The 2008 election is more than a year away, and already the machine is picking targets. Its first victim: Steve Novick, the underdog Democratic candidate who hopes to win the May primary and face Oregon's Republican senator, Gordon Smith.

The Rogue Desk isn't known for playing nice. We like it when politicians mix it up. But we're calling foul on Democratic media consultant Kari Chisholm , who runs the blog, for excessive use of bullshit in his mud-slinging.

This week, Chisholm accused Novick of buying into the Republican "swiftboating" of Jeff Merkley, Oregon's House Speaker and Smith's more established challenger.

So guess who Chisholm's backing? Here's a hint: He's not Republican, and he has 10 fingers.

Novick's supposed crime? The candidate with no left hand criticized Merkley for voting in favor of a March 2003 resolution in the Oregon Legislature acknowledging "the courage of President George W. Bush, the President's cabinet and the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States," and expressing "support for the victorious removal of Saddam Hussein from power."

Merkley's people are calling House Resolution 2 a "support the troops" measure. Sounds pretty pro-war to us.

Chisholm was also cheesed that Novick had pointed out that Democratic voters are demoralized because "they feel their leaders have missed opportunities…to take a strong stand against the war."

This rather obvious remark, said Chisholm, was an attack on Merkley and "a clear parroting of the Republican line."

It took the Rogue Desk a minute to untangle Chisholm's argument. It amounts to this: Criticizing Democrats who cowered before the bogus arguments of warmongering Republicans makes you…almost as bad as a warmongering Republican.

In other words, if you ain't with us, you must be against us.

Chisholm defends Merkley's role on the grounds that legislative rules prevented him from abstaining. Novick "was never put

in this box," Chisholm says.