Wednesday, July 26, 2006

It's not your father's party anymore

We may be fast approaching a redefinition of our political nomenclature, going by how little regard the DLC is giving to the rest of its party. While many activists on the left are trying to bring the Democratic Party back to its roots as the party that cares about the majority of the citizens of the US, many power brokers still in the party are simply seeking to restrain such democratic notions, or even just stay in office--(see Joe Lieberman). Any signs of progress made by the left, such as the heartening poll numbers Ned Lamont is getting in Connecticut, is matched by what I used to think was mere faintheartedness of those on the right of the Party, but what I now think may be calculated sabotage. (Why else would Hillary Clinton and the DLC publicly seek to muddy the emerging clarity of the platform, or similarly publicly support a clearly floundering and treacherous Lieberman?)
All of which brings to mind a concept most of us who've been watching things over the past quarter century have noticed--the relentless pull of the Republican Party to the right, and the subsequent redefinition of terms like "centrist" or "Democrat". Squint at my graphic here (double click to open a larger view):

The Democratic Party is covered by the light blue (natch) part of this graphic, while the Republican Party is in red. The top bar represents the parties of the 1960s and early 1970s, with some representative pols in their appropriate places on that spectrum, as I see it, and the current parties and denizens are shown in the bottom bar.
Ther are a number of points I want to make, which I think are fairly well-substantiated:
1) The "center" of the political world has shifted to the right, and no one is really situated there anymore. (I have serious doubts that the populace has really "moved" anywhere, judging by the historically steady polling numbers on issues like abortion, Social Security, healthcare, and the environment. If anything, our citizens are shifting to the left!) What used to be the center-right is now occupied by members of the DLC; they would have been the "Liberal Republicans" of the 1960s.
2) What was once the far right is now virtually the mainstream for the Republicans, and people once thought beyond the pale can look to whackjobs like Santorum and (unlisted) Kyl, Cheney, and Norquist for true representation in high office these days.
3) Where once moderate Democrats like Scoop Jackson could work effectively with moderate Republicans like Nelson Rockefeller, let alone those even further to the right or left, that is pretty much impossible now. "No Man's Land" means exactly that; anyone straying into that region from the right is immediately slapped around by the Republican leaders, while Democrats seeking help from outside their party from the right are fooling themselves or are being played.
4) The scope of each party has changed as well. The earlier period saw 2 parties with approximately the same breadth. The Republican Party now truly stands for a smaller section of the ideological landscape than they used to, while the Democratic Party, almost by default, is stretching idelogically to accommodate those left behind by the Republican shrinkage to the Right.
What do you all think?

Some people just aren't getting it

The DLC, and it's most prominent face, Hillary Clinton, announced its policy strategy (also known as a platform in political terms) yesterday. Now, I'm all in favor of having policies, and strategies; it's nice that somebody other than the right-wing nutjobs that are ripping this country to pieces have one. In fact, I'll go so far as to say that the more strategies the "left" has to solve America's ills the better, because if one doesn't work, maybe another will. I have a huuuuuuge problem, however, with broadcasting these strategies loudly and with great fanfare, because the Democratic Party as a whole has already begun announcing its platform (see my posts here and here). Having each faction, especially one that is on the right fringe of the Party, announce its own is simply stupid.
What is the number one propaganda slander of the Democratic Party, which has been used by Republicans of all stripes for decades? That they don't have a plan for anything. How have they been able to get away with that smear? Because the Democrats have been unable to present a unifying or united message to the public about what it stands for. Announcing multiple plans is worse than announcing no plan whatsoever--nobody can figure out what the Party really means anymore, because there is no single message "out there". This action is so infuriatingly ignorant of the vicious and amoral political landscape these days, especially since the DLC chose to have one of the leading (if not a particularly definitive) Democratic voices release it. HRC is such a lightning rod that anything she does will draw a massive amount of attention, most of it scornful from the media due to her mere name, and all of it derisive from the Right because of her ability. If the nominal head of the DLC, Al From, had called a press conference to release this policy statement, who would have cared? A few policy wonks on both sides, political junkies aching for their next scrap of information, and of course, all who seek to destroy the Democratic Party by any means necessary. All in all, not many people, really, and they would have had a hard road convincing the public that this really meant anything. But due to HRC's committed appearance and presentation of this policy, instantly the entire Democratic Party can be tarred as at best fractious, and at worst, as being in thrall to the most publicly hated of Democrats. Great. Way to go, clowns.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Veto? I don't believe it. Oh, wait, yes I do.

Anyone surprised by Smirky's veto of the stem cell bill take two steps back and repeat Poli Sci 101. You see, Smirky ain't running for office anymore, so he can do anything he damn well wants to do. Give the German Chancellor the most inappropriate backrub in diplomatic history at a G8 Conference meeting during a war in the middle east? No problem. Veto a bill designed to stimulate and foster research into an area that could potentially cure any number of afflictions currently without cures? Why not? It's not as if he has ever cared what the vast majority of the populace supports before.
Those not paying attention might take heart that this bill actually passed the House and Senate; gee, if it weren't for that evil Smirky, everything would be just fine, right? My Congressperson and Senators are ok, they've just been thwarted by Smirky and the gang in the Executive branch! I'll vote for them anytime!
Of course, every single Republican on the Hill knew before the first caucus meeting that Smirky was going to veto anything that came out of Congress regarding stem cells, so any vote before then would end up irrelevant. Irrelevant, that is, except for showing constituents back home exactly what the reps wanted them to know about themselves. Heck, it's probable that the majority whips didn't even have to make any calls for solidarity on this vote, because the fix was in. The only vote that really matters is the one after the veto, and we all know how that one will end up; heck, this vote wasn't veto-proof.
The real news was that some of the Senate Republicans in serious re-election battles voted against the bill. What were they thinking, especially those from mainly (or trending) Democratic states? Seeing who these guys are, though, it is obvious that they really were voting their beliefs: Allen, Burns, DeWine, Ensign, Kyl, Santorum (who probably knows his days are numbered anyway), and Talent are among the most batshit insane members of the Senate. That they were mostly hung out to dry by 20 or so of their more politically attuned colleagues who crossed the aisle is the only possible surprise here. (The other 30 Senators who voted "no" can conceivably be thought of as either representing their constituents faithfully--shudder--or know that by the time they come up for re-election this will have been forgotten by about 99.9% of the people in their states.)
So, did we actually see, for the first time in human memory, a straw poll of what Republicans might possibly not be 100% in favor of destroying our country? Maybe. The more likely lesson is that those Republicans who voted in favor of this bill are smarter (or simply more politically astute) than those 7 listed above, but that isn't saying too much, is it? Which is just about what this vote was worth, after all: not much.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Book review--Being Right is Not Enough

If there is only one book that I could choose for politicians who actually love our country to read, this would be it. Paul Waldman's Being Right is Not Enough contains so many good ideas on how the left can simultaneously defeat Republicans at the ballot box and win the hearts and minds of the majority of the country's citizens--not just voters--that I hardly know where to begin.
"The problem isn't liberal ideas; the problem is liberals." (p. 5) Right from the beginning of the book, Waldman gets it right. Every poll taken shows that the majority (and sometimes, the vast majority) of people in this country hold "liberal" or "progressive" ideals, but the country still manages to elect men and women who are fighting against those ideals with every bone in their bodies. Waldman seeks to explain why throughout the first few chapters. The liberal message is just fine; it's the messenger that is wrongheaded. Republicans since 1964 have created what Waldman terms a "master narrative" that enables them, with every debate and article published about what they believe, to reinforce their image of being outsiders and people just like you and me, even though any cursory glance at what policies they actually support once in office are designed--and there is a design, make no mistake about that--to screw you and me. Progressives, on the other hand, do not even have a master narrative. No one knows what the left stands for, and no one is able to articulate it. Democrats far and wide are able to count off the individual issues they stand for, and are even able to present themselves as fighters for the little guy, on occasion. The problem in not having a narrative behind that, though, is that all of the issues and stances the left supports do not add up to anything larger that the public can grasp.
Waldman notes that the public--even the voting public--pays incredibly little attention to the actual issues involved in politics, and so therefore Democratic appeals to people's interests fall on deaf ears. Republicans, however, already know this and so they have been able to win elections because they are appealing to voters' feelings and instincts. Waldman refers to Aristotle's discussion of argumentation, wherein Aristotle outlines three methods of persuasion: logos (argument based on logic, facts, and reason), pathos (appeal to emotion), and ethos (appeal based on the character of the speaker). The Democrats since 1968 have been using only logos, while the Republicans are using the latter two and winning hands down. According to Waldman, Progressives must begin to use the methods of the Right as far as how they couch their arguments and appeals, additionally making sure that they have first crafted a master narrative that explains who they are, not what they stand for.
The beauty of Waldman's exploration of what the Progressive master narrative should be is that by crafting one that actually captures what the left holds dear (as he does by using the phrase "We're All In It Together"), the left will automatically pin the Republicans down as rhetorically opposing what they actually oppose in practice.
By means of example, Waldman posits a dozen or so progressive tenets and their corresponding conservative counterparts, in order to show how progressives can win debates and at the same time reinforce the public view of them as caring about all of us--just like the Republicans have been doing for decades. That progressives hold views that the majority actually believe in will make it all the easier for us to win those debates and presumably elections.
The fun part of the book lies in the stance that Waldman takes toward how progressives should approach the media and their opponents. He stresses that those on the left need to state their beliefs forcefully, repeatedly, and without hesitation or apology. For those of us sick to death of the waffling and reticence of our leaders to stake out a moral position on the political issues of the day that they truly believe in, regardless of the political consequences, this advice is like water in the desert. As Waldman notes, "Americans do think about progressive priorities as moral issues. Progressives need to start talking about them that way. When they do, they'll find their arguments resonating more strongly with voters." (p. 99) This is the key, once a master narrative is in place. By creating a positive image in the minds of the citizenry of what a progressive is, the issues they believe in, if articulated forcefully, will simply be seen as evidence that that image is accurate and trustworthy. And since our positions are the majority's positions, all the rhetorical heavy lifting will be shifted to those who oppose us.
Lastly, Waldman urges the Democrats to stop trying to be nice. The Republicans have successfully appropriated the public image of being the only tough guys on the block, but it wouldn't take much to erase that advantage. Referring to Smirky's 2004 campaign derision of Massachusetts when attacking Kerry's record as senator (noted on p. 102), Waldman reproves Kerry's weak response, urging instead a fierce counterattack:

I've mentioned before how much fun George W. Bush had in 2004 poking fun at Massachusetts. What did Kerry say in response? Not a thing. But imagine if he had said in front of the cameras, "Mr. President, I've had just about enough of you insulting my home state and the fine Americans who live there. Why don't you try saying it to my face? Then we'll see how funny you think it is when I knock you on your phony Texas ass."
(p. 219)

That would have been awesome, wouldn't it? Wouldn't it be awesome to have someone do that now? Waldman's book should be required reading for all members of the Democratic Party; we can only hope enough do read it to begin the processes outlined in it.

Vacation log, part five

Our last day in Napa arrived with a feeling of sadness; we would have to leave our hideaway the next day and return to the world. We made the most of it, though, by going to one of the most picturesque wineries we had seen: Clos Pegase, nestled close to the north end of the Napa Valley near Calistoga. The wines were top notch as well, but our stay was hurried, since we had to meet my sister and her family at a set time and we had one more higher end winery to get to, and it was in the other valley. Chalk Hill makes one of the best Chardonnays I've ever had, and even though they know it--it doesn't come cheap--I was looking forward to seeing what else they had to taste.
Going over the hills to and from the two valleys had always provided some beautiful drives, and this one was no exception; TBO remarked, as she had each day, how blue the sky was, and how wonderfully green it was all over, both in contrast to LA. The winding roads reminded me of some of the more rural parts of where I grew up (Maryland), so we were both enchanted by the area.
We got to Chalk Hill with little time to spare, but unfortunately that proved to be no problem. There was a big notice on the gate stating that tastings were "by appointment only". All together now: "D'Oh!" None of the guidebooks we had with us had mentioned that particular fact, as far as we knew. We couldn't get any cell phone access, either, so making a last minute appointment was out of the question as well. Boo!
Oh well. At least this gave us some extra time to get to Beaulieu Vineyards to meet up with my sis. Given that time, we decided to take the next trip back across the hills to Napa recommended to us by one of our guidebooks (that hadn't warned us about Chalk Hill, of course, so I was wary!) as being the most beautiful route, and after one 90 degree turn led us straight into the path of a mule deer crossing the road not 10 feet from us, we had to agree. Take that, Chalk Hill!
My sister and brother-in-law insisted on treating us not only to the tasting at BV (where we got to try out some of BV's most prestigious wines, since they are members of BV's wine club), but also to a few bottles of wine, in addition to our terrific final dinner at Cole's Chop House. Quite a nice set of anniversary presents, sis--thanks!
Thanks also to sporks and scout for making our camping trip pre-Napa pure fun!
And thanks, too, to my colleagues at the library, who gave us a wonderful send off dinner and lots of fabulous prizes. Seriously, you guys (and gals) are the best group I've ever worked with, and that actually says a lot. Thank you.
The biggest thanks, of course, go to my mom, who gave us this trip as a wonderful wedding present. We wouldn't have been able to do most of this stuff on our own nickel at this juncture, or at least not on as grand a scale, that's for sure. Thanks mom!


"Back to work, Frank."
(From "Thief")

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Vacation log, part four

After the triumphs of our first two days in wine country, TBO and I were heady with success--nothing could stop us from greatness now. We had wanted to lunch at Julia's Kitchen, named after Julia Child (who had donated her spirit and apparently some hardware, if not her physical presence), which is housed at COPIA, a sort of food/restaurant museum located around the corner from our hotel. So we wouldn't jeopardize our status of not having reservations, we decided to stick close by. TBO had expressed interest in trying a sake winery that was a short drive south, so we headed in that direction. The guidebook we bought that we had found most useful had some pretty vague description of its whereabouts, and ominously enough, I lost my way on the first try at finding it. The second attempt proved true, but as we drove up to the facility, we both noticed that it seemed rather devoid of habitation. And indeed, when we got out of the car, we saw that the entire place had been emptied out--the only thing left of the Hakusan Sake Gardens at 1 Executive Way in Napa California was a shell of a building and some pretty landscaping. Feeling awfully deflated, TBO and I trudged back to the car, wondering what on earth could have happened and then we checked the publication date of our trusty guidebook thinking that it must have been woefully out of date. Appearances to the contrary, things clearly move fast in wine country--the book was published in 2005!
We drove off to COPIA saddened.
After wandering around a couple of the exhibits, our good luck momentarily derailed by the sake factory debacle, we chose to try to get into Julia's Kitchen before the masses of people arrived, reservations in hand. Not a problem, even given my deplorable lack of proper attire. The restaurant was delightful; TBO had antelope!
Following a very filling lunch, we thought we would take in a tasting or two. According to our bartender, COPIA had just started hosting tastings a couple months ago, and since they are not affiliated with any particular winery, they can choose to open anything they want for those wealthy enough to afford the fees. The first "flight" (the term used to describe a selection of various wines) of wines we tasted were a set of 3 different rosès, usually thought of as being beginner's wines. These 3, though, were quite dry and flavorful, and paired with the various cheeses and fruit included, proved nifty. (The amount of food provided made me wonder why I stuffed myself for lunch, but who knew?) We had such a good time with this flight that we chose to stick around for another. TBO chose their Spanish flight, and I couldn't resist trying the dessert wines.
Dessert wines are usually pretty sweet and sticky, with aromas of honey and various fruits predominating. Even for someone with my sweet tooth, they are almost too rich. Almost. And the first wine was no exception, but then I smelled the second--what a radical change. Both TBO and I noticed something pretty unique coming off that wine, but it took us a few guesses to nail it; this wine smelled like green beans! We excitedly and good-naturedly told the bartender about this (hey, we still liked it, after all), and she was seemingly horrified by our obvious lack of oenological finesse, as she tried to corral our description back into the acceptable canon of terms by asserting that there might be some "herbal" overtones. She was wrong; this was green bean wine!
The next dessert wine was just as startlingly different, but this time, instead of honey, violets, oranges, or any other of the normal dessert wine fragrances, both TBO and I agreed that what we were smelling was nothing so much as the distinctive aroma of inflatable plastic! We chose not to share that identification with the bartender, who had been so kind (she even found out from a friend of hers into sake that Hakusan had closed about 6 months earlier due to some bizarre machinations of trade regulations) to us that we didn't want to force her to call security on us for our immediate removal. After perusing the gift shop, we ended another fine day.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Vacation log, part three

Our second day winetasting was an unqualified success, if I do say so myself. I had loaded the schedule (and let me add here that I begged TBO to add selections of her own to our list of wineries to visit, but she has so far demurred) with my 2 favorite wineries, so I was clearly setting myself up for disappointment, but thankfully that did not happen. Our first efforts were in trying to set up appointments at 2 small vineyards that sporks wanted us to visit so that we might buy her a couple bottles, which we gladly did. All of the day's visits were in the Sonoma valley, just west and north of Napa. The first stop of the day was to my first fave, Murphy-Goode. M-G makes very drinker-friendly wines, and our tasting there was just as nice. The bartender let us try all of their varietals we wanted, at no cost, which apparently is the standard outside of Napa, and even let us in on some hot winery news--that they had been purchased by Kendall Jackson just 2 weeks previously. He told us that wasn't necessarily bad news, since KJ usually lets their affiliates do their own thing; they simply take a little profit off the top of a wider distribution net. Once again, the first winery of the day started us off well. The bartender even refused to be tipped, telling us that this just wasn't done and he wouldn't hear of taking our money. Since we didn't know the "rules" on this matter, that was welcome news indeed!
That joy soon turned to bewilderment, when we went to our appointed meeting at sporks's fave A. Raffinelli. Our appointment (and the only one we made successfully, the second winery having never returned my call) was for 1:30, and we got there at 1. Now, I don't know about anyone else, but arriving early for any appointment is both a relief and a cause of consternation for me. I'm relieved, of course, because I'm not late, but I also wonder if I'm coming across as too eager, or weird, or I don't know what to the person I'm meeting. Well, coming early to this appointment seemed somehow appropriate, since we didn't know exactly if we might somehow be imposing on somebody's busy schedule or what. We knew this winemaker only sold their wines directly at the winery, but there was no discernible entrance or office we could approach.
So TBO and I waited in the car for 20 or so minutes, so that I thought that we wouldn't be too weirdly early wherever we were supposed to go. Of course, the absurdity was that we were waiting in the car in their parking lot, so anyone looking on would have thought we truly were weird, but hey, what are you gonna do, right? When we got out of the car, a couple of identical dogs (see web site photo) greeted us, but oddly enough, gave us no real clues as to where we were supposed to go. We walked around back of the only building that didn't have a "Private" sign on it, but we saw no one that looked "official". The dogs kept wandering in and out of the door to that building, but the first time I poked my head in, I only saw rows of barrels of wine. No people, no office or bar-looking place. We were stumped, and not a little angry at these unhelpful, but cute, dogs.
Eventually we heard voices coming from the keg room door, and I poked my head in again to ask what we should be doing. I was rewarded with instructions to wait for the owner to come for us, and when he did, we were welcomed in with open arms. We were given a taste of the three wines they make, treated with some homemade chocolates, and regaled with friendly conversation. Another hit!
We made our way down the road to my particular pièce de résistance, Ridge. I have loved Ridge wines for years, having found them during my stint as slave for Beverages and more! Our tasting there was elegant and informative, and capped a wonderful day of touring these vineyards of Sonoma.

Vacation log, part two

Figuring out what to do in a new place is always a bit daunting to me; I don't like the idea of appearing to be just another dumb tourist (even if that's what I am!), so I try to do a bit of research and decide on courses of action for each day, leaving enough "wiggle room" to allow for improvisation as well. It's actually a lot more organic than it sounds, honest. In any case, I wrote out all the wineries/restaurants I thought might be fun to see or eat at, along with some where I knew I'd want to buy some wine.
First up was the Hess vineyard, somewhat pretentiously named "The Hess Collection", imho. The guidebooks I read made mention that the art gallery on the premises is one of the most interesting in the area, so TBO and I took a little walk around and were impressed by many of the pieces, all of which were fairly modern. The wines themselves were fine as well, as was the drive out to the vineyard, so this was a fortuitous start to our trip.
From there we took a short drive to Domaine Chandon, the premier sparkling winemaker in Napa. We paid for the "Ambassador" tour, which included a "personal wine tasting" with the tour guide. The tour itself was pretty nifty, especially given that it started out with a fairly cheesy video, scored with what TBO called "porn music". (We've noticed that many of the shows on The Food Channel use similarly lame aural pseudo-jazz wallpaper, so listen for it the next time you tune in. Yikes!) Things perked right up after that, though. The tour guide told our group that unfortunately, she now had to give a short spiel forbidding people from sticking their heads into the giant steel vats, since the previous week a couple of idiots had done just that. (One man decided that having a picture taken of him [complete with cigar in mouth] would be fun, and a woman later on apparently stuck her head in the vat just to scream and hear the echo!) I responded by saying, "Well, that's it, then. We're out of here." A good laugh was had by all.
The personal tasting was fun; we got to try a whole bunch of the different varietals of sparklers Chandon makes while chatting amiably with the guide, instead of having to crowd around the bar with all the others. TBO and I were sucked in to signing up for their club by this amiability, though, so watch out for the subtle salespitching! (No worries, though, because "we can cancel at any time". Just like Columbia House, as TBO pointed out. Yay! I'm weak willed! Oh well, at least the wines are good and will make for nice presents. ; ))
We had yet to eat, so by the time we left Chandon at 3, we decided to make our late lunch our big meal of the day. We went to Bistro Don Giovanni, a nifty Italian place fairly nearby. I had rabbit!
Day 1 was a success; we hadn't made complete fools of ourselves, and had only signed up for one wine club. Of course, we only went to 2 places, so maybe that wasn't such a good average, huh?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Vacation log, part one

TBO and I met up with sporks and scout (whose blogs I link to on the right) to do a little friendly camping in Sequoia National Park our first night out. Fun was had by all, mostly by our campsite neighbors, who decided that having a searchlight shine until all people on the West Coast were in bed was an appropriate behavior. Another neighbor thought it might be nice to wait until the middle of the night to pump up their 15,000 air mattresses, using their electric (read: loud) pump to drown out the clearly unwanted sounds of the forest and the babbling river nearby. All that being said, we had a great time anyway.
Unbeknownst to TBO and I, we had purchased the finest air mattress in all the land, causing no small amount of envy in sporks! (Christmas is coming, though . . . ) ; ) Even so, we hadn't inflated it quite enough, so sleeping became an adventure in remaining as still as possible, lest either of us roil the bed in a motion reminiscent of a waterbed. Dinner was a weenie roast and smores, which were deeelish. Yummo!
Both that day and the next, when TBO and I headed up to Napa, were incredibly hot in the Central Valley. Triple digits, according to the reports we heard. Any car stops made were kept as brief as possible to prevent our insides from boiling. Upon reaching our final destination in Napa (the River Terrace Inn), TBO and I both clambered into the shower to wash off the layers of dirt, sweat, and campfire smoke we had been growing on our skin. After a quick Mexican meal--Sunday night is not the best time to look for entertainment or food in downtown Napa, lemme tellya!--we crashed early. Apparently the finest air mattress in all the land hadn't done either of us many favors along those lines, but that was fine--spending time with the best two friends we have was a blast, and should be done often!

On vacation prelude

TBO and I are on vacation! We are currently living it up in the wine country north of San Francisco, and each day so far has been wonderful. Well, except for one thing. I suffer from debilitating recurring episodes of severe gastric distress (about which, 'nuff said). The pain, necessity of reaching a bathroom, and general annoyance of feeling anxious about same have become constants in my life for awhile now. (On an increasing curve of frequency, unfortunately.) I'm undergoing diagnostic medical procedures to find out what exactly is causing these episodes, but apparently this set of symptoms is understood but little. I got a good referral from my oncologist for a specialist in the field (Dr. Christopher Chang at UCLA) who has been fantastic, but we have yet to discover the actual origin of my distress.
I mention all of this only to point up what a wonderful person TBO is, because at no time has she ever showed any impatience or "eye-rollingness" with me when I tell her my stomach hurts or that I need to get to a bathroom now. Perhaps anyone would be as understanding, but I doubt it, and I thought I would take the occasion of our honeymoon to thank her for it. So, thank you, TBO!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Another take on what we have to endure

Last weekend a blogger on the right wing unleashed his venom not on any supposed liberal media personality, but instead on all of the families of the editors and writers of the New York Times. He advised his readers--and he does indeed have readers: this is not from some isolated blogger out on the fringe like I am--to find the names and addresses of the NYT employees and the schools of their kids and "hunt them down". Seriously! (If you need to know why, see the piece at Daily Kos linked to above, which links to another site that contains even more details.)
I have little doubt that some nutballs are going to do just that, because I really believe that the majority of the remaining supporters of the Republican Party are absolutely fucking evil. Even if they do not necessarily condone this kind of sick behavior, anyone, and I mean anyone, who votes for any Republicans in this political climate is simply an enabler of the most venal and corrupt kind.
There used to be something called a "Liberal Republican"--Nelson Rockefeller was one of the bearers of that distinctive label, as was NYC mayor John Lindsay--but the political map has shifted so far to the right that this classification no longer exists by that name. In fact, the closest we come currently to politicians like Rocky or Lindsay reside in the Democratic Party, and indeed, are the center of the Democratic Party. Anyone knowingly remaining in the Republican Party--that is, anyone who actually subscribes to what the Republican leaders support nowadays--is so far off the right edge of this country's traditional political landscape that it is hard to fathom. These people are advocating the harm of children, for God's sake, all because someone essentially reprinted an old travel article about the vacation mansions purchased by the Vice President and the Secretary of Defense. How can we let this stand?
And this is not the rhetoric of the unhinged, it is the manner by which our country is being run these days, and so far, no one has been truly punished for it. Think about it: Valerie Plame's life was put in jeopardy, and her career ended, because someone extremely high up in our government consciously decided to do so. How is that any different from what this jackass blogger did? Granted, the blogger was too freaking lazy to do the research himself and find the names and addresses of the reporters/editors that offended his sense of, I dunno, "righteousness"? The impulse was exactly analogous, however, and it's not hard to see how this kind of thing can happen. Scooter has yet to spend a single day in jail, and may not ever. No one else involved has even been indicted in the Plame case. These vicious thugs are this blogger's heroes--it's only natural that he would try and emulate their behavior, because that's how weak-minded morons behave. They are incapable of understanding, compassion, or even simple human decency, and have a perceptual blindness preventing them from realizing that they are destroying this country even faster than we founded it.
Realizing that I may be found guilty of breaking Godwin's Law, I can honestly think of no better analogy to what has been happening in the last 5 years than the rise of Hitler's Nazis. The same fanaticism and fervent belief in a quasi-religious movement (c'mon, people, no one with any sense of true morality can honestly claim that what these criminals advocate has anything remotely connected with Christianity), the same blind following of insane leadership that promises a way out of some perceived targeted oppression, the same concentrated power in a single political entity, the same attempted suppression of all forms of communication not deemed "patriotic support", the same rejection of reason in favor of faith--we are living through the late 1920s and early 1930s in Germany, folks.
I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but we all know somebody who still thinks the Republicans just have "a few bad apples", if not worse. They are wrong. The whole Party is corrupt at best, is consciously subversive at worst, and is killing America. We must educate and inform those still voting with an "R" next to their names at the ballot booths: this is not your parents' Republican Party.
This is not the Party of Lincoln or Teddy Roosevelt. This is the Party of death, deception, and dishonor. This is the Party of Rush Limbaugh, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Grover Norquist, Rupert Murdoch, Duke Cunningham, Kenny Lay (may Satan hold him dear), and Tom DeLay. These sociopaths are incapable of caring about you or anything you hold dear, and they will continue to flaunt your ignorance and steal your money until you are broke, unemployed, and living on the streets if you let them. Stop believing their lies, and stop thinking that it's not that bad, because they won't stop lying, and it is getting that bad. Wake up to what is happening here, please.