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Primary elections are not usually very exciting. A few political insiders pay close attention, a few party activists go to the polls and the news media give them a day's worth of coverage before moving on to bigger and better stories. But Connecticut's Democratic Party Senate primary was very different. Senator Joe Lieberman's defeat was a national event, with pundits, candidates and voters across the country speculating for weeks on what it means for November and beyond.

Was this election a referendum on the war in Iraq? Is this a shot across the bow of other incumbents who have put insufficient distance between themselves and the Bush administration? Yes, but maybe it was something more than that. By defeating Lieberman, Ned Lamont became just one of a handful of challengers to beat an incumbent in recent US history. That made this primary an unusual opportunity for voters to affect the outcome of both the election and, presumably, the resulting policies.

In our grossly uncompetitive election system in which nearly 60 percent of Senate seats and over 80 percent of House seats are won by landslide margins of 20 percentage points or more, it's not surprising that voters jumped at the chance to make a difference. (And they did: Lieberman was only the fourth incumbent senator since 1980 to lose a party primary.) And when the average margins of victory are 21 percentage points in Senate races and a whopping 40 points in House races, is it not surprising that Connecticut was where media from other states turned their attention.

After thirty-one days of war between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon, and more than 1,000 dead, the United Nations has finally passed a cease-fire. Now what?

At the beginning of what is shaping up as America's summer of discontent, U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press" for a discussion about his opposition to the war in Iraq and the prospect that he might seek the presidency in 2008 as the candidate of Democrats who want their party to propose a dramatic departure from Bush administration foreign and domestic policies.

The program's host, Tim Russert, asked Feingold: "When will you decide whether you're running?"

"I'm going to look at this, Tim, after the elections in 2006," replied the maverick senator from Wisconsin. "I need to look at what happens in the congressional races -- how are the ideas I've been presenting resonating with the American people -- and decide whether this is something that makes sense or whether it's better for me to remain in the United States Senate."

An evil symbiosis does exist between Muslim terrorists and Americanpoliticians, but it is not the one Republicans describe. The jihadistsneed George W. Bush to sustain their cause. His bloody crusade in theMiddle East bolsters their accusation that America is out to destroyIslam. The president has unwittingly made himself the lead recruiter ofwilling young martyrs.

More to the point, it is equally true that Bush desperately needs theterrorists. They are his last frail hope for political survival. Theydivert public attention, at least momentarily, from his disastrous warin Iraq and his shameful abuses of the Constitution. The "news" ofterror--whether real or fantasized--reduces American politics to itsmost primitive impulses, the realm of fear-and-smear where George Bushis at his best.

So, once again in the run-up to a national election, we are visitedwith alarming news. A monstrous plot, red alert, high drama playing onall channels and extreme measures taken to tighten security.

The easy invocation of "terrorism"--whether by pundits or political leaders--is not just sloppy use of language. It is precisely targeted phrasing intended to terrorize dissent.

Joe Lieberman is showing his true colors. Speaking at a campaign event in Waterbury, Connecticut on Thursday, Lieberman sounded like Edgar Bergen's Charlie, the ventriloquist dummy, sitting on Cheney's lap. Echoing the ugly baiting and defeatist claims that Cheney, Mehlman and the Republican hate machine are making not just about Lamont, but about Democrats in general, Lieberman said,"If we just pick up like Ned Lamont wants us to do, get out by a date certain, it will be taken as a tremendous victory by the same people who wanted to blow up these planes in this plot hatched in England. It will strengthen them, and they will strike again."

Once more, as the President's men turn war into poisonous partisan politics Joe Lieberman provides their echo and cover, not their challenge. So much for his supposed independence. He is once more an enabler, now of the ugliest form of politics. (And watch for Karl Rove and the RNC to pump money and campaign assistance into Lieberman's campaign--since they have no use for the Republican running against Lamont.)

In a recent speech, Vice President Dick Cheney trotted out the Republicans' ugly, low-road campaign tactic of positioning themselves as strong and the Democrats as weak on national security. Nothing new there.

But what was really worth noting is that Cheney essentially called Ronald Reagan a cut-and-runner, who had emboldened the extremists with his withdrawal from Beirut in 1983. Hardball's Chris Mathews kept re-running this quote two evenings ago, and did not even understand the political significance that Cheney was calling the hero of the conservative movement an appeaser of Islamic fascism.

Champagne is still bubbling over Ned Lamont's primary victory over war apologist and Bush-snogger Joe Lieberman, and I'm as happy about it as anyone. Lamont's win is a triumph for (small d)democratic participation (since too few incumbents are challenged). It also represents a (rare) show of power for grass-roots organizing, sends a clear message to the Democratic Party about Iraq and -- most importantly, and unusually -- punishes a politician for being wrong. Deeply, fatally, immorally wrong.

But allow me for a moment to rain on this victory parade. Most major labor unions supported Lieberman, and the AFL-CIO is even planning to sit out the general election rather than support Lamont, rendering the group even more pathetic than Hillary Clinton, who this time -- to her credit -- not only said she would respect the decision of the voters, but wrote Lamont a $5,000 check. The unions' stance is partly understandable. Lieberman's voting record on labor issues is not bad, and Lamont was an unknown quantity (as well as a boss whose own workforce is not unionized, and a member of the super-rich community). But Lieberman's support of the bankruptcy "reform" bill, which was written by the credit card industry and will cause immense financial hardship for working Americans, should have given the unions pause. And even more importantly, unions should be thinking about how to connect with the organized grassroots liberalism -- given voice by the blogosphere, the former Deaniacs, MoveOn.com -- that Lamont represents, or they are doomed to ever more irrelevance. And let's not let those grassroots liberals off the hook either; next time they line up behind an unknown wealthy candidate like Lamont, they should pressure that person to be much smarter on issues that directly affect working America. A gang of pissed-off yuppies isn't -- by itself -- going to make serious social change. As powerful -- and perhaps, headed for victory -- as the Lamont campaign is, it would be so much stronger if labor and the anti-war netroots could work together. That would not only guarantee a win in November: it would be a coalition with a real future.

Pro-Lieberman Beltway pundits who whined about progressive bloggers and sounded noisy alarms about the disastrous impact of a Lamont win will have a lot of explaining to do come November.

According to the Washington Post, British Petroleum was told by employees that the company was not sufficiently monitoring and repairing its Alaskan Prudhoe Bay pipeline in February, 2004.

"If we find [a] pipe that we know is rotten, they have to replace it," said an unidentified employee in a BP report. "My concern, however, is that they are not taking a look at every piece of pipe that they need to be."

The report goes on to say, "Contractors, suppliers and the conservation community were concerned about BP's purported drive to support the highest standards, yet push for reduced costs in its operations."

I walked out of the metro in Washington yesterday to find Union Station cordoned off, with police everywhere. "Suspicious package," a cop told me. We have a lot of those down here these days.

When I got to work and turned on my computer I read the news of the foiled London terror plot.

If you feel safer now than you did before September 11 and before we invaded Iraq, kudos, because I sure don't.

George Bush is vacationing in Texas, and members of Congress – with the notable exception of Nebraska Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, Ohio Democratic Representatives Dennis Kucinich and Marcy Kaptur and a handful of others – have taken the president's exit from Washington as an excuse to put any concerns regarding the crisis in the Middle East on hold until the dog days of August have passed.

Not so in Britain, where members of Parliament take more seriously there responsibility to consider what is being done in their name but without their informed consent.

With British Prime Minister Tony Blair following President Bush's "look-the-other-way" lead regarding Israel's continued bombing of civilian targets in Lebanon – with the death toll now hovering around 1,000, and the dislocation of more than 900,000 men, women and children – in a conflict that has also seen dozens of Israeli civilians killed by Hezbollah rocket attacks, leading members of Blair's own Labour party have joined with opposition legislators to demand the recall of Parliament to consider steps Britain could take to stop the killing.

Mayhem in Iraq. Global warming on the warpath. National debt to the moon. There's much to moan about. But it's the little things that sometimes can tick one...

If you want to know how Joe Lieberman undermines his former party on national security issues, just look at his response to the London terror arrests.

Democratic leaders reacted to the foiled plot by highlighting the importance of working with allies and the unwillingness of the Bush Administration to implement the 9/11 Commission's recommendations on airport security.

Lieberman used the occasion to blast Ned Lamont's position on the Iraq war.

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