Thursday, May 15, 2008

Kos's Alaska Race Polls

Markos Moulitsas published two new polls on the Alaska Federal elections this morning at his blog, DailyKos. They appear to show impressive leads by Mark Begich over Ted Stevens, and Ethan Berkowitz over Don Young, by likely Alaska voters, when asked the question "If the 2008 election were held today?"

Stevens (R) 43 (41)
Begich (D) 48 (47)

Young (R) 40 (42)
Berkowitz (D) 50 (49)

This is the first poll commissioned by Kos in a hypothetical Stevens-Begich matchup, the second in his similar Young-Berkowitz comparison. I was critical at Progressive Alaska and at DailyKos toward aspects of his first poll's announcement, and the same holds true for this one.

First of all, both polls are good news. Very good news. They show a growing resonance among voters that a big change is needed. More voters are willing to make a commitment in Moulitsas' United 2000 polls here than in any I've seen. For instance, a month and a half ago, Jake Metcalfe commissioned a far more knowledgeable Alaska pollster, Hays Research Group, on a matchup between Jake and Don:

Diane Benson's late 2007 Craciun Group Poll showed the following:

Diane Benson 45.3%
Don Young 36.7%

The most interesting thing that Markos' poll seems to indicate is that 3% more voters will commit to Don Young against him than against Benson or Jake Metcalfe.

Go figure.

The problem I have with the way Moultisas has been spinning this hypothetical scenario out is that it is just that - hypothetical. Way too hypothetical. Most of the voters here on August 26 will be independents. They have to choose which of two tickets is more important for them to punch. Moulitsas' pollster - and most others - haven't put that into their equations so far.

And, he's not being honest with his minions at DailyKos. In all of his posts on the AK-AL US House race, he's neglected to mention that Berkowitz is engaged in a tightening primary contest with the woman who had the balls to challenge Don Young in 2006, when both Jake Metcalfe and Ethan Berkowitz treated her more like a squaw than the dynamic and resilient new political talent she is proving to be.

Not only hasn't Kos mentioned Benson in any of his posts on this race, he's done something I find highly unethical, even for a foulmouthed lefty blogger, like he and me. He has not only contributed directly to Ethan's campaign (he gave $1,000 in the first 2008 quarter), he's hosted and participated in San Francisco Bay- area Berkowitz fundraisers. But, more importantly, as one watches how his posts on this hypothetical Berkowitz-Young matchup get played out in the blogosphere, others contribute to Berkowitz from outside Alaska, believing he's in a race with Young, who people outside tend to think is worthless.

Not only is his distorted, but powerfully broadcast narrative phony, it isn't very progressive. Until today, I thought that maybe Markos was too busy with other races and issues to notice Benson, or her detailed stance on the issues, but I've been told that this is definitely not the case.

On the one hand, there's Berkowitz, blithely (according to Ethan) accepting the largest donations ever given by the most powerful DINO in congress, Rahm Emanuel, to a non-incumbent Democrat, running against another Democrat in a primary. On the other, you have Diane Benson, gaining endorsements from around the state and nation from women's groups, and from very progressive organizations.

At any rate, these polls, like all the others showing our Democrats kicking ass up here, are another reason to be optimistic. And to work hard to get people to vote for Democrats.

the author of this article volunteered for and donated to the 1978 and 1980 campaigns of Rep. Don Young (he was then a Republican), volunteered for and donated to the Alaska Democratic Party when Jake Metcalfe was chairman, has volunteered for and donated to Diane Benson since July, 2006; and has donated to the current Jake Metcalfe and Ethan Berkowitz campaigns.

images of Kos as Bonaparte by, after Kos called Sen. Jim Webb a "coward" -- and of Diane Benson in one of her plays


Anonymous said...

"like a sqwaw", huh? Man, you just play the race/gender card at every turn, don't you. I wonder what Benson thinks about your blog.

Anonymous said...

This post disappoints me, I really thought you were smarter. And yeah, you should probably look up the history of the word squaw as it's only negative in it's intent by the user - that would be you. It's origins are not negative. If you were posting on Betty Davis, would you dare say she was being treated as a nigger?

clark said...

somebody ought to break it to kos gingerly, that he should warm up to a scenario where benson is the nominee, because that very well may happen.

Philip Munger said...

Diane Benson and I both understand use of the term "squaw" to be derisive.

But that is exactly how Moulitsas is treating her - not even giving her a name. Just like Don Young, who avoided naming her in 2006. Just like the Democratic Party, that treated her like that in the 2006 campaign.

Anonymous said...

From this, one can reasonably infer that Diane is aware of, and approves of, your use of the word "squaw" to describe how she was putatively treated by her rival(s) for the nomination. With one phrase, you brand both Metcalfe and Berkowitz as being racist misogynists.

If Diane's whole campaign is going to be about her victimization, I've got better things to do. On the other hand, if it is to be about substance, perhaps she can explain how her total lack of experience in any publicly elected deliberative body qualifies her to go from the stage (if that is what she really does for a living; no one has seen her income taxes) to the U.S. Congress.

Anonymous said...

Do any of the polls show how Ethan or Diane stack up against Parnell?
Just courious

clark said...

i do agree that the lack of legislative experience may give her an unfair advantage in the current climate.

Linda Scates said...

You got that right, Clark. I'm sick of professional politicians myself. The House of Representatives is supposed to be "the people's house," after all.

Philip Munger said...

I stand by the "squaw" reference, in terms of Jake, the party in 2006, and Moulitsas. As I research the media's 2001-2002 treatment of the "Indian Girls" affair - I'm about 60 hours into my research - I feel more and more that Diane was treated similarly to the derisive term at that time in regard to her family's, house's, clan's and tribe's dignity.

As regards Ethan, I'm not prepared to deal at this time with how he relates to women in general, but he has enabled Kos's leveraging of the false meme that leaves Diane out of the electoral equation. As if she doesn't exist or is somehow, a politically inferior being for some reason or another.

CelticDiva said...

Is it really not obvious to people that ignoring/treating Diane like she's invisible is the same treatment women...especially Native women have been subjected to for centuries?

Kos has painted a "fantasy race" between Berkowitz and Young when we ALL KNOW ("ALL" includes the Repubs) that Young won't be the candidate. Either that means that Kos is politically uninformed (wait while I stop laughing) or that he has an agenda by portraying it that way.

Linda Scates said...

I read your thread on Kos, Phil. Wow, you really did stir them up, didn't you? Ha! I do think you got your point across, though, and it was a point well taken. It was nice to see you this evening at the forum. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Of course he "...really did stir them up..." - calumny and slander work every time. Munger has revealed himself to be just as intellectually dishonest and offensive as Dan Fagan. Meanwhile, I remain curious as to whether the supposed beneficiary of Munger's rhetorical excesses (Ms. Benson) is on board with it, or if she intends to actually campaign for Congress on her beliefs and her record.

Philip Munger said...

anon @#12,

Would you care to expand on that? And are you courageous enough to come out from behind your phony anonymity?

Where was the "calumny and slander"?

What bullshit...

Philip Munger said...


Surrounded as I was by three lovely, activist feminists, I was almost in heaven. Hearing your, Andrea's and Vanessa's comments on the forum participants' answers was worth its weight in platinum.

Anonymous said...

Bullshit, indeed. "Anonymous" is an appelaton that happens to be one of the choices you offer to those who respond on your blog site; if you don't like it, change it.

I'm not sure, but I assume that the calumny that "Anonymous" was referring to was your hardly-veiled charge (the one you "stand by") that Metcalfe (and probably Berkowitz) are racist and sexist.

That is grossly offensive because (among other things) it's a squalid lie.

Why can't we all just get along and work to get Stevens and Young retired instead of spreading vicious and slimy slander against your candidate's ertwhile opponent? You're making it very hard to contemplate supporting Ms. Benson under any circumstances.

Philip Munger said...

By publishing links to Kos's intentionally misleading December and May posts on the United 2000 polls at his campaign web site, and using the mythical narrative contained in Moulitsas's essays to help raise campaign funds, Berkowitz has become an abettor of Kos's treatment of Benson - ie. ignoring her or treating her as if she dosn't exist - in a derisive way, while undertanding that she is a Native American female.

Metcalfe's neglect of her 2006 campaign was similar. If I had a quarter for every time I've heard Jake, or heard of Jake saying, "I like Diane, but..." in that certain dismissive way, I could fill my pickup truck's tank at least once.

In usage of the term "squaw"I have observed over my life, my use of the word in the context "treated her more like a squaw than..." is not inapproprate.

For commenters to claim that on this issue I'm accusing them of racist misogyny or that we're tearing the Party apart, is absurd.

For you DENSA members out there, I'll reiterate: The fact is, Berkowitz is enabling Kos to publish and spread a myth that Diane Benson is not worthy of mention in the 2008 campaign and misleding people to believe she isn't even in it. Berkowitz then uses the myth to raise money. She IS a Native American female.

My authority for usage, in part, is based on the opininon of noted linguist Ives Goddard, as published in the April 1997 issue of the Journal, News From Indian Country:

Since the word squaw continues to be of interest and concern, and since my views have been
misstated by one of your correspondents, I'd like to make available to your readers a few relevant
facts about it.

First let me say that I have never "disputed the fact that the term is offensive'' (as claimed by
Muriel Charwood-Litzau in your mid December 1996 issue, citing a misleading Associated Press
story). I have always tried to emphasize that squaw is now generally considered disparaging, as
current dictionaries rightly indicate. Everyone would regard its use to refer to a Native American
woman as demeaning (or colossally ignorant), though it should be noted that terms like squaw
bread and squaw dance are still pretty widely used in Indian Country.

In its historical origin, however, the word squaw is perfectly innocent, as current dictionaries
also correctly indicate: squaw comes from a language of the Algonquian family in which it
meant "woman.'' The facts are as follows:

Many languages of the Algonquian family have related words for "woman'' that can be
reconstructed back to the Proto-Algonquian parent language as *ethkweewa by using the
techniques of comparative linguistics. (In writing words phonetically I'll omit accents and write
double vowels for long vowels, as in current Ojibwe spelling; the * means the word is
unattested.) Some of the words that are descended from this are Cree iskweew, Ojibwe ikwe
(pronounced ikkwee, with ee about like the a of English bad), Meskwaki ihkweewa, Oklahoma
Delaware xkwee (x like German ch or Spanish jota), Canadian Delaware oxkweew, and the word
in the extinct Massachusett language of eastern Massachusetts that is spelled squa and ussqua.
(Note: The language name Massachusett has no final -s). These are all the ordinary words for
"woman'' in these languages, except for Massachusett squa, which has become specialized to
"female, younger woman.'' [Even Cheyenne he’e (pronounced with mid-level tone) and Arapaho
hisei, the words for ‘woman’, go back to the same source; in these languages original *kw is
regularly lost, and the medial consonant cluster shows up as a glottal stop (written with an
apostrophe) in Cheyenne and as an s in Arapaho.]

Massachusett squa appears in the Massachusett Bible (printed in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in
1663) in Mark 10:6, translating "female,'' and in the plural form squaog in 1 Timothy 5:2 and
5:14, translating "younger women.'' It is found in the writings of Massachusett Indians,
including a will written in the Massachusett language by a native preacher from Martha's
Vineyard who uses it to refer to his unmarried daughters. Massachusett squa was an ancient and
thoroughly decent word.

Anonymous said...

Hmm. Benson's silence on this debate is deafening. If she wants to salvage the credibility of her campaign, she needs to quickly issue a press release saying that she disavows and repudiates comments by her blogger-in-chief to the effect that Metcalfe and/or Berkowitz are racists and sexists; misogynists; further, she needs to make it clear that she has asked Mr. Munger to step away from her campaign. Otherwise, one is left with the inescapable impression that she agrees with Mr. Munger.

Once she does that, she can turn her attention to running a campaign in which she is treated seriously because she is a serious candidate.

Philip Munger said...

anon @ #17 - silence on what debate?

Anonymous said...

Presumably, the "debate" between you and "Anonymous" posters that assert that you have scurrilously called both Metcalfe and Berkowitz racist misogynists. If you think that the only reason Benson's candidacy has not been taken seriously is because she is a Native American female (which is the clear implication of your prattle), then it is up to Ms. Benson to disavow your comments and to run a campaign that can be evaluated on the merits of her experience, commitments, and positions. Otherwise, we are left with the impression that her entire candidacy is premised on some deluded sense of entitlement. The people of Alaska, and thinking progressives, deserve better.

Philip Munger said...

1. This site does not seek approval for any of its content from any candidate

2. Diane Benson has not been characterized here or elsewhere as having anything closely resembling "a deluded sense of entitlement." It is a multi-dimensional, serious campaign.

3. What Berkowitz and Moulitsas have done by raising money through projection of a false image of the campaign is wrong.

4. You continue to misread my use of a word that has more than one definition, as having a definition you have chosen, even after that has been carefully clarified. Your projection is getting tedious.

5. Bugger off...

Anonymous said...

1. Good for you; because you don't seek approval, all one can conclude from your blather is that Diane should choose her friends more carefully. Of course, that disclaimer doesn't explain the comment you posted earlier ("Diane Benson and I both understand use of the term "squaw" to be derisive"), which clearly suggests that you consulted with her before you used it.

2. You have your opinion, and Anonymous has hers; if all one knew about the Benson campaign was what you have been writing about it, it is surely understandable to conclude that her campaign is about her sense of entitlement (premised solely on victimhood).

3. Berkowitz is a candidate who wants to win. It is understandable that his campaign will downplay his opponent's viability. So once again: If Benson wants to be taken seriously, she should run a serious campaign.

4. You continue to defend your use of a word that is regarded (by you, as well as in the "clarification") as being pejorative toward Native American women. And you repeatedly brand Berkowitz (and, earlier, Metcalfe) as people who don't take Benson's candidacy seriously and so treat her like a squaw. And you do not deny that the implication of your comments is that Berkowitz (and Metcalfe) are racist misogynists because the "treated her more like a squaw..."

5. Probably the most revealing comment in this entire thread. It sounds as if you're still working for Don Young.

Philip Munger said...

anon 2 #21 - you're understating the basic dishonesty of what Moulitsas and Berkowitz have done by the combination of Moulitas's fake meme on the basic structure of the race, and Berkowitz's linking to that false meme at his web site, where his campaign raises money.

That isn't about, as you say "winning." It is about reverting to an unethical level one might think to be more akin to Don Young's standards, than to those of a person who goes around at most campaign stops declaring how he "objected" to dishonesty and corruption while in the AK House.

Anonymous said...

Phil -- I'm unable to see the logic in your argument about the Kos poll. I've looked at the campaign website of each candidate for Congress (Rs and Ds) and none of them mention other candidates at their website. Why would any of the candidates mention his or her opponent(s) on their website? I understand how passionately you believe in Diane, but I'd have to say that your complaints that Ethan is being unethical fall flat.