Saturday, March 25, 2006

Wes Clark, Jim Webb & Johnny Cash: A New Face for the Democrats

The effite Magic Mountain Democratic rank-and-file & their Big Institutional One-Voice Press Subdivision are as fragile a cultural insitution and as irrelevant to the country today as the Austrian-Hungary Empire was to Europe in 1914. The essay below, The Fighting Dems: A New Face for the Democratic Party, presents five elements which could return the Democratic Party to the real people of our country: Wesley Clark, Jim Webb, the patriotic Fighting Dems, The Daily Kos (with over 3.5 million weekly readers under the age of 30) and Johnny Cash.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

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Tammy Duckworth
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Illinois (IL-06)
Fighting Dem
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“Over the years I've seen many strong leaders who have given more to our nation than taken from it. People who lead by example and embody the values that make America so special. Major Tammy Duckworth, a helicopter pilot who just months ago was discharged from the Illinois National Guard, is just such a leader.” - Wes Clark

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Fighting Dems: The New Face of the Democratic Party

- from The Free Market News Network, March 22, 2006

by Bernie Quigley

“ . . . I went out searching . . . looking for one good man . . . a spirit who would not bend or break who would sit at his father’s right hand . . .” Johnny Cash/U2

The Democratic Party was once the party of the real people of this country. The people who grew soybean and cotton, the people who gathered for barbecue at the Legion Hall, who went to church, listened to Johnny Cash, and served without rumination or discussion when they were called to duty.

Here in Boston, New York and New England, Democrats changed our world, turning Irish, Polish, Jewish, German and other immigrants into full-blown Americans, proud, hard-working and unpretentious. They were people like my father who bought the Boston tabloid every evening on the way home from the factory for the single purpose of checking the Treasury balance – not that they were heavily invested in T bills, but because every day each factory worker would bet on the last three numbers in a factory pool. They sent their champion to Washington in 1961. The very last of these public figures from my old neighborhood, Massachusetts representative Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neil and Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Mary McGrory, have slipped into history’s shadow lands.

But they were perhaps the most important generation in American history. A generation of common men and women made up of every strand of mankind from Africa and Ireland and from the Polish ghetto and the Liverpool docks, which brought a level of civilization and economic prosperity to this country that made America a Beacon of Hope to all the world. Almost all in this generation had served in warfare and were bound together by duty. Almost all of them had families and extended families and were bound together by love.

Then something else happened.

I think it was around the time that coffee changed almost overnight from something that cost about 22 cents and came in honest blue paper cups with Greek gods dancing around them to something else, which cost up to four bucks a pop and somehow brought with it the most astonishing pretensions of ending world hunger and saving the Rain Forest. With a cup of coffee like that you were no longer son or daughter of the American everyman, a Fall River factory worker or Alabama tenant farmer, whose life and destiny was changed inextricably when he was called upon to slog through the mud of Italy in the Hitler war. With a cup of coffee like that came a more upscale cultural environment. You were Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir at Les Deux Magots – much less smoky since Malraux and the others had gone off to fight with the Marquis – and as the world descended around you into burning hell and Nazi occupation, you passed the time while awaiting the revolution by knocking off a one-act play against fascism or a treatise on racism. Right there at the mall in Centerville. A nice place to raise your kids up.

When liberalism went double latte, regular folk left as if in a diaspora. Prior to that one’s political party was like a religion – the Boston Irish were all Catholic and Democrat. Appalachia was all Baptist and Democrat. But Democrats had become effete. “Nattering nabobs of negativism,” said Nixon’s vice president, Spiro Agnew, in a famous phrase written by William Safire.

Perhaps he was right. In 1981 I saw my Irish aunties start to leave the church. They started to vote for Ronald Reagan. In 1985, it was a fait accompli. 49 states full of Southern Baptists and Jewish and Catholic ethnic groups from the urban regions above, all of whom had voted Democratic before, this time voted for a Republican in a time of peace and prosperity. My voting precinct in North Carolina’s foothills where I had come to work was characteristic. All had been born there Baptist and Democrat. 80% had changed their party affiliation to Republican.

But now, in the 60th year since European fascism yielded to American optimism, something else is happening again. The real people of the Legion Hall, the barn dance, the NASCAR track, the Bingo Hall and the church basement supper are again looking around. And a new breed of Democratic politician is coming forth to represent them once again.

Enter The Fighting Dems, men and women of the military and the Legion hall who are challenging Republican incumbents across the country.

As the Denver Post reports, more than 30 Iraq and Persian Gulf War veterans have entered congressional races across the country as Democrats, hoping to capitalize on their military experience to topple the incumbent Republican majority. In December, over 35 Democratic veterans running for Congress got together at a strategy session in Washington, D.C. The veterans voted on a name for their emerging caucus-like campaign coalition: Veterans for a Secure America. They also agreed that their military backgrounds should be promoted as credentials for leadership across the full spectrum of public policy, said Jay Fawcett of Colorado, an Air Force veteran of the 1991 Gulf War.

It is interesting and perhaps significant that the reports on this growing phenomenon are largely from outside the Beltway as most of these candidates are. The Chicago Tribune calls them “Macho Democrats.” But this is a grass roots movement and it should be noted that it is first effect was on the Internet.

This week, Tammy Duckworth, a former army major who had both legs shot off while piloting a Blackhawk helicopter in Iraq, won the Democratic primary in Illinois' pivitol race for retiring rep Henry Hyde's seat in Congress. It is a beginning milestone for the Fighting Dems.

I first read about this new movement on Wesley Clark’s web site, WesPAC in August, last year, when Clark called for support of Paul Hackett for Congress.

“Paul Hackett is exactly the kind of strong leader we need in these challenging times,” wrote Clark. “He is a former Marine and a veteran of the Fallujah campaign in Iraq. He understands what it will take to fight -- and win -- the war on terror and keep America safe.”

Clark offered his full endorsement and encouraged readers to volunteer and to donate to Hackett’s campaign.

“Paul offers the kind of fresh, pragmatic leadership that we desperately need in Washington. For all of their bravado, the Bush administration and Republicans in Congress seem fresh out of ideas about how to win the war in Iraq and bring our troops home,” he said.

Also helping to build this movement is The Daily Kos, which has teamed up with Majority Report Radio to feature a Fighting Dem every Tuesday on its site.

Kos reports: “This country craves leadership, and these guys are providing it unbidden. They are self-organizing, taking the initiative, and taking the fight to the enemy. These guys are rock stars. So we've got dozens of Iraq and Persian Gulf vets challenging Republicans for public office. How many do Republicans have? One.”

As trends build, this is significant. Kos himself is a kind of rising star in politics and opinion. He is someone who is at the beginning of things which will change the way the world looks at itself. Policy wogs, political staffers and concerned citizens increasingly look to Kos and a few other political bloggers and independent on-line journals like this one [Free Market News Network] as they once upon a time looked to The New Republic, The National Review and The Nation. Political journals have been losing readership in recent years, much of it going to Kos. There is new energy to his site and it has the spark of new ideas. He and the majority of his readers can’t be but 20, 25 years old. He and his readers represent the generation which will come to importance and responsibility first in the new century. (According to The Washington Monthly: Kos's site, which has existed for only around three and a half years, now has 3.7 million readers each week. That's more than the 10 opinion magazines - of both left and right - combines, more readers than any political publication has had, ever, in the history of the world.)

Recently both Kos and WesPAC featured Andrew Horne of Kentucky who is challenging Republican Anne Northup in Kentucky’s 3rd Congressional District. Lt. Col. Horne served as a Marine in both the Gulf War and the Iraq War.

“Andrew Horne never sought to be a politician. In fact, the Marine Reserve lieutenant colonel didn't consider it until his latest deployment to Iraq. There, he saw such blatant leadership failures by President Bush and his administration -- failures with life-or-death consequences -- that by the time he came back home, Andrew knew he must act,” writes Clark.

Paul Hackett supports his candidacy, and these men and women support one another.

John Lapp, executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which seeks to help new Democrats, has coined the term, “Macho Democrats,” says a report in The Chicago Tribune. “Few have any political experience, let alone a fundraising or grass-roots network,” it says. “But with voters unhappy with Bush and Congress, the Democratic strategy is to attack the GOP as an entrenched, corrupt majority, and these candidates say they represent change. More broadly, their resumes might help to dispel voters’ long-held image of Democrats as soft on national security.”

“I think I have fresh ideas and energy I’m bringing to the table,” said Patrick Murphy, a Fighting Dem from Pennsylvania who quotes John F. Kennedy on his web site (“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”) “I’m running as a Democrat, and I served my country, but my mother is a Republican,” the 32-year-old told the Chicago Tribune.

As the Fighting Dems phenomenon continues to grow, Kos’s web site sounds a warning. “All ‘Fightin’ Dems’ are not created equal with some being the exact opposite of the popular projection,” writes Kos, not suggesting any particular candidate. He warns against promoting any Democrat in uniform with no regard for the actual issues, the primary process or the local districts themselves bulldozing over more-qualified candidates. It is a fair warning, but also a tribute to the momentum this movement is picking up.

All in all, this is a very auspicious turn for the Democrats. The Big Media, which increasingly speaks with one voice and can hear no other voice, hasn’t quite picked up on it yet. Perhaps because they are all holding their breaths and Waiting for Hillary and right now they can’t think of anything else.

Politics is not a matrix into which you can inject some arbitrary culture or special agenda and make it grow history like hair on a Chi-Chi Pet, as the neocons thought they could grow a new American century in the Middle East. History is an ancient river like the Mekong or the Nile, which unpredictably overflows its banks on occasion and is sure to do so again and again when least expected. We are in such a period now. Recently political philosopher Francis Fukuyama has dubbed the neocon agenda which has gripped our republic as the work of “Jacksonian Republicans.” It is a reference to the mid 1800s when Western populism during Andrew Jackson’s presidency badgered and intimidated the northern liberals, pushing each apart into opposing binary forces. Like the Northern Whigs who were pushed aside by the Jacksonian populists, the Democrats today have been pushed into deeper and deeper eccentricity and irrelevance.

It is important for the Democrats to remember that the Whigs did not survive the struggle with the Jacksonians and were replaced by a healthy, vibrant party which dominated the era and still holds the tiller today. And the most important question today in political life is the destiny of the Democratic Party. Recently, the eminent federal reservist Alan Greenspan stated unambiguously that he felt a third party challenge for the presidency would occur in either the upcoming election in 2008 or later in 2012, as both parties today have pushed themselves to their polar extremes, leaving the moderate middle wide open. In Republican convention last week the Republicans committed themselves to their extreme, the great majority giving support to Bill Frist, the senator from Tennessee. So the middle remains wide open. The Democrats likewise are hell-bent on perdition, pouring untold millions from the rank and file into the coffers of the alienating and entirely unelectable senator from New York. Maybe these two parties are like Ford and General Motors; unable to change, unable to adapt and meet the times and destined to ride into the sun until the tank comes up empty.

I see only two options: The Democrats can reform and take the center, or a third party (perhaps even with Greenspan’s blessing) will take the day. Third party is risky business, even if such a party came with the blessings of someone with such high public regard as Greenspan. The Fighting Dems can reform the existing party. They offer a better option.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The war is over. We won.

- for The Free Market News Network

Bush's trip to India ascends Secretary of State Condolezza Rice's foreign policy view which she surfaced in an article in Foreign Affairs in 2000 with a vision of a multipolar world.

The United States “should pay closer attention to India’s role” in Asia,” she wrote. “India is not a great power yet, but it has the potential to emerge as one.”

Presenting India as a model of religious multiculturalism, like the United States, is ridiculous – Hindu and Muslim in India are at each other’s throats, but this is the kind of rhetoric we have become accustomed to in the last five years from these people, who apparently learned public posturing and hyperbole from their arch enemy, the old Soviet Union.

Nevertheless, it seems a fairly reasonable approach to the real world. The Bush administration now seems to admit that China and India exist in the world as something other than a bunch of Foreign Devils. They have now officially come out of denial and begun to abandon neocon notions of a "second American century" which can be taken by military force; the notion which has fostered and promoted a vision of Armageddon and brought forth this war on Iraq with Evangelical fervor.

Apparently that philosophy has now been abandoned and with it perhaps the political aspirations of the Christian Right have been abandoned by the Bush administration. Bush is and always was only a fellow traveler with the Christian Right. At heart he is really a Yankee sincerely impressed with the deep-feelings of regular religious people in his new home in Texas. Connecticut is not like that. But he is not one himself. He is more like the New York ad executives who retire or get fired and move up here to the mountains with their Parachute money and buy old run down Yankee houses and grow awful-looking chin whiskers and don old shirts in hopes of getting their picture taken standing tall and looking quaint at New England Town Meetings.

The Bush administration, in abandoning the goals of the neocons and going back to a multipolar approach, shows some positive adjustment to the real world in our time. I heard his speech in India and thought it wasn't bad. I know they are just hedging against China, but just the same it was interesting to see a provincial man like Bush authentically interested in an exotic culture like India. I’m not sure Pat Robertson feels such warmth and understanding toward worshipers of Kali, the Death Mother.

Visiting kin in North Carolina this last week I got the feeling from the real people in my old neighborhood – that would be the foothills of the Blue Ridge thereabouts - that the war on Iraq is over and we won. From beginning, to average people from the heartland that grow soybean and listen to Johnny Cash and readily serve when they are called to duty, this has been a war of vengeance. And the assault on Baghdad and Saddam Hussein has been viewed as a revenge kill, as Wounded Knee was a revenge attack for the death of Custer, the Long Hair.

Such was the call on September 12 - avenge the deaths of 9/11.Go in there and kill a bunch of them and come home. Saddam Hussein in the dock today brings the end game. And truth be told, outside of the Beltway and the Ivory Tower, it doesn't really matter that much if Iraq goes to civil war or not, because we don't really care what they do. They are not us. They are the enemy in this war. And they always seem to be at war, no? If not the English, the Russkies. The 9/11 atrocities have been avenged and now we can get back to business. In my old feed store in North Carolina they have under glass at the counter a picture of Barney Fife from Mayberry RFD, sitting in the police cruiser with Saddam Hussein in the back seat, under arrest. That about sizes it up.

"Victory" in Iraq will bring a new cultural paradigm in America. I believe the South Dakota anti-abortion ruling will move swiftly now and positively, growing in impact and upheld in the Supreme Court. If not, another "states rights" challenge will come to challenge Roe v. Wade and be more successful. This is the kind of legislation which comes at the heels of victory in war. It is positivist in outlook and might be called Victory Legislation. Like the Revenge Kill (and the sacking of Atlanta was the price of Southern secession and Hiroshima and Nagasaki the price of Pearl Harbor), it is primal psychology and it helps determine war’s aftermath: If you win the war, as we did in WW II, you get a baby boom, happy face tv like The Dobie Gillis Show and family-oriented fare like Ozzie and Harriet. If you lose the war, as we did in Vietnam, you get abortion, homosexual marriage and Lillith, Adam's mythical other wife, eating her babies. The Harvard event which ended the short and unhappy academic career of Larry Summers has lifted the lid off the nihilist cultism which is the humanities on America’s campuses, a 30-year legacy of the failure in Vietnam. That will change now.

Recently, Republicans in Congress have shown a readiness to go after the President on the torture issue, where 90 Senators supported John McCain, and on the New Jersey port issue. It may be then that the middle is coming forth now within the Republican Party. Also, it looks like Hillary will not be able to resist running for President. She has 17 million in the war chest, she is speaking all over America outside of New Hampshire and Iowa, and last week she hired James Carville to raise more money. The more she raises, the worse it gets for the Democrats. They will take this cash as a sign of support, but it is only the same support from the same generational constituency amplifying the provincial generational view by giving more. And it will further engender the Revenge Demon wing of the Democratic Party, alienating mainstream, moderate and generous-minded Democrats like Wes Clark and Mark Warner.

The Republicans now might be able to find a good mainstream candidate. McCain, opposed by the Republican Right Wing, could now get the nomination perhaps if he wanted it. A candidate like Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, or New York governor George Pataki could unite North and South and marginalize the Religious Right. And I think the fanciful notion of Condi Rice v. Hillary put forth by born-again old Clinton hacks is fading from public imagination. Condi Rice seems too sensible and competent a professional to enter into such novelty politics. And she could have a longer and larger historical role in an ascending Republican dynasty. In a race between George Pataki vs. Hillary, the Republicans will win all except the District of Columbia.

In the near future Bush’s war on Iraq will bring success because in spite of the fact that the execution of the war was a complete disaster, he himself brought forth the primal deed. He felt the victory at the "Mission Accomplished" moment and that is all he cared about. And that’s what plays in the heartland whether they like it or not in the Ivory Tower. But he couldn't end the war that he started, he still can't and he won’t.

It doesn’t matter. Condi has given him an out. He can ignore Iraq now and turn East. And that is where the new millennium begins. Engaging India and the East in a positive and effective way will give him a successful presidency. It was engaging China and the ascending Asian economic Tigers as important economic allies - not the collapse of the Soviets - which brought a prosperous America in our time and gave Reagan a successful Presidency. And in hindsight, it was reaching out to Marxist-Leninist China at the peak of revolution, which gave Nixon his most important moment as well. This is a third step in that legacy and in many ways an auspicious step.

It is a fact of life that the centuries and millennia begin on even numbers. When they go back and list the 100 best books of the century past they start at 1900, not 1897. Likewise here. No one will remember what happened in 1997 or 1989. The century began at 2000 and its first event was 9/11. The future began with the Bush presidency. The rest is shadow.