November 16, 2012
Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown won reelection by "waging class warfare" using middle-class populism. Here is how.
Today the Campaign for America’s Future launches a new website – WageClassWar.org – to detail the new terrain of American politics. The site tells the story of key races, and compiles copies of ads, speech and debate excerpts, new stories that highlight critical moments.
Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, faced a tough battle for reelection. Huge amounts of Wall Street, multinational corporate, billionaire and undisclosed money (China?) -- at least $35 million -- poured in. Brown beat Ohio's State Treasurer Josh Mandel and was reelected by more than 5% using a strong middle class populist argument. He called for curbing the excesses of Wall Street, and ending taxpayer-funded giveaways to huge corporations that send American jobs overseas. And Brown especially, especially championed American manufacturing over the interests of Wall Street and the giant multinational corporations.
Brown stood up for the class interests of Ohio's blue-collar voters and won reelection. He took the side of the many against the side of the big-money few.
Earlier this year Brown was considered vulnerable because he had voted for the stimulus and Obamacare. But Brown supported the "auto bailout" and was a strong proponent of manufacturing, and of taking on China, especially over currency manipulation. Josh Mandel, Brown's opponent, opposed the auto bailout.
On jobs, Brown stressed investing in maintaining and modernizing our infrastructure, developing a coherent national manufacturing strategy, and taking on China for manipulating its currency and other trade violations. Mandel stressed the Republican basics: tax cuts and cutting regulations -- especially those limiting mercury and other air-pollution standards that affect coal-burning utilities. Also said we should "eliminate government bailouts of industries."
"A Proud Labor-Populist"
Brown campaigned as, in EJ Dionne's words, "A proud labor-populist," (Note that the $20 million figure is from early October.)
A proud labor-populist, Brown seems to invite the hostility of wealthy conservatives and deep-pocketed interest groups. The amount they have spent to defeat him topped $20 million this week.
... Ryan, Brown said, has “dressed up trickle-down economics and wrapped it in an Ayn Rand novel.” The vice president, Brown added, should highlight the Republicans’ desire to privatize both Medicare and Social Security, reflected in Ryan’s own record and Republicans’ attempts to do so whenever they thought they had the votes. “It’s clear they want to go there,” Brown said.
In an Oct 24 email to supporters, Brown wrote about himself,
"I’m fighting to end “too big to fail” and put the reins on Wall Street banks. I want to end taxpayer-funded giveaways to huge corporations that ship American jobs overseas. I want to put an end to the torrent of special interest spending in our election process unleashed by Citizens United.
They’ve spent more than $21 million on attacks against me."
By campaigning with a middle-class populist class-warfare argument Brown has won a mandate to act in the interests of working people. And this is exactly what Brown is doing:
Fiscal Cliff, Taxes & Social Security: WFIN, Sherrod Brown Talks About Pressing Issues In Washington
Brown, siding with president Obama on tax increases for those making over $250,000 a year, should not be negotiable, nor should Social Security. Despite the market sell-off Brown said that the Dow is up nearly 100 percent since Obama took first took office.
Campaign Finance: Coshocton Tribune: Sherrod Brown calls for tougher finance rules,
It should come as no surprise that Sen. Sherrod Brown’s first post-election legislative push would be on campaign finance reform. After all, Brown won a second term in the U.S. Senate this past week despite a barrage of outside spending — about $40 million from conservative groups gunning for his ouster. ...
He called for three steps:
• Passage of legislation called the Disclose Act, which would require independent groups to disclose the names of their high-dollar donors.
• Adoption of a measure giving shareholders the right to vote on a company’s political expenditures.
• An investigation by the IRS into whether some nonprofit groups are abusing their tax-exempt status by engaging in overt political activity.
Arguing For Working People And The Middle Class Works
Here is the point. The public understands that there is a war going on between the top few and the rest of us. The top few benefit from keeping unemployment high and wages low. They benefit from keeping We, the People from investing in a modern infrastructure and good schools & universities and good courts and the rest of the public structures that democracy builds, because it means they would have to pay taxes and follow the rules that benefit We, the People.
The top few can cough up a lot of money to run ads that tell people they shouldn't support their own interests. And this can go a long way, so a lot of politicians go down the road of saying what the billionaires want to hear, and getting their campaigns funded, and getting themselves lucrative jobs after they leave office.
But when votes are on the line, when votes are the deciding factor, and when people understand where their interests really are -- then a candidate needs to be on the side of We, the People.
If you are running for office take note: the big money bought a lot of campaign ads, but standing up for We, the People won the election. The public is behind this, and it works. Sherrod Brown's reelection shows that it works.
Visit the Wage Class War website and see how candidates who supported the economic interests of the many over the few won their elections.
October 22, 2012
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?
September 27, 2012
Here is Romney explaining how Bain would "harvest" companies. (See also So DID Mitt Romney Really "Create Jobs" At Staples?)
September 20, 2012
Outside the circle:
September 19, 2012
Here is another Romney video, from 1979:
(It's really the Dead Kennedys, Kill the Poor.)
September 18, 2012
Mitt Romney was caught on video complaining that 47% of us don't make enough to pay taxes, believe they are victims, are dependent on government, etc. The right question is why do so many of us make so little?
Moving Jobs To Places Where People Don't Have A Say
You often here that competition due to "globalization" means that we have to accept lower wages and fewer benefits, because people "over there" make so much less. What has caused the pressure, however, is "free trade" agreements that allow companies here to close factories here and open them over there, and then bring the same things they used to make here to sell in the same stores. The only "trade" involved in this transaction is trading who does the work.
In places where people are able to have a say, they say they want better wages, benefits, good schools, good roads, parks, a clean environment, safety standards, and things like that. In places where people do not have a say, they are told they can't have better wages, benefits, good schools, good roads, parks, a clean environment, safety standards, and things like that.
When we allow our companies to close factories here, where people have a say and move them there, where people do not have a say, and then bring the same goods back here to sell, we are allowing them to escape the borders of democracy. When they are no longer subject to the We, the People that has a say, they can do what they want, exploit workers, exploit the environment, and reap the profits of not having responsibilities to others. And because it costs less to pay people less and exploit the environment, allowing them to escape these responsibilities makes democracy a competitive disadvantage.
The Wal-Martization Of Our Economy
Another reason so many people don't make enough wages to pay taxes is because we let companies like Wal-Mart and Staples pay close to minimum wage. That is part of how they compete with our smaller, local businesses. Low wages, selling cheap stuff made in China by people with lower wages. (And by the way, we don't raise the minimum wage to a livable level! This means that government ends up helping employees of these companies through "safety-net" programs like Medicaid, Food Stamps, and the other "dependency" programs Romney complains about.)
Also, bigger companies are able to use their size. They can also apply the advantages of access to capital that smaller, local companies and regional chains cannot. They can also take advantage of scale in their purchasing, negotiations, management functions and elsewhere. This is smart business, but then we let them drive down wages, and send the difference to a few at the top, without even taxing those at the top so we can use the money to make up for the circumstances this imposes on those at the bottom.
In So DID Mitt Romney Really "Create Jobs" At Staples? I looked at whether Staples really invented new jobs or really just shifted jobs from other companies to their company. Unfortunately Staples didn't "create jobs," it grew by putting other companies out of business, thereby shifting people into lower-paying jobs. That is the Wal-Mart model, Bain Capital model, that has taken over our economy.
Staples grew by putting local stationery stores out of business, local office supply, and other chains like Businessland out of business. All those small business owners who had local stores, making a modest small-business income, now instead are working maybe as managers at a Staples. From the post,
As Staples grew it overtook competing chains like Businessland and others. In other words, Staples took business from other, existing stores -- often local retailers. Staples did not “create” jobs, it shifted office-supply jobs from local stores, etc., probably to lower-paying jobs. (The former owners of local businesses certainly were worse off from this.) They likely even lowered overall office-supply, stationery, etc. employment in the larger economy.
How do these"Romney job creator" jobs stack up against other jobs? Average Staples salaries for job postings nationwide are 51% lower than average salaries for all job postings. The pay at Staples appears to be around $8-10 an hour. That's $16-20,000 a year, certainly not enough to support a family, or even pay rent in many areas, never mind buying food. (The 2012 poverty guideline for family of four is $23,050.)
So Mitt Romney complains that the changes in our economy over the last few decades that have made most of us so much poorer are our own fault. But he concludes that government - We, the People - shouldn't try to do something about it! He complains that government - We, the People - are really just in the way of letting it go on and make a few at the top get even richer at the expense of the rest of us.
In democracies We, the People are supposed to have a say. And WE say we want better wages, bnefits, and a piece of the pie. When democracies function, that is what happens. When the Romneys and the Bain Capitals and the Wal-Marts are able to tell us what the government's policies should be, then things fall apart. 6 Wal-Mart heirs have more wealth now than around 1/3 of all Americans combined. Mitt Romney has an income of approx $440,000 per week.
And yes, 47% of us don't make enough to pay income taxes.
The solution is to restore our, We the People's, yes government's control over these circumstances. Government is US making the decisions and bug government is us making more of the decisions. And when We, the People have a say we say we want to restore the virtuous circle of prosperity: we create the fertile ground for businesses to prosper by building roads and bridges and good schools, we help them prosper by providing good courts, regulation to keep the giants from domination and to keep the components of the economy functioning smoothly, and investing in research and universities. And then when the business are doing well we ask for good jobs with good wages and benefits and working conditions, and we collect taxes to pay for the investment that keeps that virtuous circle going.
Please read also: Tax Cuts Are Theft
September 17, 2012
It's clear that Mitt Romney is losing. Will "real" conservatives blindly support him, or will they vote Libertarian?
Remember the primaries, when conservative after conservative pledged they could not support RINO Romney?
After the nomination was secured they all banded together like lemmings to defend anything Romney said or did? Flip-flopping, etch-a-sketching, lying, refusing to give details of his plan, etc? Doesn't matter, they fall in line and defend it.
Every one of us - progressive, conservative, independent, etc - knows that the Republican Party is about a few wealthy multi-national corporations securing their dominance over the economy.
HONEST conservatives: the Libertarian Party candidate for President is Gary Johnson, former Governor of New Mexico.
August 25, 2012
Mitt Romney (or someone) writes (or writes for him) in Murdoch/Al-Waleed's Wall Street Journal, that lessons he learned at Bain Capital will help him turn the country around if he is elected President. Is he right?
In WSJ: Mitt Romney: What I Learned at Bain Capital, Romney writes about "job creators" who are "burdened by regulations." He writes about "today's anti-business environment."
In the piece, Romney uses a lot of "code words." For example, he writes that he will "give every family access to great schools and quality teachers." This is code for privatization, meaning he will help dismantle public schools and give people vouchers for private schools instead, just like his Medicare plan. He writes that he will, "make it easier for entrepreneurs and small businesses to get the investment dollars they need to grow, by reducing and simplifying taxes" meaning give even more tax cuts for the wealthy few, and "stemming the flood of new regulations" meaning getting democracy's pesky protections for people's health and safety and the environment out of the way.
Much of what Romney writes is, of course, great and impossible to argue with. Millions upon millions in corporate campaign cash give him access to the best persuasion messaging that focus groups and polling can come up with. He will tell you exactly what you want to hear. But what happens when you look deeper?
Finally, being Romney, he just lies, writing, "President Obama has piled on excessive regulations, proposed massive tax increases, added more than $5 trillion in federal debt, and failed to address the coming fiscal cliff—all of which is miring our nation in sluggish growth and high unemployment." It was the very Bush policies that Romney advocates returning to, that caused the financial collapse, recession, high unemployment and debt. Before Bush we had a great economy and we were paying off the debt.
Staples, For Example
In So DID Mitt Romney Really "Create Jobs" At Staples? I looked into the claim that Romney "created" 100,000 jobs by starting the company. What really happened was that Romney's company followed the Wal-Martization model, using the advantages that come with having large, national chains, putting a number of local, smaller businesses out of business, while shifting a lot of people into lower-paying jobs. From that post,
Staples grew into a major chain because they consolidated what different kinds of stores sold, offering a one-stop-shop for stationery products, office supplies, office-furniture, computers, etc. They also were able to be competitive because of the advantages of scale as they grew into a national chain, centralizing functions like accounting, purchasing, legal, marketing, etc. And never underestimate the power of having a ton of cash at your disposal. This is all just smart business, well executed.
As Staples grew it overtook competing chains like Businessland and others. In other words, Staples took business from other, existing stores -- often local retailers. Staples did not “create” jobs, it shifted office-supply jobs from local stores, etc., probably to lower-paying jobs. (The former owners of local businesses certainly were worse off from this.) They likely even lowered overall office-supply, stationery, etc. employment in the larger economy.
This is in many ways just smart business. But it is so important to understand that this is not in any way about creating wealth in ways that help all of us, building up industries and helping communities and the country and the larger economy. It is about taking advantage of various loopholes and innovations that allow a few to shift wealth from the many to themselves. "Shift" is the key word, there is a difference between creating wealth and shifting wealth.
So what are the "good business" practices that Romney promises to extend to the entire country?
If you can manufacture at a lower cost in another country, closing the factory here, laying the people off, devestating the surrounding community, that is "good business."
If you can find ways to reduce staff and reduce the pay of the rest, that is "good business."
How do these"Romney job creator" jobs stack up against other jobs? Average Staples salaries for job postings nationwide are 51% lower than average salaries for all job postings. The pay at Staples appears to be around $8-10 an hour. That's $16-20,000 a year, certainly not enough to support a family, or even pay rent in many areas, never mind buying food. (The 2012 poverty guideline for family of four is $23,050.)
If you can find ways to scam the tax system to increase your own return on investment, that is "good business." Private-equity companies like Bain Capital borrow tremendous amounts using the assets of the acquired company as collateral, immediately passing much of the borrowed money to themselves. The interest payments are tax deductible. Also,
These giant companies even have the power to squeeze communities and even states, demanding tax concessions with the threat of relocation. This has put our tax base in a downward spiral along with our wages.
If you can find ways to put smaller, local businesses out of business, that is "good business."
As Staples grew it overtook competing chains like Businessland and others. In other words, Staples took business from other, existing stores -- often local retailers. Staples did not “create” jobs, it shifted office-supply jobs from local stores, etc., probably to lower-paying jobs. (The former owners of local businesses certainly were worse off from this.) They likely even lowered overall office-supply, stationery, etc. employment in the larger economy.
Please read the entire post, So DID Mitt Romney Really "Create Jobs" At Staples? to understand what Mitt Romney is promising to do to our economy.
August 8, 2012
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 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."
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?
July 21, 2012
Money can buy lots of things, and one thing Romney has is money - but he didn't have Twitter followers. So... Is Mitt Romney Buying Twitter Followers?
Go look at the evidence. All of a sudden starting at 5pm Friday Romney gains 100,000 new followers, out of nowhere.
July 18, 2012
In Bain's SEC Filings I wrote, "Key point: those SEC forms reassure Bain partners that Romney WAS running things after 1999. Tons of $$ involved. If he wasn't that's fraud." On Sunday's Up With Chris Hayes a former Bain partner seems to have confirmed my theory.
In 1999 Mitt Romney left Bain Capital to run the Olympics. But SEC filings and many other documents have turned up that claim Romney was still running Bain. This matters because after stories started to circulate that Bain was heavily involved in offshoring jobs to China, Romney has been insisting that he wasn't there when Bain was doing the offshoring. (Never mind that he never asked them to stop doing that...)
My thinking is that the partners at Bain Capital insisted on maintaining the appearance that Romney at the helm to reassure their partners -- investors, banks and buyout targets -- that they were stable after Romney left when really they were not. They trusted Mitt and maybe there was a big danger of them pulling out of deals if they thought Mitt was not coming back. If Romney wasn't there and they were assuring these companies that he was (and Romney insists he wasn't there), that's fraud (and conspiracy, with Romney signing the forms), never mind false signing of SEC forms. Fraud by Bain and fraud by Romney. And big money was on the line, so there was a lot of motive there.
As I wrote the other day, I interviewed Bain partner Ed Conard on the Fairness Radio program on May 16. I was pinning him down on how much risk Bain was taking to justify the huge returns they received, and he started talking about how their reputation is what holds all their partners to Bain. I wrote about this here, including links to the audio.
Then on Chris Hayes' show this last Sunday Conard was on, and said quite a few things that I think might confirm what I was thinking. If you look at this as Romney suddenly leaving the firm to take on the Olympics job, which Conard talks about, and the firm scrambling to figure out what to do about this sudden departure which has left all the bankers, investors and buyout targets hanging, and the firm trying to reassure them things were stable, you see what I am talking about. Conard talked a few times on Hayes' show about Romney's "franchise value." In other words, he means those partner companies wanted to see the name Romney at the helm of the firm.
So you see the motive for the double answers here -- that he was and he wasn't. The firm's partners had a huge financial motive at the time to tell people Romney was there, and Romney went along with that ruse by signing things, and now Romney has a big motive to explain that he wasn't really there. He's calculating that public anger over offshoring (see Bain "Offshoring" Is A Big Deal Because Voters Want American Manufacturing) is a greater risk to him than people figuring out that he and Bain were committing fraud ten years ago.
Also by the way the fact that the firm didn't put someone else at the helm, and as they say were running it with some kind of council of the firm partners, also tends to confirm what I suspect. If they officially put someone else in charge the people they were doing business with would learn that Romney (with all his "franchise value") was not there running things. So the big question "so who was running Bain after Romney left?" really is the question, and they were hiding the fact that Romney had left, because various people they were doing business with might have pulled out.
Once again, if I am correct this was a fraud on those investors, banks and buyout targets. The statute of limitations has run out on this, but there is conspiracy, and there is Romney's campaign still.
Here is Ed Conard on Up With Chris Hayes. With the above in mind, watch Ed Conard explain things, and tell me this doesn't appear to confirm what I think is/was going on.
Turns out that the 2010 taxes he showed us -- were, uh, missing ... uh ... a few things.
Romney released his 2010 tax return in January of this year, a document that first informed voters about the existence of his Swiss bank account and financial activities in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. But people who own foreign bank accounts are required to file a separate document with the IRS that provides additional details on such overseas bank holdings, and Romney has not released that form to the public.
... Nevertheless, Romney's omission of the form from the earlier disclosure raises questions for tax policy experts about the function of his Swiss bank account, and whether or not Romney used other offshore bank accounts that did not generate interest.
"The campaign has never told us why he had a Swiss bank account," said Rebecca Wilkins, senior counsel for federal tax policy at Citizens for Tax Justice, a nonprofit tax reform group. "It just looks bad."
July 17, 2012
Did Mitt Romney really "create 100,000 jobs" with Staples? Simple answer: only if no one else was selling office supplies, stationery, etc. before Staples came along. What Staples did was force many competing stationery, office supply and computer stores out of business, probably shifting their employees into lower-wage jobs. Staples was just one more part of the Wal-Martization of our economy in the last few decades. In our system the wealthy few have the power to lay people off or force pay cuts and then pocket the difference for themselves. We have to come to grips with that, and fix the system.
Mitt Romney says he should be President because he and his company Bain Capital created 100,000 jobs at Staples and "created jobs" at other companies that Bain took over. So ... did Mitt Romney really "create jobs" at Staples? Or did he and Bain really just follow the Wal-Mart model, using the advantages that come with having large, national chains, putting a number of local, smaller businesses out of business, while shifting a lot of people into lower-paying jobs? Understanding the difference is important because Romney says he will help the country "create jobs" the way he helped "create jobs" at Staples.
He says his experience is just what is needed to solve our national jobs emergency. He wants to apply the methods that "created 100,000 jobs at Staples" to the entire country. He says he will cut regulations and cut government and make the country more "business-friendly." This means we should take a good look at Staples and the rest of the companies Mitt Romney and Bain Capital and others like them operated, and decide if this is really the way We, the People want to go.
Staples grew into a major chain because they consolidated what different kinds of stores sold, offering a one-stop-shop for stationery products, office supplies, office-furniture, computers, etc. They also were able to be competitive because of the advantages of scale as they grew into a national chain, centralizing functions like accounting, purchasing, legal, marketing, etc. And never underestimate the power of having a ton of cash at your disposal. This is all just smart business, well executed.
As Staples grew it overtook competing chains like Businessland and others. In other words, Staples took business from other, existing stores -- often local retailers. Staples did not “create” jobs, it shifted office-supply jobs from local stores, etc., probably to lower-paying jobs. (The former owners of local businesses certainly were worse off from this.) They likely even lowered overall office-supply, stationery, etc. employment in the larger economy.
How do these"Romney job creator" jobs stack up against other jobs? Average Staples salaries for job postings nationwide are 51% lower than average salaries for all job postings. The pay at Staples appears to be around $8-10 an hour. That's $16-20,000 a year, certainly not enough to support a family, or even pay rent in many areas, never mind buying food. (The 2012 poverty guideline for family of four is $23,050.)
Big, national chain stores like Wal-Mart have tremendous advantages over local businesses because they are able to take advantage of scale. They buy from manufacturers and distributors in mass quantities, which means they can demand lower prices from them, and offer lower prices to customers. They can centralize accounting, HR and other management functions and employ these people in-house instead of contracting with local accounting firms, etc., also enabling them to offer lower prices.
And when they are big enough they can squeeze, and squeeze and squeeze their workers for lower wages and fewer benefits, their suppliers for discounts and other concessions, and even their customers by reducing support and staff, again enabling them to offer lower prices.
This is just the kind of "job creation" that makes a few people really wealthy at the expense of the rest of us, "hollowing out" the middle class.
(Here's an industry secret --those multi-page advertising supplements that come in the Sunday paper are profit centers for the chains, not an advertising expense. The market power of these big chains enables them to demand "market development" payments from product manufacturers and distributors before they can gain shelf space, effectively making the newspaper and other advertising into profit centers instead of advertising costs.)
The Effect On America
I wrote about the impact of this "squeeze them all" business model on the American landscape in Lorain, OH Keep It Made In America Town Hall Meeting:
As you drive from town to town in Michigan and Ohio you see one after another a ring of the "big box" stores and national chain stores around each city. You also see the "brownfields" of rusted-out, closed factories, empty, falling-down buildings. Then you go to the downtown and you see boarded up houses, empty storefronts, deteriorating and deteriorated communities, idle people standing on corners. As you drive into these towns you can just see what is happening in a nutshell.
You used to hear about how Wal-Mart was predatory, how it would show up in an area and after a while the downtowns would dry up, local business-owners would go broke, local business employees would be laid off, and the local people would have to work for low wages at Wal-Mart, while the region's spending money would go off to the wealthy few who run these things.
Well a juicy story of devastation like that one gets around, and there are those who hear it and say, "Hey, that's a great idea, I wanna get me some of that." So the Wal-Mart business model has taken off and now there are any number of these vultures, ringing the cities and towns around the country, so often private-equity owned. They are draining away the lifeblood of the downtowns, fighting off the unions to keep wages down, even demanding tax breaks to move in and "create jobs." You see all the same stores circling every town now, running all of the local and regional businesses unto the ground.
The changes in our economy that are hollowing out the middle class come from the restructuring that Wal-Martization represents. (And bad trade deals, never forget that.) Big, national chains have natural advantages over small, local businesses. And when they are big enough they have the power to squeeze employees, suppliers and even customers. The same kinds of advantages also hold for other industries.
Big, multinational corporations have advantages of scale over smaller companies. Etc., throughout our system. And big companies have tremendous power to squeeze workers, making them accept lower pay and benefits. They have the power to squeeze suppliers and customers as well.
These giant companies even have the power to squeeze communities and even states, demanding tax concessions with the threat of relocation. This has put our tax base in a downward spiral along with our wages.
These giant businesses have the wealth and power to force changes that move the benefits of business and our economy entirely to a few at the very top.
The Playing Field
As I wrote above, this is all just smart business, well executed. Business are just neutral bundles of contracts that operating on a playing field of laws and regulations. They only do what we let them do with the laws and regulations that we set out there for them to operate under, and those that do that the best and smartest win the game.
But why would We, the People allow businesses to do things the way Wal-Mart and the rest do them with the terrible results we see all around us? Don't we want businesses that benefit all of us? Isn't that the point of having a We, the People country? Don't we want businesses that pay good wages, provide good products and services, and pay us back with taxes that enable us to have good infrastructure, internal improvements, and public structures like good schools, universities, courts, police, firefighters, health care, retirement and a fair share of all the other benefits of modern society?
Why is the playing field defined in a way that is so obviously hurting us and funneling all the benefits of our economy to a very few at the top? This restructuring is occurring the way it is because we let these businesses do these things to us. Businesses are not good or bad -- they can't be, they are not sentient and do not have morals. They are just bundles of contracts. Again, businesses are neutral, operating on a playing field defined by us. We can change that.
Our problem today is that a few people are able to change the rules of that playing field, for their own benefit. Once we allow money to influence our government decision-making and our public attitudes and understandings at all, then of course it will influence that decision making to their advantage, and will do so more and more as they gain more wealth and power from it, until there is nothing left. This is the road we are on.
The playing field is tilting and tilting and We, the People are starting to fall off the edge.
What Can We Do?
Cut to the chase. We currently operate under an economic paradigm, or system, in which the Romneys have so much power they can fire masses of people or force people to take pay cuts, and then pocket the difference for themselves. They can squeeze their suppliers for greater and greater concessions and then pocket the difference for themselves. We have to come to grips with that.
Romney/Bain didn't really create jobs with Staples, they put small office and stationery retailers and other already-existing competitors out of businesses and moved the workers from those outlets into jobs at Staples that pay very little. In other words, they didn't create 100,000 jobs, they lowered 100,000 people's wages.
Romney made his money opertating on a playing field of business rules that let him and Bain and Wal-Mart and the rest do what they do. They were all able to tilt that playing field in their favor using the wealth and power they already had, and they tilted it in ways that gain them more wealth and power.
Mitt Romney gained his wealth and power on that playing field, and is campaigning with a promise to further tilt that playing field in favor of the few who already have great wealth and power.
We can change those rules. We can demand better pay, higher taxes at the top, better products, better service, and all the things sensible people would demand if We, the People were really in charge.
Note - while researching this post I came across Jonathan Tasini making a number of these points in the LA Times in January, in Not all jobs are equal,
Even if he's telling the truth by some measures, the fact is that private equity buyouts often enrich those who arrange them by sharp cost-cutting, including dismantling pay and benefits for most of the workers who remain or new hires who join the more "efficient" enterprise. It's simple math: To service the huge debt taken on in virtually every buyout, workers take cuts. And the new jobs aren't necessarily a path to the American dream.
Take Staples, which Romney trumpets as one of his successes. The company certainly pays some of its employees well: Staples Chairman and Chief Executive Ronald L. Sargent received a total pay package of more than $15 million in 2010. But jobs in retail — one of the fastest-growing job sectors in recent decades — tend to pay poorly, and Staples jobs don't seem to be an exception to that rule.
July 15, 2012
July 14, 2012
Key point: those SEC forms reassure Bain partners that Romney WAS running things after 1999. Tons of $$ involved. If he wasn't that's fraud.
Mitt Romney says he left Bain in 1999, and had nothing further to do with managing the company. The reason this is important is that soon after 1999 Bain was doing all kinds of things to send jobs to China. They were not just sending jobs to China, they were investing in companies that "pioneered" all kinds of ways to make money helping other companies move jobs out off the county.
The Obama campaign ran ads about this, so "fact checking organizations" tried to help out the Romney campaign by saying that Romney departed Bain in 1999. Romney is demanding an apology from Obama. (Never mind that Romney, running the firm or not, did nothing to STOP Bain from sending our jobs to China...)
BUT they didn't get away with that. Talking Points Memo turned up SEC documents filed by Bain that claimed Romney was "Chief Executive Officer, President and Managing Director" at the time Romney claims he was not there.
Romney still claims he wasn't there, that this filing was just a technicality. But this really matters, because the firm had reason to assure business partners that Romney was still running the company. On May 16 I was co-hosting the Fairness Radio radio show. We interviewed a former Bain partner, Ed Conard, who said that Bain's competitive advantage was the reputation of its management. This is why partners came to them and invested, why companies let them take over, etc. So the people at Bain were very conscious of this.
Bain partnered with investors who were putting tens of millions into deals. They wanted reassurance that the Bain management they were comfortable with was in operation. If Bain was claiming Romney was still there in SEC documents, I think this was fraud, it was about reassuring partners and co-investors and businesses they were buying that their management was in place, stable, and had the reputation that was so important to them.
This is a big deal.
Click to hear Fairness Radio show interview with Ed Conard. Starting at 21:15 minutes Conard talks about the value of Bain's business reputation.
It's at 103:00 in the following, (but the slider is easier to use in the above link) (PS host introduces me as Huffington Post -- I'm not an employee there.):
Back when Bill Clinton was President there was a huge media-swarm controversy because a decade before her husband was elected Hillary Clinton had made $100,000 over ten months by investing in cattle futures. Now, skip forward to 2012. Report after report circulates about a candidate for President who owns a secret company in Bermuda, Swiss and Cayman Islands bank accounts and an IRA containing as much as $100 million -- and who may have filed SEC documents containing false information (a felony). Huge media swarm this time? Not so much.
In the 1970s Hillary Clinton made some speculative investments. Over a period of 10 months she made investments in cattle futures that did well, earning $100,000. Later when her husband was President, the media wanted to find out how she was able to make such a large, huge, ginormous sum from speculative investments.
Take a look at the 350,000-or-so web references to cattle futures trades made by Hillary Clinton way back in the 1970s. This might give you an idea of how big a deal it was back in the mid-90's that Hillary Clinton had made $100,000 (!!!) on speculative investments back in the 1970s. (The number of stories located online is possibly reduced by the fact that the media swarm happened in the mid-1990s -- largely before the Internet.)
Look at the outlets that assigned teams of reporters to investigate: All the TV networks, the Washington Post, New York Times, Newsweek, and all of the rest of the jouranilmalism crowd were all over what was considered to be a major story.
This story was investigated, written about, investigated, written about, and investigated. No evidence of any wrongdoing was ever found -- which many in the media took as clear proof that there had been a massive cover-up.
Today - Not So Much
Today things are different. Compare the magnitude of Hillary's $100,000 profit to the recent disclosure of as much as $100,000,000 -- one hundred million dollars -- turning up in Mitt Romney's IRA which is a personal retirement investment vehicle that is limited to a few thousand in contributions each year. (Remember, the gains made in an IRA are not taxed.) Romney is already retired, and the one completed tax return he has disclosed shows that he currently has an income of approx. $450,000 per week.
So how did $100 million end up an an IRA that is limited to deposits of a maximum $6,000 a year (after you reach a certain age)? How many reporters has each major news organization assigned to find out why he has up to $100 million in an IRA?
Compare Hillary's $100,000 profit to the disclosure that Mitt Romney has a Swiss bank account. A candidate for President of the United States has a Swiss bank account? (And a Caymans bank account? And others?) Why? What is the explanation? How many reporters has each major news organization assigned to find out?
Compare it to the disclosure that Mitt Romney owns a secret company in Bermuda, which was transferred to his wife the day before he had to disclose it, or what it is or does. How many reporters has each major news organization assigned to find out why he has a secret company in Bermuda, and what that company does, how much it pays in taxes and how much money it holds, and why it was transferred to his wife the day before he took office as Governor?
Compare it to the more recent disclosure that after 1999 Romney's company Bain Capital was telling the government and other parties that Romney owned all the shares, was President and CEO and managing the place, but now says that was all a scam and he wasn't really! (That's illegal -- a felony -- by the way.) How many reporters has each major news organization assigned to find out if he lied on his SEC forms? ONE news organization did report this story -- well, actually they reported information originally uncovered by a progressive website and a progressive magazine.
Where Is Our Media?
News media. Information. Informed decision-making in a democracy. Investigative reporting. The public's need to know. What has happened to these concepts? They seem alien in today's media environment.
Our news media's purpose is supposed to be to provide the public with the information that is needed to make informed decision. It is supposed to be investigating our leaders to find out if they are really acting in our interest. Why are they not doing this at this crucial time?
July 3, 2012
Ah, so we're starting to find out why Romney won't release any older tax returns... Investigation: Mitt Romney’s Offshore Accounts, Tax Loopholes, and Mysterious I.R.A. | Vanity Fair
Maybe even some illegal activity!
July 2, 2012
Here he is in 2006, explaining the benefits of the health insurance mandate that he now opposes.
April 19, 2012
April 11, 2012
So we don't forget, after he shakes the "Etch-a-Sketch:"
March 16, 2012
Here is the Obama video, The Road We’ve Traveled, if you haven't seen it yet:
February 24, 2012
You already talk about me like you know me. Have we met? You do look familiar, but I meet so many guys in your line of work - lobbying, that is. Oh, right, you're a politician too. When it comes to politicians, let's just say we've always got a quorum down here! Talk about your “smoke-filled rooms” …
Oh, wait. Maybe you haven't figured out who I am. Please allow me to introduce myself - I'm a man of wealth and taste.
January 23, 2012
What is the residence address on Mitt's tax forms? He has been voting in Massachusetts. If he put a different address on the tax forms he has a legal problem: voter fraud.
Voter registration fraud in MA is punishable by a $10,000 fine and up to five years in jail. Residency requirements in MA are defined as "where a person dwells and which is the center of his domestic, social, and civil life."
January 14, 2012
In which the NY Times avoids being a "truth vigilante" -- goes to the town of one of the companies in the Romney video, talkes to people who were not affected by what Romney's company did.
This is the Cain defense: there were actually women he didn't harass.
January 7, 2012
Mitt Romney got rich at Bain Capital by bankrupting companies and taking the pensions from the workers. Will Mitt give Glen Patrick Wells his pension back?
From David Waldman at Daily Kos, 'Job creation' vs. Romney's locust capitalism, (please read the whole thing - so well worth reading and understanding how this works)
Why is it that so many of the stories of companies bought by Romney at Bain have the same story? They go bust, but Romney makes money. ...
Once it was discovered that "business success" could mean nothing more than getting as many dollars as possible, there was no point in keeping a business that did things open at all. The only business worth having was the one that entitled you to the keys to the bank vaults.
So that's what Mitt Romney built for himself. A corporate safe-cracking engine. Buy a company, put yourself on the board, vote to max out its credit line and award yourself the cash. Then when they're all out of money, you say, "Oh well, company's broke," fire everyone and shut the doors. That's called a "bust-out," if you're a fan of Goodfellas or The Sopranos ... People who control and plunder companies through secret, off-the-books loans are "legitimate businessmen" (in the old movie gangster parlance). People who control and plunder companies through regular loans are legitimate businessmen. Even if the intent was always to bust it out. You just can't say so in open court..
This business model was enabled by Reagan's tax cuts on the rich. Before those tax cuts it took time to make a fortune. You carefully built a solid company with a good reputation, good products or services, treated workers well so they stuck around, treated customers well so they kept doing business with you. And over time you got rich.
Businesses like these needed solid, healthy communities around them, with good infrastructure and good schools. This supposed the business.
Then Reagan changed things, and forced a change in business models. Suddenly you could make and keep a fortune with a single business deal. This forced quick-buck, get-rich-quick schemes as business models. Predatory capitalism became the best way to make your money.
And who needed to pay for good schools, good infrastructure, etc? You weren't going to be sticking around anyway and you certainly didn't care if the losers had good schools or bridges. That's their problem, not yours.
It made sense to sell the farm instead of planting crops.
January 6, 2012
One after another, the Republican Presidential candidates have come out with strong statements that appear to show support for making things in America and revitalizing American manufacturing. This is because they can read polls and polls show that Americans overwhelmingly want American manufacturing revitalized, are tired of offshoring, understand the importance of fixing trade deficits and want to see things made here again. Donald Trump gained a lot of traction from the appearance of taking on China. Mitt Romney also talks about how we need to take on China. Rick Santorum has his own "Made In America" plan. But do their actual proposals match up with their rhetoric?
Mitt Romney has strong words about China. For example, last week Romney visited Competitive Edge, an Iowa company that sells promotional campaign items that you can put your own brand or message on. ("We've got items for convention give-a-ways, business gifts, direct mail campaign items, fund raising, political campaigns, special events, company promotions, and more!") At this campaign stop Romney said,
“I’ll clamp down on China that’s been cheating,” Romney said. “They’ve been stealing our intellectual property, our designs, our patents, our know-how, our brands, they’ve been hacking into our computers. That has got to stop.”
“I will stop it if I’m President of the United States,” Romney said.
However, in spite of Romney's words, many wonder if he is only saying this to get votes. For example, the website for Competitive Edge, the site of his Iowa appearance, says, "Competitive Edge is a major importer of Specialty Products from Asia and Europe." According to TPM, the president of Competitive Edge "said he doesn’t think Romney’s being completely serious when it comes to his tough China talk." He explained,
“I think the rhetoric of a campaign is different than the actual application,” he said. “[Romney] will sit down and he will get the right people in, he will take the advice of maybe a Huntsman who will say, ‘this is how to handle China.’” ... When it comes to actually governing, Greenspon said he expects Romney will take a much softer approach to China at the urging of his supporters in the business community.
So much for Romney. As with so many of his campaign positions, surrogates explain behind the scenes that he is just saying what he needs to say to get votes, what he will do if he is elected might or might be completely different, there is no way to know.
Rick "not-Romney" Santorum is now the official #2 in the GOP race. Santorum can also read polls, and is offering a "Made In America" plan. The plan begins the way Santorum always begins, "Rick Santorum believes that to have a strong national economy, we must have strong families."
Much of Santorum's plan is the usual Big Lobbyist and Wall Street-backed Republican stuff about cutting taxes on the rich and getting rid of any restraints on the wealthy and powerful as "pro-growth" policies. Items 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 and 9 are actually all the same item: cut taxes on the rich and their big corporations.
And then Santorum diversifies. Item 13 is get rid of President Obama's health care reform, with no explanation of how this will help manufacturing. Item 15 includes, "eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood and support adoption" and "eliminate funding for United Nations organizations that undermine America’s interests." Again, there is no explanation of how these will help manufacturing. These points are apparently included in a manufacturing plan to reassure the Republican base that he is certifiably nuts, to attract Michelle Bachmann voters.
Some of the items appear to be the result of selling advertising space to lobbyists from various industries.
- The oil industry purchased Item 20: Tap into America’s vast domestic energy resources...
- The big Telco giants purchased Item 21: Unleash innovation in telecommunications and Internet consumer options by getting government out of the way...
- Pete Peterson shelled out for Item 22: Reform Social Security and Medicare...
- The big Wall Street firms that are investing in privatizing education purchased Item 26: Reclaim the role of parents as the decision makers in their children’s education and incentivize the states to promote parental choice...
- Canadian oil companies that want to sell to China purchased Item 28: Approve the Keystone Pipeline...
- Wall Street and promoters of "The Big Lie" purchased Item 30: Phase out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s government backed role in mortgages...
The plan is not all bad. Santorum accidentally comes up with a few things that would actually help American manufacturing. Of course, they are mostly just more about cutting taxes, but these cut specific taxes on manufacturers, which might help bring some manufacturing back. These are:
- Item 10: Eliminate the corporate income tax for manufacturers – from 35% to 0% - which will spur middle income job creation in the United States and will create a job multiplier effect for workers
- Item 11: Spur innovation in America by increasing the Research & Development Tax Credit from 14% to 20% and make it permanent
Santorum's Item 32 is important, and I'm singling it out for attention: Strengthen our national security and national defense so that we are not dependent upon our foes or competitors for critical manufacturing, technology, energy and other security needs
So Santorum's plan has a few good points but only barely matches the promise of its title. In reality it only offers more of the same policies that boost the 1% at the expense of everything else, even harming smaller manufacturers trying to compete with the multi-national giants. The plan even offers a number of items that have ravaged our manufacturing base, pushing even more disastrous "free-trade" agreements. And, the plan has the added bonus of a series of unrelated proposals apparently included only as filler and the necessary proof of insanity to qualify him in a Republican primary.
President Obama's Office of Manufacturing Policy
As one component of a set of policy initiatives to improve manufacturing President Obama recently set up a new Office of Manufacturing Policy that will have cabinet-level status, reflecting the importance of the manufacturing sector to our economy. The office will coordinate the efforts of different government agencies, such as the Small Business Administration, the Department of Commerce and the Transportation Department.
Congressional Democrats' Make In In America Plan
In May Democrats in the Congress brought out a "Make In In America" package of specific legislative proposals to revitalize American manufacturing. In Democrats' Plan Makes Jobs In America I described the plan:
Congressional Democrats yesterday unveiled the Make It In America plan for the 112th congress. This is a set of specific, detailed, targeted bills that clearly create jobs and restore our economic competitiveness, beginning with a national strategy for manufacturing. This is very different from the vague, sloganeering, lobbyist-written plan offered by Senate Republicans.
Yesterday House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi unveiled their Make It In America plan “to support job creation today and in the future by encouraging businesses to make products and innovate in the US and sell it to the world through strengthening our infrastructure and supporting investments in key areas like education and energy innovation.”
This Make It In America initiative involves a series of bills that have been introduced for consideration by the 112th Congress. This initiative will create jobs here, grow the economy and reduce the trade deficit, all of which help reduce our budget deficits. Creating jobs and growing the economy reduces deficits by increasing tax revenues and decreasing spending on unemployment benefits, food stamps, etc.
There is a warning here for President Obama and all other candidates of either party running for office in 2012: the public wants to see plans to bring back American manufacturing. The public understands what the NAFTA-style trade deals have done to our wages, jobs, factories, industries, trade deficit and economy. They hate Wall Street's quick-buck outsourcing schemes and the trade deals that enabled them, and want American manufacturing revitalized. Supporting Wall Street and trade deals and the quick-buck, offshoring economy harms the country and for that reason is political suicide
The public wants to go into stores and see "Made In America" again.
Frank Sobatka explains:
December 27, 2011
A lot of people are missing that Newt was never in the primaries to actually win. He entered the primaries to raise his name recognition so he could make more with his various scams that he runs. Remember, he made more than $50 million just from health care lobbying in the last decade. And that was just one of his schemes.
So there he was, suddenly in the lead. Not the plan! He can't pull in that kind of cash if he is the actual nominee -- and he knows he can't win the election. So he needs to milk the lead but make sure he doesn't actually win the nomination. Did you notice that he slowed way down on campaigning in Iowa after taking the lead. That's the tip-off.
Newt running for President is just one more Republican con game.
November 29, 2011
Mitt v. Mitt, The story of two men trapped in one body. Learn more at http://MittvMitt.com
November 17, 2010
The Bristol Palin story is like that of a modern day Cinderella as she debuts before millions of viewers on prime time television. Her mother, former Governor Sarah Palin and her advisors are completely brilliant. Thank you very much Frank and Company. This is a media doctor's wet dream. Using Bristol as Cinderella, they have successfully reached into the hearts and minds of everyday folks across the country. Think about it. Is there a better way to seep into the mainstream than reality television? This move is one of the most brilliant tactics of twentieth century political messaging. Sarah Palin becomes the archetype of everyone's mom, and paradoxically her daughter is the modern day rags to riches and success story. Here was a chubby, single mom lifted out of the obscurity of her receptionist job in a strip mall in godforsaken Alaska. It does not get better!
Consider that after the debacle of former Republican leader Tom Delay on the same show, these spin masters were smart. They knew it probably would not have worked out to use Sarah herself. But who could resist her kid? She's likeable, and works very hard for herself and her adorable child. Bristol is the single mom personified. They even show the footage of the storefront from which she was plucked. Oh my, this is every girl's cherished dream sans the out-of-wedlock pregnancy. And momma Palin can just stand back, and watch it unfold. Who could accuse her of manipulation? She was just the proud momma. What better image could there be? Not much and it is working. No wonder her daughter has been voted back each and every week by viewer support - not the judges until one of the final evenings when she showed real talent.
There is something going on here, and we didn't even see it coming. Oh woe is me; I think we have been duped yet again. Somehow, the American public perceives that the Democrats are unfeeling, out of touch with Middle America, and arrogant. How did this happen? We are Middle America! Yet somehow, Sister Palin has her thumb on the pulse. We need to look carefully at the subliminal messaging that is going on, and wonder how and why we could have missed it. Call it what you may, but Sarah Palin and her movement - the Tea Party and their advisors are running circles around us. We are losing the game of public opinion. So it is not proposed that we put the Vice President's son, Beau Biden on Survivor; but rather that we look hard and long at the messaging and how it is being delivered. Further, we need to embrace what it will take for us to reach back out and connect. This is the teachable moment. May we reach out and own it.
Note, this article appeared earlier in the Huffington Post, "Bristol Goes Dancing and Has a Tea Party."
November 3, 2010
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.
October 19, 2010
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.
September 30, 2010
Meg blinked for the first time in an almost flawless campaign. Until this week, it appeared that the GOP had successfully rolled out their new product -- a conservative, ambitious businesswoman with a big check book. Her branding was effective and her television advertising brilliant. Political consultant Mike Murphy earned his money. Team Meg was launched, and they were relentless. Nothing really hampered or stuck to them until "the blink" -- involving her domestic help in her Atherton hacienda (no pun intended).
To be blunt, Jerry Brown sure caught a big break this week. The race was in a dead heat with Brown moving slightly ahead, and many independents still on the sidelines. To be frank, Brown had virtually run an invisible campaign until right after Labor Day. Many Democrats thought he could afford the luxury of sitting on his laurels (maybe) because of his legacy. But the reality was that Meg could not and she had to spend early and often to create her brand. Many of feared that she a runaway train in hand-to-hand combat with the invisible man. Talk about a scary election for Democrats. It is one that will become a case study in politics and branding for years to come.
Well the wheel spun and the dice were thrown. Lady luck came down on Jerry this week. It's kind of like watching Apple's latest iPhone launch and their goof. The question is will Team Meg will have the staying power to sustain a frontal attack. Their campaign is now playing defense, and under fire that the candidate never saw coming. The domestic help issue is a big no-no. It has taken down many political candidates and appointments over the years. She probably did not understand the severity because if she had it would have been cleaned up. Let's face it, Meg is a political virgin but her advisors are not. It remains to be seen how this potentially fatal crisis is handled by Team Meg. How will this react, and how will the Brown campaign handle itself? Dancing a jig on an open casket won't cut it for them. Will Team Brown leverage the avalanche of earned media? Will they play well with social media? Or will they sit on the sidelines? It remains to be seen as this California soap opera continues to unfold.
This article posted to the Huffington Post earlier today.
May 2, 2009
What should I do with my two copies of the Mondale Family Cookbook, from 1984?
January 6, 2009
He posted this at DailyKos: I'm running for Congress in IL-5. (Progressive candidacy announcement for Rahm's seat.)
I’m running for Congress in the Fifth District of Illinois.
As a Chicago lawyer for thirty years, I have fought for working people in the Fifth District and throughout the city. I have represented unions as well as people with no unions to protect them. In plant closings I have helped them recover health and pension benefits. I obtained health care for the uninsured. I've been pressing the State of Illinois to crack down on payday lenders.
In my life as a lawyer I have lived out a commitment to one cause above all – to bring economic security to working Americans, in our District, in our country. That’s the same commitment I will bring to Congress.
We’re deep in an economic crisis unlike any other we’ve known. It may last years. We need new and creative ways to protect working Americans, especially our older working people who have no real pensions to live on.
For years we’ve heard the doomsayers: "We can’t afford Social Security." "We can’t afford ‘single-payer’ national health." One thing we all learned from the $700 billion bail out: We’ve got the money to do all of this and more.
November 11, 2008
I can't think about Veterans Day without thinking about Max Cleland. Max lost three limbs in Vietnam, worked in the Carter administration helping other veterans, and became a senator from Georgia. After 9/11 a Republican named Saxby Chambliss, who got out of Vietnam saying he had a bad knee, campaigned against Cleland saying he was unpatriotic. He ran ads linking Cleland to bin Laden.
Well now Republican Chambliss is in a runoff against another democrat, Jim Martin. If Martin wins it could bring the Democrats to the magic 60 seats that lets them pass bills over Republican obstruction.
James Boyce has more: James Boyce: Saxby Chambliss Seeks Deferment From Runoff -- Cites "Bum Knee".
Go help Martin defeat Chambliss. Do it for Max.
October 31, 2008
"Hello. I'm calling for John McCain and the RNC because you need to know that Barack Obama talks during movies. During a recent screening of The Dark Knight, Barack Obama irritated several pro-America patrons when he echoed the famous 'Why so serious?' line to his wife, Michelle, who hasn't always been proud of being an American, much like the Joker. ...and,
"Hello. I'm calling for John McCain and the RNC because you need to know that Barack Obama doesn't use his turn signal when he merges onto a freeway.There's much more, go read.
October 29, 2008
This is one -- just one -- of the sleaziest Republican smear/deceit ads this year. Sen. Dole in North Carolina hires a voice impersonator to sound like her opponent, to say "There is no God" in an ad, saying her opponent "took godless money."
Wow. That's really creepy. And Sen. Dole apparently thinks North Carolina voters are really, really stupid. Is she right?
One thing that comes out of this election: I think it has become pretty obvious what the Republican Party is about. They say nasty and things to trick people who don't follow the news into voting for them, and then they hand over public money to a few wealthy corporation owners who fund all of this.
I think people are starting to become well-enough aware of this game to start doing something about it. ONE thing would be to stop allowing a few people to use corporate resources to influence our politics. It isn't corporations that are the problem, it is this abiloity of a few people to access corporate resources and use them to subvert democracy.
October 28, 2008
This is a question not a statement. It might be an emerging story. There is a report out that John McCain was involved in a fatal car crash in 1964, and that it has been covered up.
For the past two months, a major American magazine and an allied news service have been engaged in a legal battle with the United States Navy over records that they believe show that John McCain once was involved in an automobile accident that injured or, perhaps, killed another individual.Go read.
Vanity Fair magazine and the National Security News Service claim to have knowledge "developed from first-hand sources" of a car crash that involved then-Lt. McCain at the main gate of a Virginia naval base in 1964, according to legal filings. The incident has been largely, if not entirely, kept from the public. And in documents suing the Navy to release pertinent information, lawyers for the NS News Service allege that a cover-up may be at play.
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.
October 22, 2008
October 18, 2008
October 17, 2008
While I'm at it, take a look at Steve Young for Congress, too.
I received this about Charlie Brown running for Congress in California and want to pass it along:
Recent developments show that Charlie Brown is poised to make history by winning the Congressional seat in CD4 but we still need your help. Even TIME magazine is covering the race. You can read the TIME article here.
Charlie is leading in the polls but being outspent by his hyper partisan rival Tom McClintock 2-1. To keep his lead in the polls, Charlie needs the financial resources to continue to fight and win. You can read the press release on the quarterly filing on the website or click here. As you know Charlie is a retired Lt Colonel from the United States Air Force where he served 26 years. Charlie knows how to fight. He is a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee "Red to Blue" candidate, a Democracy for America All-Star and has many national and local endorsements. You can see Charlie's endorsements on his website. (By the way, Charlie's active duty son has served 4 rotations in this war and will do another next year.) And his wife Jan also served as a nurse in the USAF.
Imagine what it would be like to have Charlie in the House and voting on every bill that comes before it. Voting for health care, education, and the environment. And Charlie will be an experienced voice on national security, he will be one of the very few in Congress who has "been there, done that" and knows what real intelligence means and what it does not.
How can you help? Donate now to the campaign, by clicking here to reach Charlie's website or mail a check to:
Brown for Congress
PO Box 368
Roseville, CA 95661
And then tell your friends about this candidate and about this race. Tell them with their help Charlie will WIN!
Christy at Firedoglake blogged about Obama's closing remarks to the Al Smith Dinner last night. Obama: Each Of Us Has The Responsibility Of Service In Our Communities, Especially Now. Please click through.
This video is the entire event, both McCain and Obama. Lots of great jokes. Obama's closing remarks are at 22:14:
Here is Christy's transcript of the closing remarks:
The fact that each October, in the closing weeks of a hard-fought campaign, people of all political persuasions can come to this dinner, and share a meal and honor the work of this foundation, underscores the reality that no matter what differences or divisions or arguments we are having right now -- we ultimately belong to something bigger and more lasting than a political party.
We belong to a community. We share a country. We are all children of God.
And in this country, there are millions of fellow citizens, our brothers and sisters, who need us very much. Especially now. We are being battered by a very serious economic storm, and for many Americans it's only deepened the quiet storms they've been struggling through for years.
Beyond the walls of this hotel, on the streets of one the greatest cities in the wealthiest nation on earth, there are men and women and children who've fallen on hard times and hard luck. Who can't find work or even a job that pays enough to keep a roof over their heads. Some are hanging on just by a thread.
Scripture says God creates us for works of service. We are blessed to have so many organizations like this one, in the Catholic diocese that perform these acts of God every day. But each of us also have that responsibility. Each of us has that obligation. Especially now.
So, no matter who we are or what we do -- and what I believe is each of us in this room asks for, and hopes for and prays for enough strength and wisdom to do good and to seek justice, and play our small part in building a more hopeful and compassionate world for the generations that will follow.
Before Al Smith was a candidate who made history, he was a man who made a difference. A man who fought for many years to give Americans nothing more than a fair shake and a chance to succeed. And he touched the lives of hundreds of thousands, of millions as a result. Simply put, he helped people. And that's a distinction we can all aspire to. And we can all achieve.
Young or old, rich or poor, Democrat or Republican or Independent. And I have no doubt if we come together at this moment of crisis with this goal in mind, America will meet this challenge and weather this storm. And, in the words of Al Smith, "walk once more in eternal sunshine."
October 16, 2008
October 15, 2008
October 14, 2008
October 12, 2008
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...
Sarah Palin repeatedly accuses Obama of having various "ties" to terrorists, and pretty buch of being a terrorist himself.
Remember the Seeing the Forest Rule: When Republicans Accuse it is a good idea to see if it is what THEY are really doing. The accusation serves as an inoculation. It works like this: Billy steals a cookie from the cookie jar. Billy runs to mommy and tells her Bobby took a cookie. Bobby responds with "No, mommy, Billy did it." This gets Bobby is serious trouble, and Billy gets away scott-free -- plus a cookie.
So of course an investigation into Sarah Palin reveals ... you guessed it. A DailyKos post explains, and David Neiwert has a summary at his blog:
# That Gov. Palin, when a Wasilla city council member, formed an alliance with some of the more radical far-right citizens in Wasilla and vicinity, particularly members of the secessionist Alaskan Independence Party who were allied with local John Birch Society activists. These activists played an important role in her election as Wasilla mayor in 1996.
# Once mayor, one of Mrs. Palin’s first acts was to attempt to appoint one of these extremists (a man named Steve Stoll) to her own seat on the city council. This was a man with a history of disrupting city council meetings with intimidating behavior. She was blocked by a single city council member.But really, what did you expect?
# Afterward, Mrs. Palin fired the city’s museum director at the behest of this faction.
# She fomented an ultimately successful effort to derail a piece of local gun-control legislation which would simply have prohibited the open carry of firearms into schools, liquor stores, libraries, courthouses and the like. The people recruited to shout this ordinance down included these same figures, notably the local AIP representative (who became the AIP’s chairman that same year).
# She remained associated politically with the local AIP/Birch faction throughout her tenure as mayor on other issues, particularly a successful effort to amend the Alaska Constitution to prohibit local governments from issuing any local gun-control ordinances.
October 9, 2008
There are several stories circulating about McCain playing lots of craps at casinos. Here's one: Report: McCain Exploded With Rage During Gambling Outing
Here is a video of McCain exploding at a casino:
This is a window into the next several years if McCain becomes President.
October 8, 2008
Compare the reaction of Obama and his campaign to last nights "that one" comment by McCain, to McCain and his campaign's reaction to Obama saying that McCain's policies put "lipstick on a pig."
Basically the Obama reaction was to ignore it, while the McCain campaign and supporting Republican noise machine went into a several-day hissy fit.
After eight years of government by fear and hysteria, it is going to be a relief to have some reasonable adults in charge.
October 7, 2008
So McCain and Palin want to accuse Obama "associating with terrorists."
Remember the Seeing the Forest Rule: When Republicans accuse, it usually means they're doing whatever it is they are accusing others of.
Maybe we ought to look at Palin's associations:
October 6, 2008
On Friday Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin released her tax forms. It turns out that the money she was taking as a "per diem" was never claimed as income, and she owes thousands in back taxes. Was she caught in old fashioned corruption with a tax fraud scheme?
Several tax experts have weighed in on this, all saying she owes taxes and should have claimed the income. See MyDD :: Tax Profs: Palin Owes Thousands in Back Taxes for more.
"Now it turns out, one of his earliest supporters is a man named Bill Ayers," Palin said.Go read the rest. Wow.
"Boooo!" said the crowd.
"And, according to the New York Times, he was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that, quote, 'launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol,'" she continued.
"Boooo!" the crowd repeated.
"Kill him!" proposed one man in the audience.
Palin went on to say that "Obama held one of the first meetings of his political career in Bill Ayers's living room, and they've worked together on various projects in Chicago."
October 4, 2008
Here it comes, the desperate horror show of an imploding Republican Party -- just in time for Halloween. Palin says Obama 'palling around' with terrorists
Palin told a group of donors at a private airport, "Our opponent ... is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country." She also said, "This is not a man who sees America as you see America and as I see America."So they're trying to trigger some of the far-right crazies to go after Obama. This is going to get much worse in the next month as the election approaches.
Palin, Alaska's governor, said that donors on a greeting line had encouraged her and McCain to get tougher on Obama. She said an aide then advised her, "Sarah, the gloves are off, the heels are on, go get to them."
Obama ad -- More of the same, job loss:
October 2, 2008
Biden won on words, substance and experience. Palin won on image.
For people who care about substance, Biden won. Does that mean he won?
We'll see what it means...
Is "phony folksy" a good description?
If true, this is a very good sign. Jonathan Martin's Blog: McCain pulling out of Michigan - Politico.com,
John McCain is pulling out of Michigan, according to two Republicans, a stunning move a month away from Election Day that indicates the difficulty Republicans are having in finding blue states to put in play.So the "Hail Mary" aptempts to set fire to his campaign backfired and set the campaign tent on fire. Dropping in the polls, running out of money, and looking ever more unstable, McCain is consolidating his efforts.
McCain will go off TV in Michigan, stop dropping mail there and send most of his staff to more competitive states, including Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida. Wisconsin went for Kerry in 2004, Ohio and Florida for Bush.
What this will mean, if it continues, will likely be attempts to prevent an absolute landslide and keep at least enough Republicans in the Senate to block everything.
September 30, 2008
A vast number of sources
September 26, 2008
I think both John McCain and Barack Obama did well representing their positions and showing what they would be like as President. So on that I would score this as a tie. (I also want to say that McCain did well yesterday when I saw him in person at the Clinton Global Initiative. In fact it was the best I have seen him in a very long time, not the clown we have been seeing this year.)
But I think that by doing this they have offered the American people a clear choice. They contrasted their philosophies very well. For example, McCain argued his position of tax cuts for corporations while Obama argued his position of bottom-up economic growth.
I think there is on more factor here. They also both offered stories. McCain offers the past. Obama offers the future. That is the clear story that was told here.
this is interesting, Huckabee Calls McCain Debate Ploy a ‘Huge Mistake’,
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said Thursday that Sen. John McCain made a “huge mistake” by even discussing canceling the presidential debate with Sen. Barack Obama.
. . . Huckabee said Thursday in Mobile that the people need to hear both candidates. He said that’s “far better than heading to Washington” to huddle with senators.
He said the candidates should level with the people about the financial crisis and say the “heart of this is greed.”
. . . Huckabee also was critical of President Bush’s handling of the crisis.
He said to lay the $700 billion obligation on the nation “in 24 hours” amounts to “holding the country hostage.”
“I just think the American people ought to be screaming their lungs out, saying to Congress, not so fast. That’s our money you’re giving away,” Huckabee said.
September 24, 2008
Governor Palin says that America is not heading for a recession, it will be another Great Depression. Go see: Palin: America may be in for another Great Depression
September 14, 2008
The McCain campaign is being called out on some of the lies they have been telling. The campaign spokesman says that they are in this to win and don't care what the "media filter" says.
I think we will get a test of their theory that the "media filter" doesn't matter anymore. This is to a large degree about who controls the information channels now. The conservative movement has been building to this with their well-funded "liberal media" campaign. They have they're mouthpieces like Rush constantly telling his audience not to ever believe the media. The right has a very large following. The result is that most of the public believes that the major news media is a propaganda machine for liberals and should not be trusted.
And they have the advantage that repetition of messages does work. They are running ads that say Obama will raise your taxes, force sex talk on your kindergartners and all that stuff -- even one that says Obama is the anti-Christ. They have the money to run those ads over and over on shows that lots of people watch. And they have the wealthy and corporate-backed front groups running ads and robo-calls and smear campaigns, etc. against Obama. People don't necessarily watch or believe mainstream news, but they will see these ads again and again.
So do the authoritarian conservatives have the power to override facts and "create their own reality" as they did in the lead-up to the Iraq war? I really don't know the answer and wouldn't bet my house on it either way.
Remember, tobacco company marketing is able to get people to kill themselves, but to hand over much of their money in the process. Modern marketing methods can convince almost anyone to do or believe almost anything.
September 12, 2008
James Fallows - The Palin interview. Fallows points out that the interview showed not only that Palin didn't know what the Bush Doctrine is, she demonstrated that she doesn't care about these pesky issues that are important to people, and governing and stuff.
Each of us has areas we care about, and areas we don't. If we are interested in a topic, we follow its development over the years. And because we have followed its development, we're able to talk and think about it in a "rounded" way. We can say: Most people think X, but I really think Y. Or: most people used to think P, but now they think Q. Or: the point most people miss is Z. Or: the question I'd really like to hear answered is A.Interesting. But he's right.
Here's the most obvious example in daily life: Sports Talk radio.
Mention a name or theme -- Brett Favre, the Patriots under Belichick, Lance Armstrong's comeback, Venus and Serena -- and anyone who cares about sports can have a very sophisticated discussion about the ins and outs and myth and realities and arguments and rebuttals.
People who don't like sports can't do that. It's not so much that they can't identify the names -- they've heard of Armstrong -- but they've never bothered to follow the flow of debate. I like sports -- and politics and tech and other topics -- so I like joining these debates. On a wide range of other topics -- fashion, antique furniture, the world of restaurants and fine dining, or (blush) opera -- I have not been interested enough to learn anything I can add to the discussion. So I embarrass myself if I have to express a view.
What Sarah Palin revealed is that she has not been interested enough in world affairs to become minimally conversant with the issues.
[. . .] How could she not know this? For the same reason I don't know anything about European football/soccer standings, player trades, or intrigue. I am not interested enough. And she evidently has not been interested enough even to follow the news of foreign affairs during the Bush era.
From the emailbag:
I'm a little confused. Let me see if I have this straight.....
* If you grow up in Hawaii, raised by your grandparents, you're 'exotic, different.'
* Grow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers, a quintessential American story.
* If your name is Barack you're a radical, unpatriotic Muslim.
* Name your kids Willow, Trig and Track, you're a maverick.
* Graduate from Harvard law School and you are unstable.
* Attend 5 different small colleges before graduating, you're well grounded.
* If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community organizer, become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, spend 8 years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, become chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human Services committee, spend 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs committees, you don't have any real leadership experience.
* If your total resume is: local weather girl, 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, 20 months as the governor of a state with only 650,000 people, then you're qualified to become the country's second highest ranking executive.
* If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising 2 beautiful daughters, all within Protestant churches, you're not a real Christian.
* If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you're a Christian.
* If you teach responsible, age appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.
* If , while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no other option in sex education in your state's school system while your unwed teen daughter ends up pregnant , you're very responsible.
* If your wife is a Harvard graduate lawyer who gave up a position in a prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner city community, then gave that up to raise a family, your family's values don't represent America's.
* If you're husband is nicknamed 'First Dude', with at least one DWI conviction and no college education, who didn't register to vote until age 25 and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska from the USA, your family is extremely admirable.
OK, much clearer now.
Sarah Palin, on the Bush Doctrine (the justification for war with Iraq):
FYI it comes from this:
And here is my response:
Mr. Madison, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.
September 10, 2008
Reagan picked up where Nixon left off, with no apologies. Bush I picked up from there. And then George W. Bush was literally a corporate coup taking on democracy itself. But McCain? The campaign HE is running? The absolute lies? It's beyond even George W Bush!
Josh Marshall, Unfit for High Office,
It's easy to get twisted up in your head about strategy and message and optics. But what is already apparent is that John McCain is running the sleaziest, most dishonest and race-baiting campaign of our lifetimes. So let's stopped being shocked and awed by every new example of it. It is undignified. What can we do? We've got a dangerously reckless contender for the presidency and a vice presidential candidate who distinguished her self by abuse of office even on the comparatively small political stage of Alaska. They've both embraced a level of dishonesty that disqualifies them for high office. Democrats owe it to the country to make clear who these people are. No apologies or excuses. If Democrats can say at the end of this campaign that they made clear exactly how and why these two are unfit for high office they can be satisfied they served their country.Update - Andrew Sullivan:
In the end, his [McCain's] final concern is not national security. No one who cares about national security would pick as vice-president someone who knows nothing about it as his replacement. No one who cares about this country's safety would gamble the security of the world on a total unknown because she polled well with the Christianist base. ...
McCain has demonstrated in the last two months that he does not have the character to be president of the United States.
September 9, 2008
"As we say in Wyoming, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig," quipped Vice President Dick Cheney in a stump speech yesterday, with reference to John Kerry's claims he would be a credible war president.
September 8, 2008
So Sarah Palin FINALLY speaks. How many days has it been since she was selected as Republican Vice presidential candidate -- and still NO appearances before the press?
So what happens when she DOES speak? It turns out that she knows NOTHING about the biggest economic issue of our time, and gets it completely wrong.
Gov. Sarah Palin made her first potentially major gaffe during her time on the national scene while discussing the developments of the perilous housing market this past weekend.Go read the rest.
Speaking before voters in Colorado Springs, the Republican vice presidential nominee claimed that lending giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had "gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers." The companies, as McClatchy reported, "aren't taxpayer funded but operate as private companies. The takeover may result in a taxpayer bailout during reorganization."
Economists and analysts pounced on the misstatement, saying it demonstrated a lack of understanding about one of the key economic issues likely to face the next administration.
It was unkind to Sarah Palin and to the public for an old man -- who has had melanoma four times -- to select her as running mate and possibly the next President just a few months from now. It was inevitable that this would happen.
September 7, 2008
Nine days since Palin was announced and she has not given a single interview to the press. Not Training Wheels We Can Believe In,
Sarah Palin could be the President of the United States in four and a half months. We tend to think of this as an abstraction; but it's true. And yet today she's so unprepared and knows so little about the challenges and tasks facing the country that she can't even give a softball interview.They don't even dare let her be interviewed on Fox or Rush. And she could be President of the United States in January.
That's really all we need to know.
These people have no respect for democracy.
September 6, 2008
You absolutely must watch this Daily Show with John Stewart segment on McCain's speech:
September 5, 2008
Note to Reddit users: This is a GREAT post, but Reddit screwed up and the post titled "Palin Is Not Even On Fox or Rush" is at http://www.seeingtheforest.com/archives/2008/09/palin_not_even.htm
We now continue with our What Is Obama's Story? post:
Almost every single thing Palin said in her speech the other night turns out to be just a lie -- and it doesn't matter. She now has 58% favorability among the public. And she has a story. Within a day of the Palin announcement a well-informed, liberal, Democratic, pro-choice friend told me that Palin is "a reformer" -- "just like McCain."
Here is what the Republicans understand: facts don't matter, stories do. So knowing this, they just lie and say anything they want as long as it reinforces the story. How do you fight this? Getting bogged down refuting the lies can never work because they'll just make up a ton more lies for you to refute and you can't keep up. Meanwhile, they keep reinforcing the story while you're mired in the refutation. This is why almost every single thing Palin said in her speech turns out to be just a lie. But look how her STORY has taken hold! The story overcomes all the lies, even though the entire story is based on the lies.
The Obama campaign was the beneficiary of just such a story during the primaries. Obama became the great progressive transformation that we all want, while Hillary came to represent the past. She became NAFTA and DLC and lobbyists. Once these stories took hold there was nothing at all Hillary could do about it. Everything started to reinforce it. "Experience" came to mean "Bill" which meant the past.
THAT is how a story works. Facts just get in the way. (NOTE I am not saying that Obama's story was based on lies, I am saying the power of a STORY took over and swamped Hillary.)
This is the power of - and the reason for - the "elite" storyline they are trying so hard to establish. If it can take hold there is nothing that can be done about it. So far it is just a little bit too unbelievable. But we have seen how they have tried to tell one story after another, to see if one sticks.
So what IS Obama's STORY today? The FISA swing and a few things like that got rid of the "great progressive transformation" story that won the primaries. What does he represent and how do we drive the new story? How do we establish a negative story about McCain that sticks?
Remember how at the end of the Kerry campaign people still were saying that they didn't understand what Kerry and the Democrats were about, were for, etc? They were saying that there was no story.
What is the Obama story, in a sentence? McCain is the maverick who will change Washington, and so is Palin-the-reformer. That is a story. It is a story because they said it is.
What is the Obama story?
September 3, 2008
I remember her from high school.
September 2, 2008
As I wrote below, I have to agree with John McCain that Sarah Palin is absolutely the most qualified Republican to be Vice President.
Of all the Republicans in the entire United States, Sarah Palin is the most qualified Republican.
John McCain has suffered FOUR bouts of melanoma. So it is imperative that the Vice President be the most qualified possible person, ready to step into the leadership role on a moment's notice.
There is NO Republican more qualified than Sara Palin.
There is NO Republican less corrupt.
There is NO Republican that foreign leaders will respect more.
Of ALL the Republicans in the entire United States, including ALL of the candidates for President in this year's primaries, not a single one measures up to Sarah Palin. Not one.
Let them deny it.
Until choosing Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential pick McCain's attack on Obama used the slogan, "Is he ready to lead?"
John McCain has had four bouts of melanoma. If elected the 1-year governor and former mayor of Wasilla Alaska will become Vice President of the United States and takes over if McCain is incapacitated or dies.
P.S. I do agree with John McCain that she probably is the most qualified Republican to be President of the United States.
Bush was a (sort of) fighter pilot. McCain was a fighter pilot. Both have shown themselves to be foul-mouthed heavy drinkers, impulsive and nasty-tempered. McCain was/is a skirt-chaser.
Is there something about the macho mentality that goes into this kind of thing?
Except both came from prominent families and got into being fighter pilots through their dad's influence and not through the normal channels...
September 1, 2008
This woman isn't vice presidential material. She should be nominated for administrator to the creation museum in Kansas.PLEASE click through and read the whole thing.
August 31, 2008
John McCain says, "No, We Can't"
August 30, 2008
I admit to being stunned by McCain's VP choice of Sarah Palin. She is a stunning beauty queen who has served a stunning two years as Governor of Alaska after serving a stunning two terms on the Wasilla, Alaska city council and two terms as mayor. (As of the 2000 census, Wasilla's population was 5,470.)
I'm stunned that McCain picked a politician who is currently under investigation for abusing power by firing the state's Public Safety Commissioner for refusing to fire a state trooper involved in a child custody battle with Palin's sister.
I'm stunned (and insulted as a citizen) that McCain feels he can place a heartbeat away from the Presidency a hard-core creationist with NO foreign policy experience or even positions. She is not just a creationist but has so little respect for our Constitution that she advocates teaching "Biblical principles" and creationism in our public schools -- in other words, forcing the teaching of one branch of one particular religion.
So yes, this is a stunning choice for Vice President.
*P.S. This is filed in STF's "Party Over Country" category.
Go see the pic: Jesus' General: A Heartbeat Away
August 29, 2008
Here is a video of Barack Obama's acceptance speech at Mile High Stadium in Denver Thursday evening:
August 28, 2008
Click through to Swiftboating 2.0. There is an incredible chart that outlines the right's attack strategy on Obama.
As the means of communication have evolved, presidential campaigns have grown increasingly multifaceted, with each election featuring layers of complexity that were not present four years before. The most striking feature of the 2008 election may be the sheer volume and variation of the attacks being directed at Sen. Barack Obama. Though they come from many sources, arrive through a variety of media, and cover a wide range of subjects, a close examination reveals a unified thematic structure to these attacks.
August 27, 2008
Kerry is speaking. This seems like a good time to point out that he has a primary challenger: Ed O'Reilly: http://www.edoreilly.com/
Almost four years ago I wrote,
I would like to coin a term for the Washington "centrist," "DLC" Democrats that we have all become so sick of: "Concession Democrats." These are the Democrats who refuse to recognize the right-wing takeover of the country and its consequences. They have conceded at every turn, allowing the Right to advance, step by step, and finally take over.
Kerry conceded. He rolled over. He conceded in my name. HE conceded MY vote. I didn't want him to do that, but he did. And by conceding Kerry paved the way for Bush to claim a "mandate." Had he held out, even for a few more days, Bush and the Right would not have been able to come out and seize the initiative and frame the message, "The people have spoken" and begin the process of getting rid of Social Security, getting rid of progressive taxation, getting rid of separation of church and state, getting rid of public education, getting rid of unions, getting rid of consumer protections, getting rid of what remains of a free America, and continuing to make war on the world. Kerry allowed Bush to say, "I will reach out to those who share my goals." But Kerry either did not understand that was what would happen, or did not care.
If McCain doesn't choose Huckabee for VP, he is insulting all the evangelicals in the Republican Party.
August 23, 2008
I think we have to beat McCain. His performance last week concerning Russia and Georgia shows that he is dangerous, trigger happy and is willing to encourage fear and hostility and risk nuclear war for little reason.
I think any continuation of Bush policies would be ruinous for an already-ruined country.
I think ANY choices of our leaders by anyone other than the people is an insult to democracy so I am not big on the way America chooses vice-presidents. In my lifetime we have had LBJ and Ford as Presidents who were in no way chosen by the people. (And then Bush was imposed on us by the Republican majority of the Supreme court.)
I think all the hoo-ha over who will be "picked" for us just shows what we're willing to tolerate and how far we have to go before we really understand what democracy means.
August 19, 2008
Here are three questions for John McCain. They will not be asked.
1) IF your military commanders tell you that The Surge needs to be continued, and that more troops are needed in Afghanistan, will you implement the draft to keep the country protected?
2) IF your statement that lowering taxes brings more revenue to the government turn out not to work, and the deficit continues to grow, what will you do?
3) AT the Saddleback Forum you were asked, "At what point does a baby receive human rights?" You answered "At conception."
So I have two questions for you. One: There is a fire at a fertility clinic. In one room there is a 3-month-old baby. In another is a thermos with 3,000 fertilized eggs. You have time to save the baby or the thermos. Which do you save?
Two: If a woman has intercourse and an egg is fertilized, but the woman stands up before three days pass, the egg might not implant properly. Is it murder if a woman stands up within three days of intercourse?
August 18, 2008
Speaking to the VFW today, John McCain reverted to using rhetoric from the 1950's, talking about "the free world". He apparently wants to launch a new "Cold War" which was very, very good for the military contracting industry.
. . . We have seen such things before, as in the Balkans and in earlier periods of European history, and now we must ensure that events in Georgia do not unfold into a tragedy of greater scale. When young democracies are threatened or attacked, and innocent civilians are targeted, they should be able to count on the free world for support and solidarity.The FREE WORLD? Man, I haven't heard that one in a long time, except the other day when Bush used it. The corporate right sure is good at sticking to their talking points.
If I am elected president, they will have that support. And in cooperation with our friends and allies in Europe, we will make it clear to Russia's rulers that acts of violence and intimidation come at a heavy cost.
August 17, 2008
Barack Obama gave an interview to CBN, the Christian Broadcasting Network. Asking about the "antichrist" smears and McCain's use of them in his ads the interviewer says to Obama, "Let's face it, let's call a spade a spade."
I figure he didn't mean it that way. But he might have been more careful about it.
Transcript: Let me ask you a little about some of these ads that John McCain has been running not just on television, but on the web. Let's face it, let's call a spade a spade, there has been some Messianic references, there's been some antichrist stuff going on, the celebrity, they're trying to pigeonhole you a certain way. Do you believe this is being done on purpose?The entire interview is very good, click to go see it.
Obama: Well of course it's being done on purpose. They're not spending a whole bunch of money to make me out as a good guy. They're engaging in the kind of politics that I think we've become accustomed to which is you try to tear your opponents down and you engage in sort of slash and burn tactics. And very personal sort of personal character attacks. And one of the challenges for us in this campaign is how do you make sure those attacks are answered quickly and forcefully, but also truthfully and that we don't fall into that same kind of tactic. And look, I think ultimately the American people are going to understand by the time they go into the polling place in November that this is not an election about me. This an election about them - ordinary people, their lives, their hopes their dreams, the fact that their incomes have gone down over the last eight years, the fact that their jobs are less secure, that they have less retirement security, that their kids can't afford college, that jobs are being shipped overseas that the tax code isn't fair and that special interests have come to dominate Washington. And as long as we're communicating an active plan to fix those problems then I think we're going to do well.
In a book, at campaign stops and in an ad John McCain tells a story about a North Vietnamese prison guard drawing a cross in the dirt:
In his 1999 memoir, Faith of My FathersWell guess what, a Kos diarist has come up with something interesting: Cross in the Dirt" story stolen from Solzhenitsyn,"We both stood wordlessly looking at the cross until, after a minute or two, he rubbed it out and walked away. I saw my good Samaritan often after the Christmas when we venerated the cross together."In his campaign ad in December, he adds mention of "the true light of Christmas":"We stood wordlessly looking at the cross, remembering the true light of Christmas. I will never forget that no matter where you are, no matter how difficult the circumstances, there will always be someone who will pick you up."At the Saddleback Civil Forum:"For a minute there, it was just two Christians worshipping together."
A story about Alexander Solzhenitsyn from his times in the Soviet Gulags.The source of that story about Solzhenitsyn is The Sign of the Cross, Fr. Luke Veronis, In Communion, issue 8, Pascha 1997 but clearly the story was known before 1997 for Fr. Veronis to cite it here. Update - the source is Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago, published in the West in 1973.Slowly he looked up and saw a skinny old prisoner squat down beside him. The man said nothing. Instead, he used a stick to trace in the dirt the sign of the Cross. The man then got back up and returned to his work.
As Solzhenitsyn stared at the Cross drawn in the dirt his entire perspective changed. He knew he was only one man against the all-powerful Soviet empire. Yet he knew there was something greater than the evil he saw in the prison camp, something greater than the Soviet Union. He knew that hope for all people was represented by that simple Cross. Through the power of the Cross, anything was possible.
In the winter of 1974, unbound and mimeographed samizdat copies of The Gulag Archipelago began being surreptitiously passed between Soviet citizens. These initial readers were normally given 24 hours to finish the work before passing it on to the next person, requiring the reader to spend an uninterrupted day and night to get through the work. Years later, this initial generation of Soviet readers could still recall who had given them their copy, to whom they had passed it on, and who they had trusted enough to discuss their thoughts about the book.
Here is McCain in his ad:
Here is McCain, being "reluctant" to tell this "powerful story" about his "faith":
John McCain is more reluctant to talk about his own faith. And he has had rocky relations with religious conservatives. But McCain is a believer, and he has a powerful story about the time his own faith was tested — when he was being tortured as a prisoner of war.
One Christmas morning, he was allowed out of his cell for a few moments. As he stood alone in the prison courtyard, one of the Vietnamese guards — who had shown some small kindness to McCain in the past — walked up to him.
"Then with his sandal, the guard drew a cross in the dirt," McCain said. "We stood wordlessly there for a minute or two, venerating the cross, until the guard rubbed it out and walked away. To me, that was faith: a faith that unites and never divides, a faith that bridges unbridgeable gaps in humanity. It is the faith that we are all equal and endowed by our creator with inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is the faith I would die to defend."
... That story is often about all the Arizona senator will say about his faith, much to the chagrin of his evangelical supporters.
Here is the Dallas Morning News, writing about last night's event:
It is a well-worn story for veterans of the McCain campaign, but it was concrete and direct, without a whiff of Christian apologetics, and it produced one of the evening’s many bursts of sustained applause.
So, is this story just more carefully-crafted Republican propaganda, one more "powerful story" intended to trick the Christians into voting for them, so they can give ever-greater tax cuts to the rich and subsidies (and drilling leases) to oil companies?
Update - Andew Sullivan points out that McCain's early accounts of captivity do not include this story, and asks when McCain first told it.
Shortly after John McCain came back from Vietname in 1973, he wrote a detailed 12,000 word report of his experiences that was published in US News and World Report.And in 2000 McCain told the story - saying it was a different prisoner.
Even though McCain goes into a lot of detail in that story and mentions religion a few times, there is no mention of the cross in the sand story, even though it would have fitted in well with the whole narrative. There are numerous mentions of Vietnamese guards in the reports, mostly bad ones but also good ones, but there is no indication at all that any of them would have been Christian, although "[a] lot of them were homosexual".
Looks like McCain really WAS telling a whopper to get votes. And he's been caught red-state-handed.
August 14, 2008
August 12, 2008
Go see the Exxon McCain site but watch this first:
August 8, 2008
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...
August 5, 2008
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:
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.It includes the classic wisdom,
[. . .] 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.
When your supporters don’t vote for
you, then you
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.
Obama's campaign began to falter when he announced he support the new FISA bill that gave away immunity to telecom companies that had assisted the Republican Party in spying on their opposition. (Until I know different I will call it this. And without warrants there is no way to know different.) He previously had said that giving immunity to these companies was wrong.
Now the chickens are home to roost. McCain is tied or a bit ahead in almost every new tracking poll. And it started when Obama popped the bubble of enthusiasm -- people thinking this was a different candidate, one who stuck by principles. Of course it continued with things like attacking General Clark for defending him, and similar strategery. It set the ground for the Republican smear campaign to take hold.
-Among voters aged 18-29, Obama lost 16 percent and McCain gained 20. Obama still leads, 49-38;Alex Castellanos words it well,
-Among women, McCain gained 10 percentage points. Obama now leads 43-38;
With a commercial Mike Huckabee could have run in a Republican primary, Obama now emphasizes his commitment to strong families and heartland values, "Accountability and self-reliance. Love of country. Working hard without making excuses." In this yet unwritten chapter of his next autobiography, Obama tells us he is the candidate of "welfare to work" who supports our troops and "cut taxes for working families." The shift in his political personae has been startling. Obama has moved right so far and so fast, he could end up McCain's Vice-Presidential pick.As the saying goes, when you have a Republican running agaist a Republican, the voters figure they might as well vote for the Republican.
General-election Obama now billboards his doubts about affirmative action. He has embraced the Bush Doctrine of pre-emption saying, "I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon...everything." He tells his party "Democrats are not for a bigger government." Oil drilling is a consideration. His FISA vote and abandonment of public campaign finance introduce us to an Obama of recent invention. And as he abandons his old identity for the new, breeding disenchantment among his formerly passionate left-of-center supporters and, equally, doubts among the center he courts, he risks becoming nothing at all, a candidate who is everything and nothing in the same moment.
August 3, 2008
From Scholars & Rogues:
The other day I sent people to read about how people are reacting to McCain's ad "The One." I decided to look around the web and see what is circulating about Obama. Well, these people are serious. I posted several links below so you can just go see for yourself. SOME parts of the religious right are serious about this idea that Obama is the "anti-Christ."
In my opinion, the McCain people simply have to know about the stuff that is circulating. If you read some of the stuff you realize that McCain's ad parallels it very closely. It says some of the very same things that the nuts are circulating. So if you are one of the nuts who believes this, you have received validation from the McCain campaign. There is no way around it that the ad is saying to the people receiving the anti-Christ rumors, "Hey, we're with you, we see it, too." It makes you wonder if McCain is trying to provoke the crazies into doing something to Obama.
So here is some of the stuff that is out there. Hold your nose, and be sure to read some of the comments at some of these sites.
Barack Obama, Anti-Christ? (be sure to read through some of the 850+ comments)
Obama is the Anti-Christ. This is the evidence:
1.- He will come as a man of Peace (Obama promises peace in Iraq, defeat for the US)
2.- He will come mounted on a white Female horse(Obama mother is white who had 6 African husbands)
3.- He will come to deceive( Obama says he's a Christian but in fact he was born a Muslim, practices the Islamic religion, prays Friday’s facing Mecca)
4.- He will make himself the most powerful man on earth, if elected
5.- He will try to destroy the Jewish People and Israel( Obama has said he loves the Arabs specially the Palestinians, hates Israel and Jews. Admires Hitler, Osama etc)
6.- He will present himself as good and righteous but in fact he's Satan himself. Violence is in his heart
7.- Obama will help Al Qaida in its evil projects.
8.- Barack Hussein Obama is the “King of the South” predicted in the Bible.(Daniel .11, Kenya is south of Jerusalem)
9.- Obama comes to implant muslim Sharia Law upon America.
Obama is the Anti-Christ, beware of him.
Watch him and don't let you be deceived by Him.
Supporters of Obama: 1.5 billion Muslims, Oprah, Louis Farrakanh, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and all American Muslims.
OBAMA’S GAME IS DECEPTION AND VIOLENCE
A VOTE FOR OBAMA IS A VOTE FOR OSAMA AND KILLER ISLAM!!
I’m not the first one to say it, but after recently reading the beginning of the Left Behind series and the entire Christ Clone trilogy, it’s not totally wacky to compare Obama’s rise and public adulation to that of the predicted Anti-Christ’s (at least as described in those books).Hal Lindsey at WorldNetDaily (right-wing religious types take him seriously): How Obama prepped world for the Antichrist
According to The Book of Revelations, the anti-Christ will be a man, in his 40s, of MUSLIM descent, who will deceive the nations with persuasive language, and have a MASSIVE Christ-like appeal…. the prophecy says that people will flock to him and he will promise false hope and world peace, and when he is in power, will destroy everything ….Glenn Beck: 'Is Obama the Antichrist?'
Is it OBAMA?? I STRONGLY URGE each one of you to repost this as many times as you can! Each opportunity that you have to send it to a friend or media outlet…do it!
Other progressive bloggers are writing about this:
DailyKos: Obama as Forerunner to the Anti-Christ
DailyKos: McCain's Left Behind Attack
Discourse.net: New Low For McCain Campaign: Obama == The Anti-Christ
BeliefNet: New McCain Ad Implies Obama is the Anti-Christ?
Here are some of the videos circulating:
August 2, 2008
Interesting ... as you look at this small-sample test of reaction to an Obama ad, watch the Republican reaction (red line) plunge as Obama says "What I did was reach out to Senator Dick Lugar, a Republican..." at this site: New Obama Terrorism Ad has Little Effect on Voter Support
July 15, 2008
In a recent story about Vets for Freedom's new campaign in support of Republican Presidential candidate John McCain, the Virginia-Pilot quoted VFFs Chairman Pete Hegseth on donor disclosure.
Vets for Freedom's efforts are being fueled by donations from thousands of people nationwide, Hegseth said. He said the group will not release donors' names nor the size of their donations. The group is registered under a section of federal tax law that allows it to advertise and organize on behalf of particular policies while maintaining the confidentiality of its donors.Thousands of donations? We looked up Vets for Freedom's reporting records and found a total of five (5) donors and $2,050 total donations in the most recent period they reported. This reporting is for their "527" committee, which is legally allowed to " influence the nomination, election, appointment or defeat of candidates for public office" but is not allowed to coordinate with any candidate's campaign. However, their 501c4 charity arm, the part of the group that does not have to report its donors, can not legally do any of those things.
Donations to political campaigns or political action committees, by contrast, generally must be reported and are limited by law.
So what's the takeaway? On one hand, we have a 527 group with a total of $2,050 in donations, not enough to pay for Mark Penn's coffee break, and on the other we have a charity that legally can not be involved in direct political action? What's happening?
Well if you have "thousands" of mystery donors unreported but supporting John McCain's campaign and suddenly, a small fringe front group with just 5 real donors has over $1.5 million dollars to run a television campaign and there are plans for a major push this fall.
We're betting this is nothing more than a conduit for one or two very large donations intended to get around election law to the benefit of candidate McCain.
The Washington Post's blog The Trail tried to pin Hegseth down on why this "non-election" group is advertising with McCain's message in swing states important to McCain, and only just before an election with McCain as a candidate.
From the story,
Hegseth said his group is not operating on behalf of McCain and notes that federal law prohibits the organization from coordinating the ad with the campaign. The states were chosen, he said, not because they are crucial swing states for McCain, but because the heightened interest in the election in those states will give it a larger audience.
What Hegseth didn't mention is that VFF's ads were bought immediately after the McCain Campaign stopped advertising.
What Hegseth didn't mention is that VFF is supporting candidates across the country, but surprise, none of the Iraq War or Vietnam veterans who are running like Jon Powers or Charlie Brown.
The only thing Hegseth could do was concede that the message in the ad is almost identical to McCain's on the stump -- the surge worked; let's continue the war until we win. He said McCain has been the "strongest advocate" for the veterans of the two wars.
Which is about as believable as McCain's claim that real veterans groups support him.
June 30, 2008
Obama's campaign is starting to seem entirely defensive to me. This is a bad sign. He has lost the initiative. The effectiveness of the right's smear campaigns can't be underestimated.
Dogged by Internet rumors about the Pledge of Allegiance and the flag on his lapel, Sen. Barack Obama today is flying to Harry Truman's home in Missouri to deliver an address on the meaning of patriotism.He takes the White House position on FISA because he doesn't want to reinforce the rumors that he is weak on national security. He quits his church. Etc..
June 11, 2008
I think there is a growing chance that McCain will not be the Republican Presidential nominee. Their convention isn't until September and McCain just gets worse and worse. I really think they'll find a way to talk him out of running.
And no, I don't think it will be Larry Craig, even if their convention is in Minneapolis-Saint Paul.
Professional smears - at far-right Media Research Center. This is from April and you're going to be seeing A LOT of this. Eyeblast.tv - A Video Portrait Of Barack Hussein Obama. (Warning, ugly smear video.)
June 10, 2008
I stayed neutral between Obama and Hillary during the primaries. Now I'm staying out of discussions of who Obama should pick as VP. OK?
June 8, 2008
AmericaBlog asks Why is McCain getting $58,000 a year in disability income?
This is the video everyone should watch as we go into the campaign:
FIRED UP! READY TO GO!
June 4, 2008
Barack Obama will be speaking via video to the SEIU convention today at 10:50am Eastern -- 7:50am Pacific. You can watch it by clicking here.
June 3, 2008
I had the opportunity to talk with Donna Edwards for a while today, at the SEIU 2008 convention. She says that you should run for office, and a lot more than that.
This year Donna Edwards challenged incumbent "corporate Democrat" Al Wynn for Maryland's 4th Congressional District in the primary election and won, with help from the Netroots, multiple progressive organizations and labor, including a great deal of help from the SEIU. Her win is "reverberating - wide and deep" among members of Congress. It shows that accountability has arrived. It also shows that "Democrats can do this without begging and relying on corporate interests." She goes on to say,
"There is a huge lesson in this. A lot of elected officials start out in the grassroots community - and then the money happens. One step after another they are following the corporate agenda."She says that help from the netroots will "enable candidates like us to be as independent inside as we were on the pathway getting there."
In 2006 Donna ran against Wynn and lost by 2731 votes. Many progressive organizations and labor groups were reluctant to challenge any Democratic incumbent. After that defeat she went from labor organization to labor organization saying that she was just one union hall away from winning. So in 2008 a coalition of labor and progressives joined up, and she ended up winning the primary by 20 points. Incumbent Wynn resigned from office and immediately joined a lobbying firm for big bucks.
She says the wind of change is out there, a demand for change is building. She says regular people have to run for office to start building a farm team for change. Regular people have a story to tell, and the more we run regular folks, the more opportunity there is to tell the public where we have to go. The power of the moneyed interests that want to keep us where we are is incredible so we have to empower regular people to tell their stories.
She said she talked to a number of people, telling them they should run, and finally decided to run herself. "But why didn't I say that first?" She wants all of us to say that first. (Not that Donna should run, but that YOU should run.) Progressives need to create a farm team to run for office.
From Left: Todd Beeton (MyDD), Donna Edwards, Watertiger (Firedoglake) and me.
Disclaimer: Blogger hotel and airfare paid for by the SEIU
June 1, 2008
Because of various circumstances I ended up about 15-20 feet from Hillary Clinton as she gave her victory speech after winning the Puerto Rico primary. I am here for the SEIU convention, and learned that her event was across a bridge from the hotel I was at for a meeting with SEIU officials. (More on that in another post.) So I took a walk (man, it is humid here) and was able to enter as a member of the press.
As a member of the press I was able to enter the ballroom before the event. This was not a victory party where supporters are celebrating and then the candidate shows up to speak. This was more like a TV set where the candidate gives a speech to cameras. There were bleachers behind the podium, and room for a few people in front of the candidate. But this was entirely about setting up the speech for national TV. I am not saying this is good or bad, it just was what it was.
That said, it was secondarily an event for campaign workers to see the candidate and be part of the speech. First they filled the bleachers behind the podium. I can testify that this was not a carefully selected crowd, with demographics set up to look good -- because someone asked ME if I wanted to be up there! So this was not about photogenic, or looking like a special demographic. It might have been about making babies cry and serious viewers vow never to watch TV again.
I'm out of time now, will write more later. Hillary doesn't appear to be leaving the race by ANY means. Lots of energy and enthusiasm at this event. A very good speech making good points.
Here is the podium with the bleachers:
This shows what I mean this being a TV event, not a ballroom full of people celebrating:
I loved this Clinton As Evita poster that I have been seeing here:
Here is Hillary making a point:
MORE TO COME.
I'm in San Juan to cover the SEIU convention, but I learned that Hillary's victory speech will be nearby at the Condado Plaza Hotel, so I walked over. Now I am in the press area, waiting for it to start in a few minutes. Hey, there's free food and a free bar, so don't yell at me.
The trouble is I left my computer power cord in my room and only have about 18% power right now. So I'll take pics and write about it later.
I'll be writing about some great things that the SEIU has planned as well.
May 27, 2008
Hillary made a statement the other day that can be interpreted different ways. Some people are trying to claim that she said she is staying in the race in case Obama is assassinated. Others say she was just saying that the Democratic primaries often extend until June.
I'm not going to get into the argument about this here, except to remind everyone that in 1972 the Nixon campaign pioneered the strategy of disrupting Democratic primary races. I think it should be clear that much of the conflict in this year's primary is being pushed by the right through the Drudge report, Washington Times, Fox News, etc. but for some reason in this election many Democrats seem willing to pick it up and run with it. This is a mistake.
Here's the thing. The Republicans and Bush cronies have a lot of money and the incentive that many will be going to jail (and/or The Hague) if there is an honest accounting of the Bush years. The corrupt crony machine stands to lose billions and billions of dollars. They have the conservative infrastructure's message machine of think tanks, information outlets, etc. They have the corporate media and the power of the entire American corporate structure that is siphoning so much of our money away to a top few. And they have a public conditioned to reflexively support conservatives after decades of unanswered right-wing, and pro-corporate propaganda. This combination is going to be hard to overcome. So it is going to take Obama supporters and Hillary supporters both voting for the Democratic nominee--whoever that is--to beat the Republicans in November.
To that end I want to write about how each "side" in the primaries could better approach the other, whether you believe they are right or wrong. Especially if you believe they are wrong.
Decide whether you want to beat the Republicans, or just score points against the "other side" in this primary battle. From what I can see many of the activists in this campaign are vastly more invested in beating the "other side" than they are in beating the Republicans in the fall. And they clearly have little interest in rallying the supporters of the other primary candidate to their cause.
The Commonweal Institute recently held a "salon" on cognitive dissonance, put on by Fellow Mary Ratcliff, who blogs at The Left Coaster and Pacific Views. Part of the discussion was about the psychological effect of holding contradictory beliefs and how to get people to leave behind beliefs that are harmful. Without going into depth here, when people know they have done something bad (or believed something that is wrong), they can can go through a process to justify to themselves what they have done, and thereby be driven very deeply in a bad direction in their thinking. The justification can be reinforced if the person encounters resistance.
For example, when a kid is being recruited by the Moonies (or bad boyfriend), a parent saying the kid is being "stupid" can drive the kid directly into the Moonie camp (or bad boyfriend's arms) because the kid is reacting to being called stupid instead of thinking through the logic of becoming a Moonie (or pregnant).
Or maybe a Bush-supporter can justify in his or her mind that invading Iraq was an OK thing to do by deciding all Muslims are evil -- and can become very fixed in those beliefs. You see that happening lately with a certain segment of conservatives.
In any part of the process, if this person is criticized it very strongly tends to force the person to cling MORE strongly to the wrong beliefs, and reinforce the justifications that are going on in the thinking. This happens especially strongly if the criticism itself is refutable.
So in this case, whether you believe Hillary's "RFK assassination statement" was saying that primaries have often lasted until June or calling for Obama's assassination, criticizing Hillary and supporters can have the effect of driving them deeply against Obama. Iif Obama is the nominee--as it looks like he will be--he is going to need those Hillary supporters. Not stepping up to her defense in this instance--and thereby reaching out to her supporters and letting them know that we are all on the same side--is a mistake that could cost him the election.
For background, this is from the salon invite, with some good sources:
Go read up.
Mistakes Were Made, But Not By Me: Cognitive Dissonance in Politics and Personal Life
A salon conversation led by Commonweal Institute Fellow Mary Ratcliff
As background for this salon, you may want to read this explanation of cognitive dissonance and a few examples of how it can impact everything from your weight to major social conflicts: http://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/cognitive_dissonance/
Wikipedia on cognitive dissonance: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance
Book: Mistakes Were Made (but not by me) by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson
May 17, 2008
The New York Times has a great article today on Barack Obama as an author. I haven't yet read his books, but this article will make you want to.
The article is Obama’s Story, Written by Obama. An excerpt (about the first book),
In a telephone interview on Friday, Mr. Obama said he would not be surprised if some people had gotten involved in his campaign “because they feel they know me through my books.” But he said he was not even thinking about political consequences when he wrote the memoir. In fact, he said, one editor warned him back then that his references to drug use could come back to haunt him — if he were ever nominated for the Supreme Court.
“This is an example of what happens when you look at things backwards,” Mr. Obama said when asked whether he had his political future in mind when he first began to write. “Then everything looks like, ‘Ah! Of course this was part of some well-calibrated consideration.’ But frankly, no. It would have been very hard for me to anticipate that I’d be where I am today, where a book that I wrote almost 20 years ago now would even be read.”
[. . .] The book came out in the summer of 1995, shortly before Mr. Obama announced that he was running for the Illinois State Senate. At 57th Street Books, in Mr. Obama’s neighborhood in Chicago, a few dozen people turned out for a reading. There were respectful reviews in newspapers including The New York Times and The Boston Globe. The book was shelved with memoirs and autobiographies in bookstores, Mr. Osnos recalled, and Times Books sold 8,000 to 9,000 copies.
“I joke that 290 million Americans did not buy the book,” he said.
May 16, 2008
John McCain's preacher problem comes up again. Will the media play this over and over and over like they did with Rev. Wright?
In the following audio sermon, which I have put into a video [and that includes other viciously anti-Jewish statement from John Hagee], Hagee says:
- Jews are not "spiritually alive".I have a copy of John Hagee's "Prophecy Study Bible", which makes quite clear Hagee is talking about all Jews now living - whom Hagee singles out, from among all other non-Christians on Earth, to note that they specifically do not have living souls. Indeed, Hagee says the souls of all Jews now living are dead. Dead souls. McCain endorser John hagee says Jews have dead souls.
- Hitler and the Nazis were sent by God, to chase Jews back to the land of Israel. Because that's where God intends them to be. So, the Holocaust was a gruesomely inefficient system of divine "persuasion", and Hitler and the Nazis were doing "God's work". But Hagee also depicts this divine ethnic cleansing imperative as a future project: it will happen [see bolded section of transcription, below].
May 11, 2008
People are saying that Hillary is "race-baiting" because she mentioned "blue-collar whites." Save the racist accusations for what's coming -- because it surely IS coming.
Hillary is engaging in the standard old-style politics of looking at the electorate as a bunch of groups -- dividing the electorate up into groups and going after key targets. There are "soccer moms" and there are "blue-collar whites" in that view. It is similar to the "big states" view that says don't campaign in small states. It assumes you have a majority, it cannibalizes the voters you have instead of persuading new voters, and Dean's (and Obama's) 50-state strategy is proving to be a much better strategy.
It is the old way, and it worked for a long time, and it stopped working and the 50-state strategy is what we need now. But is isn't racist and isn't intended to divide us. Is going after "soccer moms" or "NASCAR dads" as a demographic voting block a sexist tactic? Yes and no, but it isn't intended to divide. She is just saying that voting patterns show that she is bringing in more of certain groups -- and confirming her unfortunate entrenchment in the old-style "big state" view.
Let's talk about real racism. Look at what has already started from the right. We already have seen them using "boy" and "darkest Africa." As November approaches you will be hearing about "our women." There will be stuff about how Obama wants the While House so he can lure in white wives of important Senators, etc. There will be a lot of "us" vs "them." And much, much worse. Believe me, much, MUCH worse. THAT is when you want to talk about people using racism as a campaign tactic. And when that happens you really don't want the right saying "well that's what you said about Hillary, too."
I was for Edwards. I worked for Richardson for a while. Between today's two candidates I lean Obama a lot and sense that he could be a historical transforming leader. I really want a strongly progressive candidate with an instinct to defend fellow progressives and that isn't Hillary or Obama right now, so I haven't endorsed anyone I'll work for Obama enthusiastically, and will defend him, and then when he is in office I'll work to push the country and Obama in a more progressive direction.
May 8, 2008
Go read about it: Right Wing magazines attack Cindy McCain
See for yourself:
So when do you think the corporate media will start running these scary preacher tapes over and over?
May 7, 2008
See for yourself -- John McCain has a preacher problem of his own. They show a scary video clip of Barack Obama's preacher over and over and over and over and over again but you won't see THESE videos on the corporate media.
Talking about Catholics:
I was talking to someone today who says he can't vote for Obama because of "the people he chooses to associate with" like Rev. Wright.
Imagine of these were played over and over...
May 5, 2008
Yee-Ha, the wingnuts are going to go ... well they already are nuts! Can they go more nuts than they are?
April 25, 2008
I was thinking about the "flag pin" question, and went and looked at the video. Sure enough, the woman accusing Obama of being unpatriotic for not wearing a flag pin ... wait for it ... isn't wearing a flag pin. The smarmy anchorman implying Obama isn't patriotic for not wearing a flag pin ... guess what ... isn't wearing a flag pin.
And, of course, if you go to Google Images and look for pics of John McCain, none of them show him wearing a flag pin. Of course, that means that Google in unpatriotic.
Townhall.com::Is He One of Us?::By Patrick J. Buchanan. Buchanan lays out the basic story that the Republicans are going to try to tell in this campaign. Read the whole thing. Buchanan is telling it like it is for the Republicans, and lays out what they are going to do:
Journalists disagree on whether immigration, Iraq or the economy will be the major issue in 2008. The real issue may be -- and this is what is causing heart palpitations among Democrats -- is Barack Obama one of us, or is he one of them?This is going to be one nasty, racist, smearing, fear-mongering campaign. It's all they have.
And from the comments:
"Hundreds of white Yankee Soldiers died for freedom for blacks and they never thank anyone."
April 24, 2008
John McCain says he can't stop the North Carolina Republican Party and other Republican groups from running ads that smear Barack Obama on race, religion and attack in various other ways. The nominee of the Republican Party says he wants to stop these Republican groups, but can't.
So doesn't this tell us what a McCain administration would be like? Everyone he is supposed to be in charge of will be running around doing whatever they want to do, with McCain saying he can't control them?
Isn't this a reason all by itself to vote against the guy?
April 23, 2008
On September 18, 2006, Pastor John Hagee — whose endorsement Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said this past Sunday he was “glad to have” — told NPR’s Terry Gross that “Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans.” “New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God,” Hagee said, because “there was to be a homosexual parade there on the Monday that the Katrina came.”
Hagee is McCain's preacher.
Will this also be on every news channel, repeated over and over, 24/7, for the next several months? Will reporters hound McCain with questions about his preacher? If not, then what is it that is different between this preacher and Obama's?
April 22, 2008
So Obama is not JUST a terrorist, he's a GANG MEMBER, TOO! (He's black ... get it?)
Here is a new Republican ad accusing Obama of supporting gang violence.
April 20, 2008
John McCain says we're better off after these years of Bush. Do you feel better off? Does the world?
April 19, 2008
Following the right-wing-framed questions ABC presented the Democratic candidates with in this week's debate, here is a look a tomorrow's interview with Sen. McCain -- at The REAL McCain: Less Jobs, More Wars.
April 18, 2008
Go see: Younger Than McCain
April 15, 2008
I have said that the charges by the Obama campaign and supporters that the "Clintons used racism" were bogus. Clinton's campaign manager Maggie Williams and plenty of her campaign staff is African-American and this accusation is an insult to them. (Either they are African-Americans using racism or they are allowing themselves to be used as tokens. Which is it?)
My real complaint about this charge is that it is "crying wolf." It uses up the accusation instead of holding it for use when circumstances really do merit. If Obama is the nominee he will be running against modern Republicans. You want your racism? They got your racism for ya.
Running against Republicans is when you will see racism, not some penny-ante nonsense about Bill Clinton being a racist. (Bill Clinton a racist?) Nope, this week we're starting to see the Republicans weigh in. Yesterday it was "that boy". And today the real racism starts - just starts - to show its head:
It was said behind closed doors to the chablis-and-brie set of San Francisco, in response to a question as to why he was not doing better in that benighted and barbarous land they call Pennsylvania.But how does the Obama campaign now denounce the racism in this, after using the charge on the Clintons. "But you said that the Clintons are racist. Do you call everyone a racist?"
Like Dr. Schweitzer, home from Africa to address the Royal Society on the customs of the upper Zambezi, Barack described Pennsylvanians in their native habitats of Atloona, Alquippa, Johnstown and McKeesport.
Update - I just discovered this from eriposte at Left Coaster yesterday:
That, folks, is an example of a real racist. Now, maybe some of you possibly understand my anger these past few months when the candidate I support, a longstanding Democrat who has done enormous good for minorities and civil rights was falsely tarred as a racist or race-baiter.
[. . .] These are the real scum that we are fighting. I know we are all fighting for the Democratic candidate we support in this primary, but let me be clear who the real political enemy is: The Republicans in Congress and in the White House who have trashed this country the last 7+ years, committed untold criminal acts, destroyed the very moral fabric of what makes this country great and made life much more difficult for the majority of the American public. When the Democratic primary is over, they are the ones we will fight together, because we must. This primary may be depressing - and some days it sure is - but it is nothing compared to the ugly s*** we will face in the general election from the Republicans and the ugly consequences for the country if we don't unite behind the eventual nominee (whether it be Sen. Clinton or Sen. Obama).
April 11, 2008
The corporate media pundit class thinks they 'got' Obama. I think it's just more silliness but it looks like they're going to run with it.
In Guns, God and Government: Obama Courts Bitter and Clingy Pennsylvanians the silly, snarky ABC News' The Note writes,
Did Barack Obama just hand Hillary Clinton and John McCain a nicely gift-wrapped, up for interpretation, potentially damaging quote?And more,
... [Obama:] "You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them," Obama said. "And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."
So far, the Obama campaign is not confirming nor refuting the comments, but Clinton has already weighed in on the stump in Philadelphia.
"I saw in the media it's being reported that my opponent said that the people of Pennsylvania who faced hard times are bitter. Well, that's not my experience," Clinton said. "As I travel around Pennsylvania, I meet people who are resilient, who are optimistic, who are positive, who are rolling up their sleeves. They are working hard everyday for a better future, for themselves and their children. Pennsylvanians don't need a president who looks down on them, they need a president who stands up for them, who fights for them, who works hard for your futures, your jobs, your families."
Grover Norquist, the anti-tax activist who leads an influential weekly meeting of conservatives, went as far as to argue that Obama's line would cost Democrats the White House.I think Obama did a good job of describing some of how small-town people have been tricked into voting for Republicans. And I think a lot of those people are going to see it, too.
"That sentence will lose him the election," Norquist told ABC News. "He just announced to rural America: 'I don't like you.'"
"Now you can vote against that guy not because you don't like him," Norquist added. "You can vote against him because he doesn't like you."
Update - It is starting. Republicans Quickly Pounce on Obama Remarks,
Within moments, Republicans had pounced. Steve Schmidt, a senior adviser to Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign told Politico's Jonathan Martin that Obama's comment revealed "an elitism and condescension towards hardworking Americans that is nothing short of breathtaking." Schmidt added: "It is hard to imagine someone running for president who is more out of touch with average Americans."Here is my take on how they'll use it. They' going to run with "Obama doesn't like you." This gives people cover for bigotry. It's not that they don't like him, they can use this to say he doesn't like them. But Obama does pretty well describe the "Reagan Republican" voters here. And those voters are coming to understand how they have been played. They vote for Republicans, Republican hand the treasury over the Wall Street. They have handed over their pensions, health insurance, jobs, and now their sons and daughters in Iraq so a wealthy few can have ever-bigger jets. And they are figuring that out.
Within hours, the National Republican Congressional Committee had issued a release pushing Rep. Chris Carney -- a vulnerable freshman Democrat from Pennsylvania -- to condemn Obama's remarks.
Update - Hillary is also jumping on it, using the Right's talking points. Great. This sort of stuff only helps the Republicans if Obama becomes the nominee. And Obama is right.
Late update - Obama takes it and knocks it out of the park:
Will Russert or Matthews or Broder any of America's other "opinion leaders" ask John McCain to condemn, reject and denounce this?
The goals of the Democrats and both al Qaeda and al Sadr insurgents are the same: the defeat of the United States in the war in Iraq.Senator Obama is held responsible for anything any black person anywhere says - even Harry Belefonte - and both Obama and Hillary are held responsible for anything posted at MoveOn, DailyKos, etc.
But John McCain gets a free pass, even on statements like this - the kind of statement which he has come pretty close to repeating himself. This is the son of a Republican President who said this, not some marginalized outlier. This is the kind of statement that is repeated frequently by other Republicans. This is the kind of statement that the Republican Party itself has used in previous elections - to the point of using pictures of candidates morphine into Osama bin laden in their candidates' ads. It is time once and for all for McCain to either embrace or condemn this.
April 10, 2008
The Carpetbagger Report writes about The problem with comparing Obama to Tiger Woods. At a McCain rally a speaker says,
“Rest assured that people like Senator McCain will be the goal and the men that my two young boys will emulate an admire. You can have your Tiger Woods. We have Senator McCain.”Then On Hardball,
The general consensus, the talking heads said, is that it’s “no harm, no foul,” because Tiger Woods is great at golf.No, I found it offensive, too. So I had an idea.
Consider the quote again: “Rest assured that people like Senator McCain will be the goal and the men that my two young boys will emulate an admire. You can have your Tiger Woods. We have Senator McCain.”
In other words, don’t admire the ethnically diverse golfer who reminds this guy of Barack Obama.
Am I the only one who finds this offensive?
Maybe someone could produce a video with a Saturday Night Live style skit. In the skit Sen. Obama has a regular weekly session where he has to apologize for each thing some black person somewhere may have said or done that week, before he is allowed to move on to his topic... Script:
"Now before I begin I see that a black driver in Connecticut ran a stop sign and narrowly avoided colliding with a delivery truck. I sincerely apologize. And in Tennessee an accountant whose mother's grandfather is from Nigeria made a mistake and cost his client $650. I deeply regret that this incident occurred. Now, moving on today I would like to talk about agricultural policy ..."
March 26, 2008
March 20, 2008
I'm still stuck in the Atlanta airport, where they have CNN on. I just heard Senator Obama say that the country needs a little more "straight talk" right now, and that Senator McCain is a true American hero.
I think the second part is a great thing to say, but I have to wonder if Sen. Obama understands that "straight talk" is McCain's brand? He just reinforced McCain's campaign slogan to the country.
This is just as bad as Senator Clinton saying the other day that McCain is ready to be President and Obama isn't.
March 18, 2008
I watched Senator Obama's speech today from the press room at the Take Back America conference. I'll comment on it later. Right now I''ll only say that I believe this was one of the great speeches of American history. But maybe more than a speech. Maybe a change event.
Remarks of Senator Barack Obama
"A More Perfect Union"
Tuesday, March 18th, 2008
"We the people, in order to form a more perfect union."
Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America's improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787.
The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation's original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations.
Of course, the answer to the slavery question was already embedded within our Constitution – a Constitution that had at is very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time.
And yet words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the United States. What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part – through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk - to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time.
This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign – to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America. I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together – unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction – towards a better future for of children and our grandchildren.
This belief comes from my unyielding faith in the decency and generosity of the American people. But it also comes from my own American story.
I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton's Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I've gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world's poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners – an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.
It's a story that hasn't made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts – that out of many, we are truly one.
Throughout the first year of this campaign, against all predictions to the contrary, we saw how hungry the American people were for this message of unity. Despite the temptation to view my candidacy through a purely racial lens, we won commanding victories in states with some of the whitest populations in the country. In South Carolina, where the Confederate Flag still flies, we built a powerful coalition of African Americans and white Americans.
This is not to say that race has not been an issue in the campaign. At various stages in the campaign, some commentators have deemed me either "too black" or "not black enough." We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface during the week before the South Carolina primary. The press has scoured every exit poll for the latest evidence of racial polarization, not just in terms of white and black, but black and brown as well.
And yet, it has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn.
On one end of the spectrum, we've heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it's based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap. On the other end, we've heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike.
I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I'm sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.
But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren't simply controversial. They weren't simply a religious leader's effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.
As such, Reverend Wright's comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems – two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.
Given my background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way
But the truth is, that isn't all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God's work here on Earth – by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.
In my first book, Dreams From My Father, I described the experience of my first service at Trinity:
"People began to shout, to rise from their seats and clap and cry out, a forceful wind carrying the reverend's voice up into the rafters….And in that single note – hope! – I heard something else; at the foot of that cross, inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion's den, Ezekiel's field of dry bones. Those stories – of survival, and freedom, and hope – became our story, my story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this black church, on this bright day, seemed once more a vessel carrying the story of a people into future generations and into a larger world. Our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more than black; in chronicling our journey, the stories and songs gave us a means to reclaim memories that we didn't need to feel shame about…memories that all people might study and cherish – and with which we could start to rebuild."
That has been my experience at Trinity. Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety – the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinity's services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.
And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions – the good and the bad – of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.
I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.
These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.
Some will see this as an attempt to justify or excuse comments that are simply inexcusable. I can assure you it is not. I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork. We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias.
But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America – to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.
The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we've never really worked through – a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.
Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote, "The past isn't dead and buried. In fact, it isn't even past." We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.
Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven't fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today's black and white students.
Legalized discrimination - where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments – meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today's urban and rural communities.
A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one's family, contributed to the erosion of black families – a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods – parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement – all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.
This is the reality in which Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up. They came of age in the late fifties and early sixties, a time when segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted. What's remarkable is not how many failed in the face of discrimination, but rather how many men and women overcame the odds; how many were able to make a way out of no way for those like me who would come after them.
But for all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didn't make it – those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations – those young men and increasingly young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future. Even for those blacks who did make it, questions of race, and racism, continue to define their worldview in fundamental ways. For the men and women of Reverend Wright's generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician's own failings.
And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright's sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.
In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don't feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience – as far as they're concerned, no one's handed them anything, they've built it from scratch. They've worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they're told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.
Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren't always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.
Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze – a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns – this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.
This is where we are right now. It's a racial stalemate we've been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy – particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.
But I have asserted a firm conviction – a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people – that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice is we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.
For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances – for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs - to the larger aspirations of all Americans -- the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family. And it means taking full responsibility for own lives – by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.
Ironically, this quintessentially American – and yes, conservative – notion of self-help found frequent expression in Reverend Wright's sermons. But what my former pastor too often failed to understand is that embarking on a program of self-help also requires a belief that society can change.
The profound mistake of Reverend Wright's sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It's that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country – a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old -- is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know -- what we have seen – is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope – the audacity to hope – for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.
In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination - and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past - are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds – by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.
In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world's great religions demand – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother's keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister's keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well.
For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle – as we did in the OJ trial – or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright's sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she's playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.
We can do that.
But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we'll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.
That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, "Not this time." This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can't learn; that those kids who don't look like us are somebody else's problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.
This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don't have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.
This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn't look like you might take your job; it's that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.
This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should've been authorized and never should've been waged, and we want to talk about how we'll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.
I would not be running for President if I didn't believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation – the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.
There is one story in particularly that I'd like to leave you with today – a story I told when I had the great honor of speaking on Dr. King's birthday at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist, in Atlanta.
There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.
And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that's when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.
She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.
She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.
Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother's problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didn't. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.
Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they're supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who's been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he's there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, "I am here because of Ashley."
"I'm here because of Ashley." By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.
But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins.
This diary at MyDD, calling Michelle Obama a "welfare queen" is actually on the site's recommended list: MyDD :: Michelle Obama: "Give Us Something Here". This is beyond outrageous and must be condemned, rejected, repudiated and any other words you can find. It shames all of us.
March 14, 2008
The Nation has a great article out on the Obama smears that are circulating, and looks at where they come from.
The purpose of the smear is to paint him as an Arab-loving, Israel-hating, terrorist-coddling, radical black nationalist. That picture couldn't be further from the truth, but you'd be surprised how many people have fallen for it.
[. . .] We may not know who started the smears, but we do know who's amplifying them. The "Obama is a Muslim" rumor began in the fringe conservative blogosphere. "Barack Hussein Obama: Once a Muslim, Always a Muslim," blogger Debbie Schlussel wrote on December 18, 2006. Schlussel had a history of inflammatory rhetoric and baseless accusations. She said journalist Jill Carroll, who was kidnapped by Iraqi insurgents in 2006, "hates America" and "hates Israel"; labeled George Soros a "fake Holocaust survivor"; and speculated that Pakistani terrorists were somehow to blame for last year's shootings at Virginia Tech. Yet her post on Obama gained traction; one month later, the Washington Times's Insight magazine alleged that Obama had attended "a so-called Madrassa" and was a secret Muslim.
March 13, 2008
Here is a great breakdown of the primaries so far. WIt also breaks down the Clinton / Obama votes between Democrats, Independents and Republicans. Go read this, there are some surprises.
March 8, 2008
Every time I think I might lean toward endorsing one or the other of the candidates things pop up that push me away again. I used to say I liked all of the candidates running for the nomination. Now I'm wondering about that.
And it isn't just the candidates, it's the stuff the people around them are doing. The people a candidate puts into leadership positions says a lot about how that person would run an administration.
My main concern in the primaries is winning in November. I can't support taking self-interest over the interests of the party in November. When you run a scorched-earth primary campaign you reduce the chances of keeping people motivated. You also give tremendous ammunition to the opposition. In California we had a scorched-earth primary campaign for the Democratic nomination for Governor between Westly and Angeledes. Then, during the general election all Schwarzenegger had to do was run ads with the same scripts that Westly had used and coast to victory. The result is that now we have a huge budget deficit and the school budget is going to be cut 10%. And the health budget. And everything else. Thanks guys.
The same thing is happening now between Obama and Clinton.
Hillary says John McCain is qualified to be President but Obama is not. How does that help Democrats win?
Then a top Obama aide calls Hillary a "monster." How does that help Democrats win?
And then there are the comment trolls who are disrupting the blogs. My criticism on this one goes almost entirely to the Obama trolls, who are threatening and intimidating anyone who dares suggest Obama is not the progressive essiah. Yesterday, for example, Kos had a post about how there are too few women in high-level office. Obama supporters were actually complaining that a post like this gives Hillary an advantage, that women shouldn't be in office, etc. I know better than to determine whether a candidate should be nominated based on comments that supporters leave at blogs, but the Obama trolls have been disrupting so many sites ... You pretty much can't read the comments at DailyKos anymore, for example. How does this help Democrats win?
I'm not even sure that some of these are not Republican operatives being sent in to stir up trouble inside the Democratic party. In fact, I suspect that this is happening.
I think that both candidates have an obligation at this point to ask their supporters to back off, chill, lighten up, whatever. Tensions are running high and a real leader would be working to unite the party, and bring people back together. Neither candidate is doing this today and neither candidate gets my endorsement until they do.
I have said this before: the candidate I want has the instinct to jump in and defend other progressives.
Now with that in mind, I want to address one particular meme that is circulating. Obama supporters accuse the Clinton campaign of "using race." I am so sick of this divisive, false accusation. It is not true and it divides Democrats. It is destructive to all of us. The same COULD be said of the Obama campaign and misogyny, by the way, if you applied the same standards - someone loosely associated with the campaign saying something that COULD be interpreted as such-and-such. At least, if you consider the word "bitch" and associated characterizations as misogynist. I haven't seen the "N" word used anywhere, but I HAVE seen the "B" word used.
People being stupid and saying stupid things is NOT a campaign strategy. People who support a candidate are not "the campaign." And everyone knows that racism and misogyny are not going to win over the base in Democratic primaries.
We are all in this together. There is really no substantive difference between Obama's and Clinton's policies. They are both solid progressives and either would be a great President. OUR goal must be to get the conservative movement out of the White House and Congress and start restoring our traditions of democracy.
March 7, 2008
So McCain has the nomination and the professionals are starting to shape his image. Here is a new McCain ad that is chock full of manipulative psychological gimmicks, code words, and the beginning of the narrative development for the campaign. How many things can you spot? What is the campaign going to be about? What is the overarching story?
March 5, 2008
Note - This is an insider post, for people who spend a lot of time at other blog sites. If you don't spend a lot of time at other blogs, especially reading the comments, you won't get this and should iignore it. I apologize.
Let's have a war in the comments here. The vote count in the Democratic primaries so far is:
OK, go at it.
March 3, 2008
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...
February 22, 2008
Pam Spaulding asks, Where did all the money people donated to the Clinton campaign go?,
According to the filing, detailed in the New York Times, Clinton paid strategist Mark Penn and his company $3.8 million for "fees and expenses" in January alone. In sum, the firm has billed $10 million in total, which included expenditures on direct mail.I'm stunned, so I guess "stunning" may be the right word.
The Times said other Democratic strategists called this sum "stunning."
February 21, 2008
Does anyone remember this story, about McCain's Abramoff hearings?
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has assured his colleagues that his expanding investigation into the activities of a former GOP lobbyist and a half-dozen of his tribal casino clients is not directed at revealing ethically questionable actions by Members of Congress.He used the hearings to shield, not investigate, his fellow Republicans
. . .
"It's not our responsibility in any way to involve ourselves in the ethics process [of Senators]," McCain said Wednesday, explaining the comments he made to his fellow GOP Senators. "That was not the responsibility of the Indian Affairs Committee."
. . . Because of those stories - and several other news reports touching on Abramoff's relationship with Members - McCain said he wanted to let Senators know that he was not trying to air any of their dirty laundry.
February 20, 2008
I just finished reading Obama's Blueprint For Change Document. (This is a PDF document.)
This is a solid plan, with specifics. I recommend everyone read it.
Naturally I have some disagreements, but this is a great incremental plan for beginning to restore the country to pre-Bush conditions, and hopefully moving towards progress.
February 18, 2008
Before the California primary I was at a house party put on by supporters of Senator Hillary Clinton. (I have also attended Obama events - no hate mail, please). Clinton advisor Ann Lewis phoned in to talk about some of the issues. (Ambassador Joe Wilson also called.) At one point one of the guests asked Lewis whether progressive challenges in primaries is the best way get more progressives elected to the Congress.
Lewis gave a response that I feel should be repeated. It shows that the Clinton team has an understanding of the need to build a progressive movement outside of the electoral process if we want the country to make the changes that we progressives feel are necessary. (I am not saying that the Obama team does not have a similar understanding - no hate mail, please.)
Here is Ann Lewis’ statement about how Sen. Clinton thinks we can increase our chances of electing progressives into office in Congress.
"Hillary believes that the most effective way to elect progressive Democrats to office – and thus enact progressive policies – is by building and maintaining a progressive infrastructure, including institutions, organizations and blogs."At the YearlyKos Presidential Candidate Forum, Sen. Clinton gave an answer to a question that also showed an understanding of the need for non-party infrastructure, and that answer stuck with me. She said something to the effect of the reason things will be different under a Hillary Clinton presidency is that "This time, we'll have YOU," meaning that the Netroots will be there to watch her back, and to keep Democrats honest. (Obama also was at this forum, no hate mail please.)
If we really want long-term, structural changes in the way the public votes, the way to do this is to reach them outside of the electoral process. We need to help them understand what progressive values are - why democracy is important ad community benefits them, and conservative "you're on your own" policies do not. This effort leverages the electoral effort by "preparing the ground" and helping the public understand what progressive candidates are trying to achieve. This way ALL progressive candidates benefit from the SAME contribution. Each $1000 given to a progressive infrastructure organization accompishes more than $1000 given to EACH candidate at every level during the election.
If we can fund organizations like the Commonweal Institute and Speak Out California, which will then work to reach the public and help restore public understanding and appreciation of progressive values and ideas, then we will start to create demand for progressive candidates and policies.
February 10, 2008
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.This is propaganda at its best.
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."
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.
February 3, 2008
As you know I am not a Hillary or an Obama supporter. However, I feel the need to clear this up. At BuzzFlash: Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama: Who is Better at "Framing" Progressive Issues?,
Clinton spent many years as a corporate lawyer for the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock. . . . She has said that she has been an agent of change because she has worked with the likes of Bill Frist.Hillary Clinton was appointed to the Board of the Legal Services Corporation by Jimmy Carter in 1978. Legal Services provides legal aid to the poor, working to ensure voting rights, as well as suing corporations on their behalf.
At the Rose Law Firm she worked on patent infringement and intellectual property, not corporate law. While there she worked for free on child advocacy issues. At the time,
Rodham maintained her interest in children's law and family policy, publishing the scholarly articles "Children's Policies: Abandonment and Neglect" in 1977 and "Children's Rights: A Legal Perspective" in 1979. The latter continued her argument that legal competence of children depended upon their age and other circumstances, and that in cases of serious medical rights judicial intervention is sometimes warranted. An American Bar Association chair later said, "Her articles were important, not because they were radically new but because they helped formulate something that had been inchoate."Historian Garry Wills would later term her "one of the more important scholar-activists of the last two decades", while conservatives said her theories would usurp traditional parental authority, allow children to file frivolous lawsuits against their parents, and considered her work part of legal "crit" theory run amok.There, that clears that up.
Rodham co-founded the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, a state-level alliance with the Children's Defense Fund, in 1977.[
February 2, 2008
I'm not endorsing either Hillary or Obama, for various reasons. Both would be great Presidents. Hillary is ready on day 1. If Barack can pull it off, he could be transformational. But I'd like to see Medicare-For-All, an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions along with massive green infrastructure investment, bringing corporations under citizen control, balancing the budget and paying of the debt ASAP by taxing the rich and corporations (get the money from where the money went), cutting the military budget by about 3/4, and a few other things.
Here's a couple of Obama videos that are great.
Baby Got Barack:
Yes, I Can (through Culture Kitchen)
Why I Am Supporting Hillary Clinton
Super Tuesday is only a few days away when thousands of Californians will cast their votes in the Democratic primary. It seems this has become a race where campaign issues have become dwarfed by the diversity of the candidates themselves. Amazingly, the two most diverse candidates, Senator Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton, are the only contenders for the Democratic nomination. It has made this election one of the most fascinating and inspirational elections in our history.
I'm sure it will come as no surprise to those who are familiar with the work of the CALIFORNIA LIST that I personally support Senator Hillary Clinton for president.
Yes, I support Senator Hillary Clinton because she is a pro-choice, Democratic candidate, but more importantly I believe she can potentially accomplish more than the other contenders in this presidential race. Senator Hillary Clinton has a plan and the experience to bring that plan to fruition.
I support Senator Hillary Clinton because she is tough. Working with women candidates here in California, I have learned that when a woman runs for any office she inevitably faces challenges because of her gender. During the recent presidential contests, some of these challenges made front page news - most topics have little to do with her ability execute the office for which she is running. We have discussed Senator Hillary Clinton’s laugh, her clothes and now her husband. She has been held to a much higher standard than her opponents and to her credit has risen to the occasion. Too bad we are not talking about the issues that really matter, because when you actually listen to her speak it becomes clear that she is knowledgeable, articulate and understands of the issues facing our country.
I know that women aren't the only proponents for what we call “women’s issues”—issues of wage fairness and reproductive health and work/family balance. Thankfully the women’s movement has sensitized many men to these concerns and certainly men have taken up the gauntlet on such issues. However, by and large women still experience problems in these areas more forcefully than their men. In this particular instance, Senator Hillary Clinton’s gender and her focus have coincided. These are the issues of particular concern to me personally and to the CALIFORNIA LIST, so her work and advocacy on them is another strong reason for my support.
If you doubt that a woman can win, just remember Senator Hillary Clinton won her Senate seat twice in a state where she was a first judged to have an unlikely chance of winning at all. She won both the Michigan and Florida primaries - two large, diverse states that are important to win in the general election.
And, maybe most importantly, I like Senator Hillary Clinton. In my role as the founder of the CALIFORNIA LIST, I know that in politics, “likeability” counts. I find her warm, personable and funny.
According to a poll released by Field Research on January 22nd, Senator Hillary Clinton leads California with the largest margins amongst women at 43% compared to 24% in favor of Senator Barack Obama. In a state where so many delegates are up for grabs, this is where the discussion among women gets especially interesting...because it calls into question whether, as a gender, we can accurately be considered a single group—or courted as a single group—demographically. As the CALIFORNIA LIST continues to work to elect women to government in California, we hope to capitalize on what we are learning to help build the pipeline of future women leaders.
Whether on the sidelines of the soccer field or volleyball court, at a Boy Scout dinner, or during my son’s sixth grade field trip, I have been so energized by the debate about the different candidates. For the past six years I have been traveling the state of California talking about the importance of being engaged politically. My personal life has always been divided between my political friends, my carpool mom’s and my social friends, until this primary season. I think that both Democratic candidates have equally inspired political activism.
While I support Senator Hillary Clinton, I also want to make it perfectly clear that I truly respect those who think otherwise. I believe in the Democratic process. I look forward to the day when all people have an equal voice – regardless of race or gender. We have come a long way. We have a long way to go. But, the most important thing is to make your voice heard and vote on Tuesday, February 5th.
Bettina Duval is the founder of the California List, a political fundraising network that helps elect Democratic women to all branches of California state government.
January 28, 2008
I just came across this: The Left Coaster: Is Hillary Clinton a "Corporate Democrat"? - Part 1
Leave a comment.
A blogger at Red State says that on another occasion Romney's staff said to him that Romney wears an earpiece that his staff uses to talk to him. Who Is Whispering in Romney's Ear? | Redstate,
During Gov. Romney’s speech, one of his handlers mentioned to one of our staff people that any time Gov. Romney needed to wrap things up, he would be happy to let Gov. Romney know through the ear-piece that he wore.Remember that Bush was caught wearing a device after he actually said "now, let me finish" to the earpiece!
We need to know if Romney was cheating in the debate.
January 24, 2008
I'm not endorsing Hillary or Obama or Edwards. My own philosophy leans more toward Edwards but I would be happy with any of these three.
That said, if there is ONE thing I do NOT want a President doing, it is pushing the wrong goddam BUTTON!
according to transcripts of the proceedings in Springfield, he hit the wrong button at least six times.It only takes hitting the wrong button ONE time in the White House, and the world has a bad day.
January 21, 2008
Because of the hysteria in the blogosphere I am reposting this post that I wrote in August:
A recent post I wrote with James, defending Hillary from a racist Republican attack, has evoked e-mail and comment "accusations" that I am a "Hillary supporter."That was August.
OF COURSE I AM A HILLARY SUPPORTER -- I'M A DEMOCRAT!!
I also support Barack Obama, Chris Dodd and John Edwards! Duh!
I think I prefer Edwards and Dodd right now, because their polices and thinking and approach lines up more with my own. Obama sure is winning me over, too. I am more progressive-oriented than Hillary.
But let me suggest something to you -- If Hillary Clinton becomes President, she will be the most progressive president America has ever had.
So relax. We have a great group of candidates this time.
Now with that said let me add that our candidates should all be going after Republicans and defending each other. I will strongly support candidates who have an instinct to defend fellow Democrats against Republican attacks, in any race for any office. I will strongly support candidates who make it clear that they understand that the current Republican party has devolved into something unknown in American history, something dangerous and undemocratic and particularly dishonest.
January 19, 2008
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.Don't fall for it. Stick together.
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.”
January 17, 2008
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.Later that month I wrote,
. . .
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.
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.
Update Jay Buckey has posted this as a DailyKos diary. I suggest giving it a recommend to get this idea into discussion.
I just came across this. Jay Buckey is running for the Senate in New Hampshire, and he just came out with a proposal to put a National Security Levy on Oil so WE, THE PEOPLE benefit from high oil prices, instead of just sending all that money to others. Go see his post on this over at the progressive blog Blue Hampshire: Taking Back Our Future and Our Freedom: A Policy Proposal. Excerpts:
Right now, every time we fill up our cars, we're sending money to foreign countries -- where roughly 60 percent of the more than 20 million barrels of oil we use everyday is produced. It's like they're taxing us, for their benefit.I love this. A levy, so WE, THE PEOPLE get the benefit of the price fluctuations, either through a tax that we can use to pay for important things like schools, or through alternative energy incentives!
Some of those countries, like Canada, are close allies, but others aren't. And whenever we put a gallon of gas in our cars, we're using our hard-earned dollars to help fund foreign oil producers in the Mideast, in Russia, and elsewhere.
Moreover, OPEC and other oil-producing countries have been able to lower and raise oil prices like puppeteers pulling the strings. Alternative energy companies have often failed when oil prices were low; American consumers - especially lower-income citizens - have been stretched almost to the breaking point when prices spike.
It's time to put a stop to this.
The National Security Levy will move us toward energy independence and secure the future of our country for our children.
Here's how it will work: the National Security Levy will be a fee on all oil consumption in the United States - combined with a price floor that guarantees oil will not sink below a certain price.
. . . If the world price of oil falls, the National Security Levy will be increased, so that the price in the US remains above a certain established floor. This means that alternative energy producers won't be wiped out by temporary declines in world oil prices, as happened in the 1980s; they'll know that the price of oil in the US would not be allowed to fall below the floor price.
If, however, the price of world oil spikes dramatically, then the National Security Levy would be suspended during the spike.
This guy is great. Go read. Here is his campaign site. If you agree that WE THE PEOPLE should be receiving the benefits from the high oil prices, instead of others, give him a few bucks. In fact, give Jay a few Buckeys!
A bit more from Jay's post,
But you might ask, if a National Security Levy on oil is such a great idea, why isn't it already in place? Well, the basic idea isn't new, but according to conventional wisdom a serious proposal like this is politically unacceptable.
I believe that for too long the politicians in Washington have underestimated the will and determination of the American people. I believe that Americans are ready to change, ready to make a commitment to our future, and ready to work to make that future a reality.
And I believe that what is truly unacceptable is to have American servicemen and women risking their lives overseas -- in part to protect our access to oil -- and yet not do everything we can here in New Hampshire and across the country to end our dependence on foreign oil. We need to take positive action to protect our nation's security and our future.
Disclaimer - I am not working for Jay Buckey but might do so later on. I wrote this because I strongly agree.
January 15, 2008
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.
January 14, 2008
The graph on the Political Compass web site, which analyzes the positions on the political compass of the various candidates for President in the primary elections, demonstrates why many many Americans like myself feel so disenfranchised by the current political process and the "choice" it has given them. Every single candidate of significance in both parties falls into the upper right hand quadrant: Authoritarian/Right - the Democrats just fall closer to the lower left-hand corner of that quadrant, the Republicans, the upper right hand corner.
Me? I fall into the extreme lower left-hand corner of the lower left quadrant: Left/Libertarian... my views on social and economic issues are almost diametrically opposite that of every single candidate. And exactly in the same quadrant as my political party: the Green Party (globally and in the U.S.)... although that party is much closer to the center than I am, amusingly enough.
Kucinich and Gravel, both in the upper right hand corner of the lower left quadrant, Left/Libertarian, are the closest candidates to my preferences. You can look at the 2004 Election diagram, which shows that the two closest candidates to my position (in the same region as Kucinich) were David Cobb and Ralph Nader (no surprise). John Kerry and GWB both, of course, fall into the lower left hand and upper right hand corner of the Authoritarian/Right quadrant (also no surprise).
... and guess where Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and the Dali Lama all fall? Desmond Tutu. Michael Moore. Eric Schlosser ("Fast Food Nation")? Just to name a few folks. You guessed it: the lower left hand quadrant. The first three are sourced from the Analysis page (the site strongly recommends that you take their test before reading that page), the last three are sourced from the site's Libertarian Left thinkers page. You might also want to take a look at who the guiding intellectual lights of the Authoritarian Right (and thus the American political mainstream) are. Take a look at those two pages, and tell me which one has more books on your reading list. :)
Where do you fall on the Political Compass? Which individuals would you rather be associated with? Do you feel "represented"? Do you feel that the Democratic Party, in the form of Clinton, Obama, and Edwards, folks that in other areas of the world would be described as "moderate conservatives", truly represents YOUR political beliefs?
Look at where the Labour Party in Britain has gone over the past three decades (middle of lower left hand quadrant to middle of upper right hand quadrant)... is there any doubt that a graph of the Democratic Party in this country would show the same pattern?
Dave wants to drag the Democratic Party back to Left/Libertarian quadrant it occupied thirty years ago. Me, I think: "Why spend the effort to do that, when there's already a party that truly represents my views?" We have a difference of opinion on tactics. I'm curious as to which side of the discussion the readers of this blog fall on.
Of course, as the site mentions, if we had a rational political system, with proportional representation, then this entire discussion would be unnecessary. Dave and I would happily both be members of the Green Party of the United States (and so would vast numbers of other people), and we'd be working in coalition with the Democrats occupying the "moderate conservative" lower left hand corner of the Authoritarian/Right to frustrate the efforts of the Republican party to destroy everything we hold dear.
P.S. I'm going to write them and ask that they include Cynthia McKinney, one of the leading candidates for the Green Party nomination, on the primary page. I don't think there's enough information available for him to easily make an analysis of the other candidates' positions, although I'm sure they'll all fall into the same general region (based on what I heard today when I attended the Green Party Presidential Candidates debate - soon to be available on the KPFA web site).
January 11, 2008
It's hard to dislike this guy. Watch this:
And read this GREAT column today from David Sirota,
Stay Classy, Mike HuckabeeAND, is this ad brilliant, or what?
[. . .]
Recall that the media portrays Bush's alliance with the religious right as proof of his convictions. Huckabee's alliance with the same religious right is subtly cast as a sign of supposed ignorance. Bush's rhetorical gaffes are often painted as endearing — evidence that despite his silver-spoon pedigree, he is the authentic "average American man" thinking "in a common-sense way," as Republican commentator Peggy Noonan wrote. Huckabee? The Weekly Standard calls him "a village idiot" and a "rube," while Noonan derides him for "populist manipulation."
Bush, you see, was always an aristocrat underneath the "windshield cowboy" veneer. He is the son of a president, a Skull-and-Bones man — ruling class all the way.
Huckabee, on the other hand, is a real-life regular guy. He views religion as more than just a convenient political cudgel, truly did pull himself "up from the bootstraps" — and his class grievances are personal. The well-heeled narcissists in the media and political Establishment are appalled. They see Huckabee as a country bumpkin getting uppity.
Democrats, you'd better be ready for what's coming. This is another Ronald Reagan. If we don't start stating progressive VALUES and the BENEFITS of progressive values, we're toast. No more lists of issues, like you're trying to buy groceries, please.
January 9, 2008
For your musical entertainment:
January 8, 2008
We who read and write blogs are what I call "hyper-informed." We not only know about everything that is going on, but we often know about it within minutes or hours.
This can cause us to forget that most people are not up to speed with the kinds of things that you and I take for granted. For example, most people know nothing about the billions of dollars in cash that disappeared in Iraq. You and I know all about it. It was widely reported in the blogs and everyone who frequents blogs read about it. And it is discussed as a given. It forms a foundation of our understanding of what is happening in America - yet it means nothing to most people. There are so many examples like this.
The information gap is so wide that people think something is wrong with you if you try to explain to them what is going on.
Where am I going with this? Yesterday someone told me that most people where she works think that Barack Obama is a Muslim. It's one of those "everyone knows" things.
Matt Stoller at Open Left:: Clinton's Sincerity Moment,
I thought her appearance was one of the sweetest, toughest, and most forthright expressions of Hillary Clinton's belief system I have ever seen. She genuinely believes this country is lost without someone who knows how to deal with the massive problems we're facing, and she genuinely doesn't think Obama can do it. Moreover, she looks kind of lost in the politics, unable to comprehend how her decades of hard work and compromises could be rejected by voters. Don't they see that Obama isn't ready? Can't they go beyond the rhetoric and look at substance? She has gotten plenty of liberal policies done, why are the liberals voting for someone else? Whatever you may think of Clinton, she has put her whole life into public service.
I was on the trail for three days last week, and it is incredibly tiring. Candidates go from event to event, eating pizza, sleeping little, surrounded by press and fans and opponents in a high pressure atmosphere. That Clinton does it, and expresses herself so sweetly in this appearance, is to her credit, even if the cynical, nasty, and misogynistic press corps doesn't get it. She understands just how mean and unfair they are. What she doesn't understand is that liberal politics are winning politics.
Over at AlterNet, Joshua Holland writes, Obama Can Win; If He Does, Let's Hope His Sunny Bipartisan Talk Is Just Rhetoric. A snippet:
The Republican establishment is fully aware of the fact that they can't win on any substantial issue of public policy on the merits of their arguments alone. There is no broad constituency in America for showering the top 1 percent with tax breaks, handing huge subsidies to energy firms and giant agribusinesses and pharmaceutical firms, starting wars of choice, cutting social services or privatizing broad swaths of the public sector.Much more, go read.
So they emphasize social issues and conjure up fear of foreign bogey-men in order to remain relevant. And they marginalize and demonize their opponents, which has been a central thrust of conservative messaging since the days of Spiro Agnew and Joe McCarthy. In logic, it's known as "poisoning the well" -- making one's interlocutor out to be such a heinous beast that anything he or she says will be perceived, without examination, as an assault on our core values.
At heart, there's a fundamental divide between Obama's post-partisan rhetoric, and the hunger among many progressives for a fighter who will stand up to the Right-wing noise machine and effectively slug it out with the GOP. That goes a long way to explaining why Obama, despite an almost perfect biography and the caché of being a Beltway outsider at a time when the insiders are so widely loathed, never seemed to catch on with the left "blogosphere" the way one would have expected him to.
If Obama can pull it off, it will lead to a great progressive future. But does he really think the corporate right is going to work with him? I think they're going to do everything they can to destroy him.
January 5, 2008
The New Hampshire Democratic Debate just wrapped up. I am so impressed by ALL FOUR of the Democratic candidates! My doubts about Obama have largely been addressed. Edwards is there to fight for the people against the entrenched corporate and special interests. Hillary is ready to hit the ground running. And Bill Richardson finally had a chance to present himself without a big crowd there making it difficult to see who he is.
That ALL did well. It is a very tough choice, and that is a great thing for the people. I support ALL of them.
January 4, 2008
I have to point this out, because I am not seeing it in any reporting or blogs. The Iowa caucuses have a 15% threshold. If you are in a precinct and your candidate does not get 15% then you either go to another candidate of go home. Getting 2% in the Iowa caucuses means that you got over 15% in enough precincts. In other precincts it could mean you received anywhere from 0% to 14.9999% support.
Disclaimer, I have been consulting with the Richardson campaign.
January 2, 2008
Insiders talk about Huckabee as the Frankenstein's monster the Republicans created with their strategy of stirring up religious strife. They worked so hard to divide us along religious lines to get votes - but then a candidate shows up who is an actual right-wing Christian, not just a vote-pandering corporatist, and they don’t know what to do about it. It’s fun, in a way, to watch the right's machine -- Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, the right-wing blogs. etc. -- in total panic, trying to get their audience to pull back from voting the way they’ve been telling them to vote for so many years.
I think the DC Democratic leadership has made the same mistake with their cautious, pander-to-the-so-called-center strategy (as conservatives move that "center" ever rightward). Like the Republicans, they thought they owned their base. They paid lip service to get progressive votes but then engaged in the kind of strategerizing and "afraid Rush Limbaugh will say something bad about them" approach we have had to endure rather than just doing what is right. (The point being that Rush will say something bad about you anyway, no matter what you do.) They let the war go on, took impeachment "off the table," wouldn't force Republicans to actually filibuster (thereby requiring 60 Senate votes for Democratic interests but only 50 for Republican), let Bush continue to violate the law and Constitution with impunity - even refusing to enforce their own Congressional subpoenas! They think their “base” has to stick with them no matter what.
So then along comes Ron Paul. HE says the war is wrong and illegal and must be stopped. HE says we have to enforce the Constitution above all. And surprise of surprises, he is drawing support. A letter in Tuesday’s San Jose Mercury News illustrates my point:
Ron Paul stands up to examinationRon Paul is this year’s Howard Dean. You can’t go to a farmer’s market around here without encountering a Ron Paul volunteer. In their enthusiasm to help fix the country many new voters are being drawn into the Ron Paul sphere.
For the first time I can remember, we have a presidential candidate who is actually saying elected officials should keep their oaths and follow the Constitution. I was vacillating between choices, but after a closer look at Ron Paul, all doubts are put to bed. As commander in chief, he would end this financially ruinous war for the right reason: because it is illegal. He would also restore sound monetary policy and stop the "inflation tax" that nobody talks about. It is amazing how many of our problems would be mitigated if officials simply lived up to their oaths. For me, voting has always been selecting the best bad apple, but this is the first time I've actually been inspired. Google Ron Paul and be convinced.
Bringing in new voters is always a good thing. And opposing illegal aggressive war. torture, and demanding that the Constitution and laws be followed are to be praised no matter who is doing it. Heck, listening to Paul talk about these things almost makes me want to support him!
But then these recruits are then subjected to the other side of the far-right libertarian agenda. First there is the lunatic "Secret NAFTA Superhighway" conspiracy stuff. It's a catchy phrase that seems to affect people's brains, but it doesn't mean anything. It's just nut stuff. People's understandable concerns about trade deals that practically require the destruction of jobs and the environment are used by Paul as a way to mainstream far-right "black helicopter" thinking.
Then comes a dose of really bad economics. There's the "get rid of the IRS" and gold-standard nonsense. And the talk that the Federal Reserve is some kind of secret internationalist cabal has a hint of the old-time antisemitism of those who say that Jews have a secret conspiracy to control all the money.
And I don't fault a candidate based on who supports him or her, but Ron Paul sure does have a lot of militia, white supremacist, etc. groups endorsing him. So I do have get a bit suspicious about where he is coming from.
Unfortunately he is also a possible Ralph Nader whose independent run could siphon off enough votes that would otherwise have gone to Democrats to throw the election to the right. Anti-war, pro-Constitution support draws votes away from the Democrats, not Republicans. That guarantees the war continues and the shredding of the Constitution is completed.
January 1, 2008
Senator Chris Dodd thanks the netroots for fighting for the Constitution:
December 31, 2007
[. . .] The insider political media is now embedded with, and morphed into, the insider political classes to the point where they part of the same beast. The insider political reporters have moved beyond the courtiers that Stephen Colbert so brilliantly satired two White House correspondents dinners ago; and have fully joined the home team of the insider Washington establishment.Go read - it's great.
This class decided a year ago which candidate was inevitable, and which candidates were exiled into the insider media gulag, destined to disappear as though they never existed.
By any standard, Joe Biden, Bill Richardson and Chris Dodd stand at the top of the list in presidential qualification, stature, substance and a lifetime of depth and achievement. A reasonable person might conclude that each of these three, has equal or greater qualification to be president as any of the three leading Democrats.
[. . .] Who do these people think they are, that during most of the presidential debates, the three candidates with such vast experience had to virtually ask permission, to sandwich a few seconds of their views, into the most boring, shallow, vapid, pointless debates that any serious democracy could possibly conduct at such a momentous time in our history?
Regarding the last Iowa Democratic debate, who do these sainted Iowa debate organizers think they are, that Alan Keyes gets prime participation in the Republican debate while Dennis Kucinich is banned from the Democratic debate?
I cannot even show minimal professional respect; only an idiot would give Keyes prime exposure while treating Kucinich like a Guantanamo detainee; and the idiots that made this decision have far too much power, in Iowa and nationally, for the health of our democracy.
December 27, 2007
From Mike Gravel
If you see stories like this, firedoglake: Bill Shaheen’s Obama Attack Hurts Wife’s Senate Campaign Against Sununu,
It appears Bill Shaheen's attack on Barack Obama is hurting his wife's Jeanne's Senate chances. From the latest ARG poll: . . .then you should go support Jay Buckey, who is running as a PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRACT in the New Hampshire Senate primary race.
. . . Jeanne Shaheen is Chuck Schumer's hand-picked candidate, and she certainly has name recognition in the state, but she's hardly the most progressive candidate (the advantage on that front would definitely go to Jay Buckey).
It may be as Bennett says a temporary aberration, but if the moral factors of the situation weren't enough, I think the political lesson here is also clear -- some campaign tactics are simply best left to Republicans.
Jay's an astronaut, by the way, and you can get a signed space shuttle hand-squeeze stress reliever if you go to his website and donate. (I just donated.)
December 24, 2007
I missed this in April ... Romney Favors Hubbard Novel,
When asked his favorite novel in an interview shown yesterday on the Fox News Channel, Mitt Romney pointed to “Battlefield Earth,” a novel by L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. That book was turned into a film by John Travolta, a Scientologist.I ask this in all seriousness, is it possible to even know about this novel if you are not involved in Scientology - much less say it is your favorite novel? OK, it's possible, but is it possible for an educated person who does know about the novel to not know that it is Scientology? (Never mind that it is a candidate for worst movie ever made.)
A spokesman said later it was one of Mr. Romney’s favorite novels.
“I’m not in favor of his religion by any means,” Mr. Romney, a Mormon, said. “But he wrote a book called ‘Battlefield Earth’ that was a very fun science-fiction book.” Asked about his favorite book, Mr. Romney cited the Bible.
What is Mitt Romney doing mixed up in Scientology? It's possible that he has had the kind of life that makes a person vulnerable to their recruitment - as well as a target.
December 22, 2007
Mitt Romney's father George was solid on civil rights, and probably did walk with Martin Luther King - at least would have if he had the opportunity. I saw something that indicated this yesterday, but not enough to post. But this has more: Talking Points Memo | Witnesses Back Up Mitt Romney On MLK,
It's looking like Mitt Romney might have been judged too quickly on the Martin Luther King business. Two witnesses have now come forward to The Politico, insisting that they saw the late Gov. George Romney (R-MI) make a surprise appearance alongside King in 1963.Fair is fair. This certainly is not an endorsement of Mitt Romney.
The campaign has also posted a collection of citations — including a contemporary account from the Detroit Free Press — attesting that it happened.
John Edwards tonight cited the case of a 17-year-old California girl who died after her insurance company refused coverage on a liver transplant to save her life as a call to action to change the current system of healthcare in America.
Nataline Sarkysian died last night at UCLA Medical Center after complications arose from a bone marrow transplant to treat her leukemia. Her insurance provider, CIGNA Healthcare, first denied the potentially lifesaving transplant, but relented after a loud public protest and outrage. By that time, though, Sarkysian passed away before the procedure could be performed.
"Are you telling me that we're gonna sit at a table and negotiate with those people?" asked a visibly angered Edwards, challenging the health care companies. "We're gonna take their power away and we're not gonna have this kind of problem again."
December 21, 2007
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.People want the war stopped, they don't see the Democrats doing that. Therefore...
"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.
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.
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.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.
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.
December 5, 2007
The other day I asked if the Hillary statement about Obama wanting to be President since Kindergarten was a joke.
I suspect / hope that the Clinton campaign is making fun of the attacks on her from the right. Remember that book that "accused" her of having wanted to be President for a long time?Well, it turns out that it really was a joke. Election Central | Talking Points Memo | Hillary Pollster: "Kindergarten Attack" On Obama Was Just A Gag!
And I do understand that jokes can fall flat. I was speaking to a group of progressives Monday evening, and used a line about the colonists fighting the British army, saying, "They issued strongly-worded statements." The joke fell absolutely flat - no one understood this common blogger criticism of the Senate's refusal to fight back against Bush...
Later - a bit more on this. I can understand how this can happen. The people in a campaign LIVE the campaign. So they are very aware of things the rest of us probably have never heard about. The book, Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton, by two New York Times reporters, was supposed to shake up the campaign.
This NY Times review shows how "the Village" - the collection of NY and DC insiders, pundits, etc. - saw it:
The book is almost uniformly negative and overly focused on what they consider the Clintons’ scandalous past and the darker aspects of Mrs. Clinton’s personality. Her ambition, for example, is seen as an unattractive compulsion that, at times, has led her into untoward behavior. They assert that the Clintons had a longstanding deal to win the presidency, first for Bill and then for Hillary, a secret pact of ambition.A SECRET PACT! AMBITION! OH DEAR!
So inside the campaign this is a big deal. And you can see how making a joke about Obama writing a kindergarten essay "Why I want to be President" is funny. EVERY kindergartener writes something like this. And, seeing it now, it IS funny.
My own talk Monday night, where I used the "strongly-worded statement" joke is another example of this. I often say that those of us in the blogging world - writers and readers - are what I call "hyper-informed." But this can cause us to forget that almost everyone else is poorly informed. We should not assume that others understand what WE understand. For example, almost no one knows that there has been massive corruption and profiteering in Iraq. You and I know about that $9 billion in cash that just disappeared - but no one else does, so it doesn't figure into their thinking. We take it for granted and can't understand how others could think the way they do. They think we're crazy and partisan and making things up just for telling them what is going on in the country.
And I always conclude that bloggers need an outreach program so that what we offer extends beyond the universe of blog-readers. That universe has not been expanding lately.
Murray Waas at Huffington Post has an exclusive: Documents Expose Huckabee's Role In Serial Rapist's Release,
Little Rock, Ark -- As governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee aggressively pushed for the early release of a convicted rapist despite being warned by numerous women that the convict had sexually assaulted them or their family members, and would likely strike again. The convict went on to rape and murder at least one other woman.Huckabee bought into a Clinton-hater conspiracy theory and released the guy. After his release:
Confidential Arkansas state government records, including letters from these women, obtained by the Huffington Post and revealed publicly for the first time, directly contradict the version of events now being put forward by Huckabee.
After Dumond's release from prison in September 1999, he moved to Smithville, Missouri, where he raped and suffocated to death a 39-year-old woman named Carol Sue Shields. Dumond was subsequently convicted and sentenced to life in prison for that rape and murder.Go read the rest.
December 3, 2007
I suspect / hope that the Clinton campaign is making fun of the attacks on her from the right. Remember that book that "accused" her of having wanted to be President for a long time?
If it is not that ... I don't even know what to say.
... In third grade, Senator Obama wrote an essay titled ‘I Want To Be a President.’ His third grade teacher: Fermina Katarina Sinaga “asked her class to write an essay titled ‘My dream: What I want to be in the future.’ Senator Obama wrote ‘I want to be a President,’ she said.” [The Los Angeles Times, 3/15/07]It's a spoof, right? An inside joke?
In kindergarten, Senator Obama wrote an essay titled ‘I Want to Become President.’ “Iis Darmawan, 63, Senator Obama’s kindergarten teacher, remembers him as an exceptionally tall and curly haired child who quickly picked up the local language and had sharp math skills. He wrote an essay titled, ‘I Want To Become President,’ the teacher said.” [AP, 1/25/07 ]
November 26, 2007
Are you still thinking Dems are shoo-ins for 2008?
Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton trails five top Republican presidential contenders in general election match-ups, a drop in support from this summer, according to a poll released on Monday.Don't try to take good news from the next part:
Clinton's top Democratic rivals, Barack Obama and John Edwards, still lead Republicans in hypothetical match-ups ahead of the November 4, 2008, presidential election, the survey by Zogby Interactive showed.the Republicans just haven't cranked up their machine on the other candidates yet.
Update - Why do Democrats think anything is changed? 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.
Sure, the public is dismayed about Iraq and the economy. But the Republicans have the megaphone and will blame Democrats. And they'll go along with it.
The solution is to develop a progressive infrastructure that reaches the general public and explains the benefits of and creates demand for progressive values, policies and candidates.
Senator Chris Dodd submits a YouTube question for the upcoming Republican YouTube Presidential Candidate Debate:
November 20, 2007
Chris Dodd today released the following statement in response to the claims of former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan that he "unknowingly passed along false information" to the American public and that "the highest-ranking officials in the administration were involved in [his] doing so," including the Vice-President and the President:
"Today's revelations by Mr. McClellan are very disturbing and raise several important questions that need to be answered. If in fact the President of the United of States knowingly instructed his chief spokesman to mislead the American people, there can be no more fundamental betrayal of the public trust.
"During his confirmation process, Attorney General Mukasey said he would act independently. Accordingly, today, I call on the Attorney General to live up to his word and launch an immediate investigation to determine the facts of this case, the extent of any cover up and determine what the President knew and when he knew it."
November 15, 2007
Tonite's debate -- I have to say I am agreeing with everything Kucinich has said so far in this debate.
Dodd is standing up for the Constitution. Richardson is saying great things on foreign policy.
All three "front-runners" are great. Edwards is standing up for working people. Obama is better and better. Hillary is experienced but does appear to be stuck in the old-style please-the-polls cautious front-runner strategy. But then, she's the front-runner so that's really what she should do. Don't mess with success.
I like them all. Even Biden.
I'm watching the debate. The "drivers license" question is a trick. It is a "gotcha" attempts to get the candidates to answer a complex question entirely in a right-wing frame.
Hooray for Obama for his courageous answer. Shame on Hillary.
Richardson answered exactly right.
And how did you like the right-wing anti-union teachers union question? Wow, like, "Unions are bad, what are you going to do about them. One-word answers, please."
Here is the Dood Debate Talk Clock:
On this issue Obama stands for principle, Hillary follows polls: Obama Stands By Support For Spitzer Plan,
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Il, is standing by his support for granting driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants, even after Gov. Eliot Spitzer, D-NY, abandoned the proposal amidst rising political opposition.
"Obama said in the debate he supported it and he's standing by it," an aide to the Senator told the Huffington Post. "He supported a similar bill in the state senate as a law enforcement measure."
Obama's backing stands in stark contrast to the position taken by Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, whose campaign now cites the issue as a basic policy difference between the two Democratic frontrunners.
November 12, 2007
The right is runnig with a smear that John Edwards was boo'ed at a John Mellencamp concert.
Really? See MyDD :: Edwards cheered with Mellencamp in Iowa
November 1, 2007
Just so you know what's circulating: Hillary's Lesbian Affair with Muslim Aide
October 29, 2007
A friend's elderly mother received a scam letter, and I started looking into it. The trail led to a discovery that the Romney campaign is receiving Moonie money.
The scam letter is from the American Federation of Senior Citizens (AFSC). Tracing them down, it turns out it is a scam run by the Moonies.
The head of AFSC is Gary Jarmin. Jarmin is a member of the secretive, right-wing Council for National Policy. He words (or worked) as Government Liason of the Washington Times, a Moonie outfit. He's also the guy who booked the room in the Senate Office Building which Moon was crowned Messiah, if you remember that event.
The address of ASFC, 208 North Patrick Street, Alexandria, VA 22314, according to Raw Story, is also the address of a number of other Moonie outfits,
Christian Voice 208 North Patrick Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 (703) 548-1421
Jar-Mon Consultants (Global Dominion Communications Inc.) 208 North Patrick Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 (703) 548-4904
US Cuba Foundation 208 North Patrick Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 (703) 548-4904
American Christian Cause 208 North Patrick Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 (703) 715-6523 (703) 548-1840
Pacific Asia Foundation 208 North Patrick Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 (703) 548-4906
AFSC uses a PR firm, Global Dominion Communications, also used by Christian Voice.
So I started looking into these groups a bit, and guess what I found?
A list of contributions to the Romney campaign shows Global Communications giving the max - $2300.
More research discovers that the Romney website proudly announces that Gary Jarmin is a "Romney For President National Faith And Values Steering Committee Vice-Chair". Jarmin is listed there as President of the American Service Council.
The Christian Voice website declares, "Christian Voice is a program of American Service Council, Inc." (208 North Patrick Street, Alexandria, VA 22314) and the ASC website lists:
Special Programs of ASC
* Americans for Faith and Freedom
* The Seniors Center
* Citizen's Voter Drive
* National Council of Survivors
* Christian Voice
Now, I don't have time to trace this further -- I haven't even traced the donations of these other Moonie fronts -- but the way the Moonie organization works I bet with just a little work we'd find many, many more connections between the Romney (and other Republican candidates) organization and the Moonies. If you are reading this and have some time, see what you find and let us know in the comments here. Is Romney taking more Moonie money? Is he working with other Moonie fronts? Are the other Republican candidates?
Here's why: The right wants to imply something sinister out of Hillary Clinton accepting donations from people with Asian names. Maybe they're just following the STF Rule.
(Obama supporters please read the last paragraph of this post.)
For decades the right has been trying to kill Social Security. They have spread the lie that it is a "ponzi scheme" that depends on workers paying in today to pay for current benefits. Barack Obama is running a new ad that reinforces that lie.
Here is the fact: For decades Social Security has been collecting MUCH MORE $$ than it has been paying out. This money is saved in a "trust fund." This trust fund is large enough to cover any "shortfall" that occurs when the baby boomers retire.
But starting with Reagan, and especially under Bush, this trust fund was used to pay for the Republican tax cuts for the rich. (This is what Gore was talking about when he said this money should go in a "lockbox.")
Now that the baby boomers are starting to retire Social Security will need to tap into this trust fund to pay their retirement. It's their money but the money is not there -- taken by the Republicans to pay for their tax cuts.
So what is fair? Cutting old people's benefits to cover they money that was taken by the Republicans to give to the rich? Taking more from working people's paychecks to ocver what the Republicans took? Or taxing the rich to cover the money that was given to the rich? Which is fair?
And, most of all, how is this Social Security's problem? How is it Social Security's problem that the conservatives owe Social Security all that money?
With that in mind, watch Obama's commercial, in which he is talking about Social Security's problem entirely in right-wing terms:
Obama is running ads reinforcing the right's bamboozlement that Social Security is running out of money! The language in this ad implies that Social Security's retirement payments are responsible for the shortfall, and does not say that the trust fund was taken to pay for Reagan and Bush's tax cuts.
This language in this ad, if seen and heard by millions of people, could make it so much harder to fight back the next time the right tries to kill off the program by claiming it is insolvent.
I know that Senator Obama's heart is in the right place and he has no intention of harming Social Security. But this ad is a mistake that could backfire. Please stop running this ad and please change the language. Instead of reinforcing the right's lie that Social Security has a problem, let people know that the conservatives took their money from Social Security and gave it out as tax cuts to the rich and THAT is the problem!
October 21, 2007
San Mateo County Democratic Straw Poll vote count (see the Live Blogging the San Mateo Country Presidential Straw Poll post):
Gore (write in) 23
There are more details at the San Mateo County Democratic Straw Poll website.
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.
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...
(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:
counting ... counting ... counting ...
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.
The vote count:
Gore (write in) 23
October 19, 2007
In response to U.S. Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey's refusal to say
whether waterboarding is torture, the Governor this morning issued the following
statement:"Waterboarding is torture, and anyone who is unwilling to identify it as such is not qualified to be the chief legal officer of the United States of America. If I were in the U.S. Senate, I would vote against Mukasey unless he denounces such specific forms of torture.
"Torture does not work. Mistreatment backfires and destroys our international leadership, as we saw with Abu Ghraib. Torture also endangers our own troops. The standards we adopt may well be what our own troops are subjected to.
"Anytime one makes a person think he or she is being executed, the very nature of waterboarding, it obviously is a violation of the U.S. Constitution, international law, and basic human decency.
"ABC News has described waterboarding as follows: 'The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner's face, and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in, and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt.'
"If another nation engaged in waterboarding against American citizens, we would denounce that country and call the practice barbaric, and rightly so.
"We must stand against torture without equivocation, without compromise, and without exception. Torture is a violation of everything we stand for as Americans and as human beings."
Go read the whole thing. The Dodd hold on Telecom immunity prompts Taylor to write Obamamania Hits a Ditch, ending with:
We need a fighter. Someone who won't back down and can not only take a punch but give one as good as he or she gets. Someone with a plan. It looks like some in the Obama crowd are starting to wake up and what they're sensing isn't exactly a heavyweight.
October 5, 2007
Rick Perlstein in Reporters: man your engines,
Rev. Sun Myung Moon is claiming a "letter of support" from Hillary Clinton. I sure hope he's lying.Does anyone know more about this?
Go read Rick's piece.
October 3, 2007
On January 22, 2007, as Senator Clinton went viral with her announcement that she was, essentially, running for The White House, we noted that her first challenge was to shatter the prism of the right. We wrote,
[T]his simply is a fact of modern politics in America. For the past three decades, the right wing has employed a powerful strategy of "$ell and $mear." They insist on being the gatekeepers to public opinion and have developed a powerful machine that tells us who to like - and who to hate.
... They $mear Democratic and Progressive heroes, reducing American success stories such as George McGovern, Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis into humiliated historical footnotes. They destroy our leaders. They destroy those that might become our leaders. There is no Democratic or Progressive leader of any note of the last twenty years that has not been attacked.
Essentially, what we meant was:
Imagine if your worse enemies were the ones describing you and creating the world's impression of you. And imagine they did that for close to fifteen years, how would people who hadn't ever met you feel about you? Exactly.
There are far too many people who have never met Hillary who have a fully-formed impression of her, usually quite negative. Not defendably negative mind you, but more of a "I just don't like her" kind of impression.
The prism of the right.
This is Senator Clinton's primary challenge. Because since this strategy has been deployed, no one, not one single politician has been in the eye of the machine longer than Senator Clinton. For almost fifteen years, Americans have been bombarded with smears and negative commentary about her. Virtually every aspect of her life, personal and political, from her hairstyle to private decisions she made within her marriage, has been criticized.That's the reality that Senator Clinton, her supporters and her staff have had to deal with every single day and to their great credit, they didn't either ignore it, as John Kerry's campaign did in 2004 on many levels, nor did they whine and complain about it.
What Hillary did was what she did in New York State.
She and her staff rolled up their sleeves and went to work. One voter at a time, one appearance at a time, one county, one district, one state. And what happened in New York State was a pretty good precursor to what is happening nationally. Today, she is at the top of the list of home state own-party favorability ratings. Her 81% favorability rating among Democrats in New York State is right up there at the very top, tied with Ted Kennedy's rating among Democrats in Massachusetts. And Kennedy in Massachusettes is probably the golden standard for being liked by your party in your own state.
Grudgingly, we hear from senior people in other campaigns that they are impressed at how hard she works, how good her team is, how they keep working all day, every day.
They're right. She's top in the polls and in the fundraising race not because of some unforeseeable chain of events, she's there because she understood the reality of her situation and she has outworked everyone else.
If she is our nominee, it will because of two core factors.
She didn't attempt to smash the negative perception as much as she shattered it softly and slowly - one person at a time.
She, and her team, have worked hard, and smart.
Kudos to all of them.
September 19, 2007
It's no secret Hillary Clinton is often the target of the center/left netroots, who have accused her of not being an ally. Yet when Bill O'Reilly attacked Kos as being akin to a Nazi organization, it was Hillary who stood with the blog. And tonight, after Barack Obama threw MoveOn under the bus for their attack of Gen. Petraeus, following close on the heels of the Edwards campaign sending Elizabeth out to do the same, who's left standing, refusing, as Jane Hamsher writes, to help the right wing out by repeating their talking points against one of our own? Hillary.
This speaks to character. She's continually attacked by the left, but by refusing to take the right wing bait and criticizing MoveOn, a mistake Democrats seem to make often, she refuses to splinter the base...
August 29, 2007
August 28, 2007
OF COURSE I AM A HILLARY SUPPORTER -- I'M A DEMOCRAT!!
I also support Barack Obama, Chris Dodd and John Edwards! Duh!
I think I prefer Edwards and Dodd right now, because their polices and thinking and approach lines up more with my own. Obama sure is winning me over, too. I am more progressive-oriented than Hillary.
But let me suggest something to you -- If Hillary Clinton becomes President, she will be the most progressive president America has ever had.
So relax. We have a great group of candidates this time.
By Dave Johnson and James Boyce
The right is reviving the 90s Asian-donations smear on the Clintons.
Headlined at the Drudge Report, the Wall Street Journal has Big Source of Clinton's Cash Is an Unlikely Address,
It isn't obvious how the Paw family is able to afford such political largess. ...Did you ask them? Is it your business? Actually they did ask them,
But he added: "I have been fortunate in my investments and all of my contributions have been my money."But they have a Chinese name, so let's do a big story on it.
The Paws' political donations closely track donations made by Norman Hsu, a wealthy New York businessman in the apparel industry who once listed the Paw home as his address, according to public records. Mr. Hsu is one of the top fund-raisers for Mrs. Clinton's presidential campaign.And now we get to the root of the big scandal - (queue horror-movie music) Someone is CHINESE-American!
William and Alice Paw are of Chinese descent..That's the whole story. There are no accusations of any wrongdoing. Just that a family with a Chinese name gave a lot of money to the Clintons.
In the 1990s the Republicans ran a smear campaign for years, accusing the Clintons of passing nuclear-weapons secrets to China in exchange for campaign donations. There was never anything to back it up, of course, but the racial hatred aspect got them votes. It plays big in the South, I guess.
In case people don't get it, the right's echo chamber cranks up the noise. No subtle implications need apply: Laundering for Hillary?
The little green house at 41 Shelbourne Ave. in Daly City, Calif., (shown right) may spell big trouble for Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York as she pursues the presidency.
And there they go again. The Republicans are gearing up the smear and race-hatred campaign early this time.
August 14, 2007
I'm not saying Huckabee isn't funny, but I am saying that he also has an extraordinarily different message than any of the other Republican presidential contenders - a populist economic message that may be shunned by conservative operatives and K Street lobbyists in the GOP-dominated Money Party in Washington, but likely has an appeal among rank-and-file working-class Republican voters.This is the message the public wants to hear. Coming from a conservative this could be devastating.
... Here is Huckabee quoted on the AFL-CIO's webpage from the recent Republican presidential debate:"The most important thing a president needs to do is to make it clear that we’re not going to continue to see jobs shipped overseas, jobs that are lost by American workers, many in their 50s who for 20 and 30 years have worked to make a company rich, and then watch as a CEO takes a $100 million bonus to jettison those American jobs somewhere else. And the worker not only loses his job, but he loses his pension. That’s criminal. It’s wrong."
Huckabee followed this up by telling The Politico: “I am not interested in being the candidate of Wall Street but of Main Street. Wealthy CEOs get paid 500 times what the average worker does, but they are not necessarily 500 times smarter or harder working and that is wrong.”
Please read the whole post.
August 13, 2007
And the Q&A session:
From the Chris Dodd for President blog.
This is Hillary's new ad. What do you think? I think it is brilliant.
And here is Elizabeth Edwards - not an ad -- watch, it's short:
August 6, 2007
I am on vacation, so posting will be light. (We have found our way to Saugatuck/Douglas on Lake Michigan so far... heading toward Ann Arbor.) I'll try to catch up on some YearlyKos posts, too.
But I want to break into vacation to talk about Senator Chris Dodd a bit. A few bloggers had a meeting with Senator Dodd on Saturday. This is a serious candidate for President who should be receiving much more attention. We had a great, honest and open conversation. Unlike some of the conversations I have had with candidates he listens and hears and responds. This is a thinking man, with a great deal of experience and a lot to offer this country. (Note this on his website: "Support the Netroots")
One subject we talked extensively about was impeachment. He said something that will shape my views and helped me understand how a politician at his level has to think about serving the public. I'll characterize it here. He said that when he considers how he should be spending his time a key question that he has to ask is how is the average person understanding this. The average person might not be paying very much attention to the news, might not consider him or herself to be "on the" left or right. That person is trying to get by and deal with life's problems, like paying the mortgage, getting health care, etc. So when THAT person looks at what the Congress and Senate are doing, the question is, "How does this help ME?"
And if the Democrats spend time on impeachment they are open to the Republican lie and spin machine telling the public they are not serving THEM.
So Dodd says that unless the average person understands what HE OR SHE GETS out of Congress spending time on impeachment instead of all the other important things, he doesn't think we should aim for that. (Yes, I know that the other important things can't happen with Bush in office but the public does not)
If we want to do something about the crimes of Bush and the Republicans YOU HAVE TO LET THE PUBLIC KNOW HOW IT WILL HELP THEM DIRECTLY. This is directly in line with my own writings about how we need to start to reach out to the general public with our message, to help them understand the benefits of progressive values and a progressive approach to issues.
I'm not endorsing anyone for a while. But now my top four are now Hillary, Edwards, Onama and Dodd.
August 4, 2007
My computer ran out of power so I couldn't blog from Barack Obama's breakout session. I have to say this guy has an amazing, comfortable style. He is at ease with himself and with a crowd. I am more and more impressed by Obama lately.
This is in the large ballroom. There are Draft Gore 2008 brochure cards on every chair.
Gina Cooper just came to the podium to announce the Presidential Leadership Forum. Introducing NY Times Magazine'sMatt Bai.
Matt - Not used to so much appreciation from blogs. This forum today reflects Gina's singular vision. This is an historic event - first time netroots together in a room with the candidates from a political party for President. Also the first time blogosphere joining with traditional media, honored to be here today to represent that.
Introduces candidates as they come on the stage. Big cheering. Huge cheer for Barack Obama.
Now introducing moderators. Joan Carter, McJoan of DailyKos, Dr.Jeffrey Feldman of FrameShop. Also will be questions from audience.
Bai: Acknowledge it is Obama's birthday, crowd is singing "Happy Birthday"
Three segments, Domestic Policy, Foreign Policy, Philosophy.
Joan - To Richardson. In previous debate you said your model Supreme COurt would be White - who was anti-abortion. Have you given any more thought to that answers, what would you like the Supreme Court to look like.
Richardson: I screwed up. I believe that the legacy of any Pres, most iprotant is Supreme Court. My court would have diversity, legal scholars, interpret the Constitution, go one step further, I would ask do you believe it is settled law in civil rights, privacy, Roe vs Wade? If they don't, they're out.
I admit that mistake. We have to recover tfrom the things this court is doing, make sure future court reflects values of the people and president.
Joan - to Dodd: Will you tell us what circumstances would be extreme enough circumstances to accept another Bush court nominee.
Dodd: Bush is trampling the Constitution. Would be a mistake to accept any more Supreme Court nominations before the next election. I believed Roberts when he said he would not make big canges. My mistake.
Joan - for Sen. Clinton - Battle scars from previous attempt at health care. What are those scars, what are you going to do differently.
H: I am proud of the effort I led in 93, 94. Disgrace that we have so many uninsured, underinsured. We up here are all in favor of universal health care. We need more than a plan, we need a strategy that health care is an American value worth fighting for, need to put together a coalition of affected groups, willing and able to withstand the incredible blowback that we will get. My highest domestinc priority.
Matt: Sen Obama, budget deficits. Wold it be a top priority for you? Even if you have to trim your proposals.
Obama: We are coming out of the most irresponsible admin. We have to stop digging the hole. #1stop spending billions on Iraq. Not renew Bush tax cuts. Institute Paygo - no new spending/tax cuts without paying for it.
We have to make investments in the American people at the same time as we dig out of this deficit. I am not going to short change children, health care. We have to make siome investments because over long term will generate tax revenue. Medicare and Medcate biggest budget issue - universal health care saves tremendous amount for fed government.
Are we making investments that pay off for our long-term growth...
Bai to Sen Edwards - once you open the floodgates and allow certain deficits how do you stop Congress from spending more and more and more.
Edwards: I think big changes are needed, not small changes. I believe this room is filled with people who are about change. Basic question has to be answered. Who will be about change? Who is candidate for change. I don't think insurance oil other cmpanies are going to voluntarily give away power. I think this is a very fundamental question - if you want change and serious change, who will be best candidate to do that. Someone who has fought these people their entire lives. We have to take their pwer from them with your help.
Big cheers, people standing.
Richards - these are fine speeches, but I have balanced budgets. Iraq money to health care. Const. Amendment to balance budget (crowd booing and hissing), get rid of corporate welfare (crowd cheers). Bai stops him - out of time.
Audience qs - For Dodd - handful of companies own all the news companies, media consolidation threatens democracy.
Dodd - Asked Justice Dept to look into Murdoch buying Dow Jones. Stand up when things get tough - stand up to Bill O'Reilly (crowd cheers) Can't tolerate this kind of behavior. Denying us free access to information. Thank the Lord for DailyKos. Sources of information consolidated and controlled by too few entities. He will do what he can to break this up.
Cointon - need more media competition, make sure architecture of internet stays open (cheers) if we need new laws I hope wel will be able to take a look at those, this admin won't afford laws already on books. Need to do more.
Q from Bai for Kucinich - is there a govt program that you feel has outlived its usefulness.
Kucinich - programs that perpetuate the nuclear power industry. There is a candidate who believes in universal single payer not for profit health care. Am people already paying for universal standard of care but not getting it. Use the money we are spending to give us all heath care by taking profit out of it.
Audience Q for Edwards - current admin has consolidated powers of exec branch. What will you do to restore balance, and faith in our system of government,
Edwards - I will close Guantanamo first day. WIll not engage in or condone torture, no secret prisons, this is not who we are. We need a transparent government., This govt belongs to you. We can start reforming Washington and Dem Party today. I don't, Obama doesn't take money from lobbyists, why don't we all swear to take no more money from Washington lobbyists. End this system.
(Crowd on feet cheering)
Matt Q for Gravel - Your campaign supports fair tax, eliminate IRS and income tax, replace with 23% sales tax. (boos and hisses)
Gravel - you have been cheering all these statements about what they're going to do, but you heard it before and will hear it again. They tell you the problem in a dramatic way so you think they know the answers. They are good people but they exist in a system that doesn't work. Don't worry about fair tax, it won't pass. Elected officials think about how does this affect my election, and the people with money.
The only answer is for you to realize that the answer is with you to acquire lawmaking powers.
Foreign policy - Joan - everyone wants us out of Iraq. Kucinich says we have the power now.
Hillary - voted against last funding. We have to keep the pressure on. 3-point plan, I will get us out. Do it in a careful responsible way. Making current Pentagon come before congress and tell us the plans they are making to move the troops out. We must engage in more intense diplomatic effort.
Kucinich -Chney should be imeached for lying. (Crowd cheers) It is a fact that we gave Bush 97 million seven weeks ago. He can use that to bring the troops home. Dems in Congress have not kept faith with people who voted to end war.
Bai - feasability of immediate withdrawal - to Dodd
Dodd - important that Dems stand up. Policy has been a failure. (Didn't answer question)
Richardson - get out, leave no residual forces. Need an all-Muslim force to keep peace.
Bai - if you take them ot how do you protect against same kind of genocide in Darfur.
Richardson -we need to deauthorize this war.
Gravel - they do have the votes, just keep having cloture votes, all times of day. They don't want to do it. Bring them all home, we are not an imperialist power.
Bai - terrorism, Sen Obama, Do you believe we bear any measure of responsibility for anti-Americanism that led to 9/11.
Obama - no excuse for 9/11. They weren't from Iraq. We absolutely have acted in a way that has inflamed anti-American sentiment. We invaded, unleashed chaos.
End out occupation and focus on the terrorists who killed 3000 Americana. We have not finished the job in Afghanistan. It makes no sense for President to talk tough and wiretap while he doesn't deal with the serious problem.
Bai - did American foreign policy contributed.
Obama - no excuse for 9/11 but we have had a pattern in the past for acting in ways, oil, etc. If we had donated schools, engage our opponents as well as our friends, we will ahve a change in the way America is perceived. If we lead with our values or ideas.
Edwards - George Bush has not made us safer. Used a bumper-sticker phrase to justify every bad thing he has done. We shouldnot accept Bush's way of framing the discussion.
Bai to Clinton - what is right construct, what is your construct more accurate than war on terror -
Hillary - There is a lot of anti-Bush feeling, not as much anti-Bush. We have made some progress in becomming safer, our first responders. But Bush policies have unleashed so much alienation and andger that we are facing more terrorists. It is a global war against terrorists, not terror. We need to use every tool at our disposal, military force last not first resort.
be as analytical about it as possible. Complicated long-term struggle where we protect and promote American values.
Kucinich - country better served if before we got into Iraq more analysis,neocon mindset of peace through strength, unilaterism... I am talking about a new doctrine, strength through peace, diplomacy,international law. Shift your thinking away fromthis neocon doctrine.
Audience - Obama, Americans worried about China. Next superpower. How do we reconcile China as a menace and trade partner.
Obama - China a competitor does not have to be an enemy unless we make it an enemy. Get our own house in order, if they are our banker and we are the borrower... we must put pressure on them human rights, trade - China is manipulating their currency. We believe in fair trade, that goes both ways, not getting it out of China. Most important thing is to engage in the world. Africa - saying Chinese presence is as great as the US absence, building hospitals, railways... We are neglecting opportunities around the world that China is taking advantage of.
Q to Dodd - Aericans travel abroad
Dodd - tragedy of ads in DC after 9/11 looking for people who speak Arabic. I was in peace corps. Nedd that. Others can get to know who we are. Triple peace corps. Missing shared experience as Americans.
Joan asks Edwards about Pakistan - Musharref - what happens if he is overthrown. Are we trading communism for terrorism. If these folks are going to be our partners in the war on terror, are we doing the same thing?
Edwards - Pakistan somewhat unstable. We do need to put pressure on Musharraf - he said to me our children are educated in Maddrassas taught to hate America - it would make all the diffrerence if they could get a public school education. America is spending so much in Iraq, why not lead an effort to make education available to children around the world, that will hep. Soft power matters. Create an undercurrent that drives people toward us instead of away fromus.
Economic leverage over Musharref. Diplomatic, ratchet up, shouldbe done. Be careful, Saudi arms deal, another perfect example of a foreign policy of convenience, they are not helping in Iraq or helping stop terrorism, and could create an arms race in Middle East.
Richardson - Was sent to region to talk to Taliban. Problem is Bush policy to Musharraf is appeasement, we are not going to push you because it will hurt you domestically. We have to push him. He is not a democract, want to stay in power, abuses human rights. American policy should stand for democracy and human rights. You go after those safe havens or we will.
Q from Pontificator - will you hire an official White House blogger?
Hands - All raise hands. Edwards says it will be Elizabeth Edwards. Gravel says it cold be a toolof the president him or her self.
Joan - for Gravel - are all elected officials in Alaska corrupt?
Gravel - no their not and it is a source of great embarrassment for the state. Politicians walk in the mud because of the way the system is structured because you have to raise money. Money is the corrupting agent of politics. Media controlled by 5 corporations telling us the ones who raised the most - the most corrupt - are the ones who should be elected.
Bai - would candidates commit to visit all 50 states?
Obama - the only way change can hapen is if you make it. Must have a 50 percent plus one strategy, eke out a victory even if the Supreme Court overturns it. If we are going to pass health care, etc. we have got to expand the voter base.
Kucinich says not much difference between two parties. Americans ready for new approach in world community.
Hillary - 50-state strategy is exactly right. We will go in to as many places as possible building on the work Howard has done, and try to have a conversation with everyone.
Richardson - Gov Dean's strategy has been increasingly important in Dems winning. Making a diff in Governors. Need verifiable paper ballots. Need same day registration. Stop the abuse of Rep party to suppress minority voters from going to polls. Need nominee who talks about bringing country together.
Edwards- everywhere in Ameiica eople believe system is rigged against them, know who has the power and know it is not them. Need to quit worrying about political strategy and be the party that stands for real change, real reform. Never take a dime from a DC lobbyist. Need grassroots movement for reform.
Hillary asked about not taking lobbyist money - she says that is certainly a position that John as taken. I don't let it influence me. (Crowd boos) I have been on the front lines of the change we need. I wish it were as simple as saying this. It is going to take a grassroots movement. That is why I am here today. Thank the blogosphere, wish you were here in 93 and 94 when we tried to get health care. Look at my record, core principles have not changed.
Dodd - Need public financing (crowd is on feet)
Hilalry - we're all for public financing
Obama - I am happy that Dodd is on board for pub financing
Dodd - I;ve been for it for 15 years
Obama - Insurance and drug companies have spent a billion dollars, they are not spending htat just because it is in the public interest. They are spending that because they have an agenda. (-I- stood up to cheer, stopped typing, missed some of what he said next)
We can take concrete steps right now, long term goal pub financing but there are things we can do right now.
Edwards - how many people in this room have a lobbyist working for you. You are NOT represented by lobbyist money.
Kucinish - Headge funds & Edwards
Edwards - I will have never take a dime from a lobbyist need to raise money from nurses ... (missed)
Audience Q - after 9/11 changed structure of our government, Dept of Homeland Security. DOn't believe we are safer. Steps have been taken,lots left to be done. Bush lost war in Iraq, perception in world that America is abully, selfish, took rights from people, spying on Americans, made a terrible example to world. Don't promote American values, undermine heart and soul of what America is supposed to be about.
Richards - yes, restructure homeland security, appoint people who know what they are doing, put FEMA under president, review 9/11 overreactions. Return habaes corpus, get rid of torutre, respect Geneva Convenstions.
Dodd - I will use executive orders to do away with all the damage that has been done to the Constitution. More dangerous than what was done with Homeland Security.
Obama- what are we going to do with Exec branch, not just Homeland Security. I will appoint an Atty Gen who doesn't just assume the Constitution is a convenience. Aggressive ethics bill, no lobbying after serving in White House. Revolving door has to stop.
Hillary - We (Edwards) have a vigorous agreement - at home we are safer because of first responders... missed part of it. Talking about signing statements, incompetence, got to clean that up. Duty of President is to be prepared to keep America safe.
Says no company that employs a lobbyist - no execs etc. can give us money. Constitutional Amendment.
Kucinish - are we safe is key issue in this election. Missile strikes in OPakistan killing civilians makes us not safer - strength through peace.
Richardson - My Vice President will be a member of the Exec Branch.
Bai - appreciate your coming here.. crowdon feet.
I am at the Hillary breakout session, which is occurring before the general session with all the candidates. The rest of the candidates will have their breakout session s following the general session.
This is a medium-sized room - the same room where I just completed my Smoking Politics panel. There are more people here now.
Peter Daou and Hillary have come out now. Peter says when Senator found out about the scheduling mixup she immediately told her staff to find a way that she could do a session with the attendees.
Senator will make opening remarks. You want to meet her, but she wants to eet you so when you have a question please tell us a little about yourself.
Hillary now: Thank you for understanding about working out the time. Thank Peter for terrific job he does.
Her microphone went out, she says "vast right-wing consipiracy"
Thank you for helping us create a new progressive movement in America. Thank you for helping me stand up against the rw noise machine, and giving support to the progressive agenda of the Dem party. I only wish we had this active a blogosphere 15 years ago. We have suffered from the imbalance in the country. Now we are better prepared and more focused on getting our ideas out. Progressive infrastructure. We are beginning to match what I have said for years was the advantage of the other side. When I made that comment about the vast rw conspiracy I wasn't kidding - except it was right out there in the open.
I really appreciate the individual and collective effor tbeing the front line of the progressive movement.
Second thing - it makes those of us who run for office a little sharper, more on our toes.
Hillary still: I read blogs and it helps me make my arguments.
...What you help to do is make a space where in that 24/7 world we can be heard. Having people who understand our overall goals, share an understanding of where we are trying to take our country... I think about what if we had the blogosphere in 92 or 94 when we were working on health case. We made our own mistakes but constantly hammered when we were trying to bring health care...
Bill O'reilly was trying to intimidate people into not coming to Chicago (YearlyKos). I was very proud of my campaign standing up and calling Bill O'Reilly out. For Bill O'Reilly accusing people of going over the line...
With that let me throw it open. Please introduce yourselves, where you are from, a little about you.
(Missed name) with National Ed. Assn. No Child Left Behind is a top priority for us. What will you do with the growing public backlash about NCLB.
H: Education got one Q in the CNN debate and doesn't get the emphasis it deserves. We have to admit NCLB became n unfunded mandate imposing rules and mandates without the promised resources. Breached the bargain we thought we were entering into. Bush has been incompetent in enforcing NCLB, even parts of the law that made sense have been rendered impotent.
I have been working on education reform since 1983 in Arkansas.
We should be tracking the progress of the individual children - so kids who move, we know where they are, if they are behind we can help, let's figure out how to marry technology to this so we can track, each year how well a child is growing and learning.
Need to track groups, but emphasis should be on individuals.
Lets move toward national accountability standards. Also reading and match are important but so is science, etc. Kids are being deprived of a broad curriculum. Phys ed gone, now obeisity a problem, for example.
We have to get back to a diverse broad curriculum.
Best thing we can do is pre-kindergarten, to close achievement gap for kids with disadvantaged backgrounds.
Pat , scientist from Northwest U - military commissions act - when can we expect that to be rescinded, Guantanamo closed
H: I agree with both those goals. I voted against Military Commissions act. Unconstitutional denial of habeas corpus. We will try to reinstate habeas corpus and reform military tribunals procedures in next few months.
If you can't get 60 votes, you can't get it through the Senate. Big problem right now, need Republican support. We must close Guantanamo. Increase political pressure.When I am President I will close Guantanamo and restore habeas corpus.
Jeralyn from Talkleft: If you are elected President what kinds of wiretapping will you permit, and how will your Atty Gen. be different from Gonzales.
H: It would be a breath of fresh air to have an Atty Gen who actually believed in the rule of law. It has been a mystery why Pres doesn't pick qualified attys as judges, instead goes with cronies and movement conservatives. We have a dangerous extremism in this country, turned away from sep of powers, checks and balances. White House has contempt for rule of law.
Talked bout wiretapping, we need to be able to track people threatening the country, but warrants, law, etc.
Two more Qs
Will you repeal Dont Ask Don't Tell. Defense of Marriage Act, Telecommunications Act, NAFTA and Welfare Reform
H I am on record against Don't Ask since 1999. Not implemented appropriately. Cost to military readiness from purging military of these people, linguists, etc. I will lead effort to repeal it.
Don't have to be straight to shoot straight.
DOMA served a purpose. Strategy, gave us a bright line to be able to hold back the votes that were building up to amend the constitution to enshrine discrimination. I believe marriage should be left to the states, support civil unions. DOMA put responsibility in the states and you are seeing states take action. But part 3 of DOMA should be repealed because it stands in the way of benefits.
Telecommunications act - ask Al Gore, he is the expert, he pushed it through, I like what the FCC is doing by maintaining more competition, need to look at this more closely becaue I am not an expert.
NAFTA is not living up to what we hoped. Problems, we need smarter trade agreements with labor and environmental, and we need an evaluation of the impact of trade agreements. We need an analysis of what has happened as opposed to what was promised.
Welfare reform - positive consequences far outweigh the negative. But the education program was a key part of original legislation and Bush cut it back.
CHIP - health care for kids - we need universal health care so we don't have these battles.
Kim from NJ, researcher, love your hair. Grandaughter of bus driver. I see how good the transit system is in Europe - we're going to be a 3rd world country compared to them, can we update infrastructure of transit system.
H: Timely, bridge collapse was infrastructure failure. I have been advocating long-term funding to begin to repair and maintain and build new infrastructure. We are living off the investments our parents and grandparents made. We're taking advantage of what our parents etc were willing to pay for. Much more on bridges and roads and airports, etc. We have a trillion dollars of unmet needs. We need to focus on physical infrastructure AND we need universal high-speed broadband internet access.
Bush admin doesn't believe in ANY kind of infrastructure investment. Got to do this in a hurry.
Mass transit must become a priority of our country. We cannot continue to have the congestion and lost productivity time. We are losing money, and time. And we are wasting oil, contributing to global warming. Now we have to fight just to keep Amtrack.
Also need incentives to get people to use it.
Let me end with every election is about the future. It is about what kind of change we want for our country. I have been fighting for change my entire life often against pretty tough odds. What is going to matter in this election is how much power and energy we have from citizens across America. We have to join together to election a president. we cannot afford to use. We cannot continue to ignore the constitution, tax cuts for wealthiest, war that we can't pay for. I am optimistic but appropriately realistic about the challenges we face. Univ Health Care, fight global warming, energy agenda, ending the cronyism, appoint people who are qualified for positions they hold, can't do any of that without your help. I love a vigorous debate and exchange of ideas. That is what the primary is for and certainly what the blogosphere is for. It can play a major role in electing me president. I appreciate everything you're doing - well not everything. Let us have your ideas. We have to learn how to break down the barriers in reaching out to people who may not agree with us.
We have to reach out to people who never read a blog, may not agree with us but who know in their core that we need a new direction.
July 31, 2007
John Edwards is really starting to sound great. Watch this video:
If you thought that was good, watch this one, where he talks about why the media is promoting the "haircut" story:
July 25, 2007
Over at The Left Coaster Steve Soto is endorsing Hillary. Steve says Hillary can
·Most capably deal with the biases of the corporate media;This follows the recent endorsement by Ambassador Joe Wilson.
·Most capably fight the right wing smear machine;
·Ruthlessly battle the GOP’s likely 2008 campaign tactics;
·Obtain the nomination and,
·Most importantly, step into the job in January 2009.
The other day I wrote that I am not endorsing anyone for now. I do not dislike any of the major candidates.
July 23, 2007
Mitt Romney holds up a sign saying "Obama Osama"
July 21, 2007
I haven't endorsed any candidate for President yet. I probably will before the primaries. I like Edwards a lot but I want him to explain HOW he made the mistake in his war vote and what he has learned from that. I wish Gore would enter the race - but he might be the answer if no one has enough delegates going into the convention and the convention can't come to a decision. I hadn't thought Obama has enough experience at a time when the country and the world are in a mess. But seeing him speak a couple of weeks ago - I think he is saying the things I want to public to hear in ways they should hear it, and that is important and part of finding a way through the mess we're in. I think Hillary would bring a team in that could handle the mess but I don't like some of the things she has done that seem to dismiss the progressive base, like supporting outlawing flag-burning.
I'm hearing good things about Dodd but don't know enough. The joke about Biden that he can't stop talking unfortunately isn't a joke - I've seen it. He's smart and has a good instinct but he isn't really in the race, even if he doesn't know it. Richardson - I don't know enough.
So I at least don't dislike any of the Democratic candidates.
Four years ago I didn't like any of the candidates until Dean came along. So this is a different time.
July 17, 2007
James Boyce says the country needs Al Gore to run for President.
Al Gore thinks he is a lousy politician, he's right. He is. We need some lousy politicians who say what they mean and mean what they say. We need some lousy politicians who can't stop themselves from rolling their eyes when a member of the press asks a moronic question. We need someone who points out how stupid the captions are on t.v. shows. We need Al Gore.
July 16, 2007
On a blogger call this morning (California time) Ambassador Joe Wilson endorsed Senator Hillary Clinton for President. Joe says Hillary is the best candidate to handle cleaning up the mess that Bush has made, here and internationally.
On Iraq Joe said, (as close as I can remember) that both he and Hillary agree "that troops need to be removed from harm's way, and that a political process had to be started, a process that would end the war and preserve some shred of our strategic position in the region [Middle East]." and that we need to put together a dilomatic process like we did after the first Gulf War.
He said we need to support the troops by engaging in diplomacy - that withdrawal risks plunging the region into instability.
He also said that Hillary has the best experience in fighting the right. He said she has been through the meatgrinder - one that Joe knows well now - and understands it.
(I had a great Smoking Politics BlogTalkRadio interview with Joe Wilson a couple of weeks ago.)
June 26, 2007
I attended the Take Back America conference last week, and it was great. I am inspired, and you should be, too.
Two years ago I was at this same conference and it was a very different experience. I felt it was attending a tired, demoralized gathering of people associated with the older, Washington-based, established, celebrity-driven issue-organizations. I left discouraged, wondering when the liberal establishment would start to catch up with the ideas circulating around the blogosphere – especially with the ideas about building “progressive infrastructure” organizations for reaching out to the public and promoting core progressive values and ideas, instead of the focus on issues.
After that conference I wrote,
At the recent Take Back America conference … it seemed to me that the focus was largely on development of political infrastructure - the tactical field operations for getting out the vote. This is, of course, necessary. But that effort is one of trying to get to the polls a larger and larger share of a shrinking base.This conference was very different. At the opening plenary session, Bob Borosage, one of the two heads of Campaign for America’s Future, gave a visionary talk. I “live-blogged” it at the time, writing,
Bob Borosage is speaking, his theme: the conservative era is at an end and our task is to outline what comes next.This year's conference invited bloggers, had a “Blogger Boulevard,” gave a Maria Leavey activist award, and gave an award to the “progressive bloggers” at a Gala Dinner in front of a well-dressed Washington DC crowd. These are the people who had been hearing that bloggers are scary, uncivil, foul-mouthed and hairy. But we weren’t, and they saw that. Digby’s talk ( read a transcript here and see a video here) set just the right tone. This event built bridges between the progressive netroots and the Washington establishment, and the payoff for both will be huge. And I give credit and kudos to Bob Borosage and Roger Hickey and the Campaign for America’s Future for building this bridge!
Summary: They failed - Iraq, Katrina, economy not working for working people. So we have to make sure he public understands this. The conservative words sound good because they are meant to -- they have been tested to sound good. But the reality of what they did is different.
Katrina was a teachable movement, but you do have to teach it. Republicans aren't going to, they will say that things went wrong because they were not conservative enough. But they failed not simply because they were corrupt and incompetent - they failed because they get the world wrong, and we have to teach this lesson over and over again so Americans learn it.
… The progressive bloggers are here and they have taught us how to fight.
This is not the time for timidity - don't want to hear people talking about tracking to the elusive "center." This is our time to claim the future. We have to grab this opportunity and if we don't grab it somebody else will and they will take it in the wrong direction. [emphasis added]
Of course, the self-organized session Reaching the Public was the most important. But seriously, I attended one session, Winning Hearts and Minds: Why Rational Appeals are Irrational if Your Goal is Winning Elections put on by Drew Westen, author of The Political Brain (see my earlier post) that was important to our understanding of how people make political and voting decisions.
Also at this conference the Democratic Party candidates for President spoke. I "live-blogged" Barack Obama, John Edwards and Hillary Clinton's speeches. Obama was the winner. He gave a rousing, solidly progressive talk with a delivery that you have to experience in person. I hadn't been a big Obama fan before this, but now I am starting to understand the appeal. (I like all three of them and will be happy whoever gets the nomination.)
So things are changing. The netroots and the DC crowd are connecting. The activists are all talking infrastructure and core values instead of selfishly splintering into issue silos. And the energy level is high.
June 24, 2007
I'd like to ask a question of my readers. What do you think about whether Senator John Kerry should run again? He has a primary challenger named Ed O'Reilly now, and I am wondering whether you think netroots types should support Kerry or the challenger? Is Kerry a good Senator - or bad enough that we should support a challenge?
Let me know by e-mail or by comments here. Thanks.
June 14, 2007
Take a look at HillaryHub - a news aggregator, covers the blogs and news headlines.
June 6, 2007
John Edwards' Online Fundraising Ad
May 9, 2007
Bill Richardson is also running for President.
Here's his campaign website: Bill Richardson for President Exploratory Committee
Also, check Americans for Richardson
May 7, 2007
I came across this New York Magazine interview with Mike Gravel, and it is one more example of why mainstream, grassroots people are turning away from the "traditional" media. Many are turning to blogs.
The star of last week's Democratic presidential debate was a fringe contender Mike Gravel, 77, a former Alaska senator, who became a blogosphere sensation for saying that it should be a felony for Dubya & Co. to stay in Iraq.OK, let's take this step by step. Why is the word "fringe" in there? Next, that is not what the guy said. He said the following,
We need to find another way. I really would like to sit down with Pelosi and with Reid, and I would hope the other senators would focus on, how do you get out? You pass the law, not a resolution, a law making it a felony to stay there. And I'll give you the text of it.And then, of course, is the nasty ending:
And if you're worried about filibuster, here's what you do tactically. They can pass it in the House. We've got the votes there.
We've got the votes there.
In the Senate, let them filibuster it. And let Reid call up every -- at 12:00 every day to have a cloture vote. And let the American people see clearly who's keeping the war going and who's not.
Do you think Dennis Kucinich is angry you're stealing his thunder as the left-wing fringe candidate?"Left-wing fringe" Right.
Stop that. I'm not the far-left fringe candidate, and please don't write that. We've had somewhat of a testy conversation in this interview, and now we've got to end this.
So there's a Neiman Macrus ad and a Delta Airlines ad on the page. Their media kit says they have 90,000 unique visitors per day. (yeah, right.) Their rate card says there is a $20,000 minimum to run an ad there. The Neiman Marcus ad has a $40 CPM which means they pay $3600 each day so those supposed 90,000 unique visitors can hear about how Americans who oppose the Iraq war are the "left-wing fringe".
I don't charge nearly as much for an ad, and I don't insult readers. Except certain ones. You know who you are.
Heading Left's Blog Talk Radio show interviews Gov. Richardson. If you're interested this is a good listen. Just click the link, and it will start playing. (I am not on the show.)
Here's where to find some info on Presidential candidate Mike Gravel. I like that this guy is in the race.
Salon Article today: Don't worry, be Mike Gravel,
Gravel's support seems to be coming from those disaffected Democrats who, tired of politics as usual, watched the debate and saw a fiery man no one had heard from for 25 years saying things no other candidate would dare.
Sourced via the UK (and a California Green Party activist):
Kagan [a leading neoconservative and co-founder of the Project for the New American Century in the late 1990s] wrote approvingly that a keynote speech by Obama at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs was “pure John Kennedy”, a neocon hero of the cold war.
In his speech, Obama called for an increase in defence spending and an extra 65,000 soldiers and 27,000 marines to “stay on the offense” against terrorism and ensure America had “the strongest, best-equipped military in the world”. He talked about building democracies, stopping weapons of mass destruction and the right to take unilateral action to protect US “vital interests” if necessary, as well as the importance of building alliances.
“Personally, I liked it,” Kagan wrote.
Here's the lead from Kagan's column:
America must "lead the world in battling immediate evils and promoting the ultimate good." With those words, Barack Obama put an end to the idea that the alleged overexuberant idealism and America-centric hubris of the past six years is about to give way to a new realism, a more limited and modest view of American interests, capabilities and responsibilities.
Here's Obama's speech:
I really don't have the mental energy to engage in a comprehensive analysis of this. Suffice it to say, I understand why a neo-conservative like Kagan would be attracted to Obama's vision ... it is the liberal version of the neo-conservative ideal. America ascendant, the shining light, the imperial empire with a human face - in essence, a different rationale for the same massively interventionist behavior abroad. ... and we know what a hundred years of that have produced, rain or shine, Republican or Democrat, in the Caribbean, Central and South America, the Philipines, Africa, South-east Asia, etc.
... and for some historical context (Nov. 2005) ... oddly enough, Kagan appears to have linked to this speech in his article (an error? it points to a similar speech in Chicago before a similarly named organization)...
Boy, I'm really excited: an increase in defense spending, adding 100,000 new members of the military, unilateral action... what more could us peace-loving anti-war activists want?
... but we know that in Washington, D.C., being "anti-war" means being "anti badly managed wars in Iraq" for all but a handful of our representatives. It doesn't mean deconstructing the American imperial empire and actually being against war in general as a tool of foreign policy and being for redirecting more than a fraction of the trillions aimed at the Pentagon to more socially beneficial purposes. My local House Rep., Sam Farr (D-Santa Cruz, CA), is solidly liberal, and clearly thinks that he's being aggressive and progressive in proposing that just $60 billion of the $400 billion dollar defense budget (as he defines it) should be redirected elsewhere. Dismantling the Amercian imperial empire is just not on the agenda of even progressive Democrats in Washington, D.C.
I'm not saying that Obama wouldn't be a vast improvement over the lunacy we've had inflicted on us over the last six years - it feels really good, by contrast, when you stop pounding your bloodied head against the wall... at the same time, is this really the standard of comparison we should just our leaders by?
Shouldn't we expect more?
May 4, 2007
I received this in my e-mail, from the far-right website Townhall. What is Fred Thompson, possible Republican presidential candidate doing writing there?
In the screenshot of the e-mail I received below, see Thompson advertised right under "What is it with Jews and guns?" It is an article about how Liberals are Jews and Jews are "paranoid."
The sad fact is that the ACLU is made up in good part of Jews, and it is that organization and its lawyers who are leading the assault against Christmas.So what is Fred Thompson doing writing for them? Is this how he drums up support from the far-right of the Republican "base?"
Seriously, which Republican will denounce this stuff, rather than participate in it?
Another screen shot follows in the extended entry.
Here is his listing at the site.
The site is also carries articles that say things like:
Since 9/11, many of us have wondered: Where are the moderate Muslims? If they are out there, why are we not hearing more, and getting more help, from them in the fight against our common foe -- the totalitarian Islamists?And,
...no Islamic leader or cleric has denounced those who recruit, indoctrinate, train and arm the suicide bombers who kill children.And this,
In addition to not being a country, the "European Union" happens to be composed of people who hate our guts. It is the continent where Moveon.org-style lunatics are the friendly, pro-American types and the rest are crazy Muslims.But Wait! There's More! Stuff like this: Why Feminist Mommies are like Pimps,
The liberated feminists in our society see this as the ultimate victory. Eliminating men from the lives of children in their book is a very good thing.And this: Mormonism: Religion, Denomination, or Cult?
Is THIS how Fred Thompson wants to be known?
April 27, 2007
By Dave Johnson and James Boyce.
Will America be safer with a Republican president?
This has been the big "elephant in the room" question: the Republican branding of "strong on defense." Did any of the candidates knock this down?
Senator Clinton Senatorially said it is a "disconnect between the rhetoric and the reality" and then dived into policy details. "We haven't secured our borders, our ports, our mass transit systems ... resources haven't gotten to the front lines where decisions are made in local government..."
Senator Dodd also filibustered with boring policy details. "our first responders are not getting the support they deserve. The administration has been resistant in supporting them ... , not building the kind of international support -- stateless terrorism is a multinational problem ... requires a multinational response ... institutions we need to build to effectively engage and fight back against terrorism ... need to have leadership that knows how to build those relationships, to encourage that kind of participation..."
The other candidates didn't get a chance to respond, and politely did not.
But this is the question. This is, to many, the only question. Why didn't these candidates knock it out of the park?
We would not have been so polite. We would have made Mike Gravel look tame and shy -- shouting and waving our arms. We would have said:
"This is a lie. This is a marketing fraud perpetuated by the Right Wing against the American people. This is a well funded marketing program that is determined to mislead the American people and give them the Right Wing the power to send our sons and daughters to their deaths. It is just false.
This country was attacked on 9/11 and Americans died because this Republican administration was weak, not strong.
New York firefighters died because Rudy Giuliani was incompetent, and far from a hero.
The facts are clear. The Republicans market the myth. The Democrats deal in the reality of serving their country on the battlefield when they're young and keeping this country safer when they serve in Washington."
From the debate transcript:
MR. WILLIAMS: Governor, thank you. We're all out of time.
Senator Clinton, Rudolph Giuliani, a friend of yours from back home, said this past week, quote: "The Democrats do not understand the full nature and scope of the terrorist war against us." Another quote: "America will be safer with a Republican president." How do you think, Senator, it happened that that notion of Republicans as protectors in a post-9/11 world has taken on so?
SEN. CLINTON: Well, Brian, I think that, as a senator from New York, it is something that I've worked on very hard ever since 9/11 to try to convince the administration to do those things that would actually work to make us safer. And I think there's a big disconnect between the rhetoric and the reality.
You know, we haven't secured our borders, our ports, our mass transit systems. You can go across this country and see so much that has not been done. The resources haven't gotten to the front lines where decisions are made in local government the way that they need to, and I think that this administration has consistently tried to hype the fear without delivering on the promise of making America safer. And its foreign policy around the world, as you've heard from all of my colleagues here, has also made the world less stable, which, of course, has a ripple effect with respect to what we're going to face in the future.
So I hope that we can put that myth to rest. It is certainly something I will try to do during that -- the campaign.
MR. WILLIAMS: Senator Dodd, same question. How has this label been attached to the Democratic Party, that the Republicans will protect America best?
SEN. DODD: Well, that's a great question, Brian, because it's a myth in the sense when you consider what this administration has done over six years, given the attacks we faced on 9/11. Here, our first responders are not getting the support they deserve. The administration has been resistant in supporting them. The war in Iraq -- we haven't been dealing with the Taliban in Afghanistan, where our efforts should have been over the last number of years, not building the kind of international support -- stateless terrorism is a multinational problem. It's a tactic. It requires a multinational response. This administration has walked away from that. The very institutions we need to build to effectively engage and fight back against terrorism, this administration seems to take the other track and move in a different direction.
I would have answered your question earlier on what's a serious threat we face. It is stateless terrorism. It isn't states; it's the absence of diplomacy, the absence of engaging nations around the world to build those relationships that allow us to have a far more effective response to these -- this scourge that we face in this century. We need to have leadership that knows how to build those relationships, to encourage that kind of participation. This administration's done just the opposite.
MR. WILLIAMS: Senator, thank you.
April 26, 2007
Did any of these candidates help themselves? Does anyone stand out? I liked Edwards, Dodd (?) ... some of Gravels statements.
Where did this guy come from?
Former Senator Mike Gravel. I suspect he is going to gain a LOT of attention and some popularity. Looking at his website (while they're all talking) I see a mixture of good and bad. I'm not sure dropping the income tax is a great idea at a time when wealth is concentrating at the top.
April 24, 2007
By Dave Johnson and James Boyce
A quick visit to John Edwards's Presidential Campaign web site clearly shows what his passions are and what he wants to talk about. Not necessarily in order of his priority, but John Edwards wants to:
- End the war in Iraq.
Guarantee affordable health care to every American.
Fight global warming.
Eliminate poverty in America.
Revitalize rural America.
Restore America's moral authority in the world.
Help solve the humanitarian crisis in Africa.
It's almost too many critical issues and is more than enough to talk about right?
Well, this past week, we have seen clearly, that the Right Wing doesn't want to talk about these issues. Let's break them down briefly:
End the war in Iraq? No, the Right wants to continue the escalation in Iraq and potentially expand the conflict to Iran.
Fight global warming? No, the Right as best shown by Exxon-funded Media Research Center and their attacks on Laurie David and Sheryl Crow's global warming concert tour insist on putting profit before morality. They know the science as well as anyone but the scientific facts conflict with the profits of their top donors, ergo, their denial program continues.
Guarantee affordable health care to every American? Absolutely not. The cost to corporate donors makes it a necessity to stop this in its tracks. Tens of millions spent fighting and lobbying against health care reform is money well spent by those wishing to block this from becomming a right of every American.
Eliminate poverty in America? No, the programs that would facilitate this, such as the raising of the minimum wage, conflict with the goals of the Right's corporate base.
Revitalize rural America? Again, the programs that would facilitate this would cost large corporations money, no.
Restore America's moral authority in the world? The Right sees this differently. They don't mind torture, choosing war over peace and the death of civilians. It's a fundamental difference of morality.
Help solve the humanitarian crisis in Africa? The Right asks: why bother?
So clearly, there is a conflict because the vast majority would BENEFIT from John Edward's plans and actions (for starters, the 40,000,000 Americans without health care, their lives would greatly benefit.)
So how do they distract people from talking about these issues? The tobacco industry solved this problem nicely by portraying people who didn't smoke as not cool. They couldn't talk about their product honestly, so instead mock and make fun of the people who don't use the product.
So how would you make fun of the son of a mill worker who rose up from poverty himself in rural South Carolina to run for President? How would you distract people from his message and his ideas?
Well, he has too big a house. This is the problem with Liberals, they're not "like us," they think they are better, riding in limo's, drinking their chardonnay and lattes.
Recently, there was a concerted effort to circulate stories that John Edwards is so rich that he has just built a mansion that is the biggest house in the county where he lives in North Carolina. Can you imagine?
What a scum ball! He made enough money to build a big house and he built it. That story struck home with the people the Right wanted to reach. Did their tactic work? Absolutely. According to a Google search there are now over 796,000 web pages that reference the words 'John' 'Edwards' and 'mansion' and 13,800,000 that contain the words 'John' 'Edwards' 'big' and 'house'.
On April 15th, Presidential Candidates of both parties released their fundraising and expenditure documents and there is a wealth of information iavailable about the candidates, who is giving money and how they are spending their money.
Operatives from both parties trolled through the documents and what did they come up with from the Edwards documents?
A $400 haircut.
Perfect fodder for the machine because blue collar men are not going to like some pretty boy who goes to a spa and spends more on one hair cut than they do in a year. (And if the Right can make Edwards a "pretty boy," maybe those same men will be distracted from realizing that if Edwards was elected, their jobs would come with better pay and benefits, and their kids would have cleaner water to fish in and a better future. Let's talk hair cuts boys.)
The story moves up the food chain on the Right,. And, like the Gore energy bill story, it gets the stamp of validation from Fox News. Millions of Americans are exposed to something that simply doesn't matter.
The story is heavily promoted by Fox News. The online Fox News story begins, "Looking pretty is costing John Edwards' presidential campaign a lot of pennies." The story adds that Edwards visits a salon that caters mostly to women. Double-whammy. Limousine Liberal AND a pretty-boy!
The story has spread rapidly. If you do a Google search for pages that contain the words 'edwards', '$400' and 'haircut' there are already 187,000 web pages that contain those terms! (Testing this by looking at page 43 and then page 100 of the search results, every page cited was still directly about the purported John Edwards $400 haircut.) Similarly, a search for 'John' 'Edwards' 'Breck' and 'girl' yields 134,000 results.
What a 'faggot' as Ann Coulter would - did - say.
What a disgrace we say, that they try to distract us from talking about such important issues.
If you can, join us on our BlogTalkRadio show at noon eastern on Wednesday. We will be discussing this and how we can fight back. We will be taking calls and would love to hear from you.
One final point:
If you are a Barack supporter or a fan of Senator Clinton, or any other Democratic candidate, don't smile at the furor around Senator Edwards and this issue.
Because be it Barack's supposed radical Muslim childhood or Senator Clinton's personal life, they're coming for you next. The way to fight this is to back each other up -- because that backs ALL OF US up.
April 18, 2007
On our "Smoking Politics Radio Show" we just sent a simple message to Mitt Romney, and a fair one too:
Give SwiftBoat Donor Sam Fox his $100,000 back.
Sam Fox (now our Ambassador to Belgium you might recall thanks to President Bush's recess appointment) gave $50,000 to the Swift Boat Liars in 2004 and has since claimed that he didn't know what they were doing. Hah. Anyway.
Mitt Romney has no such excuse.
Mitt Romney knows that John O'Neill never served a single day in Vietnam with John Kerry. Mitt Romney knows that Swifties like O'Neill got big checks from the Swift Boat veterans. Mitt Romney should give Sam Fox his money back.
Because if Fox got an ambassadorship for $50,000, what did Romney promise for $100,000?
Give the blood money back Mitt!
April 17, 2007
A Smoking Politics post by Dave Johnson and James Boyce
They say you can tell a lot about a person by the company he keeps. And they say you can tell a lot about a politician by the donors he loves. In fairness, any politician can get money from rather unsavory sources, but when patterns emerge you can tell what a politician is like by the donor company he or she keeps.
If this holds true for Mitt Romney it would make him a push-polling, SwiftBoat-lying, racist, immigrant-hating, Hitler-using candidate.
Allow us to explain.
Mitt Romney has a number of great contradictions. For a man who won't swear and doesn't drink, he certainly likes hanging out with some real lowlifes.
Let's start from the top.
Carl Linder is going to be Mitt Romney's Finance Co-Chair in Ohio.
Carl Linder gave over $425,000 to a group called Common Sense Ohio, which ran deceptive ads and push-polling. And by the way, when Mitt Romney was chair of the Republican Governors Association, that organization gave money directly to Common Sense Ohio. What the H-E-double toothpicks Mitt? A direct endorsement of push-polling and deceptive ads? Nice.
Sam Fox gave Mitt Romney's PAC $100,000. (And just think George Bush made Fox an ambassador for a mere $50,000 to the Swift Boat Liars.) Sam Fox may have had amnesia regarding what scum the Swifties were, but Mitt should know. Evidently Mitt doesn't care.
And last but not least, there's Romney National Finance Chair, John Rakolta. You might think that Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm is a remarkable woman. Mr. Rakolta thinks that she, and some other prominent Democratic presidents, resemble Hitler. (See Romney camp catches flak for Hitler ad)
This is cross-posted at Smoking Politics, and we're going to talk about this on our "Smoking Politics Radio Show" at noon Eastern Wednesday. Taylor Marsh, of www.taylormarsh.com will join us with her wonderful and unique perspective.
April 2, 2007
Last week Senator John McCain attempted to sell a rosy picture of the situation in Iraq on CNN with Wolf Blitzer. He failed of course. He got smacked down in grand fashion. It was actually quite embarrassing to watch a man of his former stature demonstrate such a large degree of disconnectedness.
It got worse, much worse. Over the weekend I saw pictures on the major networks of the Senator in Iraq wearing a bullet proof vest, walking in an area outside the green zone, in a market I believe.
This was clearly another stunt in a series of stunts all designed to pull the wool over the American people's eyes. On this matter Senator McCain has clearly "jumped the shark". This was nothing more than a PR stunt which was part of his political agenda to sell an unsubstantiated rosy scenario to the American people.
But the important issue is not his false and failed message, so much as his careless disregard for the troops. The news coverage said there were over 100 soldiers and 5 helicopters on hand for this media spectacle. How dare he endanger the lives of US servicemen and women, and Iraqi civilians so he can have his self serving political photo opp!
Try to imagine the extent of the GOP outrage if Senator Hillary Clinton or Senator Obama or for that matter any other Democratic Candidate had done this.
My question is will the Democrats and the MSM media call him to task for this blatant PR stunt and the more serious danger it posed to US troops?
You can bet your as the GOP machine would lay to waste any Democrat who would dare to pull off such a disgusting pr move, and rightfully so. Hell I'd join them!
March 22, 2007
The announcement is live right now on TV. Elizabeth Edwards cancer is back, spreading into bones - a rib, not curable but treatable. Minimal spread so far, no real symptoms. She cracked a rib which led to a chest X-ray which saw cancer somewhere else Many patients in similar circumstances have lived many years. Positive attitude, etc. Encouraged... Life will not be significantly different but will be seeing doctor much more often.
The campaign continues. No intention of cowering in the corner. She will campaign with him.
Elizabeth: It's (the campaign) not about John Edwards. The people they have met, every even, someone cried on her shoulder about the state of their life. They don't have the wonderful support that she has an no place to turn so it is unbelievable important that they get this campaign right. Can't deprive the people of having a president like Edwards simply because she wants to sit at home.
John: Yesterday was not a good day for us. Not shockingly to anyone who knows Elizabeth all she wanted to talk about was John, the children and the country. Not a word about her.
Elizabeth: John came home after she hurt her back, gave her a big hug, she heard a pop.
John: Actually I was beating her. (Fox News/Drudge Headline will probably be: "Edwards Broke Wife's Rib During Beating")
Update - Hillary Clinton has a great tribute to Elizabeth Edwards on her site.
March 13, 2007
Edwards again doing the right thing: John Edwards for President-Edwards Increases Efforts To Fight Global Warming; Announces Campaign Will Be Carbon Neutral,
As part of his efforts to combat global warming, Senator John Edwards announced today that he will make his campaign "carbon neutral." Edwards believes global warming is one of the great challenges facing America and the world and that we can all take immediate action to decrease the amount of carbon we produce. By conserving energy and purchasing carbon offsets, the Edwards campaign will offset the carbon emitted by Edwards and his staff's campaign travel, and the energy used in his campaign headquarters and field offices.
"Global warming is an emergency and we can't wait until the next president is elected to take action," said Edwards. "Each of us can take responsibility in small ways to make a big difference. I encourage all Americans to conserve energy in their own homes and workplaces and help fight global warming."
March 7, 2007
Well the big scandal has arrived. Barack Obama owned stock!
Even worse, just like the Clintons with their Whitewater investment, he lost money!
There is so much not wrong with this - which can only be because of a massive cover-up by powerful forces. There is no other possible explanation.
March 1, 2007
By Dave Johnson and James Boyce
There's a tragic but true old expression that a lie can make it half way around the world before the truth can even get its pants on. Sadly, this has been proven true again this week with the $mear attack on Vice President Al Gore and his energy consumption.
Today, we noticed that the lie has made it to Germany. How did this happen and, more to the point, why does it continue to happen?
As Media Matters continues to speak out about every single day - and we all owe them thanks - the corporate media in America absolutely fails to serve the interest of the public. How could they spread this lie? How does a small, unknown organization with a $100,000 budget issue a press release containing a $mear on a respected former Vice President of the United States and have their lie echoed around the world within hours? Pathetic. (Just look at their IRS form! No officers, directors or trustees? Very little information? A P.O. box? Is it normal for an organization to spend that high a percentage of their funds on "meals?") One reporter asking one question about this group, or about the facts behind Gore's energy use, and the story is over. But they didn't.
Furthermore, it's our collective fault. As we noted in our post a few days ago, no one should have been surprised when Al Gore was attacked for the positive press he and his movie received last weekend. An Inconvenient Truth was sure to win an Oscar. Gore would then speak to a billion people about the problem of global warming. The well-funded global warming denial industry would respond, and $mearing people is their standard method of attack. They destroy our leaders.
And yet, there was surprise and a lack of preparation to fight back. How many times will one of our leaders be attacked and be marginalized before we get it through our thick heads that this is a pattern? How many times will this happen before we start to do something about it?
Al Gore was mocked as "ozone man". Max Cleland destroyed. Howard Dean screamed out of town. McGovern, Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, and Bill Clinton $meared and $meared and even impeached. Then the lies about Al Gore during his campaign against Bush. Then John Kerry swiftboated. Now Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama and John Edwards attacked. They destroy our leaders.
And not only are the targets of the attacks often caught off guard, but the Democratic institutions and leaders are often nowhere to be found when it happens!
Where was the Democratic National Committee on Tuesday and Wednesday as these lies gained hold? Where was any Democratic-oriented Group? There were the progressive bloggers, Media Matters and CAP's Think Progess and very few others -- the usual suspects -- and this is all that Gore and our other leaders have watching their backs. They sure aren't watching each other's.
Last fall, we (James, Dave and Taylor Marsh) worked together on The Patriot Project. We struggled mightily to raise money to help veteran candidates like Joe Sestak, Patrick Murphy, Charlie Brown, Jack Murtha and Chris Carney. We raised money online but traditional donors didn't help us. The progressive bloggers are also largely unfunded and are the targets of strategic marginalization attacks themselves. The progressive donor base continues to play it safe and avoid controversy, funding the large, stale, DC-based "traditional" organizations.
And the attacks continue.
When John Kerry was the focus of the machine when he botched his joke, the wingnuts misrepresented what he said and pretended outrage, the right's online sites echoed and amplified the smear, the Drudge Report spread it widely, Limbaugh blasted it out, and then the networks dutifully picked it up and spread the lie to the rest of the country. And not only did no Democrat come to his aid, some actually piled on.
When Nancy Pelosi was $meared with the lie that she "demanded a luxury jet" the wingnuts misrepresented what she said and pretended outrage, the right's online sites echoed and amplified the smear, the Drudge Report spread it widely, Limbaugh blasted it out, and then the networks dutifully picked it up and spread the lie to the rest of the country. But how many leading Democrats and organizations joined forces to protect her?
How many similar episodes have we seen in just the last few months? Where are the Democratic institutions? Where are the other Democratic leaders? Don't they understand that they're next?
And this week here was Al Gore getting blind-sided and the silence was deafening. One more sad but clear example of what ails our party and our leaders.
It is a tragedy.
First the wingnuts came for Bill Clinton,
I remained silent;
I am not Bill Clinton.
When they made up stuff about Gore,
I remained silent;
I am not Gore.
When they lied about John Kerry
I didn't speak up for him;
I complained about how he ran his campaign.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out;
I am a Democrat.
February 13, 2007
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.
February 12, 2007
(Co-written with James Boyce)
Last Saturday, in the not new news event of the weekend, Senator Barack Obama made it official. He is running for President. He is a strong candidate and a welcome addition to the race. During his remarks, he said this:
"...I came to believe that through this decency, we can build a more hopeful America."Senator Obama sincerely believes in his vision of a better country, a more hopeful and decent place. But as we checked through the reviews of his announcement, we were filled not with hope, but with concern.
In today's political arena, hope and decency will get you slaughtered. The forces that will line up against the Democratic nominee in 2008 will not be playing a hopeful and decent game - it will be a battle to the death with a neo-conservative, corporatist, authoritarian movement that has spent billions of dollars seizing power over the last forty years. The $mear machine is already directing its guns at Senator Obama with nasty whisper campaigns, racial insinuations, etc.
So would a President Obama be able to work with them, and get them to compromise and put the interests of the country before those of the conservative movement? No. (This has been another episode of Simple Answers to Simple Questions.)
As the old saying goes, "It takes two to tango," and the right isn't in a dancing mood. If we're going to get anything done for the good of the country we, as Digby says, need to drive a stake through the heart of the authoritarian right. Destroy them and then you can rebuild with hope. But have no doubt, you must destroy them first. Here are a few highlights of the recent tactics of this authoritarian-right strategy in action. Hope doesn't have a chance. As Digby wrote,
This is an issue with which every American, regardless of party, should be concerned. The founders knew that relying on the good will of men in power is stupid and we are seeing their predictions come true before our very eyes. The modern Republican leadership may currently have a monopoly on authoritarian impulses, but they are by no means the only people in this country who could be seduced by this Republican notion of executive authority. The constitution is what protects all Americans from the dark side of human nature when it has power over others, regardless of party or political philosophy. Those of us who worry about this usurpation of the constitution and degradation of the Bill of Rights know that this is not a passing fashion that will easily be tucked back into its former shape. Once you allow powerful men to seize power it's awfully hard to persuade their successors to give it back.
John McCain in South Carolina in 2000. Robocalls were used against John McCain by Bush operatives in which South Carolina voters were asked if they really wanted to vote for a man with a 'nigger' baby. (Senator McCain has an adopted daughter from Bangladesh.) Whisper campaigns spread even worse things about him.
Max Cleland, severely wounded serving his country in Vietnam, was $meared as unpatriotic in Georgia in 2002. Saxby Chamblis, who deferred out of Vietnam with a bad knee, ran ads showing pictures of him with pictures of Osama Bin Laden while Max was being attacked for being soft on national security. If he had lost his one remaining limb, would that have been enough sacrifice? No, and they continue to $mear him.
Ambassador Joe Wilson in 2003. Perhaps Senator Obama should take a moment to understand the lessons of the current trial of "Scooter" Libby. The White House, in order to justify a war that will cost $500 billion and thousands of American lies, attacked Joe Wilson (who told the truth) by revealing that his wife was a CIA agent (whose job,by the way, was tracking down terrorists who were attempting to obtain weapons of mass destruction) and didn't bat an eye doing it.
John Kerry in 2004. The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth were funded largely by three men who gave almost $10 million to pay veterans - veterans who never served with John Kerry - to lie and create doubt about his three Purple Hearts and medals for heroism. The key "Swiftboater" John O'Neill had first been used as a 'counterfoil' to John Kerry by Richard Nixon.
How about the Republican Party running an operation to jam Democratic Party phones during the 2002 election in New Hampshire?
Is Senate buddy John McCain ready to be fair and "decent," Senator? A clue may be found from his hiring a campaign manager known for using racist tactics.
You can't beat this with hope, Senator Obama. Hope and decency and belief on fundamental fairness doesn't make you President - touch base with Al Gore about that. Strength beats strength. A degree of evil is required to overcome pure evil. Anything else is not hopeful, but naive - just as Neville Chamberlain discovered when he tried to negotiate peace with the devil.
You can have all the hope in the world, Senator Obama, but you better remember to at least bring a gun to a gun fight.
February 11, 2007
If you want Al Gore to run for President, go read this Daily Kos diary recommend it, leave a comment, AND, most important, go sign the petition.
February 10, 2007
The right wants to make sure everyone knows that "Barak Hussein Obama" is a strange name. They want it to sound sinister. They want people to react with a feeling: scary black man with a suggestion of terrorist associations.
They destroy our leaders. They are spreading stories that he attended a terrorist school as a child, that his middle name is the same as Saddam's last name, that his church "isn't really Christian," etc. Scary black man with a suggestion of terrorist associations. Eventually people will say, "There's just something I don't like about this guy."
And now they are trying to manufacture a controversy hoping that big media will spread the word for them. To that end, now they are suggesting that Sen. Obama is being cagey - maybe even covering something up - about the origins of his name. Maybe the press will pick it up and spread the smear.
From MyDD's When Petty Reporters Get Mad,
This latest is penned by Mike Allen.Swahili AND Arabic. Get it? There is no controversey, the point is to just get the words "Swahili" and "Arabic" out to the public, preferably in a headline.Now, Obama's about to endure a going-over that would make a proctologist blush. Why has he sometimes said his first name is Arabic, and other times Swahili?How suspicious! The answer, as both Brad Delong and The Poorman note, is that Swahili and Arabic are extremely similar languages because of millenia of trade between East Africa and the Middle East. Delong writes, ""Barack" is both a Swahili word meaning "blessed by God" and an Arabic word meaning "blessed.""
Whoever gave Allen the smear sought him out because they are building a political narrative around Obama divorced from important political issues. And Allen repeated the smear without checking because it seemed to fit into the story he wanted to tell.One more thing. "Barak" is not just Swahili and Arabic. It's also Hebrew: Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha'olam... (Update - Brad DeLong also noted this. I should have clicked through.)
February 4, 2007
James Boyce says Rudy Giuliani Is Not A Hero. Go see why not.
February 2, 2007
Here is a YouTube of Senaotr Barak Obama talking at the DNC winter meeting. This helps gives you a feel for the guy.
January 31, 2007
January 25, 2007
I want to get out a thought I have been working on.
For a long time America's politicians have needed to posture and pretend and play a game of saying things that every informed person understands are not true, but are mouthed in order to to "position" themselves aligned with their idea of the thinking of the broad uninformed masses.
The conservatives built up a power structure by building (and funding) advocacy organizations like Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute - buying a movement - and progressives and their funders had not done that. So the conservatives have had this persuasion machine in place and progressives have not. The conservatives were able to use their machine to build up the "conventional wisdom" along the lines of their own strategic narrative. And so for a long time the public was, probably correctly, perceived to have been largely persuaded by conservative rhetoric, and the politicians had to speak to that.
So maybe for a politician it was a correct perception that you have to move right and "triangulate" and spout right-wing crap to get elected. You get this enormous demand built up by the right's unanswered propaganda, and at the same time you get this enormous conservative-engineered institutional pressure built up to vote a certain way on legislation. What else were politicians supposed to do?
Meanwhile progressives were not working to persuade the public, so there has until recently been little popular demand or respect for progressive policies and candidates. Sure, we want leaders to do the right thing, but we haven't been building up the mechanisms or creating the public demand that makes leaders do the right thing -- or that protect them, "watch their backs" and give them cover to do the right thing.
I think the blogs are starting to make a tremendous difference in our politics. They are holding politicians and the media accountable, and I think we're all starting to see the effects. They can't seem to get away with ANYTHING anymore because of these darn bloggers, and a lot of them don't like that one bit. But progressive politicians are learning that now there finally is someone out there - the blogs - working to persuade the public, and watching their backs, and applying pressure, and rewarding good behavior and punishing bad behavior. A power structure for progressive is being built.
So I think that one of these effects from the blogs is that doing the RIGHT thing rather than ridiculous posturing and perception games is starting to become the way to win elections. Or maybe I should say that the posturing and perception game to win elections and doing the right thing are converging - into the same thing.
Co-written with James Boyce
They destroy our leaders.
In our Dec. 11 post How Long Will The Right Let Us Love Obama, we discussed how the right consciously and over time systematically destroys Democratic and Progressive leaders.
We were prompted to write the post because of a national poll of favorability of leading politicians had just been released and Senator Barack Obama, the brightest new star in politics, was the highest ranked Democratic politician in the poll.
As we studied the poll, we asked why our other great leaders were seen unfavorably by so many? We wrote,
"With complete respect to Senator Obama, where are the long-time Democratic leaders who have dedicated their lives to the service of our country? Where are the other possible Presidential contenders? What about Bill Clinton, Al Gore and John Kerry? Where are Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid? Are they not leaders that deserve at the very least to have decent favorability ratings?We went on to make the claim that we believe our impressions of our leaders have been negatively impacted by the right wing's $mear machine."
... Our point here is not whether you will vote for them, or volunteer for their campaign, or give them money, but do you, the American voting public, have a favorable impression of these leaders?
"This is what the machine does to Democratic and Progressive leaders. It smears, and attacks and destroys them. It leaves millions of Americans with an uneasy feeling about John Kerry or Hillary Clinton, a bad taste in the mouth, "I don't know. I just don't like him." It's emotional. It's not rational. But it is very, very real.Of course, we could have added that the mainstream media in many instances actually assists the machine in the smearing under the "two sides of the story" journalism 101 mantra. But we didn't have to - in fact, Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post did it for us when he called us out and mocked us, writing,
And it's not just these our most recent leaders. As we wrote last week, President Jimmy Carter left office virtually in disgrace. What about Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis? Are they perceived as what they really are - respected leaders who are both true American success stories? Hardly. They are perceived in the "conventional wisdom" as jokes and afterthoughts.
Those powerful negative stereotypes were carefully created by the use of brilliant marketing, coordinated messaging, virtually unlimited budgets and a complete lack of morals."
"HuffPosters Dave Johnson and James Boyce devise a novel explanation for Obama's popularity: ... Hardly ... Boy, that must be one powerful machine."Sadly, exactly as we predicted, the rise of Senator Obama and the media attention paid to him has led directly to a rise in attacks. As the most dynamic young politician of either party to burst on the national scene since John Kennedy captured the attention of the country over forty-five years, Senator Obama is a real threat to the right. Of course, as is usually the case, the attacks were not on his record or his career - in fact their pettiness and immaturity speak for themselves.
On December 18, this appeared from a widely-read right-wing blogger,
... His full name--as by now you have probably heard--is Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. Hussein is a Muslim name, which comes from the name of Ali's son--Hussein Ibn Ali. And Obama is named after his late Kenyan father, the late Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., apparently a Muslim.About the same time, similar smears started circulating in the stealth, word-of-mouth channels. Reminiscent of the whisper-campaign that destroyed John McCain in the 2000 South Carolina primaries, e-mails containing the following are circulating widely:
And while Obama may not identify as a Muslim, that's not how the Arab and Muslim Streets see it. In Arab culture and under Islamic law, if your father is a Muslim, so are you. And once a Muslim, always a Muslim. You cannot go back. In Islamic eyes, Obama is certainly a Muslim. He may think he's a Christian, but they do not.
... So, even if he identifies strongly as a Christian, and even if he despised the behavior of his father (as Obama said on Oprah); is a man who Muslims think is a Muslim, who feels some sort of psychological need to prove himself to his absent Muslim father, and who is now moving in the direction of his father's heritage, a man we want as President when we are fighting the war of our lives against Islam? Where will his loyalties be?
Essential facts ALL should know concerning Barack ObamaNaturally this vile story isn't just spreading by e-mail. In fact, as of this writing, a Google search for 'Obama' and 'Muslim' yields 873,000 results. Of course many or irrelevant or are even refuting the smear. But scanning the first several pages of results shows websites that are almost all spreading this smear, and this indicates that a good percentage of those results probably reflect this smear. Along these lines, a search on 'Obama', 'stealth' and 'Muslim' yields over 50,000 results. And searching 'Obama', 'ideologically' and 'muslim' yields over 40,000. One result would be too many for decency.
Probable U. S. presidential candidate, Barack Hussein Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., a black Muslim from Nyangoma-Kogel, Kenya and Ann Dunham, a white atheist from Wichita, Kansas. Obama's parents met at the University of Hawaii.
When Obama was two years old, his parents divorced. His father returned to Kenya. His mother then married Lolo Soetoro, a radical Muslim from Indonesia. When Obama was 6 years old, the family relocated to Indonesia. Obama attended a Muslim school in Jakarta. He also spent two years in a Catholic school.
Obama takes great care to conceal the fact that he is a Muslim. He is quick to point out that, "He was once a Muslim, but that he also attended Catholic school."
Obama's political handlers are attempting to make it appear that Obama's introduction to Islam came via his father, and that this influence was temporary at best. In reality, the senior Obama returned to Kenya soon after the divorce, and never again had any direct influence over his son's education. Lolo Soetoro, the second husband of Obama's mother, Ann Dunham, introduced his stepson to Islam. Osama was enrolled in a Wahabi school in Jakarta. Wahabism is the radical teaching that is followed by the Muslim terrorists who are now waging Jihad against the western world.
Since it is politically expedient to be a Christian when seeking major public office in the United States, Barack Hussein Obama has joined the United Church of Christ in an attempt to downplay his Muslim background.
Let us all remain alert concerning Obama's expected presidential candidacy.
A Reverend Moon outlet, Insight Magazine, carried this on Jan. 16,
Are the American people ready for an elected president who was educated in a Madrassa as a young boy and has not been forthcoming about his Muslim heritage?(Note CNN's refutation of this false story.)
... "Obama's education began a life-long relationship with Islam as a faith and Muslims as a community," the source said. "This has been a relationship that contains numerous question marks."
The Moonies added a nice propaganda touch, claiming the info came from Hillary Clinton's campaign - which it did not - attempting to $mear two birds with one lying article.
Fox News has, of course, picked up on this. Media Matters has a video clip of Fox News' John Gibson repeating the Moonie accusations against both Senator Obama and Senator Clinton.
These attacks serve to create public doubt about the Senator Obama at a time when the public is just beginning to learn about him, by contributing to the coordinated right-wing campaign that insinuates Obama is somehow connected to terrorists.
The tactic of attributing the $mear to the Clinton campaign is an innovative new twist. It deflects attention from the Republican $mear machine - just as the public is becoming increasingly aware that this is a standard Republican tactic.
The attacks also damage the Clinton campaign by implying that Clinton would engage in the kind of smear campaign just at a time when the public is becoming increasingly repulsed by this tactic - because of it widespread use by Republicans.
For those who are thinking, "well, surely, no one will fall for this." We offer two points of evidence to the contrary - all of which we feel are true because on the whole, Americans do not pay as close attention to the political process as readers of this post.
- 1. Over 40% of all Americans still believe that Saddam Hussein had something to do with the attacks of September 11, 2001.
2. There still is the lingering belief that John Kerry exaggerated, or just plain lied, about his military record in Vietnam.
So if you've ever wondered why the right does this, now you know. Because it works. If you find yourself a year from now thinking, "I just don't like Obama" you know it worked again. To everyone's detriment.
January 22, 2007
Co-written with James Boyce
A little over 48 hours ago, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton made history when she announced that she had formed an exploratory committee for 2008. She is the first woman to have a legitimate chance to become President of the United States. In fact, she is clearly the front runner, not a long shot.
"I'm in. And I'm in to win." She declared. It was a historic moment.
It is an extraordinary feat by an extraordinary woman. Of course, to win The White House, Senator Clinton will face many challenges and hurdles. But the first may end up being perhaps the most significant. For Senator Clinton and her advisers must find a strategy that makes every voter look at her clearly. Senator Clinton and her advisors must shatter the public's habit of viewing her and her record through the prism of right wing distortions and smears.
This is not a conspiracy theory nor is it an endorsement of Senator Clinton.
But this simply is a fact of modern politics in America. For the past three decades, the right wing has employed a powerful strategy of "$ell and $mear." They insist on being the gatekeepers to public opinion and have developed a powerful machine that tells us who to like - and who to hate.
They $ell their heroes, turning a B-movie actor into the Marlboro Man and President.
They $mear Democratic and Progressive heroes, reducing American success stories such as George McGovern, Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis into humiliated historical footnotes. They destroy our leaders. They destroy those that might become our leaders. There is no Democratic or Progressive leader of any note of the last twenty years that has not been attacked.
Senator Clinton is unique in this discussion because unlike John Kerry, who had to be turned from war hero into fraud in sixty days, she has been both a past and historical target of the machine on the right and will be its primary target in the month's going forward. Of course, we should expect Senator Obama to face more than his fair share of slurs and attacks as well. As well as any other leader who dares challenge the right-wing $mear machine.
Even now, many Democrats state they "just don't like Hillary." Much like they "just don't like John Kerry." She has "baggage." Or there is something about her "that just bothers me." This is the result of the campaign against her. Just as these people like Coca-Cola or Nike products but can't tell you why, they don't like Hillary. Without conscious reason or explanation.
This is Senator Clinton's primary challenge. Because since this strategy has been deployed, no one, not one single politician has been in the eye of the machine longer than Senator Clinton. For almost fifteen years, Americans have been bombarded with smears and negative commentary about her. Virtually every aspect of her life, personal and political, from her hairstyle to private decisions she made within her marriage, has been criticized.
This will be a longer discussion. This effort will be part of our dialogue for at least the next year. But let's start with two simple questions.
HILLARY CLINTON IS JUST TOO POLARIZING - RIGHT? WRONG.
This might seem jarring, moronic or just plain wrong, but the facts are clear. Hillary Clinton is called polarizing as a matter of course, but there really is no basis for the claim.
First, you must realize that any leader of one of the two major parties will have split public opinion because we live in a two party system. By definition any leader will be polarizing. So just as John Kerry, Al Gore and Bill Clinton, recent Democratic nominees for President, have high negatives from the other side of the aisle, so too will whomever is the Democratic nominee in 2008.
Of course, George Bush, Mitt Romney, and John McCain will also all have high negatives from the Democratic side. That's part of the process.
Hillary Clinton is no more polarizing than George Bush - a quick Google search shows that just as many references of George Bush as "too polarizing" as there are for Hillary.
So why do we think Hillary is polarizing? Because we are constantly told so. Again, and again.
They called her ... well, everything a person can be called. They accused her of ... well, every crime a person can be accused of, up to and including murder. A Google search of the words "Hillary" and "murder" yields 1,500,000 results - and be sure to take a look at some of them.
Take a moment and pause. A respected leader of our country is accused of murder by the right, time and time again, and it no longer shocks us. Just as having John Kerry, an authentic American war hero who earned three Purple Hearts, just as having him portrayed as a fraud no longer shocks us. This is what this machine has done to our leaders, and to our country.
"HILLARY CAN WIN THE NOMINATION BUT NOT THE GENERAL ELECTION."
This one is another myth made in right wing heaven, but they will repeat it, and smile when Democrats repeat it over the next few months.
First of all, let's judge Mrs. Clinton by her performance as an elected official. She won her Senate easily in 2000 and in 2006 coasted to an absolutely dominating re-election, winning almost every single county in New York State.
Then yesterday, the Washington Post released this poll.
In this poll, Senator Clinton gets 41% of Democrats support. Senator Obama is second at 17%. Some would say this isn't a race yet.
Second, let's look at a state by state map of the blue states that John Kerry won. Is there one that Senator Clinton can not win? Of course not.
Are there other states where she can win that John Kerry didn't and therefore be the President? Absolutely. There are at least five potentially more, depending on her Vice President selection.
Again the Washington Post poll.
In it, Senator Clinton beats the Republican front runners.
The only reason we think Hillary is less electable than the others is that we are conditioned to think that the right's smear machine is unstoppable. (And of course plenty of us will do almost anything just to get them to stop screeching.)
IT WON'T JUST BE SENATOR CLINTON WHO WILL BE SMEARED.
A few weeks ago, we asked "How Long Will The Right Let Us Love Obama?" We, sadly, have started to see the answer. (More on this later.)
The $mear machine will take aim at any Democrat who starts to gain traction. Look back over the years - every single Democratic Presidential candidate has faced the machine, and is now perceived negatively by the public. Again: they destroy our leaders.
Remember that in the 2004 election primaries people supported John Kerry because he was a war hero and therefore "electable?" Remember how the term "swiftboating" then entered the lexicon? John Edwards? Destroying our country with frivolous lawsuits. Bill Richardson? There are plenty of openings - or they'll just make something up. And so on.
It's not that they think each and every one of these Democrats are potential Presidents.
It's just that they want to destroy each and every Democrat. And they're going to start with a remarkable woman who just might be the next President of the United States.
It's up to each and every one of us to stop it.
And it's up to each and everyone of us to look at Senator Clinton without the right telling us what we're looking at.
January 20, 2007
HillaryClinton.com - Welcome
People say Hillary Clinton has "baggage" and is "divisive." Actually she has been investigated more thoroughly than almost anyone in the country's history and they found nothing at all. It isn't Hillary who is divisive, it's the people making all the accusations.
Remember that people voted for Kerry in the primaries because he was a war hero and therefore "electable." And remember what everyone thought about Kerry by the time of the election - and still. The term "swiftboating" entered the lexicon. The right's $mear machine destroys our leaders and makes us hate them - and to some extend to hate ourselves as well.
I don't support or oppose Hillary. I'm just talking about the perception game.
December 18, 2006
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.Who does he see on his side in a bar fight? So far there's Clark and maybe Edwards:
[. . .] 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.
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.
December 12, 2006
In Al Gore Again, Taylor Marsh speculates that he will run - after he gets his Oscar.
September 29, 2006
Keep this in mind. If your neighbor's mean-ass pit bull comes into your yard and bites you, you don't get mad at your own dog for not protecting you. First order of business is to get rid of the god-damned pit bull. After all, he's the one that's really responsible for your wounds. Once that's done, then you can worry about giving your own sorry pooch some watch-dog training.Go see the whole list, then send EACH of their challengers in this election $1000. EACH ONE!
(And if you really do that, remember my tip jar, too!)
August 23, 2006
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.
August 18, 2006
Is Rep. John Doolittle Corrupt or Ineffective?
Charlie Brown is the Democratic candidate running against Doolittle. Go visit.
August 14, 2006
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:Go read the rest.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.
August 13, 2006
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.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.
Actually, it will not make this district close, because no Democrat qualified for the ballot here.
June 12, 2006
Friday night Gov. Warner threw a very expensive party for YearlyKos attendees. Some people wonder if it reflects poorly on his judgement, that he lavishly throws money around. I think this may have been a very effective use of marketing dollars and a very sharp strategic move. Think about it this way: if Gov. Warner has now established himself in the front of the pack, and grabbed onto a great big piece of the mindshare of the blogosphere, for only $70,000 (or whatever it cost), then GOOD FOR HIM - it shows he knows how to reach the audiences he needs to reach, when he needs to reach them. It's called "marketing." If there's anything the Democrats need it's marketing know-how, and if it means we get to eat free sushi, all the better.
Compare this to the cost and effort that would be required to achieve the same results using other means. How DO you get the attention of the blogoshpere? Do you set up local or regional meetings with bloggers? Think of the travel costs, time and staff that would take. Then there's the fact that he would have to fight tooth and nail with all the other candidates along that road.
With one well-timed event, Warner established mindshare - he got it done, he's on our map.
But wait, there's more!
He didn't just help himself. At the same time, by lending his own credibility to the emerging blogosphere he validated its importance to the American political process. His act said to the political structure, "This is important, I am taking it very seriously." By so doing, he helped strengthen a communications channel that the Democratic Party desperately needs - and that the eventual Democratic nominee will need. Strengthening the blogosphere? Works for me.
But wait, there's more!
Governor Warner has not just established himself with the blogosphere. By placing himself as a top blogosphere contender, he has positioned himself as a top contender, period. Let me explain. In my marketing life I always worked for "little guy" companies - small companies up against major established, entrenched competitors like Microsoft or Sony. So I developed what I a call "leapfrog" marketing, or "parallel channel" marketing strategy.
Suppose you want to introduce a product into the Microsoft Windows market. Getting noticed and establishing your brand is an extremely expensive - and time consuming - proposition. Throwing a huge $100,000 event at a major trade show doesn't even get you noticed, it's just expected. It hurts you if you don't do it, but doesn't help you much when you do. And then advertising and brand building is going to cost you millions, takes time, and you will still be barely noticed amidst the noise.
But maybe someone else is reaching the target audiences. Suppose you introduce a Linux version of your product first. Doing this, you are marketing into a parallel channel that has much lower marketing costs. But, in reality, much of your marketing activities are reaching the same audiences. The computer press, IT management, opinion leaders, sophisticated users, and many other target segments also pay attention to the Linux market so the result is that you are establishing mindshare in the Windows market. And there is an amplification not available in the Windows market. The Linux market is not saturated with products, so there is great demand. By introducing a serious product you leapfrog past the saturation obstacle of the Windows market.
So, as I said, by establishing himself as a leader of the pack of candidates in the blogosphere he is increasing his stature with the national political press and opinion leaders at the same time, because they are also paying close attention to the blogosphere as a leading indicator of public opinion.
So upon reflection, I think Governor Warner has pulled off a brilliant maneuver all the way around. By making himself important to the blogs, and at the same time increasing the importance of the blogs to the national political process, he is making himself a front-runner. At the same time, by increasing the credibility of the blogs now, he is strengthening their power and effectiveness as a channel for use by the eventual nominee.
By the way - I'm not endorsing Warner here. As I said before,
"So I'm going to be taking a really serious look at Gov. Warner, and blogging about him. I want to know more about his positions on issues. ... I suggest that you pay attention to this guy - you will like him."So the guy is a good marketer and strategist -- that's good for our side. And obviously he's a great salesman -- that's also good for our side.
I have no idea if Governor Warner is the right person to trust with the leadership of the country. I don't yet know if he wants to bring Medicare-for-All (single-payer health care), for example, or understands the threat to democracy we face from the fanatical cult-right and the theocrats. It's early, we'll find out. Some of us had a good and frank session with him yesterday (yes I'll write about it), and we need to digest what he said. And maybe he needs to digest what some of us said.
I think an important role of "the bloggers" in the process is to look at the candidates, ignore the (necessary) fluff and posturing and compromises, and decide if this is the right candidate for the good of the country. The political power structure isn't doing that. The press isn't doing that anymore, and we're about doing it a different way anyway even if they were. So it's left to citizen journalists to step up to the plate and fill that vacuum.
May 14, 2006
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.
April 27, 2006
I attended an event in San Francisco where unofficial Democratic Presidential candidate and former Virginia Governor Mark Warner spoke and took questions. (Here is his blog and I am assured by an astonished aide that he actually spends time on it.) The event was a fundraiser for Heath Schuler who is running for Congress in North Carolina's 11th District against one of the typical Republican Culture of Corruption Congressmen. First, I have to say that Schuler is GOOD. He is a good speaker, and comes across very well. Here's his blog. He's also a former NFL quarterback. Let's wish him well! Send him a few bucks.
It was very crowded (even so I knew about 1/4 of the people there including the guy who put it together - for various reasons I seem to end up at number of events in this circle of funding types...), but I had a chance to chat with Gov. Warner for a bit. I have to say that was very impressed. We had a good chat. I asked him if he or anyone on his staff has their brain around the conservative movement and what it is, and he had pretty good knowledge.
Then I asked him what he's going to do when they smear him. He said they've already tried. So I think he might need some work on understanding what they are going to do -- that they're going to just make up really, really nasty shit and spread it everywhere before anyone can respond...
So I liked him. He "gets it," seems natural and comfortable and isn't trying too hard - I mean, he seems to be just who he is. And he comes across very, very well. He is obviously very knowledgeable. And his record in Virginia is really good. He left office with an 80% approval rating in a historically Republican Southern "Red" state, and did it by raising spending on the environment and education and tobacco taxes.
It was interesting seeing him interacting in that crowd of VC types because he was in his element but I could tell he's the same guy that he is in other crowds - even if I haven't seen him in another crowd. I was at a similar event like this with Kerry very early in that campaign and you could really tell he had a special persona for that crowd. (In fact I had been a really big Kerry supporter until then and called the Dean campaign the next morning -- it was way too early for them to be able to respond...)
This is important -- I didn't hear him repeating ANY "conventional wisdom" or right-wing narrative points. This is a big deal. In a room full of VC types he didn't say "Social Security is going broke" or "we need free trade" or anything like that. He talked about the disaster that Bush has been, and how we need transformation change.
So I'm going to be taking a really serious look at Gov. Warner, and blogging about him. I want to know more about his positions on issues. Until now I have been a support of Gen. Clark for President, but we'll see. I suggest that you pay attention to this guy - you will like him. I CAN say that whoever wins the nomination for President will have my full support, no matter who I support through the primaries.
April 6, 2006
I ran into Sarah Carter last night, who is doing the blogging for her father's campaign for the Senate in Nevada, at: Carter Blog | Jack Carter for Senate. Go take a look - nice blogging.
March 10, 2006
It's only March and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is running Schwartzenegger campaign ads in California. I'm seeing them all the time. You can watch one here.
What is the legality of the Chamber running campaign ads? Are they just assuming that since Republicans control everything no one will do anything about it?
February 24, 2006
Karl Rove Punked Paul Hackett and his Followers by Hesiod. Go read. (And as with all Kos diaries, recommend if you want to bring it to wider attention.)
To be clear, Hackett would have been a GREAT candidate. He is a conservative Dem. Sherrod Brown is a Progressive Dem. I was neutral in that primary race. But now,
Whatever the truth of that charge is, Hackett is deliberately sabotaging Brown's Senatorial campaign.Here's the thing. If you aren't voting for a Democrat, you are helping put a Republican in. There is no way around that argument right now and it makes a huge difference to the world. If Republicans retain that seat it is one more vote for killing hundreds of thousands in Iraq and around the world, spying on us and calling us traitors, getting rid of pensions and health insurance, shipping jobs out of the country, killing off unions and all the other wonderful things Republicans bring. We must band together to fight the "conservative movement." After they're gone, then we can go after each other.
February 5, 2006
I recommend this Kos diary about Democratic Presidential candidate General Wesley Clark. Daily Kos: Wes Clark: we need to save American democracy!
Now there are some who may doubt the General's motivations, his political savvy, or his ability to play with the big boys of the party. I am not one of those. Not any more. I have seen most of the party leaders of the past few campaigns up close and personal. Met and greeted them, heard them talk live, looked into their eyes, and watched from afar on C-SPAN speech after speech after speech. I've seen Clinton, Gore, Kerry, Edwards, and Dean up close and personal - but I've never seen anything like Clark! Is he a politician - yes. But he's an American first, and the things he said today... with the exception of Al Gore's recent speeches, never before have I seen a politician with the guts to so lay it on the line.