Saturday, July 22, 2006

Rapture Watch: July 22, 2006

Mount Etna, aka The Volcano That Never Sleeps, is erupting. Again.

Not For The Faint Of Heart

MJS at the CorrenteWire has posted some extremely graphic images of the devastation in Lebanon.

I would copy them here, but some disturbed me so much that they made me want to cry. The sense I get is that you need to know going in that these are going to hurt, so you have the option not to look.

Here they are. Bring Kleenex.

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Despite this:
WASHINGTON -- For the first time, the United States Friday embraced plans for a "robust" international force in southern Lebanon to deal with Hezbollah guerrillas at the heart of the Mideast crisis.
...the United States still refuses to sit down with Israel, hold her hand and talk to her in an "Oprah"-kinda way about having proved a point and now backing down so that a peace process can start immediately.

And does anyone else here agree with me that a) Israel has made its point, and b) the United Nations countries would be far more likely to support sending in the blue-helmeted troops to keep the combatants at arm's length if the missiles would just stop being lobbed?

Israel rightly is concerned for its existence, an existence that one might say has been imperiled by the United States' wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the current face-off with Iran. No one denies that, as a state, Israel exists and should be allowed its sovereignty (many would argue about the existence of a religious state directly in conflict with the religion of the states around it, and that was an argument to be made during the creation of the state, I think).

History shows us that when Israel behaves in an antagonistic manner towards what it perceives as encroachments on that sovereignty, the antagonisms only increase. I'm not talking about all-out wars. I'm talking about the lobbing of shells by NGOs like Hizbollah and (formerly) Hamas. And when Israel has sat down after physically and emotionally exhausting itself, progress towards its existence has occured.

Churchill said, and it's still the best summary of the world I've ever seen, "To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war!" Israel will not do that unless and until the US tells them to. I'm not sure what England is doing, except sucking up to the Bush administration. It's time we made the picture unanimous.

By the way, I found the headline of the article intriguing:
Rice headed for summit
A little grooming ahead of the 2008 run for President?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Danish Commercial

See, now THIS is comedy!

(hat tip Miss Cellania)

Um....Hillary? Are You Channeling Newt?

Or maybe Sam Brownback?:
Hillary smokin' over candy cigarettes

Newsday Washington Bureau

July 21, 2006

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has glimpsed the future and sees a world where corporations implant tiny microchips into children's brains to bombard the littlest consumers with intracranial commercials.

Clinton was decrying candy-flavored cigarettes and youth-targeted tobacco ads in Washington yesterday, when she took a slight detour into the political twilight zone.
OK, the candy cigarettes thing was what this headline said this would be about, and that's something that troubles me as well, but...D-Huh?
"At the rate that technology is advancing, you know, people will be implanting chips in our children to advertise directly into their brains and tell them what kind of products to buy," Clinton (D-N.Y.), who didn't appear to be joking, said at a Kaiser Family Foundation forum on media and children.

Implanted microchips are used almost exclusively for medical purposes. But scientists are tinkering with other commercial uses.
Hillary...let me put this mildly...


Why are you "Third Waving" your arms, flailing at imaginary scenarios that are a good decade away IF they happen at all?

If you're going to go off into Fantasticland, at least have the decency to construct a "vision" for America: let's say, energy independence, with lots of little nanosatellites beaming electricity down from solar energy conversion cells, or the ever-popular "licorice stick" elevator for launching spacecraft using angular momentum and the earth's rotation.

Stop scaring people with science! My god, have you learned nothing from the evolution oppression?

Shake Your Couch Cushions....

I'm going to ask you for a donation.

No, not for me, you dolt! I'm fine, and I don't depend on the pitiful thousands of dollars a month this blog produces for me!*

No, for a mentor, inspiration, and despite the restraining order, the injunction and several visits from his enforcement goons, all warning me to stay away, my collaborator at "Little Green Fascists," Jesus' General

Now, I never took it as an insult that he's banned my e-mail address from his Inbox. Yes, there was that tiff we had regarding his wife and some photographs I doctored up found of her and the lonely Mr. Garcia from around the corner, but that couldn't possibly have been the reason he banished me to the netherworld of limbo.

Oh sure, he SAYS it was because I use Yahoo mail and he refuses to deal with anyone using Yahoo, but come on! How many email services are there out there, huh? Five, maybe six? So we all know that's a phony reason, he's not about to cut out one-quarter of his audience*.

Maybe it's because my penis is longer than his* (Mr. Garcia and I compared notes one evening). Maybe it's because he rightly views Simply Left Behind as a genuine threat to his hegemony of snarky "reverse psychology sarcasm," a direction that clearly my blog has no intention of ever going, except to overtake him in the Technorati Top 100*. Maybe it's because I have proof that Cletus is NOT a goddammed liar.

All I know is, he never speaks to me except to yell at me, and then smack me around and nail whippets to my forehead and call me "Ponyboy." So I'm hoping that, with a really good fund raising effort on my behalf*, he'll let me sleep inside the mudroom this winter.

So won't you please help him? Please? For my sake?

(* Using Republican budgetary income mathematics.)

Friday "AWWWWWW!" Blogging

Feline Stealing Gardening Gloves of Pelham

Associated Press Writer

July 21, 2006, 7:20 AM EDT

PELHAM, N.Y. -- A pink and white gardening glove was missing from Jeannine Goche's front porch. But there was absolutely no mystery about who had taken it.

Willy, the cat who loves gloves, had struck again.

"It has to be him," Goche said. "I've heard about him."

As if the gardeners of Pelham don't have enough to worry about, with the rocky soil and the slugs and the big trees that cast too much shade, a feline felon has been sneaking into their backyards and carrying off at least two dozen gardening gloves.

Goche's flower-patterned glove may soon take its place on the clothesline that's strung across the front fence at Willy's home in this village just northeast of New York City, which he shares with Jennifer and Dan Pifer, their 19-month-old son, Hudson, and a mutt named Peanut Chew.

Above the line is a sign that says: "Our cat is a glove snatcher. Please take these if yours."

Nine pairs of gardening gloves and five singles were strung up Thursday morning. Willy, looking innocent, was playing with a beetle in the driveway and occasionally dashing after Hudson.

"This all started about the time people began working in their gardens, I guess March or April," Jennifer Pifer said. "Willy would just show up with a glove, or we'd see them on the front steps. I guess it's better than if he was bringing home dead birds."
See, this is why we need to invade Iran: cats are now turning to theft to support their oil habit, and we simply MUST have an unlimited and uninterrupted supply of Iranian crude in order to bring prices back to normal levels and return Willie to a rehabilitated law-abiding life!

(Hey, look, it's as good a rationale as I've heard from anyone on the White Ring side of the aisle!)

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

And The Little Child Shall Lead Them....

Hat Tip To Michelle Malkin

And The Award For....

.....Best Unintentional Self-Referential Irony By A NitWit goes to....Laura Ingraham!
INGRAHAM: "George Soros is giving money to this Democrat [sic] Alliance, and it's a shadowy group and it's like the new left wing mafia." It's like, yeah, bring it. "Left-wing mafia." They've got a bunch of warmed-over old socialist ideas that haven't sold in the last 26 years in this country. And they've been trying to sell these ideas and sell them and sell them. And who cares what they do? I mean, you can't -- if you want to play this political game, you cannot be bothered by what the gnats like Soros and company are doing. I mean, they're just a bunch of old cranks.

And my point to him was: I think you should be ecstatic that George Soros is draining his bank account once again. I mean, what did he spend last election? Sixty million? Something like that? Thirty? Sixty? Who knows? Who cares? But the point is, he spent a lot of money. And they thought when they dragged around Bon Jovi and Springspreen [sic] and Ben Affleck and this whole crowd, that they were going to somehow take the nation over. And it was going to be the youth vote, remember? "Vote or Die." Remember P. Diddy? "Vote or Die."

FOX: Soros couldn't even put a coherent thought together, remember?

INGRAHAM: Soros -- yeah, Soros cannot even speak coherently.
(Announcer V/O: Laura Ingraham, a two-time loser at marriage, once flooded her ex-fiancé's apartment while he was on a three week trip to China because he had the good sense to break off the engagement. She's wearing a hat of meat, and a gown by Frederick's Of Wallyworld)

Laura, a piece of advice from someone who's done radio...professionally...there are better ways to let your brain catch up with your mouth than to continually say "I mean," all the time. What that tells your listeners is that you really DIDN'T mean and really DON'T mean what you're saying.

And it's "DemocraCY Alliance" and "SpringsTeen", idjit.

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Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain

Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain plays Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit"

As Jack Palance used to say: "Believe it....*innnnnnnnssssssssssssssssssssss*....or not!"
Hat Tip To Miss Cellania For This One

Stemming The Tide

The closer we get to the elections in November, the more convinced I am that, barring a major fumble by Democrats, we can take back both houses of Congress.
Republicans Say Bush's Veto Is Risky

Associated Press Writer

July 20, 2006, 6:48 AM EDT

WASHINGTON -- After waiting 5 1/2 years to make good on a veto threat, President Bush used his first to underscore his politically risky stand against federal funding for the embryonic stem cell research that most Americans support.

Some political strategists say Bush's high-profile stance on such an intensely emotional issue could hurt the party's congressional candidates in November in heartland places like Missouri.

"This bill would support the taking of innocent human life in the hope of finding medical benefits for others," Bush said after rejecting calls that he change his policy. "It crosses a moral boundary that our decent society needs to respect."

The veto puts some Republicans in the uncomfortable position of having to choose between the wishes of their conservative backers who consider embryonic stem cells to be early human life and those in greater numbers who want to use the cells for research that could one day save lives.
Or, to be more precise:
But most Republicans are not George Bush--among other things, they still need to get re-elected--which is why, as a Northeastern G.O.P. official said, the issue of stem-cell research could be "a stinker" for the party. "When you're portrayed as arguing against treatment of disease," he admits, "it's a tough place to be politically."
"Defending disease." Sounds like a good campaign slogan to me! :-)

Yesterday, Bush surrounded himself with a slew of so-called "snowflake babies" when vetoing the bill. "We see that value in the children who are with us today. Each of these children began his or her life as a frozen embryo that was created for in vitro fertilization, but remained unused after the fertility treatments were complete. Each of these children was adopted while still an embryo, and has been blessed with the chance to grow up in a loving family." You know? Fair enough argument. If we can convert those embryos to little babies to populate our country and bring closure to countless numbers of parents who can't have children anymore, then I'm OK with that. And besides, this way we can breed an army to fight the wars he'll leave to the next three generations...

So let's take a look at some numbers, shall we? Currently in storage, there are 400,000 IVF embryos. Wow. That's a LOT of kids! That means Bush could have held this signing at RFK Stadium and still had an overflow crowd!

Oh. Wait. According to a Rand Institute study in 2003, there are just more than 100 snowflake babies alive today. So that means we can expect some 399,900 babies to be summarily executed. That's gonna spike up the abortion figures a bit...

This is from the "party of life"?

So in effect, to quote Walt Handlesman (a cartoonist I would link to if Blogger would cooperate): "We must protect the unborn so that they too can grow up and have the same rights as everyone else to die from an illness research might prevent."

Very smart, Republicans, very smart. Well, you broke it, you pay for it. We Dems will be off planning on how to fix the world once you children are done.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Maybe Cooler Heads Are Starting To Prevail...

Terms for a cease-fire

Newsday Washington Bureau

July 18, 2006

WASHINGTON -- Looking for a way to break the impasse over its air war with Lebanon, Israel offered tough conditions for a cease-fire that drew cautious support from the Bush administration.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, in his first address to the Israeli parliament since the fighting began, said Israel would stop bombing Lebanon if the Lebanese militia Hezbollah freed two Israeli soldiers, pulled back from the border and stopped firing rockets into Israel.

Israeli diplomats said for the first time that Israel might temporarily drop its demand that Hezbollah's militia be dismantled, a condition that Olmert insisted upon last week.

"In the short term it may be possible to have a temporary cease-fire," one diplomat said. He said Israel now recognizes that the disarmament of Hezbollah as called for in a United Nations resolution "is not exactly realistic immediately."

After initially refusing to press Israel to stop firing on Lebanon, President George W. Bush's administration signaled yesterday that it was open to Olmert's idea of a cessation in hostilities and was willing to look at a proposal from Britain and the United Nations for the creation of some sort of security force along the Lebanese border.
Apparently, Bush has finally stopped digesting that roast pig...ironies of ironies that he would want to talk about the one animal verboten in both religions to consume at a time when those two religions were facing off in what could end up being a world war, but Bush was never known as "Captain Tact."

I want to draw an analogy about this whole Israeli-Hezbollah-Hamas uprising: What Israel is doing in Lebanon and Gaza is very much akin to a father whipping his one son because his other son was caught smoking, but isn't around for his beating.

Exploring this a little further, we see that the son who gets beaten, completely innocent except for the fact that maybe he sort of suspected that his brother was smoking, learns nothing, except contempt for the authority that is beating him.

The son who smokes learns something, however: no matter how badly he behaves, he will never be the sole focus of the punishment for the crime. His brother will always suffer, right alongside him, and eventually (as misery loves company), begin to behave precisely as the father would wish he didn't.

Meanwhile, Grandpa George, who should be counseling his son, is off checking the barbecue....mmmmmmmmmm, that's good eatin'!

None of this in any way, shape, or form excuses the son who is causing the trouble, or the brother who should correctly be getting angry at this culprit. Thankfully, someone woke up and decided to try to stop the madness.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

And Now, Naked Women

Probably the one commercial during the World Cup you DIDN'T see:
From MTV Europe. It should have been aired here, as well

Where Are They Now (Christian Coalition Edition)?

Hard on the heels of yesterday's endorsement by this blog of Jon Tester over "C. Moremonetary" Burns in the Montana Senate race, comes this little item about yet another "morally upstanding" Republican to be tarred by the santorum(look it up)-laden brush of Jack Abramoff:
Reed faces tight vote for Georgia Lt Gov

By Matthew Bigg

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Ralph Reed, a poster boy for the Christian right who helped promote the rise of Republican political power in the 1990s, faced a tough primary vote in Georgia on Tuesday as he battled accusations of corruption.

Reed's role as former leader of the Christian Coalition, and his reputation as a clean-cut conservative with a talent for grass-roots organizing made him an early favorite in the election for Georgia's lieutenant governor in November.

But his opponent in the primary, Georgia state Sen. Casey Cagle, has launched a series of TV ads highlighting Reed's links to Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who pleaded guilty in January to charges of fraud, tax evasion and bribery.

One poll last week for InsiderAdvantage, an Atlanta-based pollster, said the race was too close to call, with Cagle at 42 percent support and Reed at 41 percent.

Cagle's attacks focus on a U.S. Senate Indian Affairs committee report on Abramoff last month that said Reed, in work as a lobbyist, rallied Christian conservatives to stop gambling initiatives. But it said that work was in part funded by competing gambling interests represented by Abramoff.
Let us pray:

OUR LORD, we, who long and yearn for a return to decent values and the End Days' war against evil, beseech thee: let Reed's reach be long, and his pockets deep and his tricks dirty in this race against Casey Cagle, who, although a good man, and an honest man, would deprive Your people of the opportunity to mash this subcommandante-Antichrist of the right wing into the Holy Mat of the Political Wrasslin' Ring. Deliver Reed from this defeat, so we can kick his righteous smarmy little ass into the Abyss, in Your name; we plead....Amen.

UPDATE: Oh Lord, please go fuck yourself...

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Heat & Light

I realize this is a "dog-bites-man" story, but everyone on the left is blogging the Bush obscenity....yea...he didn't know the mics were I figured to go in a different direction, and take a look at the electrical infrastructure in America, especially given the fact that 47 of the lower 48 states in the union hit temperatures over 90 yesterday (the sole exception was North Dakota, and I'd wager that was because they don't have enough weather stations out there).
North America avoids blackouts amid record power use

By Eileen O'Grady

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Power consumption across the U.S. and parts of Canada soared with scorching temperatures to new record highs on Monday, but blackouts were unlikely unless there were major equipment failures, said the industry group that oversees transmission.

By mid-afternoon, power demand in the Midwest region and Texas exceeded 2005 records and continued to climb.

Expected electric use will far exceed a summer forecast issued in May by the North American Electric Reliability Council, the group said.

"We are shattering old records," said Stan Johnson, NERC's manager of situation awareness. "It's very unusual to see records being set all across North America."
OK, now the relevant stuff:
Generation was expected to be ample to avoid blackouts, Johnson said.

"We are feeling pretty good," Johnson said as late afternoon peak-hour demand approached the East Coast. "We are watching some areas: the upper Midwest, the mid-Atlantic states, California and Ontario."[...]

While heat strains transmission lines and generating plants, Johnson said the U.S. will avoid blackouts "unless there are major equipment failures."
*AHEM* Consider this your warning shot, then.
At 12:45 p.m., a Manhattan-bound A train lost power between Beach 67th Street and Broad Channel. Without power, there was no air conditioning as outside temperatures soared into the low 90s, New York City Transit said. No injuries were reported.

The nearly 100 degree heat apparently caused a portion of the electrified third rail to buckle, a Transit Authority spokesman said.
Or this...
One of the four LaGuardia terminals and part of a second lost power when high demand caused by the heat triggered equipment problems. Some flights were diverted to other gates. The power was restored at 12:30 a.m.[....]

Consolidated Edison was urging customers in northwest Queens to reduce their electric usage because of broken electric cables. The advisory covers Sunnyside, Woodside, Hunters Point and Astoria.

The company said most of the 11,600 customers in Yonkers have had their power restored. Just about 200 customers were still blacked out as of 7 a.m.

Other areas of Westchester experiencing power outages Tuesday morning were 975 residents in Ossining, Mount Vernon, Rye, New Rochelle, North Castle and Harrison. Another 925 customers were blacked out in the rest of the county, Consolidated Edison said.[...]

PJM Interconnection, which operates the electric grid for all or part of 13 states and the District of Columbia, asked people to reduce usage, especially between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.[...]

Consolidated Edison power company spokesman Chris Olert said equipment problems, possibly heat-releated, cut power to nearly 17,000 customers in Brooklyn and Westchester County. Yonkers was hardest hit, with 11,600 customers out, including the Yonkers Water Treatment Plant.
Maybe "warning short burst of gunfire" was more appropriate.

See, here's the problem: Entropy. Once you create something, you've also set in motion the mechanism by which is can be destroyed (and eventually will be), & artificial constructs eventually become chaotic.

Like machinery. Like objects. Like power generators, but also like wires and insulation, which are subject to weather, heat, and cold. Like transformers. Like switches.

Like the entire electrical grid, and you only need look back three years to the August 14, 2003 blackout of the entire Northeast, the single largest blackout in the nation's history (likely the world).

You can build as much redundancy and duplication as you like into any system, the simple fact is, it is going to fail. Period. Maybe not tomorrow, or today, but sometime in a finite frame of reference. Even rocks crumble given millennia.

So enough people using enough electrical power is going to set up pockets of chaotic behavior in the grid, collapsing at least parts of it, and Stan Johnson can make as many foolish and bold statements as he'd like, it's not going to mean a damn thing when the shit hits the fan.

It is only through luck, that random element that decides that this path is chosen over that path, that keeps the entire thing crashing down. We weren't so lucky in 2003. Yesterday we got lucky.

Monday, July 17, 2006

First Endorsement

I happened to read Time Magazine of July 10, and came across an article about the Senate race in Montana.

I like this Democrat, Jon Tester, who is challenging Conrad Burns, a severely ethically-challenged Republican, having close ties to Jack Abramoff, as well as a penchant for free Super Bowl tickets.

About Tester:
When Jon Tester was 9 years old, he lost the middle three fingers of his left hand in a meat grinder. The only immediate impact of the accident, he says, was that "I couldn't play the saxophone and had to learn the trumpet, and I took a lot of crap from my schoolmates." There was a long-term political benefit, however: Tester, who is the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate from Montana, has the most distinctive hand wave in American politics, a thumb-and-pinkie hook-'em-horns waggle. Indeed, Tester's physical presence--he's a big old farm boy with a flattop crew cut--is a political statement that stands close to the heart of the national Democratic congressional campaign of 2006. It says, I'm not a slick Washington guy. I'm a Montana farmer. After six years of a Bush Administration cozy with business, many Democrats are taking a flyer this year on full-throated populism.

Tester is not your average farmer, of course. He's a former public-school music teacher and a successful politician, the president of the Montana state senate. But in April, in the midst of a hot primary race, Tester took five days off from the campaign to seed his 1,800-acre farm in the eastern Montana flatlands. "Look, I do the things real people do. I plow, I seed, I harvest. I do some of my best thinking on my tractor," Tester told me as he campaigned in Whitefish, Mont., last week.

The U.S. Senate race in Montana promises to be iconic. Tester's opponent is the three-term incumbent, Senator Conrad Burns, who achieved national notoriety as the recipient of $150,000 from associates of the felonious lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who later told Vanity Fair, "Every appropriation we wanted [from Burns' committee], we got ..." Burns, who has said he wished Abramoff had never been born, is a Republican in a state that favored George W. Bush over John Kerry by 18 points in 2004. But he knows he's in a very difficult race, and the G.O.P.'s first campaign ad of the general election went straight to the heart of Tester's candidacy: his haircut. It features a barber who says, "Fella comes in for a trim on his flattop because he's running for U.S. Senate. Guess he didn't want anybody to know he opposes a gay-marriage ban. Thinks flag burning is a right. And supports higher taxes. So I told him, 'You're gonna need a lot more than a haircut to cover up all that' ... Didn't leave much of a tip either."

To which the Montana Democratic Party immediately responded with an ad that replayed the "tip" line of the ad and then went on: "Here's a tip. The man attacking Jon Tester is an actor. A fake, sent by Senator Burns' Washington friends to tell lies about Jon Tester ... It's bad enough that Burns took thousands of dollars from sleazy lobbyist Jack Abramoff's associate and then changed his vote ..." And so on.
I always wanted to be a farmer, and here's a guy who takes such pride in his work that he stops campaigning to plant his fields?

Jon, you got my vote.....errrrr...if I lived in Montana, that is.

And Now, The Bikini!

Because I spent my entire blogging weekend talking about stuff that was relevant, I figured I'd take a break and give you something nice and pretty and shiny to look at.

Lo, and behold, the Associated Press got the Summertime Blues, too, and have published an article celebrating the bikini!
The bikini’s beginnings
It was 60 years ago this summer that two Frenchmen - quel surprise! - created the tiny swimsuit
(ed note: Next time some FReeper calls you a "Frenchman," thank him with this :-) )
July 17, 2006

It figures: The bikini was created by men. It happened 60 years ago in - again, no surprise - France.

But it's women, and largely Hollywood stars of the 1950s, who embraced the belly-baring bathing suit and haven't let go.

A bikini is any two-piece swimsuit in which the bottom dips below the belly button. Or so says Kelly Killoren Bensimon, a model-turned-magazine editor who wrote "The Bikini Book" (Assouline, $29.95). The book aims to document the substantial significance the tiny two-piece has had on the world since Jacques Heim and Louis Reard introduced competing versions of the small suit.

Yes, a definite attitude adjustment on this very hot day

Sunday, July 16, 2006

How To Ensure Victory

Although the public divide in the Democratic party seems deep, it's not. There is really only one or two issues that we have to gather people together on, and the rest fall into place, and even then, we run the risk of becoming a Stepford party like the Republicans if we tamp down too hard on dissent.

The really big issue that's on the table is, of course, Iraq. The war is wrong or at least being fought wrongly, and I think that's something the wings of the party (Wellstone's famous "Democratic wing of the Democratic party," and the more centrist DLC wing) can agree on. The division shown in public over the past few months has given rise to a raft of commentators talking about the Dems as if the party is a bunch of Keystone Kops, scrambling but ultimately getting in each other's way more than making progress.

As I mentioned yesterday, it seems as though an adult stepped in and starting telling people to ratchet down the rhetoric. I think the recent Lieberman attacks had something to do with this, as they defined who was on what side of the divide. Since then, the tone has been more measured (except in Blogtopia (© Skippy), which has had a field day razzing Joe).

So here's how I think we can handle this divide going forward and help repair the image of a party that is poised to win big in November, but can still "rubberhose" their way out of the picture:

1) A responsible elder statesman/woman needs to be the face of this rift, and go on the record with a major effort to heal it. This statesman (because my first choice is male) shouldn't have a dog in the hunt, nothing at stake in November, and he would garner an awful lot of goodwill for and in the party with his actions. Bill Clinton might be the obvious choice, but Hillary still has a political future, and so while he could heal the rift, there would still be a sense of partisanship. Ted Kennedy would be ideal, except that the public perception of him is one that would tend to distract from the message.

So my first choice is Joe Lieberman. Naturally, this means he'd have to give up his re-election campaign. In truth, he's running on fumes as a Senator in Connecticut, and a concerted effort to replace him with Ned Lamont may not succeed but will cripple the Democratic ticket in Connecticut in November, whether he wins or Lamont wins. As a lame duck who voluntarily sacrifices one more term (because, Joe, in truth, that's really all you could possibly eke out here), he will position himself as a man in 2008 who has chips left to play. Further, as the public face of this dust-up, his word with the general public will carry great weight, because they're paying about as much attention to the activist effort to unseat him as they did to the World Cup or Tour De France.

The general perception is that the Lieberman is taking one for the team on an issue that has divided his party, thus taking responsibility for that division. It would go a long way to making the general electorate realize that we're in this to win, and that our chief players have their game faces on.

2) How would Joe heal this rift? By pointing out that differing opinions can exist in the Democratic party without rancor or ill-will and in fact, there's a middle ground to be found that both wings of the party could agree on: only by electing a Democratic Congress and then in 2008, a Democratic President, can that way be had, and reminding the nation that, when the chips have been down, it's been the Democrats who ride to the rescue of this great nation: World War I, The Great Depression, World War II, even as far back as the American Revolution and Thomas Jefferson, it has been Democrats that for the most part have moved this country forward, culminating most recently in the Clintonian era of peace and prosperity for all (Greatest President Ever. We ought to be reminding people of that day in and day out, especially with the Shrub about to go on yet ANOTHER five week vacation). The Democrats, who would have no fealty to the decision to go to war, it wouldn't be an albatross around their neck, would be able to find a way out of it that doesn't sacrifice our troops, or Iraqi civilians, while bringing a lasting peace to Iraq.

Better minds than mine have that solution, so I leave it to the reader to find one, and by the way, we don't need this solution right away in order for this process to work, just a simple ackowledgement that reasonable people can disagree reasonably on a reasonably disagreeable issue and why they do.

Once the Iraq war issue is taken off the debate agenda, the rest of the issues are peanuts, really: who voted with Bush more often, who stands where on abortion, or gay marriage or the deficit, all these fold neatly under the umbrella of unification. So long as we publicly respectfully disagree with each other, not stepping on any toes, we can work out our differences and come to a connection with the public at a level the public can readily grasp and readily accept as an agenda for the 21st Century. An overarching theme, if you will, that Democrats will work hard to make life better for everyone, and not for only one percent.

A thought experiment: Recently, some Republicans were outspoken in their criticism of Bush, particularly over the NSA spying issue. We all cheered them on, gleefully wondering if this was when America woke up.

The criticism within his own party hurt Bush, but polls seem to indicate that it hurt the Republican party as well, and suddenly Democrats were looked upon more favorably to pursue an agenda for the country. Does that mean the Dems suddenly had a message?

No. But it does mean that America was suddenly willing to listen to one from us. We ought to grab the spotlight and hipcheck any Republican that tries to take it back.

Note something else, though: until Hagel, Hoekstra, et al started speaking out, the Republicans were viewed as unified and on message, and even though most people felt the country was moving in the wrong direction, at least it was moving and they could support that. This means that "wrong but strong" will win people's votes over "weak but right."

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