November 6, 2012

Stopping People From Voting? Seriously, Why Do We Put Up With This For One Minute?

More than 50 years since the Civil Rights Movement and conservatives are still fighting to keep "the wrong kind of people" from voting. A 97-year-old in Georgia -- who has voted in every single election since she was old enough to vote -- is denied her right to vote. Florida is making citizens stand in line 4,5,6 hours to vote. Why are we putting up with this for one minute? Why isn't our government sending the US Army into these states that are trying to stop "the wrong kind of people" from voting?

This Was Settled!

This country already settled this: you can't keep people from voting! In the 1950s and 1960s conservatives tried to keep "the wrong kind of people" from voting and going to school. As a country we did something about it. We stopped putting up with it and ordered the army to push the conservatives aside and let people into the schools and voting booths.

In 1957 a Republican president sent the US Army into Little Rock to escort nine of "the wrong kind of" students into a school:



President Kennedy federalized the Alabama National Guard after George Wallace blocked the schoolhouse door to prevent "the wrong kind of people" from entering:


Once again conservatives are trying to keep "the wrong kind of people" from fully participating in the rights and privileges that we are all entitled to as citizens. (They really hate the idea that as citizens We, the People are "entitled" to certain things. We all are ENTITLED to share in the fruits of democracy -- that is what an "entitlement" is!)

Georgia Blocking Voters

Georgia is one of those states that has found a way to keep lots of "the wrong kind of people" from voting. They have imposed "Voter-ID" laws that are designed to keep lots of the elderly, minorities and students from being able to vote.

For just one example of how this has made it difficult for "the wrong kind of people" to vote, read Peggy’s story: The cruel cynicism of the voter ID crusade

Which brings us to the story of 97-year-old Peggy Cobb of Sandy Springs ... Peggy has voted in every presidential election since she was eligible, and most if not all others, too. ...

She has a Fulton County voter registration card and has voted in every election when she’s been here. Her expired Indiana driver’s license used to be enough ID at the polling booth. No more.

The story describes the obstacles she encountered trying to get the right ID to vote... most people would be forced to give up -- which is exactly the intent because she is "the wrong kind of person."

Florida Blocking Voters

Florida is one state making "the wrong kind of people" wait 4,5,6 hours in line to vote. People who work, the elderly and the simply fed up can't or won't do that so they don't, and that is the intent. Florida cut early voting time in half -- because 2008 showed that it made it too easy for "the wrong kind of people to vote" -- for the wrong kind of people. The effect is that minorities, students and elderly people find it difficult or impossible to vote. Amanda Terkel at Huffington Post reports, in Florida Early Voting Fiasco: Voters Wait For Hours At Polls As Rick Scott Refuses To Budge.

While many Democrats viewed it as a victory when a few offices opened absentee balloting on Sunday, the process is not the same as early voting -- and could result in more individuals not having their votes counted.

"Absentee ballots have a much higher rejection rate for minorities and young people, if you look at the Aug. 14 primary," said Smith.

A major reason there are so many problems at the polls is that last year, Florida's GOP-controlled legislature shortened the number of early voting days from 14 to eight, meaning all early voters are trying to cast their ballots in a shorter window. ...

... Smith said that he and Dartmouth professor Michael Herron found that in 2008, voters 65 or older were much more likely to cast ballots in the first five days of early voting than members of other age groups, alleviating some of the pressure at the polls in the remaining days. Those extra days, however, are gone this year, leading to a compression that the system has been unable to handle.

Other States Blocking Voters

Conservatives in state after state have set up barriers to keep "the wrong kind of people" from voting. Pennsylvania conservatives tried to implement a restrictive voter-ID law to keep "the wrwong kind of people" from voting. Several other states have implemented them. Ohio -- already famous for putting lots of voting machines in conservative areas and few in the areas where "the wrong kind of people" vote -- threw up barrier after barrier to voting including attempts to cut early voting hours.

Now Ohio will even throw out your provisional ballot if you write down that a drivers license was your ID when it was really some other valid ID!!! And the provisional ballot is set up to trick voters into doing that! Groups file emergency motion over last-minute move that could toss Ohio provisional ballots,

Husted’s order requires poll workers to not count provisional ballots where voters make any errors in filling out their provisional ballot and affirmation, including the part of the form detailing what forms of identification they are presenting in order to vote. The problem: Ohio law states that filling out the ID portion of the form is the responsibility of poll workers, not voters.

... Husted changed the voter affirmation form, moving the portion where the ID information is entered above the signature line, despite the fact that by Ohio statute, it is supposed to be below the voter’s signature, in the section of the form to be filled out by a poll worker.

This is just blatantly trying to keep citizens from voting because they are "the wrong kind of people." We just should not put up with this for even one minute. Why isn't Husted in jail?

Where Is Our Government?

Conservatives who run several states are trying to keep "the wrong kind of people" from voting for "the wrong kind of people." Where is our Federal government? Why are they allowing this? Why are they not sending the Justice Department to force those states to let people vote? Why are they not sending the US Army into those states that are trying to keep people from voting, so American citizens can vote?

I am getting fed up with accommodating these bigoted conservatives, just because they are backed by billionaires and giant corporations this time around. We are theoretically a country of laws. I mean, unless you're a banker.


This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

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October 22, 2012

Debate - Obama Won

Obama clearly won. Clearly.

Romney got of several lies that were not refuted, but several that did get refuted. After a while Romney was left just repeating his memorized script -- 4 times? Am I right that it was 4 times?

I wonder, is that ALL Romney has - just lying?

I saw Van Jones on CNN holding up an Etch-a-Sketch.

FYI - Obama never said that unemployment would be 5.4% by now. Romney repeated that lie ... how many time?

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October 7, 2012

Gas Price Rise Not Due To Election

We are assured by very serious people that the incredible rise in gas prices just before an election in which the oil companies hate one candidate, whose prospects are diminished by high gas prices, and love the other candidate,, whose prospects are improved by high gas prices, has absolutely nothing to do with the election. Nothing at all. Hey look over there.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:43 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 5, 2012

It's A Winner!

#1 Seeing the Forest: Election Prediction,

Here is my election prediction.

In November we are all going to be in shock that the Republicans would do that, go that far, do such things, let it get to that point. We simply aren't going to believe that that could have happened in this country, this world, this day and age. All of us.

#1 And another,

Gasoline prices are about to start climbing, and will continue to climb through the summer, and well into the fall. No one will be able to pin down exactly why.

Heh.

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September 28, 2012

The Clinton Speech, Not 47%

Look at the chart. The inflection point is Clinton's "explaining" speech, not the 47% remarks. They clinched it, but the turnaround started with Clinton's convention speech.

Sept. 27: The Impact of the '47 Percent' - NYTimes.com

THIS is what happens when Dems actually make their case. Clinton did that, here we are. Even consumer confidence is way up.

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September 20, 2012

Let My People Vote!

Funniest video in a long time:

Then go to this website: LetMyPeopleVote

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:32 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Best Election Video

Homer Votes 2012

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:44 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

August 25, 2012

Will Republican Convention Discuss Actual Jobs, Not "Tax-Cut" Jobs?

Next week the Republicans hold their convention. They will supposedly focus their message on the economy. But after four years of an agenda to block jobs and economic growth so they can campaign on complaints of no jobs and no growth, can they offer anything that might actually create jobs and improve the economy? We will see next week.

The Romney Jobs Plans

Perhaps the Republican convention will focus on the Romney jobs plan.

The Romney Jobs Plan has five parts, none of which actually involve actual job creation.

First, of course, Romney says he will create jobs by cutting taxes dramatically for the rich and giant corporations while, yes, raising them for everyone else. The Romney tax plan actually offers even more tax breaks to companies to move operations out of the country. It promises to be "revenue neutral" by getting rid of deductions and loopholes, which could well mean the mortgage interest deduction. (Romney refuses to offer specifics.)

Second, Romney says he will cut government regulations -- meaning cut the ability of We, the People (democracy) to keep companies from doing things that hurt us, hurt smaller companies and hurt the economy. Democracy's oversight is a "burden on the economy" the plan says. Specifically cited in the Romney plan are the new regulations on Wall Street passed in reaction to the deregulated Wall Street crashing the economy, the regulations enacfted after Enron scammed so many people, and efforts to protect our environment and reign in the oil companies after the Deepwater Horizon disaster and because of the terrible oncoming effects of climate change. The Romney plan says these "drive up costs." By getting rid of these "costs" he says jobs will be created. It is possible that he means temporary oil-spill cleanup jobs will be created.

Third, Romney promises to push for more NAFTA-style trade pacts, so even more jobs, factories and industries can be sent out of the country, making a few more Bain-style billionaires as the wages those workers were making are instead put in the pockets of a few. I guess lots of jobs are created when workers pack up machinery in a factory to ship to factories in other countries.

Fourth, Romney's energy plan is simple: unleash oil and coal companies to do anything they want, and get rid of all those pesky alternative energy projects like solar and wind energy. Build a pipeline across our country so Canadian oil companies can sell oil to China. Stop enforcement of environmental laws that hinder oil and coal companies. And, specifically, "Amend Clean Air Act to exclude carbon dioxide from its purview." Because the hottest year on record, the worst drought, states and regions on fire, terrible "100-year" storms and flood every year means ... hey, look over there!

Finally, the fifth part of the plan deals with labor. Apparently the South had it right, it is much more "business friendly" when you don't have to pay workers and they can't quit. Seriously, read this section. Paying workers and letting them have rights will "drive up costs and introduce rigidities that harm competitiveness and frustrate innovation." Letting workers negotiate will "reduce investment and slow job growth."

So a guy who made a fortune by laying people off and cutting the pay of the remaining people (cutting costs), and keeping that money for himself, says that we should base our economy on doing that because it worked for him.

The House Republican Jobs Plan

Perhaps the Republican convention will instead focus on the House Republican jobs plan.

The House Republican Plan for America's Job Creators - Summary: cut taxes for the rich, get rid of the ability of We, the People to control the giant corporations. (Special bonus: get rid of regulations that keep companies from doing harm AND get rid of our ability to sue companies that do harm!)

The introduction to the House plan says that "government takeovers of the economy" (?) have not worked. Government takeovers of the economy? What? Anyway, let's examine the plan.

Cut Taxes: the House plan promises to "reduce the overall tax rate to no more than 25% for businesses and individuals including small business owners." Of course, this is a huge tax cut for the wealthiest. These are the "job creators." The definition of "job creator" is really, really rich. Paris Hilton "creates jobs." So even more tax cuts for the rich. Because doing that created so many jobs in the Bush years...

Trade: The plan has a trade plank that actually encourages even more closing factories here and sending the jobs there. Because doing that created so many jobs in the Bush years...

Import Cheaper, Foreign Skilled Workers: The plan has a plank calling for special visas to let in foreign workers to do high-skilled jobs because they are paid less than Americans -- older, experienced American tech workers in particular. Because doing that created so many jobs in the Bush years...

Austerity: The plan discusses deficits (after promising to dramatically cut taxes) -- using wording implying that deficits cost jobs, which is a standard of Republican rhetoric. So after cutting taxes for the rich, starting two wars and doubling the military budget on top of that, they turned a surplus into huge deficits, and now they say this means we need to ... wait for it ... cut back on the things We, the People do for each other instead of undoing those things that caused the deficits. Whatever. Because doing that created so many jobs in Europe...

Drill, Baby, Drill!: And, finally, the House Republican plan say we must let the oil companies drill more. Of course. Because doing that created so many jobs in the Bush years...

So that is the House plan to "create jobs." Do more of what they did in the prosperous, job-creating, economy-improving, deficit-reducing Bush years! This plan will create lots of "revolving door" jobs when House members and their staffs move into lucrative corporate lobbying jobs provided for them if and only if they vote for the above treats for billionaires and their corporations.

What Will They Actually Do If Actually Elected?

If Republicans are put in power, what will they actually do? Will they decide to actually create jobs, or will it just be more treats for a few billionaires and their giant corporations? (Because doing that created so many jobs in the Bush years...) The existing Romney and House Republican plans focus on treats for billionaires because their election effort is almost entirely funded by billionaires and their giant corporations.

But what about after the election? Will they feel a need to actually create jobs? Will they calculate that the electorate will toss them out if they don't bring about the promised improvements in the economy by cutting taxes and getting democracy out of the way of the big corporations?

Maybe they won't decide to actually create jobs and grow the economy. They'll still be able to take advantage of the revolving door jobs machine, with legislators and their staff able to move seamlessly from government jobs where they pass treats to billionaires, into lucrative jobs provided by those billionaires.

But if they calculate that they need to actually create actual jobs for actual people, and actually help our actual economy their plans offer noting that can actually accomplish this.

Creating Actual Jobs Is Actually Simple

Actually creating actual jobs and actually helping improve the economy is actually pretty simple. We have millions of jobs that need doing, and to actually create jobs all you have to do is actually hire people to do those jobs that actually need doing.

Infrastructure: We actually really, really need to invest in maintaining and modernizing our country's infrastructure. Roads, bridges, waterways, dams, airports, ports, power grid, levees, water systems, waste treatment systems, transit systems (high-speed rail from city to city!!!) (rail systems from every city to every airport!!!) (rail systems running along every commute route!!!), and so many, many more things that need to be done here. And of course this work will pay off because it will make our economy so much more competitive. This is work that has to be done anyway, and will create millions of jobs when we finally get started on this.

Energy: Every home and every building in this country needs to be retrofitted to be energy-efficient. The payoff from this will be enormous!! Millions of jobs now and using (and paying for) so much less energy later.

Those two areas alone will create millions and millions of jobs and leave behind a vastly improved economy. In the short term that is millions of people paying taxes and participating in the economy instead of depending on the safety net. In the long term this work means our economy is in vastly better shape.

There is one and only one reason we have not done these things in the last few years, and that is the Republican strategy of blocking this, in order to keep the economy in the doldrums, so they can "talk about the bad economy." But if they win, this is what they will have to do if they decide to actually create jobs.

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

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August 16, 2012

Watch This Video And Send It To Others

This Video MIGHT Stop Romney From Becoming President | MoveOn.Org

Remember, send this to others!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:43 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

August 8, 2012

What Is The Calculation Behind Romney's Campaign Of Lies?

The Romney campaign has turned to a strategy of swamping the public with flat-out, blatant lies, one after another, again and again, endlessly and lavishly repeated. They do this because they are making a calculation that it will work! So what is going on? And can democracy survive this assault?

The Growing List Of Lies

This week's lie is the "Obama gutted welfare reform" nonsense. See Bill Scher's must-read response, Romney's Welfare Lie: A Betrayal Of Conservatism. The reporting conveys the Romney message, like this: Romney accuses Obama of dismantling welfare reform. The lie is driven home by a massive $$-driven carpet bombing of ads.

The next-most recent lie was the "Obama is trying to keep military families from voting" lie. This lie, repeated over and over, coordinated with outside groups, reinforces the "Democrats are anti-military" narrative.

Before that was the "You didn't build that" lie, where the Romney campaign doctored audio to make it sound as though President Obama said something he didn't say. (And got away with it.) This lie, repeated over and over, reinforces the "Democrats are anti-business" narrative.

This one on welfare reinforces the "Democrats take your money and give it to black people" narrative. "We will end a culture of dependency and restore a culture of good, hard work," said Romney, promising to make them work good and hard.

Rachel Maddow's blog has been keeping track of the Romney lies, and it is a loooooong list.

How It Is Done

Here is how it works. Each lie is developed in the right's machine, using something currently in the news to reinforce an ongoing narrative about "liberals." The lie percolates up through a well-worn process where the germ of the story is planted in smaller outlets, and variations of it are tried out until one seems to resonate. Next, larger right-wing media operations pick up the developed "story" and drive it further. It gets amplified on the radio, FOX News and the right's newspapers. Finally the corporate media takes it out to more and more people, covering themselves with the claim they are just "reporting" on a "story" that is "already out there."

One way or another the lie is repeated and repeated and repeated (and repeated) in various forms through various channels that reach various target groups, until it becomes a "truth." Once it has become a "truth" the Romney campaign uses this "truth" to claim Democrats and President Obama are harming the country.

The Solyndra story is a good example. The right developed a lie about "cronyism," claiming that a Democratic donor is "tied to" solar-panel manufacturer Solyndra because a foundation with his name on it was an investor in the company. Because a foundation was the investor there was no possibility for the donor to benefit. But that doesn't matter, they used this "tie" to spread a lie the Obama administration was steering money into someone's pocket, and they repeated it and repeated it and repeated it.

After months of repetition of this lie, the Romney campaign understood that the lie has become a "truth," and is using that "truth" themselves in campaign ads and Romney's stump speech! Romney talks about "cronyism" in the Obama administration, understanding that much of the public now believes this is established fact.

The Calculation

The Romney campaign is limiting media access to the candidate and offering little in the way of substantive policy proposals. They are instead using press releases, advertisements, message-trained surrogates, cooperative media like FOX, Drudge, talk radio, allied newspapers and the right's blogosphere, while coordinating with massively-funded outside groups like Crossroads GPS, Americans for Prosperity, Heritage Foundation and others.

This is a key thing to get, the Romney campaign believes that they can win this election using lies and propaganda as "truths" to drive their campaign story. They are making the calculation that the right's media machine has become sufficiently powerful for their version of reality to reach enough of the public, and that it is sticking in their minds as "truths!"

They are also making the calculation -- so far validated by the media response -- that there will be little if any pushback from "mainstream" media. They trust that the media will look the other way, report lies as "one side says X, the other says Y," tell the public "both sides do it," and say this is just par for the course.

But if there is media resistance, they are calculating that the right's own media power can override any pushback that might come. They might also believe they can turn media resistance to their advantage. Decades have been spent convincing their followers to see potentially objective information sources as "the liberal media," enemy of conservatism, and any pushback for lying could just increase support for their campaign.

So the Romney campaign, like the recent Bush administration, are conscious that they do not need to work with facts. Instead they believe they can "create truth" through the manipulation of perception. This is hardly new in Repubican circles. The phrase "reality-based community" came out of the previous Republican administration's calculations of what the public will and won't learn about. This famous quote from Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush by Ron Suskind, explains,

The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

What Does The Public "Know?"

If you are reading this you are likely very well-informed. You pay attention to the mainstream news, as well as read various progressive sources. But much of the public is not very well-informed, and faces the problem of not knowing what sources to trust. Subjected to a constant battering of corporate/conservative propaganda and disinformation, they are busy, and not ready or able to do the extensive research needed to make informed decisions.

Progressives and "liberals" try to solve this problem by trying to help people get informed. Conservatives, however, try to use it to their advantage, spreading self-serving misinformation.

The well-funded propagandists study and understand the shorthand methods people use to determine what to believe. This is the reason for the ongoing attacks on the credibility of what would normally be seen as trustworthy sources, like PBS, NPR and what the rest of what has been disparaged for decades as "the liberal media." This is also the reason for the establishment of so many corporate-funded conservative "institutes" and other academic and authoritative-sounding organizations that issue "studies" and "reports" that always echo the corporate-conservative positions.

The "mainstream" corporate media has also undergone a change over recent decades. Many outlets now see themselves as businesses with a product that has to appeal to "the market" to make money. They no longer see their mission to be informing the public so citizens have the information that is needed to function in a democracy, but instead as "maximizing shareholder return," by "driving traffic" and whatever else it takes to sell advertising. And many people working as "journalists" understand that advancing their own careers means not making waves by being perceived as "leftist" or "anti-business."

The Test

Steve Benen calls this a "test for the political world," writing,

How are we to respond to a campaign that deliberately deceives the public without shame? This lie about welfare policy comes on the heels of Romney's lie about voting rights in Ohio, which came on the heels of Romney's lies about the economy; which came on the heels of Romney's lies about health care; which came on the heels of Romney's lies about taxes.

The Republican nominee for president is working under the assumption that he can make transparently false claims, in writing and in campaign advertising, with impunity. Romney is convinced that there are no consequences for breathtaking dishonesty.

The test, then, comes down to a simple question: is he right?

This is a test for the political world, as well as a challenge to the viability of our democratic system. We can expect this to continue and accelerate until election day, driven by hundreds of millions of dollars from billionaires and their huge corporations. The question is, will enough of our misinformed public be tricked by the lies? If this succeeds, what kind of country will we become? What will be left?

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

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July 7, 2012

Election What-If

What if Romney wins the election by less than the number of people kept from voting by Republican anti-voting laws?

This would be worse than the Supreme Court putting Bush in after Gore won. Partly because this time we're not going to just shut up and take it.

With Bush in hundreds of thousands of people died in wars, his tax cuts for the rich and his wars plus doubling the military budget (apart from the wars) bankrupted the country, we lost 50,000+ factories and millions of jobs to China under Bush, his deregulation led to the crash -- and Deepwater Horizon, nothing was done about climate change, corruption ran rampant, etc.

Romney would start where Bush left off.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:13 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

May 17, 2012

More Indicators A Nasty, Say-Anything Republican Campaign Is Coming - And See Updates

There is a news report that yet another right-wing billionaire is going to spend even more millions to run even more poisonous, divisive, racist, degrading, insulting, lying, character-assassination ads designed to turn people against government and democracy. And an added bonus (for Republicans) will be turning people away from even voting. They're going to do this because it works -- for them and the billionaires who back them.

NY Times: G.O.P. ‘Super PAC’ Weighs Hard-Line Attack on Obama,

A group of high-profile Republican strategists is working with a conservative billionaire on a proposal to mount one of the most provocative campaigns of the “super PAC” era and attack President Obama in ways that Republicans have so far shied away from.

... The $10 million plan ... includes preparations for how to respond to the charges of race-baiting it envisions if it highlights Mr. Obama’s former ties to Mr. Wright...

The group suggested hiring as a spokesman an “extremely literate conservative African-American” who can argue that Mr. Obama misled the nation by presenting himself as what the proposal calls a “metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln.”

Obama is black, black, black, black, black. And in case you miss it, here is Republican Strategist Lee Atwater explaining the Republican strategy:

You start out in 1954 by saying, "Nigger, nigger, nigger." By 1968 you can't say "nigger"—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.

It Works

Just lying -- making stuff up and blasting it out there -- works. In 2010 Republicans spent millions and millions on ads saying “Democrats cut half a trillion from Medicare" and captured the senior vote for the first time, throwing the House over to them. It worked, they spent millions broadcasting lies, they took the House -- and then voted to turn Medicare into a voucher program.

From the post, "Half A Trillion In Cuts To Medicare"

In the 2010 election campaign Republican groups ran millions and millions of dollars of ads promising not to cut Medicare, and to increase Social Security. They campaigned against Democrats for "cutting $500 billion from Medicare" and not increasing Social Security cost-of-living. As a result, for the first time the senior vote went to Republicans.

Here are just a few of the ads that saturated the airwaves, saying that Democrats should be thrown out for cutting Medicare:


And voters were sent flyers like this: (click for larger)

politifact-photos-ron_johnson_flier_combined_660

The Obstruct-And-Lie Strategy

Republicans have a huge “noise machine” and they know how to use it. And they really, really don’t care if they are telling the truth or not, they say what they need to say to win.

After years of blocking President Obama's efforts to try to create more jobs, Repubicans are campaigning saying Obama didn’t create more jobs.

After running up huge deficits -- Clinton left behind a surplus, Bush left behind a $1.4 trillion deficit -- Republicans are campaigning that Obama has run up huge deficits.

This summer when student loan rates double because Republicans blocked efforts to keep them from doubling, Republicans will blast out that Obama doubled student loan rates.

Negative Ads Suppress Turnout

The point of running negative ads is not to get people to show up and vote for someone. Negative ads are about turning people off from voting. Negative ads tell people they should not have hope, that anyone they think could be a leader is actually a scoundrel, etc. The point of the millions and millions of dollars that will be spent by Republicans on negative ads this year is to try to keep the kind of surge election that brought so many people out to vote in the 2008 election from happening this time.

The Media Enablers

Republican media outlets like FOX News, the Wall Street Journal and Rush Limbaugh will go ahead and repeat the party line (when they aren't out front creating it). They reach a lot of people, and the rest of the Republican "noise machine"' is very skilled at echoing the lies until they become "truthy." But the rest of the media does not serve as a counterweight, bringing people the facts. As a result almost everyone -- consumers of the right's propaganda and people who think they aren't -- is left misinformed in ways that serve Republicans and their billionaire backers and hurt everyone else.

Greg Sargent wrote the other day in, How Mitt Romney gets away with his lying,

If you scan through all the media attention Romney’s speech received, you are hard-pressed to find any news accounts that tell readers the following rather relevant points:

1) Nonpartisan experts believe Romney’s plans would increase the deficit far more than Obama’s would.

2) George W. Bush’s policies arguably are more responsible for increasing the deficit than Obama's are.

[. . .] The two bullet points above could not be more central to the debate over the debt that Romney’s big speech set in motion yesterday. Yet the vast majority of news consumers who now know that Romney has accused Obama of lighting a “prairie fire of debt” that threatens to engulf our children and our future haven’t been told about either of them.

Sargent writes about how the "mainstream media" for one reason or another won't call out the Republican machine for spreading lies. Again, the result is that almost everyone -- consumers of the right's propaganda and people who think they aren't -- is left misinformed in ways that serve Republicans and their billionaire backers and hurt everyone else.

Update: How Citizens United Is Leading To More Racism In TV Campaign Ads

Update 2: Huge headline at The Drudge Report reads: 'BORN IN KENYA'

Update 3: Rep. Mike Coffman: Obama in his heart 'not an American'

Update 4: Ben Stein speaking on FOX: Ben Stein: Obama's not very smart

Update 5: Romney accuses Obama of character assassination: "Character assassination has become the nature of his campaign," Romney said.

These updates are all from just today, and this is only May.

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

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April 18, 2012

GOP Ads Will Be Trying To Keep You From Voting

High turnout always favors Democrats. This year the Republican/corporate effort is to keep people from voting. In the states there's the who voter suppression thing - voter ID laws, shutting down the places where you can get the right ID, laws blocking registration drives, laws killing multi-day voting, etc.

But there is going to be a different kind of anti-voting effort, too. The ads are going to be designed to turn people off, make them hate the idea of having anything to do with this election. You are going to see the TV and other information channels saturated with so many lies and smears and so much nastiness and intimidation and manipulation, all designed to make people want to do anything but vote.

The ads are not about persuading anyone to vote because there aren't enough people who don't already know how they will vote. The incredibly shrinking swing vote - The Washington Post

Of the 23 percent who called themselves undecided in the latest Pew poll, 9 percent lean toward Obama while 7 percent lean to Romney. That leaves just seven percent as purely without any opinion between Romney and Obama.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:08 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

April 13, 2012

Republicans VERY Serious About Keeping Black People From Voting This Year

Nine Election-Related Arrests In Florida: A Case Of Voter Fraud Or Voter Suppression?,

As soon as Judy Ann Crumitie answered the banging on her door one November morning last year, police officers and FBI agents streamed into her home, some with their guns drawn and trained in her direction.

... "I was just trying to help the people vote," Crumitie, 51, told the Huffington Post's Black Voices.

... Lawyers for Crumitie would not elaborate on the circumstances of her arrest or the charges. But they said that the incident and the way officials handled the investigation and ultimately her arrests -- including entering her home with guns drawn and without a search warrant -- are part of a broader political movement across the state and country to suppress poor and minority voters.

This arrest was for doing things the way they had always been done BEFORE Florida passed the new voting and registering restrictions. This case is about a school board election where a black candidate defeated a white candidate by 1 vote.

"Well it's a mess and it has the smell of the 60s and 50s in it," Harper said this morning. "It's strange the only wrong-doers that could be found were African Americans."

Harper, who also would not elaborate on his client's alleged role in the fraud, said of the new law, "I think everyone is confused."


Things are only going to get worse between now and election day. Repubicans are very serious about this.
"I was trying to help the people vote, for Martin Luther King and the civil rights that they fought for us to do, and we done just that," she said. "When they came to my house to arrest me they come to my house and they had guns drawn on me. I didn't know it was against the law to vote."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:43 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

April 9, 2012

Prosecute O'Keefe Voter Fraud! Make An Example!

A new video is circulating showing an actual case of voter fraud! We can finally show people what happens if you commit voter fraud. Let's prosecute the perpetrator, put him in jail for a long time, and set a clear example and send a loud message: do not do this!

"To be sure, a federal prison term here will deter others from entering a path of criminal behavior." -- US government statement on the actions of Tim DeChristopher, climate activist, sent to prison for 2 years for disrupting a corrupt, illegal oil and gas lease auction.

An Actual Case Of Voter Fraud!

A conservative website has documented an actual case of actual voter fraud - caught on video! From Breitbart.com, finally an actual instance of voter fraud:

The video shows a young man entering a Washington, DC polling place at 3401 Nebraska Avenue, NW, on primary day of this year--April 3, 2012--and giving Holder’s name and address. The poll worker promptly offers the young man Holder’s ballot to vote.

Set An Example!

The basis of public trust in our voting system is that if they commit voter fraud they will be prosecuted. This serves as a deterrence. But deterrence doesn't work unless you make strong public examples that show people what will happen to them if they commit a crime.

Finally, finally, there is an actual instance of voter fraud. Finally we can publicly prosecute a voter fraud case and set an example! By making an example of what happens to people who actually commit voter fraud we can nip this problem in the bud before it gets started!

Will our government finally do something about public concern over this issue, by prosecuting and jailing the perpetrator? We need to set an example and let the public know what happens when you commit voter fraud, to keep this from happening anywhere else!

Decades Of Crying Wolf

Conservatives have for decades made the claim that there is voter fraud occurring across the country, in order to justify restrictive laws that prevent members groups that primarily vote Democratic from being able to vote. But they have been unable to find actual cases of voter fraud to justify these laws. They have used these ginned-up claims of a supposed voter-fraud problem to justify laws denying millions the right to vote. Now after decades of crying wolf they are clamoring that they have made a video of someone actually committing voter fraud.

Prosecute One Case - Or Deny Millions The Right To Vote?

We need to make an example of this documented case of voter fraud so the public understands what happens to people who commit actual voter fraud. The point of having jails is to show people what happens to them if they break laws. If you want to do something about voter fraud, make a public example by prosecuting it and sending the violators to jail. Then others won't do it.

The solution is not to make it difficult for citizens to vote. We want more citizens to vote. Stores don't make it harder to buy food to stop shoplifting, why should we make it harder for millions to vote when all we need to do is prosecute this case publicly, so people will see what happens if they do this.

Precedent For This Approach - Tim DeChristopher

In this case the person committing voter fraud claims he was doing it to serve as a whistle blower. There is a recent case in which the government very publicly prosecuted a whistle blower to set an example.

Tim DeChristopher is a climate activist. In 2008 he protested a corrupt, illegal Bureau of Land Management auction of oil and gas leases, by bidding on parcels that he could not immediately pay for. Even though many previous cases of people bidding and then not paying for land were not prosecuted, and even though DeChristopher did raise the money for a down-payment on the land, the government prosecuted him and sentenced him to two years in jail. He was even held in solitary confinement. All to "set an example."

In DeChristopher's case, the government stated, "To be sure, a federal prison term here will deter others from entering a path of criminal behavior."

Now that there ids an actual, documented case of voter fraud the government should set an example, and prosecute. If convicted the lawbreaker should be sent to prison.


This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:18 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

April 6, 2012

It Is CRUCIAL That You Watch This

If they get away with this in Michigan, they will do it everywhere. Watch the video in this post! Daily Kos: Michigan takes voter suppression to unbelievable lengths

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:29 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

January 9, 2012

More Evidence That Appealing To "Center" Is A Losing Strategy

In a May, 2011 post, Appealing To The "Center" Drives Away Voters I wrote that the traditional Democratic campaign strategy of taking positions perceived to be "between" the left and the right not only doesn't appear to work, it actually might be costing Democrats.

The traditional idea, driven by Democratic campaign consultants, is that "independent" voters "swing" between parties. SO you can get them to "swing" your way by taking positions that are not those of the base of your own party, but instead creep over towards those of the other party. I wrote in that May post,

The problem here is the effect the metaphor of a "center" has on our thinking. Thinking about independent voters as being a "block" that is "between" the parties is the problem. It forces the brain into a constraint because of the visual image that it evokes. What I mean is that the actual language of "centrist" changes how we think. The metaphor makes us think they are "between" something called left and right. And as a result it forces certain conclusions.

I said that Karl Rove figured this out, and used this to get Bush to instead "appeal to the base," which increased Republican turnout, while dispirited Dems, tired of their standard-bearers taking wishy-washy positions that give everything away, decided to just stay home. I wrote that Rove has "nailed it,"

Karl Rove believed that there were independents who were not registered Republican because the party was not far enough to the right for them, who would only turn out if the party gave them something to vote for. I think Karl Rove's model is more accurate, that the independent voters are a number of groups, and very large numbers of them are MORE to the left or right than the parties, and don't vote unless the parties appeal enough to them.

Rove decided this means the Republicans need to move ever more to the right, and this will cause those "independent" voters who had changed their affiliation out of disgust with the centrism of their party to now turn out and vote.

Now there is confirmation of this. On NPR's Talk of the Nation today, Clarence Page talked with host Neal Conan about the role of independent voters, saying that we might be surprised to learn that candidates who try to appeal to "independents" tend to lose, because they turn off the voters who closely follow and care about the issues.

Click the Play button below to hear this Talk of the Nation segment:

In fact, candidates that try to "appeal to the center" lose, because this idea of a :center" is a myth. From the transcript:

You know, there is a professor Alan Aramowitz of Emory University, who has been studying this using voting statistics, and he found that the - well, as he put it, in all three of the presidential elections since 1972 that were decided by a margin of less than five points, that the candidate backed by the independents lost.

This was - this surprised me. You know, he's citing here Jimmy Carter in '76, Gerald Ford - sorry, Gerald Ford beat - excuse me, Gerald Ford won the independent vote but lost the election. Put it that way, OK.

Most independents voted for George W. Bush in 2000, but Al Gore got the overall popular vote. As you recall, he got the popular vote but not the state vote.

CONAN: Yeah, but that's fudging your statistics a little bit. The guy who got the independent vote got the big prize.

PAGE: Yeah, but still, though, most of the - the one backed by the independent voters, though, did not get the majority of the popular vote. And in 2004, John Kerry, most independents voted for John Kerry, but he lost the overall election.

What does that mean? What it means is that Karl Rove and others, who have often advocated firing up the base rather than reaching out for independents, they've got a point. In some elections, that works. If you fire up your base, get your vote out, it can be big enough that it will overwhelm the opposition and the independents, because independents also tend to have the least turnout, and they also tend to be the least committed, not just to a party but also to - well, less engaged with the whole campaign.

They are joined by Daron Shaw, who was a campaign strategist for George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004.

SHAW: Well, I think the thing that Clarence pointed out that's worth reiterating is that the distinguishing characteristic of independent voters is they're not that interested, they're not that involved, they're not that engaged with politics. So if you're a political professional and you're dealing with finite resources, and you have to make decisions about where you're going to invest dollars, and where you're going to invest manpower, you know, the idea of reaching out to independents, who may or may not show up, and if they do show up may or may not vote for you, can give you pause.

So you know, it's interesting that there's been this movement in the last two or three election cycles, and as Clarence correctly pointed out, I think Karl Rove is kind of given credit for this, although I don't know if he's, you know, the architect or godfather of it; a lot of people who have moved in this direction.

But the idea of sinking your resources into mobilization, which primarily targets, you know, sort of identifiable partisans and appeals to them, that that's become kind of a staple and maybe even the dominant perspective. And I find it kind of interesting that word out of the White House - and you have to read all these things with a dose of caution - but suggests that they're kind of moving in that direction. That's sort of what their thinking is. And I just find that fascinating.

As I wrote in May:

The way to grow your voting base is NOT to try to "appeal" to some group that is not left or right, but is "between" something called left and right. To get more voters -- especially the "independent" ones who won't identify with a party -- is to take stands, be more committed to progressive positions, and to articulate them more clearly.

See also, Clarence Page: What it means to be an 'independent voter' might surprise you.

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:19 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

May 31, 2011

The Politics of 2012 and Maybe 2016

Will Sarah Palin, Congressman Paul Ryan or Newt go under the bus? This is quite a polemic for our Republican brethren that have always made hay on their brilliant use of language while we Dems contemplated our sleepy intellectualism. Perhaps finally in the aftermath of the failed assassination attempt on Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, the President's irrefutable victories, and the Arab spring -- maybe the forces have finally aligned for the Democrats together with social media to counter balance the megaphone of the Right wing propaganda.

Given that language and propaganda are not working, who will be the first to be thrown under the bus for the greater good of the Republican Party? Will it be Sarah our old pal from the McCain campaign that has built a $25M industry around her 2008 candidacy to the chagrin of the Party elders? Or will it be the "real" Palin appropriately coined as such by the supporters of Michelle Bachman on national television? Or have the women folk run their course in Republican Land? And if so has the time come to "man-up" with a few good, old white conservative male Governors from Conservativeville - like Tim Pawlenty or Jon Huntsman? Or better yet will it be Newt who inappropriately danced on the head of Congressman Paul Ryan and his budget plan -- only to refute it later? Sadly, for the Republicans all of this is off putting for guys like Mitt, or even Governor Chris Christie that appeal to the moderates of both parties.

Admittedly, any candidate, male or female, needs the proverbial brass cajoles, or other such accoutrements to challenge this sitting President after the take down of Osama bin Laden. This factoid together with Obama's recent tough stance on the Middle East clearly levels the playing field. The scare tactics of the past cannot work at this rodeo particularly when bundled with the wholesale lunacy of the Republican leadership on the debt ceiling, Medicare and the budget. Vice President Biden in an LA Times piece summarizes well when referring to the Osama take-down as a "defining moment" for the Obama presidency. Certainly, this together with the broken Republican message machine is having an impact. Terms like "Mediscare" are not getting the same kind of traction as "ObamaCare" did just last year, or the coinage of the term "entitlement" used to pollute a whole generations' thinking on Medicare and Social Security. Of course, Newt and his merry gang of language shapers keep trying to spin, but it is not sticking. Maybe in Newt's case, folks have had enough of those that behave badly, pander family values, but live on the edge of exorbitant wealth. For him it appears that there is just no way to explain away things like the Tiffany's account to the Middle Class. Further is there now cause to wonder if the day has come for Sarah, sweet Sarah, who walks the walk on reality television, but lives shall we say in Palin vernacular, high off the hog.

Indeed, the President and the Party are on the right side of the budget, Medicare, Social Security, national security, jobs and climate change. But can he and the Dems maintain this momentum when the banks, remember those pesky money men, continue to behave poorly. The reality is that folks are as fed up with these fat cats as they are with the empty threats of Right wing rhetoric and the bad behavior of men of a certain age and power whether they represent Hollywood, government or international politics.

Note to the Democratic Party: clean up the banks, the bankers and all of the bad behavior of their ilk and 2012 is a shoe-in, and maybe even 2016. Let's think like Republicans and chart the waters for the next eight years.

Posted by Michelle at 11:01 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

May 25, 2011

NY-26 Lesson: Don't Mess With Medicare -- Or Social Security!

In 2010 Republicans and corporate front groups ran ad after ad after ad after ad claiming that Democrats had "Cut 500 billion from Medicare." Those ads brought them the senior vote, and they took the House. Confident in their ability to "create their own reality" they came out with a plan to privatize Medicare and told the public it would save Medicare. Well, last night's win by Kathy Hochul in the NY-26 special election -- with pretty high turnout in a Republican district -- shows that the American people are smarter than they look, and figured out what was what. The lesson: don't mess with Medicare.

Soundly Defeated

Yesterday's NY-26 Congressional election turned on Medicare and the candidate who supported Medicare won. The candidate who supported the Republican plan to privatize Medicare was soundly defeated.

House Republicans voted to change Medicare from a single-payer plan to a private-insurance voucher plan as a measure to "cut government spending." Republicans had talked themselves into believing the public hates government as much as they do and therefore gutting it is what the public wants. Instead of working to control health care costs they just shifted those costs away from the government into "personal responsibility" land. In plain non-propagandized English personal responsibility means each of us on our own, alone, instead of all of us watching out for and taking care of each other.

The public figured it out and voted to keep the Medicare-gutter out.

American Majority

The American Majority understands what is going on. They know that our budget problems come from tax cuts, military spending and the lack of jobs. Those are the things the public wants the Congress to fix.

Where the deficits come from:

What the public wants:

Gallup Poll, January 14-16, 2011

  • 64% oppose spending cuts to Medicare.

The Wall Street Journal/NBC News Poll, February 24-28, 2011

  • 54% believe it will not be necessary to cut spending on Medicare to reduce the national deficit.
  • 76% believe cutting Medicare to help reduce the budget deficit is mostly or totally unacceptable.
  • 60% oppose turning the Medicare system into a government-issued voucher program, which would require the beneficiary to purchase private health insurance.

First Focus and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research Poll, April 13-18, 2011

  • 70% oppose cuts/changes to the Medicare system as described in the House Republican Budget.
  • 49% support not reducing funds to Medicare.
  • 53% believe replacing the current Medicare program with a voucher system in which retirees will receive vouchers to use to purchase subsidized insurance from private insurance companies for those 55 or older is totally or mostly unacceptable.

CBS News/The New York Times Poll, April 15-20, 2011

  • 61% believe that Medicare is currently “worth the costs.”
  • 76% think government has the responsibility to provide health care coverage to the elderly.
  • 49% believe higher-income beneficiaries should pay more in taxes.

Bloomberg News Poll, March 4-7, 2011

  • 54% oppose replacing Medicare with a system in which government vouchers would help participants pay for their own health insurance.
  • 76% oppose reducing benefits for Medicare.

Pulse Opinion Research for The Hill Poll, April 28, 2011

  • 53% said they would oppose a reduction in Medicare benefits in order to get the deficit/debt under control.

Pew Research Poll, March 8-14, 2011

  • 65% oppose changes to Social Security as a way to reduce the budget deficit.

More recent polling shows the public has moved to an even strong support for Medicare, and will remove from office anyone who votes to cut it.

Social Security The Same

Those polls don't just test public support for Medicare, they test support for Social Security as well. The public feels just as strongly that politicians had best keep their hands off our Social Security.

In order to reduce the national debt, would you support or oppose cutting spending on Social Security, which is the retirement program for the elderly? Ohio: 16% support, 80% oppose Missouri: 17% support, 76% oppose Montana: 20% support, 76% oppose Minnesota: 23% support, 72% oppose

Reality Restored

During the Bush years the idea of a "reality-based community" circulated after an article by Ron Suskind about a meeting he had with "a senior advisor to Bush." In the article he described how the aide scoffed at people who bother with reality:

The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

Republicans and their corporate money tried to create a reality that let them gut Medicare without the public rising up to do something about it. It didn't work.

Do The Right Thing

Well, reality is coming back. The public is figuring things out. Politicians should learn the lesson of NY-26: don't mess with Medicare -- or Social Security. To fix the deficit fix the causes of the deficit: invest in jobs through maintaining and modernizing our infrastructure, restore top tax rates to where they were before we had huge deficits and, by the way, the Soviet Union is long gone so cut military spending back to maybe only twice our nearest potential competitor.


This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:14 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

November 3, 2010

The Marlboro Man Can Grab a Smoke With Obama

Today begins the days of John Boehner, aka the Orange Man. Listen, you can hear his horse approaching. Oh my, it's like a new Marlboro commercial. Guess he and Obama can grab a smoke together outside the Oval Office. Yikes! That's a real Hallmark moment.

Early this morning, Progressive blogger, Dave Johnson extolled the virtues of the Progressive bloggers that "were right," and he and they were correct. "It was about the jobs, jobs, and jobs." But let's be blunt -- there are no jobs; there is no money being loaned; employment is rampant; the banks are paying a whopping 1% interest on savings; and now there is NO hope and the inmates have taken the keys!

Yeah, we know that a loss was anticipated in an incumbent year, but not one that lost hope. Sadly, the American people either stayed home, or voted for the lunatics that were responsible for the situation. Obama and all those Democratic spin masters blew it big time. They allowed the Tea Party -- fueled by Frank Luntz's rhetoric-- to harness this rage and win the day. How the heck did that happen? Now, the every person in this country has just had a profound temper tantrum, and the collateral damage is huge.


Please note that a version of this article was published earlier today in the Huffington Post.

Posted by Michelle at 12:05 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos

November 2, 2010

Bloggers Were Right: It WAS Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

The bloggers were right, it was about the jobs, jobs, jobs. For the first half of the year all the progressive bloggers were saying that the November election is going to turn out very, very badly for Democrats if they don't focus on jobs. We said please, please drop this "austerity" nonsense, the only way to cut the deficit is to grow the economy. We were going kind of nuts about it, saying if you don't spend money on jobs the voters will punish you.

But the administration and many in Congress were busy on an "austerity" fad. The "centrists" and the big-media pundits and the rest of the "serious people' were saying we needed to do something about the deficits because "the markets" wanted them to.

So here we are. The bloggers were right (I include Paul Krugman among us), and the voters are punishing the politicians who listened to the same old DC elite pundits and campaign consultants and party insiders who demanded "austerity" cutbacks for We, the People.

For example, May 11, I wrote in It's The JOBS, Stupid! Why DC Elites Don't See This:

People care about jobs. They still care about jobs. And politicians who don't care about jobs will lose their jobs, because that is what motivates voters.

I concluded the May 26 post, Teacher Layoffs Loom Nationwide, DC Restaurants Humming, Jobs & Justice

President Obama has talked about a bold, large scale vision for a new direction for the country. But Congress and the President are getting trapped in austerity budget thinking that won’t allow them to go in the direction of stimulus and helping regular people. If there is to be no money because of an austerity budget then American competitiveness, the economy and the mood of the public can only get worse. Do the DC elites actually believe the public is going to reward this with votes?

June, The Real Deficit Is Jobs!

The real deficit is jobs. That is one more of those things that everyone can see in front of their faces, but we're told it isn't what it is.

. . . The excuse is that "the markets" will “lose confidence” in us. Apparently we aren't working the salt mines hard enough. "The markets" -- that's the crowd who got in trouble and insisted that the world would end unless we immediately handed over to them all the rest of the money in the world -- will "lose confidence" in our ability to work the mines hard enough, and will cut us off, unless we cut our pensions, sell off (to them) our resources, and promise never to be lazy and make demands for better wages, pensions, workplace safety, and do it now.


August's Where Are The Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, Jobs? began:
The economy is stuck. We need jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs. Not tax cuts.

Why is it that often the progressives come to a consensus on an issue, while the DC elite, the campaign consultants, the big-media pundits and the "centrist" politicians come to their own different conclusion, and then later it turns out that the progressives were right not just on the policy but on the politics, and the DC-centrist-consultant-pundit class were wrong. This happens time after time after time on the things that matter.

Well, I have to say it: We told you so.

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:22 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos

October 28, 2010

I Remember Which Party...

Powerful -- send this around!

"On November 2 you should remember too."

From the International Brotherhoood of Boilermakers Union

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:30 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 26, 2010

What Will Tea Party Members Do When Their Politicians Betray Them?

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture I am a Fellow with CAF.

Tea Party members hate Wall Street bailouts, trade deals like NAFTA, job outsourcing, giant corporations buying laws, government spending, and elites telling the rest of us what to do. But there is no question that their candidates - many of them wealthy corporatists themselves - are funded by big corporations (even foreign oil companies) and Wall Street. So the question is, once in Congress will they vote with their base or their owners? And when they vote with the people who bought them, what will Tea Party members do about it?

Trade

Tea Party members want to be able to buy things that are "Made In America" in stores again. I have yet to meet a Tea Party supporter who doesn't absolutely hate NAFTA, WTO and other one-sided “free trade” agreements. They say these treaties "violate our sovereignty." But Tea Party candidates are funded by groups like the Chamber of Commerce and others who are the drivers of these "free trade" policies that close American factories and send jobs out of the country. This does not bode well for these candidates voting the way Tea Party members expect them to if they are elected.

Outsourcing

Tea Party members are astonished when they learn that the government gives companies tax breaks that encourage companies to send jobs away. But just a month ago a bill to do something about this was filibustered in the Senate by a unanimous Republican caucus. One thing about Tea Party candidates - they're also unanimously Republicans. Does anyone other than Tea Party members really think the Tea Part candidates are going to go against the now-unanimous Republican support for these outsourcing incentives if elected? Tea Party candidate Scott Brown didn't after he was elected.

Bailouts

If there is one thing that unites all Tea Party members, it is hatred of the Bush Bank Bailouts (except they think these passed under Obama.) But this is an area where their leaders will almost certainly stand with the banks, because that's where the money is -- their campaign money to be precise. The other day I wrote about In Oregon one Wall Street hedge fund manager is spending up to $1 million (pocket change) on a front group to elect a Tea Party candidate and unseat a Congressman who sponsored a couple of Wall Street reform bills.

Government Spending

Will Tea Party politicians vote to balance the budget? Really? Their members certainly expect them to. But like so many misinformed Americans, Tea Party members think the government spends most of its money on welfare and foreign aid. This is why Tea Party candidates refuse to specify just what spending they will cut to balance the budget. (Also see here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, etc.)

So when they get into office will they really cut spending -- where the spending really is? There are plenty of reasons to think they won't. The first and foremost reason is they are funded by people like the Chamber of Commerce who really, really want that spending to keep flowing. This is why Republicans increased government spending and deficits so much the last time they were in charge. In fact, there are reasons to think they'll incresase spending. For example, they hate health care reform, but if they really vote to repeal it they will increase the deficit, because the reform cuts the projected deficits by at least $138 billion.

But the bloated, huge, vast, overwhelming military budget might be worth a look. We spend more on military than every other country combined. (Total military-related spending actually pretty closely matched the deficit this year.) What do you think the odds are that the Tea Party politicians will cut the military budget?

Foreign Oil

Tea Party members understand that our addiction to foreign oil is harmful. We spend more than $300 billion a year on foreign oil -- much of it sent to the Middle East (MUSLIMS!) -- and need to find alternative sources of energy. But Koch Oil is the primary organizer, supporter, funder, and everything of the Tea Party, as well as much of the so-called "conservative movement." But Koch Oil is mostly about oil, not representative government. This is why they directly fund or set up front groups to support climate denial or oppose transit projects, alternative energy, even energy conservation. So don't expect Tea Party leaders to do anything -- anything -- that Koch Oil doesn't want them to do.

What Happens When Tea Party Members Are Betrayed?

It's pretty clear that the Tea Party members are being set up for a big disappointment. There is little chance that the politicians they are supporting are going to do what the members think they're going to do once in office. The members might supply the votes, but the big corporations behind so many of the things that the Tea Party members hate are the ones supplying the money and organization. These politicians, once in office, will understand that the big money can go after them just as well is it went for them this time, if they don't do what they're told by their big corporate funders. But on the other hand, there will be lucrative lobbying jobs waiting for them if they play along. They are going to disappoint the Tea Party members, no question. What will Tea Party members do then?

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:50 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 19, 2010

Absolutely MUST-SEE Ad

You have to see this ad. How close is it to the Republicans in your own state?

Sometimes it sounds like they are reading from a script, because they are.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:19 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

September 14, 2010

New Dem Campaign Slogan: "We Don't Want Democrat Votes"

It appears that Democrats have an innovative, new approach to campaigning: asking Democrats to stay away from the polls! How else can you explain ideas like giving tax cuts to the rich, just before an election?

Van Hollen: One-Year Tax Cut For The Rich Might Fly With Democrats

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:52 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

August 12, 2010

Republican Campaign Theme

"Obama isn't cleaning up the terrible mess we made fast enough, so vote for us."

That's the Republican campaign theme.

And it seems to be working.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:07 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

July 14, 2010

Against All Odds: Save the Middle Class and the American Dream

The American Dream is what is at stake for the Obama Administration, and they know it. This is the dirty, little secret that can longer be contained -- it is escalating, cannot remain hidden, and may have significant political ramifications for the 2010 elections. The atrocity of the past years is this broken promise with the people, and it is deeply affecting the way they think, behave, vote and live. Moreover, it could begin to explain the groundswell response to candidate Barack Obama in 2008. The power of his words helped them believe that the dream was recoverable. He exemplified what was possible through education and hard work in his meteoric rise through American politics to the Oval Office. Further and more importantly, it also explains why we are now suffering such profound political despair reflected in the dropping poll numbers.

The middle class, for its survival, needs life to return to a semblance of "normalcy" - a time when they didn't know how to spell the word "deficit" and didn't have to care. They want their retirement savings back so they don't have to work until they drop. They want a bank account that makes more then one percent interest. They want to know what their health insurance premiums will be this year and in ten. They want to know if their kids study, and if they save and sacrifice, that their lives will be better. They want their kids to get good jobs, and they want to hold onto our own jobs. And with despair and anger they realize that despite the heroic work of the Congress with this President in passing landmark legislation in all of these areas -- they still are not safe. Economic ruin may still be right around the corner, and makes it hard to sleep at night.

You know we've all been hoodwinked and sold a bill of goods about the sanctity of the middle class in this country. It is a basic tenet of our lives, and made us different from other countries. The ranks swelled over the last decades after FDR to the present. But now for the first time since the Great Depression, the middle class is at risk of tipping over once and for all. They are not coming out of the financial, housing and environmental crises intact. Interest rates have ratcheted up on the family home, maybe there's a balloon payment on the mortgage and its impossible to refinance under the "new" programs; savings have virtually no interest and are drying up; pensions have evaporated; health insurance premiums are basically unaffordable until 2014 if then; schools are overcrowded and on the decline; there are no jobs except in China and they don't speak Mandarin; and unemployment is still at 9.5% -- higher in key areas throughout the country. The new legislation is riddled with loopholes, as all legislation can be after laborious compromises and extensive details. What is different is that each of these loopholes is flagrantly being exploited by the banks, the credit card companies and the health insurance companies. For example, many of the unemployed cannot qualify for COBRA because their companies failed which is code for closed their doors. COBRA is not available when a company terminates their health insurance plan, and 2014 is a long way off when you need health insurance coverage now.

Frankly, this is not what the middle class signed up for. It was not part of the implicit promise made to them. As a result, they are angry (enter stage right the Tea Party to exploit this vulnerability), and depressed (evidenced in the lackluster June election voter turnout). This is a deadly combination that could seal the deal on the November elections for the big, bad guys. Yet somehow the middle class and its Democrats must rally again and rise above the collective depression (no pun intended). We cannot let the brilliant and effective message machine of the Republican Party lull them into universal amnesia -- forgetting all the wrongs of the past. Remember these are the same guys (Bush and Cheney) that put the nails in the coffin cementing the potential extermination of the middle class. These same guys two weeks ago even blocked the extension of unemployment benefits while they frolicked on vacation. How could they do that to working families in this country? The extension passed the House before the break, but was filibustered in the Senate. And given all that, imagine life when we essentially give away the House because we are too depressed to vote or disorganized to keep these seats.

I will take liberal Speaker Nancy Pelosi any day over anti-choice, sanctimonious Republican Representative John Boehner as Speaker of the House. That would be a bad dream that just keeps on giving. This threat should be enough for the White House to saddle up and come out with a plan, a message (remember "hope and change"), and leadership to deliver - not the White House Press Secretary Gibbs message yesterday. David Gregory of Meet the Press has gotten so very good and Gibbs just walked into a fiasco announcing the potential lose of seats in the House. It was as bad as giving away candy instead of feeding the homeless, and maybe that's why White House Special Advisor, David Axelrod, was so snarky with CNN's Candy Crowley during the next hour on the Sunday morning political shows because it sure didn't make any sense.

Snarky or not, we all know Obama and his team are awful busy with the economy, the oil spill and a few dozen Russian spies, but we need them to reach out to that disenfranchised middle class again, aka big voting block. After all, Obama is the master communicator and we know that he can do it because he has done it before to win in 2008. And now the stakes may even be higher. If we allow 40 seats in the House to go asunder and a few more in the US Senate -- we can start waving bye-bye to the American Dream, the middle class, economic recovery, and maybe the Supreme Court for the next couple of decades.

Please see my Pearltree for some of the reference materials with more to come. This is a new tool to organize and share materials on the web. In full disclosure, I advise them as they build out the new features of this platform.

Middlle Class

Note, an earlier version of this article appeared this week on the Huffington Post.

Posted by Michelle at 1:32 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Today's Must-Read

Everyone should read Chris Bowers' post, Open Left:: Real disposable income is the dominant swing voter ideology

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:14 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

April 12, 2010

2010 Mid-Term Election Prediction

Once again, Here is my 2010 midterm election prediction:

Gasoline prices are about to start climbing, and will continue to climb through the summer, and well into the fall. No one will be able to pin down exactly why.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:39 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

March 9, 2010

Yes, Please, Please, Please Remind The Public About Bush!

Some Republicans are entering the 2010 campaign season with the slogan, "Miss Me Yet?" accompanied by a picture of Bush.

See Do You Miss Him Yet? - Opinionator Blog - NYTimes.com

Oh please. Please, please, please campaign in this election by reminding the pubic of the things that happened when Republicans ran things. Please. Please, Please.

Please.

Miss him yet?

I just have to say it again: Please, please, please run for office saying you'll bring back the Bush years.

Maybe if I said it the way Republicans offer advice. Republicans will lose the election unless they remind people what the Bush years were like.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:55 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

February 22, 2010

2010 Midterm Election Prediction

Here is my 2010 midterm election prediction:

Gasoline prices are about to start climbing, and will continue to climb through the summer, and well into the fall. No one will be able to pin down exactly why.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:46 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

January 9, 2010

Will Supreme Court Rule For One-Dollar-One-Vote?

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

The Supreme Court could say as soon as Monday that corporate executives are free to use huge amounts of corporate resources to directly influence elections. The vote will probably be 5-4 and we know which 5 and which 4 and why.

If this happens it will fundamentally change the way our elections are decided, our leaders are chosen, and our laws are made. The ruling will complete the transition, already underway, from a one-person-one-vote ideal to a corrupt one-dollar-one-vote system run for the benefit of those with the most dollars to throw into elections. And of course those with access to the most corporate dollars will use their new influence to increase their own dollars - and influence - at the expense of those with fewer dollars. Monopoly capitalism will be the New World Order.

It is simple to imagine how unlimited direct use of corporate resources will change our lives. Just for example, suppose executives at a chemical company want to save money by dumping toxins into a nearby river. Suppose a county or state government is trying to block this. Imagine the effect unlimited direct corporate money can have in a county or even a state election. Of course those executives will be able put in place a local or state government that lets them dump into the river. They probably will be able to get laws passed preventing their company from being sued for the resulting cancers. I know that this sounds pretty darn close to the political system that we have today but with direct use of corporate resources to influence elections the corrupting influence will be much more direct and corrosive.

This is not what some call corporatism and is not about companies making decisions, because companies don't think or make decisions. This is about executives -- people -- at the helm of huge, powerful companies using the company's vast resources to benefit themselves. This is at the expense of people in other, smaller companies. It is so important to understand that it is done by people - executives using corporate resources because companies are not sentient entities, no matter what anyone says. They don't think and they certainly don't speak. And it isn't everyone in these companies. The people in Sales or Accounts Receivable don't make the decisions, a few people at the very top do. In order to address this problem we need to understand that the actions of corporations are really the actions of a few people. Corporations don't act or "do" anything, people do.

This is about monopoly capitalism. Of course executives in control of the biggest companies will use their financial power to consolidate their control over our system, for their personal benefit. Smaller companies in the same industries and startups that threaten to compete won't stand a chance because the rules will be bent against them. If you think the oil and coal companies are hampering efforts control CO2 emissions and foster new alternative energy sources now, then just wait until the resources of giant companies are allowed to directly control our elections and therefore our government. If you think giant pharmaceutical companies are getting favors like unlimited patent life now, just wait until the Supreme Court opens up direct use of corporate resources.

So how did we get here?

It is difficult if not impossible for individuals to raise sufficient capital to enable large-scale projects that can cost millions, even billions to get started. So we developed corporations which areprivate legal entities designed to pool individual resources and accumulate vast sums, far beyond the ability of individuals to gather. The corporate legal structure enables large numbers of people to contribute to an effort. This also spreads the risk. Even if someone could raise the kind of money it takes to design and build a 747, why put all the eggs into one basket?

This legal structure was developed and is supported by our laws to benefit all of us. In fact, we even grant "limited liability" to the investors in corporations to encourage their development so investors are not responsible for the debts of a corporation. This is just one of many benefits granted to corporations by we, the People. We set up this structure to benefit us - why else would we have done it?

These pooled resources are supposed to be used only for business purposes, and the businesses are supposed to operate on a regulatory playing field that is set up by us. Corporate executives are only supposed to use corporate resources to run the business for the benefit of the shareholders. Some argue that use of their company's money to influence the political system brings benefits back to the companies thereby benefiting the shareholders. But in this example influence comes with an expectation of gain which is just bribery and is therefore illegal. On the other hand, some claim that these companies only have our best interest at heart, and expect nothing but good government in return for their largess. Of course without direct corporate gain this use of corporate funds by executives is a waste of shareholder's resources, and is therefore theft. Bribery or theft, which is it? Either way it is wrong.

Democracy developed in reaction to corrupt rule by wealthy and powerful interests for their own benefit at the expense of the rest of us. So it was recognized from the beginning that such pooled resources are a danger to the democracy we fought so hard to develop, and rules were put in place to prevent this from happening. But like the smallest leak in a dam, any use of corporate money to gain influence of course turns into greater and greater influence. The first bribe led to greater resources to use for a larger second bribe, and so on. As each bribe increased the influence of a wealthy corporate few eventually we ended up with a political party entirely dedicated to furthering the control of that wealthy few, to the point of appointing Supreme Court justices dedicated to that end. And here we are.

What can we do about this?

First of all, if by some miracle the Supreme Court doesn't open up direct use of corporate resources in elections we must recognize how close we have come to losing democracy, and stop all use of corporate resources to influence not just elections but public attitudes as well. Even without the Supreme Court opening things up, we have been heading down this path for some time. We have to stop corporate resources from leaking out of the companies and affecting corporate rulemaking. This includes lobbying, which is really just bribery. Company resources will always be used to bring advantages to that company -- over other companies and the rest of us.

If the governmental systems come entirely under the control of a wealthy few with access to the resources of giant corporations we are in a heap of trouble. But we have been here before, a century or so ago. A strong progressive movement can turn things around. We will need to develop strong public outreach from progressive organizations to help the public understand what is happening,. We will need to support labor unions as they fight to restore the ability of people to make a living and have some power and control over the workplace. And we will need to help people learn to fight the propaganda that is and will be thrown at us 24 hours a day.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:35 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

November 4, 2009

Digby Digby

Digny writes about The Most Important Election In The History Of The World | OurFuture.org

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:09 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

November 3, 2009

Working At The Polls

I am working at the polls today. Not a single voter yet...

Update - 8:45am - still no voters. Not one.

Update - We had a flurry of two voters at around 9:15am.

Update - 3:30pm - nine voters so far today. A few people dropped off their absentee ballots.

Final Update - Total of 12 voters on the machines, six absentee drop-offs and one vote on paper but somehow she took the ballot home with her.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:36 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

May 19, 2009

Back From Working At The Polls

Being a poll worker is a long and rewarding day. I had to be at my precinct - a half-hour drive - at 6am. Set up the polling place and the machines, do the paperwork, and open the polls at 7am.

Close the polls at 8pm. Then take down everything, reconcile the ballot count -- unvoted ballots from the morning, provisionals, spoiled ballots, machine count, etc...

The vote has gone overwhelmingly against the propositions. The comments from voters that I overheard were always about how the legislature wasn't doing its job and they resented it. i didn't hear a single comment about taxes.

This was not a vote against taxes. It was a vote against legislative dysfunction, secrecy, and structural ungovernability.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:01 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

Working At The Polls Today

I am working today as an Inspector at a polling place for California's special election. It's a long day and I am not likely to be posting.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:57 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

March 31, 2009

Teachers Fired To Pay For Huge Corporate Tax Cut -- Why?

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California

I've been asking around and it seems that most Californians don't know that the budget deal that fires so many teachers also has a huge tax cut just for big, multi-state and multi-national corporations.

But it's true. Last month's budget deal that fires teachers, cuts essential government services, and guts the investments that bring future economic benefits also has a huge tax cut for the largest of corporations. While this part of the deal has been kept pretty quiet, the LA Times had a story, Business the big winner in California budget plan. From the story,

The average Californian's taxes would shoot up five different ways in the state budget blueprint that lawmakers hope to vote on this weekend. But the bipartisan plan for wiping out the state's giant deficit isn't so bad for large corporations, many of which would receive a permanent windfall.

About $1 billion in corporate tax breaks -- directed mostly at multi-state and multinational companies -- is tucked into the proposal.

But wait, won't a big corporate tax cut cause companies to come to California, creating jobs? No, they are already here and it will drive them away, because it is paid for by firing teachers.

A study by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California, released in 2005, found that most companies decide where to locate based not on tax breaks but on factors such as the availability of a highly educated workforce. California's proposed plan would cut spending on higher education by hundreds of millions of dollars.

So how did this happen? This was part of the deal to get a few Republican votes. And why did the Republicans want this so bad? Because they understood who really elected them.

If you look at the independent expenditure reports for the 2008 California election you'll see a massive amount of last-minute money. For example, in the 19th Senate District, a political action committee (PAC) named "Californians for Jobs and Education" put almost $1 million into just one race: $570,653 into defeating Democrat Hannah-Beth Jackson, and another $373,778 to help elect her opponent, Republican Tony Strickland. When you look this group up on ElectionTrack you learn that this money came from corporations like Arkansas' Wal-Mart, Blue Cross of Ohio (Ohio?), Reliant Energy, major real estate companies, and from other PACs.

Now it gets interesting. Many of the contributions to that PAC came from other PACs, especially one called Jobs Pac. When you track down Jobs PAC you find that it is a conduit for huge, huge amounts of money coming from large corporations like Philip Morris, ATT, Chevron, Safeway, Sempra Energy, Verizon, big insurance companies, big pharmaceutical companies, big real estate companies ... and other conduits like the Chamber of Commerce.

Why did these huge corporations put so much money into California state elections? Because we let them, and because of the return on investment they receive from tax cuts like the one that is forcing us to fire so many of our teachers.

There is a key lesson to learn from this. When it comes time to choose, that is when you can really see who is for or against something -- where their priorities really are. And in this case, when push came to shove, in the end who did the conservatives come through for? The large corporations. They danced with the ones that brung them.

Click through to Speak Out California

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:03 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos

January 20, 2009

Watching from Home ... BUT

I am watching the inauguration from home, BUT there are two people in DC who will be posting and uploading lots of pictures for us.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:25 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

November 24, 2008

Voter Fraud

Do you remember the pre-election Republican hissy-fit about the threat of "voter fraud?" it got to the point where John McCain said during one of the debates,

"ACORN ... is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy."
Just in Ohio Republicans tried to purge more than 650,000 registered voters from the registration rolls to prevent "voter fraud." This was just in Ohio! Other massive-scale efforts were tried in Colorado, Georgia, Florida and other states.

So ... what was the result of all that hysteria about "voter fraud"? How many voter fraud cases turned up? Let's look at Ohio again.

Vote fraud worries called overblown | Cincinnati Enquirer,

Despite widespread concerns about voter fraud before the Nov. 4 election, Hamilton County elections officials declared today there were only two problem votes out of more than 400,000 votes cast.

. . . The two situations causing the concern are:

-- A man voted absentee in Hamilton County, then called the board later to withdraw his ballot because he actually lives in Connecticut.

-- An inmate voted twice from jail.

TWO problem votes, one of them called to say he had made a mistake.

That was the sum total of this massive effort to "destroy the fabric of Democracy."

They just lie. It's what they do.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:57 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

November 18, 2008

Post-Election at the Election Protection Wiki

We are doing some post-election work at the Election Protection Wiki, which is online at http://epwiki.org

The election is over but the election problems will return unless the system is reformed. This election was not close enough for problems – unintentional and intentional – to change the results, but the next election could very well be. So it is crucial that we assist efforts to fix the election system and outlaw the deceptions and suppression tactics.

As policymakers look back at the 2008 election they will need well-researched sources of background information. The Election Protection Wiki serves as a hub where they will either find the information directly or be directed to the organization or site that has it.

Here are ways that you can help:

Do you have any or know of any good election wrap-ups/summaries that should be summarized for the EP Wiki? Please let us know, or add summaries to appropriate pages.

We want our issue article on voter suppression to be a central "go-to" for media and policymakers as they work to stamp out this undemocratic tactic. Can you take a look at it and add to it? http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Voter_suppression

Help document what ACORN encountered in each state. This is especially important because policymakers could be acting largely on information provided by ACORN's detractors. We can help provide accurate documentation of the real work ACORN does bringing new voters into the process. See http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=ACORN_and_elections

And finally, we hope our article on election reform proposals will guide policymakers. Please take a look and add your own policy-reform suggestions. see http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Election_reform_proposals

THANKS!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:22 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

November 12, 2008

Millions More Votes For Democracy Next Time

Millions of people who wanted to vote either couldn’t vote, were kept from voting, were tricked out of voting, were tricked into voting the wrong way or voted but their votes were just not counted. There was voter suppression, voter roll purging, voter caging, intimidation, deception, misinformation and other efforts to keep citizens from voting for who they wanted to represent them in our government. On top of these efforts to there were also systemic problems that kept people from voting or kept their votes from counting.

I learned about these horrors while working on the Election Protection Wiki project, a non-partisan collaboration of citizens, journalists and researchers on the larger SourceWatch wiki. The EP WIki is a one-stop-shop for exposing voter suppression, voting machine problems, common election-worker screwups and other threats to election integrity.

Now that the voting is (mostly) done, we're working to document the problems with the election in order to stop this from happening next time. Here's what we've documented thus far, but if you see anything we've missed, please come over and add it in. I'm happy to help:

Suppression -- In several states there was systematic purging of voters from the registration rolls. Any excuse was used to remove voters, including something as simple as a misspelled street name or even the use of 'Bob' for 'Robert'. A Brennan Center for Justice study of voter purging estimated the number of voters purged before the 2008 election to be in the "millions."

Lines and delays -- One way to keep people from voting is to create conditions that cause long lines to form. Extremely long lines with waiting times of several hours for early voting and on election day were reported in different areas. Eventually people give up and go to work or home. Placing too few voting machines in precincts that tend to vote a certain way is one example of this tactic. In some areas lines were so long that people waited four, five, six and in some cases as many as eight hours to vote. We have no way of knowing how many people were kept from voting by these lines.

Some of the lines were a byproduct of the voter-roll purges. People arrive at polling places where they have voted in election after election, only to be told they are not registered. So they complain and demand provisional ballots, which can take a long time to complete. Lines grow ever longer as each of these voters is accommodated.

Intimidation -- Flyers warning that people with parking tickets will be arrested appeared in different areas. Students were warned that they could be arrested for voting where they go to school. Police were stationed at precincts with lots of Latino voters. Partisans were challenging voters in some areas.

Systemic problems – voting machines malfunction, scanners get clogged with ink, absentee ballots are not mailed, and other systemic problems kept an unknown number of people from voting or their votes from counting.

Just not counting votes -- collecting provisional ballots and then not counting them.

Tricks -- One big emerging story involved text messages sent to Democrats in several states, advising them they should avoid the lines and vote Wednesday. This happened in Missouri, Florida, Minnesota, Montana, Idaho, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Virginia and several other states. Similarly voters in several states reported receiving robo-calls with a similar message. This was clearly an organized effort to keep people from voting.

In Florida Democratic voters were called and told they could avoid lines by voting by phone, given a number to call, and after "voting" were told they didn't have to go to the polls. This was also clearly an organized operation.

And these were only the scams that we heard about.

Beyond deliberate suppression and deception there were many other problems. How many people were denied or tricked out of their right to vote? How many never received absentee ballots? How many showed up only to be told they are not registered? How many voted using provisional ballots, without knowing if they will ever be counted? How many believed that they could avoid lines by waiting a day? There is really no way to know. But we can work to make sure these things pen again.

At least there is a place where the media, policymakers and citizens can find a collection of election problem reports and policy suggestions to help guide the reform process: the Election Protection Wiki.

Help us document the problems that occurred on Election Day. Help us collect proposals for election reform. You can get directly involved; we need your help!

If we fix these problems and stop these suppression efforts we will bring millions of new voters into our democracy. If we do not we will see all the long lines, registration problems, machine malfunctions and untrustworthiness, voter suppression schemes and tricks that we see during every election all over again, losing millions of votes.

Democracy is about all of the people having an equal voice in deciding how our country will be managed. So all of us owe it to the rest of us to help perfect this. After each election we should look at the problems that occurred and take steps to prevent them from happening again.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:35 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

November 2, 2008

Election Protection Wiki at EPWIKI.ORG

You haven't been hearing from me as much because I'm still working on the Election Protection Wiki, and I recommend that you drop by and take a look. There is a LOT of information there, and great resources for people on election day. And feel free to add information.

The EP Wiki serves as an internet hub that helps media, activists, advocates and the public get the information they need in a hurry on election day. It helps get people to national and state organizations they need to find, contact information for state government officials and state-based election organizations, or just to have the information in the wiki itself. And it helps the media find those contacts as well as learn about warnings and forecasts of problems as they occur.

After the election will serve to document problems for the media and policy makers.

Stop by at http://epwiki.org, look around, help out, tell others.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:34 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Making it Count: How to Protect Your Vote & Spot Dirty Tricks

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:00 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

Daft the Vote

AMERICAblog explains.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:38 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 29, 2008

Socialism

In Europe they get 5 weeks vacation, fully-paid health care for everyone, generous pensions at an earlier age, full maternity benefits AND child care.

They get PROTECTION from poison in their food, workers getting injured by their jobs, companies dumping crap in their air and water, corporate scams and other general exploitation of the public.

They get some say in how big corporations are run, and the corporations BENEFIT THE PEOPLE.

When McCain complains that Obama is going to "spread the wealth around" ... COMPLAINS about that!! I think maybe everyone in the entire country might just turn out to vote for Obama. Except a few, very few, fatcat corporate executives who are stealing everything they can get their hands on, at our expense. HELL yes, spread the wealth around! HELL yes!

Socialism -- another name for things that work. Compare that to what we've had here for twenty or thirty years. Is there even a question? Sign me up!

Who is our economy FOR, anyway?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:41 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos

October 28, 2008

Must Read!!!

Please go read this short, powerful post by Max Cleland.

Max lost three limbs in VietNam. He was head of the Veterans Administration under Carter. Later he was elected to the Senate in Georgia. But in the post-9/11 fear-frenzy Saxby Chambliss, a Republican draft-dodger, ran Karl Rove ads saying Cleland was unpatriotic and a coward. Those ads, with a little help from voting machine problems, put Chambliss in the Senate.

Now Chambliss has a challenger, Democrat Jim Martin. And Max Cleland wants you to know his feelings about the race. So go read Max Cleland: Georgia On My Mind.

If you are in Georgia, or know anyone in Georgia, please ask them to read this, too.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:09 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 27, 2008

New McCain Fear Ad

Be afraid, be very afraid!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:00 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

McCain Gambling Ad

This ad from Campaign Money Watch will run in VA and FL. But that doesn't mean YOU can't forward it around!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:37 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

October 23, 2008

OH NO! Look What I Did!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:17 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos

Ron Howard's Call To Action

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:16 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Don't Let Anyone Say You Can't Vote

If they say you can't vote:

1) Don't take no for an answer.
2) Demand a provisional ballot.
3) Follow up to be sure it is counted.
4) Call the Election Protection Hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE (they are on the web at http://www.866ourvote.org/ same as the phone number.)
5) Be ready, go to the No More Stolen Elections website now.



Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:06 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 21, 2008

Would A McCain Win Mean A Legitimate Government?

McCain is running an entirely negative, divisive, racist campaign based on lies, intending to trick, manipulate, deceive, divide or otherwise do whatever it takes to get enough people to vote for him.

And we all know it.

So if it works, where are we? Do we accept such a government, elected based on the appeal his campaign is making?

Set aside for a minute all the the voter suppression, problems with voting machines, etc. -- that's not what I want to write about here, go here for what to do about that -- and instead imagine that Nov. 5 we learn that McCain is the "winner of the election" and that it comes from a surge of voters responding to his current campaign.

What would that mean? And what do we do? Do we accept a government that we all know is in power entirely based on lies, division and racist appeal? This is a serious question: is such a government legitimate?

I'm asking for a discussion, not making a declaration.

Update - An email I received:

Unless there is evidence of illegal activity, yes, we must accept such a government, and, yes, it is legitimate. It is not illegal for an individual operating in an unofficial capacity (as a presidential candidate as opposed to a senator) to lie. Citizens have a responsibility to verify the accuracy of the information they receive. If they choose not to verify it and choose to believe a lie and to act on it with their vote, that is their right, and they deserve to be governed by the lying president they've chosen. There's nothing in a democratic political system that requires a candidate to tell the truth. It is we, each individual citizen, who must require it by refusing to accept any information we haven't verified for ourselves. We fail miserably at that, so we generally get the government we deserve.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:28 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

Election Protection Wiki News Roundup

Volunteers at the Center for Media and Democracy’s Election Protection Wiki continue to collect reports of ongoing voter suppression.

Among the reports on the Election Protection Wiki from the last few days:

Michigan: GOP admits foreclosure voter suppression scheme.

California voters say they were duped into registering as Republicans

West Virginia: voters say electronic voting machines changed their votes from Democrats to Republicans.

US Supreme Court sides with Ohio election officials against striking 200,000 from the voting roles.

And the Obama campaign has asked the Justice Department to expand the special prosecutor’s DOJ politicization probe to see if the ACORN accusations are related

The volunteers are collecting information on polling place shortages, voting machine malfunctions, ballot misprints, voter roll purges, voter intimidation and other election threats. At the same time they are contributing to issue articles on exit polls, student disenfranchisement, the ACORN controversy and other important topics. All of this is being collected into a central location for use by media, activists, advocates and policy-makers on and after election day.

We need every hand we can get to help us get this information ready in time. Come to the Election Protection Wiki and help keep this election honest.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:28 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 20, 2008

The Day After The Election

Go see what AfterDowningStreet.org is up to: A McCain "Win" Will Be Theft, Resistance Is Planned

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:29 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 18, 2008

Election - Final Stretch

We're about to see the full force power and fury of the right-wing machine unleashed. I'm not so sure Obama will keep his lead through the next phase, or if there will be a country when they're done.

The RNC and the McCain campaign has been accusing Obama and Democrats of being "un-American" or "anti-American" and "dangerous" and "terrorists" and anything they can think of. Today McCain said Obama's tax policies are "Socialist." Across the country the first phase of robo-calls has started, with nasty smears, lies, fear-mongering and you-name-it being pumped into people's homes at all hours.

It is only going to get worse. And then it will get worse. And then it will get really nasty. The next two weeks will go down in history. The corporate right faces the prospect of the people bringing them back under control, and a look at where all the money went. The authoritarian right faces investigations for torture and war crimes. The party operatives face jail time for illegal politicization of the entire government. They will not go without a huge fight.

I really don't know where things will go in the next two weeks, but keep up your spirits, and fight back.

And, of course, watch your backs.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:31 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

October 16, 2008

McCain's Campaign

Take a look at this latest racist ad from McCain. "Welfare" and "Government handouts:"

So what do they think this could work? Well, take a look at this:

McCain's campaign will be remembered for a long time...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:30 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Doesn't Anyone Remember The Justice Department Politicization Scam????

This in the news today: Officials: FBI investigates ACORN for voter fraud,

The FBI is investigating whether the community activist group ACORN helped foster voter registration fraud around the nation before the presidential election. A senior law enforcement official confirmed the investigation to The Associated Press on Thursday.

A second senior law enforcement official says the FBI was looking at results of recent raids on ACORN offices in several states for any evidence of a coordinated national scam.

First, it is ILLEGAL for anyone in the government to leak news of an FBI investigation. That by itself should be a tipoff to what is going on here.

Second, this is what the Justice Department politicization scandal was about: prosecutors fired for refusing to involve themselves in phony pre-election investigations of vote fraud, and others who were not fired because they played along. Those prosecutors are still on the job. Get it yet?

I am seeing 24.7 hysteria in the media that ACORN is engaged in a conspiracy to steal the election. But once you look into it there is not a single fact behind the charges. In fact, there were a total of 26 cases of voter fraud in the United States in a 5-year period studied.

Meanwhile the Republicans are fighting to purge millions of citizens from the voting rolls before the election. Do you not get it yet?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:24 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Choice?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:58 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Call Out For Election Protection Wiki Help

The Election Protection Wiki needs more tipsters and volunteers to help build our library of reports of voter suppression, questionable voting machines and the like before Election Day!

Volunteers at the Center for Media and Democracy’s Election Protection Wiki have collected unbelievable reports of voter suppression nationwide in the nine days since it went online.

Among the reports on the EPWiki:

  • In Colorado and New Mexico there are not enough voting booths or machines for Election Day.

  • Students in Virginia are receiving probing questionnaires from voting officials falsely implying they don’t have the right to vote there.
  • In Ohio alone, more than 600,000 newly-registered voters are threatened with purging.
  • There are reports of sometimes-illegal mass voter roll purges in Michigan, New Mexico, Florida, Georgia, Colorado
    and other states. Several states are even purging voter rolls of people who are “Bob” on driver’s licenses and “Robert” on voter registration forms.
  • Officials in Indiana are avoiding setting up polling places in areas of the state heavily populated by minorities.
  • The Republican Party in Michigan planned to challenge the registrations of every voter whose home had been foreclosed on recently.
  • ACORN, which has been held out as a bogeyman for voter fraud (though only 26 TOTAL cases of voter fraud were prosecuted nationwide from 2002 – 2005), has bad registration rates below the California Republican Party’s and a lawsuit alleging fraud in 2004 was dismissed by a judge for lack of merit?
  • And, of course, there are ongoing worries across the country about electronic voting machines.
The Election Protection Wiki (at EPWiki.org) is the only website trying to document and centralize these reports, which were found scattered across the Web by volunteers. We are trying to get everything ready so activists, advocates and the media have a central place to go on Election Day for immediate information about these issues.

We need your help to collect more reports. No experience is necessary and CMD staffers are here to help with ready-to-go simple tasks and any support you need. Please join us in protecting the right to vote – go to EPWiki.org and click on “things you can do” to begin.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:11 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 15, 2008

White Privilege

White privilege means always getting to have the last word.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:14 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

How Widespread Is Vote Fraud?

Republicans are accusing ACORN, Obama and Democrats in general of "massive vote fraud" based on problem registrations.

Here is the fact: "From 2002 to 2005 only one person was found guilty of registration fraud. Twenty people were found guilty of voting while ineligible and five people were found guilty of voting more than once."

That is the entire United States. 26 examples of vote fraud in four years. THIS is what Fox News, CNN, all of talk radio, all the right-wing blogs, etc. are going on about 24 hours a day right now -- 26 cases in four years.

Reference: Lorraine C. Minnite, [http://www.demos.org/pubs/Analysis.pdf "An Analysis of Voter Fraud in The United States,"] Dēmos, Undated, (Adapted from the 2003 report Securing The Vote, by L. Minnite and D. Callahan, with updates.)

From The Progress Report: The Truth About Voter Fraud

Also, take a look at the Election Protection Wiki.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:44 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 14, 2008

It's 10pm, Do You Know Who Your Parents Are Voting For?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:19 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Tell McCain Palin To Stop Using Politics Of Hate

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:40 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 13, 2008

Take The No More Stolen Elections Pledge

This came in my email:

SIGN THE PLEDGE OF ACTION: CLICK HERE

Many say the 2008 election is being stolen right now. If two stolen elections are two too many, are you prepared to accept a third?

Please read the following important call to action from Liberty Tree, together with Rev. Jesse Jackson, Barbara Ehrenreich, Bill Fletcher, Daniel Ellsberg, David Cobb, Frances Moore Lappé, Frances Piven, Holly Near, Jerome Scott, Jim Hightower, John Cavanagh, John Nichols, Manning Marable, Marcus Raskin, Maude Hurd, Medea Benjamin, Mimi Kennedy, Norman Solomon, Rabbi Michael Lerner, Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Robert McChesney, Starhawk, Tom Hayden, Van Jones, and many more.

Then, if you haven't already, please go to http://www.NoMoreStolenElections.org and join us -- take the pledge of action.

Finally, please forward this message far and wide. Let's make certain that ~this~ time, the will of the people decides Election Day.

CALL TO ACTION: No More Stolen Elections!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:21 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 12, 2008

More Threats To Kill Obama

This is at a popular right-wing blog. Warning you will need a strong stomach to see this. It is a photo of Obama and a noose and the words "The F**king Solution" - and more, with the usual nasty right-wing victim-complex justifications, all followed by some really nasty comments frok readers. Just go see for yourself.

Update It was removed there, but it is still up here. Update - It's gone there too. Good riddance. Also, I have learned that the one posted at Say Anything was a reader blog, and not from the bloggers at that site. I want to point that out, the blog itself was not responsible.

Update - The whole thing is covered here.

The original post continues:

This had better get the Secret Service involved fast.

And just to document where this stuff is heading, this at Fox news Forums, whipping people up that Obama is rigging the election by accusing ACORN of "vote fraud" even though there has never been a single fraudulent vote cast as a result of voter-registration mistakes.

It makes your everyday smear look almost trivial...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:13 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 10, 2008

Absentee Ballots Say "Osama" Not "Obama"

Cute. Absentee ballots in NY force voters to vote for "Osama." Go see The BRAD BLOG : Barack 'Osama' on Ballots Sent to Voters in NY

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:12 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

Voting Really Matters

Are you too busy to vote? Watch this.


Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:59 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 9, 2008

Help With The Election Protection Wiki

I am working with the Election Protection Wiki project, and we need your help gathering and entering relevant information before election day.

The Election Protection Wiki will be an election-day clearinghouse for election information for all states but focusing on key swing states.  The EP Wiki organizes information about problems that have come up in the past, problems that are likely to come up, who to contact, national and state election protection organizations and other resources.  This will help people to overcome election-day problems.

The EP Wiki isn't trying to duplicate any of the number of great election integrity sites out there - we are instead trying to fill a gaping hole in the greater election protection movement: to be a central hub with spokes out to all the sites and information that even dedicated researchers can easily overlook in the noise of the web.

We are trying to locate and link to every relevant organization and gather or link to all relevant information.  Because this is a project of SourceWatch the EP Wiki already has a very high Google ranking, with its information coming up at or near the top of searches.

It is not difficult to add information to a Wiki.  Every existing page has an Edit tab, and sections of the page have Edit links.  One you sign up for an account you can click to edit the page, add the information, and save it.  There are how-to guides and help/reference articles as well as editors like myself available to work with you.

The Election Protection Wiki project is working in conjunction with the Voter Suppression Wiki.  VSW is taking an activist bent to engage in election protection efforts. The information we collect at the Election Protection Wiki project about the threats to elections in each state helps highlight the greatest ones and provide the necessary background to take informed action.

Please visit and let others know about the Election Protection Wiki project, and help us get this project ready for election day.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:47 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 7, 2008

Oh My God!

Oh My God! That is my comment on the things that McCain is saying during this debate. Fannie and Freddie? So he's going with the racist nonsense promoted by the far right that loans to black people are the cause of this crisis.

He's saying that Obama "took money" from them, as a bribe to ignore the excesses, when his campaign manager was a top lobbyist for them?

Oh My God! He's just going to lie and smear.

That is the entirety of my Debate Live Blogging. Or not.

Update - Well OK, why doesn't McCain think that kids should visit planetariums?

Update - Tom Brokaw is a good moderator for a McCain debate. I don't mean that as a compliment.

Update- Apology. I meant Oh My God! My Friend.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:29 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Cultivating Prejudice, Racism, Fear and Ugliness

At their rallies McCain and Palin have been encouraging the worst from the Republican base. Accusations of "palling around with terrorists" and causing the financial crisis, and you-name-it they're accusing. Jack Turner says what needs to be said, at Jack & Jill Politics,

Everything we need to know about John McCain and Sarah Palin is summed up by their reaction to these incidents. Their positions on health care no longer matter. Their tax policies are irrelevant. Their talking points made moot. Not only do they bring out the worst in people, but they feed the worst in people. They are basing their campaign on painting Obama as a terrorist and monster. They are cultivating prejudice, racism, fear and ugliness.

America has been down this path before, and it is the exact opposite of what this country needs right now.

History awaits moments like these. We are on the brink. When a society’s pent up frustration and anger searches for an outlet, it is a leader’s job to step up and focus those wild emotions away from destruction and toward something productive. At least that is what a good leader would do. [emphasis added]

Go read the rest.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:51 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Republicans and Democracy

Headlined at Drudge, this Republican newspaper complains that homeless people are allowed to vote: PRO-OBAMA GROUP "VOTE TODAY OHIO" PICKS UP HOMELESS AND REGISTERS THEM TO VOTE

Of course, one-dollar-one-vote Republicans would object to a one-person-one-vote system. God forbid citizens should be allowed to register and vote!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:23 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 6, 2008

Election Protection Wiki

I am working on the Election Protection Wiki project. You can see the Election Protection Wiki at epwiki.org and electionprotectionwiki.org. This launched this morning. (Yes, we are working with the Voter Suppression WIki project.) Here is the press release for the project:


The Election Protection Wiki: A Dynamic Website Helps Safeguard America’s Right to Vote

The non-profit, non-partisan Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) has launched a unique website to help safeguard the fairness and integrity of US elections, using the power of citizen journalism. The Election Protection Wiki is now online at http://www.EPWiki.org . It enables citizens, journalists and government officials to actively monitor the electoral process in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. CMD and its community of volunteer editors will continue to improve, expand and update the EP Wiki beyond the upcoming November 4th election.

The EP Wiki is part of CMD’s award-winning SourceWatch website and operates on wiki software which allows anyone who registers on the website to participate in creating and updating articles. SourceWatch contains in-depth articles on every member of (and most candidates for) the US Congress at http://www.Congresspedia.org . CMD employs both professional and volunteer editors who work together online to ensure articles are fair, accurate and fully documented.

Recent presidential elections were marred by controversies and disputes. Scores of individuals and organizations have been working to investigate and reform US elections, issuing reports and information on topics such as electronic voting machines, voter suppression campaigns and student voting rights. However, this information is spread across many different websites, news sources and databases. The Election Protection Wiki seeks to provide a single web portal for accessing this disparate information. Its information is non-partisan and factual; anyone of any political persuasion will be able to both read from and write to the wiki to help us all protect every American’s right to vote.

“We’re not on the side of any candidate or political party, we're on the side of the American voter. But we’re happy if anyone, partisan or not, uses the Election Protection Wiki,” said Managing Editor Conor Kenny. “For example, the Voter Suppression Wiki is already utilizing information in our Election Protection Wiki; even if they decide to move in a partisan direction (as they're currently discussing), any reports posted by their participants are also available to Republican-leaning or non-partisan activists as well. Journalists, bloggers, activists, election officials and anyone with web access can use the Election Protection Wiki to both read current articles and create new information regarding election problems."

The Election Protection Wiki’s professional staff members include Project Editor Dave Johnson, a Fellow at the Commonweal Institute and Senior Fellow at the Institute for the Renewal of the California Dream; and Senior Researcher Dr. Steve Freeman of the Center for Organizational Dynamics at the University of Pennsylvania. (Titles are for identification purposes only.) CMD’s Conor Kenny is the Managing Editor of both the Election Protection Wiki and Congresspedia, CMD’s partnership project with the Sunlight Foundation that reports on every member of Congress.

###

The Center for Media and Democracy is based in Madison, Wisconsin, and located online at http://www.prwatch.org .

Please come join the project and help enter information.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:02 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 2, 2008

Vote

Forward this to five people:

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:33 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

September 9, 2008

Rove Machine Switched On And Going Full Force

This is a Guest post, by Michelle Kraus.

Democrats it's time to come back from vacation. The "Rove-like" machine is on and running full force. It is almost a bitter sweet irony that it is August yet again before a Presidential election. Have we not learned anything from the lessons of '04?

1. War starts in a new part of the world: Georgia is attacked by Russia. Tanks roll.

2. Putin sits with our President at the Opening Ceremonies at the Beijing Olympics

3. Shake well with a little scandal - and remarkably former Senator John Edwards is caught with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar

4. The Democrats (and the entire Congress) go on vacation for recess to raise the all necessary campaign dollars for the November races

5. Rev up the media machine and oops we're onto the races. The polls are falling.
The election is in a dead heat.

How the heck did this happen after the brilliant international trip of Senator Barack Obama? Why did that eight point upsurge in Gallup go virtually unnoticed?

Now, if we were really smart we would have written this playbook and been prepared.

Zippers up (at least until November) gentlemen.

Reveal the missteps (if there were any) before the media machine nails you male or female.

Drop the tennis rackets.

Hold up the cell phones, wave them in the air, and show the country you are in charge.

Please don't go on vacation and wave from your catamaran.

This is a deadly street fight until November. Americans are losing their homes, their health care, and their children in Iraq. Think like gun slingers, wrestlers, or street fighters. Progressives get back in the Party and hunker down for the fight of your lives. We need to work together. Hillary supporters no more Talmudic discourse, at least not now in public. There will be time for it all. Obama campaign put on your roller skates, drop the entitlement, make nice to the Hillary folks, and be nimble and quick.

This is our race to win. Where is our playbook? Please don't let swift boating become a permanent entry into the lexicon of terms used to lose a presidential election. It's almost humorous to see the "tail wagging the dog" in our foreign policy arena. Didn't we see that movie?


Posted by Guest at 9:23 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

September 3, 2008

Not Following Republican Convention

Sorry, I can't watch the Republican convention. It's psychological. I follow the right-wing blogs and Limbaugh, etc. to keep track of what is coming up, but this is just too much for me. Makes me physically ill, the lying, the smears... They really count on people being stupid.

Update - OK I tuned in. I guess I didn't know that Iraq had attacked up on 9/11. That changes everything!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:19 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

August 23, 2008

That Big Tent Thing In The Left Column

That Big Tent thing in the left column is an aggregator of everything posted by bloggers participating in The Big Tent in Denver. The Big Tent is a blogger/progressive movement facility that will host 400 bloggers and progressive leaders for convention week.

I will be spending a lot of time there, as well as the Starz Green Room (which I wrote about the other day).

And I'll be in the convention hall as well, writing about events there.

Please help pay for this trip. It isn't too expensive -- plane ticket and room for several nights mostly, but I could use some help paying for it all.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:37 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

August 15, 2008

Obama's VP Choice

I had a conversation with one of the people who helped Bill Clinton choose his VP running mate in 1992. He says that no one -- no one -- knew who was under consideration. They had a lot of fun reading all the speculation in the press, and reading about all of the people who "knew" who the choice would be.

The moral of the story: ANYone who SAYS they know who is under consideration doesn't know.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:27 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

August 14, 2008

A Great Ad


The story is here.

I wonder how to get this on TV? MoveOn?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:03 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

Is This Legal?

One more Repubican front-group weighs in. NRA to Montana: Obama a threat to gun owners,

The National Rifle Association said Wednesday that Barack Obama's campaign is trying to mislead voters about his past support of gun control, calling the Democratic candidate "a poster child of the extremist, elitist gun control movement."

. . . The NRA plans to spend $40 million nationally this campaign season, and has yet to determine how much will be spent in individual states.

Update I wasn't clear enough. I believe the NRA is the kind of "issue" organization that is not allowed under the tax and election codes to support or work against individual candidates. Like Vets for freedom, Freedom's Watch and the other Republican Party front groups that are out there working against Obama.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:10 AM | Comments (6) | Link Cosmos

August 12, 2008

One Effect Of Money's Influence On Policies

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California

A new briefing paper from the Economic Policy Institute titled The China Trade Toll [PDF document] says that since China entered the World Trade Organization in 2001 our China trade policy "has had a devastating effect on U.S. workers and the domestic economy."

The report shows that since 2001 California has lost 325,800 jobs (55,400 of these just in the last year) to China due to these policies. And since 2001 2.3 million jobs were lost nationally. According to the report even those workers able to find new jobs saw their wages drop an average of $8,146 per year. (These figures are only for jobs and income lost to China and do not include jobs and income lost to other countries.)

And, of course, this effect is not limited to the workers who lost their job. This also has an effect on works' ability to ask for raises and imporvements in working conditions. From the report,

It is also critical to recognize that the indirect impact of trade on other workers is significant as well. Trade with less-developed countries has reduced the bargaining power of all workers in the U.S. economy who resemble the import-displaced in terms of education, credentials, and skills. Annual earnings for all workers without a four year college degree are roughly $1,400 lower today because of this competition…
Specific industries were affected more than others by our massive trade deficit with China. Computer and electronic product manufacturers were hit hardest, losing an eliminated 561,000 jobs in this period. Jobs lost to the deficit tended to be better-paying ones,
More than two-thirds of the jobs displaced by China trade deficits were in manufacturing, which tends to employ a higher-than-average share of workers with a high school degree or less (43.7% of workers displaced) and to provide those workers with good wages and benefits. More than half (55.6%) of the jobs displaced came from the top half of the U.S. wage distribution, and among this group a disproportionate share came from the top 10th of all U.S. wage earners. African Americans (230,000 jobs lost), Hispanics (339,000), and other ethnic groups (219,000) all suffered from the loss of jobs such as these that pay substantially more and offer better benefits than jobs in other industries.

Here is what is going on. First, China "pegs" its currency to the dollar instead of letting it follow market rates as the dollar does. So the dollar's decline does not make it cost less to manufacture here, which would bring manufacturing jobs to the U.S. Next, China doesn't allow workers to organize labor unions. So their workers are not really benefiting from all of this. Wages there are kept low, and prices grow ever higher due to the currency manipulation of "pegging" to the dollar. And finally, China imposes barriers on imported goods. So while they manufacture and sell to the rest of the world, they keep their own people from buying things made elsewhere.

As a result China exported $323 billion in goods to the U.S. in 2007, and purchased only $61 billion in goods from the U.S.

The report concludes,

The growing U.S. trade deficit with China has displaced huge numbers of jobs in the United States and has been a prime contributor to the crisis in manufacturing employment over the past six years. Moreover, the United States is piling up foreign debt, losing export capacity, and facing a more fragile macroeconomic environment.
And, the report points out that this isn't particularly in the long-term interests of the Chinese people, either,
Is America’s loss China’s gain? The answer is most certainly no. China has become dependent on the U.S. consumer market for employment generation, has suppressed the purchasing power of its own middle class with a weak currency, and, most importantly, has held hundreds of billions of hard currency reserves in low-yielding, risky assets instead of investing them in public goods that could benefit Chinese households. Its vast purchases of foreign exchange reserves have stimulated the overheating of its domestic economy, and inflation in China has accelerated rapidly in the past year. Its repression of labor rights has suppressed wages, thereby artificially subsidizing exports.
Of course trade is good, when it is a two way street. If trade is fair, it benefits everyone involved. But this report shows that what the people who run American corporations call "free" trade is hurting our economy more than it is helping. Now that several years of these policies have passed we can measure the results, and the results have not been good for the American people.

Because of our country's trade policies with China 325,800 jobs have been lost in California. Meanwhile China is allowed to manipulate their currency, prevent unions, and set up barriers that keep their people from buying goods we make here.

What this has meant is big corporations can get out of paying American workers a fair wage because they can get away with paying Chinese workers hardly anything, while a very few people at the top of the American and Chinese food chains pocket the difference entirely for themselves. If you consider the huge amounts that some of these individuals are pocking from this scheme -- some receiving hundreds of millions of dollars each year -- aren't we at least benefiting from the taxes they pay? Unfortunately no, because of the tax policies of California and national Republican: low taxes for the rich, higher taxes for the rest of us, and borrowing to cover the resulting deficits. Here in California the Republicans are even blocking an effort to ask the super-rich to pay the same sales taxes that the rest of us pay on everything we buy when they buy yachts and private planes. But no, they don't even have to pay that tax.

The result of these tax policies is that while we lose jobs,and the remaining workers get pay cuts, we also lose out on government services like schools, fire protection, police, roads, mass transit and everything else our government does for us. And that's not all. Because of these tax policies the state and national governments are borrowing huge amounts, and we have to pay that back with interest.

All of this -- the China trade policies, the tax policies, the massive borrowing -- come from the influence that money buys in our political system. The minute someone is able to use some money to gain an advantage, of course they use that to get even more money, which lets them buy an even bigger advantage, and the cycle continues.

You can easily see the effects of the money with the massive ad campaigns around California's elections and ballot initiatives -- and the resulting budget gridlock as a few corporate-connected Republicans block every effort to ask the rich and connected to pay their share.

We are in a stranglehold situation. A very few wealthy people are exporting our jobs and pocketing the money they would have paid as wages and benefits. They are not even paying taxes on the ill-gotten gains, which forces our state and national governments to borrow. And they are getting away with it because they are able to use some of that money to further influence our political system.

Here's the thing. They're not even using their own money to purchase this influence. Since they have control of the resources of large corporations, they are using the money from those corporations to fund the system of influence, which directs much larger amounts of cash back to themselves.

I think the way to stop this is to prevent any use of corporate money for anything other than operating the corporation. I'll share some ideas on that in later posts.

Click through to Speak Out California -- Please leave a comment with your thoughts.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:50 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

August 9, 2008

If You Can't Do The Time, Don't Do The Crime

A new group called Accountable America is warning conservative donors about staying within election laws. The New York Times wrote about this the other day with the misleading headline, Group Plans Campaign Against G.O.P. Donors.

Of course it isn't a "campaign against GOP donors" it is a campaign warning against unlawful and unethical activity. But stopping unlawful activity just might dry up a lot of the Republican Party's -- and the right's supporting infrastructure's -- cash flow. This includes 501c3 tax-free "charity" think tanks and 501c4 "issue" organizations that are really illegally engaged in candidate activity, or otherwise acting as conduits for corporate money or for those who have "maxed out" (reached the legal limit) for political donations.

The other day I wrote about,

... companies intimidating workers to vote a certain way, churches, think tanks, front groups incorporated as c4s but doing candidate work, campaigns violating election laws, etc.

... Suppose [we could create] some concern among the Wal-Marts and the Sheldon Adelsons that they had better think about following the law?

What would this do to the funding sources of the right's machine?

So I guess great minds think alike. Heh.

There is plenty of need for an effort to get conservative and corporate donors to follow the law. Just for example -- last week's news about "curious" bundled political contributions made by employees of oil companies receiving billion-dollar contracts from the government to McCain and Republicans. Some of these donations came from people clearly unable to make such a donation on their own. This makes it appear that the companies may have illegally given these people money to give to McCain and the Republican Party and groups are demanding an investigation (that will never happen).

[Public interest groups] want the Justice Department to investigate whether bundlers for John McCain's presidential campaign are using "straw" donations -- those made in the name of someone else to evade contribution limits.
A story at TPM elaborates,
"An executive from a company that has a billion dollar contract to deliver oil to U.S. bases in Iraq possibly violated election law to funnel contributions to McCain. We think that warrants an investigation."

And on the Hess matter ... : "An office manager for an oil company that stands to gain millions in profits from offshore drilling makes donations for the first time this cycle to McCain, and did it at the same time nine other Hess donors do. That's worth an investigation."

Now that Accountable America is on the scene maybe corporations and big donors who are thinking about engaging in illegal activities will think twice.

If you want to help this effort you can donate by clicking here.

Update Kathy G writes about Accountable America in her post Liberal fascism strikes again!

* The new group will offer a $100,000 reward to those providing information that leads to the conviction or judgment against a conservative or business-related organization that violates the law.

* Accountable America will provide information to the public through television ads, mailings, phone calls and its Web site.

* Next week the organization plans to send a mailing warning nearly 10,000 Republican donors of the consequences of funding organizations that break or skirt the law.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 8, 2008

Quoting KKK Leaders Against Obama

Now the right is promoting the quotes of KKK leaders against Obama. And it's only August.

A headline at Drudge Report: Ex-KKK Leader: Obama Shows Whites 'Have Lost Control' Of America...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:39 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 5, 2008

Paris Hilton Responds To McCain

Paris Hilton responds to the McCain "Celebrity" ad. No, really, it really is Paris Hilton.

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

She has more actual energy policy than McCain!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:15 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

On Democrats Reshaping Themselves As Republicans

I was thinking about how Obama squandered the enthusiasm and good faith of the activist "base" when he decided to "move to the right" to "appeal to the center." I am not quoting the Obama campaign, I am describing what happened to so many Democrats over the years who have helped move the goalposts ever rightward. In the face of an ongoing corporate propaganda campaign the "realists" and "pragmatists" have concluded they need to "go where the votes are" rather than fight back and work to counter that right-wing messaging and explain to the public why progressive values are better for them.

(NOTE - I think this is really more the fault of the funding base than the politicians. They just don't get it about building organizations capable of countering the messaging. And I am including everyone who is not giving all they can, even if that is only $20 a week, to progressive infrastructure organizations like Commonweal Institute and Speak Out California.)

All of this made me think of one of the great blog posts, from just after the 2002 elections. RENDEZVOUS WITH LUNACY

It begins with this picture:

PodvinAndMcAuliffe.jpg

From the post,

Why would voters choose a phony right wing Republican over the real thing? What made McAuliffe and Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt believe that rural conservative whites would choose warmongering Democratic slaves to Corporate America over warmongering Republican slaves to Corporate America? When I want to vote for a warmongering corporate slave, I always vote Republican.

[. . .] I am not an astute observer of the political scene – I am merely an embittered observer. Yet despite being a rank political amateur, I am able to understand that the path to power does not consist of alienating people who are willing to vote for you in order to ingratiate yourself to people who are unwilling to vote for you. The current Democratic leadership just can't seem to comprehend this most important concept.

[. . .] Abandonment of stated principles and unilateral surrender have now officially been discredited as tactics for regaining Democratic control of Congress. It is time for new party leaders to try a different approach, like treating their voters with respect. Bush and the Republican base have a symbiotic relationship – he attends to their concerns, and they respond by faithfully supporting the G.O.P. This intriguing arrangement might well serve as a useful model for the Democratic Party.

It includes the classic wisdom,


When your supporters don’t vote for
you, then you



LOSE.


Oh please go read the whole post. Classic blogging.

And we bloggers out here in the non-beltway wilderness keep trying to explain this message over and over.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:57 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 23, 2008

Scary Black Man



By the way -- How come I can't play YouTube videos in FireFox, but can in Internet Explorer? The videos just stop after 2 seconds.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:25 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

June 6, 2008

Dems - No Lobbyist Or PAC Money

The Democratic Party has announced that they will no longer accept contributions from lobbyists or PACs.

The Democratic Party | Democratic Party Will No Longer Accept Washington Lobbyist Donations:

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean and the Obama for America Campaign today announced that the DNC will no longer accept Washington lobbyist donations, making the same commitment as Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president.

"The DNC and the Obama Campaign are unified and working together to elect Barack Obama as the next president of the United States. Our presumptive nominee has pledged not to take donations from Washington lobbyists and from today going forward the DNC makes that pledge as well," said Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean. "Senator Obama has promised to change the way things are done in Washington and this step is a sure sign of his commitment. The American people's priorities will set the agenda in an Obama Administration, not the special interests."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

May 17, 2008

The Dem Vote Total So Far

2008 Elections - Democratic Vote Count

Counting all votes cast so far:

Popular Vote (w/FL & MI)**
Obama 16,680,827 which is 47.6%
Clinton 16,710,298 which is 47.7%

So, leave a comment about whose votes should count and whose shouldn't.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:39 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

April 20, 2008

Are Clinton and Obama Communists?

The right has been cranking up the communist charge in this election. I guess it worked for the 50 years ago, so why not trot it out again?

I came across this today at the Republican TownHall site: Townhall.com::Obama, Clinton And Capitalism: It's Okay For Them, But Nobody Else,

The big irony here is that while Obama has done extremely well for himself in our very unique free-market economy, he has the “audacity” to demonize others who have done well for themselves, and to propose economic policies that, if implemented, would radically change our nation into something more akin to a Western European socialist state.
OK, let's examine that for a minute. Aside from the implications that they are communists, what does "Western European Socialist State" really mean? European citizens get 5 weeks paid vacation per year for everyone, free full-coverage health care for everyone, generous pays and pensions for everyone (with retirement earlier than here), corporations required to benefit the public, modern public transit systems, child care, clean public-oriented cities, governments responsive to the people instead of the wealthy, the corporations and the big military contractors, ... oh I could go on and on about the terrible state of things for Western European citizens...

And what are some of the examples of Clinton and Obama's supposedly communistic policies?

Obama has proposed a federal crack down on what he deems “excessive pay” for corporate executives. He has proposed that the federal government begin taxing people’s capital (not just earnings or interest payments, but, yes, capital itself). He has proposed that the capital gains tax rate be raised to 28%, nearly doubling its current rate of 15%. And he has made it a constant theme of his campaign to lament “Bush’s tax cuts for the rich,”

. . .[Clinton] has berated the reality of America being an “ownership society” (despite the recent increase in mortgage foreclosures, home ownership in America is still at an all-time high), saying that in reality we are an “on your own” society. Her remedy for the “problem” is for us to become a “we’re in this together society,” a nation of “shared responsibility” AND “shared prosperity.”

Conservatives lament that people should have to actually give back a bit to the public by paying taxes, after the public's investment in roads and bridges and law enforcement and military and schools and the legal and financial infrastructure made them rich. The writer thinks that the roads and bridges and schools and everything else that enabled that ecosystem which enables people to get rich just magically appeared. The writer doesn't seem to know that it was taxes that built that system -- OUR taxes -- and thinks the beneficiaries of this public investment should just freeload off the rest of us.

Taxes are the reason we have a thriving economic ecosystem. Tax cuts make us poor. And people getting rich off of our public investment and giving nothing back is the reason we don't get 5 weeks vacation, health care, and all the rest here.

If the conservatives are trying to scare me away from voting for Clinton or Obama by claiming that if elected they will bring us 5 weeks paid vacation a year, free health coverage and the rest, and that the cost will be taxing rich CEOs and corporations -- well I gotta tell you I want to get me some of that!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

April 17, 2008

Distractions

Sign the MoveOn petition on distractions.

Editor & Publisher called this week's ABC presidential debate "perhaps the most embarrassing performance by the media in a major presidential debate in years."

Moderators George Stephanopolous and Charlie Gibson spent the first 50 minutes obsessed with distractions that only political insiders care about--gaffes, polling numbers, the stale Rev. Wright story, and the old-news Bosnia story. And, channelling Karl Rove, they directed a video question to Barack Obama asking if he loves the American flag or not. Seriously.
Enough is enough. The public needs the media to stop hurting the national dialogue in this important election year. Can you sign the petition to ABC and other media outlets and pass it on to friends who are also fed up?

A compiled petition with your individual comment will be presented to ABC and other media.

Sen. Obama's comments on the distraction debate are worth watching:

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:26 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

March 3, 2008

Been Away

A sudden urgent job came up that I have been working on about 20 hours a day so posting here has been light. Don't worry I'm not dead. More to come...

Meanwhile for tomorrow's primary, take a look at a couple of grassroots video sites, Hillary Speaks For Me and YouBama.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

February 27, 2008

Is Freedom's Watch Legal?

I'm reading what some Republican blogs are writing about the Republican front group called Freedom's Watch, which is expected to spend as much as $250 million against Democrats in the coming election. Here is an example of a right-wing blog's understanding of this group, writing about a December Congressional special election in Ohio: Meet the New "Bad Boys" of Conservative Politics: Freedoms Watch,

. . . Freedoms Watch, a new conservative powerhouse backed with funding rumored in the hundreds of millions of dollars, also showed up on the field of battle. And they brought something which we bloggers lack -- money.

. . . Freedoms Watch is actually a 501(C)4 and not a 527. But seriously: $200 million to help defeat Democrats, folks. That's going to change the landscape for 2008.

In fact, in the last few days of the campaign, Freedoms Watch aired this TV ad with a media buy rumored to be close to $500K in the Toledo, OH media market helping educate voters on the Democratic opponent, Robin Weirauch.

. . . Freedoms Watch is a new force in conservative politics and I'm glad that they showed up on the field to help us hold Ohio-5.

The understanding on the right is clear: Freedom's Watch is a Republican "on the field" campaign organization, working to defeat Democratic candidates. There is simply no question about it. There isn't even a wink and a nod going on here.

It is flat-out illegal for a C4 to be operating in campaigns or involved in electoral politics. But who is going to go anything about it?

James Boyce also has a post today following some of Freedom's Watch's money. And take a look at the Freedom's Watch Newsladder.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

February 12, 2008

Something Very Big To Pay Attention To

Open Left:: Consolidated Potomac Primary Returns Thread is tracking today's primaries.

But one of the primaries is very, very important. In Maryland's 4th district there is a Congressional primary between progressive Donna Edwards and incumbent Al Wynn. Wynn is a "corporate Democrat" and beating him tells the entire establishment that they are no longer safe, that they have to listen to progressives or lose their jobs.

Chris Bowers writes,

With every precinct coming in with at least a 10% improvement for Edwards over 2006, let me reiterate this point: the new primary voters who are coming out for Barack Obama are also going to result in the first progressive displacement of a centrist, corporate, congressional Democrat via a primary in years. This it it. This is what we have been working for and building for. This is our emerging majority. We finally have the organization, and the voters, and the whole ball of wax. The movement has thoroughly come of age.
You can track results of that race here.

Update - Donna Edwards won the primary!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Watching Freedom's Watch: The Donors

Since 2004, we have been very involved in investigating, exposing, and uncovering the roots and exposing the tactics and lies of the right-wing smear machine. James was involved not only in John Kerry's campaign, but also in the Truth and Trust Team, a group of Kerry friends and family who attempted to fight back against the Swift Boat Veterans.

Dave, of course, followed the campaign and those attacks closely, and then worked with James and others, including our friend, Taylor Marsh, on The Patriot Project in 2006. Created by John Kerry, David Thorne and others, The Patriot Project helped veterans such as Joe Sestak, Patrick Murphy and John Murtha defend themselves -- even looking into previous attacks on John McCain. We also were part of the team that exposed the Economic Freedom Fund, a group created with a $5,000,000 donation from Bob Perry that attacked moderate Democrats, primarily in red states.

Why do folks like Bob Perry give money like that? It's strictly business.

Take, for example, the global warming arena where we have shown folks how the same tactics, the same strategies, the same people sometimes who created this whole smear empire with the tobacco companies, are now doing the same with global warming.

ExxonMobil has given these groups $25 million over the years - often, incredibly, as charitable donations. This past quarter, they had $11.7 billion in record profits. That's a return on investment we all would envy.

Now, we are looking forward not back.

And what we see is a front group on steroids, a massive death star of right wing machinery, floating, ready and waiting.

Freedom's Watch, operating like the opposite of a grassroots-funded progressive group like MoveOn.org, was founded by major donors like

... Sheldon G. Adelson, the chairman and chief executive of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, who ranks sixth on the Forbes Magazine list of the world's billionaires; Mel Sembler, a shopping center magnate based in St. Petersburg, Fla., who served as the ambassador to Italy and Australia; John M. Templeton Jr., the conservative philanthropist from Bryn Mawr, Pa.; and Anthony H. Gioia, a former ambassador to Malta who heads an investment group based in Buffalo, N.Y. All four men are long-time prolific donors who have raised money on behalf of Republican and conservative causes.
as well as
Richard Fox, one of the major building, development and real estate management companies in eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey and a longtime GOP activist. He co-founded the Republican Jewish Coalition.

Gary Erlbaum, owner of Greentree Properties in Ardmore, Pa., who tried to rally Orthodox Jewish support for last year's failed reelection bid of conservative Christian Sen. Rick Santorum.


Freedom's Watch has direct connections with the Republican Party and is staffed by Republican Party operatives like Ari Fleischer, former White House Spokesperson; Bradley A. Blakeman, a former deputy assistant to George W. Bush; Kevin E. Moley, a senior adviser to Dick Cheney during the 2000 campaign.

Check out their site and their rhetoric. It is a major right wing group and here's the scary part:

Freedom's Watch says it plans to raise over $250,000,000 to play in this election. But Freedom's Watch is a 501(c)(4) organization, which means they can engage in political activity but not as their primary mission. They are allowed to lobby on issues but not support candidates. Yet the group appears to be primarily designed to influence elections in favor of Republican candidates

But who is going enforce the laws? The FEC? The Justice Department? Perhaps Senate Democrats can issue one of their strongly-worded statements of disapproval.

So what do we do?

We watch them -- and we start exposing them now, every day, all day.

We are going to post these articles frequently and often.

We are going to launch a Newsladder where we would appreciate everyone joining and linking up anything they see about this group.

We are going to launch in the coming days a new site, www.watchingfreedomswatch.com where, again, will write and expose this group.

The issue isn't you - and what you know. If you are reading this you are a blog-reader and already know more than most people about how these things work. The issue is whether we can drive narratives and how much knowledge we can give the average American about who these folks really are and what they are up to.

Posted by Dave and James at 12:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

February 10, 2008

Driving A Wedge

The Drudge Report is a right-wing site that is used to drive right-wing propaganda into the large, corporate media outlets. When a story is featured at the Drudge Report, you always have to ask why, and ask what is the right's intent behind getting this story into circulation.

Today Drudge points us to a story, Wilder Still Sore Over Clinton Comment. This story is obviously an effort to drive a wedge between supporters of Senators Obama and Clinton. It uses out-of-context, incomplete quotes and mischaracterizes the intent and meaning of the quotes to drive up tensions.

The nation's first elected black governor said Saturday he is not ready to excuse comments former President Bill Clinton made about Barack Obama.

In campaigning for his wife last month on the eve of the New Hampshire primary, Clinton called Obama's opposition to the Iraq war "a fairy tale." Clinton suggested Obama had toned down his early anti-war fervor during his 2004 Senate campaign.

. . . Clinton also implied that an Obama victory in South Carolina would amount to a reward based on race, like the Rev. Jesse Jackson's 20 years earlier.

Wilder said the former president's comments stung him and other black voters and diminished their respect for Clinton.

"It's not just me (who) feels that; any number of people feel that," Wilder said. "A time comes and a time goes. The president has had his time."

This is propaganda at its best.

Readers know that I do not favor one candidate over the other. I think they are both great candidates who would make excellent Presidents, but neither offers the transformational, progressive change I believe would most benefit the country and world. I defend BOTH of them from attacks -- and wish they would defend each other and us from attacks.

This is an attack. It is an obvious attempt to split the Democratic Party and its supporters, going into the elections. Duh!

Are you going to let them play you like a fiddle? Keep in mind who the enemy is here. The stakes are high: If we let the primary contest divide us how many hundred thousand Iraqis or Iranians will be killed before the 2012 elections, how much more will corporations take over our democracy, how much more concentration of wealth at the top will we see? Please do not be fooled by this stuff! If it appears at DRUDGE, you KNOW something is going on.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:19 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

January 19, 2008

Trying To Drive A Wedge

Here is a glimpse of the right's operation at work, trying to drive wedges between Democrats. A Drudge Report headline links to Murdoch's Times Online: Women turn on ‘traitor’ Oprah Winfrey for backing Barack Obama

What is the basis for this headline story? Anonymous messages left in blog comments:

It started with a message on her website entitled “Oprah is a traitor” and rapidly expanded to include several discussions that attracted hundreds of comments.

In the original post, a reader called austaz68 said she “cannot believe that women all over this country are not up in arms over Oprah’s backing of Obama. For the first time in history we actually have a shot at putting a woman in the White House and Oprah backs the black MAN. She’s choosing her race over her gender.”

In a subsequent comment, 2nurselady wrote: “I don’t think Oprah is a ‘traitor’, but I do think she may be alienating a lot of her fans.”

Don't fall for it. Stick together.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

I own Debra Bowen, the California Secretary of State

... or, at least, I do on Facebook.

Notice the purpose to which I put my ownership. :)

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 1:31 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

January 17, 2008

McCain Ahead Of Clinton, Obama and Edwards

So many are so sure that Democrats have the Presidential election in the bag. But progressives do not have an idea/communications infrastructure to tell the public how their ideas benefit them, which creates demand for progressive candidates and policies. Hundreds of millions of progressive/liberal dollars go into election-cycle spending, but none into creating an overall public attitude environment that is ready to accept those election-cycle messages. If a fraction of that election-cycle money went to organizations like the Commonweal Institute, Speak Out California, Netroots Nation, etc. these organizations could reach out to the public all year, every year and help to create demand for progressive policies and candidates. Sheesh, how many lost elections is it going to take before people get that?

In What I Expect In 2008 I wrote,

The election is a year away and the Republicans are working hard to set the stage and prime the public for their campaign themes.
. . .
1) Iraq will not be in the news, and the Dems will be blamed for any failures. [...]

3) Accusations that we have a Do-Nothing Ineffective Congress [. . .]

5) Dems will face a hostile media that favors Republicans.

Later that month I wrote,
Conservatives and Republicans talk to the general public, and use a megaphone. Fox News is still there, just like they have been for a while. Rush Limbaugh is still there, spreading his lies, and his audience is still huge. Same for the rest of their machine - newspapers, other talk radio... And then there is their online effort, including the viral e-mails.
And already we have a Republican polling ahead of all Dems,
If the general election were held right now, McCain would beat New York Sen. Hillary Clinton 47% to 42% and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama 45% to 43%, the survey revealed.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:51 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

January 15, 2008

Hillary's Victory

A guest post by Bettina Duval of the California List

Senator Hillary Clinton's victory in New Hampshire was the first time in our history that a woman won a presidential primary*. Her win was a momentous achievement that the early suffragettes could only dream of. It was a triumph for all women – a giant step forward in the drive for equality.

The nation's political attention has wrongly focused on why Senator Clinton won New Hampshire. The most important fact, that she is the first woman ever to win a primary, has been lost. Does it matter that Hillary Clinton won the primary – YES. Senator Clinton's victory cannot be brushed aside with political positioning or media downplay. Make no mistake, it was an historic moment.

As the founder of the CALIFORNIA LIST, an organization dedicated to electing pro-choice Democratic women to California state government, I have dedicated my life to building the pipe-line of future leaders and helping support Democratic women running for office. When a woman becomes a candidate she brings a different voice to the conversation and valuable diversity to the political process. She will inevitably face challenges because of her gender. After all, it took more than 40 years for California women to gain the right to vote. In 1911 when suffrage finally passed in California, it did so by fewer than 3,600 votes – an average of one vote per precinct!!! Women's rights have been born out of struggle not privilege.

In 1994, the year of the woman, the number of elected female Democratic officials in California was at an all time high. Twenty per cent, or 24 out of 120 elected officials, were women. Today we have only 16 elected Democratic women, over 30% less than ten years ago. In California we lose 2 or three elected women per election. It's the slow drip process. Elected women and candidates are in decline – a frightening trend that must be reversed.

The full impact of Hillary Clinton's win in New Hampshire on her run for President is as yet undefined, but I hope it will at the very least encourage more women to run for office. Seeing a Democratic woman governor in California is a dream. When Hillary Clinton won the primary she moved us closer to that goal.

Women need to run and win on every level of the political pipeline, from the local school board to the presidency. Their voice is critical to the balance of decision-making and the future of our state, our country and our world. Reversing the decline in the number of women candidates and office-holders, not only in California but across the country, is essential to the health of our political process.

I see it as our moral opportunity as well as our moral obligation to continue the fight for individual liberty. It is my belief in Democracy – a Democracy that is made stronger by diversity – that motivates me to encourage you to applaud Hillary Clinton for her achievement.

* - It has been pointed out at DailyKos that Shirley Chisholm win the 1972 New Jersey.

Posted by Guest at 2:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

January 8, 2008

It's The Economy, Stupid!

1) The inevitables weren't. Iowa tan New Hampshire. Excellent. My California primary vote will count this time.

2) It's the economy. I saw some info that indicated a lot of people voting in New Hampshire had the economy as their #1 concern. I saw other info that said that of people whose number 1 concern was the economy, a large majority voted for Clinton.

Question, do a lot of people heat their houses with heating oil in New Hampshire? More than Iowa?

Update - Here is CNN's Political Ticker saying much the same thing:

The economy was the top issue of New Hampshire Democratic primary voters with 39 percent citing it, according to CNN exit polls. Sen. Hillary Clinton was the clear favorite of those voters as 44 percent of them went for her compared to 35 percent who went for Obama.

Clinton also performed well with those voters who said they were falling behind financially. Nearly a third of Democratic primary voters identified themselves in this category and those voters broke for Clinton over Obama by a 10-point margin.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

January 4, 2008

The Republican Nightmare: Youth and Minorities Showing Up And Voting

Brown is in. It isn't an all-white game anymore.

Minorities have historically been low-turnout and consequently haven't received much political power. I think Obama's victory in Iowa could change that equation. No matter what happens with turnout, politicians from now on will feel that they had better give minorities a place at the table. Just like when Ned Lamont won the primary against Leiberman and DC realized that the netroots are part of the equation now, they can't ignore minorities anymore. They are part of the power structure now - whether Obama wins or not.

And then there is the youth vote. Young people turned out in significant numbers - for Democrats! Does Obama completely change the equation? Is the "old" America with white elites in control starting to crumble? Could this be a sign of the progressive transformation coming at last?

Dare I use Obama's word, 'Hope'?

At Huffington Post, Arianna feels it, too:

Obama's win might not have legs. Hope could give way to fear once again. But, for tonight at least, it holds a mirror up to the face of America, and we can look at ourselves with pride. This is the kind of country America was meant to be, even if you are for Clinton or Edwards -- or even Huckabee or Giuliani.

It's the kind of country we've always imagined ourselves being -- even if in the last seven years we fell horribly short: a young country, an optimistic country, a forward-looking country, a country not afraid to take risks or to dream big.

And Nathan Newman writes at TPM Cafe:

The payoff from those organizational skills were obvious last night but the deeper significance could be a realignment of a whole range of voters into the progressive column, not just in November but over time.

I'm still deciding if this is just an organizational insurgency or a true political mobilization that could reshape American politics, but there is real promise there.

He voices the netroots concern:
My worry is whether he is really mobilizing them on the content of his substantive message or just the vagueness of "change" in a time when people are angry and distressed. I'm not annoyed like some at his "post-partisanship" message, since the best way to build a big partisan majority is to assert this kind of non-partisan inclusiveness. No, the concern is that the ideas and policies filling his "change" message actually connect with people beyond momentary distress to shape a real analysis of what's wrong with the nation.
To deliver that change, though, Obama has to go after the problem: Corporate Power.

Some more quotes:

Firedoglake:

. . . People wanted change, and their votes were cast based on who they see as best embodying that change. Obama did a great job energizing the youth vote. . ..
One of the best statements comes from Chris Bowers at Open Left:
The youth of America isn't navigating a path between the two parties, they are overwhelmingly siding with one party. What they want is change and youth within the party, not an older generation's status quo. They want a change in America, and a change in the Democratic Party.
Obama represents the change that Democratic youth want, and he does so in a way that neither Clinton nor Edwards could ever hope to match.
[. . .]
Congratulations to Barack Obama and his supporters. This is a historic victory for change. John Edwards should also be proud that despite facing a massive deficit in spending and media coverage, he still managed to finish ahead of Hillary Clinton in Iowa. That is a testament to the strength of a populist, progressive message. Tonight, we saw a new generation take charge in the Democratic Party, and a populist, progressive message perform very strongly. This isn't exactly the result I hoped for, but I'm still pretty happy.
AmericaBlog:
. . . On the Democratic side, change won. Real change - neither Obama nor Edwards are considered establishment figures (though Edwards obviously isn't exactly some yokel just come to town). No doubt this was a huge win for Obama -- and correspondingly, a devastating loss for Hillary Clinton. There is no other way to spin it. Her campaign was built on inevitability -- and she simply wasn't in Iowa. Obama and Edwards had to run against the Clinton machine -- and it was (is) a machine. Bill and Hillary and all their friends, very powerful friends, put everything into this campaign. And tonight they lost.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

January 3, 2008

Open Convention?

Lots of people seem to think this ends the election season. 38-30-30 gets you an open convention. (Same on the Republican side, by the way - you need 50% going in to lockup the nomination.)

Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your election year. Dick Gephardt and Pat Robertson both won one year... How did that turn out, anyway?

Update - Robertson came in second.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:04 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Change

I think Chris at Open Left has the narrative: Youth turned out, wanted change, and to them Obama represented that change.

Jane at Firedoglake says something very similar:

People wanted change, and their votes were cast based on who they see as best embodying that change. Obama did a great job energizing the youth vote.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:52 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Iowa

I'm not sure how much difference Iowa should make in the choice of a Democratic candidate. We know the top three are close in the polls and the will come in with one of them in first, one in second and one in third. The real race is for fourth place.

It isn't a secret ballot, and I think this can affect this in interesting ways. If you know your boss is a huge supporter of one candidate you are not that likely to go stand up for one of the others with your boss watching you. So in this way there can be an influence. So which candidates does that benefit?

It's the ballot in New Hampshire that will start to make a difference.

AND with Iowa less than a week away there really isn't any reason for any candidate to drop out. The only expense is a few plane tickets, hotel rooms and rental cars. If there were a big time gap between them, it might be different.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:55 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

December 26, 2007

On Requiring Voters To Show ID At The Polls

I usually work at the polls on election day. When voters ask me why we don't require ID to vote I tell them that Americans are not required to "carry papers." We, the People are in charge here and we do not have to prove to anyone that we are citizens.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:41 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

December 24, 2007

Health Care Mandates

Let me say this about that.

People are discussing Health Care Mandates. The idea is that you require everyone to purchase health insurance. There - problem solved, you have Universal Health Care.

Health care doesn't work unless everyone has insurance. Otherwise you are only insuring the sick, which is expensive. And the sick who aren't uninsured aren't insured so what is the point?

Hillary and Edwards are for it, Obama says he is against it. Which means, of course, his plan can't work.

The reason this is discussed as an option at all is that everyone is afraid of the big insurance companies. The feel that if they don't offer a plan that keeps the big insurance companies in the deal those companies will campaign against them,like they did against Bill Clinton after Hillary offered her plan in the early 90's. So they come up with plans that depend on pumping money to private insurance companies.

Of course, the big insurance companies are going to work to undermine a Democratic President no matter what, but the candidates have to pretend this won't happen... otherwise they would have to offer the dreaded Medicare-For-All plan that every other country in the world has, and works, and covers everyone, and costs so much less...

Mandates require us to give large amounts of our money to corporations. Cool! My wife and I currently pay about $1200 a month for health care for two people. Imagine thinking you can get elected by offering a plan that requires everyone to give $1200 a month to corporations!

This all shows that the candidates are far more afraid of offending the big corporations than of offending the People.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

December 21, 2007

Ron Paul's Appeal

I think I understand the appeal of Ron Paul a little better now. This post at an economics blog makes the case:

. . . Bush would rather waste $70 billion and another 10,000 lives than admit his programs are a complete failures.

"With great fanfare" the Pentagon adopted a reduction in overseas force plan in 2004. The only thing that has changed since then is more lives have been lost, more money has been wasted, and the economy has soured. There are no jobs here so Bush will do whatever he can, including the deliberate sacrificing the lives of US soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the deliberate waste of $billions elsewhere, just to prevent unemployment numbers from rising headed into an election year.

What's even sadder is that spineless Democrats are going along with his strategy. If you want to stop this madness, there is only one choice: Vote for Ron Paul.

People want the war stopped, they don't see the Democrats doing that. Therefore...

Update - I am in no way endorsing Ron Paul here, I am saying I understand the appeal -- to the "low information voters" who don't understand what many of his other policies mean in the real world Some are good ideas, others are proven to not work. nd then there's this "NAFTA Highway" conspiracy stuff... Wow.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

How To Reform The Democratic Party

Every Democrat should read this: Daily Kos: This is it. This is the way to change our party,

As we've learned this year, Democrats in DC are more afraid of David Broder, Joe Klein, and Mr. 24%, than they are of their constituents. They are more concerned with Beltway opinion than they are with the national consensus. They are happier dealing with lobbyists than they are dealing with real people. They are more concerned with avoiding criticism than they are of delivering campaign promises.

So what can we do about it?

[. . .] Well, we have one tool at our disposal, our only way to influence the behavior of our elected officials:

We can primary them.

There are two specific primaries that we - the progressive movement - have candidates running in right now. Go read the post and learn what you can do.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

December 6, 2007

Republicans Building Narrative Blaming Economy On Democrats

Everything is always the fault of Liberals and Democrats and their policies. And as the election - and economic hard times - approaches Republicans are working to tie the Democrats to the growing economic mess that the Republicans have created.

And what are progressives / Democrats doing today to create a narrative about Republicans and conservative policies?

GOP claims Democrats are waging ‘war’ on economy,

House Republicans released a report Wednesday that claims the policies of congressional Democrats pose a “rising threat” to millions of jobs and families.

“Congressional Democrats are waging an undeclared but aggressive policy war on American jobs and economic prosperity,” said House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio).

Democrats are trying to push through an agenda that is “necessitated by the Democratic Party’s ideological quest for increased spending and bigger government, and its reluctance to finance its ambitions by cutting spending and reducing existing waste, fraud and abuse,” according to the report.

. . .The report accuses Democrats of using “weapons of economic havoc,” such as tax increases, new regulations and a larger bureaucracy, recklessly and to the detriment of the U.S. economy.


. . . According to the GOP document, House Democrats have voted to increase taxes by $200 billion over the next 10 years. In addition, Democrats have tried to open the door to “job-killing lawsuits and litigation.”

As usual it is Republicans out there putting Democrats on the defensive, and Democrats wondering what is happening to them...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

November 15, 2007

A Paranoid Thought

I've had a paranoid thought. Unfortunately, since Bush took office these seem to come true.

In 1968 the Nixon campaign sabotaged the Vietnam war peace talks, to give Nixon an advantage in the election, because people hated the war and and end to the war would help Humphrey win. Then the Nixon administration kept the war going - many say for the purpose of using it in the 1972 elections. Remember, Kissinger announced "Peace is at hand" immediately before the 72 elections. Robert Parry writes,

According to now overwhelming evidence, the Nixon campaign dispatched Anna Chenault, an anti-communist Chinese leader, to carry messages to the South Vietnamese government of Nguyen van Thieu. The messages advised Thieu that a Nixon presidency would give him a more favorable result.

Journalist Seymour Hersh described the initiative sketchily in his biography of Henry Kissinger, The Price of Power. Hersh reported that U.S. intelligence “agencies had caught on that Chennault was the go-between between Nixon and his people and President Thieu in Saigon. … The idea was to bring things to a stop in Paris and prevent any show of progress.”

In her own autobiography, The Education of Anna, Chennault acknowledged that she was the courier. She quoted Nixon aide John Mitchell as calling her a few days before the 1968 election and telling her: “I’m speaking on behalf of Mr. Nixon. It’s very important that our Vietnamese friends understand our Republican position and I hope you made that clear to them.”

Reporter Daniel Schorr added fresh details in The Washington Post’s Outlook section [May 28, 1995]. Schorr cited decoded cables that U.S. intelligence had intercepted from the South Vietnamese embassy in Washington.

On Oct. 23, 1968, Ambassador Bui Dhien cabled Saigon with the message that “many Republican friends have contacted me and encouraged me to stand firm.” On Oct. 27, he wrote, “The longer the present situation continues, the more favorable for us. … I am regularly in touch with the Nixon entourage.”

On Nov. 2, Thieu withdrew from his tentative agreement to sit down with the Viet Cong at the Paris peace talks, destroying Johnson’s last hope for a settlement. Though Johnson and his top advisers knew of Nixon’s gambit, they kept Nixon’s secret.

So ... could the Republicans again be playing out a similar scenario again - keeping the war going now, so they can pretend to end it just in time to get credit before next year's elections?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:51 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

November 13, 2007

Good Lord, Democrats, Don't You See What's Coming?

The other day in What I Expect In 2008 I wrote that, with Iraq out of the news, one of the things the Republicans are going to do in 2008 is make the public think that Democrats are big spenders, and are even worse than Republicans on wasting money through earmarks and pork. (click through to read why Iraq will be out of the news)

This cost the Republicans in the last election and they learned from that. What did they learn? That the public votes against politicians who are accused of spending and pork. What are they doing about it? Accusing the Dems of spending and pork, of course!
The public lives in a controlled "information environment." Conservatives begin working well in advance of elections to exert pressure on that environment and prime the public to be receptive later to their issues and candidates. Democrats and progressives, for some reason, do not.

So what is happening in that information environment? Here is just a smattering of what the public was presented with just in the last few days. Never mind the facts, this is what the pubic is hearing. And this is a year before the election. The drumbeat is only going to grow, and grow, and grow, until there is no other story. Good LORD, Democrats, why don't you see what is coming? Why aren't Democrats and progressives out there NOW with a counter-narrative, explaining to the public why conservatives and their ideology are bad for America?

Editorial: Jam-packing the pork, Congress defies Bush on goody-bag of a bill,

... a spending bill so stuffed with pork as to make a Polish sausage look like a Slim Jim ...

Oink, oink,

...U.S. senators, primarily Democrats, once again reveal their ravenous appetite for unadulterated pork.

The Club for Growth's latest "rePORK Card" reveals Senate Democrats on average this year scored a dismal 12 percent out of a possible 100 percent in voting down 15 pork-busting amendments.

Dems Tie Up Fiscal 2008 Appropriations Bill in Pork,

Despite the Democrats' pledge to get control of their addiction to wasteful spending, their mountain of pork-barrel provisions has prevented Congress from passing its appropriations bills for fiscal year 2008.

. . . All told, this spending package contained at least 2,200 earmarks worth more than $1 billion. Among them, a $1 million earmark for the Thomas Daschle Center for Public Service and Representative Democracy at South Dakota State University, named for the former Senate Democratic leader.

Stopping steady flow of pork,

In vetoing the bill, President Bush noted that House and Senate negotiators had ballooned the price tag of the legislation by $9 billion.


Bush: Congress like 'teenager with a credit card'
,

. . . Bush has vetoed another spending bill, a $150-billion health, education and labor bill which the White House faults for $10 billion in excessive spending and too much "pork.''

Bush vetoes labor bill

. . . calling it bloated and filled with special projects. It was about $10 billion more than what Bush requested.

"We call on Congress to take out the pork and reduce the overall spending levels and return it to the president," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino as Bush traveled to Indiana for a budget speech.

Bush Veto Sets Stage for Budget Battle,

"Their majority was elected on a pledge of fiscal responsibility, but so far it is acting like a teenager with a new credit card," Bush plans to say in a speech here, according to excerpts provided by the White House. "This year alone, leaders in Congress are proposing to spend $22 billion more than my budget provides. Some of them claim this is not really much of a difference -- and the scary part is that they seem to mean it."

Pork in the Water,

Bush vetoed the measure because of its Bizarro World price tag, which split the difference between a $14 billion House version and a $15 billion Senate version with a $23 billion consensus bill.

. . . And this latest pork platter approves $4 billion worth of work for the Everglades and coastal Louisiana, so even environmentalists who usually despise the corps joined special-interest porkers in attacking Bush's veto.

Bush Wields Veto Pen _ Again,

The White House said the $606 billion education and health was loaded with 2,000 earmarks — lawmaker-sponsored projects that critics call pork-barrel spending — which Bush wants stripped from the bill.
. . .In excerpts of his remarks released in advance by the White House, Bush hammered Democrats for what he called a tax-and-spend philosophy:

Democrats pile on the pork spending

Etc. Etc. on and on for the next year...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

November 9, 2007

What I Expect In 2008

The election is a year away and the Republicans are working hard to set the stage and prime the public for their campaign themes. Here are my predictions for the 2008 election environment the Republicans will try to set up.

1) Iraq will not be in the news, and the Dems will be blamed for any failures. If there is failure the "stabbed in the back" narrative will be perfected. If things are calm, the Democrats will be blamed for trying to get us out prematurely.

And, above all, even if nothing changes, never forget that on Oct. 26, just before the 1972 election, all the headlines read "Peace is at hand!"

NYT10.27.72PeaceIsAtHand.jpg

2) Immigration: Republicans assuredly have polling and testing that show this as a strong issue. This week's elections saw them testing messages to find out what works. Don't think this was beaten back, it was only field-tested. They're going to use this to divide us and drive wedges between us and split groups apart -- it's what they do.

3) Accusations that we have a Do-Nothing Ineffective Congress -- Republicans are filibustering everything, and Bush is vetoing the rest. Every single bill. The media is already running with a "Dems won't compromise' and "Dems can't get anything done" narrative and Congress is at a record low approval. You bet we'll be hearing this - they are hard at work developing it. Unless the Democrats start making a lot of noise about this and sustain it -and get the media to report the facts - the Republicans will get away with it.

4) Pork and spending - This cost the Republicans in the last election and they learned from that. What did they learn? That the public votes against politicians who are accused of spending and pork. What are they doing about it? Accusing the Dems of spending and pork, of course! Do you remember how they started the first day of the new Congress accusing the Democrats of what they had just been doing - even though the Democrats were cleaning it up? Why do you think that is? And it has continued - until the public has largely forgotten that it was Republicans they were mad at. Republicans are priming the public now to believe that the Democrats are even worse than the Republicans were. and if you talk to anyone who gets regular news they already think the Democrats are even worse now than the Republicans were.

Meanwhile Bush is going to veto EVERY spending bill, no matter what, and say it spends too much of the people's money. Meanwhile the right's machine will be drumbeating on this and on how Dems will make taxes go up.

5) Dems will face a hostile media that favors Republicans. It will be nothing like previous elections. The large media corporations aren't even pretending anymore that their news organizations are about profits. It is entirely about persuading the public to support candidates who get elected and then hand them more money than any little news organization could ever make for them.

And finally, 6) I expect there will be hugely-publicized indictments of Democrats (innocent) for corruption by the Republican Justice Department. Realize that the Justice Department probe is largely over now, and the prosecutors who "played ball" are still there, the ones who wouldn't are gone, and no one faced any consequences. The Republicans have successfully stymied the corruption investigations we had been reading about before the last election -- and they are going to make sure the public is reading corruption headlines about Democrats, not Republicans for the next one. Also, see New polls expose a corruption time bomb for Democrats,

According to CBS News exit polls 74% of all voters identified corruption as either extremely important or very important as they went to the polls.
... In one year we have lost a +13 point advantage on the issue. 13 POINTS!

Karl Rove outlines here that many of these points will be the centerpieces of the Republican campaign strategy:
Failing to pass a budget, proposing a huge spike in federal spending and offering the biggest tax increase in history are not the only hallmarks of this Democratic Congress.

. . . Beholden to MoveOn.org and other left-wing groups, Democratic leaders have ignored the progress made in Iraq by the surge, diminished the efforts of our military, and wasted precious time with failed attempts to force an immediate withdrawal from Iraq.

. . . Democrats promised "civility and bipartisanship." Instead, they stiff-armed their Republican colleagues, refused to include them in budget negotiations between the two houses, and have launched more than 400 investigations and made more than 675 requests for documents, interviews or testimony.

. . . The list of Congress's failures grows each month. No energy bill. No action on health care. No action on the mortgage crisis. No immigration reform. No progress on renewing No Child Left Behind. Precious little action on judges and not enough on reducing trade barriers. Congress has not done its work. And these failures will have consequences.

So this is what I see coming, and the Republicans are laying the messaging groundwork today. Do you see Democrats understanding any of this, or doing anything to lay down a messaging foundation to counter it and prime voters for their own campaign?

I say "Democrats" here, even though that's not really a party's job. On the right there is a coordinated message machine, or echo chamber, consisting of dozens of well-funded advocacy and communications organizations like Heritage Foundation. These organizations pump out a core, coordinated ideological message, creating demand for conservative policies and candidates.

Progressives lack a coordinated, outside-the-party infrastructure to take care of this function. Organizations with a mission of reaching out to the general public to promote the benefits of progressive values, and create demand for progressive policies and candidates just aren't getting funding because the big political money on the left seems entirely focused on short-term election results. There is no view that we are in a long-term war, so we're always stuck fighting the next battle from scratch, during the election cycle. That is an expensive, inefficient and shortsighted way to fight a war.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 30, 2007

Debate Talk Clock

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 21, 2007

Live Blogging the San Mateo Country Presidential Straw Poll

I am at the San Mateo County Expo Center, where they are conducting a Presidential Straw Poll today.

This is a large room and it is packed. It looks lime at least a thousand people have turned out. (Later - just heard someone say 1600.)

Along one wall are tables set up by the local Democratic clubs and the campaigns. There are Hillary, Obama, Edwards and Kuchinich tables, and there is a strong Kucinich contingent here. I haven't seen a Dodd or Biden table or sign or supporters, but I have seen people with Richardson signs. And, of course Draft Gore signs.

I am here with Mary Ratcliff of The Left Coaster and Pacific Views. If I am lucky Mary will let me use her camera because I loaned mine to someone who has not returned it. (hint)

The first speaker is now talking and the sound system is terrible. I'm way in the back at a press table, and there are a lot of talking people between me and the speakers. "...taking back our country ... San Mateo County ... and I thank you for being here... we WILL have a Democratic president in 2009 ..."

-- Pictures after the flip --


Now Congressman Tom Lantos is speaking. "We are here to begin the glorious process of electing the next President of the United States of America who will be a Democrat. ... Let me say a word about each of the candidates because any one of them will be a tremendous improvement..."

Now Dennis Kucinich is speaking. I can't hear well from where I am... "I stand before you with a political record that is a little bit different from the other candidates... non-for-profit, Medicare-for-all..." crowd all cheering ... "health care system..." I can't hear anymore... the crowd is chanting "bring them home, bring them home" ... "I'm telling you now it's time for all these candidates to say NO to war against Iran ...As President of the United States I'll lead America to a new era where we reject war as an instrument of policy... Constitution of the United States ... a President who will stand for diplomacy ... central mission of a Democratic President is to create jobs ... " ... "we used to make steel ... we used to make cars ... millions of jobs ... "

I took a picture with my cell-phone camera. I hope it can convey how many people are here...

SMStrawCrowd.jpg

(Also Mary has some good pics over at The Left Coaster.)

Now there are many more people here and I can't hear or see anything. I will head to the front try to report back as I can...

Former State Senator Jackie Speier just spoke for Hillary. Couldn't hear. She received a good receptopn

Now someone - didn't catch the name - is speaking for Obama. Huge cheer. Hurting my ears. Can't hear... "Republican party on the run... all-time record low..."

I think I wouldn't be able to hear the Obama speaker even if I was in front there is so much cheering. People now chanting "O-bam-a, O-bam-a"

Now on behalf of John Edwards is State Senator Leland Yee. Just as much cheering as for Obama. "There are in fact two Americas. John Edwards understands ..." crowd cheering... "and what he sees and what his vision is ONE America... nearly 47 million individuals who have no health care. And John Edwards wants one America that has health care for everyone. ... Everyone paying their fair share. He in fact wants one American, one country, one voice, universal health care for everyone in the United States." ... cheers ... "best of education, best of opportunity..."

I wonder if it means something that I can hear more of the Edwards speaker, or if he's just louder? OK, he finished and the cheering made my ears hurt, but not as much as the Obama speaker...

A speaker for Bill Richardson, David Buchanan, is coming up next.

I think organization says a lot about the campaigns, and even a small event like this one can be a significant momentum-builder in the public mind if it is reported widely. Richardson has a surprising showing here, with people walking around, and a representative who came over to the press area promoting his experience. There was an Edwards representative saying Edwards is electable, progressive and green. There were two Students for Obama representatives here. One Student for Obama representative contacted me before the event as well. ... Now another, more senior, is here.

Richardson spokesman - "The war in Iraq, in this issue there can be no eqivocation. We must have a leader who (something) to the lies. We need a President who will commit to having all our troops out by ...(can't hear and now the Obama rep is talking to the person next to me...)

The RIchardson person has finished and my ears survived...

The voting appears to be wrapping up. The vote counters have been called to a door, to go out and get trained. The master of ceremonies - Andrew Byrne, Chair of San Mateo County Democrats, is saying that the speeches are over, be sure to vote before it closes, come to our Democratic clubs, get involved, visit the tables at the side of the Expo Center room here...

Oh diety-on-a-stick there's a rock band on the stage getting ready to play. My ears... are bad because I used to be in a rock band on the stage...

There is a students-for-Obama group over at the side now all chanting and cheering.

Another cell-phone camera picture, this one of the tables along one of the walls:

strawwall.jpg

counting ... counting ... counting ...

Counting:

strawcounting.jpg

Commonweal Institute's Executive Director Barry Kendall just got an award for something to do with organizing this.


While we wait ... I think Obama and Kucinich might have organized the best turnouts. Not sure. Edwards had a strong showing as well. We'll see.

Still waiting...

The vote count:
Edwards 221
Kucinich 180
Obama 171
Hillary 128
Gore (write in) 23
Richardson 21
Biden 8
Dodd 4
Gravel 4

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 16, 2007

Hooray For Obama!

The BRAD BLOG : Obama Blocks Vote on Von Spakovsky in Senate!,

A Democrat does the right thing for a change! What are the odds these days?

... Roll Call (subscription req'd) is reporting that Harry Reid (D-NV) and the Democratic Leadership had shamefully "struck a deal" with Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KS) to slide four FEC nominations, including the GOP "voter fraud" zealot, von Spakovsky, through the Senate on a voice vote, unless any Senators objected.

Obama did object today and succeeded in blocking the vote. Bravo! Don't back down, Senator!

Who is Hans von Spakovsky, Bush's nominee to the Federal Elections Commission?
Carpetbagger Report: Von Spakovsky and the FEC: Don’t let this fox near the henhouse,
Hans von Spakovsky, as a top political appointee in Bush’s Justice Department, was a leading player in what McClatchy straightforwardly calls the administration’s “vote-suppression agenda.”
Slate:
Why is the nation's largest civil rights coalition urging that his confirmation be rejected? Because this man was one of the generals in a years-long campaign to use what we now know to be bogus claims of runaway "vote fraud" in America to suppress minority votes. Von Spakovsky was one of the people who helped melt down and then reshape the Justice Department into an instrument aimed at diminishing voter participation for partisan ends.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:02 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

September 8, 2007

California's Next Governor

I attended the Santa Clara County Annual Democratic Dinner tonite. One of the speakers was California Controller John Chiang. I did not know anything about Chiang before I saw him speak, and had never heard him speak. I don't know about the next governor's race here, and don't know who is thinking of running.

But now I have head of John Chiang. This guy is one of us, and he was on fire. Everybody should start paying attention to this guy. He's great. He's there to protect the people of California - ALL of us. He talked about corporate domination, global warming and energy, gay rights, Asians, and everyone. This guy is GOOD.

So keep an eye on John Chiang. I'm excited. I hope he runs for Governor.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 16, 2007

Stock Market

The market is tanking again today. What we are experiencing is just a taste of the long-expected debt explosion. Just a little taste.

Today investors are being forced to sell what they have to meet margin calls because they had borrowed so much and the losses are adding up. They have to raise cash. And now everyone understands that everything is dropping, so they want to get out while they can.

But here's the thing - yes, "sub-prime" loans are going bad. But it isn't just the sub-primes that are a problem. Regular people with good credit borrowed too much as well. They bought houses that cost too much, based on low initial "qualifying" rates. Others refinanced so they could buy SUVs. And most of those loans will be resetting in the next couple of years, forcing payments to rise as much as 50-100%. Meanwhile the price they can get for their houses is dropping.

So this isn't the debt bomb going off, this is the fuse being lit.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:14 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 13, 2007

Ohio Ballots Destroyed Against Federal Law and Judge's Order

For the historical record: 2004 ballots not preserved,

Despite a federal judge's order to preserve all ballots from the 2004 presidential election - in which Ohio provided President Bush's margin of victory - boards of elections in 56 of Ohio's 88 counties lost, shredded or dumped nearly 1.6 million ballots and election records.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:47 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 2, 2007

YearlyKos- Dean Announces Election Protection Project

At the YearlyKos Convention tonite Howard Dean announced a national Election Protection Project, working with every single county in the country to get ahead of election problems NOW, rather than just before and after the 2008 election. They will identify problems like providing too few voting machines in precincts as a way to keep the vote count down, etc. From a press release e-mailed to me about the project,

Through its 50 State Strategy, Voting Rights Institute and National Lawyers Council, the DNC is conducting an in-depth nationwide survey to collect critical data on voting practices and procedures at the local level. The goal of the project is to map the often confusing and complex sets of administrative practices and decisions governing election administration in every state. Working with local election boards, the DNC is examining the election mechanics in each state, flagging potential problems and election administration issues that threaten to deprive citizens of their right to register, vote and have their vote counted. Once these issues are identified, the DNC will work to resolve potential problems well in advance of the 2008 election. Election laws, while written on the federal and state level, are often subject to interpretation at the local level. This decentralized process results in varied administration and supervision of the elections themselves, which can be potentially problematic considering that in 2008, there will be at least 13,000 elections run by localities.

[. . .]The goal of this unprecedented project is to protect and ensure our voting rights, by working now to identify and attempt to resolve election administration issues that threaten to deprive citizens of the right to register, vote and have their vote counted."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 31, 2007

Today's Voting Machines Story -Not Just Counting Ballots

The other day I wrote that it doesn't matter how well we fix the voting machines because there is no reason for people to trust the results unless there is a paper ballot printed out and checked by the voter. These ballots can be checked against whatever the machine reports and can be used to PROVE that the results are accurate or not.

That is, of course, not the whole solution to our voting problems. Remember the long lines in Democratic-majority precincts in Ohio, etc... You can only count the ballots of those people fortunate enough to make it past the obstacles put in place to keep them from voting.

I received a letter about this:

The problem with the [voting machine hacking] reports and your reply is that they may be barking up the wrong tree.

As we have seen in OH, it the insiders, not the outside hackers, that are the biggest threat. These reports seem to be missing that. All the procedures and rules don't mean a thing if the folks that have implemented the rules, and know exactly how to circumvent them, are themselves untrustworthy.

The only solution I have come up with is to greatly increase election transparency. It takes the peoples' eyes to assure that elections are run fairly. But I'm sure you know that.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:11 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 7, 2007

The Fall Lie-Attack Started Today

Yesterday I said the lie-attack would begin this fall, but it only took a day. Yesterday I wrote,

This fall President Bush will veto a number of spending bills, saying that they spend too much money. This will be accompanied by a huge, orchestrated media campaign blasting out the message: "We told you so. Now that Democrats are in charge they have gone wild with spending."

... There will also be an orchestrated campaign to convince the public that Democrats are making their taxes go up - because of the spending.

Today, Bush's radio address, Bush sharpens budget attack on Democrats,

Escalating a budget battle with Democrats who control Congress, President George W. Bush accused them on Saturday of pushing tax-and-spend policies and renewed his veto threat.

"They are working to bring back the failed tax-and-spend policies of the past," he said in his weekly radio address. "Democrats are failing in their responsibility to make tough decisions and spend the people's money wisely."

... Bush accused Democrats of proposing in the next five years the "biggest tax increase in history" though he gave no details how he reached that conclusion. "I have made clear that I will veto any attempt to take America down this road," he said.

Let's hope my other prediction - political prosecutors indicting Democrats - does not come true.

I left out one thing from my prediction: Republicans will block every piece of legislation and then say that the Democrats aren't passing any legislation.

Update - News media plays along, check this headline: Bush rips Democratic lawmakers' failures,

President Bush accused Democratic lawmakers on Saturday of being unable to live up to their duties, citing Congress' inability to pass legislation to fund the federal government.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:21 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

May 29, 2007

Urgent Action On Elections - FEC Nomination

One of the main people behind the Republican scams to keep people from voting has now been nominated by Bush to be ON THE FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION!!!! This is as bad as it gets.

See Keep Yer Vote Thievin' Hans Off the Federal Election Commission: Action Alert!,

... Hans von Spakovsky is up for confirmation June 13 as a member of the Federal Election Commission.

[. . .]
Hans Von Spakovsky will appear before the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration on June 13, 2007, at 10:00 a.m. for his confirmation hearing. He must be stopped. Confirmation by the Senate would keep this scourge on the American electoral process on the Federal Election Commission until 2011. Please help keep Hans von Spakovsky off the FEC. Here's the membership of the Committee. I have included telephone numbers and hyperlinked to each Senator's contact page, where you can leave comments electronically.

See the extended entry to learn who to call:

Democrats Dianne Feinstein (CA) - (202) 224-3841 Robert Byrd (WV) - (202) 224-3954 Daniel Inouye (HI) - (202) 224-3934 Christopher Dodd (CT) - (202) 224-2823 Charles Schumer (NY) - (202) 224-6542 Richard Durbin (IL) - (202) 224-2152 Ben Nelson (NE) - (202) 224-6551 Harry Reid (NV) - (202) 224-3542 Patty Murray (WA) - (202) 224-2621 Mark Pryor (AR) - (202) 224-2353

Republicans
Robert Bennett (UT) - (202) 224-5444
Mitch McConnell (KY) - (202) 224-2541
Thad Cochran (MS) - (202) 224-5054
Trent Lott (MS) - (202) 224-6253
Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX) - (202) 224-5922
Saxby Chambliss (GA) - (202) 224-3521
Chuck Hagel (NE) - (202) 224-4224
Lamar Alexander (TN) - (202) 224-4944

If you are a constituent of one of these Senators, please call or write. If you are not a constituent of any of these Senators, please call or write anyway and also call your own Senator. If von Spakovsky makes it through committee, we will need the help of all Senators on the floor.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:01 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

May 11, 2007

Infighting


Anyone remember "Reagan's 11th Commandment?" Worked for them, didn't it?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:29 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

April 20, 2007

Alberto Gonzales Isn't The Point

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales can resign or not - so what? The PROBLEM will remain. The PROBLEM is that we have 93 US Attorneys who have already proven - by not being fired - that they will indict innocent Democrats and ignore Republican corruption and criminality. THAT is the problem we have to do something about!

The Republicans learned in the 2006 election that lots of headlines about corruption influences votes. So the plan is to start investigating and indicting lots of Democrats - guilty or not - to provide plenty of 2008 election-time headlines. And the plan is to block as many investigations and indictments of corrupt Republicans as they can. (That brings other benefits to them as well...)

So Gonzales can resign or not - don't be distracted from thinking about how to stop what is coming.

Watch your backs!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:07 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

April 7, 2007

In The Tank For Bush & The Right

Is it just me, or does it seem to you like the media is much more in the tank for Bush and the right since the election?

On another subject, does it seem to you that the US Attorney scandal has faded from the news with nothing being done, leaving in place US Attorneys who let Republicans and corporate criminals off the hook, while investigating or indicting Democrats? My prediction - if these US Attorneys stay in place, the lead-up to the 2008 election will include LOTS of news stories about Democrats being investigated and indicted, and no stories about Republicans being investigated at all.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:31 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

February 13, 2007

A Reality Check re: Al Gore and the campaign to stop Global Warming

I was going to post this as a comment in response to the item Dave posted about the Draft Gore posting on DailyKos, but it developed into a full fledged posting, on a fundamentally different topic than Gore himself: the utter and complete unsustainability of the American lifestyle, and the fact that we are in massive denial about the scope of the changes that are required in our daily habits of living to create a sustainable society.

Gore is doing good work, but at the same time, I think it is important to acknowledge that Global Warming isn't a cause, it is a symptom of the much larger problem mentioned above. I'm sure Gore knows this, but what I'm not sure is that he's come to grips, himself, with the scope of the changes required to address the larger problem (let alone how to make them politically palatable).

Here are the facts that he, and every other "environmental leader" in the developed world are confronted with: we are living way beyond our means, way way beyond. Take the Earth Day Footprint Quiz, and you'll see why I say this. If any of you score a 1 or better, please let me know... because even though my most fanatical Green minimalist bicycle riding organic farmers market eating friends have "scores" that say if everyone on the planet lived like they did, it would take four "Earths" to sustain them.

... and we have only one.

On a personal basis, I've found that every single time, when I've brought these facts up for discussion, even to the most smart and thoughtful people I know, one on one, or in a group situation, they acknowledge the reality of this need for wholesale and fundamental change in our consumption patterns, but then, somehow, the conversation inevitably changes to another subject very quickly.

It seems that your average middle class American environmental sympathizer, living in their 2000 square foot home full of the wide variety of material possessions we now take for granted, driving several hundred miles a week just around town and to and from work in a relatively new car, eating out several times a week, recycling religiously, but still filling their garbage bin on a regular basis, simply can't come to grips with these facts. To be fair, no one else can either in my experience.

It is like folks simply can't look the problem straight in the face, it is too huge and too personal to come to grips with: each of us, individually, is killing the planet, by living an utterly unsustainable lifestyle... morning, noon, and night. No matter what we do, no matter how hard we strive not to participate in the machine's destructive effect, with every act we take, every item of food we eat, every item of clothing we purchase, every mile we drive, we are doing the moral equivalent of living off our children's credit cards. We are literally taking the food out of their mouths, and the clothes off their backs (and the gas out of their mopeds).

Who reading this can conceive of living on 10% of the resources they now consume? Not just energy, but everything else... and my math says that only gets the average American halfway to a sustainable world, if everyone else is brought "up" at the same time. We really need to be talking about getting to 5% (or even less!) of the resources we now consume on average as American citizens, if we're going to create a sustainable economy and leave the natural world enough resources to rebuild itself.

Look around the house you live in, right now, and think how that scenario I outlined above would change it: how much smaller would your residence need to be? How many fewer possessions would you need to have? How much longer would you need to keep them? How many intentionally disposable items have you run through in the last week? How would your eating habits change? Your travel habits? Where you live relative to where you work (and shop)? What would it take to live on just a quarter of what you do now, in terms of environmental resources (energy, material goods, land, etc.)? A tenth? A twentieth?

Lest we forget how many of us lived until recently, let me describe the house that one of my great grandmothers grew up in (Herbert Hoover's sister, my Great Grandma May Hoover Leavitt): "a 14' x 20' dwelling that consisted of one main living area and one tiny bedroom for five family members." I've seen this place, the pictures don't do justice to how small it is, we are talking TINY. The children slept on a trundle bed that was rolled out from under their parents' bed (my great great grandparents must have been very creative when it came to finding opportunities to expand the family) . The "kitchen" was moved out onto the porch during the summer. The entire house is smaller than my living room. I lived in an apartment this small once... it was rather crowded to say the least, and we had only two kids (we made them sleep on a loft in the living room).

Thinking about this, I understand why people can't come to grips with the implications of acknowledging the unsustainability of our current lifestyles. For myself, seeing this as a reality is at best an occassional thing, manifesting itself at only the oddest moments, such as when, over the holidays, I was sitting at a semi-nice chain restaurant in Los Angeles with my family. Looking around, it occured to me that I was looking at the face of unsustainability: a world which simply won't exist at some point within our lifetimes.

We are the socio-economic equivalent of a "dead man walking". Our children and grandchildren (and probably quite a few of us in our old age) will marvel at our profligacy, and look back on these days as some mythical (but corrupt) paradise: "Did they really live like that?" they will ask each other, and our children will secretly grieve for the world of their childhood, now lost, one full of bright and sparkly THINGS that they in their more straightened circumstances, can't even dream of possessing.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 6:55 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

January 24, 2007

The Webb Scenario

Scenario: no candidate emerges from the primaries with enough delegates to win the Democratic Party nomination for President on the first ballot at the convention. Eventually Senator James Webb is chosen to be the nominee.

In case you missed it last night:

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:42 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

December 20, 2006

America's Two Party System: The Marketing Party and The Product Party

Co-written with James Boyce, first published at Huffington Post.

We do have a two-party system in America: The Product Party and The Marketing Party. We have one party that spends its energy and its resources creating a product that will improve the lives of its supporters, and then we have a second party, one that invests its energy and its resources managing perception.

One party offers substance but without the sizzle, and one is so incredibly adept at selling that it can charm you into supporting an agenda that helps only those who don't need it, and actually hurts you and your family.

By mastering the management of perception and with an utter disregard for facts and reality, the Marketing Party's agenda and vision gets implemented - despite its horrendous consequences for the country, and the world. It has never been worse than it is now. The chasm between their vision, its consequences and the lifestyle and security of the average American is mind-boggling.

Do not underestimate the power of marketing. With enough money, a good campaign and some time, you really can make people think and do almost anything. Exactly why do you think Coke and Pepsi outsell all the other brands - because their sugar water is vastly superior to others? Exactly why do you think one brand of shampoo is "premium" and another is $5 a gallon - is it because they have different ingredients? No, it is because marketing works, especially on a public increasingly trained to respond.

Marketing works so well that some businesses have grown so accustomed to looking for marketing solutions rather than product solutions that they have developed a mindset that it is cheaper to manage perceptions than to fix a product. If people think the product tastes bad - market it as the best-tasting product and make the rubes think THEY're the problem. The result is they can spend millions on the symptoms and nothing on the disease.

Our "CEO President" Bush appears to be cut from this mold. As it became clear that the Iraq occupation wasn't proceeding as intended, Bush didn't change the product - he changed the sell.

The administration spent $20,000,000 on hiring a PR firm to plant positive stories in the press - instead of spending $20 million on body armor to actually reduce the casualties that fostered the public relations disaster. It created "Vets For Freedom" and planted bloggers among the troops in Iraq to send back positive posts. President Bush made major speech after major speech. And top officials made surprise trip to Iraq after surprise trip to Iraq.

But now we are in a time with the marketing no longer is sufficient to solve the problems. Increasingly, the American people have stopped buying the sell. Just as the American automobile manufacturers are forced to increasing amounts of dollars selling a product that increasingly the public does not want to buy, so too did the Administration have to step up the marketing of a war that the public no longer is willing to support.

Sadly, the past two weeks have showcased the collision of perception and reality. Tragically, the administration continues to hold a cult-like belief in the power of perception management, regardless of circumstances and the politically acceptable options that it has provided itself.

The Iraq Study Group recently came forward with a lifeline for the administration, but their recommendations did not sync with the administration's vision for a moment of victory - again, cheaper to change the marketing. So instead of working with the ISG, Baker and other members were - characteristically - smeared in the right-wing's echo chamber to "soften up" public perceptions in advance of the coming Bush rejection of their advice.

Last week, James appeared as a guest on MSNBC's show THE MOST, and was asked how President Bush could improve the "public's impression" of the war. He said,

"The president doesn't have a problem with the perception of the war, the President has a problem with the facts. ... Eventually the product has to speak for itself, and I think the American People are rapidly coming to the conclusion that we have an Edsel on our hands here. They want a solution, they don't need a new slogan."

Between us, we have more than forty years experience in marketing and advertising, and we both know, all too well, that it is exceedingly common for companies to approach product failures as marketing and advertising failures - it allows them to continue to live in denial about the weakness of their product.

With today's Republicans the first instinct is always about the marketing, and not about the country. According to Bob Woodward, Karen Hughes reportedly said, when she first saw the smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center, that it was "the perfect backdrop" for a photo opportunity. Even in tragedy, the instinct is toward the marketing instead of the managing.

In the current tragedy the Bush image makers continue to search for the photo-op moment in Iraq. They are looking for the right image - the kiss in Times Square from World War II or the Japanese Admirals on the deck of the aircraft carrier, signing a treaty.

The fact that no such moment exists or ever will exist only increases their desire for it.

Why is their first instinct to market rather than to manage? And how exactly have they gotten away with this total management of perception? How have they been able to sell the American people over the past five years?

The answer may lie in the study of how the "conservative movement" took control of the Republican Party. As Dave wrote last week in Are Progressives Good? Then TELL PEOPLE!,

There are literally hundreds of conservative organizations that primarily exist to persuade the public to support conservative ideas (and, therefore, conservative candidates.) The people you see on TV or hear on the radio or who write op-eds in newspapers are paid by, or at the very least draw upon resources provided by, these organizations.

You might or might not have heard of the Heritage Foundation or the Cato Institute or Americans for Tax Reform or the This Institute or the That Foundation or the Government-and-Taxes-Are-Bad Association - but there really is a machine or network of well-funded conservative organizations marketing the conservatives-are-good-and-liberals-and-government-are-bad propaganda every hour of every day and they have been doing so for decades.

Yes, marketing. They have been doing this solidly for over three decades and they've been doing it well, and with an incredible amount of money, resources and talent behind it.

The people in power in the Republican Party got there by marketing and perception management, and using a $ell and $mear strategy to demolish and humiliate their opponents, and that is what they know. They come from a culture of saying anything as long as it keeps the rubes buying. Why would a company spend all that money to clean up the product when you can instead spend less and sell the idea that Toxic Sludge is Good For You.

The conservative movement understands this. They understand if they are going to cut student loans, hand over the management of Social Security, arguably the most successful government assistance program in our history, to the private sector, give away valuable public resources and then, on top of everything else, wage a war without reason or basis, the spend must be astronomical.

The American people are a living focus group to the success of their plan. The past thirty years has seen a slow and steady decline in the public's understanding and acceptance of progressive values - like equal rights for all our citizens or the acceptance of all religions.

It's important to point out another old expression: great products sell themselves. And while in practice, it holds that to reach great heights, great marketing combined with great products is actually the key - think Apple and the iPod - the better the product, the less marketing dollars need to be applied to drive sales. YouTube, Facebook, MySpace... If you're selling the best made car in America, the press reviews, customer loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing greatly enhances your paid advertising. If you're selling a lemon, you better have tens of millions to spend.

This brings us to the other party in our two-party system - the well-meaning Product Party that doesn't understand marketing. The Product Party stands in bewilderment as time and time again, The Marketing Party works its perception management magic to win elections, control the debate and lead the media and public to diss its leaders and policies. As Dave wrote last week,

We can see the results of the conservative marketing campaign all around us: War. Debt. Crumbling infrastructure. Falling wages. Loss of pensions. Loss of health insurance. Declining union membership. Massive trade deficits. Distrust of government, courts, schools and other institutions of community. The list just goes on and on.

But really, after decades of conservatives pounding out their message and progressives keeping their message to themselves, what should we expect?

And to make this problem worse, the Marketing Party is very good at shifting the blame for their bad product. For example: take a moment and look at the reality of the financial mess that is being handed to the new Congress - it is stunning. And yet, if the Democrats don't explain this clearly and succinctly to the American people, the result will be that the mess will land - squarely - in the wrong party's lap.

The Product Party's product is responsible and involved government: a government that can fix the schools and patch up the potholes. A government that would actually practice hurricane rescue not just preach it.

The Katrina debacle laid bare the failure of the right wing's anti-government agenda. The reason they didn't do anything for the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast is they don't really care. Government - or product - is just not what they do - marketing is.

However, they cared deeply when they began to lose the public relations battle - like 9/11 and Iraq, the reality is inconsequential - managing the perception of the reality is paramount.

The Product Party is known for fiscal management and international diplomacy and building mass transit and roads and bridges and schools. This is the party that brought us the middle class and the weekend and Social Security and inspections for e-coli.

But the Product Party is a political party full of boring policy "wonks" holding community meetings where hours are spent arguing the best and most democratic ways to provide services and, well, fix those potholes and even working on the finer points of health care finance administration management policies subsection 3, paragraph... ... and who wants to hear about THAT?

So where the people in the Marketing Party got there using marketing pizzaz, the people in the Product Party got there by plugging away and delivering a product. They're not the most adept at marketing. Whereas the people from the Marketing Party don't understand - or care - about the actual product, apparently the people in the Product Party don't understand - or care - about marketing - reaching and persuading the public. Democrats have long had the product but are woefully unskilled in the marketing and the willingness to spend and support the marketing. There is something to the idea of marketing and selling people on something that goes against the nature of the wonky democracy idealists of the Product Party.

Which leads to their problem. Don't people realize that almost all the veteran leaders in America are Democrats? They ask this - thinking of Max Cleland, Wes Clark, John Kerry, Joe Sestak, Chris Carney, Tim Walz, Jim Webb and more. Don't people understand the Democrats want to raise the minimum wage, improve health care, make global warming a priority, enact the recommendations of the 9/11 commission and more? Don't the understand how much better the Democratic product is for their families and the future?

No, the people don't.

Because you can't just be the party that does the boring work of cleaning up the toxic waste left behind by that wrecking crew - the people known for marketing, selling and heading for the county line. If you want the public to understand what you are about you have to be the party that does the work, and communicates the fact in clear simple English to voters who have better things to do with their lives than listen to the nuances of toxic waste policy.

In fact, The Product Party is not only running against the sell and smear tactics of the right, they're running against a coordinated program that says "government itself is bad." The Republicans have spent 40 years running down government. Ronald Reagan famously said that "government is the problem" and then left for the county line leaving us with 4 trillion of debt. George W. Bush, the "CEO President" emulated Enron, and implemented "no-bid" contracts while the Republican Congress got rid of the system of oversight.

So what can be done? The Democrats have to understand that people respond to marketing, and that building a better product doesn't always mean that the people will flock to you if they don't find out about it. They must remain the party of the Product, but they also need to be the party of the Marketing. Only we can be both, the Republicans can not.

Why? Because the last six years has not only demonstrated the Republican mastery of their marketing but it has shown the misery of the product. From not implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission to the absolute abandonment of our fellow Americans in the aftermath of Katrina, and the outrageous lies regarding the solvency of Social Security, the product that we are being sold is dangerous and destructive. "You can't fool all the people all the time." And on November 7, 2006, the marketing plan fell apart.

So now the Product Party has the ball and there is no question that the Democrats will deliver the goods. However, the danger lies not in the performance but in the perception of the performance and especially in how we clearly communicate the mess we inherited.

If Democratic leaders believe that all we have to do do is do a better job, and surely the American voters will reward us with the White House in 2008 and continued control of Congress, watch out.

Our moment in the sun, and moment in power, will be very short-lived indeed.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

December 18, 2006

Who Will Be Our 'Bar Fight' Candidate?

Matt Stoller has a great post at MyDD, The Bar Fight Primary. He writes about looking for a candidate with the core progressive instincts you want backing you up in a bar fight.

When Ronald Reagan announced his Presidential run in 1980, he did it in Philadelphia, Mississippi, the town where three Civil Rights workers were killed. ... Reagan, a genial and sunny Californian, could have it both ways because he had proved to the base that he was 'with them'. Opening his campaign on a site that fully repudiated equal rights for blacks, that in a very real sense murdered liberals, was a way of saying to the emergent right-wing Confederate base that 'I am with you, I hate who you hate'. ... It was a statement that Reagan would play the role of President, but in a bar fight, in a close vote, where it really mattered, in all those small appointments, his sympathies would instinctively lean towards his base.
He says now we need a leader like that, one we know is with US,
We need a leader committed to responsible governance, anti-cronyism, social justice, an expansion of the Bill of Rights to include infrastructure changes, and a humble and morally powerful foreign policy. But governing this way is not a matter of expressing the desire for unity and hope to all Americans, but expressing solidarity with the people who will help create such an America. Those people are liberals. We are the ones who want a different America, and who will help build it and push the right out of the way.

[. . .] Just as Reagan said he'd unify the country by pushing the liberals out of the way, we need someone who will unify the country by pushing irresponsible right-wing power centers out of the way. They crushed our unions, we need to crush their talk radio, you know, that kind of thinking.

Who does he see on his side in a bar fight? So far there's Clark and maybe Edwards:
In a bar fight, Obama and Hillary are not on our side.

[. . .] There are two candidates who can pass the bar fight primary. One of them, Wes Clark, passes the test clearly. He is a genuine liberal, and has fought the right clearly and consistently for the last four years, most recently in Connecticut when he was the only real surrogate against Lieberman. ... And then there's John Edwards. I think Edwards is split. He's spent much of his time working with unions, on the road, in low-key meetings. Elizabeth Edwards has done outreach to bloggers, so there's at least acknowledgment of the dirty hippy crew. He's announcing in New Orleans, which is dog whistle politics on our issues. He knows he was wrong on the war, and feels our betrayal. Unlike Clark, though, I still haven't seen him stand up for us in a real way. I haven't seen him attack McCain, for instance, or go after the politicians who supported the Bankruptcy Bill. I haven't seen him challenge any right-wing interests in a serious way, and so while I acknowledge he's in the ball park, he's not there yet.

BUT he says this about Bill Clinton, and I want to come to Clinton's defense:

Without a real commitment to weaken irresponsible elite actors, 'unity' simply means a replay of Clinton, only without the credit and power that we had in the 1990s, and with a much more advanced case of global climate catastrophe, peak oil, and nuclear terrorism capacity on its way.
And later,
Clinton was a very smart President who thought that he and his small crew had all the answers. We know now that he (and all of us) misunderstood the nature of the role. It isn't the job of the next President to have all the answers, that's up to the American people. It's up to the next President to show that he's going to clear the way for us to take back our country.
I'd like to come to President Clinton's defense a bit. Sure, with hindsight we can see some things Clinton should have done. But remember - he didn't even have US. He didn't have anyone watching his back and he knew it. Few Dems back then were ready to take a hit for progressive policies, and there was no organized progressive base to fight for those things. He should have started building that - yes. But that was the 90s and the fact is most of the leadership of the big organizations and the Dems still today don't get it about the right and about how there isn't a majority progressive base anymore and that we need to market to the public to rebuild one. That's why the netroots is what it is.

President Clinton had a Republican Congress and that 1990s Democratic Party. When he got in he did have the Dems, but he wanted to start with camaign finance reform and they wouldn't. He wanted a BTU tax and they wouldn't. Etc. So politically, Clinton recognized some realities - the country HAD been moved to the right, the Dem party and old progressive structure was almost useless, so he was a politician and played to where reality was. Hence his "triangulation" strategy - to manage public perceptions while fighting for a degree of progressive advancement in policies.

Matt is correct that Bill Clinton failed to BUILD a movement for us -- to work to CHANGE where reality was. That is somewhat hindsight. No one else did either. As I said, that is what the netroots is about. It wasn't until the middle of his second term that we all started to get an inkling of what the "conservative movement" was about, the funding and organization of it, etc. Remember it was Hillary who coined the term "Vast Right Wing Conspiracy," and that was based on some of the early research into what was going on. And NONE of us were getting it yet and responding yet. We are now. It is slowly starting to make a difference. So that's why I say hindsight and give Clinton some credit.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

December 8, 2006

Don't Like The Democratic Party? Then BECOME The Democratic Party!

This is California-specific, but the same applies where YOU live. The Party really IS democratic. The party is only the people who show up at meetings and vote. Go look up how to BECOME the Party in your state!

And read MyDD :: Silent Revolution: Become The California Democratic Party. (Note - Chris BECAME the Democratic Party where HE lives, in Pennsylvania.)

About one in every seven or eight members of the netroots is from California. Given this, the upcoming elections for the Democratic State Central Committee of California should be of great importance to the netroots. If my little reformer ward in Philadelphia can sneak two members onto the Pennsylvania State Democratic committee through a local write-in campaign, we the netroots should be able to put several new reform Democrats in the California Democratic Party with more than a month to campaign. Here are the details:
The California Democratic Party is governed by the Democratic State Central Committee (DSCC) of California, membership of which is a two-year position going from odd-year Convention to odd-year Convention. Starting with the November 2006 election, the state party starts its reorganization, determining the new DSCC, which meets for the first time at the April 27-29, 2007 Convention in San Diego. As the DSCC members meet annually at the State Party Conventions, they are also referred to as delegates to the State Party.
Go read, and get involved. BECOME the party. BECOME the government!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:40 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

November 15, 2006

Oil Prices Climbing - How Surprised Are You?

Crude futures top $59 as U.S. oil-product supplies drop,

Crude-oil futures climbed above $59 a barrel Wednesday, ready to break a three-session losing streak after a U.S. government report showed that distillate supplies have dropped nearly 17 million barrels in six weeks and gasoline inventories are down more than 15 million in five weeks.
Heh.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:36 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

November 14, 2006

Don't Let It Be Close Enought To Matter

THIS is why we said that the way to combat the problem with voting machines is to not let it get close enough to matter. There were problems across the country, and there were voter suppression tactics, etc. But THIS election was NOT close enough for it to matter. And now that the Democrats are in control they can work to stop the tricks and purges and miscounts and suppression tactics in the future. Update: In FL-13, Court Battle Begins As Counting Continues,

The fight will center around the district's Sarasota County, where the electronic machines did not register a vote in the Congressional race for 18,000 voters (13%) -- what's called an "undervote." That's compared to only 2.53% of voters who did not vote in the race via absentee ballots.

A study by the local paper, The Herald Tribune, found that one in three of Sarasota election officials "had general complaints from voters about having trouble getting votes to record" on the electronic machines for the Congressional race. Since 53% of voters in Sarasota County picked Jennings over the Republican Vern Buchanan, those missed votes would likely have put Jennings in front.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:42 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

November 8, 2006

The Democrats Have Taken The Majority in the Senate

The Democrats have officially taken the majority in the Senate.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:05 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

November 7, 2006

Looking Good - Really Good

Every early indicator is going the Dems way. Republican Senators DeWine, Santorum and Chaffee are defeated. In Indiana's 2nd Congressional District Rick Donnely has defeated Chris Chocola.

So if good news keeps coming in, perhaps we will see a Democratic House AND Senate, and there will finally be some oversight of the government and rolling back of the corruption and lawlessness!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Early Indicators

Swing State Project says there are are early indicators of record turnout.

• Connecticut: According to the New Times in Danbury, Connecticut's Secretary of State is claiming that 70% of eligible voters will turn out this year, topping 2004's Presidential-level turnout of 56%. Wowza. Is this the strength of Ned Lamont's ground game at work and his outsider appeal energizing disinterested voters? Or will Lieberman be able to make up the difference by his strength in traditional voting blocs? We'll see, but I suspect this one will be tighter than many of the polls have assumed.

• Virginia: Turnout may reach historic levels for a midterm election, perhaps with a turnout as high as 65%--which would be a figure double the size of 2002's turnout. Turnout looks high in both Fairfax county in Northern Virginia and in Southwestern Virigina, according to CNN. On balance, I would say that this favors Webb, but it definitely still looks like a nailbiter at this point.

Think Progress has early CNN exit polls.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Organized Crime

Whiskey Bar: The Octopus

The modern GOP -- or, more specifically, the Axis of '70s Campus Republicans running it -- really is just a criminal enterprise disguised as a political party.

Dirty tricks, large and small, are a sorry fact of life in American politics, but what the Republicans have done over the past few weeks -- the surrealist attack ads, the forged endorsements, the midnight robo calls, the arrest threats, the voter misinformation (did you know your polling station has been moved?) -- is sui generis, at least at the national level.

Even Dick Nixon never tried anything like this on such a grand scale -- although, of course, he also didn't have the technology. The only thing we haven't seen yet is a break in at DNC headquarters. And if the Rovians thought they could get anything out of it that would be useful in this election (nobody else has) we'd probably be reading about that, too.

It's always possible to point to Democratic/liberal offenses, but at this point the comparisons look pretty silly: some downed yard signs here, a few crooked and/or stoned ACORN canvassers there. Not even in the same universe, much less the same ball park.

Couple the GOP's rat-fucking campaign with all the other stuff we already know about -- the collectivized bribery of the K Street Project, the Abramoff casino extortion ring, the Defense and CIA appropriation scams, the Iraq War contracting scams, the Pacific Island sex trade protection racket, the church pulpits doubling as ward halls, the illegal wiretapping, the lies, perjury and obstruction of justice in the Plame case (I really could go on like this all day) -- and it's clear that what we need most isn't a new Congress but a new RICO prosecution, with lots of defendents and unindicted co-conspirators.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Turnout

I was thinking that the robocalls would suppress the vote. But I am hearing on TV that turnout is high. High turnout = more Democrats elected.

So maybe, just maybe...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

OK, I'll Say It: VOTE!

OK, I'll say it. VOTE!

Like you haven't. Right. Duh.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:19 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

The Big Dawg Speaks

"They won't implement the 9/11 Commission recommendations. Every time we try to implement them our friends in the Republican Party say, 'well, we've got a big defict.' A big deficit. Go figure. Like they didn't create it, right?"

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:59 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Voter Suppression and Intimidation

There are SEVERAL reports of calls like this one:


Will it work? Or will people show up and vote?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:45 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

November 6, 2006

Calls: It Gets The Job Done

This one at DailyKos, you just have to appreciate these guys. It's simple, it's basic and it gets the job done:

Tim Daly from Clarendon got a call saying that if he votes Tuesday, he will be arrested. A recording of his voicemail can be found online at: www.webbforsenate.com/media/phone_message.wav

The transcript from his voicemail reads:

"This message is for Timothy Daly. This is the Virginia Elections Commission. We've determined you are registered in New York to vote. Therefore, you will not be allowed to cast your vote on Tuesday. If you do show up, you will be charged criminally."

Daly has been registered to vote in Virginia since 1998, and he has voted for the last several cycles with no problem. He has filed a criminal complaint with the Commonwealth's attorney in Arlington.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:53 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

November 5, 2006

The Calls

It appears that voters in districts around the country are receiving election calls at all hours.

IN ADDITION to the push polls, Republicans are receiving pleasant calls during the day encouraging them to show up and vote, and the calls are very finely targeted to the things that voter is likely to care about, based on information about the voter that is collected through "data mining." (This is called "microtargeting.")

Independent voters and Democrats are receiving calls that SAY they are from the Democratic candidate, but really are not. "Hi I am so-and-so, the Democratic candidate for Congress." Then there is a pause. If the voter does not hang up the voter hears a smear message about the Democrat. If the voter DOES hang up, they are called again and again, late into the night, even at 5 or 6 in the morning, and the voice says, "Hi I am so-and-so, the Democratic candidate for Congress." The idea is to make voters angry at the Democratic candidate, thinking the candidate was calling them over and over at all hours.

I suspect that almost NO ONE is those key districts is going to show up to vote for that Democratic candidate.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:36 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

If You Are Receiving Calls

If you are receiving "robocalls" or push poll calls:

1 888 DEM VOTE is the DNC's voter protection hotline, and the testimonials received will be the foundation for any legal action, as well as a reliable central repository for follow-up contact information.

This number operates 24/7 in English and Spanish and provides callers with information about their poll locations, enables them to report complaints they have before or on Election Day, connects them to a designated DNC or State Democratic Party Election Protection operation if needed, and provides general information regarding voting rights issues.

People can also download flyers to print and distribute:
http://www.democrats.org/a/2006/09/every_voter_cou.php

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:19 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

November 4, 2006

Last Week's Kerry 'Fiasco' Was Very Good For Dems

I think last week’s media explosion over Kerry's botched joke was a good thing for the Democrats.

In case you were on the moon last week, let me go over what happened. Kerry was making a joke about Bush not having studied hard in school and ending up getting us stuck in Iraq, and left out the word "us." Republicans decided to try to trick people into thinking that Kerry - a war hero who had volunteered to serve in combat after graduating from Yale - was "insulting our troops." They sent instructions out to their echo chamber to pretend to be outraged. They cranked up the phony outrage across the internet, got the story onto The Drudge Report, got Rush Limbaugh to "run with it," and then the TV networks started non-stop coverage and commentary. It was an instant, manufactured media frenzy. And then it went away. Just like that.

So here is why I think in the end this was a very good thing for the Democrats.

1) It distracted the Republican machine. Kerry isn’t running for anything but the entire conservative outrage machine spent 2 days attacking him instead of talking about anything relevant to the election and to the concerns of voters. Who CARES what John Kerry said? This is not to run down Kerry, but for voters to care it has to be about SOMEONE OR SOMETHING THAT MATTERS TODAY. In this election what John Kerry said just doesn't matter because he isn't running for anything.

But the Republican noise machine IS capable of influencing the public and doing real damage. That was two days in which they could have been causing trouble and instead they were entirely focused on something that just does not matter.

2) Crying 'wolf' too many times reduces the effect of crying "wolf." (That's why they call it "crying wolf.") The Republicans cranked up their machine to absolute full volume over something that wasn't true and just didn't matter, and everybody had to listen to it. So the realization that these people cry "wolf" is sinking in.

John Kerry DIDN'T SAY WHAT THEY SAID HE SAID, and everyone knew it. And it JUST DIDN'T MATTER and everyone knew it. They were crying "wolf" AND EVERYONE KNEW IT!

3) It allowed us a peek behind the curtain. We’re becoming more and more aware of how the Republicans do it, how the sound machine works and how the phony outrage and smear machine operates. We're learning about their techniques. So we’re watching and learning, and this week was like a lab experiment for studying conservative outrage and smears. We are learning how to react, how to keep from getting sucked into the defensiveness game, and how to fight back. Two years ago the swiftboating of Kerry cost him the election. This year Kerry - and all of us by extension - understood more about what was happening and responded effectively.

So yes, I think last week's media frenzy was, on balance, very good for the Democrats.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:38 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

November 2, 2006

Phony Mailers From Tobacco and Oil Companies

In California two of the several propositions are to tax oil companies to fund research into alternative energy and to tax cigarettes to pay for health care.

So the tobacco and oil companies have paid for a flier that has been mailed to registered Democrats telling them that the Democratic Party opposes those propositions. AP Wire | Democrats angry over flier suggesting they oppose oil tax measure.

Leading Democrats joined supporters of Proposition 87, an initiative seeking to fund alternative fuel research by taxing instate oil production, to publicly distance the party from the flier, which was mailed to 4.2 million households.

The so-called Voter Information Guide for Democrats endorses Democratic candidates running for statewide offices. But it also urges voters to defeat the oil tax measure and another initiative seeking to boost taxes on cigarettes to fund health programs. Both initiatives are supported by the California Democratic Party.

I'll bet that things like this are happening all across the country. It is time to put corporate executives in jail for things like this. And it is time to get corporations OUT of our politics.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:51 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

I Predict Trouble Next Week Because Of Paperles Machines

There's trouble coming next week. Regardless of which candidates and parties are said to win next week, there is a problem coming. This is because there is no way to prove to people whether or not the electronic voting machines reported the votes correctly. And this raises the possibility that large numbers of people will not accept the reported election results.

In this highly partisan atmosphere with such high stakes this is a recipe for civil disorder.

If you vote absentee or use a paper ballot, or use a machine that prints your vote on paper and lets you see that it was correctly recorded, you can feel like your vote was correctly counted. But if you vote on a machine that just asks you to trust that it records your vote correctly, and YOUR candidate loses, you're going to feel like you MIGHT have been cheated. That is human nature.

And even if you know that YOUR vote was correctly recorded, if these machines are in use in your local election, then you are going to feel uneasy about the results.

AND even if your entire district uses safe methods, you are going to feel uneasy about the results from OTHER districts.

So no matter which party is in said to be in the majority after Tuesday, there is no reason for the losers to accept that. (Or the winners, for that matter.)

I don't see any way around trouble coming out of this.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:35 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

November 1, 2006

Maybe, Just Maybe

Matt Stoller has picked up on something very interesting. Go read MyDD :: Rove Throwing in the Towel?

Greg Sargent is noticing a weird phenomenon - Karl Rove spinning a loss to the press as resulting from a failure of candidates to effectively execute on his strategy.
Associates say Rove is privately frustrated that individual candidates have not been more aggressive in drawing contrasts with Democrats on national security.
Perhaps this explains why the President, who is under Rove's direct control, is sounding more and ore shrill when he is out campaiging, saying things like, in effect, that voting for Democrats is the same as voting for terrorists...

I am starting to think that Democrats just MIGHT take a majority in the House. Maybe. Just maybe.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:47 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Today's Voting Machines Story - A Good Ad

This is an ad for California Secretary of State candidate Debra Bowen

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 31, 2006

Blogger Beat Up By Sen. Allen Staffers

Blogger Mike Stark was assaulted and beaten by staffers of Virginia Senator George Allen today.

Update, now have YouTube video.

Alternet PEEK blog has CNN video.

There is a video of the incident available from a local news station:NBC 29: Count on Us - Incident at Allen Campaign Stop in Charlottesville. The text accompanying the video states:

As Senator Allen was exiting a ballroom, coming to talk to the media, a protestor started yelling and asking, "Why did you spit on your first wife?". He wasn't able to get near the senator as he was tackled by three men wearing Allen stickers, presumed to be staffers. He was pushed and manhandled and ended up on the floor, near windows at the Omni.
I will have more here as the story develops.

UpdateAtrios is on it. Kos is on it too. AmericaBlog now. MyDD has video.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:01 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 26, 2006

Today's Voting Machines Story

Ars Technica is an online magazine for techies. They're covering the voting machines fiasco.

How to steal an election by hacking the vote,

What if I told you that it would take only one person—one highly motivated, but only moderately skilled bad apple, with either authorized or unauthorized access to the right company's internal computer network—to steal a statewide election?

[. . .] Thanks the recent and rapid adoption of direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machines in states and counties across America, the two scenarios that I just outlined have now become siblings (perhaps even fraternal twins) in the same large, unhappy family of information security (infosec) challenges. Our national election infrastructure is now largely an information technology infrastructure, so the problem of keeping our elections free of vote fraud is now an information security problem. If you've been keeping track of the news in the past few years, with its weekly litany of high-profile breeches in public- and private-sector networks, then you know how well we're (not) doing on the infosec front.

The article goes into technical detail on how to accomplish the theft of an election. But then,

Finally, it's extremely important to note that, in the absence of a meaningful audit trail, like that provided by voter-verified paper receipts, it is virtually impossible to tell machine malfunction from deliberate vandalism. Pioneering election security researcher Rebecca Mercuri has told me that she's actually much more concerned about "disenfranchisement of voters due to the strategic denial-of-service that currently masquerades as malfunctions," than she is about "manipulation of election equipment and data files in order to alter election outcomes, although both remain problematic."

When you have a rash of voting machines that have their memories wiped, their votes erased, or their number of votes mysteriously inflated; when you have reports of machines that crash or refuse to respond; when many machines record a vote for the wrong candidate—all of this could just as plausibly be construed as evidence of fraud as it could be of spontaneous malfunction, because there's simply no way to tell the difference in most cases.

And, toward the end,
In conclusion, let me summarize what I hope you'll take home with you after reading this article and thinking about its contents:

* Bits and bytes are made to be manipulated; by turning votes into bits and bytes, we've made them orders of magnitude easier to manipulate during and after an election.
* By rushing to merge our nation's election infrastructure with our computing infrastructure, we have prematurely brought the fairly old and well-understood field of election security under the rubric of the new, rapidly evolving field of information security.
* In order to have confidence in the results of a paperless DRE-based election, you must first have confidence in the personnel and security practices at these institutions: the board of elections, the DRE vendor, and third-party software vendor whose product is used on the DRE.
* In the absence of the ability to conduct a meaningful audit, there is no discernable difference between DRE malfunction and deliberate tampering (either for the purpose of disenfranchisement or altering the vote record).


Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:19 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

These Are The Stingrays!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:43 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 25, 2006

Info On Midterm Elections

Click the following to find info on these races and candidates:

--AZ-Sen: Jon Kyl

--AZ-01: Rick Renzi

--AZ-05: J.D. Hayworth

--CA-04: John Doolittle

--CA-11: Richard Pombo

--CA-50: Brian Bilbray

--CO-04: Marilyn Musgrave

--CO-05: Doug Lamborn

--CO-07: Rick O'Donnell

--CT-04: Christopher Shays

--FL-13: Vernon Buchanan

--FL-16: Joe Negron

--FL-22: Clay Shaw

--ID-01: Bill Sali

--IL-06: Peter Roskam

--IL-10: Mark Kirk

--IL-14: Dennis Hastert

--IN-02: Chris Chocola

--IN-08: John Hostettler

--IA-01: Mike Whalen

--KS-02: Jim Ryun

--KY-03: Anne Northup

--KY-04: Geoff Davis

--MD-Sen: Michael Steele

--MN-01: Gil Gutknecht

--MN-06: Michele Bachmann

--MO-Sen: Jim Talent

--MT-Sen: Conrad Burns

--NV-03: Jon Porter

--NH-02: Charlie Bass

--NJ-07: Mike Ferguson

--NM-01: Heather Wilson

--NY-03: Peter King

--NY-20: John Sweeney

--NY-26: Tom Reynolds

--NY-29: Randy Kuhl

--NC-08: Robin Hayes

--NC-11: Charles Taylor

--OH-01: Steve Chabot

--OH-02: Jean Schmidt

--OH-15: Deborah Pryce

--OH-18: Joy Padgett

--PA-04: Melissa Hart

--PA-07: Curt Weldon

--PA-08: Mike Fitzpatrick

--PA-10: Don Sherwood

--RI-Sen: Lincoln Chafee

--TN-Sen: Bob Corker

--VA-Sen: George Allen

--VA-10: Frank Wolf

--WA-Sen: Mike McGavick

--WA-08: Dave Reichert

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 21, 2006

Take Back The Capital!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 19, 2006

Apply Directly To The Problem

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 18, 2006

Matt Stoller On The Connecticut Debate

Matt is a great writer -- you'll enjoy reading this. The Blog | Matt Stoller: Debate Train to Crazy Town | The Huffington Post,

And now we come to Alan Schlesinger. Ironically, if you were in Connecticut over the past two months, you wouldn't have known there was a Democratic wave in the rest of the country. That's how stagnant the race had become. Fortunately, Alan Schlesinger just shattered the status quo here and injected a sense of fun, making this race what it's needed to be for awhile, a friggin' carnival. Lamont stayed still for a month or two, and as Foley got caught molesting boys and the Republicans got caught being Republicans, no one really noticed the groundwork being laid against Lieberman by an increasingly angry and passionate Alan Schlesinger. He was watching, and waiting, and practicing, and now it turns out he's very, very good. Republicans and conservative unaffiliated voters are now torn between their heads and their hearts, because Schlesinger really delivered, once again.

My observation - that the Republicans are backing Lieberman shows how ideologically corrupt and cynical their movement has become. They have someone running who actually IS a good conservative, makes the case well, and could win, but the Repubican leadership won't support him. They support Lieberman because t them it's entirely about getting and keeping POWER for themselves, rather than delivering anything to their constituents.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 17, 2006

Clean Money In California - A Great Ad

There is a "Clean Money" ballot initiative in California - Proposition 89. Naturally the big-money groups are running ad after ad against it. California Progress Report writes about the reception of a new ad the pro-89 people are running, which points out that everyone is being pounded by ads BECAUSE California needs to pass Prop-89,

“Stop The Pounding is a brilliant piece of political jiujitsu,” said Bob Brigham, internet expert for the Clean Money Now, Yes on 89 campaign. “It takes the context of the election where voters are being pounded by ads from big tobacco and big oil and potentially transforms each advertising moment into a reminder for voters to go pick their pounded selves off the floor and get to the polls on November 7th to do something about this by voting for Proposition 89.”

Stop the Pounding takes direct aim at what has become the dominant factor in many elections nationally, as well as in California elections: the ceaseless avalanche of misleading ads that distort our political process. In California, the vast majority of ads are financed by big corporations in an attempt to overwhelm voters and buy elections. Drug companies spent more that $80 million to defeat prescription drug reform in 2005. This year spending for and against Prop. 87 has already smashed that record, and Prop. 86 ads are not far behind. Among the contributors, Chevron, Philip Morris, RJ Reynolds, all have spent over $20 million.

There's more, go read. And go watch the ad.

And VOTE FOR PROP 89 - CLEAN MONEY NOW!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:34 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 16, 2006

CBS News Provides Free Airtime To Vets For Freedom Action Fund - A Campaign Organization

This piece originally appeared on The Patriot Project

Wade Zirkle, Executive Director of Vets for Freedom Action Fund was invited last week to present a “free speech” commentary segment on the national TV “news” show CBS Evening News With Katie Couric.  There is a problem with this. Vets for Freedom Action Fund is a “527” group – a campaign organization that appears to exist soley to support one candidate – Joe Lieberman’s Connecticut campaign for the Senate.  So Zirkle’s presentation was not “commentary,” by definition it was a campaign speech supporting a partisan cause, delivered to a national audience a few weeks before an election.

CBS identifies Vets for Freedom Action Fund as a “bipartisan” organization.  But it is not.  Vets for Freedom Action Fund is entirely founded and controlled by Republican Party-aligned individuals, and its formation follows a pattern of formation of Party-aligned front groups for election-campaign purposes.  In the August post Behind the Front: The Creation of Vets for Freedom, Patriot Project exposed Vets for Freedom as a Republican front group.  From that post,

This "non-partisan" organization’s website was designed by The Donatelli Group/Campaign Solutions, which previously had worked with the infamous Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, as well as the White House-associated Judicial Confirmation Network, yet another well-financed, party-affiliated front group. Other Donatelli Group/Campaign Solutions clients include Bush-Cheney 2004, The Republican National Committee, the 2004 Republican National Convention...

The "non-partisan" Vets for Freedom originally had a privacy statement on their website that read, "We may from time to time share the information our visitors provide with other Republican candidates and other like-minded organizations."

The "non-partisan" Vets for Freedom included William Denman "Wade" Zirkle, who had helped run Republican Jerry Kilgore's 2005 campaign for governor of Virginia, and was campaign manager for Republican Todd Gilbert's 2005 race for the Virginia House of Delegates.

Because Vets for Freedom is a political, Party-affiliated election-campaign "527" organization supporting Joe Lieberman’s Senate Connecticut bid, CBS’ contribution of several minutes of airtime may be an improper corporate campaign contribution. 

Additionally, the appearance of Vets for Freedom Action Fund on a national nightly-news program bestows unwarranted credibility on Vets for Freedom.  In the minds of voters, this elevated their party- and candidate-supporting advertisements to a different level.

However, beyond the impropriety of CBS making this contribution, there may also be a question whether this contribution violated Federal election law.  Federal election law prohibits corporate-paid 527 advertising within 30 days of an election if it mentions a candidate.  While the CBS/Vets for Freedom “free speech” advertisement did not directly mention Joe Lieberman by name, the fact that Vets for Freedom Action Fund exists entirely for the purpose of supporting this one candidate brings into question whether this was a candidate-support advertisement.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:46 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Election Prediction / Voting Machines Post

Prediction: If Republicans lose the House, they are going to accuse Democrats of hacking the voting machines.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:42 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Be An Election Official

Have I mentioned that I work as an election official at a precinct during elections? YOU SHOULD, TOO!

It is not too late to call your county clerk's office and let them know that you would like to work during the election. Yes, they usually pay. I don't know where you live but I do know that they desparately need people. And the fact that you are reading this means that you know more about computers than most of the people currently working during elections. Who knows, you might even help spot and stop some Republican election scamming hijinks. And, who knows, it might get you started down the road to becomming someone who has authority in your country to demand paper trails for voting machines.

Here's a diary at DailyKos on the subject: Daily Kos: Election Official Confidential: a scoop from Ohio

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:44 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 15, 2006

Election

A word of caution. The Republicans haven't really started campaigning yet. From White House Upbeat About GOP Prospects,

So far, there have been few surprises in the Bush-Rove playbook, which seems little changed over the past four years. It includes tapping the powers of incumbency, mobilizing Christian conservatives and others in the GOP base, and seeking to polarize the electorate around national security and taxes. A huge effort to raise money by Bush, Vice President Cheney and first lady Laura Bush seems to be paying off: By Taylor's calculation, the various GOP campaigns and party committees will have a $55 million money advantage in the final three weeks of the campaign.

The RNC is also planning another big get-out-the-vote drive in the final three days before the elections. Rove believes that many of the polls in individual House and Senate races understate what he expects to be a GOP advantage in turnout, according to one party strategist who has heard him discuss the midterms.

UpdateThat $55 million was just The Republican Party itself. But check this, $200 million more in spending is coming - '527' political groups raise cash, ready negative ads,

Many ads will be produced by independent organizations known as 527 groups, after the part in the tax code that allows them to spend virtually unlimited sums on political activity as long as it is not formally coordinated with parties or candidates.

The 527 groups had raised nearly $200 million as of June 30. The total raised and spent by the groups on this election could surpass $300 million, eclipsing the $258 million spent in the last midterm election, in 2002.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:47 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 6, 2006

Pelosi - "Drain The Swamp"

Pelosi says she would drain GOP 'swamp',

Day One: Put new rules in place to "break the link between lobbyists and legislation."

Day Two: Enact all the recommendations made by the commission that investigated the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Time remaining until 100 hours: Raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, maybe in one step. Cut the interest rate on student loans in half. Allow the government to negotiate directly with the pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices for Medicare patients.

Broaden the types of stem cell research allowed with federal funds — "I hope with a veto-proof majority," she added in an Associated Press interview Thursday.

All the days after that: "Pay as you go," meaning no increasing the deficit, whether the issue is middle class tax relief, health care or some other priority.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:06 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 3, 2006

All This News -- Will It Matter?

Think about this. The conservatives have been pounding the public with propaganda for more than thirty years, and progressives have not responded at all. So there are people under a certain age who have never - repeat never - heard the case for why someone should vote for a Democrat.

At Talking Points Memo,

Josh writes,Is it me or is all hell breaking loose in this country's politics? We're in the last month of an election cycle and there are maybe four or five stories, each of which could totally dominate the national political news on their own. And each is flaming out of control at once. You've got the Foley debacle. The revelations in the Woodward book. The NIE revelations that almost seem like old news now. A major part of the pre-9/11 story that somehow never saw the light of day and may bring down Condi Rice. And did I mention the election?
Don't forget the polls.

But, will it matter?

First, we have Congressional districts drawn in a way that makes it nearly impossible to oust an incumbent. Next, the public is seriously tuned out with very few voting. The Republican strategy of pounding the public with negativity only reinforces that. Finally, while there are a lot of things in the news that would make one think Republicans aren't going to get votes, I have not seen anything to inspire people to vote for Democracts. In fact, my reading of the public is that they think the problem is that the Republicans are not conservative enough.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:54 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Republicans Haven't Started Yet

Money and turnout is what will win this election. Just ONE Republican group will be putting $20 million into this election. Meanwhile Republican business groups will be getting employees to the polls - and I'm sure they'll be telling them to vote as if their jobs depend on it.

Outside Groups Shoveling Cash Into Tight Races,

On the right, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce plans to allocate $20 million to help federal candidates and another $20 million for state and local races. The American Medical Association is also a serious player. It recently reported $307,125 spent in support of GOP Rep. Johnson in Connecticut.

The generally pro-Republican Business Industry Political Action Committee has a more elaborate scheme. By using companies' electronic communications systems, it has delivered 40 million messages to employees urging them to cast their ballots for pro-business candidates. It has also helped a million citizens register to vote and another million apply for early voting forms.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 2, 2006

The People Choose 2006 Is Taking Off!

Go take a look at The People Choose 2006.

Lots of new videos are being submitted. You are invited to submit your own videos covering the 2006 elections.

A couple weeks ago The Wall Street Journal wrote,

"...Video on the Web is going beyond mudslinging. It's also beginning to help inform voters...Startup sites like thepeoplechoose2006.org and election.tv are trying to create video-rich sites that provide information on races throughout the country."-The Wall Street Journal, 9/21/06
Go take a look.

I am on their Board, unpaid.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

September 29, 2006

Front Group Report: Black Republican Freedom Fund

This piece originally appeared on The Patriot Project

A new, factory-produced front group named the Black Republican Freedom Fund is running ads saying - sit down for this, and do NOT have a cup of coffee anywhere near your face - "Martin Luther King, Jr. Was a Republican."

Last week in Patriot Project's report, Front-Group Economic Freedom Fund and Meridian Pacific, the question was asked,

"How is it that so many front groups are able to appear just in time to spread their lies and poison into campaign seasons? It is almost as if there is a template that is used, with a factory that cranks them out, all the parts assembled, needing only a misleading name -- and a target."
That story discussed how one person is able to fund a front group that is now conducting nasty (and in one case likely illegal) "push polls" and running ads against Democrats in Congressional districts around the country.

That Patriot Project story concluded,

"These connections show more than the fact that there is very little beyond obscure legal wording that separates these front groups from the core Republican Party. They show that there is a far-reaching, "in-place" infrastructure ready to be called on at a moment's notice to secure the objectives of the party and its funders. Organizations like the Economic Freedom Fund can be set up according to a template. Just put money in this end and smears and lies are sprayed out of the other. Inside, operating the machinery are people who move freely between these front-group firms, campaigns, corporate lobbying organizations and the Party. Front groups are set up to obtain signatures for a ballot initiative, saturate the airwaves with ads in favor of or against any candidate or issue - or smear someone like John Kerry or John Murtha. Just write the check, and there you go."
Today Patriot Project further explores this front-group phenomenon, looking at the arrival of yet another factory-produced, turnkey operation: the Black Republican Freedom Fund (BRFF). BRFF is funded, according to their June 30, 2006 report, by over $129,000 in "unitemized contributions" plus a number of other, smaller contributions, all but one under $1,000.

BRFF is running a "Martin Luther King, Jr. Was a Republican" campaign attempting to convince African-Americans that the largely-white Republican Party is their true home. But in this election the Republicans seem to be having a bit of a race problem. For example one Republican, Senator George Allen, has been in the news for calling a non-white person "Macaca" and telling him "Welcome to America." More recently there have been revelations that he has a history of using the "n-word" and even may have placed a severed deer head in the mailbox of the "nearest black person." So yes, the Republican Party does appear to have a slight bit of a race problem on its hands. So the answer? Why, accuse the Democrats of having a race problem, of course.

Here's how the cynical process works. Your opponent is strong and you are weak in a certain area - in this case it is about strong African-American support for Democrats and a Republican race problem making its way into the news. To fight this you set up a front group that is designed to drive a wedge into the core of their support while providing "cover" to deflect attention from you. And to get this done you say anything - whatever is necessary to trick the voters into thinking their interests are served by your cause. So in this case the front-group Black Republican Freedom Fund is set up to run ads in urban areas that say, "Democrats started the Ku Klux Klan," "Democrats released those vicious dogs and fire hoses on blacks" and "Democrats blocked the minimum wage passed by Republicans."

This cynical wedge-driving process is reminiscent of the line from The Godfather, "It's not personal. It's business." It's just how it's done - you do what you have to do. It's just a job, just business.

Further illustrating the factory-made process of setting up these front groups, NBRA shares the same street address and suite number as the DC office of another far-right front group, the National Center for Policy Analysis. This is not to say the two organizations are connected or share facilities or personnel -- a call to a law firm also sharing this address disclosed that this is an "executive suites" facility, which is, in a way, the office equivalent of a post-office-box address. The point is that these are ready-to-go offices that you can move into or out of immediately while giving every appearance of being an established, credible operaiot - quite appropriate for the kind of factory-made, ready-to-go front group that pops up just in time to set a nasty tone and drive a wedge into a target demographic for the election.

Taking note of the ad's outrageous claim that Martin Luthor King Jr. was a Republican, Steve Gilliard of The News Blog, talking to Raw Story said,

Gilliard told RAW STORY that the ad was particularly offensive because "it assumes that blacks are unsophisticated voters, who are driven by emotion," when Maryland just "may have the highest concentration of blacks with advanced degrees on the planet."

"So to try and rewrite history is insulting," Gilliard added. "People know the history of the two parties and this is just offensive."

BRFF, yet another 527, is entirely a creation of the National Black Republican Association (NBRA). The "About Us" page of the BBRA website makes their association with the Republican Party very clear,
MISSION: The mission of the National Black Republican Association (NBRA) is to be a resource for the black community on Republican ideals and promote the traditional values of the black community which are the core values of the Republican Party: strong families, faith in God, personal responsibility, quality education, and equal opportunities for all.
GOAL: The goal of the NBRA is to return black Americans to their Republican Party roots by enlightening them about how Republicans fought for their freedom and civil rights, and are now fighting for their educational and economic advancement.
NBRA's website also explains the relationship to BRFF,
The Black Republican Freedom Fund: Our affiliated political action fund, the Black Republican Freedom Fund, will strongly support, both politically and financially, black Republican candidates under the NBRA's Blue County Victory Plan. This strategy entails identifying, training and financing black Republicans to run for election in districts populated largely by black Americans, with the aims of getting black Republican elected and winning votes for the top of the Republican ticket.
Perhaps a review of the rules about connections between front groups and political parties is in order.

NBRA shares a certain extremist bent with other front groups Patriot Project has examined. NBRA Chair(wo)man, Frances Rice, writing at far-right Human Events - a publication that features Ann Coulter - demonstrates this extremist tone, (note the early-1960's John Birch Society-style wording "Democrat Party")

"And as one pundit so succinctly stated, the Democrat Party is as it always has been, the party of the four S's: slavery, secession, segregation and now socialism.

It was the Democrats who fought to keep blacks in slavery and passed the discriminatory Black Codes and Jim Crow laws. The Democrats started the Ku Klux Klan to lynch and terrorize blacks. The Democrats fought to prevent the passage of every civil rights law beginning with the civil rights laws of the 1860s, and continuing with the civil rights laws of the 1950s and 1960s.

[. . .] Today, Democrats, in pursuit of their socialist agenda, are fighting to keep blacks poor, angry and voting for Democrats. Examples of how egregiously Democrats act to keep blacks in poverty are numerous.

[. . .] We must demonstrate that the Democrat Party policies of socialism and dependency on government handouts offer the pathway to poverty, while Republican Party principles of hard work, personal responsibility, getting a good education and ownership of homes and small businesses offer the pathway to prosperity."

Rice has been in the press before,
Back in February of this year, we caught Frances Rice, one of the state's leading Republican organizers, plagiarizing Washington Post columnist Colbert King; when cornered, she accused Venice Florida! dot com of racism.
And, finally, an endnote -- events last year following Katrina. From Sept. 2, 2005,
BLACK REPUBLICAN GROUP PRAISES BUSH'S DISASTER REACTION
Seeing the hundreds of relief convoys pouring into New Orleans, bringing medicine and millions of gallons of food and water to provide relief and comfort to the people devastated by Hurricane Katrina, the National Black Republican Association (NBRA), a grassroots organization, issued a statement of praise for President Bush and his show of compassion and leadership in directing the relief effort.
... "As African Americans," NBRA officer Andre Cadogan said, "we are deeply concerned about efforts of President Bush's critics to politicize, for their own partisan political agenda, a disaster that affects so many of our fellow African American citizens."
This was apparently too much for even the organization's own Board of Directors to stomach. Just one week later, on September 12, seven of ten Board members resigned,
RESIGNATIONS AT THE NATIONAL BLACK REPUBLICAN ASSOCIATION

More than half of the newly formed National Black Republican Association's board of directors has walked out, according a now former high ranking board member.

... The exodus comes as President Bush has come under fire for his administration's slow response to Hurricane Katrina, a storm in which many blacks died.


The Patriot Project is working to expose the front groups, their funding, their connections and their tactics.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:42 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

September 17, 2006

If The "Islamofascist" Threat Is Real

If the Bush administration truly believes that “Islamofascism” and Iran are threats to the very survival of the United States, then for the good of the country there are steps they can take to get the public to rally behind the effort.

First, they need to recognize that they have lost credibility because of their “mistake” about Iraq’s WMD. They said the United States needed to invade Iraq because we faced an imminent threat, an they were wrong - with the severest of consequences for the United States and the Middle East. So it is hard for the public to trust that they are right now. If we really do face such a serious threat then for the good of the country Bush and Cheney should declare that Iran is a serious enough emergency to warrant that they leave office and ask the Congress to put in place leadership that the American public and the world can trust.

Second, they should immediately implement the draft, so that there will be sufficient forces available to prevail in what they are saying will be a decades-long “clash of civilizations.”

Third, they should immediately repeal their tax cuts and impose an additional 50% surtax on incomes above $250,000. This is necessary to immediately balance the budget and begin paying down the massive debt they have accumulated. The country will need to be strong financially to purchase the necessary weaponry.

This fourth suggestion is really important. The Republican election strategies are tearing the country apart. If they really do believe that we are in a war for the country’s survival they should stop this stuff right now. Calling people traitors does not motivate them to join arms with you against a common enemy. A divided country is a weakened country. President Bush (before resigning and requesting that the Congress bring in credible leadership) should DEMAND that the Ann Coulters, Rush Limbaughs and John Bohners and his other surogates stop attacking other Americans as unpatriotic, and begin working to bring the country together.

They would do these thing if they really do mean what they say, and all this talk isn’t just another cynical, divisive election tactic.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:36 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

September 16, 2006

New Front-Group Alert: Economic Freedom Fund

This piece originally appeared on The Patriot Project

A new front group has appeared on the scene.  Yesterday in her Patriot Project post Robert J. Perry is Back, Taylor Marsh wrote about Robert J. Perry plunking down $5 million (!) just to fund the Economic Freedom Fund (EFF).  Perry - who has close ties to Karl Rove and Tom DeLay - was a prime funder of the notorious Swift Boat Vets for Freedom - the smear front-group that made claims including that John Kerry shot himself to get his medals - and now this one person is providing $5 million in funding for a national front group that is attempting to have an influence on the control of the Congress in this election.

In government filing documents (here and here) EFF lists its contact as Charles Bell, of the Sacramento, California law firm Bell, Mcandrews & Hiltachk.  Charles Bell is general counsel to the California Republican Party, is Vice Chairman of The Federalist Society's free speech and election law practice group, and is active in the Republican National Lawyers Association.


There is an interesting read at the firm's website, In the Right Place at the Right Time,

"When Charles Bell Jr. got on the bus carrying the California Republican delegation to a party Monday night, he received the kind of introduction political lawyers dream about.


"This guy's Mr. Campaign Law," was how one delegate described Bell to a colleague. "He'll keep you out of jail."

Bell, Mcandrews & Hiltachk's clients include the California Tribal Business Alliance - an "Indian Gaming" organization.  Their mission statement is "to safeguard and enhance the success of the business enterprises of our tribal government members" ....... and "will foster business development and coalition building with like minded government and business leaders in California."


Another Bell, Mcandrews & Hiltachk client was Californians for Paycheck Protection - yet another front group - this one sponsoring a California anti-union ballot initiative. (Their major funders in 2005 (go see how much) included the Chamber of Commerce and the California Republican Party.)


Another client is the notorious anti-environmental Congressman Richard Pombo.


And, of course, always, always showing up with this crowd, big tobacco: BELL, MCANDREWS & HILTACHK Philip Morris Outside Counsel".


A different partner at this firm, Thomas Hiltachk, filed the "Fair Pay Workplace Flexibility Act of 2006" - a stealth attempt to get rid of California's overtime rules.


Stories about this EFF front group running nasty Republican push-polls in districts around the country are popping up in the blogs.  A story about one EFF poll appears at the Iowa Radio Blog,

The call started by asking if I plan to vote in November.  It's a recorded voice asking the questions, and it only accepts "yes" or "no" as responses. ... There were no questions about local races (neither Lamberti nor Nussle), but the questions were designed to cross-check Bush's popularity with the issues Republicans, particularly conservatives, have pushed.
Another blog post appears at Diary of a political madman, clearly about the same Iowa poll but listing a transcription of the questions shows that this is a "push-poll,"
1) Would you like your taxes not raised and if possible cut?


2) Do you believe that frivolous and abusive lawsuits cost us all too much money?

Go read the full list.


EFF push-polling shows up again at the Indiana Democratic Party News page,

INDIANAPOLIS - Voters in Indiana's Ninth District began receiving automated calls yesterday from a group supporting Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Sodrel. The call, which attacks Democratic challenger Baron Hill, was paid for by the Economic Freedom Fund, a Virginia-based 527 special interest group.


In response, Indiana Democrats today called on Attorney General Steve Carter to investigate the calls as a violation of Indiana law. Carter issued a letter in August to both major political parties instructing them that automated political calls violate Indiana's Regulation of Automated Dialing Machines Act (IC 24-5-14).

So here we have yet another extremely well-funded, nasty front group, deeply connected to the Republican Party, working to undermine our democracy.


Patriot Project will have more - much more - information on this group and its connections in the next few days.  Stay tuned.



The Patriot Project is working to expose the front groups, their funding, their connections and their tactics.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:46 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

September 14, 2006

Front-Group PFA Echoes Republican "Freedom, Security and Survival" Themes

This piece originally appeared on The Patriot Project

The Republican “527” front-group Progress for America has reemerged, and is running a TV advertisement that echoes and amplifies the “be afraid” election campaign theme launched by President Bush. The ad is currently running in Missouri and nationally on cable TV.

The ad, titled “The War on Terror,” is not even a little bit subtle, marketing pure fear. “There are people who want to KILL … US!” it shouts in a horror-movie-advertisement voice, as dark-skinned, Middle-Eastern faces appear on the screen.

Just as President Bush did all last week (political campaigns traditionally begin on Labor Day), the ad conflates different groups like al Queda, Islamic Jihad, and Hezzbollah together as if they are one group. The ad reinforces the Bush administration and surrogate’s repeated claim that Iraq was responsible for the 9/11 attack. Referring to “the evil” that happened five years ago while showing a plane hitting the World Trade Center, the ad then says President Clinton “took little action” against al Queda and says that “after 9/11 we destroyed al Queda terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq.” Also, echoing current Party talking points, the ad claims there are those who want to “cut and run” from the war on terror.

Reflecting another campaign point advocating warrantless wiretapping of Americans, the ad goes on to say “we have narrowly escaped another 9/11, using proven surveillance that some would stop” – even though it was British law enforcement that caught those involved, using warrants.

Finally, the ad closes saying “the war on terror is a war for our country’s freedom, security and survival.”

The Progress for America website claims its mission includes:

• Winning the "War on Terror" in Iraq to prevent future terrorist attacks in America;
• Increasing the public’s awareness of the under-reported positive news and advances in Iraq;
• Educating the public about the necessity of winning the war on terror by completing the mission in Iraq;
Of course, in this supposed war for our very survival there is no call for sacrifice or public effort of any kind beyond voting for Republicans – no draft to provide the needed troops who fight for our freedom and security, no taxes to pay for this war for our survival, and certainly no energy conservation or even fuel use standards to reduce the flow of money flowing to the supposed “enemies” from oil purchases. Such appeals to national sacrifice for the war effort might cause the Republicans and Progress For America to sacrifice something they desire much more than defeating terrorists – votes.

Progress for America is a front-group. It is a “527” organization.  As Patriot Project pointed out in Behind the Front: The Creation of Vets for Freedom, Opensecrets.org writes:

"527 groups are tax-exempt organizations that engage in political activities, often through unlimited soft money contributions. Most 527s on this list are advocacy groups trying to influence federal elections through voter mobilization efforts and so-called issue ads that tout or criticize a candidate's record."

And Common Cause writes:

"In the 2004 election, 527 groups influencing federal elections spent an estimated $400 million. About 25 individuals alone gave $146 million to these groups, some of which were staffed by political operatives who had close ties to the national political parties. The fear was that 527 groups would be a backdoor route for parties to once again collect soft money, and to evade Federal laws on the books for more than 50 years that have prohibited labor unions and corporations from using their treasury funds to influence federal elections."

Initially intended as an Astroturf operation to create the appearance of public support for President Bush’s policies such as tax cuts, energy deregulation and judicial appointments, PFA was one of the largest political operations in the 2004 Presidential campaign. According to SourceWatch,

“In the last three weeks leading up to the November 2, 2004, election, PFA-VF outspent the next largest spending Democratic 527 group three-to-one on political ads.”
Following the election, PFA is reported to have spent as much as $20 million – much of that received from investment firms anticipating commission fees – in support of privatizing Social Security. From the Feb., 2005 Washington Post story, Conservatives Join Forces for Bush Plans,
"For corporations wary of publicity over their involvement in [promoting Social Security privatization, tort reform] and other controversial issues, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Legal Reform, the Club for Growth and Progress for America pointedly offer donors the promise of anonymity."
The next PFA cause was pressing for Bush’s judicial nominations, and later fighting against “Net Neutrality.” And now, like clockwork, PFA has arrived on the scene, with an ad campaign that exactly correlates with the Republican Party and President Bush’s election-season message of extreme fear.

PFA was formed in February 2001 by Tony Feather, who had been political director for the 2000 Bush-Cheney campaign. PFA is closely-linked to the Republican firm Feather, Larson & Synhorst DCI Group (DCI). According to the Center for Media and Democracy,

FLS-DCI specializes in creating phony front groups to make it appear as if there's a groundswell of support for its clients' issues.
Tony Feather was also a founding partner of DCI, which does extensive work for the Republican National Committee and the Bush-Cheney campaign ($17 million combined in 2004). <

Tom Synhorst, PFA strategic advisor, also a veteran of Bush/Cheney 2000, was the founder of DCI. Previously Synhorst worked as a tobacco PR specialist, and an associate of Christian/lobbyist Ralph Reed.

Chris LaCivita, former National Republican Senatorial Committee director, later employed at DCI, became Executive Director of PFA before he went over to help the Swift Boat Vets to attack John Kerry’s service record with claims like he lied, or that he shot himself to get his medals.

(Incidentally, DCI, which is still receiving large payments from PFA – over $147,000 just this year, as of June 30. and its Republican ties have been in the news for other reasons as well. DCI employee James Tobin, New England campaign chairman for the Bush-Cheney ’04 campaign, was convicted last December for his part in a plot to jam Democrat’s phones on election day.)

So here we have yet another front group, misleading and manipulating the public.  They want us to be afraid.  Perhaps we should be afraid of what they are doing to democracy.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:45 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

September 12, 2006

Gas Prices After Election?

Gas Prices are dropping -- just in time for the election. AAA Says Gas Prices Keep Falling; Down 42 Cents Since Reaching Highest Price This Year,

The nationwide average price of self-service regular gasoline is continuing to fall and is 42 cents lower than it was on August 7; the date prices reached their highest point this year of $3.036 per gallon.
What do you think will happen to gas prices after the election?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:13 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

September 10, 2006

Republican Ad Echos 'Path To 9/11' Theme

After writing the post below I replayed the new Republican/PFA ad and noticed something. The ad says,

“Many times before 9/11 al Queda attacked America and we took little action."
Interesting how this lie exactly corresponds to the theme of ABC's Path to 9/11. Interesting how the ad is rolled out at the same time.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Election Prediction Update

OK, we're wrapping up the first week of election campaign season, which traditionally begins on Labor Day. How is my July Election Prediction holding up so far? Here is what I wrote then,

Here is my election prediction.

In November we are all going to be in shock that the Republicans would do that, go that far, do such things, let it get to that point. We simply aren't going to believe that that could have happened in this country, this world, this day and age. All of us.

So far we're right on schedule. And remember, Path to 9/11, in which a major TV network tells the public that Clinton was responsible for terrorism, and Bush was a hero trying to prevent the attacks, is only the very beginning. Watch the first PFA ad that will be saturating the airwaves, and read this article, In a Pivotal Year, GOP Plans to Get Personal; Millions to Go to Digging Up Dirt on Democrats, for just a glimpse at next week.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

September 8, 2006

New Republican Ad Says Iraq Invasion Was About Destroying al Queda Terrorists

Go see Progress for America's ad, which will saturate the airwaves for the next two months. (Progress for America IS the Republican Party - all the same people, all the same funders, etc.)

Fear.

"THEY WANT TO KILL US." The site says the War on Terror is a war for our country's freedom, security and survival.

But, of course, the Republicans respond to this threat to our very survival without a draft or taxes to pay for it, or even buying less oil from our "enemies."

Right.

Update-Go see this new DNC video, responding.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:39 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

September 6, 2006

Big Mid-Term Election News

Election campaigns officially begin on Labor Day, which was Monday. This is Wednesday and there's a BIG election-related announcement: Iraq to take control of armed forces. From the story,

"This is such a huge, significant event that's about to occur tomorrow," U.S. military spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said of the shift in the Iraqi command.
All timed to affect the election... Everything between now and November is about the elections, and not about anything else. Bush and the Republicans are not about the good of the country or winning in Iraq or ANYthing besides getting and increasing power.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

ABC and Propaganda Blaming Clinton for 9/11

ABC is attempting to spread a lie and manipulate the public to vote for Republicans in the coming election. George Bush let 9/11 happen -- and to cover themselves they launched a campaign to blame Clinton. Now ABC is "propelling the propaganda."

Go to Open Letter to ABC: Don't Airbrush 9/11.

Down the left column (should be at the top) is a TAKE ACTION section. Go do everything they say. Right now.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:48 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Tune for Today -- Have You Had Enough

Throw the rascals out.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:35 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 30, 2006

Gas Prices Dropping for Election

Did I call it, or what? APRIL: Seeing the Forest: Bush Was BUYing Oil At These Prices!

This also means, by the way, the perception that oil prices are dropping just as the election approaches.
Did I call it? Come on, who's your daddy?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:15 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 25, 2006

Look Who's Paying For Republican Campaign Ads

The Stakeholder:: Even Dirtier Than We Thought... links to this AP story, Medicare Ads Paid by Drug Industry

The pharmaceutical industry quietly footed the bill for at least part of a recent multimillion-dollar ad campaign praising lawmakers who support the new Medicare prescription drug benefit, according to political officials.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce claims credit for the ads, although a spokesman refused repeatedly to say whether it had received any funds from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

At The Stakeholder, read a DCCC press release that details how pharmaceutical companes are funding the Republicans.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:41 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 23, 2006

Reaching Low-Information Voters

The other day I wrote that many people probably don't understand that "GOP" means Republicans. And I often say that those of us who read blogs should keep reminding ourselves that we are hyper-informed, and most people are not. And, of course, we're reminded of this every time we hear that a huge percent of the public thinks WMD were found in Iraq, or that the 9/11 hijackers were Iraqis...

Along these lines I recently came across an interesting article, "The Uninformed Bloc, at Democratic Strategist,

So, to put it in provocative terms, how ignorant is the electorate? Bennett found that nearly one-third of adults were unaware that the Republican Party is more conservative than the Democratic Party. And lest the reader think that this is an expression of cynicism rather than a lack of knowledge, Bennett found that whether or not respondents knew there were major differences between the two parties was associated with the amount of knowledge they had of major politicians and the parties but not with their levels of governmental trust.

Only one in ten adults knew who Denny Hastert is. Out of eight similar questions about politicians and the two parties, the average adult got just 4.5 right. One-third of adults said they follow politics “hardly at all” or “only now and then”.
It's so important to understand that we are not the audience we need to reach. We think that others know what we know. And we get so far ahead of regular people in our online discussions that people tuning in for the first time can barely understand what we're talkig about -- or can't understand at all. Once, when pondering this I wrote,
We think facts are important. But in fact most of the public knows very little about politics and the news and the issues and understands even less. Many of the people who bother to vote at all base their decisions on things that would make informed people like us just pass out if we heard them.

The key to winning elections is learning how various groups of voters make their decisions, and being there with the information they need in the form they need it and in the channels where they receive it.

Chris Bowers at MyDD discovered that when a certain percentage of people can identify one party as controlling Congress, that party loses seats in the next Congressional election. It doesn't even matter if they identify the correct party.

On this subject I wrote previously,

Regular people are in a different world than the one we are in, get their information in different ways, and retain information for different reasons. The better we understand and utilize this, the better off we will be at getting regular people to see things our way.

So before we work to pump "facts" out there, we need to cover the basics. Let's start by making sure that the public identifies their troubles with Republicans.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:40 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Great Video At The People Choose 2006

The other day I wrote about a new website, The People Choose 2006,

Think of it as a political YouTube for "citizen journalists" -- inviting regular people around the country to submit videos you make about your local Congressional races. Anyone can go to the site and view the videos, and use them on blogs, etc. Some of these will end up broadcast nationally on Dish and DirecTV.
I mentioned one great video they had already recieved, and today I finally figured out how to post a video from The People Choose. You have to click on the "JumpCut" in the lower right corner, and if you are logged in at JumpCut you see a "Post to Website" button... They will be added this directly to The People Choose website soon. (Still working out the kinks...)

Make a video and go upload it.

And here is "Married To the Man":

If YOU want to post this on YOUR blog, click on JumpCut on the video, log in, and click the "Post to Website" button to get the embed code. But PLEASE send people to The People Choose Site itself at http://thepeoplechoose2006.org/, not just to JumpCut.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:07 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Charlie Brown for Congress

I met Charlie Brown, who is running for Congress against super-corrupt John Doolittle, at YearlyKos. He's a great guy. Go to his website and send him some bucks. He has a diary up at DailyKos: Daily Kos: My son flew John T. Doolittle out of Baghdad ... and other reasons I'm running for Congress,

You see, John Doolittle has the unique distinction of being the only member of Congress that's actually entangled in BOTH the Abramoff and Randy "Duke" Cunningham corruption scandals -- both of the big Congressional corruption scandals of our time.
Go read, and recommend.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 22, 2006

Think That the Dems Will Win?

Anyone thinking the Democrats are going to pick up the House or Senate this year had better read this from a year ago. For Democrats, a Troubling Culture Gap,

Democrats Karl Agne and Stan Greenberg, who conducted the focus group, said Democrats need a reform-oriented, anti-Washington agenda to overcome the culture gap. At this point, Democrats are in no position to capitalize if there is a clear backlash against Republicans. "No matter how disaffected they are over Republican failures in Iraq and here at home," they said, "a large chunk of white, non-college voters, particularly in rural areas, will remain unreachable for Democrats at the national level."
I haven't seen a reform-oriented agenda to overcome the cultural gap from the Democrats. Have you? More importantly there still is not any kind of coordinated campaign from non-Party organizations ("progressive infrastructure" (also see skippy part I, part II and video), that reaches out across America to regular voters and promote the benefits of progressive/liberal values and a progressive/liberal approach to issues.

Without reaching out to the public, explaining WHY liberal and progressive values are better for them, nothing is going to be getting better. Why SHOULD the public think our values and ideas are worth considering when we aren't bothering to even TELL THEM what they ARE?? This is what the conservatives are doing -- you can't go anywhere without hearing, over and over, how conservatives are better than progressives or liberals, how their ideas are good and liberal ideas are bad, etc. The public is STILL not hearing anything to counter that.

If you want to help do something about this, send Commonweal Institute a healthy, healthy check.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:28 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 21, 2006

How To Win

Republicans understand marketing. They understand about "low information voters." They know that the public wants a change - so they are campaigning by saying to the voters that voting for them "sends "A Message for Change".

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:17 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 18, 2006

Something New Coming Tonite -- UPDATED

Tonite The People Choose 2006 is launching has launched. Go see it! Think of it as a political YouTube for "citizen journalists" -- inviting regular people around the country to submit videos you make about your local Congressional races. Anyone can go to the site and view the videos, and use them on blogs, etc. Some of these will end up broadcast nationally on Dish and DirecTV.

It won't be publicized for a while because there won't be a lot of content yet. You are getting advance notice. It launches tonite but yYou can go upload now. So if you're into making videos, or if you want to see what other people - regular people - have to say about this election, go visit.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Doolittle -- Corrupt or Ineffective?

Is Rep. John Doolittle Corrupt or Ineffective?

Charlie Brown is the Democratic candidate running against Doolittle. Go visit.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 16, 2006

Big Republican Get-Out-The-Vote Effort Coming

Group to Rally Evangelical Voters,

Conservative Christian radio host James C. Dobson's national organization, Focus on the Family, said yesterday that it will work with affiliated groups in eight battleground states to mobilize evangelical voters in the November elections.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 14, 2006

ANOTHER Republican Sec. State Purging State Voter Rolls!

One Republican-controlled state after another is purging its voter rolls, just in time for the election.

Now it's Michigan. Michigan Liberal :: 'The voter registration you currently hold...may be cancelled'

Tell everyone you know what's going on and ask them to make sure they are still registered - wherever you live.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:01 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Democratic Senators - Will You Support the DEMOCRATIC Nominee?

Bob Geiger asks why there are still 22 Democratic Senators who haven't said whether they will support the Democratic Party's nominee for the Senate in Connecticut, and is offering them a free press release they can send out:

So, to you weary Senate Democrats who haven't yet taken a stand, I've written your press release for you. Here it is:
Press Release of [Insert Senator name here]

"Senator ____________ Calls for Party Unity in Connecticut Senatorial Race"

Monday, August 14, 2006

Washington, DC -- U.S. Senator ____________ of [State] watched with great interest as Connecticut Democrats went to the polls in large numbers last week to choose the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by [his/her] colleague, Joe Lieberman.

... Senator ____________ is pleased to announce his support for the candidacy of Ned Lamont for the U.S. Senate and wishes Senator Lieberman the best in all future endeavors.

Go read the rest.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 13, 2006

Value of 50-State Strategy Illustrated

MyDD :: Why We File Everywhere

Democrats managed to find 425 candidates to run for Congress this year. But that still left ten districts without a Democratic candidate. One of the ten districts without a Democratic candidate is CA-42, which is represented by Republican Gary Miller.

Republican Representative Gary Miller just got caught stealing millions of dollars by not paying taxes after selling 165 acres of land to the city of Monrovia. (And I wonder what will happen when THAT transaction receives scrutiny.) Chris writes,

We have in CA-42 a congressman who ripped off taxpayers by more than $3M, and then pocketed the money himself. Suddenly, the CA-42 looks like it might be winnable. If this story blows up, than Gary Miller is finished. Defrauding a local town for more than $3M of taxpayer money? Look at me with a straightface and tell me that won't make this district close.

Actually, it will not make this district close, because no Democrat qualified for the ballot here.

So if you live in CA-42 and decided not to file to run for Congress - it's too late now, the filing deadline has passed.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:21 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 12, 2006

Upcoming Republican Primary in Rhode Island -- Compare and Contrast

In recent weeks we have been treated to a press firestorm over the Connecticut Democratic primary, in which the "netroots" DARED to run a candidate against Senator Joe Lieberman, and beat him. The insider press and political system is in absolute SHOCK that this could happen, with a good dose of anger at the voters for daring to go against their wishes. (Never mind that a far-right candidate beat a moderate candidate in Michigan's Republican primary -- for some reason that is different and remains unreported.)

You might also have noticed that since the primary, the press has paid far more attention to Lieberman - the loser of the primary - than to the winner. This is because the Republicans are promoting a wedge narrative intended to split the Democratic Party. By amplifying the voices of disgruntled Lieberman supporters, the Repubicans hope to keep a segment of the Democratic Party from voting this November.

In illustration of my point, contrast this firestorm to the situation with the upcoming Rhode Island Repubican primary. Lincoln Chafee is an old-style Republican Senator from Rhode Island. By "old-style" I mean he precedes the Christian Right/conservative movement takeover of the Republican Party and remains independent of The Party's corruption machine. And the far right is not happy about that, so they are running a candidate against Chafee in Rhode Island's upcoming Republican primary. You would think the "on the surface" similarities would drive press coverage, but the opposite is the case. (I say "on the surface" because in this case it is actual radicals running a candidate against an incumbent, where in Connecticut the opposition candidate actually had a more centrist voting record than the incumbent.)

Conservative group sets sights on Chafee,

Since its inception in 1999, the group has spent millions to help dozens of conservative Republicans win seats in Congress - often at the expense of more moderate party members. The Club's president, former Rep. Pat Toomey, nearly defeated Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter in 2004.

This year, the group's top priority is defeating Chafee, who angered many Republicans by voting against President Bush's tax cuts and then casting a write-in vote for the president's father in the last election.

... Republicans who support the Club say its refusal to compromise its ideology gives it credibility.

"They're not about getting more Republicans elected, they're about getting real Republicans elected," said Jerry Stacy, spokesman for Sharron Angle, a Club-endorsed House candidate in Nevada.

Learn how the American system operates now. Keep an eye on this one -- compare and contrast the coverage and commentary.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:42 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 8, 2006

I'm Going To Call The Race Now

OK, I'm going to go way out on a limb and call the Connecticut race for Lamont. But I think that Lieberman will possibly run anyway, as an independent.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:56 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 21, 2006

Election Prediction

Here is my election prediction.

In November we are all going to be in shock that the Republicans would do that, go that far, do such things, let it get to that point. We simply aren't going to believe that that could have happened in this country, this world, this day and age. All of us.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:15 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 19, 2006

Will al Queda Do Something Soon?

In Whiskey Bar: The Silent Party, Billmon explains why we might be hearing (in a very bad way) from al Queda soon.

Also, we have an election coming, and al Queda is on record working to keep Republican incompetence in power here...

So seriously, watch your backs.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:27 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 18, 2006

The Swiftboaters Are Back in the Water

This post was written for and originally appeared at the Patriot Project, which is no longer on the web.


The Swiftboaters Are Back in the Water

"Swiftboating" is defined in the Wikipedia as:

"an ad hominem attack against a public figure, coordinated by an independent or pseudo-independent group, usually resulting in a benefit to an established political force. Specifically, this form of attack is controversial, easily repeatable, and difficult to verify or disprove because it is generally based on personal feelings or recollections." 

If you thought the tactic of "swiftboating" ended when John Kerry conceded the 2004 election, or perhaps when report after report and article after article after article refuted the "facts" or discredited those involved, you were wrong.

The professional Republican PR and campaign consultants who created, funded, and coordinated the attacks on John Kerry continue to spread their poison. And now, with the 2006 campaign season upon us they are ready to attack again, creating false stories and spreading doubt and mistrust about the more than fifty veterans running for Congress this fall. We can expect that candidates like Admiral Jim Webb, Admiral Joe Sestak, Lt. Colonel Charlie Brown and Captain Patrick Murphy will be targets for attack. So it’s a good idea to look back and understand what is happening here, how they have perfected the politics of political destruction since the strategy emerged, where some of them are now, and examine some ways to fight back.

Let's start with some background. In 2004, the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth claimed that Kerry was "unfit to serve" because, among other accusations, his wounds were "self-inflicted," and that he was guilty of "withholding and/or distortion of material facts" about his service in Vietnam. The accusations were later proven to be categorically false, and the funding and political team behind the group was shown to be closely associated with the Bush/Cheney campaign. Media Matters' compilation of evidence includes a link to this graphic from the August 25, 2004 New York Times article, Bush Campaign's Top Outside Lawyer Advised Veterans Group (and the chart and article only begin to touch on the connections). 


(Click for an enlarged version.)

But, even though false, the tactic worked. Public opinion shifted dramatically following the August 2004 attacks on Kerry. The Guardian story, Why America is still fighting the battles of Mekong Delta describes this shift beginning soon after the story began to hit the corporate media:

"A recent University of Pennsylvania poll showed that its attack ad questioning whether Kerry deserved his medals had been seen or heard of by half the voters questioned.

It also revealed that 44 per cent of independent voters found the advert at least somewhat believable. Meanwhile a CBS poll showed the number of veterans who supported Kerry had dropped from 46 per cent to 37 per cent." [emphasis added]

By the time of the "Swiftboat" attack on Kerry, the tactic of attacking and spreading doubts about the quality of a person’s service to the country had already been used successfully and refined. For example, in the 2000 South Carolina primary battle between George W. Bush and John McCain, Bush surrogates (several later involved in the Kerry swiftboating effort) skillfully turned McCain's service record against him (thereby deflecting questions about Bush's own service record.) They planted stories that the torture McCain suffered as a POW had brought about mental instability, including rumors that he had been programmed as a "Manchurian candidate" who "collaborated with the enemy." No longer could McCain use the fact that he had endured torture as evidence of dedication to serving his country. 

The tactic was then used on Max Cleland in his 2002 Georgia Senate race against Saxby Chambliss. Chambliss attacked Cleland’s patriotism, "for breaking his oath to protect and defend the Constitution." Surrogates more recently accused Cleland, who lost 3 limbs in Vietnam and received the Bronze and Silver Star, of being injured from "dropping a grenade" when drunk. 

Richard Clarke, President Bush's counter-terrorism advisor, was attacked after revealing that he had tried unsuccessfully to get the Bush administration to take al-Queda seriously as a threat before the 9/11 attack. Columnist Paul Krugman summarized "a campaign of character assassination" against Clarke, in which un-named administration officials were saying Clarke "wants to make a few bucks, and that [in] his own personal life, they're also suggesting that there are some weird aspects in his life as well." Other surrogates called him a "fraud." 

Even Bush's own Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill was attacked with intent to humiliate and discredit him, with inside sources alleging "no one listened to him," accused of misusing classified documents, and forced to recant after he revealed that the Bush administration had been planning to invade Iraq even before the 9/11 attacks. 

And the tactic has continued since the 2004 swiftboating of Kerry. Ambassador Joe Wilson was famously attacked after revealing that the Bush administration had misled the public about Iraqi attempts to purchase "yellowcake" in Niger. His wife's undercover CIA status was "outed," ending her career, and he was accused of committing "treason," and being a "nutcase" and "liar."

In Ohio's 2005 special Congressional election, candidate Paul Hackett was smeared when the Jean Schmidt campaign questioned his service, asking if he "saw combat" and saying "I understand that Hackett did not participate in combat at all."

So why does swiftboating work? First, because it is simple, and lays down a clear good vs. evil, black-and-white narrative that is easily understood by regular people who lead busy lives and don't have the time and energy it takes to closely follow the news and track the real facts. And it is smart, professionally crafted, with tons of money available to do the necessary psychological, polling and focus group work that goes into developing messaging that resonates with the public, and getting that messaging into targeted channels with reach. 

Another reason it works is because it is (excuse the pun) offensive. They say that the best defense is a good offense, and considering their candidates, the Republicans certainly needed a defense. The Republicans have for some time been riding a public perception that they are somehow "better" on defense issues than Democrats. But this certainly isn't true, and they know it. (After all, it wasn’t Democrats who went on vacation, ignoring the intelligence briefing titled "bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the US.") This perception gap has placed them in terrible fear that the voting public might come to see that the reality is very different from the conventional wisdom.  There is also the fear that the pubic might realize that most of the Republican leadership actually had poor or nonexistent service records (see also "chickenhawks"), while many in the Democratic leadership served with honor.  

And in a race between John Kerry and George W. Bush we had a clear contrast when it came to the question of serving with honor. Kerry graduated college and, in the heat of the Vietnam War, signed up for the military. He volunteered for Swift Boat duty in Vietnam. After college Bush managed to move to the head of the line to get into what was called a "champagne unit" of the Texas Air National Guard, while checking the box on his "Application for Extended Active Duty with the United States Air Force" that read "Do not volunteer for overseas." It was clear that any fair debate on who had the courage and desire to serve his country during wartime and who didn’t was going to go one way and only one way. So yes, the Republicans needed an offensive, distracting defense, and they found one. 

So the Republicans decided to take the offense, and as us bloggers like to complain, the Democrats just seemed to take it. In the sixth century BC, Sun Tzu wrote in The Art of War, "Generally, he who occupies the field of battle first and awaits the enemy is at ease; he who comes later to the scene and rushes into the fight is weary." And in his widely-distributed Republican strategy book, The Art of Political War, David Horowitz advises candidates to "provide a shield from attack." He advises candidates to "lead with" a posture emulating an opponent's expected strength, writing, "...working away from the negative image your opponent wants to pin on you. If you know you are going to be attacked as morally imperious, it is a good idea to lead with a position that is inclusive and tolerant." So following Horowitz's advice (and they do), if you know that you're "weak on defense," you "inoculate" yourself by claiming that you are strong on defense, and attacking your opponent first as being weak on defense. (FYI - Republicans accusing others of what they are themselves doing is formally named "The STF Rule.") 

And finally, in the landmark book Marketing Warfare, authors Trout and Ries talk about the tactic of turning a competitor's strength into a weakness. The idea is to find a way to use that strength against your competitor, so repelling your attack requires them to work against their own strong point. For example, since Hertz is number one, Avis advertises that their lines are shorter. It is hard for Hertz to counter that – what would they say, that they aren't popular? Similarly, by turning a record of honorable service against a campaign opponent, the opponent reminds the voters of the smear with every mention of that service. 

Building on this, Bush adds an "audacity" approach. But don't take my word for it – see the Variety story, 'Swift-boat' pros in demand in D.C. Spinmeisters go negative:  

"If you can construct believable stories with enough truth in them to smear somebody royally, boy, is there a pot of gold waiting for you in D.C. Spin doctors are nothing new in politics, but a certain type -- equal parts scriptwriter, opposition researcher and ruthless street fighter -- is increasingly in demand, and for good reason. Just ask John Kerry, the former Democratic presidential candidate who became the target object of a new verb: “swift-boating.”

[. . .] "Modern communication isn't about truth, it's about a resonant narrative," says Eric Dezenhall, a former Reagan administration aide and now president of his own crisis management firm. "The myth of PR is that you will educate and inform people. No. The public wants to be told in a story who to like and who to hate."

Already suspected by blue-collar America as an elite and effete New Englander, Kerry -- one of the handful of Ivy Leaguers who volunteered to go to Vietnam -- was red meat for the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" ad that cast him as a Yale snot who'd come back from Vietnam to trash his largely working-class troops.

If that sounds audacious, it's because, as Dezenhall says, "We're living in an age of audacity," another fact GOP spinmeisters understand and exploit superbly.

"George Bush communicates in terms of audacity," Dezenhall says. Bush's response to questions about the wiretapping was to say that he's just trying to catch terrorists. Bold motivation, easily understood.

"Democrats communicate in terms of complexity," Dezenhall says, referring to their windy explications of a need to pursue enemies within the rule of law as spelled out in various court ..." (snorrrrrrrrrrre).  [Emphasis added]

So with swiftboating you spread a smear to raise questions with the public about the opponent's patriotism or service. It doesn't have to be true (how quaint) it just has to raise questions. This "neutralizes" the honorable record of or otherwise "discredits" the advantages that opponent has against a Republican with a poor (like George W. Bush's) or no (like Saxby Chambliss or any number of other "chickenhawks") record. 

And, finally, the Republicans have the money and organizational connections to overwhelmingly implement their strategy. According to Open Secrets, in 2004 the Swift Boat Veterans spent $22.5 million, Progress for America $35.6 million and the Bush campaign $345.2 million. This is on top of the huge amount of long-term money spent outside the election cycle by the network of conservative think tanks and business groups promoting conservative ideology and issues, repeating to the public in a thousand different ways and through a thousand different channels that conservatives are good and liberals are bad. (Have you heard that?)

Partially shown in the chart above, the anti-Kerry Swiftboat operation involved the interlocking efforts of "closely associated" Republican Party adjuncts like the Progress For America 527 organization, utilizing Party-affiliated consultants like Chris LaCivita, Merrie Spaeth, Keith Appell, Benjamin Ginsberg, Susan Arcaneaux, and companies like Political Compliance Services, Creative Response Concepts (CRC), DCI Group, Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm (SRCP) and The Pinkston Group. Also involved are conservative movement-affiliated media outlets like Media Research Center’s Cybercast News Service (CNS) WorldNetDaily or NewsMax, with Drudge Report, The Washington Times and Fox News operating as echoes and amplifiers to entice the major corporate media to pick up and repeat the smears. 

The February, 2005 New York Times story, A New Target for Advisers to Swift Vets, provides an example of how this kind of interlocking smear operation continues, this time supporting the Social Security privatization efforts of the Bush-affiliated organization USA Next: 

"To help set USA Next's strategy, the group has hired Chris LaCivita, an enthusiastic former marine who advised Swift Vets and P.O.W.'s for Truth, formerly known as Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, on its media campaign and helped write its potent commercials. He earned more than $30,000 for his work, campaign finance filings show. 

Officials said the group is also seeking to hire Rick Reed, a partner at Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm, a firm that was hired by Swift Vets and was paid more than $276,000 to do media production, records show. 

For public relations, USA Next has turned to Creative Response Concepts, a Virginia firm that represented both Swift Vets - the company was paid more than $165,000 - and Regnery Publishing, the publisher of "Unfit for Command," a book about Senator John Kerry's military service whose co-author was John E. O'Neill, one of the primary leaders of Swift Vets."

You might remember this anti-AARP attack ad, which was one result of this effort. Simple, good vs bad, literally using black-and-white: 

Just recently the tactic was used against the "9/11 widows" who came under attack because they had demanded Congressional oversight of the Bush Administration. In return for asking that Congress do its job they were smeared as "enjoying their husbands' deaths." Note how the attack neutralizes their "strength" – the credibility and sympathy they receive from the public because they lost their husbands. This is ongoing, it followed similar attacks by Rush Limbaugh in 2004.

And now there are attempts to do the same with Congressman John Murtha. In a duplication of the Swift Boat attacks, even including similarly-named websites (since moved to bootmurtha.com), some of the very same people involved1 have regrouped to attack Murtha for coming out in opposition to President Bush's Iraq strategy (or lack thereof). Previously, Rep. Jean Schmidt, the same Republican member of Congress who used swiftboating tactics on candidate Paul Hackett, had called Murtha a "coward" on the floor of the House.   

There is some good "fighting back" news on the Murtha front – saved for later. 

And now there is an election coming, with lots of "Fighting Dems" running for office – and the swiftboaters are back in the water. Here are some examples of the most recent crop of swiftboatings from the same scoundrels. Expect more, watch for it so you’re not surprised, and learn how to FIGHT BACK! 

Christopher A. LaCivita is an example of a professional Republican operative working with the swiftboaters. LaCivita served as the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth media strategy advisor.  Previously LaCivita served as the political director for the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, and Executive Director for the Bush-campaign-associated Progress For America organization (founded by 2000 Bush campaign political director Tony Feather). He was an employee of DCI Group when he went to work for the Swiftboat Vets.   

There are conflicting stories about how the group connected with Party professionals like LaCivita. A Richmond Times-Dispatch article (referred to here)2 says:

"Retired Rear Adm. Roy Francis Hoffmann, chairman of the swift-boat group and a virtual neighbor of LaCivita in Chesterfield County ... said CRC (Creative Response Concepts), a public-relations firm in Arlington, put the group in touch with LaCivita. CRC is involved in a number of conservative causes." 

But a Knight Ridder story, Anti-Kerry Veterans' group now political machine with big budget3, reports that major Bush-connected Republican funders enabled the connections, 

"O'Neill said he researched how to form and run [a 527] and got help from Political Compliance Strategies, a suburban Washington organization. Political Compliance Strategies is led by Susan Arceneaux, who was the treasurer of a political action committee associated with former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, a Texas Republican. [...] Texan Harlan Crow, a trustee of the George Bush Presidential Library Fund, which honors the current president's father, gave $25,000 [note, post-election records show the Crow donations as $100-125,000]. Bob J. Perry, a major GOP donor in Texas and a friend of Karl Rove, Bush's top political adviser, gave $100,000 on June 30, according to a financial report. [Note, according to John O’Neill Perry ultimately gave a total of $7 million.]

"I'm certain some of the people giving us money are doing it because they think this will help their side of the campaign," O'Neill said. "It's probably fair to say the people more likely to help us are Republicans." 
 
With money in hand, the group was able to bring on advisers led by Chris LaCivita, a political strategist and an expert in TV ads. LaCivita had worked for the National Republican Senatorial Committee in 2002. Last year, he became the executive director of PFA (Progress for America), a Republican-affiliated tax-exempt organization founded by Tony Feather, the political director of Bush's campaign in 2000."

Following the Swift-Boat episode, LaCivita went to work for USA Next, shown above attacking the AARP. 

LaCivita now advises George Allen's Virginia Senate campaign against Jim Webb. And it didn't take long for the swiftboating to begin. But that is also saved for later. 

(And by the way, in that IRS information linked above, was that the same Admiral Roy Hoffman as this one?

"Finance reports filed with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service show Swift Boat contributed $100,000 on February 8, 2006 to an outfit called the Admiral Roy F. Hoffman Foundation in Fairfax, Virginia.  In 2005, the group donated $10,000 to Hoffmans foundation, $100,000 to the Vietnam Veterans Legacy Foundation and spent $132,087 on meeting expenses at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.") 

The Republican firm that employed LaCivita, Feather Larson Synhorst-DCI (FLS-DCI), comes out of the tobacco industry and does work for such clients as the NRA, (helping them after Columbine,) Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the National Pork Producers Council (no comment). For others, see Unsavory DCI Clients:

"… DCI seems willing to work with some of the most controversial clients in the world. In 2002, it received $340,000 for eight months of work for the Union of Myanmar (Burma) State Peace & Development Council. The Washington Post’s Al Kamen wrote, "DCI's filings with the Justice Department offer an unusual glimpse into the efforts by the Rangoon junta. DCI lobbyists, featuring Charles Francis, a longtime family friend of the Bushes, ran a sophisticated campaign to improve the regime's image—and steer the conversation away from its rampant human rights abuses and such."

FLS-DCI is currently running phony "Astroturf" campaigns against net neutrality, using fronts like Responsible Electronic Communications Alliance and Hands Off the Internet. 

And DCI isn’t just using the tactics in politics! They're also using it for corporate clients. (If it works, do it again and again…) From this story, HM GETS PR HELP WITH ATTACKS: 

"Houghton Mifflin, publisher of a best-selling children's book critical of the fast-food industry, has brought in Dan Klores Communications to help rebut what it sees as "Swift Boat-Style campaign" attacks on the tome. ... HM sees a "cloud of disinformation" working against the book and orchestrated by the PR firm DCI Group at the behest of the fast-food industry. It has brought in DKC to guide PR for its defense. SVP Ed Tagliaferri heads the work at DKC."

Incidentally, DCI's James Tobin was recently convicted as part of the 2002 New Hampshire phone-jamming operation. From Talking Points Memo:

"Tobin was the ranking Republican official involved in the New Hampshire phone-jamming operation. An employee of DCI Group at the time of sentencing, he had reported to Chris LaCivita, the NRSC's National Political Director, and to Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN), the Senate Majority Leader."

Keith Appell is an employee of Swift Boat media consultants Creative Response Concepts, former Club for Growth spokesperson and former John Ashcroft campaign consultant. Also, according to the Washington Post:

"But Keith Appell, a well-known Republican media adviser in Washington, said same-sex marriage is issue number one now for social conservatives. He has close ties to people like Focus on the Family founder James Dobson and Concerned Women for America president Sandy Rios -- the sort of people who can pick up the phone and get Karl Rove at the White House."

Appell was involved with CRC in the Dan Rather Forgeries story. According to the PR Week story, TWO DC FIRMS RAMP UP EFFORTS OVER LATEST PRESIDENTIAL CONTROVERSIES4

"After the CBS story aired, [CNS] called typographical experts, got them on the record that these papers were fishy, and posted a story by 3pm Thursday," said CRC SVP Keith Appell. "We were immediately in contact with Matt Drudge, who loved the story." CRC worked with CNS and the Media Research Center, another media watchdog client, to push the story into the mainstream press." 

So where is Appell now? In May, 2006, Appell joined the John Raese campaign against Senator Robert Byrd. And how long did it take for the swiftboating to begin? Not long: June, 2006, John Raese Approves Dishonest Attack Ad "accusing Senator Robert Byrd of voting against the troops."

Merrie Spaeth, another Republican-connected consultant, was the original Swift Boat media consultant.  How Republican-connected is she? Her husband was George W Bush's Texas running mate in 1994. She had been a Reagan administration press officer, provided debate preparations to George HW Bush, was a volunteer consultant to Ken Starr, advised Wyly brothers Republicans for Clean Air attack on McCain in 2000 – which, incidentally, was funded by some of the same supporters who funded the Swift Boaters.   

Following the Swift Boat episode she wrote the "WORDS MATTER" column distributed by the UPI wire service (owned and operated by the Unification Church, also known as the "Moonies" – who also own The Washington Times, Insight Magazine and World & I Magazine, but that's a topic for a whole other article), and is listed for speaking engagements at Leading Authorities Speakers Bureau, asking $5-10,000 per event. She was also added as a commenter on public broadcasting in June of 2005.

Ms. Spaeth showed up in several news stories posing as a "friend" of Bush Supreme Court nominee Harriet Meirs, naturally without being identified as a long-time Republican PR professional.   

Rick Reed of Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm (SRCP) was hired by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. And what have they been up to, you ask? Working with LaCivita at USA Next, for one. From Maine Firm to Help "Dynamite" Opposition to Social Security Privatization:

"The Maine connection comes through Rick Reed, partner at the Maine firm Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm who USA Next is attempting to hire." 

And SRCP is continuing to otherwise stir up trouble. March 2005: American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Speak Out Against Misleading Driver’s License TV Ad:

"Recently, the Coalition for a Secure Driver's License, released a television advertisement [created by Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm] regarding the issue of illegal immigrants' access to photo IDs and drivers' licenses. The advertisement incorrectly conflates the issues of immigration and national security while also inflaming fears about Arabs, Muslims, and Arab-Americans. In effect, the Coalition for a Secure Driver's License utilizes anti-terrorism rhetoric to push their anti-immigration agenda."

For 2006 campaign SRCP has signed up with two Ohio Republicans, Craig Foltin and Frank Guglielmi, and sending a media consultant with the Ray Meier campaign in New York. Swiftboating is sure to follow.

The Donateli Group reappeared with the Judicial Confirmation Network (JCN). Additionally, a Kos diary informs us that "JCN has also hired Creative Response Concepts (CRC), the public-relations firm that "advised Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" with, Hughes for America informs us: Ohio's notorious Ken Blackwell acting as spokeman.

Most recently, Donateli is connected with Vets for Freedom, a Bush support group that condemns Rep. John Murtha.

These are examples of some of the better-known Republican swiftboaters, how they work, what they’ve done and what they’re doing now. Meanwhile, of course, "conservative-movement" outlets like Media Research Center's Cybercast News Service and other echo outfits like NewsMax, Washington Times and WorldNetDaily will be ready to spread the poison as it's produced. 

So how DO we fight back? They'll keep doing this as long as it works. But maybe Jim Webb is showing us one way to make it stop working. 

This is what was saved for later. These are examples of fighting back! With Chris LaCivita involved in Virginia’s George Allen Senate campaign, it didn't take long before the swiftboating began, with the campaign attacking Jim Webb’s patriotism. But the Webb campaign was ready. From Webb Rips into Allen over flag:

"George Felix Allen Jr. and his bush-league lapdog, Dick Wadhams, have not earned the right to challenge Jim Webb's position on free speech and flag burning," Webb spokesman Steve Jarding said in a press release. "Jim Webb served and fought for our flag and what it stands for, while George Felix Allen Jr. chose to cut and run. 
 
"When he and his disrespectful campaign puppets attack Jim Webb, they are attacking every man and woman who served. Their comments are nothing more than weak-kneed attacks by cowards." 
 
Webb was a Marine in Vietnam, serving as a rifle-platoon leader and company commander. He received the Navy Cross, the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts, Jarding noted. 

… "This is straight out of the Republican playbook ... taking a candidate's strength and trying to turn it into a weakness," Denny Todd said. "It's what Chris LaCivita did with Swift Boats against John Kerry." 
 
LaCivita helped orchestrate the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" attacks during the 2004 Bush campaign. He now works for Allen. 
 
"It's been said that Democrats aren't willing to fight back in campaigns," Denny Todd said. "Well, we're willing. We're not letting them get away with it." 

… "While Jim Webb and others of George Felix Allen Jr.'s generation were fighting for our freedoms and for our symbols of freedom in Vietnam, George Felix Allen Jr. was playing cowboy at a dude ranch in Nevada," Jarding said. "People who live in glass dude ranches should not question the patriotism of real soldiers who fought and bled for this country on a real battlefield."

[. . .] Stephen Farnsworth, a political scientist at the University of Mary Washington, agreed with Sabato. "It's said the best defense is a good offense and it's clear Webb isn't going to be bullied like John Kerry was two years ago," Farnsworth said." 

Now THAT is powerful. As discussed earlier, the swiftboating tactic is based on a strong offense, surprise, extreme audacity and a dependence on the media repeating the charges. With a very strong, fighting response, Jim Webb has found one answer. Webb was ready to fight back with a strategy in place. He fought back immediately with a strong counter-punch. He exposed the plot, describing the "playbook" strategy and naming the players. He exposed the weaknesses the Allen campaign was trying to distract people from. And he gave the media a simple, good vs. evil storyline about the swiftboating playbook and Democrats fighting back.

And, as Taylor Marsh wrote just a few days ago in The Swiftboating of John Murtha at Patriot Project, there is also an ongoing attempt to swiftboat Representative John Murtha for questioning the wisdom of President Bush's Iraq policies. But bloggers and others fought back, exposing the tactic and exposing that so many of the same people and organizations were involved. As discussed above, the Republicans desperately need distractions and misdirections to turn the public's and media’s eyes away from their own foreign policy and national security weaknesses. But this time we have been getting ready, and information about the swiftboaters is available. Because we have started fighting back and exposing the swiftboaters, the stealth and surprise of the tactic are blunted. As the bloggers and organizations like Patriot Project continue their work, exposing and fighting back, maybe – just maybe – we can beat this.

Dave Johnson
Dave Johnson is the lead blogger at Seeing the Forest and a Fellow at the Commonweal Institute, where he studies the conservative movement’s network of foundations and think tanks and the extent of their influence on American society.


[1] Richmond-Times Dispatch on LaCivita introduction to SBVFT available on Nexis, but is referred to here: http://www.augustafreepress.com/stories/storyReader$25489

[2] Knight Ridder, Sept 12, 2004, at http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1:121841720/Anti-Kerry+Veterans+group+now+political+machine+with+big+budget.html?refid=SEO

[3] DCI using swiftboating for a corporate client: HM GETS PR HELP WITH ATTACKS, Dyer’s PR Daily, June 2, 2006, members only: http://www.odwyepr.com/members/0602mifflin.htm.  Available on Nexis.

[4] PRWeek: can be seen at http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1219349/posts

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:21 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 14, 2006

Today's Voting Machines Story

USATODAY.com - Electronic voting machines come under legal attack from activists

The article focuses on reliability, without mentioning paper trails at all. As if making the machines "reliable" reduces the need to be able to prove how people voted.

Voting machine must have a way to VERIFY that the machines are reporting what the voters wanted.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:25 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

June 12, 2006

See What Fair Elections Look Like

Dave Robinson of Californians for Electoral Reform (CfER) has created an on-line demonstration of what a ballot might look if our electoral system in California used Instant Runoff Voting (for single seat races) and proportional representation / STV in multi-seat districts for Assembly and Senate, and implemented it live on the web using the open-source Demochoice e-voting software package.

Go cast your vote. ... and check out the Center for Voting and Democracy for more information on democracy enhancing electoral systems.

Now, of course, this isn't a strictly fair representation, as there would be a lot more third party and Green Party candidates to chooce from for State Senate and Assembly, if such a system were in place - since you would only need the support of 20% of the populace to occupy a seat in a 5 or 6 seat district (House and Assembly) - a much more democratic result than the current system, where a victor who earns 45% of the vote in his or her district leaves 55% of the voters unrepresented.

... and of course, the other urgent need for returning fairness to our process of electing representatives is to take money and fundraising prowess out of the equation by implementing Clean Money public financing.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 2:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

June 7, 2006

Just HOW Close was CA-50???

In the election to replace corrupt Republican Congressman Duke Cuningham we're TOLD that Democrat Francine Busby received 55,587 votes, and Republican Brian Bilbray received 60,319 votes. The problem is, THERE IS NO WAY TO KNOW FOR SURE because some of the machines are touch-screen voting machings WITH NO PAPER TRAIL!

THE BRAD BLOG: "Results of Close Busby/Bilbray U.S. House Special Election in Doubt!",

The biggest concern about the race, by far, is that San Diego County uses two types of Diebold voting systems -- optical-scan and touch-screen -- both of which have not only proven to be disastrously unreliable in San Diego County and California in the past, but have also been demonstrated over the last six months to feature dozens of exceedingly well-documented and remarkable security vulnerabilities, making them extremely accessible to tampering.
SOME of the voting was done on machines with no paper trail.
And then, only if the number of votes cast on the touch-screen systems is smaller than the number of votes separating the two candidates after all of the optical-scan paper ballots have been counted manually. If the margin separating the two after the op-scan ballots are counted is smaller than the number of votes cast on the touch-screens, there is no way of knowing who the winner of the race truly is.
So here we have a vitally important race, AND NO WAY TO PROVE WHO WON?

The results of the election is left open to doubts based on the integrity of the Republicans -- in a special election made necessary by a corrupt Republican.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:58 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

June 6, 2006

Working The Polls Today

I'll be working the polls today until really late tonite. But it's likely to be a slow day, and they might have wireless at the forehouse I'm working. And there is a Starbucks nearby with their wireless. So I might get chance to post. We'll see.

If you're in a state with an election today, go vote!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

June 5, 2006

Debrah Bowen For California Secretary of State

Instead of a lot of writing, I'll just refer you over to Brad Blog: THE BRAD BLOG: "America Needs Debra Bowen as California's Secretrary of State"

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

May 22, 2006

Just In Time For The Fall Elections

Raw Story reports that President Bush and British Prime Minister Blair are set to make a joint announcement of a 'phased withdrawal' from Iraq.

The process has already been carefully choreographed in an attempt to bolster the popularity of both Bush and Blair who have suffered domestically for their handling of the war.

The scope of the phased withdrawal, which will see the 133,000 US force levels cut to around 100,000 by the end of the year and British numbers almost halved, has already been agreed, one senior defence source said.

... It will be described as a "transition" to Iraqi security forces taking control of the country rather than a withdrawal to avoid it looking as though the allies are being forced out by rising levels of attacks on their forces.

The Americans have already lost more than 120 servicemen in the past six weeks, making it one of the worst periods for casualties since last autumn.

Just in time to make it appear that Iraq should not be an election issue.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:01 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

May 14, 2006

Ned Lamont vs Joe Lieberman

Joe Lieberman has been undercutting Democrats and (literally) hugging up to Bush. So bloggers are supporting challenger Ned Lamont against Leiberman in the primaries. Here's why.

Go see the new Ned Lamont for Senate Video. The site says,

Ned Lamont for U.S. Senate Introduction Video

Three months ago, Ned Lamont began the kind of campaign entrenched DC power-brokers fear and beyond-the-beltway Democrats recognize as the only way to reclaim our country for ordinary Americans. This video introduces you to Ned, contains interviews with many Connecticut voters, and information on the actions and positions of Senator Lieberman. Now we need your help to spread the word to your friends and family.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

April 22, 2006

Election Hopes - Quaint

I fear that all this optimism about the coming election shows a lack of understanding of what we're dealing with. This optimism and faith in the electoral process seems to me to be, as our Attorney General said about the Geneva Conventions, "quaint."

History doesn't have very many examples of dishonest, corrupt, authoritarian, cultist regimes willingly handing over to others the power to remove them from office and jail them for their crimes.

Watch your backs!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:40 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

April 12, 2006

Dems Can't Win If Nobody Votes For Them

Kos linked to this quote from the National Journal,

The off-year 2002 vote was about 160K, with about 290K in 2004. If today's vote will be closer to 100K, that suggests something less than strong grass-roots enthusiasm.
Well I add the turnout up to about 128,000 people.

So now can you see the outlines of a Republican win this November?

Not yet? How about this Texas story, Low voter turnout isn't so bad,

At most, about 12,000 people voted Tuesday in Tarrant County.
And this one from Wisconsin, Low Voter Turnout,
County Clerk Bob Ohlsen says, except for Sun Prairie and the Monona–Cottage Grove areas, where there are school referendums on the ballot, turnout has been unusually low ... about 5 percent in most of the county.

And these from Missouri, Voter turnout low,

Despite several important races, only 5,447 voters turned out at the polls out of a possible 25,906. In the Spring Creek West district, zero voters showed up at the polls.
And, Randolph County voter turnout extremely low,
Results are in for the 2006 general election and several local governing boards have new leadership even though voter turnout tallied in at just 9.85 percent.
Now, combine those with this California story, New ID System May Block Voters,
Thousands of Californians who register to vote or update their records may not receive sample ballots or be able to vote as absentees because of the state's new method of verifying identities, election officials say.
If Demos don't - or can't - vote, they can't win. Even if the voting machines aren't rigged.

I frequently remind readers that those of us who read (and write) blogs are not like the rest of the public. We are hyper-informed. I think it is so important to understand that the ways we get our information and the kinds of information we retain are profoundly different from the public-at-large, and if we want them to think and act a certain way, we need to reach out to them in the places they are listening with stories and information they will "hear" and act on.

Obviously we're not getting through to them now. Not even to the ones who would naturally be on our side.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:28 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

April 3, 2006

Great New "Red-Handed" Ads From MoveOn

Four great news ads from MoveOn. Go see, and as always, send an e-mail to people letting THEM know to watch! And remind THEM to forward to others, as well. (Use "e-mail this entry" at the end of the post.)

Chocola Ad

Drake Ad

Johnson Ad

Pryce Ad


Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

March 29, 2006

New CA Republican Sec. State Rejecting 43% Of ALL Voter Registrations!

After recently sneaking in Diebold voting machines -- the kind that leave us with no way to know who really won the election -- the new Republicn Secretary of State is engaged in a new scheme!

THE BRAD BLOG: "DEMOCRACY CRUMBLING: New Electronic Voter Registration Database Rejects 43% of New Los Angeles Voter Applications! 26% Rejected State-Wide in California!"

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

March 3, 2006

The End Is Near... for the Republicans

The latest Gallup Poll shows that, when asked who they will most likely vote for in November, 53% of those surveyed picked Democrats, and just 39% Republicans. 59% of those polled also said that President Bush can no longer manage the government effectively (as if he ever could). 65% of those surveyed want the troops to start coming home.

The article in question, from "Editor & Publisher", also points out that public opinion settling on "get out of Iraq ASAP" has happened in the face of a virtual editorial blackout by major American newspapers. This demonstrates that the neo-con radical right's tactic of suppressing media coverage has finally lost its effectiveness. There is hope. The Mighty Wurlitzer has broken down.

Seriously: it would appear that the country is no longer split right down the middle, but rather that a decisive shift towards our position has been made. 53% to 39% is just huge... if the Republicans go into November with this kind of disadvantage, we could be looking at a six year itch of historic proportions... potentially a wipe out on the scale of the "Progressive Conservatives" in Canada a few years back.

P.S. Bush is on the verge of outdoing Nixon in unpopularity.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 1:35 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

February 28, 2006

On Third Parties

I left a comment to a Thomas' post about the Greens, and decided it is worth promoting to the front page. I believe in the "open-source think tank" concept of blogs -- a place where ideas can be introduced, discussed and refined. Here is my take on the Greens.

Anything that divides the opposition is good news for the Republicans.

If you care about what is happening to the people in Iraq, or the environment, or so many things we all care about you would understand the need to band together to fight against the Right.

This is a crucial period, with the Right consolidating power. Every single one of us must stand TOGETHER to fight them. They mean to foment war across the Middle East. They mean to end our democracy and begin an era of corporate control over our lives. And they clearly mean to do this under the auspices of a theocracy.

If you care about what is happening you will recognize the need to hold together and present a unified front. The labor movement learned this the hard way - union and solidarity are not just words, they have meaning. They LEARNED that standing together is the only power we have against the moneyed interests.

In the 2000 election, the stakes were just as high, but many people either did not realize it or did not care, and voted for Nader. Since then we have seen hundreds of thousands killed in Iraq, the looting of our natural and financial resources, and the beginnings of domestic repression. There is no "ignorance" excuse this time.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:47 AM | Comments (17) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

February 9, 2006

California's changing voters

Got this off a queer Dem political mailing list... interesting shifts, both demographically in population terms, and in relation to the increasing percentage of people voting by mail; the latter precipitates all sorts of issues regarding voting security and privacy, but also serves to lessen the impact of any funny business with voting machines at the polls.

At the California Democratic Party E-board meeting last weekend, Mark DiCamillo of the California field poll gave a very interesting presentation on "Three California election megatrends." Emy mentioned this in her report at the DCC meeting on Thursday. DiCamillo's presentation is now available on line at:

http://www.field.com/fieldpollonline/subscribers/CaliforniaMegatrends.pdf

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 11:20 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

January 2, 2006

Was Bush Wiretapping the Kerry Campaign?

I have a question about the NSA wiretapping scandal: Was Bush wiretapping the Kerry campaign? Were they wiretapping campaigns for the Senate and Congress?

Is this the reason they couldn't get warrants?

This is one of the questions this brings up. Another is, were they wiretapping anti-war leaders?

They say the Democrats are traitors. They say they are helping the terrorists, supporting the other side, working to undermine the troops, offering aid and comfort to al Queda, etc. They SAY all those things, and maybe they believe them. And if they really do believe these things they say they certainly would feel it is necessary to take action, wiretap, disrupt, and anything else they can do to stop us. So we certainly should associate the things they say with the idea that maybe it actually might be related to the things they do.

Just asking.

Update - Actually this is a serious post asking a serious question. Why do we have a Constitution at all, except to prevent the kind of abuse Bush is engaging in?

If Bush declares that he has the right to order wiretapping of Americans without a warrant, AND declares that allowing Americans to know he is doing such things violates national security, then how does any American have any way to know whether ANY laws are being followed? Is there anything that Bush feels he can NOT do?

And if Bush says he may bypass the law and Constitution to wiretap whoever he feels are enemies of the country, while at the same time sending surrogates out to attack YOU AND ME as enemies of the country, then don't we have a NEED to ask the very questions I am asking here?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:28 PM | Comments (20) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

November 28, 2005

Steve Young for Congress

A few weeks ago I wrote about One More Race This Year and the Steve Young for Congress campaign.

Today Angry Bear weighs in, adding:

The campaign needs money and volunteers to make phone calls to get out the vote: (949) 640-4400
Go help.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:01 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

November 19, 2005

One More Race This Year

This is bumped back to the top. Send this guy some money!

Steve Young for Congress. Go look at the great special effect at his site.

This is the last race this year, and 30% would be a win. Even 30% would force the Republicans to spend to defend every single Congressional district next year, instead of focusing their resources. After what happened in last Tuesday's elections it would send a huge Democratic "momentum" message.

But, actually, Steve Young has a chance to win in this Republican district.

More later. Go donate -- help him get out the voters December 6. More ways to help here.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:52 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

November 9, 2005

Good old fashioned ass kicking.

Well, the results are in. I just checked the California Secretary of State web site and with 97.1% ( 17152 of 17657 ) precincts reporting as of Nov 9, 2005 at 2:31 am, every single one of Arnie's pet propositions is going down in flames.. Not a shadow of a doubt about any one of 'em, and the closest one, Prop. 73 (which a lot of segments of the "progressive" community bailed on formallly opposing, to avoid division in the ranks at the grassroots) is still losing by 4.5%. Hallelujah.

Who is kicking whose ass around, now, eh, Arnie? Mr. "I am always kicking their butts" indeed.

Thank god for the unions, and their pocketbooks and ability to put feet on the street. In fact, given how incredibly effective they've been at hamstringing Arnie, and indeed, at flat out taking him out, from riding high to record lows in the polls, you've got to wonder what an accomplished politician could do, if he or she ran on an aggressively progressive and pro-working folks agenda. Or what the union movement could do, if it could manage to figure out how to organize a larger percentage of the population... the Republican right must have nightmares about that.

P.S. Here's Speak Out California's take... hehehe.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 2:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

November 8, 2005

Election Day

I'm an election worker, in charge of a precinct, so I'll be away from the computer all day. My precinct (Atherton) is likely to be very slow, with lots of "permanent absentee" voters, so maybe I'll get a chance to visit a Starbucks a few times and check in. So use this as an open thread and let me know what's going on in the world. Thanks.

I'm counting on you. (That's an election worker joke...)

Update - Busier than expected. (Snuck out on a Starbucks run...)

Update - Lifetime achievement - I actually shushed a librarian! My polling place is in a library and I'm the boss today, The librarian came by and said something to one of the poll workers and I went "SHHHH!" (But not loud enough so she could hear me. Probably for the best.)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:35 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 27, 2005

Voter Registration Bad?

The Republicans are more and more blatant with their voter-suppression tactics. Now they're working to ban federal funds to any non-profits that engage in voter-registration activities. See House ... denies voter registration groups ,

The restriction would prohibit nonprofit community groups from getting such money if they have used their own funds for nonpartisan voter registration or get-out-the-vote drives, or, in some cases, lobbying in the last year.

Democrats contended the restriction would deny the poor the right to vote. They also portrayed the plan as part of an effort by conservatives that eventually could mean that such groups might not be able to get any dollars from any federal program in the future.

Supporting the Democrats’ position were civil rights organizations, unions and faith-based groups, including the NAACP, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the American Jewish Committee.

Meanwhile "faith-based" and other Republican-supporting organizations are getting more and more Federal funding.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 22, 2005

What Went Wrong In Ohio?

... apparently, quite a lot.

None Dare Call It Stolen
Ohio, the election, and America 's servile press

By Mark Crispin Miller.
Harper's Magazine, August, 2005

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 8:40 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 6, 2005

Today's Voting Machines Story

E-voting hobbled by security concerns:

Even though they were used to tabulate a third of the votes in last year's presidential run, nearly all electronic voting machines in use today remain black boxes without external methods of verifying that the results have not been altered or sabotaged.

Possible threats to an accurate electronic vote tally are legion. They include everything from worms and viruses infecting Microsoft Windows-equipped systems to equipment tampering, code alteration and ballot box stuffing...

In principle, there should be an easy solution: Require that e-voting machines include what's known as a voter-verifiable paper trail. That would permit a voter to review a physical printout with his or her selections--perhaps under glass so the receipt can't be removed--which would also provide a way to perform a manual recount, if necessary.

But a complicated mix of partisan politics and the relative paucity of voter-verifiable products available today has delayed the switch to improved technology, according to election experts interviewed by CNET News.com.

Think about what is at stake in our elections. ALL THE POWER AND MONEY IN THE WORLD AND ALL OF OUR LIVES. So, are the stakes high enough to encourage people with sophisticated resources to try to cheat? Is there any question about it?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:10 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 3, 2005

Downturn

My wife was talking to the owner of our favorite local Indian restaurant. He's saying the dinner business is way down. He thought it was just him, but asking around found out that other restaurants are also seeing quite a downturn. They all say it's gas prices.

(P.S. in the picture on the Little India website, my wife is the top left dancer.)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:23 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

September 7, 2005

Elections Matter

1993: Gore Book Warns Louisiana of Flood Risk; 2000: La. Electoral Votes Provide His Margin of Defeat

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:29 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 30, 2005

Proud

Billmon, on Hackett's district:

The ability of the Rovians to pull fresh GOP votes out of those two counties certainly challenged plausibility, and, in Clermont's case, almost defied mathematics. Consider the fact that according to the Census Bureau, Clermont's population rose only 4.4% (about 7,800 souls) between 2000 and 2003, while reported GOP turnout increased by roughly 31% (about 14,600 votes) from 2000 to 2004. This in a county that only had about 122,000 registered voters last year, according to the Cincinatti Enquirer. Mr. Diebold must be very proud.
Hackett is running for Congress in a special election this Tuesday. Billmon is referring here to questions about Diebold voting machines.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:59 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

June 29, 2005

Timed For Election

I'm reading this Moonie Times story, Democrats reject link to attacks on America, and this line jumps out at me:

A bipartisan group of legislators is calling for the beginning of a pullout in October 2006...
OCTOBER 2006? Just before the mid-term elections? So Republicans can campaign on the war being over?

If there really are any Democrats involved in this scam...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:37 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

June 21, 2005

A little Red State/Blue State humor

Dear Red States,

We're ticked off at the way you've treated California, and we've decided we're leaving. We intend to form our own country, and we're taking the other Blue States with us.

In case you aren't aware, that includes Hawaii, Oregon, Washington,
Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and all the Northeast. We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation, and especially to the people of the new country of New California.

To sum up briefly:

You get Texas, Oklahoma and all the slave states.

We get stem cell research and the best beaches.

We get Elliot Spitzer.

You get Ken Lay.

We get the Statue of Liberty.

You get OpryLand.

We get Intel and Microsoft.

You get WorldCom.

We get Harvard.

You get Ole' Miss.

We get 85 percent of America's venture capital and entrepreneurs.

You get Alabama.

We get two-thirds of the tax revenue, you get to make the red states pay their fair share.

Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than the Christian Coalition's, we get a bunch of happy families.

You get a bunch of single moms.

Please be aware that Nuevo California will be pro-choice and anti- war, and we're going to want all our citizens back from Iraq at once. If you need people to fight, ask your evangelicals. They have kids they're apparently willing to send to their deaths for no purpose, and they don't care if you don't show pictures of their children's caskets coming home.

We do wish you success in Iraq, and hope that the WMDs turn up, but we're not willing to spend our resources in Bush's Quagmire.

With the Blue States in hand, we will have firm control of 80 percent of the country's fresh water, more than 90 percent of the pineapple and lettuce, 92 percent of the nation's fresh fruit, 95 percent of America's quality wines (you can serve French wines at state dinners) 90 percent of all cheese, 90 percent of the high tech industry, most of the U.S. low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools, plus Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT.

With the Red States, on the other hand, you will have to cope with 88 percent of all obese Americans (and their projected health care costs), 92 percent of all U.S. mosquitoes, nearly 100 percent of the tornadoes, 90 percent of the hurricanes, 99 percent of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100 percent of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson and the University of Georgia.

We get Hollywood and Yosemite, thank you.

Additionally, 38 percent of those in the Red states believe Jonah was
actually swallowed by a whale, 62 percent believe life is sacred unless we're discussing the death penalty or gun laws, 44 percent say that evolution is only a theory, 53 percent that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61 percent of you crazy bastards believe you are people with higher morals than we lefties.

By the way, we're taking the good pot, too.

You can have that dirt weed they grow in Mexico.

Sincerely,

Author Unknown in New California.

[O.K., I admit, there's a lot of stuff in here that's problematic when you look at the stuff in detail, but at the same time, its a pretty honest expression of what a lot of people here think ("damn right wing redneck yahoos can all go to hell for all that i care").

As a counter-balance, I'll also point out that we get "Neverland" and they get "Graceland". :)

Personally, I think the idea of succession is worth talking about... California sends $40 billion a year to the Federal Gov't that it never gets back. Would go a lot of the way towards solving our budget balancing problems and improving our state's crumbling physical and educational infrastructure. Not to mention having a government htat is vastly more responsive (via initiative, referendum, recall and general electoral policy) and accountable... and representative. -Thomas]

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 3:31 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

June 20, 2005

For President

Who are you supporting for president?

Right now I think Wesley Clark would make the best President.

What about the Republicans? Who do you think is running? Do any of them give you a feeling that they care about the country more than The Party? (Of course, The Party won't let anyone like that past the primaries.)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:57 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

June 1, 2005

Voting Machines Story

Daily Kos :: FL: Optical Scanners WERE Hacked? Proof? You decide!

I'm at the big conference, and will write about it when I can. But it has been a long day with an early breakfast (5am California time) tomorrow so I'm going to bed.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

May 28, 2005

Duh!

Kevin Drum went to the bookstore to find a good book on American history. He found one, but it was set in 9-point type and was too hard to read, so he put it back on the shelf. He guesses that the publisher was trying to save money on paper. He put it back on the shelf. I suspect that some marketing weenie (disclaimer, I'm allowed to say that) got a bonus for reducing the cost of goods. Short-term, money saved. Longer-term, sales dry up.

It reminds me of all the stores, airports, etc. that "save money" by buying really cheap, thin toilet (scratchy) paper. Sure, it costs less per roll. But why don't they "get it" that people have to use FOUR TIMES AS MUCH PAPER?! Buyng that stuff doesn't save money, it forces people to use so much more that your real costs probably goes up. Short-term, save some money. Longer-term, it costs more. Duh!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:10 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

May 27, 2005

Voting Machines Story

At Eschaton : The Report. Go read. Go to the links in this piece. Here, here, here and here.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:20 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Voting Machines Story

Daily Kos :: Census Statistics Indicate Vote Count Was Significantly Off,

If the census bureau's statistics can be trusted, this is just more evidence that the count was off.

The official tabulation on November 2, was 122.3 million voters.

The census bureau predicted post-election that 125.7 million people (thought they) had voted.

Why when we have so much evidence that the count was off and could have been easily manipulated by the corporate computers of Diebold and ES&S, which counted 80% of the vote, including 30% with no paper trail whatsoever, why are not more people questioning the validity of this election?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:05 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Voting Machines Story

From a comment in a previous post: Fired Ohio Election Board staffer defiant over "retribution".

Eaton made national news last December during Ohio's election recount when she swore in an affidavit that a Triad voting machine technician replaced the hard drive on Hocking County's central computer and tabulation machine.
Go read.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

May 1, 2005

We Are Not Alone.

Andy Stephenson, an activist investigating voting machine fraud in Florida and Ohio, has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Like a lot of folks on our side, he has no money and thus, of course, no health insurance. Someone from Democratic Underground managed to get him checked into John Hopkins (one of the few hospitals equipped to handle his case), but he needs $50,000 in cash to pay for his treatment. Not a good position to be in.

Send contributions to Andy Stephenson, P. O. Box 25624, Seattle, WA 98165-1124, or visit Paypal and contribute to email address Andy_Stephenson@comcast.net.

But certainly a whole lot better one than, say, just a few years back. Why? The power of the Internet to connect activists at the grassroots. Nothing could demonstrative the transformative nature of this better than the "campaign" to save Andy's life. In less than three full days, via a posting on D.U. and postings to email lists and blogs, his friends have managed to raise $20,000 to pay for his surgery.

That's right. $20,000. Most of it, as far as I could tell by scanning through the 1000 post thread on DU, in small donations. This is without any exposure in conventional media, and (as far as I can tell) without having many of the "big guns" in the blogosphere weigh in (this also shows the power of the blogosphere's long tail - your story doesn't have to be on the top line of the leading blogs to make an impact and reach a large audience).

We are not alone. Take heart, activists. There is hope - if life comes along and knocks you down, there's going to be someone there to pick you up. Probably a lot of someones.

... and the mainstream media still haven't picked up on this. Possibly one of the best "human interest" stories to come along in quite a while, one that ties into some of the hippest trends imaginable, and three days later... nothing. Hey, you there, mr. and ms. "journalist" person, want a scoop? Cover this story!

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 1:55 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

April 30, 2005

Dark Humor

[Got this in my email from my Mom. I needed a laugh. -Thomas]

Bush Wins Papal Vote

Reuters - 18 April 2005 0953 GMT

VATICAN CITY - In a turn of events that stunned Vatican officials, U.S. President George W. Bush has been named to succeed John Paul II as the next leader of the Catholic Church.

For the first time in history, the College of Cardinals employed electronic voting machines to select the next Supreme Pontiff. Bush won by a margin of 2,528 votes, despite the fact that only 115 Cardinals took part in the process.

The machines, which were last used in the 2004 Ohio presidential election, also registered -27 votes for Democratic candidate John Kerry. "It's a miracle!" cried Kenneth Blackwell, spokesperson for voting machine manufacturer Diebold Corporation.

"God has spoken."

Supporters of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, whom early exit polls had leading by a comfortable margin in the voting, demanded a recount.

But Blackwell said the voting machines, which had been modified to emit a plume of white smoke when a plurality was reached, are unable to produce a paper audit trail, rendering a recount impossible.

When informed of his victory, President Bush expressed surprise. "I was not aware I was running for the popecy," he said. "I wish people would tell me these things."

However, he added that he would be "honored and privileged to serve as Supreme Pontoon for the rest of my natural life, or until I die, whichever comes first."

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 4:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

April 10, 2005

E-voting system decertified in P.A., determined unreliable and insecure.

[The decertification report, by MIT's Michael Shamos, gives much more information about the failings of this particular system (Unilect's Patriot voting system).

None of the failures cited in the full article would surprise any experienced IT professional - they are symptomatic of a system that was inadequately Q/A tested, whose UI was designed by engineers without input from usability experts, and which was never given a thorough security evaluation by a specialist. All of which is entirely normal in a typical commercial development environment constrained by budget pressure, all of which is entirely unacceptable when the context is public confidence in the voting system. -Thomas]

04/08/2005
County voting system invalid
By: J.D. Prose - Times Staff

BEAVER - The Pennsylvania Department of State said
Thursday that Beaver County's $1.2 million electronic
touch-screen voting system is unreliable and can no
longer be used, even in the primary election that is
only five weeks away.

"Needless to say, we're all shocked by this finding,
and we need to work our way through," Commissioners
Chairman Dan Donatella said. County elections chief
Dorene Mandity declined to comment, saying she had not
yet read the state's report.

In decertifying the UniLect Patriot system, Secretary
of State Pedro Cortes cited concerns he had after a
re-examination of it on Feb. 15 by Carnegie Mellon
University computer professor Michael Shamos that was
prompted in part by a petition filed by Beaver County
residents.

Cortes said in a five-page report that the Patriot
system does not meet the state's criteria of being
"safely and efficiently useable" in elections, or
"capable of absolute accuracy." Cortes said the system
is also confusing and difficult to learn, "displaying
messages whose import is misleading or unclear."

[... continued at the link above ...]

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 9:59 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos