Thursday, August 31, 2006

GOP nationalizing the 2006 election: another take

There is a diary posted at Daily Kos which talks about the likelihood of the GOP nationalizing the election around Rep. Pelosi, and although I believe the author is correct to assume that the GOP is doing its best to have a national theme. I do not believe that they are focusing on Rep. Pelosi.

In just a quick walk through the news one can find what the theme for the GOP elections is going to be "Fascism" (here, here, here and here). And while this seems patently foolish on its face, I fear that if the left does not devise a way to fight against their attempt to set the national agenda the midterm elections will be in jeopardy.

Even with Keith Olbermann's complete thrashing of Donald Rumsfeld last night, we have got to be more aggressive in beating back the idea that fighting terrorism = fighting fascism. If you do a simple Google search of the news, you will find six references to Olbermann and Fascism. Which shows you that as great as his commentary was, it didn't get to the folks that need to hear it the most.

Right now, the GOP is doing its best to engrain in the heads of every voter that GOP = fighting the terrorists = stay the course in Iraq = fighting fascists. They are doing this because they know a.) it will rile up their base b.) it will attract independent voters. As has been noted here before, independent voters do not look for elaborate arguments or issues to justify their votes. Instead, they respond to themes in the election. Whether or not fighting the war in Iraq is actually the same as fighting fascism is of no practical consequence, they are focused on the THEME. The GOP theme for 2006 will be "George Bush and the GOP fights fascism" and the choice for the undecided voter will be "do I support fascism?" The GOP/Karl Rove has done this in each of the last three major elections in 2000 it was "compassionate conservatism", in 2002 it was "terrorism" and in 2004 it was "values". There were no issues, just ridiculous platitudes, but they worked.

How do we fight this? We on the left can offer up a million different reasons why the GOP should not be in charge (with the clearest one being its incompetency) and we can bring up another million issues that the general public agrees with us about, but until we offer a compelling theme to undecided voters, our chances against the GOP are not as great as we would like to think.

Now, it is awful that our democratic system has come to this, but sadly it has. That is not to say that it cannot be fixed, but we will not be able to fix it until we win this election.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Please watch

Keith Olbermann of MSNBC's Countdown gave a response to Donald Rumsfeld which was really one of the best speeches I have seen in long time. Here is the transcript and the video. Chills down the spine kind of stuff.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Let's make Karl Rove the boogeyman

I have been thinking about this for a while and this article about the ‘re-emergence’ of Karl Rove highlights the need for a strategy to make his influence an issue in the upcoming elections. It is a bit ironic that the man who has been so artful in creating liberal bogeymen (e.g. Michael Moore, Kos, Howard Dean, homosexuals), should become one himself. Yet, Rove is the perfect target for such a project.

Judging from appearances alone, Rove is inherently unlikable. With his flesh colored hair, puffy face and unctuous demeanor, it is almost as if he came out of central casting for the role of George Babbit. To put it simply, the man looks like a weasel. Second, his public persona is another weakness, in media depictions; he comes off as both arrogant and unrepentant. These qualities do not play well with the average American voter, especially for someone who looks the way Karl Rove does. Lastly, his behavior regarding the Plame affair makes for easy pickings, Democrats can frame his involvement (without getting into the minutiae regarding the case) rather simply. He played politics with national security.

Specifically, how might this work? From personal experience, I have seen how the targeting of Mr. Rove can make a politician squirm. Shortly after Rove’s involvement in the Plamegate became known, I wrote to my congressman (Rob Simmons) and asked if he was willing to condemn the actions of Karl Rove. Rep. Simmons had a very difficult time responding to this issue. He neither supported nor criticized Rove’s actions; he essentially just hemmed and hawed about the state of American politics. Within this election, Democrats should focus on this very same issue. Whenever their Republican counterpart refuses to denounce Karl Rove, Democrats should harp on the fact that their opponent puts politics before the safety of the American people.

One potential criticism of such a plan is that Karl Rove is not that well known by the American public. In a recent poll by USA Today/Gallup, nearly 40% of those polled had no opinion of him, while the vast majority of Democrats had an unfavorable opinion and a majority of Republicans had a positive view. Yet, this is precisely why we should make him an issue. There is a great opportunity for Democrats to attach a negative ‘prime’ to Karl Rove in the minds of independent voters. By us controlling and framing the debate regarding Rove, we can then connect him to Republican candidates.

The benefits of such a strategy are potentially enormous. The first is that Democrats can go on the offensive regarding the importance of national security. We can present ourselves as the party that refuses to play politics, while Republicans are all too happy to ignore security problems in the hopes of winning an election. Secondly, it puts Republican candidates in an uncomfortable position. Either they can remain silent on the matter, which highlights the problem with Rove’s power; or, they can criticize. If they come out and criticize Karl Rove, it focuses negative attention on the White House and Republicans in general. Moreover, because President Bush will never get rid of Rove, it will make the Republicans look ineffective in controlling the White House. Lastly, it may very well get Rove off his game. The White House and Republican Party looked completely overmatched over the course of this last year, and I don’t think there is any coincidence that this was the result of the Fitzgerald investigation. With Rove determined to save his own ass, the Republicans experienced political failure after political failure. I do not believe he will do too well when he realizes that he is the albatross around the Republican’s neck.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Conservative Philosophy, Easter Bunnies and Serious Thinking

I love Tom Tomorrow's latest cartoon and it highlights one of the most annoying trends in current American politics, the belief that conservatives are the ones considered serious about world affairs and progressives are wild-eyed idealists. Unfortunately, this is not limited to discussions about current events, it is also indicative of the debate regarding political philosophies. Liberal political philosophies are cast aside as foolish, while the conservative philosophies are regarded as being academically serious. When you examine the underpinnings of the two big ideas within conservative circles, free markets and The Freedom Agenda, their beliefs are similar to any child's belief in the Easter Bunny.

First off, the great conservative belief in free markets. Within most American popular political discourse, the idea that there is an invisible hand which rules the economic landscape is taken as a given. If we just let the economy go on its own, then all things will work out because of its intrinsic rationality. When progressives mention that such systems are prone to corruption and put an undue burden on the poor, we are derided for being silly and unaccustomed to economic policy.

Secondly, the neo-con's universal embrace of the 'The Freedom Agenda". Within the Bush Administration and among their supporters, there is the belief that once we remove the tyrannical elements of foreign governments, freedom will bloom. As made famous by Donald Rumsfeld during the looting of Baghdad, there was no concern for the safety of the Iraqi people because "freedom is messy". We were told not to worry about the insurgency because there were elections and elections will bring security. Just like their faith in free markets, there is an intrinsic rationality associated with the spread of freedom.

In both of these ideologies, their vacuousness is never tested. Like the child who sees no need to question just how the Easter basket got into their home, conservatives (and the popular press) just shrug their shoulders and bask in their seriousness. And just like the parent that ends up cleaning the vomit after the child ate three pounds of candy, it is the job of the unserious to make things o.k.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

This is refreshing

I came across this blog posting (via Media Matters) by a reporter for the Pilly Inquirer and was really glad to see that at least one journalist has not gone crazy (unlike this guy). For far too long it seems that journalism has become the practice of just writing down what somebody says and leaving it at that. This practice, for whatever reason is called 'being objective' and while it is in a broad sense objective it leads to stories which take the following form (x said p, y said ~p) and the reporter evades any responsibility for the veracity of p.

However, the job of the reporter is to uncover the truth. That means, determining the truth value of p (x said p, p is true/false) and that gets us to some real sense of objectivity. Take, for instance, one of the issues that drove me crazy during the build-up to the Iraq war-- the aluminum tubes. The U.S. press faithfully reported the Bush administration's assertion that these were used for enriching uranium and left it at that (with the obligitory reference from the Iraqi government stating they were not used for that purpose). Yet, if you were lucky enough to listen to the reporting from the BBC at that time, it was possible to hear nuclear experts explain that the tubes could not have been used for that purpose.

I now fear that the exact same thing will happen with Iran. Right now the intelligence regarding Iran is sketchy at best, and this will allow for some Bush official to say something about the impending apocalypse. The press will be too lazy to figure out if the assertion is true and we will meander ignorantly towards another military fiasco (on the bright side, the stocks I own on Toby Keith and Lee Greenwood will go through the roof).

Friday, August 25, 2006

Great Video of the Adams Apple

You'd think he would handle this like a man, but Ann 'Adams Apple' Coulter is a little baby. He was on Hannity and Colmes and got it handed to him by the guest host. In fact, he ends up walking off of the show. It is a great video from Crooks and Liars.

And please, if there is a God, please give Kirsten Powers (the guest host) a show. I have been waiting for years for a liberal to start pushing these punks around (kind of the anti-Paul Begala) and she was wonderful.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

We've got work to do

Forbes just did a rundown of the U.S.'s drunkest city. Sadly, Philly ranked 9th. Looks like we got some work to do. Interestingly, Boston was 4th and I think I know why it did so well.

What is intesting about Philly are the laws regarding alchohol and I am still trying to understand them. But here is what I've got so far:
  • You can only get six-packs of beer from restaurants or bars, you cannot by it at a store and it is extremely expensive ($9 for mediocre beer).
  • If you want more than a six-pack you can only get a case of beer and you can only get that at a beer distributor. These distributors function on normal business hours (open until 6 to 7). However, beer is a steal here; you can get a case of Sierra Nevada for $20, which is not a bad price.
  • Hard alcohol and wine can only be bought at Spirit and Wine shops (where beers is strictly verbotten).

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Yeah, what he said

There is so much talk about independent/swing voters being an easily definable group of folks. You often hear the pundit class say "who will capture swing voters this election"? As if this is really a bloc of people that have a consistent way of looking at the world. This post by Digby is spot on, swing voters are essentially part of faceless irrational mob who are more apt to respond to media primes then consistent policy messages. It is the job of those engaged in politics to 'spread the love'.

Hours and Hours of Fun

If anyone is looking to burn a few hours listening to some great live music, check out All Songs Considered. They have been webcasting incredible concerts by indie bands for about a year now and the shows are an absolute joy to listen to.

There really isn't a downside to this plan

From the administration that gave you 9/11, Iraq, Katrina, enormous deficits and environmental degredation; we now see the build up for a conflict in Iran. I wouldn't trust anyone in this administration to successfully make me a PB&J much less invade another country.

I suggest we get everyone at the White House some crayons and coloring books and ask them to master coloring in the lines; this is a good plan because 1. it is cognitively appropriate for this crew and 2. would easily keep them occupied until January of 2009.

I feel dirty

Ok, so earlier today the 24 hour news networks were all a buzz over the story about this guy. Ostensibly, he was just a normal guy that wanted to tell the President how much he loved him (funny how easy it is to spend some time with the Fart Afficianado when you come to praise him, Cindy Sheehan should take this guys advice). is the way this administration works, things aren't as they seem. Mr. Vaccarella is probably a shill.
Medical Malpractice Scare Tactics aka The Sky is Falling!!!

In a all-to-common attempt by Republican hacks to shill for the ultra-rich and corporations, we have Exhibit A: that malpractice suits drive up medical care. The facts? Portraits of a malpractice system that is stricken with frivolous litigation are overblown.

Center for Justice and Democracy points out the following facts from this article:
  • Most injuries that result in claims are caused by medical error.
  • Claims typically involve injuries that are severe.
  • Even though the large majority of claims (63 percent) involve error, those that do not involve error are not “frivolous.”
  • The vast majority of resources go toward resolving and paying claims that involve errors.
  • Most instances of medical malpractice do not result in a lawsuit.
  • Few claims result in court trial and with regard to those that do, juries are conservative.
Reminds me of the scary-titled 'Death Tax,' that is supposedly putting family farms on the auction block, without actual evidence that this is happening. Gotta love it.

Really not much else to say

A diarist at Daily Kos posted this the other day. It really is required viewing/reading.

I don't get it. What happened to JonBenet Ramsey/Natalie Holloway/Chandra Levy
is beyond horrible, but it is not national news. It is a movie of the week. I pray for the day when the 24 hour news networks see things the same way.

We're out of irony, but we have plenty of crazy today

Ok, I am trying to figure out just what a conservative pundit would have to say or do in order for them to vanish from our television screens. Ann "Adams Apple" Coulter calls for the murder of reporters from the NY Times and calls the 9/11 widows "grief pimps" yet is still a fixture on the Today show. Pat Robertson calls for the bombing of the US State Department and is still a major player . So where is the line?

I mean outside of the obvious (the Fox News rule), if any conservative pundit were to either criticize the President or the network's fairness he/she would be banned for good and their first born child would be sold into slavery.

I think we really need an over/under on the crazy and I propose that if any conservative commentator were to say the following they would not be asked back:

To ensure that my thinking is sharp, every morning I bathe in the blood of freshly squeezed kittens that I steal from orphanages.

Any takers on that?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Silly Partisanship

You know what I like about Sen. Crybaby (Joe Lieberman)? He is an independent, he will go onto any right wing nutcase's radio show and simply agree with just about anything he says.

There is civility and then there is the type of civility some people get at rest areas along the Jersey Turnpike. The Democratic voters got rid of this punk because his version of civility is the latter. Do us all a favor, drop out Joe.

check out this video from Think Progress...

Bush Now Says What He Wouldn’t Say Before War: Iraq Had ‘Nothing’ To Do With 9/11

Here's a quiz for the kids. This video is:
1-an inspriring display of leadership virility
2-a manifest argument for staying the course, not 'cutting and running'
3-a scary reminder that being the 'leader of the free world' does not mean as much as it once did.

If you answered '3', thank you, nice work. 1 or 2? Pull your head out of your nether region and stop digesting Fox News wholesale as the 'New New Testament.'
Beyond the Call of Duty

Did you write that whole blog entry yourself?? You are a big boy! You have already demonstrated that you are more thoughtful than the Decider.

Bloggerating is Hard

Maybe not as hard as Presidenterating. But sweet jesus, my first post took me nearly 20 minutes to figure out.

Special on Irony Today- only $1.99

It is amazing what spills out of some folk's mouths when they get angry. This telling quote (courtesy of Sadly, No) is from an essay by pointless conservative Michael Barone:

We have always had our covert enemies, but their numbers were few until the 1960s. But then the elite young men who declined to serve in the military during the Vietnam War set out to write a narrative in which they, rather than those who obeyed the call to duty, were the heroes.
While I think it is funny to laugh at the unintended meaning here (i.e. military whereabouts and now hawkish stands of Dick Cheney, George Bush, Denny Hastert, Bill Frist) this is a position that really burns me. It certainly seems that in today's debate on military engagement we are led by people who refused to step up when it was their time to serve. I don't think it is a simple case of hypocracy in their case, it is a simple case of cowardice and the American people should really think about what it means to elect these type of people.

That is not to suggest that anyone who has not served in the military is a coward. If, for example, I found out that Rush Limbaugh got arrested in 1968 for protesting the Vietnam war, I would give some mad props to ol' Tubby McGee. These people now espouse a position that is brutally militaristic, yet they were afraid to put their asses on the line when my father (by choice) and father-in-law (not by choice) were "in the shit". That is cowardice, and what that means for this country is that we have a lot of leaders who lack integrity.

What a Moronic Presidential Press Conference!

This, after all, is the president who invaded Iraq without the slightest understanding of the country's ethnic composition or of the volcanic tensions that toppling its dictator might unleash. Complexity has no place in his schemes. Choices are never cloudy. The world is divided into the forces of terror and the forces of freedom: The one's defeat means the other's victory."

Monday, August 14, 2006

From Think Progress...

Straight Talkin’ McCain Takes Both Sides of Gay Marriage Amendment Debate

In 2004, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said he opposed a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage:

Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona broke forcefully with President Bush and the Senate GOP leadership Tuesday evening over the issue of same-sex marriage, taking to the Senate floor to call a constitutional amendment that would effectively ban the practice unnecessary — and un-Republican. “The constitutional amendment we’re debating today strikes me as antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans,” McCain said.

But yesterday, ABC reported that McCain confided to Jerry Falwell that he would support such an amendment:

McCain “reconfirmed” to Falwell that he would support a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman if a federal court were to strike down state constitutional bans on gay marriage.

Since aligning himself with Falwell and far right conservatives, gay marriage isn’t the only issue on which the “straight talk express” has backtracked. In 2000, McCain called Falwell one of America’s “agents of intolerance;” now he has agreed to give the commencement address at Falwell’s Liberty University on May 13.

UPDATE: Carpetbagger has more.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Send a Hiroshima Day E-Card

"In honor of Hiroshima Day, we'd like to take a minute to reflect on just how absurd it is for America to maintain 10,000 nuclear bombs. Defense experts say that many simply aren't needed, and by reducing the nuclear arsenal our country could save $14 billion dollars -- more than enough to save the lives of six million kids who die of starvation in impoverished nations each year."