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"An army of truth-tellers"
Posted by: Jon Henke on Friday, September 09, 2005

Remember when the Right criticized Kerry for voting against an $87 billion dollar bill to fund the troops in Iraq. The Republicans ran campaign commercials accusing John Kerry of voting "against funding our soldiers." The Left was outraged, accusing Bush of misrepresenting Kerry's vote, and accusing him of opposing the troops, when, in fact—as FactCheck.org also noted—Kerry "actually submitted a bill to "require the Treasury Department to raise an additional $87 billion for the President’s request for supplemental funding for our troops in Iraq and for reconstruction".

That last was from my own defense, written in March of 2004, of Kerry's "No" vote. At the time, I joined the Left in callng the Bush administration's attack "dishonest". Now, the Left has decided they didn't really mean it after all. [emph. added throughout]

  • Oliver Willis, in a post called "Team Hate America", writes that "eleven congressmen, Republican conservatives all, just voted against the $51 billion package ( H. R. 3673) for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Horrible human beings, all"


  • Kos echoes that same "Team Hate America" theme.


  • At TAPPED, Garance Franke-Ruta puts this in "the general category of "what is wrong with people?!?!""


  • Shakespeare's Sister calls this "wanton disregard for the needs of a group that is largely poor and black".


  • Ezra Klein says "there are 11 GOP Congressmen in the House of Representatives who no longer want their jobs".


  • At The Moderate Voice, David Schraub writes that Sensenbrenner and Tancredo are "more horrible congressmen than I thought they were. [note: David Schraub was not blogging prior to the election. My apologies]


Meanwhile, back in reality, those Congressmen who have released a statement on their vote say they agree that the money should be spent, but that "[Congress should] Tighten Belt on Low Priority Spending to Offset Hurricane Katrina Relief" [Jeff Flakes], or that "it does Americans no good to continue throwing money at the situation without a plan of responsible spending and rebuilding and without a way to monitor where the money is going and how it’s being used" [Steve King], or that "There is no question that billions of dollars are needed—and are needed immediately—to provide relief and reconstruction for Louisiana ... But it is political malpractice to spend taxpayers’ money without making sure that the aid is getting to the right people" [Tom Tancredo], or that "the legislation we are considering is sorely lacking in effective accountability" [Lynn Westmoreland].

These were exactly—precisely—the same rationales that John Kerry used—and I joined the Left in defending—to explain his "No" vote.

I'm embarrassed to say I ever considered the possibility that these linked people were defending John Kerry on principle. They were not. When the tables are turned, they are every bit as opportunistic and dishonest as the people they criticized during the '04 campaign.

When the Bush Campaign accused John Kerry of being "against funding our soldiers", John Kerry responded that "I'm not going to worry about them misleading because we're going to just keep pounding away at the truth. We're going to build an army of truth-tellers."

They failed.

[Cross-posted at Chequer Board]
 
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Comments
And please do keep telling the truth. It is the blogs that caused me to erase the R next to my name on my voters registration card (The party affiliation, not my first name. obert would look silly, wouldn’t it?).

Because of blogs, I realized the un-truth in Bush’s commercials and was furious (I supported, and still basically do, the Bush administration). It’s more frustrating to see your own side cheat. But it was crap like that, and the bobble-head followers who shout you down if you so much as question the smallest thing Bush does that pushed me into independent-ville.
 
Written By: Sharp as a Marble
URL: http://sharpmarbles.stufftoread.com
I understand the need for a balanced budget, but if it’s worth it to take on debt to finance an unneccesary war, then isn’t it also "worth it" for helping an entire city in the US rebuild?
 
Written By: Tito
URL: http://
I’m sorry to have to say this, but ’the moderate voice’ has proven itself to be anything but.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
...then isn’t it also "worth it" for helping an entire city in the US rebuild?

Who’s saying it isn’t?

From what I read, these people are asking for accountability, just as John Kerry did with the 87 billion for Iraq.

Why is that a principled thing for Kerry to do and a wicked thing for these 11 to do?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Well, there’s at least one lefty who finds this all very baffling. Why would anyone believe that reconstruction spending for New Orleans, etc., will somehow prove less of an accountability-free boondoggle than spending in Iraq? Meanwhile, it would be nice if we could retire this "Team Hate America" nonsense. It’s not that it’s mean-spirited and scummy; mostly it just sounds stupid. Better insults, please.
 
Written By: Brad Plumer
URL: http://plumer.blogspot.com
I’m with you Brad. And while we’re at it, could we please retire the race baiters characterizing the plight of those in New Orleans to that of the holds of slave ships and/or concentration camps?

Talk about the political exploitation of the misery of others.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Well, there’s at least one lefty who finds this all very baffling.
I’d expect no less from you, Brad. I’ve often disagreed with you, but I’ve never found you disagreeable. If there’s one Lefty with whom I’d like to sit down over dinner—and there are actually many—it would be you.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
obert would look silly, wouldn’t it?
I was always fond of Q*bert
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
"obert would look silly, wouldn’t it?"

It wouldn’t look silly to Ernie who might say it several times a night......
 
Written By: Jody
URL: polyscifi.blogspot.com
No, Robert me boy, "nuance" is not lying. Lying is lying. "Nuance" is believing there are more than two possible answers to every policy question.

I think we can all agree that the Bush attacks on Kerry AND the liberal blogosphere attacks on these 11 GOP congressman are both unfair and despicable.

But I would encourage all to recognize the comparison being made here. It is between:

1) official campaign statements made by the Leader of the Free World, amplified by millions of dollars of campaign advertising money; and

2) off-the-cuff comments made by powerless and insignificant people with such names as Garance Franke-Ruta and David Schraub.

The logic used here is: 1 and 2 both are unfair and wrong, let’s just call it even! I, for one, don’t think it’s even.

 
Written By: Tractarian
URL: http://
Here we go again with the false moral equivalency. When will it end?

There is a difference between the following two groups:

1) A bunch of bloggers who are unknown to 99% of the population

2) George Bush - the President of the United States.

Look, there is no moral equivalency between a bunch of bloggers spouting off on the one hand, and on the other the President of the United States who misrepresents the principled position of his opponent simply to retain power.

Can’t you see the difference?

When Hillary Clinton gets up a spouts the same rhetoric as Kos and Oliver Willis, you might have a point. Until then, please stop the false moral equivalency.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
It just struck me when reading his comment that every time I read a comment that starts talking about how liberals or conservatives act or behave or believe this or that, you can just substitute the other side and it sounds just as plausable.

Valid point. Very few people behave as we liken "groups" and their behavior, broad brush and all. It’s called stereotyping. And while neither side particularly likes it, both sides are sure guilty of using it.

On the other had, hypocrisy is something all together different. And what Jon is pointing out here is hypocrisy. Now my point isn’t that both sides aren’t guilty of it, they are. Instead my point is you can’t yammer about "principled argument" (ala Kerry) and then throw that principle out the window when the other side uses it because it is politically expedient to do it (the 11) and not expect to be called a hypocrite.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
And speaking of hypocrites and stereotypers, I see MK arrived right on cue.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
What about those liberals who disagreed with Kerry’s decision to vote against the $87 billion Iraq appropriation bill? I can’t document it, since it was before I began blogging—but I thought that even though Kerry was right that the structure of the bill was entirely wrong, he still should have voted in favor because, to borrow from Rep. Tancredo "There is no question that billions of dollars are needed—and are needed immediately—to provide relief and reconstruction for [Iraq]." So we’d be perfectly consistent—we think that though the bill can be criticized, ultimately without an alternative on the table it needs to be passed. And that was the big kicker about Kerry’s claim—he voted for an alternative bill that garnered significant support before House Republicans killed it. That’s a significant distinction. I don’t think it makes Kerry right, but it puts him a very different position than King and his Court. Maybe I just missed it, but I haven’t seen the Flake-Sensenbrenner Katrina Relief Act proposed, debated, written, or anything. Proclaiming opposition based on the need for a better alternative only flies if one shows a better alternative.

But more fundamentally, I think that the issues are non-comparable. Whereas the Iraq problem wasn’t an unpredictable emergency but a supplemental funding request resulting from atrocious management and pie-in-the-sky predictions (and I speak as a war supporter here), Katrina was a sudden (if not entirely unpredictable) catastrophe in its immediate stages, needing, more than anything, speed in securing funds that so far haven’t been arriving. It’s the difference between a debate on rebuilding Lower Manhatten on September 13th 2001 and September 13th 2005. There’s a greater degree of urgency from one versus the other. Getting the first wave of aid out is critical. Second, with all due respect, given the last few years I can’t really give too much credence to congressional Republicans calling for responsible spending and budgeting. If Rep. Tancredo and pals want to repeal their Estate tax repeal, then maybe I’ll take them a bit more seriously. For all their faults, Democrats (at least those to the right of Dean) were pushing the "if you’re going to fight the war, fight the war right" meme pretty hard going into 2003. You can’t exactly say the same about House GOPers penchant for spending discipline.

Finally: neat! I’ve always wanted to be as insignifcant as Garance Franke-Ruta!
 
Written By: David Schraub
URL: http://dsadevil.blogspot.com
For all their faults, Democrats (at least those to the right of Dean) were pushing the "if you’re going to fight the war, fight the war right" meme pretty hard going into 2003. You can’t exactly say the same about House GOPers penchant for spending discipline.

Well again, that’s a pretty broad brush. How about the record of these 11? I’m just asking, because I don’t know what their record is as it pertains to spending (and I know I could look, but I really don’t have the time at the moment), but it seems a little hasty to assume they’ve been as fiscally irresponsbile as the party as a whole.

Have these guys consistently voted for every spending bill which has come across the floor since they’ve been there? If so you have a very valid point and one has to question their motives at this time.

If not, I’d then say their objections seem to be in character as far as spending goes and their stand is principled. What they’re making a prinicpled stand on is less worrysome to me than whether they consistently make that stand.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
I gotta say, these guys have a point. Remember all the disaster prevention money that went into the pockets of the New Orleans and LA officials instead of into the levees, etc? God knows how many pigs are lining up at the trough to get their cut of this federal bonanza.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
By the way, the irony I note in Oliver calling someone a "horrible person" is overwhelming. Perhaps his employer Mr. Soros can take a break from whatever international intrigue he’s involved in now and make a substantial donation (preferably starting with Oliver’s paycheck...)
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
If that is the true fact, that they are only interested in getting the money where it needs to go, then your points are right on.

There have already been some articles out there that make one worry though, so I don’t know how fiscally responsible the funding is, even in its current state.
 
Written By: Bill K
URL: http://
Okay, I am an idiot. Scanned, didn’t read - - my bad. You are right. Voting against this bill is not un-American or stupid. In fact, I am surprised some Democrats didn’t vote against it.

Still, that being said, I don’t think you can say all 11 that voted against it only have fiscal responsibility issues.
 
Written By: Bill K
URL: http://
Finally: neat! I’ve always wanted to be as insignifcant as Garance Franke-Ruta!

You’re insignificant compared to the President, was my point... hope you didn’t take it personally, David... (as a matter of fact I’ve got you bookmarked since your blog is one of the best out there)
 
Written By: Tractarian
URL: http://
No offense taken—I actually like Ms. Franke-Ruta, so it was an (ironically) nice comparison.

Meanwhile, I cross-checked the 11 Representatives on other spending/tax cut bills that, like Katrina, commanded either strong GOP or bipartisan support to see if they really are being equal-opportunity deficit hawks. With the exception of Reps. Flake and Paul, the answer is no, they aren’t.
 
Written By: David Schraub
URL: http://dsadevil.blogspot.com
The 11 should be commended. No one has asked how this money is going to be spent or where its going to come from. Obviously a great deal of people need this aid badly but I have a feeling most of it is going to end up in the pockets of politicians and profiteers.
 
Written By: Rick
URL: http://tancredo4prez.blogspot.com
I understand the need for a balanced budget, but if it’s worth it to take on debt to finance an unneccesary war, then isn’t it also "worth it" for helping an entire city in the US rebuild?
Perhaps so, perhaps so. But it’s not an either/or question. We could have a balanced budget and help the city rebuild.
Here we go again with the false moral equivalency.
Y’know, MK, if you’d just called it a "false equivalency", you might have had a point. (it wouldn’t have addressed the point I made, but you rarely do) But the moral equivalency is the same. Regardless of who is making the statement, the moral principle is the same. I addressed the intellectual dishonesty when the Bush campaign did it, and when the liberal bloggers did it. However, the liberal bloggers tried to defend one and deride the other.

Why don’t you go and question their intellectual honesty?
I can’t document it, since it was before I began blogging—but....
That’s a good point. Since I didn’t know your history, I shouldn’t have included you among the "these linked people [who] were defending John Kerry on principle". I’ll append a disclaimer to your citation.

However...
I cross-checked the 11 Representatives on other spending/tax cut bills that, like Katrina, commanded either strong GOP or bipartisan support to see if they really are being equal-opportunity deficit hawks. With the exception of Reps. Flake and Paul, the answer is no, they aren’t.
Uh huh. And did you also cross-check John Kerry’s voting record to see if he, too, was an equal opportunity deficit/accountability hawk? He’s not. Regardless of any possibly ulterior motives, I don’t have a problem with him voting against the bill on the reasonable grounds of fiscal responsibility and accountability.

And it’s blatantly dishonest of Kos/Willis/et al to change course after all the bitching they did last year.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Jon,

Nice post.

Myself I was horrified when the bill was passed, though of course it was a horror I fully expected.

David,

Nice argument except on one point. We are getting money. It is flowing in faster than anyone can possibly spend it responsibly. We could have waited and looked things over for weeks before authorizing this bill. However it makes everybody feel good, and Bush is certainly not going to wait around and have people say he was fiddling while Rome burned again. The last thing this state needs is money flowing into the hands of the sickest political apparatus in this country. Despite all the hand wringing and finger pointing the feds are here in force now and my state, if it doesn’t clean up its act, stands a real good chance of becoming a domestic version of Bosnia, infantilized because we all have to "do something." The choice shouldn’t be to become some vast welfare project of the feds or left to the tender mercies of our local politicians. The rot runs deep down here and we all need to take a breath and figure out where to go next.

I suggest a project for the left. Forget trying to defeat Bush and the national Republican party. Instead, if you really care about us down here more than holding Bush "accountable," why don’t you take a long hard look at the Democratic Party of La. The party here doesn’t in any way represent what you claim to believe. It is a non-ideological kleptocracy that has ruled this state for 150 years. If you really believe in the liberal project: racial justice, equality before the law for gays and lesbians, the welfare state and all the other ideals you hold dear, you cannot allow this cancer on your party to remain in its present form. You can no longer support uncritically the democratic powers that be down here just because the opponent doesn’t represent your party.

Please don’t tell me about how those of us shouldn’t support Bush then, because he doesn’t represent us. We Know! It isn’t the same though. First, we are talking about this state now, and you can’t address this state without starting with the racist, corrupt, oligarchic entity that claims to be part of the Deomcratic party. This is where the action is and while that party has made some progress do you want this state to represent the visible face of the Democratic Party? It will and it will embarass you and should shame you. I know we are a small place and previously had little play nationally, so it was easy to just giggle and say, "well that’s La. for you." That is like blaming the Cuban people for Castro, or Chileans for Pinochet. "Hey, Edwin Edwards may be a crook, but he is our crook," and everybody is all happy that the Democrats have the Governor’s house down here and who cares how many votes were bought, how many voting booths tampered with and all the various tools used to keep us in our place. Well, we are in peoples living rooms now, and people aren’t just laughing at us, they have decided they need to care and the Democratic Party of La. will be on display for all the world to see. If I was on the left that thought would make me cringe from fright. That is a base motive, but if that is what it takes so be it. I would hope it was because you might actually care about your ideals.

The second reason I don’t want to hear your objections about tolerating Bush or the national Republican Party, that they have to clean up their act before you do some house cleaning of your own, is that it is childish. If you really want to represent something it should be more than "anything to defeat Bush." People need help here and a bunch of people masquerading as liberals are about to turn it into a farce. That Bush and the Republicans are worse than you in general is no excuse.

Finally it lacks all kinds of perspective. I understand that, as I said, La. is a sideshow noprmally and I doubt most liberals have any idea what these people represent. I am here to let you know then, throwing out the Michael Moore wing’s beliefs, and sticking to people such as Matthew Yglesias, Kevin Drum and a host of others out there, if on their most disgusted days with the Republcans could roll up all of their objections to the Rerpublican party and convince me every one was true, it wouldn’t come close to being as bad as the Democratic Party of La. So go ahead and fight Bush tooth and nail. I’ll join with you on occasion, but if you actually care about this state, a state just barely peeking out from under rule by a corrupt gang of mobsters, race baiters, racists, racists masquerading as liberal race baiters, and more, then you might just cheer their demise and start over. Don’t pretend you didn’t know this to be true. Not the depth of it, few not here do, but you know. I have heard over and over again from liberals and Democrats about how Bush should have acted differently than in other states because it is Louisiana! We have all heard the snickers for years. We know you know. However, while we keep hearing how corrupt Louisiana is, what nobody wants to say out loud is it is the Democratic Party of Louisiana that is at the heart of it. For more than 150 years that is where it has originated. Once again I am not castigating liberals, this has nothing to do with liberalism though it has often put on the party hat and mouthed the slogans of populist liberalism. A state where 90% of the votes for decade after decade went to one party has nothing to do with anything so inconvenient as ideology. I only appeal to liberals because the rest of us need your help and if this sick beast is to die Democrats, Republicans, Independents and most clearly the liberals in this country are going to have to step up and stop pretending these people are the lesser of two evils. Remember, when Republican Dave Treen ran for governor he was the environmentalist. It was Dave Treen who lost, in part, later on for pushing for the Coastal Wetland’s Environmental Levy. National politics is completely tangential to what goes on down here. This beast was dying slowly, I suggest you go ahead and kill it for all of our sakes.

You might not win many elections down here for the party in the short run but is our state delegation and governors house really that important for your national goals? You are already losing ground here quickly, why not start over and build something you can be proud of. At least your conscience should be clearer. I would vote for John Kerry, Bill Clinton, Gore and many others before I would vote for Pat Buchanan, I would welcome any of them over what my states Democratic Party represents. Yes, even Pat Buchanan. He would be a beacon of light and justice next to these people. The problem is a Bill Clinton, if he represented this party, couldn’t change things. He is just one man. For all her faults Blanco is a step forward, but it doesn’t matter, the party rolls on. Ray Nagin is a step forward, it doesn’t matter, the rot is so deep it poisons the efforts of anybody who tries to ride the wave to power. Republicans can’t penetrate it. Until this party and its vast bureucratic sludge running throughout our state is drained this sick institution will twist whichever party takes control. We had time for the progress to continue, and I am patient, but this flood of money, the tremendous reconstruction effort will be in the hands of this states Democratic Party, not the national party and we don’t have a lot of time.

So I suggest to you on the left to take stock of what you believe in, and before you hand this kind of money and influence to the Longs, Edwards, Landrieu’s, Morial’s, Brousard’s and hapless pawns like Blanco of this state that you decide not who you want in your party, you can’t do much about that, I assume Fred Phelps is embarrassing to you but he has no power, but who you want running a state about to be awash in money before the eyes of the world. This is not partisan, I don’t blame liberals for these people, they were of no importance to anybody but La. Now however they are important to you, I suggest you decide it is time to expose them before the world and disavow them. Don’t defend them just to attack Bush. Nobody has suffered under these people more than those who are poor and black. Remember that. In the fifties and sixties liberals (despite modern mythology, not just liberals) took on the Democratic Party in the South to push forward civil rights for African Americans. Unfortunately you stopped there. The same people were left in charge of your party down here. Finish the job!

 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://
Kerry Lost...

Get over it already.
 
Written By: Bush Won
URL: http://
Lance,

Even pushing aside the response to Katrina, you won’t hear me defending the LA Democratic party. While my personal knowledge of them is quite limited, what I have heard jibes quite well with the description you’ve gave (though, to be honest, from what I’ve heard it’s bad throughout the state—it just so happens that the Democratic machine is far more entrenched from the post-reconstruction days).

A few days ago, I actually registered my agreement (with Kos of all people) that there needs to be a full investigation of the Katrina disaster—state and federal—and let the chips fall where they may, Democrat or Republican casualities. If we want to tack on a generic anti-corruption effort at a later date, so much the better (so long as we put one out in Texas too).

Jon,

Not to nitpick, but I did start blogging before the election—June of 2004 (before the election, but well after the Kerry vote). No big deal—the point was across.

What’s being lost in this bit is that while I’m quite disenchanted with the Democratic party, I’m infuriated with Republicans at the moment. This is where I blog from at TMV—a Democrat who doesn’t like most Democrats (including Kerry—I was a Clark supporter in the primaries) but detests mainstream Republican leadership (G.W. Bush, Tom DeLay, Bill Frist, Roy Blunt, Rick Santorum, etc etc.). Hence, I was not happy when Kerry voted against the $87 billion for the same reasons I don’t like the (now 9 of) 11 Republicans who voted against Katrina. But what I pointed out in comments was that at least Kerry provided an alternative bill to fund the war. These Representatives voted against it cold. That may not be a saving grace, but it is a significant distinction.
 
Written By: David
URL: http://dsadevil.blogspot.com
What’s being lost in this bit is that while I’m quite disenchanted with the Democratic party, I’m infuriated with Republicans at the moment.
My position has long been: "I disagree with Republicans on most things, and with Democrats on everything".
at least Kerry provided an alternative bill to fund the war. These Representatives voted against it cold. That may not be a saving grace, but it is a significant distinction.
It’s a distinction, but I doubt that the "no votes" intended no alternative. The bill was a rush-job, though, and there wasn’t really time for an alternate draft. And no ammendments were allowed.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Ummm... Did these "truth tellers" just focus on the 11 repubs out of the 17 total representatives that voted nay. Or did they leave you with the impression it was only repubs that voted no?

The dems voting no;
John Conyers (Mich.)
Barbara Lee (Calif.)
Jim McDermott (Wash.)
Cynthia McKinney (Ga.)
Pete Stark (Calif.)
Lynn Woolsey (Calif.)

I have to say the reasons the repubs gave for not voting for it came off much more legitimate than the anti American trype Baghdad Jim and his fellow travelors deal in.
 
Written By: Mike
URL: http://
I can’t find any evidence that those people voted against the Katrina relief bill. They certainly didn’t vote no in the vote to which I am referring.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
David,

Your comment on the Repubs here is well taken, though I think most of its state and national leaders (I was no fan of Foster however) have been at least fairly good men and not too corrupt. You can think of Jindal anyway you want for example, but I would assume we can see he is a pretty good person and not corrupt. As I said, this has nothing to do with ideology. The past of this state has hurt the Republican Party and twisted it in unfortunate ways, but as you say it all starts here with the LA Democratic Party. I lived in Texas for 15 years, plenty of corruption, but as far as I can tell no more than any other state. They seem to have recovered far faster from one party rule than LA and probably didn’t descend quite so far into the cess pool. I have more disagreements with the Democrats than the Republicans there, but the Democratic Party of Texas seems to have no more or less virtue than any other party organization. The same with the Republicans.

No, I am arguing this party is uniquely bad. You can be a liberal and vote exclusively for national Democrats and not support this party, even when it puts out good candidates (which before this would have included Mayor Nagin in my mind.) It really has nothing to do with your beliefs any more than Bull Connor did, or at least should have. I am not attacking Democrats on this, I am asking Democrats to realize they are being had.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://

 
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