taking Miller's example, I will not support him even should he win the primary.

But the really top reason to not vote for Miller is because his whole campaign has been an affront to party unity. It's been an affront to honesty, decency, principle, and scruples. He has basically proved that his only loyalty is to himself.

His actions as a lobbyist on behalf of the high tech industry and his actions on behalf of himself as a candidate have been destructive to the country, to Fairfax citizens and now to the Democratic Party that he purports to be so loyal to.

So, should he win the primary I will probably not support him. This blog will never say a nice thing about him. And personally, I will not vote for him.