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Are you sitting down? If not, you might want to, because I have some very disturbing news for you: you’re going to hell. Yes, you, you Godlesscommieterrorist-lovingfreedom-hatingtofu-eatingliberal, you.

Well, according to Ann Coulter, anyway. Her latest book, Godless (due to come out next week), aims to “expose” the startling fact that liberals hate God. Yes, all of them. And religion. And they hate Jesus, too. And cotton candy and sunshine and flowers…

Amazon.com offers the following description of Godless:

GODLESS is the most explosive book yet from #1 New York Times bestselling author Ann Coulter. In this completely original and thoroughly controversial work, Coulter writes, “Liberals love to boast that they are not ‘religious,’ which is what one would expect to hear from the state-sanctioned religion. Of course liberalism is a religion. It has its own cosmology, its own miracles, its own beliefs in the supernatural, its own churches, its own high priests, its own saints, its own total worldview, and its own explanation of the existence of the universe. In other words, liberalism contains all the attributes of what is generally known as ‘religion.’ ”

GODLESS throws open the doors of the “Church of Liberalism.”

Darn it, Ann, you caught me. And everyone knows that if Ann Coulter tells me going to hell, well then, goshdarnit, it must be true!


The rabid West Wing fans among us (okay, fine, this is the GUCD blog… let’s face it, that’s probably all of us) probably remember a sub-plotline of the Season 4 midterm elections wherein the Democratic campaign for the California 47th, Horton Wilde, actually lacks a pulse. While this is obviously a made-for-TV scenario, if we take a look at the upcoming midterms, a Democratic congressional candidate who is actually dead suddenly doesn’t seem too far-fetched.

Anyone who follows Democratic politics closely has probably picked up by now on the schism between DNC Chairman Howard Dean and DCCC Chair Rahm Emanuel. For more a detailed report on the Dean-Emanuel smackdown, check out Tom Edsall’s May 11th Washington Post article on the subject, which reports on a month-long inside the Beltway rumor of a conflict between Rep. Emanuel and Gov. Dean over campaign strategy for the midterms.

Dean has long since championed what he dubs a Democratic “50 states” strategy, arguing that Democrats can and should contest races in all 50 states, even those that polling and demographics suggest are near-unwinnable. The idea behind this philosophy is that Democrats can’t strengthen themselves in the long run unless they compete everywhere. Emanuel (a former ballerina and Clinton strategist from Illinois upon whom, rumor has it, the West Wing character Josh Lyman was largely based), on the other hand, has been very vocal with concerns that the DNC is spending too much money, too fast, on races that are uncompetitive for the Democrats, with the fear that it will leave the Democrats with empty pockets come the October election crunch. Emanuel has argued for spending DNC money where it can do the most good—in races that look competitive for November.

This debate is more than just about how or where to spend money. Dean’s 50 state strategy raises some interesting issues for the Democrats—mainly, how to make the party competitive in blood red states. This includes spending money on races that will most likely go Republican, yes, but it’s also about more than just money; it’s about recruiting qualified candidates to challenge GOP incumbents.

So far, the national Democratic mood seems to be treading Emanuel’s way, if we take a look at a few November House races. Many races in strongly Republican districts have literally no declared Democratic candidate, robbing voters of these districts of a chance to vote on their officeholders. (Some states, like Louisiana, have no Democrats running in in more than half of their congressional districts.) This smacks of un-democratic government. (“Saddam Hussein for President of the Republic of Iraq, vote yes or no,” anyone?) Democrats are letting legitimate chances to make their voices heard go unanswered, like in the CA-44, where Republican incumbent Ken Calvert has been strongly implicated in some of the schemes that downed his ethically-challenged colleague Duke Cunningham in the CA-50. It's strange that no Democrat has stepped forward to challenge Rep. Calvert on his, ahem, little ethics problem. (All of this is to say nothing of districts where the Democrat is on the ticket merely as a formality, with little in the way of a campaign and no support from the National Committee.)

I agree with Governor Dean. It saddens and angers me that in 2004, we didn’t even try in the South. Had Sen. Kerry won Ohio, he would have been elected president without a single Southern state. The last time that happened, the South seceded from the Union. Now, I’m not saying that the situation is quite as dire as 1860, but it’s embarrassing that we claim to be a national party and yet aren’t even bothering to really campaign in more than half of the country.

I’m also not saying that it will be easy. Yes, we have limited funds, and yes, it is difficult to get qualified Democratic candidates to act as sacrificial lambs on behalf of the party. But it shouldn’t be impossible. I’m not proposing a complete solution here, but it’s a start. There are lots of proud Democrats out there who would run given the promise of even an iota of support from the national party. Yeah, they’d probably lose, and nobody likes to be a loser, but I like to think that there are a few patriotic Americans in red states like Louisiana, Arkansas, and Indiana that could step up to the plate and get the debate started. Heck, I’ll even do it, just give me a few years to work on my southern drawl. Politics is about more than just winning; it’s about the ideas. Gov. Dean’s 50 State Plan is a step in the right direction. But as long as large parts of the US are de facto one-party states, we’ve already lost.


Though the session is drawing to a close, and every senator, congressman, and congressional staffer is itching to get out the door for the upcoming holiday, there are still tons of issues left on Congress’ agenda before anybody can pack up and hightail it to the Hamptons for Memorial Day weekend. Immigration, tax reform, drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge… lots of high-profile topics are still left on the table for this session. Yet as last week drew to a close, what was the Senate doing with their time and your money? Addressing these vital issues with full and careful debate, perhaps? Or maybe our senators were busy, carefully weighing both sides of these problems and coming to reasonable and effective solutions for America’s problems? Or perchance were they examining the roots of each issue carefully and attempting to come to a practical, bipartisan agreement that both parties could get behind?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you’re either A) inspiringly optimistic or B) you haven’t been in Washington very much.

Despite the fact that lots of key issues were still unresolved at the end of last week, the Senate was busy spending its time protecting… English?

Yes. To many of our US Senators, it seems, the second-most spoken language in the world is under grave threat. This, of course, comes as a great shock to the more than half a billion people worldwide who speak it, including the vast majority of Americans. Yet for some reason Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla) saw it necessary to offer an amendment (which passed 63-34) to the Senate immigration bill that would require the government to “preserve and enhance the role of English.”

Now, this isn’t entirely unprecedented. Other nations do similar things with their native languages. The French government, in its goal to zealously preserve all things smelly, has gone so far as to ban the use of certain English expressions in official correspondence. But these are the French. I mean, come on. We should be embarrassed about this amendment, if for no other reason than it brings us dangerously close to agreeing with something the French do. (That reminds me. I heard a good French joke the other day—Q: Why don’t they have fireworks at Euro Disney? A: Because every time they shoot them off, the French try to surrender. But anyway…)

But this amendment is more than just disgustingly European and totally uncalled for. It’s racist. This is a political move, made by the Republicans in an election year debate about an extremely contentious issue about which many Americans feel very passionately. It’s designed to play to the basest fears of many Americans—that they will “lose” control over a country overrun with foreigners—and it’s despicable. This amendment does nothing to preserve any sort of genuine American heritage, but rather undermines it.

Since our country’s birth, and especially in the 20th century, Americans have always seen themselves as a melting pot of cultures. Citizens and nationals of every religion, race, and language have taken their individual cultures and histories and banded together as one nation indivisible. Sure, we all have our different traditions and practices, but that’s the beauty of America. Immigrants have always been able to preserve their personal identities while at the same time embracing the national one. That's what makes us America, and this law threatens the very foundations of our freedoms.

What’s more, this law is doomed to failure from the start. Let’s take a look at Miami-Dade County, which is more than a little familiar with the English-versus-Spanish debate. In 1980, amid a virtual torrent of Spanish-speaking Hispanic immigrants, county commissioners passed an English-only law virtually identical to the one the Senate passed last week, requiring almost all business in the county to be conducted in English. The mandate’s supporters used arguments similar to the ones we’re hearing today, arguing that the law would help preserve the American character of Miami. The law faced the same arguments last week’s amendment does: that it’s offensive and pointless. But Miami’s failure can serve as a harbinger to the nation as a whole if we let it. The law was a total botch. Instead of encouraging immigrants to learn English, it instead simply frustrated them, denying Hispanic and Cuban Miami residents government materials and information in a language that they could understand. By 1993, it had become clear that the law did little more than divide the community (rather than uniting it) and the city commissioners repealed it unanimously. Let Miami serve as a warning to us all regarding the dangers of declaring English the official national language.

Nobody is saying that English isn’t important. It’s the native language of the vast majority of Americans, and virtually all business and community activity takes place in English. That alone is incentive enough for new immigrants to learn English; we shouldn’t have to pass unnecessary laws that are little more than pretense.

It’s time to tell Congress: Stop wasting our time, and just stick to making the laws we actually need.


The Washington Post has recently informed me that according to the government, I should be thinking of myself as pre-pregnant. And I shouldn't stop until 2035.

New federal guidelines ask all females capable of conceiving a baby to treat themselves -- and to be treated by the health care system -- as pre-pregnant, regardless of whether they plan to get pregnant anytime soon. Among other things, this means all women between first menstrual period and menopause should take folic acid supplements, refrain from smoking, maintain a healthy weight and keep chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes under control. ...[I]t's important that women follow this advice throughout their reproductive lives, because about half of pregnancies are unplanned and so much damage can be done to a fetus between conception and the time the pregnancy is confirmed.

I can barely express how disturbed I am.

I am not a vessel.

And no one has any business telling me how to regard myself. Yes, it is better to be healthy than unhealthy (and it's clear that incredible numbers of Americans are unhealthy), and I am always chuffed whenever people are reminded that McDonald's diets and walking only between the desk and the bathroom will adversely affect their health. I could even accept someone going so far as to make the value judgment that we "should" exercise more often and smoke and drink less. In my view as well, it would be best if pregnant women avoided any sort of harm to their foetuses or to themselves.

But when someone tells me how to think of myself, that is out of line.

The implication is that women should define themselves by pregnancy. (Ha! The Handmaid's Tale, anyone?)

It leaves me asking how long we will spend slipping down the slope between "should" and "must", and my teensy little inner libertarian quakes.

And it leaves me asking where the federal guideline is that instructs men to regard themselves as in a persistent state of "pre-fatherhood". Where is the demand that all pre-fathers between the ages of 13 and 93 should never use cell phones, regardless of whether they plan to be fathers anytime soon? What about even the simple order to take Vitamin C/zinc supplements and stop smoking?

Double standards? Denigration of individuality in reproductive issues? -- This government? Pfft.


For months now, adminstration officials, neoconservative ideologues, and partisan Republican apologists have rolled out a conventional wisdom on Iraq that permeates the debate in the media and in casual conversation. But this conventional wisdom doesn't hold up to scrutiny.

First, these proponents of the American presence in Iraq claim that a precipitous American withdrawal would surely lead to civil war. What these proponents ignore is that Iraq is already heavily embroiled in civil war. Over the last year, an average 903 Iraqis died every month from sectarian violence. In th Lebanese civil war that lasted 15 years, an average 555 Lebanese died a month. Iraq is clearly embroiled in a civil war, as reports of death squads, sectarian militias, and neighborhood segregation abound. Further, these supporters seem to think that America is somehow holding Iraq together, and that a withdrawal of American forces would break the glue binding the Iraqi nation together. There is nothing that American troops are currently doing to keep sectarian violence at bay, since American combat activities are restricted to fighting insurgents and foreign terrorists, not disarming death squads and sectarian militias. And American troops won't disarm those rapidly growing groups because it would only wident he rift among Iraqi groups and provoke a greater anti-American backlash. Withdrawing American forces would have no effect on the intersectarian violence already underway.

Second, proponents argue that an American withdrawal would lead to a Sunni-insurgent terrorist takeover of the Iraqi government, with Musab al-Zarqawi coming to power in Iraq. This is an absolutely ridiculous charge, especially considering that if the administration is to be believed, there are only a few thousand foreign terrorists and Iraqi jihadists fighting, hardly enough to take over a country, where the majority Shi'a have a firm grip on power. In fact, American forces leaving would encourage the Iraqi government to get its act together and would take the wind out of the sails of the Jihadist insurgency.

What American policymakers fail to understand is that American combat operations in Iraq are unnecessary and therefore, an American military presence in Iraq is unnecessary. In fact, it is counterproductive. Our presence inspire jihadist terrorism around the world, provides a recruitment pitch for al-Qaeda, divides Americans, and destroys our international reputation. The President is right that we can still succeed in Iraq; it is not an inevitable failure. But we must leave Iraq in order to have it succeed. Our diplomats and our financial commitment can remain and we should continue to train Iraqi troops out of country, but the cost in American blood is not worth our combat presence if it means that nothing is being accomplished. We must move to strategic redeployment. To learn more about this rational and important policy for Iraq, go here. We should be encouraging every 2008 Presidential candidate and the leaders of our party to adopt this plan.


“If elected President, I will oppose and veto any increase in individual or corporate marginal income tax rates or individual or corporate income tax hikes.” -Candidate George W. Bush, June 1999

Candidate Bush was clear as crystal back then. As clear as his father even. If he was elected President, Bush promised over and over, there would be no new taxes in America. Last week, however, President Bush went back on that pledge, and once again, the victims of his lies are American teenagers. The victim of his actions is America's future.

The tax increase in question was wrapped in a $69 million tax cut bill that President Bush signed into law this week. The provision triples tax rates for teenagers with their own college savings funds, and effectively raises their taxes to the same rate as their parents'. According to the NY Times, "long term capital gains and dividends that were previously taxed at 5 percent for teenagers will now be taxed at 15 percent. Interest that had been taxed at 10 percent will now be taxed at as much as 35 percent." The increases are retroactive to the first day of 2006, and are expected to raise $2.2 billion in revenue over the next decade.

When questioned about Bush's early campaign promise and the new tax increase, the White House released a statement that highlighted the significant tax cuts in the bill, and claimed the President had "reduced taxes on all people who pay income taxes," but did not address the increase on teenagers. When their statement was challenged, the White House amended it, and said that the President had relieved the tax burden for "virtually all people who pay income taxes."

While the broken promise-- and the administration's attempt to hide or ignore it-- seem to be symptomatic of a broader disrespect for truth and accountability in the White House, that's nothing new. What I'm more concerned about is the choice the Republican Congress and President Bush made to pay for their massive new tax cuts by further burdening America's youth. The attitude that problems can be put off until tomorrow-- that we can pay for new tax cuts or today's social programs by bogging our nation further down in debt or asking our children to pay more than their fair share-- is a dangerous one.

America's policies, foreign and domestic, ought always to reflect one truth: our children are our future. We must encourage excellence in them, and by doing so, we ensure the continued exellence of our nation. Education has been proven the key to reducing crime and eliminating poverty. It is an imperative investment toward our future economic prosperity.

I'm not going to try to claim that the Bush administration is pro-crime, or anti-prosperity. I wouldn't be able to prove it, and I don't believe it's true. What I do believe is that the White House understands America's youth isn't a vocal minority. They can raise our taxes, cut our student aid, and send our friends overseas to fight in their wars and we will not respond, we will not protest. Most won't even notice.

So last week, when they needed to find a source of revenue to counterbalance some of their tax cuts, we were an easy target.

My proposal? Let's not make it easy for President Bush to burden our generation with his mistakes. I didn't comment when Rachel wrote earlier in the month about youth participation in politics, but it's essential, and if you're reading this blog you already know that. Our priorities are different than the Presidents', and he (unfortunately) makes all the decisions. Let's do our best to influence them.


I'll keep this short; the news speaks for itself. This morning, USA Today reported that the NSA has been building a database of American phone calls. So far, they've collected information about tens of millions of US citizens. Their ultimate aim?

"It's the largest database ever assembled in the world," said one person, who, like the others who agreed to talk about the NSA's activities, declined to be identified by name or affiliation. The agency's goal is "to create a database of every call ever made" within the nation's borders, this person added.

Every. Single. Call. Did you pick up the cell to wish your friend good luck before a final? The government has a record of that. Call your parents asking for advice? The NSA knows. Phone your girlfriend to tell her good night? General Hayden is well aware.

The Patriot Act was nothing compared to this; who cares if a few library records are compromised? Even the NSA wiretapping scandal pales in comparison; after all, very few people actually had their phoned tapped. But today, we know that the government is keeping records on the private conversations of every single American. Me, you, your parents, my friends-- the government has a list of every phone call they've made for the past five years. The largest database ever created is being used to collect private information from you, your friends, and your neighbors.

This is the end. The Patriot Act and NSA wiretapping were complicated, and the Republicans managed to squeek by thanks to their complexity. They painted Democrats as against all wiretapping, not just warantless wiretapping, and they made it seem as if the courts were an impediment to stopping terrorists. They were wrong, of course, but they managed to squirm out of facing the music. This is utterly inexcusable; spying on every single American is impossible to defend. Spying on every single Russian was the job of the KGB; spying on every single person was the job of Orwell's Big Brother. We live in the land of freedom, liberty, and democracy. Here in America, there is simply no excuse.


It’s not hard to see that President Bush’s presidency is irreversibly stuck in the mud. Even a cursory glance at the front pages will tell you what Democrats already know-- Bush has failed in leading this country. Growing budget deficits, a pointless and costly war in Iraq, stalled bills in Congress and a growing anti-American sentiment abroad confirm what we’ve been saying for years: Bush is an incompetent leader who has left America worse off than we were six years ago.

But now we’re adding a new component to the mix: the Washington Post reports today that Bush and the GOP are losing the backing of even their most diehard supporters. The latest AP poll reports that Bush has a 52% approval rating among self-described “conservatives,” and that number goes even lower when discussing the Republican-controlled Congress, to 33%. Most conservatives attribute this loss to the failures of Bush and the Republicans in Congress to succeed in advancing key conservative issues, like banning gay marriage and cutting government spending. In fact, since Bush took office in 2001, government spending has increased by more than 25%, the largest increase under any president since Lyndon Johnson. (It’s worth pointing out, too, that under Johnson, American taxpayers saw at least some bang for their buck in the form of important government welfare programs like Medicare and Medicaid. What has Bush’s increased spending brought us? Nothing but more pork barrel projects and handouts to overly cozy lobbyists.)

Now, what does this all mean? Nothing, if Democrats drop the ball. This poll only reflects short-term phenomena, and the eventual results can only be predicted after examining polling data over an extended period of time. But it still bodes well for November crystal ball predictions. History shows us that the president’s party almost always lose seats in Congress during midyear elections; this trend is ever stronger when the president has low satisfaction numbers. (The most recent Gallup poll puts Bush’s overall approval rating at 31%; also interesting are approval numbers of Bush’s key administration members, with approval numbers hitting new lows for Vice President Cheney [34%, with a 62% unfavorable] and Secretary Rumsfeld [37% approval with 57% disapproval]. These numbers probably don’t have any bearing on election results or Bush’s overall approval rating, since most Americans tend not to pay that much attention to Cabinet members or vice presidents, but they’re interesting numbers for us political geeks, and also reflect a growing dissatisfaction with Bush overall that has trickled down to affect his key advisers and strategists.)

All of this portends well for Democrats in the fall, but these numbers must be taken with a grain of salt. Most conservatives aren’t likely to jump to the Democratic ticket unless they’re offered something in return. More likely than not, they’ll just stay home. Now, y’all know me, and I’m never one to advocate that voters stay home come Election Day (see below entry), but even that could work out well for Democrats, particularly in key districts with close races like in Minnesota and Missouri.

But just because Bush’s loss of base support is a win-win situation for Democrats doesn’t mean we should just ignore the potential bounty to be reaped here. Despite the doom-and-gloom attitude of many Democratic strategists, I still think that these self-described “conservatives” could be turned to a Democratic tide if we play our cards right. Strategists like James Carville and Paul Begala and moderate Democratic strategy groups like the DLC have paved the road for this type of campaigning; victories of moderate Democrats for both federal and local office in Republican-leaning Southern states like Georgia and Louisiana are just an example of how the Democrats can turn traditionally Republican supporters into swing votes. In the upcoming election, Democrats cannot concede the moral high ground to the Republicans. We need to show that we can “bring it,” if you will, on Republican turf just as well as we can in liberal enclaves like the streets of New York City and the wilds of Massachusetts.

Republicans do not have a monopoly on God. Did Jesus not say “But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:13-14)? Now, which party is the party of equality and social justice? The Republicans, who have tried to cut every welfare program under the sun, or the Democrats, who want to help the unemployed by giving them a leg up until they can get back on their feet? Along this same train of thought, we also need to show the voters that Republicans’ efforts to ban gay marriage are just a empty gesture designed to throw a bone at the religious vote. Democrats are just as pro-family as the Republicans. Actually, we’re more: unlike the Republicans, we’re not trying to ban families, whatever form of love they might take.

Nor is the GOP the party of “fiscal responsibility.” President Clinton reduced the deficit during each year of his presidency. In fact, he even ran surpluses in his last four budgets as president. In contrast, the Progressive Policy Institute says,

“The Republican-led Congress is passing pork projects at a rate three times as great as the last time Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, and it is spending at levels not seen since World War II. Add billions of dollars in debt-financed tax cuts to that mix, and you have a recipe for fiscal disaster. Clearly, this is not your father's GOP.”

Exactly. The Democrats’ challenge now is articulating a clear and realistic vision of federal spending. The National Democratic Party’s website says, “The Democratic Party believes in balanced budgets and paying down our national debt, while Republicans continue to put huge burdens on future generations by borrowing hundreds of billions of dollars from foreign nations.” This is a good start, but come November, the Democrats need a more clearly defined plan for cutting federal spending and paying down the national debt. We should start by reversing Bush’s irresponsible tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the richest of the rich, and instead cut taxes for the lower income brackets, those who are most likely to go out and spend the extra money, thus stimulating the economy and generating increased tax revenue. Additionally, any Democrat running for federal office must promise to cut pork barrel spending, and stick to that promise when Congress is called into session in January. We need to look at federal spending programs and cut the fat.

Conservative voters were Bush’s to lose, and he has. But if Democrats truly want to reap the benefits of Bush’s loss of key constituencies, we need to demonstrate that we can really play ball, even outside what is traditionally considered “our home turf.” The Democratic Party is truly the party of the moral (see: Republican ethical lapses), of fiscal responsibility (see: Clinton surpluses), of security (has Iraq really made us safer?). When the Democrats can truly put up a fight on what are traditionally “Republican” issues is when we will become the majority party once again, as it should be.


"Personally, I believe that our American system works as long as you participate in it. You must vote and make your voice heard. Otherwise you will be left out."
-Mari-Luci Jaramillo, Educator, Diplomat

We are the sleeping giant, 30 million strong. We are the young voters of America, aged 18-24. We make up 10% of the US population (source: US Census Bureau). Yet despite making up over 13% of the eligible voting population in this country, voters aged 18-24 cast less than 9% of all ballots in 2004 (source: The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement).

Why is that? It’s no secret that college-age students have a reputation for apathy and ignorance when it comes to American politics. The excuses offered up are innumerable. “I’m too busy to vote.” “Politicians don’t care about me.” “These issues don’t affect me.” “Sure, I’ll vote… when I’m 30.” We’ve all been guilty of it at one time or another. We’re all busy, yes, and these excuses are easy, yes, and maybe you missed that day in 8th grade government class when your teacher lectured at you about “your civic duty as an American” and “how lucky you are to live in this country” and blah, blah, blah…

"The Greek word for idiot, literally translated, means one who does not participate in politics. That sums up my conviction on the subject."
-Gladys Pyle, former US Senator

Well, if you can still offer up these excuses with bravado and still brandish that apathy like a badge after all that’s happened in the last six years, then you’re not paying attention. Anybody who can claim that political issues don’t affect them is either ignorant, or just plain stupid. Since Bush’s first election in 2000, the White House and the Republicans have…

-Restricted a woman’s right to choose: On Bush’s first day in office, he reinstituted the global gag rule as part of the Republicans' war on family planning. Since then, he has signed an unconstitutional bill restricting abortion as early as 12 weeks into the pregnancy and women everywhere are still waiting for the FDA to make the Plan B morning-after pill available over-the-counter.
-Started a pointless war that detracts from the real war on terror: It is now abundantly clear that there were no WMDs in Iraq, and that the Bush administration stretched the intelligence to reach an already forgone decision to go to war. Since then, there have been 2,412 confirmed deaths of US soldiers in Iraq. Yet despite their senseless deaths, Osama bin Laden is still at large and we are no safer than we were 5 years ago.
-Divided this country, instead of uniting it: Issues and allegations regarding race have plagued this country ever since Bush took office almost six years ago. Given the opportunity to re-shape the US Supreme Court, Bush nominated two judges with extremely questionable records regarding civil rights. (The nominations of both Justice Alito and Chief Justice Roberts were staunchly opposed by the NAACP.) A president who nominates for consideration a Supreme Court justice who has disagreed in writing with the concept of “one man, one vote” and who botches the handling of a natural disaster so badly that many African-American leaders accused him of outright racism hasn’t brought this country together, he’s alienated it even further.

These issues not relevant enough for you? Let’s talk about the costs of higher education. By the time you graduate from Georgetown, chances are you’ll have spent around a whopping $180,000 on your four-year degree. And if you’re anything like the typical college student, a large chunk of that will eventually have to be repaid in the form of student loans. Under President Bush, the average national cost of tuition has gone up about 40%, even taking inflation into account (source: the College Board). Yet he has done little to allay the costs of higher education in this country. In fact, Bush and the Republican Congress have succeeded only in making it more difficult for the average American teenager to go to college.

In 2000, Bush campaigned on a promise to make college more affordable and accessible for the average American. He vowed to increase the maximum Pell Grant for college freshmen to $5,100. Yet in his latest budget proposal, President Bush only increases funding for Pell Grants by $100, to $4,150, nearly $1000 short of his promise. The latest budget also completely eliminates the Perkins Loan program. If Bush’s proposal is enacted, more than 670,000 students borrowers would no longer be able to take advantage of loan forgiveness if they serve in the military, or become teachers or law enforcement officers. Outside of the fact that the Perkins Loans encourage students to fill desperate shortages in essential career fields, this proposal just plain bites if you’re a college student. Still think that what the President and Congress do in Washington doesn’t affect you?

College students can and will change the direction of our country come November 2006. The young people of America have done it before (see: Vietnam, War in), and we will do it again. So get informed on the issues. If you’re not already, get registered to vote. Make sure you’re up to date on all the deadlines in your home state for registering as an absentee voter. Make sure your roommate, your siblings, even all your Facebook friends are registered to vote, too. (For more information on registering to vote and on obtaining an absentee ballot, contact your local Board of Elections, or check out Rock the Vote’s homepage.)

"Politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians."
-Charles de Gaulle, former President of France

Come November 2006, we will awaken the giant. Because if you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.


You don't need me to tell you that gas prices are rising to ridiculous (see: European) levels. This is a huge problem for everyone: people who can't afford to fill up and companies who suddenly face a significant increase in spending. As far as fixing the problem, our party wants to crack down on price-gougers, while Bush reminds us that there's no magic wand to wave. Price gouging is certainly a problem, and I'm glad that W has finally figured out the difference between fairly tale and reality. But Bush certainly isn't fixing the problem, and as much as I hate to say it, neither are the Democrats. The blame game isn't going to fix high gas prices; it's time to solve the problem once and for all.

Plain and simple, the only way we're ever going to permanently cure high gas prices is to switch to alternative energy. I'm not saying this is easy, I'm not saying this is simple, but if any country can do it, it's America. And other countries are doing it. The New York Times ran a terrific article a few weeks ago about Brazil's use of sugar-based ethanol. If you haven't read it, do so now; it'll make you realize just how ridiculous our energy problems are. In a nutshell, Brazil is producing 8.3 times as much energy from sugar cane as it expends in the process, while the US receives a rate of return at only 1.3 units on corn. I'm no scientist, but I refuse to believe that sugar cane is the only crop in the world that can be efficiently converted to ethanol.

To be clear, I'm not sure if ethanol is the best way to switch to alternative energy, but it's as good as any of a place to start. My point is that we need to stop making token efforts and begin pursuing serious investments in new fuels. The government needs to spend a significant sum of money-- in the billions (which isn't a lot, as you'll see in a second)-- specifically on researching alternative energy. There are many ways to do this. We could provide grants to corporations or NGOs. We could implement enormous tax benefits (similar to what is already in place for people financing oil and gas exploration) to individuals and companies that invest in alternative fuels. We could even put in place financial rewards for the first person or organization to reach a particular milestone of energy development or efficiency. I'm a progressive; I believe that the government can be a force for good. What better way to positively change America than to seriously invest in energy independence?

That was a little bit vague, so here's my idea. The government should invest, say, $10 billion in developing energy-efficient ways to produce ethanol from any crop that can be grown in America. Meanwhile, American farm subsidies have reached $143 billion over the past 10 years. Once we find an efficient plant to turn into energy, we should ask subsidized farmers to convert their fields into said crop. Since we'll be using the crop to fuel our cars, demand will rise significantly, and we can finally cut our farm subsidies without harming American farmers. Within a few years, we'll have saved a lot more than $10 billion, and gone a long way to resolving farm subsidies.

More importantly, we'll have solved our energy problem. We'll have solved high gas prices, which are bad for everyone: the poor can barely afford to drive, the middle class have to cut expenses, and corporations lose money when their vehicles all cost twice as much to operate as they did a few years ago. By switching from fossil fuels, we will have solved a plethora of environmental issues, including the stark reality that we're going to run out of oil in the not-so-distant future. Perhaps most significantly, we will have resolved the security issue; the fact that American fortunes are tethered to countries like Saudi Arabia is incredibly dangerous and is simply not acceptable to our national interest. Not to mention the fact that with our energy grown by American farmers and refined by American engineers and scientists, the new industry of alternative fuels will be bringing plenty of good jobs back to America.

Maybe my plan is a completely untenable and a bunch of science fiction written by a liberal arts student. It doesn't matter. America has enough amazing scientists that can figure out a working plan with $10 billion. My point is that it's time for the government to take real action on developing alternative energy. Maybe $10 billion is a lot of money, but considering how much we spend on farm subsidies and how much the country as a whole spends on high gas prices, I think it's pretty doable (not to mention that $10 billion is roughly what we spend every month in Iraq!). With a significant investment, there's no reason that America can't become the world leader in alternative fuels and break our crushing dependency on foreign oil. The Democratic Party is today in an incredible position to give America a vision for our energy future. Voters want a vision for how to solve the problem of gas prices; we can give it to them, and enact it as soon as we're elected. To paraphrase a great movie about the cornfields of Iowa (not to mention Rachel's blog post): if we give a vision, the voters will come.


Is there another pearl of Republican wisdom that you turn to in times of trouble? If it's not on the poll already, post it here in comments!


I was reading in the Washington Post briefly about Democratic Leadership plans to revoke the gas tax. By plans I mean possible proposals, since we are out of office we cannot really have proposals. I think it is high time that gas prices go up. People need to realize that gas is too cheap. Today the majority of the gas price is taken up by the costs of the market, the oil itself, transportation of the oil, refining, and other assorted costs. What the price of oil never really factors in is the tremendous effect that gas can have on the environment. The point of the gas tax is mostly to raise money for the roads and highways, but we should see the tax as a way to pay for something else, air. Air is a public good that everyone uses, and the government cannot prevent people from using it. So to make sure that people do not take up too much of that air we need to find a way of rationing it.
We need to create a market where there is none today. People are able to pollute basically for free, since all they need to do is buy the gas, then they can do whatever they want with the environment around them. There was an article before that talked about how someone had a hard time paying for a fill up on a jeep. There is a simple answer these days, do not but a jeep. Do not buy SUVs, do not buy sports cars, and do not buy trucks, because the vast majority of people do not need them. Its time to buy a civic, get 30 mpg, and stop complaining. Now I do realize that it is hard for lower income people to purchase new automobiles, but they would also better plan their trips to be as economical as possible. People will never be environmental out of pure love of nature, we need to tax them until they bleed, because we only have so much time left. Our environment is at a tipping point, where if we do not drastically lower our emmissions soon we will be in serious, monumental trouble.
And this trouble will not come in 100 yrs, it could come much, much quicker. Global warming is an intricate process that once it gets started is almost impossible to slow down. It is important to realize that economically it will be hard to cope with the extra costs needed to make our society more environmental, but it is time to realize, for everyone, that global warming is a certainty. So I would suggest an incremental raise of the gas tax starting now, for the forseeable future. In conjunction we would need to sharping raise corporate average fuel economy standards, issue rebates for people who buy fuel efficient cars, charge huge "gas guzzler" taxes for people who do not, and spend a great deal of federal money on real alternative energy solutions. We need to act quickly, because we have been profligate for far too long.


Now that we've covered the Dems, let's take a look at the Republican nomination fight. (Disclaimer: I do not like any of the Republicans, so all objective analysis here.)

The Republican nomination will largely be decided by the 2006 midterms. If Republicans pick up seats (a near impossibility), a lame party-line conservative like Frist may win. If Republicans lose seats, but do not lose either house of Congress, conservatives will feel the need to nominate a Reaganesque conservative like George Allen. If Republicans lose one or more houses of Congress, Republicans will desperately seek sometime with cross-party appeal who can assure them victory, someone like John McCain, Chuck Hagel, or for those of you in fantasyland, Rudy Guiliani or Condoleeza Rice.

The way I see it, the Republican candidates are divided into the have-no-chances, the longshots, and the likelies. The have-no-chances are Gov. George Pataki of New York, who visited Iowa again this week, Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado, who is looking like not running now that the immigration issue has come front and center, and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, who is not running, so all you young conservatives out there can stop salivating (even if she ran, the day the Republicans nominate a pro-choice, pro-affirmative action, unmarried, black female intellectual internationalist, I'll become a Republican). The longshots are Bill Frist, Rudy Guiliani, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Chuck Hagel, Sam Brownback, and Newt Gingrich.

Let's run through these.

Bill Frist - The man is boring! He is currently taking speech lessons, he has been a terrible majority (being worse than Trent Lott and Bob Dole is a difficult feat), he has no support among religious conservatives and very little establishment support. My theory is he will drop out after South Carolina, where he will have lost every contest up to that point.

Rudy Guiliani - The man is pro-choice, pro-gay rights, pro-gun control in a party that wouldn't nominate someone who is just one of those things! Rudy Guiliani won't end up running, but if he does, just running on a strong national defense, tough on crime, and pro-tax cuts won't cut it. He will have to answer to his two marriages, his adultery, his having lived with a gay couple once, and his failure as a mayor prior to 9/11. As we get farther from 9/11, his fame and celebrity diminsh, and when conservatives in Iowa and South Carolina find out about his liberalism, he won't even come in fifth.

Mike Huckabee - He's a nice guy who has worked hard on the obesity issue nationally, but he's not a small government conservative. He believes in government that works to solve social problems, a philosophy that will not go over well with the libertarian strain of Republicans in Iowa and New Hampshire. The man has low name recognition, and while his religious pull (he's a former Baptist minister) and his speaking style (he's a former Baptist minister) will make him a force in the debates, he won't get farther than maybe the VP slot, and that's pushing it.

Mitt Romney - The media has recently fallen in love with this guy. The conservatives think he's their man, and while he has pulled out his punches on the religious social issues, strongly worked against gay marriage in Massachusetts and has fought against stem cell research, his recent conversion to the pro-life community may ring too much of another Massachusetts flip-flopper for a number of Republicans. And as much as winning means to the GOP, they're not ready to nominate a Massachusetts politician, that's just too far outside the South for them. And finally, the man's a Mormon, and while we live in a much more tolerant society than when Jack Kennedy ran as a Catholic in 1960, most evangelicals view Mormonism as a cult that perverts Christianity. I've heard it from evangelicals I know, and they won't easily nominate him.

Chuck Hagel - If the war in Iraq still goes badly, and the country turns against the war, including most Republicans, Chuck Hagel may have a shot, since he is conservative on most issues except the war. However, Chuck Hagel is a lightweight candidate and even if the GOP turns against the war, and I don't think that will happen, he doesn't have much appeal among any faction of the Republican party.

Sam Brownback - The guy's a committed social and religious conservative and beloved by Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. But the guy is a big government lover, and the business community, the libertarians, and the fiscal conservatives do not like the guy. He is charismatic and if some other people drop out, he may have a chance. But he is not anyone's first pick, and probably will not be.

Newt Gingrich - There is no one in the GOP who is smarter, wiser, a better strategist, and a better communicator than Newt Gingrich. He can go anywhere in the country and grab Republicans' attention, and he inspires a bunch of conservatives. He would be extremely formidable in a debate. But he has become a caricature. He looks like the devil to the media, the Democrats, and most of the country and people will not forget his affair, divorce, and remarriage easily. If Newt Gingrich had run in 1995 for President, he would be easily elected, but the damage has been done.

So here we come to the two candidates from which I strongly believe the GOP will pick a nominee. George Allen and John McCain.

Both have enormous establishment support, both have a strong appeal to the 1994 Republican revolutionaries, both are liked by mavericks in the party. Both are strong fiscal conservatives, who are conservative enough on social issues to get the religious types in line. But there is one difference, George Allen is liked by the Rush Limbaugh types, the partisan conservatives who want someone they can trust to be conservative down the line. These guys hate McCain. McCain has something Allen does not, electability. While McCain's move to the right now will damage his image as a maverick, centrist, independent, stright-talking truth teller, he will still have immense cross-party appeal and it is unlikely any Democrat will have an easy time beating him, no matter how bad the shape of the Republican Party is by 2008. If Republicans feel that power is slipping through their fingers, they'll go with the guy who can easily win, but who they will trust on most issues. If George Allen can't prove that he can definitely win the general, McCain will be the nominee.

Senate and House Forecasts in the Future.


To those of us still following the news out of Iraq, there isn’t much out of the ordinary to report. Day in and out, the news from Iraq is a laundry list of the Bush administration’s failures in going to war. You’re all familiar with the infinite number of mistakes and missteps Bush, Rumsfeld, Rice, and others in the Pentagon committed in going to war and later in the rebuilding of Iraq, so I won’t bother to recount them here. (But for those of you interested for more, the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count keeps an updated record of all reported coalition casualities.)

But the latest of Bush’s blunders in Baghdad would be funny if it weren’t so embarrassing. As Alternet reports today, the Bush administration is in the midst of building the largest, most fortified American embassy in the world in Baghdad, a sprawling $592 million dollar complex whose contract was awarded to a Kuwaiti construction company in a dubious bidding process.
Iraqis still can’t count on reliable electricity, water, or even basic physical safety. But, hey, a well-lit house and safe streets are overrated as long as you can glance across the Tigris and get a good look at what the Iraqis are referring to as “George W.’s Palace,” right?

Just another proud example of how out of touch the Bush administration is with Iraqi public opinion. But as voters in this country can attest, that’s not exactly shocking, is it?


If you haven't yet seen Stephen Colbert's spectacular performance at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, do yourself a favor and watch the video. It's pretty shocking, very funny, and most of all, it'll make you admire the sheer enormity of what Mr. Colbert describes as his "big brass balls." They keynote speaker at the White House Correspondents Dinner is traditionally a comic who makes fun of the President, something which has never been controversial. Then again, there's no comic with a style quite like that of Stephen Colbert.

Colbert's performance at the White House Correspondents Dinner has been characterized on a scale ranging from brilliant and hysterical to just not that funny, largely depending on where the reviewer stands on the political spectrum. In particular, the blogs have erupted with Colbert posts, predictably grading Colbert's performance according to their ideologies. So let me get a quick disclaimer out of the way: I'm a huge fan of Colbert's, and obviously, I'm a diehard progressive. With that in mind, Colbert's peformance is just being blown way out of proportion.

Anyone who watches The Colbert Report with any regularity realizes that the Correspondents' dinner was the exact same routine for Stephen Colbert as his show. As always, Stephen 'championed' truthiness and George W. Bush while vilifying the non-Fox News media. The only difference was that this time, Colbert was standing about ten feet away from Bush, and performing to virtually every major player in the media. Colbert really had two choices: tone his performance down for a less friendly (to put it mildly) audience, or keep his character the same. Considering what we know about the size of Colbert's... ego, I think the choice was pretty clear.

Yes, Colbert is getting panned for perhaps being too harsh on Bush. But as Colbert lifted half his speech from previous jokes he'd made on the Report, how can you be surprised at Colbert's monologue if you've ever watched his show? Well, apparently by not watching his show. The New York Times notes that "Mark Smith, a reporter for The Associated Press who is president of the White House Correspondents' Association, acknowledges that he had not seen much of Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central before he booked him as the main entertainment for the association's annual black-tie dinner on Saturday night." In all fairness to Mark Smith, vetting your performer is probably a good idea if you don't want to shock your audience. Luckily for us, though, Smith skipped the background check, and we got an amazing show.

The Colbert Controversy has ignited so many passions that it's even led to a doubly ridiculous post by Kos calling for a primary challenger to Steny Hoyer in 2008. Hoyer's being silly for calling what Colbert does every night "in bad taste." Meanwhile, I've written before on how ridiculous I think it is to spend resources on derailing Democrats when we're so far behind the Republicans in seats, and though I enjoy reading DailyKos, there is perhaps no worse reason to invest in a primary challenger to Steny Hoyer than his dislike for Stephen Colbert.

As for whether he was any less funny than on his show, I think the answer is that comedy has everything to do with the audience. If Colbert did the same skit in his studio, it would get plenty of laughs, but obviously that changes a little bit when the entire room is looking to see if Bush is laughing. My personal opinion? Except for the unspectacular audition tape bit, Colbert was hysterical. Colbert's also probably the bravest (rather, ballsiest) comic I've ever seen for not diluting his performance at all in front of the same people he makes fun of. Even more admirably, those same people just happen to be some of the most powerful individuals in the world. But regardless of how amazing (or, if you're a Republican, not funny) Colbert was at the dinner, he still did the same thing he does every night. Criticizing Colbert's performance for being too political, pointed, or over-the-top is kind of like criticizing Robin Williams for being too hairy. If you ask either comic to come, what you can expect is pretty obvious.


I thought it would be good to take a look at the upcoming landscape for the 2008 Presidential race. I'll update this monthly and hopefully try to keep my personal preferences out of the objective analysis (I love Barack Obama and wish he gets into the race, I am also working for Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana). Here we go:

The Democratic Side

Clearly, Hillary Clinton dominates any analysis of the race, and each candidate in the race will have to work to take her down. In fact, Democratic candidates in this race has a doubly difficult effort -- take down Hillary Clinton and overcome all of the other candidates to look like the best alternative.

Hillary Clinton will start out with enormous advantages (money, establishment support, great staff, a brilliant husband, huge name recognition, rock star status, and a very talented political instinct). She, however, is vulnerable. Hillary's move to the right (actually, I think Senator Clinton has always been more conservative than her critics give her credit for, after all, this woman was a Goldwater girl in 1964, and she was President of the Wellesley College Republicans) will make her extremely vulnerable on the left of the party, among those who are looking for someone who will espouse traditionally liberal Democratic values.

But a candidate coming from the left won't do it alone. Democrats want it all in 2008; they want a Democrat with a spine, someone who will stand up to Republicans, a candidate who can win the general, who inspires, who will be an excellent President, who has experience, and who will leave the Democratic Party in better shape than he/she found it. A candidate who fits this profile will win the nomination.

John Kerry is seriously done with presidential politics. Though he is clearly running for President, he has zero chance of winning as he is registering at about 15% in national primary polls, even though he was our nominee in 2004 and has 100% name recognition. John Kerry, even though he has shown spine with his call for a troop withdrawal by the end of 2006, still cannot shake the flip-flop nature of his political persona.

Tom Daschle, while an exemplary public servant, has no chance of winning the Presidency (he is seriously considering it, as he has made numerous trips to Iowa.

Wesley Clark, a fantastic retired General, does not have the domestic or political credentials necessary to win the nomination.

Russ Feingold, once thought to be the challenge from the left that would give Senator Clinton a run for her money, has appeared recently to be a gadfly in the race. He has recently called for federal gay marriage (a position I wholeheartedly support), a position that will crush him in the general election. Senator Feingold no longer seems serious about being elected President, a sad change of affairs since he is so good at communicating progressive positions. His unelectability will kill him in the nomination fight, though he may gain some netroots support early on that may make him a force in New Hampshire.

This brings us to the serious contenders in the race for President. Many believe that a red state governor is necessary to win the White House, a theory I think is speculative at best. Tom Vilsack, Bill Richardson, Mark Warner, and Evan Bayh all fit this profile. However, many who have heard Tom Vilsack and Bill Richardson speak realize that their ability to communicate to big crowds is inadequate at best. Bill Richardson, a Latino governor of a red state in the Southwest, a swing region, who has enormous foreign policy credentials, would make a formidable Vice-Presidential candidate. Tom Vilsack won't win his home state of Iowa in the primaries, and he will drop out after that.

Mark Warner and Evan Bayh are different. Mark Warner, an extremely popular governor of a red state, has achieved star status in the progressive blogosphere, even though his positions on issues is less than progressive. He is a one-term governor, the only elective office he has ever held, and has no foreign policy experience, and has a very undeveloped understanding of foreign policy. But he is loaded, estimated to be worth $200 million, enough to go head to head with Senator Clinton's estimated fundraising ability.

Evan Bayh has a great story. He was elected five times statewide in a red state, a very red state, that hasn't voted for the Democratic presidential candidate since Lyndon Johnson's 1964 landslides. Bayh has won each election by huge margins and remains immensely popular. He was a popular two-term governor, who has a host of accomplishments to tout, and he has extensive foreign policy experience, being on the Armed Services and Intelligence Committees in the Senate. He has a demonstrated fundraising ability; he has $10 million in his bank account now, the thrid highest among Democratic candidates (Kerry has $15 million and Clinton has $20 million). But he has problems, he is a virtual unknown throughout the country and is more likely to get confused with his father, Birch Bayh, who was also an Indiana Senator. He also has very centrist positions on most issues, including abortion, which has angered abortion rights activists. He will need to raise an enormous amount of money, campaign heavily in Iowa and New Hampshire to raise his name recognition, and prove to the left that he is a mainstream Democrat who cares about progressive Democratic values.

Then there is Joe Biden and John Edwards. Joe Biden is a great and brilliant Senator, but he lacks charisma and tends to go on speaking like a professor. He is very smart, understands his crowd extremely well, and can articulate a message better than most Democrats. But he lacks stature. He cannot muster the left or the center, he brings no state to the fold, he lacks executive experience, and he has low name recognition.

John Edwards is a force to be reckoned with. He has very high name i.d. He is a rock star in the Democratic party, registers high in Democratic primary polls, second only to Senator Clinton, is an impressive speaker with a great social justice, pro-labor, anti-poverty message, can raise impressive amounts of money from trial lawyers and labor, and has built up a network in Democratic politics, and has loyal supporters still in Iowa and New Hampshire. He is young and attractive, smart and charismatic, and has already done well in Iowa (he came in second to Kerry with 32% to Kerry's 38% in 2004). If he can raise money, convince Democrats that Senator Clinton is unelectable, and garner the support of the left, he will be a formidable candidate. However, he is a former Senator, and is running from no current office. His relative inexperience may hurt him, and he will need to work overtime to convince the entire party that he is the strongest general election candidate, the strongest liberal, the most courageous partisan, and the best President.

But this all depends on the fortune of Senator Clinton. Many say she is unelectable in the general election. But Senator Clinton is one of the smartest and most talented politicians around. She will no doubt barnstorm through Iowa and New Hampshire and galavanize women, African-Americans, and other Democratic groups. Unless most Demcrats are convinced Senator Clinton is entirely unelectable, not liberal enough, too politically calculating, and would not make a good President.

The only person I can see beating Senator Clinton with little difficulty isn't running. Barack Obama could definitely beat Senator Clinton, yes, but I was actually referring to another Clinton, first name Bill.

Republican nomination outlook coming up tomorrow.


Sixty years ago, at the end of the Holocaust, world promised “Never again.” The deaths of 11 million people systematically slaughtered by the Nazis constitute the worst failure of humanity in world history. Afterwards, humankind promised that the atrocities of the Holocaust would never happen again. Never again would civilization stand idly by as fellow citizens of the world were needlessly and cruelly massacred by their enemies for no offense besides having the unfortunate luck to have the “wrong” race or religion. Never again would we overlook the suffering of our fellow human beings just because it was inconvenient to take action. Never again would we turn a blind eye to violence and agony in countries on the other side of the world. Never again would we step back from a genocide and say, “Not my problem.”

Yet since the end of WWII, it has happened again and again. Bangladesh. Cambodia. Iraq. Bosnia. Rwanda. And now we have a new name to add to that list: Sudan. The situation in Darfur constitutes a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions. According to UN reports, 3.5 million people in the Darfur region are without sufficient food or water. 2.5 million have been displaced so far. And the death toll has pushed past 400,000.

On September 9, 2004, President Bush’s then-Secretary of State Colin Powell declared that the actions of the Arab Janjaweed militias against the black African Sudanese, conducted with the approval or support of the Sudanese government, constitute genocide. Yet since then, Bush has done little. During his first year in the White House, President Bush wrote in the margins of a report on the Rwandan genocide, “Not on my watch.” But he has not lived up to that promise. Words are not enough, Mr. Bush. Action must be taken.

Militias in Darfur are systematically starving, raping, and killing millions of black Africans in Sudan. The UN Commission of Inquiry on Darfur has documented an increasingly deteriorating situation in the region of worsening security, growing hunger, and an ever-rising civilian death toll. The government of Sudan is doing little or nothing, failing to prevent or even supporting the violence, and blocking aid to those desperately in need. Every day we fail to act, the crisis spreads. We cannot stand idly by any longer.

We in America are blessed with an abundance of resources with which to take action. Our unique role on the world stage enables us to take special action. The Comprehensive Peace in Sudan Act of 2004 was a step in that direction, authorizing President Bush to address the humanitarian and human rights crisis in Darfur, making aid to the region contingent upon the action of the government of Sudan. UN Resolution 1556 demanded that the government of Sudan make every effort to disarm the Janjaweed militias, and also demanded that the government allow humanitarian aid to access the region. But this has not been sufficient. The Darfur Peace and Accountability Act, currently in conference committee, is a necessary move in the right direction. Sens. Durbin and Leahy’s $50 million supplemental amendment to the $123 million requested by the president to help fund African Union peacekeepers in Darfur should also be applauded.

Yesterday, many Democrats, including myself, joined between 10,000 and 15,000 of our fellow Americans on the Mall to demand that President Bush take action in Darfur. Though a small rally by Washington standards, it was a powerful one. As I walked around the crowd, I saw skullcaps, turbans, headscarves, and crosses alike. I saw faces that were black and white and brown and every color under the sun. I saw children pushed in strollers all the way up to elderly Holocaust survivors. I heard people speaking everything from Spanish to Hebrew. Yet yesterday in front of the Capitol, we were not black or white or Democrat or Republican; we were Americans. For a brief afternoon, we put aside our differences to remind President Bush of our nation’s commitment to Never Forget.

Now it is up to President Bush to act. Bush met with advocates for Darfur in the White House on Friday, but this is not enough. Additional sanctions must be placed on Sudan. President Bush must also push harder for a multinational peacekeeping force to be sent to Darfur. It is up to all of America’s politicians to pressure the president into taking the morally correct action in Darfur. Democratic politicians like Reps. Tom Lantos, John Olver, Sheila Jackson Lee, James Moran, and Jim McGovern, who were all arrested in front of the Sudanese Embassy on Friday while joining a protest designed to call attention to the genocide in Darfur, are providing an excellent example. Rep. Lantos, a Holocaust survivor, issued a statement following the incident, saying “After the Holocaust, the world declared that never again would we stand by and let genocide take place. And yet the slaughter in Darfur continues.”

Rep. Lantos and the 15,000 Americans who joined his call for greater US action on the genocide in Darfur yesterday cannot be ignored. President Bush must take action to save Darfur.