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Jon Chait sums things up succinctly:

Why are liberals so confused? Well, the news coverage has been pretty poor at explaining the institutional dynamics. Yet some blame also has to rest with the poor design of our political systems. Americans have come to think of presidential elections as the be-all, end-all of political change in America. Not only is the Senate a malapportioned, counter-majoritarian institution with arcane procedures, it's practically designed to prevent accountability. Obama supporters who want the agenda they voted for to be enacted into law need to be exerting pressure on figures like Max Baucus and Kent Conrad. Yet these characters are accountable only to tiny, unrepresentative slices of the population. So they get angry at Obama instead, which only makes him less popular and which makes the Baucuses and Conrads even less likely to support him.

I still think there's a pretty good chance at passing significant health care reform. But if health care reform fails, liberals need to understand who to blame and how to fix it. They need to start knocking off Democrats like Conrad and Joe Lieberman, who seem to be trying to kill health care reform, even if this temporarily costs the Democrats some seats. They need to commit the party to reconstituting the rules of the Senate along majoritarian lines--yes, even if this helps Republicans pass their agenda when they're in charge. If health care reform can't pass now, then a filibuster-proof Democratic majority isn't worth having. At that point you have to consider blowing up the party and waiting a decade or two to rebuild a new one that's able to address the country's actual needs.

I'm with Chait; I'm still cautiously optimistic that we're going see a decent bill, quite possibly with a public option, clear the senate, and if it can clear the Senate it will become law. As mcjoan pointed out on Tuesday, Chuck Schumer is becoming more vocal about the possibility that the Senate Dems will go it alone and pass a bill without any Republican support. That's the kind of reality-based thinking the White House and the Democratic leadership needs to embrace, because passing significant healthcare reform that provides universal coverage and addresses people's insecurities about health costs will most likely lock in Democratic dominance for decades.  The Republicans know this, and view a good healthcare bill as an existential threat, and there's no way they'll support it.

So it's good that Schumer and others are starting to indicate an awareness that healthcare reform won't be bipartisan, not due to lack of Democratic will, but Republican obstructionism.  The White House looks to be preparing for a Democratic-only bill. But if nothing happens, lack of White House leadership may be a contributing factor, but the main reason will be the one identified by Chait: the undemocratic Senate and the ability of a few senators, including Democrats, to block the intentions of a majority of senators and the desires of a majority of Americans.  

Again, I'm optimistic that the Democratic leadership will deliver a decent bill. But I increasingly find myself hesitant to even consider what happens if we don't get a good bill, because I don't know that there would be an easy solution to the root problem: the dysfunctional Senate. Too often senators appear to act as if their greatest allegiance is to the institution of the Senate, to its current rules (where only since the 1960's has it been accepted that 60 votes are necessary to pass almost any legislation), and to their 99 colleagues, when instead they should be acting in the best interests of their constituents and the the rest of the citizens of the United States of America.

In the 1930's Democrats passed and implemented the New Deal. In the 1960's Democrats in Congress and the White House passed and implemented the Civil Rights laws and the initiatives of the Great Society. Today we have sufficient majorities to do address the challenges of health care, the economy, energy and the environment. But it's possible that too few Senate Democrats will choose to meet our most pressing domestic challenge because they care more about preserving the collegial comity and predictable functioning of the Senate.

If that happens, if the majority of Senate Democrats allow the country to be held hostage by a minority of Senators, maybe even including a few Democrats, it will be hard for me to sustain my confidence that we still have the institutional and political capacity to respond to the challenges we have to address to protect our prosperity, security, opportunities and optimism about the future.  

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Of the many accomplishments of Ted Kennedy, few have had a more profound effect on America—America as a state, as an economy, a society, and as a nation—as the first act he ever managed to passage, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.

The Kennedy family made tremendous sacrifices for our country. Joe Kennedy died in a secret mission during World War II. John and Robert, of course, were both assassinated. And just about every other member of the family had a long history of public service, either in the political sphere or with causes like Eunice's devotion to the Special Olympics. The Kennedy "clan" was also famously loving and close. Thus, it was appropriate that a cause championed by John Kennedy and eventually brought to passage by Teddy put in to immigration policy a preference for family ties over marketable skills:

The current system of legal immigration dates to 1965. It marked a radical break with previous policy and has led to profound demographic changes in America. But that's not how the law was seen when it was passed -- at the height of the civil rights movement, at a time when ideals of freedom, democracy and equality had seized the nation. Against this backdrop, the manner in which the United States decided which foreigners could and could not enter the country had become an increasing embarrassment.

An Argument Based on Egalitarianism

"The law was just unbelievable in its clarity of racism," says Stephen Klineberg, a sociologist at Rice University. "It declared that Northern Europeans are a superior subspecies of the white race. The Nordics were superior to the Alpines, who in turn were superior to the Mediterraneans, and all of them were superior to the Jews and the Asians."

By the 1960s, Greeks, Poles, Portuguese and Italians were complaining that immigration quotas discriminated against them in favor of Western Europeans. The Democratic Party took up their cause, led by President John F. Kennedy. In a June 1963 speech to the American Committee on Italian Migration, Kennedy called the system of quotas in place back then " nearly intolerable."

It may have started out as a political sop to "ethnic" voters in 1960, but it's likely that no political act of the last century has so changed America and put us on the path to eventually becoming a multi-racial nation as that law from 1965. In 1960, the quota for immigrants (pdf) in to the US from Asia was 21,604. From the entire continent of Africa, only 1,925 immigrants were allowed in to the US. In 1960 only 5.4% of Americans were foreign-born; most were from Europe. But by 2000, 35 years of the new immigration policy, 11.1% of the population was foreign-born; of the foreign-born, only 16% were from Europe, with about half from Latin America and a quarter from Asia.

My home—the Detroit area—has been transformed in recent decades by massive immigration from Lebanon and Iraq, Yemen and Albania. I moved a few years ago to DC, which has become a major destination for immigrants from Ethiopia and Eritrea and West Africa. I'm now working in the quintessential Scandinavian state, but whose largest cities now have thriving communities of Vietnamese and Cambodians and Hmong and Somalis. In major cities like New York or Los Angeles, or in small towns that become destinations for immigrants from halfway around the world, the people we live next to, buy things from, worship with, befriend, marry and with whom we create our own families, are people who were let in to America because of Senator Ted Kennedy's first major legislation.

That the bill prioritized family ties, and was passed by an Irish Catholic, is apt. Catholics were the most despised religious group in early America. After the enslaved Africans and the persecuted native Americans, no other major group was so marginalized as the Irish. But today, Irish Catholics are no longer discriminated against, are no longer outside the mainstream of American society. The discrimination was fading, but still existed in 1960, when John Kennedy became our first (and still only) Catholic president. But thanks in part to the accomplishments and sacrifices of the Kennedy family, by the time I was growing up in the 1970's, being discriminated against because you were Irish Catholic—a real experience for my grandparents—was for me something that existed only in history and family lore.

Some people and groups, when they "make it" and are prosperous and accepted, don't want to extend opportunities to others, lest, they fear, they lose their own (newly) privileged status. In the terminology of immigration policy, they want to "pull up the ladders" and keep everyone else out. But the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 was an act of lowering the ladders and welcoming immigrants from across the globe. When he was arguing for the act, Kennedy tried to assure critics that it wouldn't significantly change the ethnic makeup of the country. Obviously he was wrong, and it's open to interpretation whether he misjudged the effects or concealed his intents. But in an interview a few years ago, he espoused the best American principles in supporting the act:

Q: Some have suggested it was a mistake to make family reunification the main purpose of our immigration law. They say perhaps we should have a system more like Canada's, which lets people in based largely on their skills. How do you respond to these criticisms?

KENNEDY: I think our tradition of the Statue of Liberty is to be willing to accept the unwashed as well as the highly skilled. There are a lot of people who haven't had opportunities in other places as a result of dictatorships and totalitarian regimes and discrimination. Are we going to say we refuse to let any of those individuals come in because we've got someone who has happened to have a more advantaged situation? I'm not sure that's what this country is all about.

Most of us Americans descend from people who arrived as among the "great unwashed masses." As with my family—most of whom originally came from Canada in the 1920's—many of us have unwashed ancestors who had the luck to arrive here before the ladders were pulled up just before the Great Depression. But after 1965, the ladders were lowered, and the "unwashed" were again welcomed to America.

Much will be made over the next few days about Ted Kennedy's lifelong effort to extend health care to all Americans. It will be depicted as a great tragedy that Kennedy didn't live to see his dream enacted. But we should also celebrate Ted Kennedy's greatest achievement. Ted Kennedy, indeed the entire Kennedy family, gave a lot to America, but nothing greater than the 1965 immigration bill, because it gave people around the globe—even the unwashed—the opportunity to become Americans. Ted Kennedy gave us Americans.  

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A little over a month ago, I announced to the folks here at Daily Kos that I was going on a leave of absence as a DKos contributing editor so I could manage Elwyn Tinklenberg's campaign against Michele Bachmann.  

Well, as you may have seen, things got complicated in that race, and El withdrew from the race, a decision I supported and think was the best move.  

I figured I'd soon be heading out of Minnesota, to manage a Senate or Gubernatorial race somewhere. But about 90 minutes after our release went out, I got a phone call that's led to me staying in Minnesota...and possibly standing between Michele Bachmann and her dreams of being President.  

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About six and a half years ago I discovered Daily Kos.  It was shortly after the 2002 election, and I was hooked.  There was a bunch of campaign talk, but what really sucked me in were the posts by Markos and the late Steve Gilliard on the idiocy of the war and the horrible planning they were reporting even before the invasion in March 2003.  I started commenting in threads—there were no diaries in those days—and within a few months, Markos asked me to become what was then called a guest blogger, and has since become known as a contributing editor.

Daily Kos has been a constant in my life over these last six years.  I love the community, I love having an incredible platform for my writing, I love the interaction my pieces generate, and I love being able to combine my contributions to DKos with my work as a political professional electing and serving Democrats.

I've worked in a state legislature, for labor unions, on Capitol Hill, and on campaigns.  Since I've been at Daily Kos, I've done several campaigns; I worked in Louisiana helping legislative candidates, I worked for Wesley Clark, I helped run the campaign against Michigan's idiotic marriage amendment, and I've managed two successful races against incumbent Republican Congressmen.

My next challenge is to take out a third member of Congress: Minnesota Republican Michele Bachman.

Over the years I've done races, I've never written or commented on Daily Kos about anything on which I was directly involved; while managing the campaigns of Paul Hodes and Jim Himes—now Democratic Congressmen from, respectively, New Hampshire and Connecticut—I didn't comment on their races.  I keep my blogging and my professional work separate.  But we're now codifying what's always been the practice, and as you can see from my Daily Kos bio, I'm now officially on leave from my duties as a contributing editor to the site.

I will still be around, however.  I won't be involved in any of the administrative activities of the site, but I'll probably still write an occasional piece as a featured writer, at least until the campaign really heats up and I’m working 80 hours a week.  And I'll still be commenting in threads and participating in the community.  

But for the next 16 months, my obligations lie in doing whatever I can to elect Elwyn Tinklenberg to Congress and relieving Michele Bachmann of her duties so she can spend more time warning Americans of the threats posed by the US Census Bureau.  

I've just recently arrived in Minnesota, but I've already gotten to know El quite well, and he's as decent and honorable a candidate as I've ever worked with.  He's a former minister whose sense of service has extended in to other forms of public service, such as serving as mayor of his town of Blaine, and becoming an expert in transportation.  (As Minnesota's Commissioner of Transportation, he oversaw the implementation of the Twin Cities' light commuter rail system, which met its 20 year ridership goals in its second year of operation).  He'll be posting more diaries on Daily Kos.  

I'm incredibly excited to work for someone I'm absolutely certain will be a great member of Congress, a Democrat who I respect and who I'm confident you will as well, and who I already like tremendously as a person.  And it's exciting to get the opportunity to work on what I think is the premier Congressional race in the country.

Minnesotan Kossacks, please let me know if when you get together; I've gotten to know Kossacks where I've lived in the last six years, including my home state of Michigan, in New Hampshire, Connecticut and in DC.  Many of these folks have become close friends, and I hope to make more friends in Minnesota.

And I hope we can work together.  I mean, you know how important this race is, I'm confident you'll come to share my commitment to helping El win, and you know it's going to be a lot of fun to win this race.  

Discuss

40 More Years: How the Democrats Will Rule the Next Generation
By James Carville
Simon and Schuster
New York, New York: 2009
209 pages
$24.95

"American presidential politics is generally not a back-and-forth enterprise. There are eras in which one party dominates. Today, a Democratic majority is emerging, and it's my hypothesis, one I share with a great many others, that his majority will guarantee the Democrats remain in power for the next forty years."

It's already too late to hold back the people who've rushed to the comment section without reading even this far in to the essay to declare that predicting the future is stupid, that nobody should predict that we'll win because then Democrats will get lazy or something, and to say they dislike James Carville. It's too bad if that happens, because it's a worthwhile discussion to have.

Carville has been a wildly successful political operative; he managed a decisive Democratic win over an incumbent Republican president, several statewide races and, since 1992, has been probably the most successful international political consultant, playing key roles in the victories of Tony Blair, Ehud Barak and several others. His crusade against DNC chair Howard Dean was petty, misguided and unproductive. But he's still a supremely talented operative and observer of American politics.

Carville's success in electing center-left candidates in the US and across the globe gives him a rare practitioner's perspective on what's become a major discussion among political observers; namely, are the Republicans screwed, and are the Democrats embarking upon a period of dominance. American politics has tended to operate on roughly 40 year cycles, especially since the late 19th century. Over the last decade or so there's been reason to think that Democrats were on the verge of partisan realignment favoring Democrats. Looking at these trends, in November 2007 I began to discuss (here, here, here and here ) the parallels between the election of 1932 and what we could see in the approaching election of 2008. The victory of Barack Obama and expansion of our Congressional majorities, and the reception so far of the electorate to the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress, give further support to the belief that Democrats could dominate the political and policy agenda of the next several decades, control Congress and win the majority of presidential elections until mid-century or so.

Carville should have valuable contributions to this discussion. Unfortunately, 40 More Years doesn't offer much to one looking for sound historical, political and demographic evidence and arguments for whether and why the country may be undergoing a political realignment away from the transitional period since Nixon's 1968 victory that hastened the end of the New Deal order that dominated American politics since 1932. Nevertheless, anyone looking for excellent arguments for why voters should choose Democrats should read what is an engaging and very effective polemic.

Part of Carville's shtick, which has made him the most famous and recognized political operative since Pat Buchanan, is his rapid-fire, associative, sometimes even frenetic verbal style. 40 More Years is written in that voice, which makes it a quick and entertaining read. However, it's a weakness for a book that suggests it will deliver an extended argument; indeed, a lot of the book has a "oh, another thing I just thought of have to throw in" feel.

As much as an extended argument that Carville has is summed up at the beginning of the first chapter:

The Republicans got spanked in 2008, and they're going to keep getting spanked.

The explanation is simple:

• They've destroyed the myth of conservative competence.
• They're corrupt.
• They've lost the culture war.

That argument really isn't wrong, it's just that it's incomplete. Carville sees an opening provided by the Republican meltdown. While he doesn't discuss it, that opening was provided by the narrow but decisive Republican victories in 2002 and 2004, which for the first time since the early 1950's gave them complete control of the executive and legislative branches, and thus exposed them as solely responsible for whatever went wrong. And what went wrong during that four year period was a shallow and jobless recovery from a recession, the beginnings of the collapse of the housing market, Republicans overplaying their hands and pursuing horribly unpopular positions on Social Security privatization and interfering in the end-of-life decisions for Terri Schaivo, and exposing their gross incompetence in dealing with hurricane Katrina and the civil war, ethnic cleansing and general chaos in Iraq that peaked just prior to the Democrats' victories in the 2006 election.

What's missing, however, is that these trends have been brewing since the early 90's. Carville mentions Kevin Phillips' (surprisingly out-of-print) The Emerging Republican Majority, but he doesn't mention John Judis and Ruy Teixeira's 2002 book The Emerging Democratic Majority, who predicted a Democratic realignment not because of Republican incompetence but more because of long-term trends creating a Democratic majority:

Today's Democrats are the party of the transition from urban industrialization to a new postindustrial metropolitan order in which men and women play equal roles and in which white America is supplanted by multiracial, multiethnic America. This transition is occurring in the three critical realms of work, values and geography.

Professionals and highly educated workers are growing in numbers and prominence, and they are voting Democratic. Work is important to Americans, but so are pleasure and personal satisfaction, and Democrats have favored more family-friendly policies of the types found in the social welfare states like Canada and Europe and a embrace of cultural tolerance and diversity. Democrats have championed social libertarianism in people's personal lives, which is in tune with the changes in society and a stark contrast to the censorious intolerance of the Republicans, who initially benefitted from a backlash to the civil rights and feminist movements. And the rural share of the national vote, which leans conservative, is declining, and population growth is heavily concentrated in centers dominated by what Richard Florida has defined as the creative class.

Carville doesn't touch on much of this, other than some cursory comments on the youth vote. He also barely discusses the financial backing of Democrats; typically, realignments coincide with shifts of significant--and ascendant--sectors of industry allying themselves with the rising party.  Carville mentions that Democrats raised a ton of money in 2008, but doesn't really examine it deeply.  He mentions Daily Kos and other blogs, but again, his examination is cursory and not particularly enlightening, and other than raving about Media Matters for America, he doesn't really talk about the corrective role that progressive media has been playing with the traditional media.

Like the partisan warrior he is, Carville focuses heavily on Republican failures and Democratic hagiography. Fox News lies, Sarah Palin is an extremist simpleton, Hillary Clinton is great, Bill Clinton was a good president, the Republicans stole the 2000 election in Florida, and again and again, the Bush administration helped bring about the post-Katrina disaster in Carville's beloved New Orleans.  

Carville does not, however discuss the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and the ugly reaction the Bush administration helped engineer for their rank political gain in 2002 and 2004. Again, it was Judis who, in a 2007 article about empirical psychological studies on terrorism and the American electorate, described the political effects of those attacks, and why they helped stall the Democratic realignment:

In the months after September 11, most Americans were caught up in the same reaction to the tragedy--and that included adulation for Bush, even among many Democrats. But over the next few years, faced with two elections, Bush had to maintain his popularity; and he did so by constantly reviving memories of that dark day. As the 2002 election approached, voters turned their attention to the recession, as well as Enron and other scandals--all to the Democrats' favor. At that point, Bush, who had stood aside in the November 2001 gubernatorial elections that Democrats won, sought to base the 2002 election on terrorism. Bush and Karl Rove used the full arsenal of scare tactics to evoke fears of another September 11. The result was that the electorate became sharply polarized between conservatives and liberals and between Republicans and Democrats, while those caught in the middle tended to side with the Republicans--exactly as the psychologists' experiments might have predicted.

Conservatives and conservative-leaning swing-voters were susceptible to appeals based on fear, and these appeals took people's attention away fom the long-term advantages held by Democrats. (The timidity of the Democratic response to Bush's fearmongering also appears to have suppressed Democratic voting enthusiasm, especially in 2002.) But as the war, Katrina, Social Security and Terri Schaivo overpowered terrorism as a concern for voters—and frankly, four years worth of older people (who were especially susceptible to the terror and anti-gay messages) dying and young liberal voters entering the electorate, by 2006 the realignment predicted by Judis and Teixeira in 2002 resumed, and appears to have accelerated in 2008.

Carville doesn't discuss the long-term trends, but he does focus more attention than I've previously seen on a memo written after the 2000 election by Bush pollster Mathew Dowd. For Carville, that memo—we only know of its existence because of reporting, as nobody outside the Bush inner circle has read it—is the seed of the Republican demise. It was in that memo that Dowd pushed the conclusion that, contrary to how they campaign in 2000, the Bush administration could safely ignore appealing to the center of the electorate, because, he argued, almost nobody is persuadable, so the goal should be ginning up Republican base turnout. And to do that, the administration governed in a manner almost entirely geared toward pleasing the extreme of the GOP base.

Had it not been for 9-11 and the Bush fearmongering, Republicans probably would have taken a bath in the 2002 and 2004 elections. The perverse result of their staving off Dem advances in those two elections was their perfidy and incompetence were allowed to achieve new depths, and the resulting collapse in 2006 and 2008 probably seem to people more tied to the Republican collapse. In reality, what would probably have been happening more incrementally over the previous elections was, like water held back by a damn, a more devastating torrent when it finally broke loose in 2006 and 2008. Thus, Dowd's memo shouldn't be given disproportionate influence for the seeming Democratic realignment, but it can be given credit for the intensity of the swing toward Democrats in the last two elections.

Much of 40 More Years is dedicated to arguing that Democrats are right and Republicans are wrong. (An earlier Carville book is even titled We're Right, They're Wrong: A Handbook for Spirited Progressives) However, being right isn't necessarily correlated with winning elections. You win elections typically because whether you're right or wrong, your candidates and party are trusted, and they're usually trusted because voters think your candidates and party share their values and agree with them on what they want from government.

Carville even acknowledges elsewhere in the book that this is the case when he declares that there have only been two "Big Ideas" since LBJ's Great Society—supply-side economics and neoconservative—and "they were new, bold, easy to explain, and profoundly stupid." Carville, building on Roosevelt's New Deal and Truman's Fair Deal, offers up the slogan the Real Deal. But he admits that he doesn't have the elements that will make up the core of the next Big Idea. That's now largely in the hands of the Obama administration, and their success—and the alternating cooperation and productive prodding they need from the Democratic Congress—will determine whether Democrats can solidify their emerging majority.

Despite being weak on long-term analysis, Carville's book is, however, an excellent polemic. It contains numerous worthwhile insights, such as his claim that in a parliamentary system a leader who responded like Bush did to Katrina would probably have been immediately voted out of power. There's a good section called Res Judicata on how to shut down Republican attempts to argue on settled subjects, mostly matters that the Republicans have tried to remove from the realm of science and empirical study and replace with matters of faith. And anyone who wants to talk about why Democrats do a far better job of providing economic growth that spreads throughout the population. Much of the raw data comes from Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age (reviewed here by SusanG), but Carville, like any good consultant, does a great job of framing the arguments. It should be required reading for every ad maker, press operative and Democratic candidate.

There's no correct answer to the question to whether we're in the beginning of an age of Democratic party dominance; it's too early to know. There are better arguments than the one provided by James Carville in 40 More Years. But following his advice on how to talk to voters and shut down stupid crap from Republicans could help Democrats lock in that realignment.

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It's hard to imagine that a single human being believes GOP Congressman Darrell Issa deserves to be taken seriously:

[T]here they are -- North Korea's Kim Jong Il, Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Venezuela's Hugo Chávez and Cuba's Fidel Castro -- pictured as symbols against legislation that would allow federal employees four weeks of paid leave for the birth or adoption of a child.

But this YouTube tactic by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) didn't work. Despite his imaginative video, the House passed the measure yesterday, 258 to 154.

Issa uses the photos of Sam's rivals to counter statements by Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), the chief sponsor of the bill, who is shown on the video saying that almost every country provides paid parental leave. Her bill is necessary, she argues, to move the United States from "the worst in the world up with the other progressive family-friendly-oriented countries."

Words on the screen then ask: "Could these guys be wrong on paid parental leave?" followed by photos of North Korea's "Dear Leader" and the others.

Perhaps Issa would feel more comfortable keeping the United States in the company of Lesotho, Liberia, Swaziland and Papua New Guinea, the only nations that do not guarantee some form of paid parental leave, according to a report by researchers at McGill and Harvard universities.

Apparently Darrel Issa thinks that if a government he doesn't like has a particular social policy, our policy should be the opposite. Therefore, if North Korea has a law against pedophilia, using Issa's "reasoning," I guess he'd say that we should legalize it. If Iran doesn't permit their old and feeble to be banished to a lonely hillside to die a solitary and excruciating death, I guess he thinks we should. And Cuba provides public education, so I guess he'll be introducing legislation mandating illiteracy.

If one were to make a video montage of the biggest buffoons in Congress, Darrell Issa would have a starring role.

Discuss

Dr. George Tiller was one of the highest-profile abortion providers in America. In socially conservative Wichita, Kansas, Tiller provided not only early-term abortions, but also the rarely-utilized late-term abortions. There's a tremendous body of case law that's built up over the abortion protests in Kansas. In the 1980's and early 1990's, the Buffalo, NY area was probably the epicenter of the battle between abortion providers and the militant anti-abortion movement. Since then, Kansas—a state that's also home to anti-gay lunatic Fred Phelps and a state board of education that pushed the teaching of creationism over evolution—has become a new burned-over district of radical right culture war fervor.

Even if he only provided more common family planning and abortion services, Tiller would have been subject to tremendous pressure in Wichita, Kansas. But as a provider of late-term abortions, he was a major target of domestic terrorists. In 1985 his clinic was bombed. In 1993, he was shot in both arms by Shelly Shannon, whose arrest eventually exposed a far right domestic terrorist network called the Army of God. Earlier this month Tiller reported damage to his clinic, including sliced wires to surveillance cameras.

Today the rightwing domestic terrorists finally succeeded in assassinating Tiller:

The shooting occurred at around 10 a.m. (Central time) at Reformation Lutheran Church on the city’s East Side, Dr. Tiller’s regular church.

Wichita police said that the shots were fired from a handgun in the church lobby during the morning service. The authorities gave few details, but said they were searching for a powder blue Taurus made in the 1990s that had been seen leaving shortly after the shooting. They said witnesses had described seeing a white man departing.

Surely whichever terrorist committed this assassination, and whichever fellow-terrorists may have been involved in planning and perpetrating the act, will claim that their murder in a church was done to enact God's will.

Violent and conspiratorial talk is not something limited to fringe low-wattage radio stations and secret publications; one only need tune in to Fox News' Glenn Beck to hear the rhetoric and conspiracy theories that inspired Timothy McVeigh.

But the one-world crew isn't focused only on fears of the UN, black helicopters and cabals of Jewish financiers. Kossack Frederick Clarkson, who helps run the excellent blog Talk to Action, is one of the nation's most diligent and expert followers of the far right, especially where the religion merges with the violent radical right. Clarkson has written extensively on anti-abortion violence, showing in particular how anti-abortion extremists have linked with rightwing domestic terrorists:

More and more, anti-abortion extremists, white supremacist groups and the conspiracy-minded "Patriot" movement have come to share the same enemies list. Many in these previously separate movements agree that everything smacking of "one-worldism" — the Olympics, the United Nations and any other global agency — is part of a massive plot to subject Americans to tyranny.

Activists in all three movements describe homosexuals as "sodomites," people who deserve capital punishment. And in the latest development, many of those involved in these groups are bitterly attacking abortion.

"Eric Rudolph is symbolic of this new merger," says Dallas Blanchard, chairman of the University of West Florida's sociology department in Pensacola. "Militia types have shown more and more interest in the abortion issue, while anti-abortionists are becoming more and more militant and allying themselves with the militia movement."

Since the early 1990s, Patriot and white supremacist groups have used mainstream issues like gun control and land and environmental regulation to draw people into their organizations. Now, they are taking up the banner of fighting abortion.

In 2007, Meteor Blades wondered whether a Democratic win in 2008 would generate rightwing violence:

The hatred that led Tim McVeigh or Eric Rudolph to commit their murderous acts is still with us, indeed, deeply embedded, and spouted by the likes of Ann Coulter, Hal Turner and others of their ilk from their high-wattage podiums. We ignore this hatred and its fascistic purveyors at our peril.

Most Americans believe the country has begun moving in the right direction. But there has always been an element in American society that hates progress toward tolerance and inclusion, and see in social change a grave threat, and vast conspiracy, a threat to their liberty. Vigilantism of the kind that we saw today demonstrates that not all Americans are ready for change and disagreement within civil society, and will oppose tolerance, progress and the legitimacy of the government with whatever violent means they can employ.

Discuss

Last week New Hampshire's Democratic governor John Lynch refused to sign a marriage equality bill that had passed both chambers of the NH legislature. Sure, he couched it in bullshit weasel words about how it was important to protect "religious marriage," but the reality was that the legislature had already bent over backward in making it clear that no religious body would be required to honor or perform a same-sex marriage.

Instead of signing the bill, he sent it back to the legislature with a requirement that they change the language.  And guess what?  The NH House just voted against the changes Lynch demanded in order to sign the bill.  

Folks are still trying to figure out what happened, but it's quite possible that now the bill is dead for the rest of this legislative session.  

Is it a matter of principle that the House didn't sign on to the unnecessary changes? Did Lynch cut a back-room deal with some House members to kill the bill so he wouldn't have to sign it? It's certainly plausible that Lynch pulled a bullshit move with some allies in the legislature; after all, as the Concord Monitor reported in 2008, the NH Senate Democratic campaign fund had by that point paid Lynch $109,000 in consulting fees.

That's right, the Democratic campaign fund for the one of the legislative bodies was paying consulting fees to the sitting head of the executive branch.

Here are the simple facts: John Lynch is the governor of a socially liberal state, one of the most socially liberal states in America. The NH legislature passed a perfectly fine marriage equality bill that made very explicit its protections of religious institutions. Lynch could have signed it.  He didn't, and instead required a painfully constructed bill, the product of a volatile and fragile coalition, be sent back to the legislature to make unnecessary changes.  

Do not be confused by the technicalities here: NH Democratic governor John Lynch, governor of one of the most socially tolerant states in American, killed marriage equality in his state.  

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Arlen Specter's defection-under-duress to the Democratic party demonstrated the Republican base's intolerance of politicians who aren't doctrinaire far right wingers. It's gotten so bad that one of the most impressive potential presidential candidates who might have run against Barack Obama in 2012, a Republican from Utah, has not only given up his presidential aspirations, he's joining the Obama administration!

[Utah Republican] Governor Jon M. Huntsman Jr. will resign and accept an appointment as ambassador to China, ABC 4 has confirmed.

A press conference has been called for Saturday morning at the White House to annouce the appointment.

Huntsman has ticked off conservatives by being one of those rare Republicans who's told the Republican base they can't have everything they want and still be electorally viable, and dismissed the Republicans' Congressional leadership as inconsequential.

Furthermore, this isn't simply a do-over attempt at a Judd Gregg-like political play. Gregg arguably was unqualified to be head of Commerce on merit, and he had even tried to eliminate the department. It was because he approached the administration, and because he would have been a token Republican and thus an example of supposed bipartisanship, that he was ever considered for the post. Huntsman, on the other hand, did his Mormon mission on Taiwan, is fluent in Mandarin, and served as ambassador to Singapore to the first president Bush and as deputy US trade representative for Dubya. He appears to have the skills and experience to be a good ambassador.

Taking a position with the Obama administration is conservative apostasy; this means any aspirations Huntsman had for being a Republican president are gone forever.

Can anyone think of a possibly viable presidential candidate not only giving up a run by taking an ambassadorship, but in fact taking the ambassadorship to serve a president of the opposing party?  

[Mol has more in this diary]

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After a several month investigation and a grand jury hearing, J. Edwards has been indicted on counts of fraud and money laundering. He's got a hearing in Federal Court on Monday morning.

I make no statements about his guilt or innocence  I'm just putting this out there for the community to comment on. There are probably very few people who at this point can comment on the situation with any authority, but I'm sure some people will feel compelled to share their opinion on the matter.  

Anything Edwards tends to attract a lot of attention, from both rabid supporters and vehement detractors. It should be an interesting thread.  

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A few weeks ago I wrote about Kossack and blogger extraordinaire Marcy Wheeler:

There is probably nobody who writes about American government and politics who is a more prodigiously talented and devoted reader than Marcy. Her ability to read voluminous amounts of material and "connect the dots" to come up with an explanation and a narrative of what happened is beyond compare. It's a gift, but one that she's refined. She's a virtuoso of reading.

If you know much about what Marcy's written in the last few years, you probably know that long before it became public, she had essentially figure out almost the entire chronology of the Plame outing. To read her pieces at The Next Hurrah was to read the future, as almost everything she figured out by reading the public documents—government documents and news releases and trial transcripts and newspaper articles and interviews, all of which were available not only to the general public, but to the legions of reporters who she routinely scooped without recourse to a single unnamed source—came out later in the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy's ability to burrow down and concentrate and make connections is extraordinary. But she's also excellent at thinking on her feet, as was seen by her live blogging of that trial. She went on TV and repeatedly made cogent points, without recourse to much arcanum—not that she can't bring the arcanum—and in a manner that was understandable to casual followers of the case.

Marcy also has sound instincts about people, works like a dog, and possesses something too few political reporters have—a sense of progressive purpose behind what she's doing. She's committed to the truth, but also to a progressive view of politics.
She's a friend for a lot of reasons; she's funny, I respect the vigor and practicality she showed when she dove in to local Democratic politics a few years ago and became an officer in her county Democratic party, she knows way more about football than I'll ever care about, and it's amusing how quickly her short-term memory goes on hiatus after two stouts.

But more importantly, I respect and value what she's done for the blogosphere, and the country in general. Just last week, she made the discovery that Khalid Sheik Mohammed had been waterboarded 183 times. It's the kind of discovery she's made before, and given the resources, will make again and again.

Many of you know how great Marcy is, and what she's done as a blogger for the blogosphere, but also, in her ferreting out of hidden deceptions and uncomfortable truths, what she's done for the nation.

Well, it's not just us that know that as her, as today she was honored by the prestigious Hillman Foundation:

Just last month, Marcy Wheeler made the front page of the New York Times after she became the first person to notice that a newly-released Justice Department memo revealed that Khalid Sheik Mohammed had been waterboarded 183 times in one month. Last year, Wheeler’s groundbreaking investigative work on the CIA leak case also made the front page of the Times. Her early and powerful reporting about malfeasance by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales helped to propel him out of the Bush administration. And her live blogging from the Scooter Libby trial in 2007 is widely regarded as one of the seminal moments in online journalism. Wheeler also produced outstanding coverage of the American auto industry crisis. Combining her background in the industry with a deep commitment to American workers, her depth of analysis was unrivaled.

Though she's still an active diarist and commenter here at Daily Kos as emptywheel, she's got her own place, which you should make a regular stop in your daily reading.

You should also consider supporting the effort to increase Marcy's ability to be a great blogger. The folks at FDL are trying to raise enough money to support the efforts of Marcy and to give her a team that would include a researcher and another blogger. They're halfway to their goal. Times are tough for a lot of people—and Marcy's written about it, with some outstanding pieces on the economic devastation of our home state of Michigan—but if you can spare a little coin and care about progressive blogging and journalism, contributing here would be a great act in support of the blogosphere.

Finally, Marcy Wheeler is now an established presence in the blogosphere. But let's not shut the door on creating opportunities for new progressive talent. Please read about the Daily Kos Fellows program, and if you're able to, make a contribution here.

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Are the endless string of back-and-forth I/P diaries on Daily Kos good for this site, or are they bad for Daily Kos?  

I'm NOT interested in this diary in ANYONE'S opinion on the Middle East, in particular anything having to do with the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.  I'm not interested in anyone's questions, thoughts, talking points or propaganda on the nature of Israeli democracy, the relationship between the US and Israel, Zionism or anything else.

I DO NOT CARE what you think about the conflict in the Middle East.  And frankly, if nobody wrote a substantive comment about this diary, I'd be quite happy.  Personally, as Joe Random Kossack, I think the I/P diaries are a scourge, and one of the best improvements that could happen at Daily Kos would be that the people who post the I/P diaries, regardless of what "side" they're on, would voluntarily stop posting them.  So I definitely hope people don't use this diary to discuss I/P.

But please post an EMPTY comment if you'd like to see people stop posting I/P diaries at Daily Kos; just stick an * or something in the subject line.  That way, if people see a bunch of comments, they'll be more likely to read this diary, and then cast their vote.  I really would like to see what people think.  AND NOTE: I am NOT asking whether there should be a ban on I/P diaries; I can't see there ever being something like that at Daily Kos, and I don't think there should be.  Rather, I'm asking, do you think people who post I/P diaries should choose on their own to stop posting on that subject.  

Please cast your vote.  

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I/P Dairies

52%201 votes
37%145 votes
10%39 votes

| 385 votes | Vote | Results

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