He may be a loose cannon, but he’s our loose cannon

· Democrats

Hey, I actually agree that Dean should be more careful in how he phrases his outrageous statements, and that it’s not good that we’re talking about Dean instead of about Bush’s unpopularity or Republicans shutting down hearings on the Patriot act, but on the other hand it’s about time we had a tough-talking Democrat with the courage of his convictions.

Quoting from Steve Clemons in the politics section of TPM Cafe (Howard Dean is Doing What Dems Need: Shaking Things Up):

I feel no need to defend Howard Dean because he’s Chair of the DNC but rather because he’s doing what the Democratic Party needs — shaking things up.
To go directly to the comments that Josh Marshall posted from a TPM reader — specifically about thinking about the position of an upwardly hopeful Governor of Virginia or a “wannabe Senator from Tennessee” — these political characters should be embracing Dean’s rough edges. He is taking the kind of risks and showing a bravado that the Dems haven’t shown in years.
The Republican Party took weeks to finally admit that it was responsible for some of the most outrageous campaign flyers in the last election. The Washington Note was the first to post these — and Howard Dean, on his blog, was one of the few politicians (then withdrawn from the race) to roundly attack these flyers that said Democrats would BAN the Bible and turn that respective state (Arkansas, West Virginia, Ohio, and several others) into bastions of homosexuality. And now Dean is being clobbered by his own party for asserting that the Republican Party is mostly Christian, mostly white, and mostly male?!

79 comments on this thread (over there) and counting.

Science and health vs. fanaticism

· Democrats

We know the Dems are playing defense. Part of what comes with that role is that you don’t get to set the agenda. You have to play each game with your eye on the scoreboard to see what everyone else is doing. You can’t just win – your opponents have to lose. They have to make mistakes. Mark A. R. Kleiman thinks George Bush is making a big mistake by planning to veto the stem-cell bill:

Perfect. Just what we need. Take an issue where public sentiment is clearly with the Democrats, and set it up so the radical conservatives of the Texas Republican Party are standing between sick people and miracle cures. Exectly the right issue for the 2006/2008 elections: science and health v. fanaticism.
Liberalism lost public favor mostly because it came to appear to many voters that electing liberals meant having the government get in the way of stuff they wanted to do. I’m delighted to see the right making the same dumb mistake.

Scott Chacon for Congress

· Democrats

Here’s a candidate worth supporting: Chacon 2006 – Join the conversation. Scott is running in California’s 11th District, currently represented by the horrible Richard Pombo. Scott is taking only up to $100 from supporters and is running a very open campaign, with a blog and podcasts.

Currently, he’s trying to raise money to go to the Personal Democracy Forum conference in New York on May 16 (where I’ll be on a panel, I should mention). Also, he did most of the fine-work in turning the East Bay for Democracy website’s template into a real-live CivicSpace design.

To put it succintly, he’s a mensh.

The Pro-Life Party: Us, Goddammit!

· Democrats

“Are you pro-life or pro-choice?”
“Yes.”
That’s not an original “joke,” but it’s one that bears repeating. This morning on Democracy Now, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez were interviewing a woman from NOW and a man from the Democratic Senatorial (?) Council about the latter group’s policy of encouraging pro-choice senatorial hopefuls to step aside for supposedly more electable anti-choice candidates in 2006. All four of them used the phrase “pro-life” to describe opponents of legal abortion.
That’s [bleep]ing crazy. Of all the distortions and hijackings of language perpetrated by the right-wing noise machine, none is more pernicious in its scope than their claim to be “pro-life.” Those of us who can loosely be called “progressives” are the party of Life. We are pro-life when we assert the right to regulate economic activity to prevent species extinction, to preserve workplace health and safety, and to improve air and water quality. The right opposes all those kinds of regulation because they don’t see any value to life and health beyond what can be quantified monetarily. We are pro-life when we oppose war, and particularly the targeting of civilians in war. We are pro-life when we oppose the death penalty. And we are pro-life when we assert the value of a mother’s actual life over the abstraction of a fetus’s potential life.
Having said that, I also found it disturbing that Amy Goodman took issue with Hillary Clinton’s description of abortion as a “sad” choice. To be sure, Mrs. Clinton’s comment implies more in the context of her DSC maneuvering than it literally says, but it seems grotesquely callous to suggest that the decision to end a potential life is not sad, even when it’s the only humane choice.
Obviously, there’s a lot more to be said about this. The progressive movement and the Democratic party need to find a way to deal with the fact that even though the majority of American voters support legal choice, they also support candidates who oppose it. This is a deeply rooted paradox. It has something to do with the tension between the morality we actually practice (what I’m calling “humane” values) and what we think we believe. Others may be able to articulate this better than I can.

California über Alles

· Democrats

Mark A. R. Kleiman proposes a nuclear option for the Democrats: changing the state constitution to elect a congressional delegation on a winner-take-all basis, take over the Congress, and elect Speaker Pelosi.
Sounds cool, but what happens if other states do it too?

The Nation likes Dean

· Democrats

Now He Has the Power, writes John Nichols.
As has often been the case, conventional wisdom on Howard Dean is dead wrong:

The Washington-insider line on Dean was that he would be anathema to Democrats from “red” states like Kansas, where Kerry won only a single county. The reality was the opposite: Some of Dean’s first major endorsements for chair came from party leaders in Alabama, Mississippi and, yes, Kansas. When Reid suggested that Justice Antonin Scalia would be an acceptable Chief Justice, Dean disagreed. That created a stir in Washington, including an “it’s not your job to set policy” admonishment from outgoing chair Terry McAuliffe. But it didn’t hurt Dean with DNC members. “That, to me, is one more reason to elect him chairman,” says Roy.

(Krugman gets him too.)
Chait at the New Republic still doesn’t get him:

New Republic commentator Jonathan Chait put their fears into words when he grumbled that “Dean, with his intense secularism, arrogant style, throngs of high-profile counterculture supporters and association with the peace movement, is the precise opposite of the image Democrats want to send out.”

What do you mean “we,” white man?