January 10, 2013

Why DC Ignores Real Problems And What You Can Do About It

How many real and serious national problems can you list? And how many obvious solutions can you come up with literally off the top of your head? Now an experiment: list how many of them are being worked on by our DC elites or even discussed my our elite media? The answer is none. Why is this? And what can you do about it?

Real And Serious Problems

Start with climate change, clearly the most serious problem facing the world. If you think this is something that won't do serious damage until way off in the future, consider what could happen this year if our country's terrible drought continues, and then other climate-related disasters hit other agricultural regions around the world. Oh, right, mass starvation. Never mind the storms and storm surges, huge wildfires, heat waves, etc. that we are already experiencing.

Jobs. We have an absolute and continuing jobs emergency and people are suffering. And it is the reason we have a big budget deficit. Is there an economic problem that is more serious than jobs? Imagine if we had full employment, and companies had to actually pay well to get the employees they need, and provide training, etc. Imagine how LOW the budget deficit would be. The high budget deficit is a flip side of all the benefits businesses are getting from the low wages, long hours, etc. that come from high unemployment. The budget deficit is literally the government subsidizing WalMart's low wages.

Our huge, huge trade deficit - the actual deficit that is actually draining our economy and killing jobs and factories and industries and our ability to make a living in the future. The budget deficit is money spent on each other, things that make our lives better. The trade deficit is money that just bleeds out, making us all poorer and less able to take care of each other.

Infrastructure - our country's infrastructure is seriously in disrepair. Never mind that we don't have modern things that could be seriously boosting our economy, like high-speed rail and fiber-internet to every business and home -- things are falling apart.

Education, the cost of universities and resulting student-loan debt, the need for more community colleges, etc. They are pretending to talk about this but all the solutions being discussed take money away from our schools and universities and only benefit the Wall Street types...

You can name dozens of other serious, major national problems that are not even on the DC-elite agenda!

OK, they appear to be talking about guns. That's good. But not if they are talking about even more guns.

Many Problems Have Obvious Solutions

We can start attacking the climate problem with a big carbon tax. People will start using alternatives, which will cost less than using carbon-based energy sources. (PS the revenue also helps fix the budget problem.) Refund some of the money collected to those who are hit hardest by the tax, like low-income people who have to drive to work.

Infrastructure and jobs are two of our most serious problems. But obviously if we start fixing the infrastructure problem we are also fixing a lot of the jobs problem. (Especially if we have strict "Buy American" requirements for the materials, steel,etc.) (PS this also helps fix the budget problem because people with jobs are paying taxes, not using the safety net, and the economy becomes more competitive in the long run.)

Etc, with the obvious solutions. I don't have to put them here, they're obvious.

So why do they ignore the real problems and the obvious solutions that help We, the People?

Why Do They Ignore The Real Problems?

So WHY do our DC-elite geniuses ignore our real problems? We all know the answer: the influence of big money. Big money dominates. Big money steers the discussion. Big money buys the politicians. Big money lobbies the rule-makers. Big money uses the "revolving door" to reward the officeholders and staffers and regulators with high-paying jobs after they leave government -- if they play ball while in government.

And big money rigs the game so only the really big money -- those who already have it -- can win.

But the problem extends so far past the direct bribery, especially in the way it dominates the country's information channels. This means the major media (all of it dominated by only 6 companies), and all of the ways that our national discussion gets shaped.

Using the climate problem as an example, we all understand that big money from the fossil-fuel industry is being used to keep us from attacking this problem. But how?

Looking at how the information channels are influenced illustrates how far big money reaches. They don't just bribe politicians, and hire them and staffers later, etc. They also use their big money to influence how we talk and even think about this. Aside from the huge money spent on lobbyists, there are the dozens and dozens of so-called "think tanks" and "institutes" and other organizations that get money from these companies to pay people to go on TV and radio and write articles and op-eds, etc, to influence the nation's discussion of this. They also have their "studies" and "reports" etc. that get in the news. If you want a major-media career you had best not get on the wrong side of these companies. They totally dominate and intimidate and do what it takes to get their way.

(A few - just a few - resources on this: Frontline: Climate of Doubt, Meet The Climate Denial Machine, Koch Industries: Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine, Climate Skeptic's Debunked Report Exposes How the Denial Industry Works, How climate change denial lets the fuel industry run politics, in one handy chart)

The information sources of our democracy are controlled by the big money. Another example (of so many) of how the corporate money machine influences what we as a country talk and even what we think about: How often do you see a labor leader on your TV talking about the benefits of unions?

Then there are the other information channels. Did you hear about FreedomWorks paying Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh huge money to promote the Tea Party? Or the other stories about how they get and use their money? (FreedomWorks is one of the organizations that bused in thugs to disrupt Congressional town hall meetings a few years back.) This is just one of the dozens and dozens of well-funded outfits that is getting huge money to influence our national political climate.

How about that huge fight over taxes on billionaires? Do you know about the huge influence of Grover Norquist and his organization? Look at this: Grover Norquist's Budget Is Largely Financed by Just Two Billionaire-Backed Nonprofits.

This flood of corporate and billionaire money goes well beyond just paying politicians. And it is the reason it seems like we are helpless to do anything about the real and serious problems our country faces.

What You Can And MUST Do

We have to counter this money, and that takes money. We have to get money to use to fight back. We can't just all be doing what we can in our spare times, and signing online petitions, or quitting our jobs and living in poverty so we can work on these problems.

There are millions of us and if we all give even a small amount of money to help out, we can get things done!

The most important and effective thing you can do, even before you get active online and then on the streets is to contribute money to progressive organizations, and make it a habit. Seriously, they have corporate funding and all We, the People have is We, the People. There are a lot of us and if everyone who agrees with progressive values started to actually put some money where our values are, we could make up for that corporate money.

If you have to start small, that is fine. 20 million people starting small can make a huge difference.

Try it, click here and give $3 to the organization I work for, Campaign for America's Future.

Click these links and give $3 to Progressive Congress, or Media Matters.

How about giving $3 to help Netroots Nation or Crooks and Liars or Daily Kos, or Blue America or Firedoglake, or AMERICAblog.

You can also give a donation to Center for American Progress here, or to the National Council of La Raza here, or to Demos here, or to the Economic Policy Institute here, to the Center for Community Change here, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights here, to People For the American Way here, and there are so many other organizations that are working in their own way to help. (I'll add them as they read this and write to yell at me for leaving them out.)

Go through the ActBlue directory, and give $3 here and $3 there.

We really need for progressives to understand this need, and the difference between this and election campaign contributions. Think about it, and help spread the word. Help fund it, and help others understand this need. We can beat back the conservative machine by building a machine of our own that is strong enough to do the job. This takes money.

And to keep that machine answerable to US, we have to fund it democratically, with each of us stepping up and contributing what we can. It has to be lots of people giving small and medium amounts, not depending on a few large donors. ANY organization or candidate is going to dance with the ones that brung ‘em, so WE have to bring them to the dance together. Go give $3 or $10 or $100 to any of those organizations now, and keep doing it, and get others to do it.

If you want to help be part of the SOLUTION this is a great way to start. This is the most important thing you can do. AND you should be online and on the streets. But the most important thing is to give some money to help counter the huge flood of corporate money.

PS See also Republicans Again Use Race, And It’s OUR Fault That It Still Works


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

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:21 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

December 14, 2012

The Terrible Cost of Not Fixing the Filibuster Sooner

Senate Democrats were all about getting things done, and that kept them from getting anything done. They didn't take on the filibuster head-on, so now obstruction is the expected norm. There have been more than 380 filibusters and the public (and apparently the media) doesn't know there has been even one. It is time to MAKE THEM TALK if they want to filibuster a bill.

380 Filibusters - The Public Doesn't Know

Under Lyndon Johnson there was one filibuster, and the public knew about it because a Senator had to talk all night. In the last few years there have just a few been more than one and the public doesn't know about it at all. How many filibusters have there been? Harry Reid writes in Politico: "Since Democrats took control of the Senate in 2006, Republicans have mounted 380 filibusters."

If you talk to the public you will find people do not know about this. Most people do not believe there has been even a single filibuster because they haven't seen it happen. To the public a filibuster is a dramatic event, a big deal, involving Senators talking all night until they fall down from exhaustion.

Here's the thing. The public hates obstruction, and would apply the right amount of pressure if they knew about it. That is how democracy is supposed to work. But the public does not know that obstruction is occurring. The silent filibuster tactic has been successful because people don't see it. And that means that democracy isn't working the way it should.

The Senate Made A Mistake

In the 1970s the Senate changed rules that required a filibuster to be a spectacle and a talkathon. Instead they wanted to be able to move on and get things done so the "silent filibuster" was enabled. Nobodye could have predicted that a corporate/conservative minority would later use the new "silent filibuster" tactic more than 380 times to keep anything from getting done. The filibuster is now so abused that the media tells the public that Senate rules require 60 votes to pass any bill.

Senate Democrats have been irresponsible in allowing this to continue, because democracy wants the public to be alerted to obstruction. In their wish to get things done and get along with the other side they have been accomplices in the obstruction strategy. They have resisted making a big deal out of each and every obstruction, resisted using theater tactics like "bringing out the cots," resisted "making waves" by changing the rules, and tried to just keep the Senate moving along and getting along. But the result of accommodating the conservatives is they have enabled a take-no-prisoners minority to just block everything. Since the public is largely unaware of this minority obstruction they are not applying the pressure that a functioning democracy requires.


  • People believe a filibuster is senators talking all night.

  • People have not seen any senators talking all night.

  • People do not believe there have been any filibusters.

  • But there have been more than 380 filibusters.

  • Democracy suffers because the public does not understand that these filibusters are occurring.

  • We, the People are not getting from our government what we want and need.

  • Conclusion: Make. Them. Talk.
  • A Simple Fix - Make Them Talk

    Make. Them. Talk.

    There is a simple fix that will stop obstruction -- except when obstruction is appropriate. This simple fix is to change the rules back to what people think the rules already are: make them actually filibuster in the way the public understands. They should make them talk all night if they want to obstruct a bill.

    Here is why making them talk all night is the best solution. While getting rid of the ability to silently and secretly obstruct action it retains the ability of the minority to make their point, and does it in a way that brings that point to the attention of the public. By killing the "silent filibuster" and making Senators engage in the public theater of a dramatic event, where they stand in the Senate chamber and talk and talk, Democrats can actually restore a functioning democracy and engage the public in our democracy.

    But when something is happening that is truly egregious and the minority wants to bring the public's attention to this, they can alert the press and their supporters and get started in a dramatic talk-all-night theater event. They can launch an actual filibuster, just like the movie. It will be big news. The news channels will all make a big deal of this, and people can contact each other and organize a response.

    Making them talk gives the public time to get involved. In fact it invites the public to get involved. Or not. It gives the public the choice, which is why we have those first three words in our Constitution.

    The Cost Of Filibuster Abuse

    The core principle of our government is that We, the People make the decisions. We are supposed to have self-government by majority rule. But in the last few years this has been turned on its head by this silent filibuster obstruction. Nothing gets done, and the public doesn't understand why not. The cost to We, the People has been staggering.

    How many things that the people and our economy want and need have been blocked in the last few years? Well, aside from literally everything, I mean. This abuse of the rules even keep us from learning who or even what country (Disclose Act) is paying for the abuse of the rule.

    Just a few examples: Here are just a few examples -- just a few out of 380+ filibusters -- from Dylan Matthews in the Washington Post, in 17 bills that likely would have passed the Senate if it didn’t have the filibuster,

  • DREAM Act
  • Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA)
  • Public option
  • Paycheck Fairness Act
  • Permanent middle-class Bush tax cut extension
  • Rescinding of the upper-income Bush tax cuts
  • Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act
  • Emergency Senior Citizens Relief Act
  • Creating American Jobs and Ending Offshoring Act
  • American Jobs Act
  • The Buffett rule
  • Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act of 2011
  • Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act
  • “Shared Sacrifice”
  • Withholding Tax Relief Act of 2011
  • Burmese import restrictions
  • Appointments - [click through to see the whole list]
  • Again, those are just a few of the things that We, the People want and need, that were blocked by Republican filibusters. JOBS. The public option. Stopping tax breaks for outsourcing. Ending the huge tax breaks for the oil companies and the billionaires.

    A big one: Labor: This week's anti-union vote in Michigan shows us that one cost to We, the People was that reforming labor law was blocked. Blocked by filibuster in 2007, Senate Democrats dropped this in 2009 because it could not get past a nother filibuster -- just one of 380.

    June, 2007, GOP Senators Filibuster Employee Free Choice Act,

    A majority of Senators voted in favor of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) today, but the vote was nine votes short of the 60-vote requirement to break a filibuster of the bill by a handful of obstructionist Senators.

    Then in 2009, (again from 17 bills that likely would have passed the Senate if it didn’t have the filibuster above), Democrats were trying to get the Employee Free Choice Act passed,

    But at the time, well over Democratic Senators had indicated their support of the bill, which also got 51 votes and passed the House in 2007, when Democrats had fewer seats, meaning it was especially likely to pass in 2009.

    And of course, never forget climate change. Action has been obstructed and obstructed and obstructed...

    So many solutions to our country's problems have been obstructed by corporate&billionaire-funded minority filibusters!

    Things You Can Do

    Fist, be aware that the filibuster does exist and has been used 380 times, even though you haven't seen anyone talking all night.

    Call the offices of both of your state's senators and tell them you want them to fix the filibuster and make them talk all night if they want to block a bill. You can use this number: 1-877-782-8274.

    Visit Fix the Senate Now and sign up for updates.

    There is a Fix the Senate Now Facebook page. "In the US Senate, back room deals and filibuster rules allow a handful of senators to stop the rest from making any progress. Let's fix the Senate, now."

    Follow @FixTheSenate on Twitter.

    Start your own Fix the Senate online petition; Use an online petition tool like SignOn.org to start your own petition to ask your Senators to reform the Senate rules. You can get ideas for language to use at http://fixthesenatenow.org/page/s/signthepetition/.

    New Mexico Senator Tom Udall has a special Senate Rules: Common Sense Reform website with a lot of resources and recent press coverage, as well as all of Senator Udall's past statements on rules reform.

    Because it is time to Make. Them. Talk.


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

    Sign up here for the CAF daily summary

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:31 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    November 16, 2012

    Sherrod Brown Reelected Voicing Middle-Class Populism And Class-War Campaigning

    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.

    Brown's Fight

    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.


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

    Sign up here for the CAF daily summary

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

    September 28, 2012

    The Clinton Speech, Not 47%

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

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

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

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

    August 27, 2012

    Republicans Again Use Race, And It's OUR Fault That It Still Works

    Since forever, the Republican message is STILL "Dems take your money and give it to black people." Doesn't change. Doesn't have to. It's OUR fault.

    Since Forever

    I am not young. I remember when Nixon campaigned with his racially divisive "Southern Strategy." Nixon campaigned on "crime" - fear of black people - and on the claim that Dmeocrats take "your" money and give it to black people. It worked.

    It worked for Reagan, too, when he talked about "welfare queens" and "welfare Cadillacs." Here is part of a Reagan campaign stump speech,

    "She has eighty names, thirty addresses, twelve Social Security cards and is collecting veteran's benefits on four non-existing deceased husbands. And she is collecting Social Security on her cards. She's got Medicaid, getting food stamps, and she is collecting welfare under each of her names. Her tax-free cash income is over $150,000."

    (Please read what Terrance Heath has to say about welfare queens in, Romney And Ryan: The Right Kind Of "Welfare Queens".)

    HW Bush used the infamous Willie Horton ad. Watch it with the sound off.

    Bush II beat back John McCain in the primaries by circulating stories that he had "fathered a black child" and "terrorists." (But correct me if I'm wrong, Bush II didn't appear to use race against Gore, instead preempting potential attacks on his own character and honesty by hammering Gore's "character" and making him out to be a liar - both with the help of the media. His later use of "terrorists" (brown people) is another story entirely...)


    So I'm going to go way out on a limb here. I predict that Republicans will use race and other terribly divisive tactics to distract us from the real situation -- the draining of the wealth of 99% of us and the country for the benefit of an already-wealthy few -- in the 2014, 2016, 2018, 2020 and every campaign after that. They will say that "Democrats take your money and give it to black people." They will campaign against "union thugs" and "union bosses" and say paying fair wages "hurts business" and we need to be more "business friendly." They will say "government takes money out of the economy" and helping each other "makes people dependent." They will say "cutting taxes increases government revenue." They will say a lot of nonsense, and their policies when enacted will always, always benefit an already-wealthy few at the expense of the rest of us, our economy, our country and our planet.

    They will say all kinds of stuff to keep We, the People from seeing what is in front of our faces.

    That is who they are and that is what they do.

    Unless we do something about it.

    Look Where We Are & At What Romney Is Doing

    Look where we are: Deregulation pretty much destroyed the economy. Tax cuts have partially defunded the government's ability to empower and protect We, the People. The 1% and their giant corporations get so much of the benefits of our economy now. The climate is obviously getting worse and worse, already risking crop failures, incredible heat waves and terribly destructive storms. And with all of this going on one party blocks efforts to improve things, so they can campaign saying nothing is getting done. Yet with all that going on, the election so far is all coming down to billionaires spending hundreds of millions to run ads that say Obama is taking your money and giving it to black people.

    Look what Romney is doing! He is running ads that come pretty close to the "welfare queen" messaging, pretty much saying that Democrats take your money and give it to black people. He is running ads about Medicare that pretty much say the same thing. And now he is even going "birther." Thomas Edsall explains today in the NY Times, in Making The Election About Race,

    The Republican ticket is flooding the airwaves with commercials that develop two themes designed to turn the presidential contest into a racially freighted resource competition pitting middle class white voters against the minority poor.

    ... The racial overtones of Romney’s welfare ads are relatively explicit. Romney’s Medicare ads are a bit more subtle. ... Obamacare, described in the Romney ad as a “massive new government program that is not for you,” would provide health coverage to a population of over 30 million that is not currently insured: 16.3 percent of this population is black; 30.7 percent is Hispanic; 5.2 percent is Asian-American; and 46.3 percent (less than half) is made up of non-Hispanic whites.

    ... The Romney campaign is willing to disregard criticism concerning accuracy and veracity in favor of “blowing the dog whistle of racism” – resorting to a campaign appealing to racial symbols, images and issues in its bid to break the frustratingly persistent Obama lead in the polls, which has lasted for the past 10 months.

    Once again, Republicans are saying, "Democrats take your money and give it to black people."

    And just like they do every time it works they take our money and give it to rich people instead.

    It's Our Fault

    Here's the thing. This is our fault. Fool me once, shame on you. We were fooled once, when Nixon did it. Shame on Nixon. But ... We were fooled twice, when Reagan did it. We were fooled again and again, and apparently never caught on that this is what they do.

    And if this is what they do, we should have taken steps after, maybe, the fifth or sixth or seventh or eighth time? This is our fault.

    WHY are Republicans still able to use race in their campaigns to deflect attention from their ongoing campaign to turn the wealth and management of our country over to the 1%? Because we have not organized ourselves to reach out to regular people around the country and help them to understand what is happening to them. Instead we (progressives) have largely focused our on changing things through elections. But we have not done the hard work between elections to set the stage for elections. We have not been very good at reaching out to tens and tens of millions of regular people and helping them to understand and appreciate the benefits to them of a progressive approach to solving our problems.

    I mean, a lot of us do get this and try. This is a big part of what Campaign for America's Future does - or tries to do with the very limited resources it has. But a real national, between-elections, ongoing -- decades-long -- campaign takes real resources, facilities, coordination, supplies, management, researchers, writers, talkers, technologists, and the rest. And that takes real money. The kind of money conservatives have been willing to put into such and effort, and progressives have not.

    Let's Finally Do Something About It

    When are we going to recognize that this is what they do, and do something about it? They use race. They divide us. They make shit up, and spend millions and millions on blasting their made-up shit into people's brains. Then they enrich the 1% at the expense of the rest of us, and use part of that to do it more. This is what they do. And very little is done to counter it. (Some say the problem is, "democracy does not have an advertising budget.")

    What if we had started 4 years ago to get ready for this campaign of lies and division, knowing full well that they are going to use race and lies and the rest against We, the People? What if we had started then to reach and educate millions and millions of working people, bring them together, help them see the bigger picture? What if we had reached out to millions of disaffected white voters and explained directly to them, in language that reaches them, with stories that resonate with them, so they would be ready for it when they are told "Democrats take your money and give it to black people," and why believing it hurts them.

    What if we did this between elections, and kept doing it after elections, and explained and reinforced the concepts of democracy so that people's understanding and appreciation of democracy and what it really means increased year after year after year?

    What if we had started doing this 8 years ago? 12 years ago? After Nixon's election? What if we had started to dedicate a percentage of progressive-aligned funding and organizing toward a centrally organized, well-funded campaign of reaching regular people and explaining the harm conservatives are doing, and the benefits to them of democracy and a We, the People approach to our mutual problems?

    How well would their campaign of racism and lies and division work, if we had done that? How well will it work if we do it.

    What would it have done for the goals of environmentalists if we had put serious money into a coordinated, values-based approach that helped people understand and appreciate the meaning and benefits to them of truly honoring We, the People "we are in this together" democracy over the prevailing corporate/conservative, Randian, "you should be on your own"?

    What would it have done for the goals of labor unions if we had used this approach?

    What would it have done for the goals of consumer attorneys if we had used this approach?

    What would it have done for the goals of Medicare-For-All advocates if we had used this approach?

    And what could it do for all of these if we started today?

    A Fight Back Strategy

    Research & Development, and Action: What we need is a major, coordinated, funded, national project dedicated to researching the ways the 1% manipulates us, and developing strategics for overcoming them. This project also needs a national action arm that takes the research and strategies out to the country and continues this work for as long as it takes.

    Just think about this, think about changing your orientation from election cycle to outside of the election cycle, ongoing, as-long-as-it-takes strategies. And mostly, please help and continue to help fund organizations that work outside of elections to help make these changes, so that progressive candidates and policy initiatives have fertile ground in which to do well!

    Of course, this kind of work is a big part of what Campaign for America's Future does - or tries to do with the very limited resources it has. You can and should help us with this, and you can do that right now by visiting this page. If you can give $3 right now, that helps. Seriously, if everyone reading this just gave $3 (or more) it would help.

    And this is not a selfish appeal so I can get a raise (although it can't hurt). There are a number of other organizations that are seriously working on this kind of approach. You can also give a donation to Center for American Progress here, or to the National Council of La Raza here, or to the Economic Policy Institute here, Media Matters here, to the Center for Community Change here, to Progressive Congress here, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights here, to People For the American Way here, and there are so many other organizations that are working in their own way to help. (I'll add them as they read this and write to yell at me for leaving them out.)

    There is a (somewhat out of date) page on funding progressive infrastructure here and a (somewhat out of date) list of progressive infrastructure organizations here.

    We really need for progressives to understand this need, and the difference between this and election campaign contributions. Think about it, and help spread the word. Help fund it, and help others understand this need. We can beat back the conservative machine by building a machine of our own that is strong enough to do the job. This takes money.

    And to keep that machine answerable to US, we have to fund it democratically, with each of us stepping up and contributing what we can. It has to be lots of people giving small and medium amounts, not depending on a few large donors. ANY organization or candidate is going to dance with the ones that brung 'em, so WE have to bring them to the dance together. Go give $3 or $10 or $100 to any of those organizations now, and keep doing it, and get others to do it.


    A dollar donated to an effort like this now is like a dollar donated again and again to each and every progressive issue campaign and candidate from now on, except that the dollar is amplified. This is because doing the work now makes elections and policy battles so much easier and less expensive.

    Conservatives have developed a "brand" and their candidates and policy initiatives ride that brand like a surfer surfs a wave. They just hop on the wave and attach themselves or their issue. So much of the things we have to spend so much money on are already covered by their infrastructure of like-minded organizations, so for each candidate and policy initiative they have to spend so much less! ALL of their candidates are helped by the central branding effort.

    Progressive-oriented candidates and policy initiatives start almost from scratch, and so it is tremendously expensive to get them elected or passed. We have to raise tremendous sums to do the things that conservatives have ready-to-go. And each of our candidates have to each raise that money, on their own, just to overcome the things conservatives already have in place - for all of them. One dollar spent on a core branding effort could have the same effect for all of our candidates and policy initiatives as the more-than-one-dollar spent for EACH candidate or policy initiative at election time to overcome it.

    So help out, OK?

    P.S. Here is a talk I gave on this subject in 2004, titled "On Our Own?" that talked about how the corporate right works between elections to market their ideology, and suggesting that we should try a similar outside-the-election-cycle approach.

    Here is a talk I gave to an education organization in 2007 titled, "We're All In This Together" that described how the right uses the Overton Window to move public attitudes,

    What can we, as supporters of public education, do about this?

    The supporters of public education must join with their natural allies -- the trial lawyers and the environmentalists and reproductive rights organizations and others and begin to talk to the public with a COMMON message that says WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER because we are a COMMUNITY. Only after people come to understand and appreciate this philosophy of community again, will they begin to understand and appreciate the value of public schools.

    ... The Right pushes an ugly message that we are each on our own, out for ourselves to get what we can, in a dog-eat-dog world. But in truth, we are really ARE all in this together, not only as being on the receiving end of similar attacks, but also because we can work together to help each other. We can work to counter the Right’s message by restoring the public’s understanding and appreciation of COMMUNITY and the value of responsible government.

    How can we do this?

    As I’m sure you know, frame and message development and testing are complex and require skilled professionals. Messaging efforts on behalf of public education will have the greatest effect if linked to broad frames that are developed across sectors, frames that support the value of community and government. And the messaging that supports these values will be most effective if it is delivered by multiple voices, third-party voices that are not strongly identified with public education and other interest groups. It must be coordinated with a long-term strategy.

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

    Sign up here for the CAF daily summary

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:38 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    August 8, 2012

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

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

    The Growing List Of Lies

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

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

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

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

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

    How It Is Done

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

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

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

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

    The Calculation

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

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

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

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

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

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

    What Does The Public "Know?"

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

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

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

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

    The Test

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:03 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    January 9, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    As I wrote in May:

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

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

    This post originally appeared at Speak Out California.

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

    October 31, 2011

    The Cain Accusations

    I just posted this over at Smoking Politics (yes, it's back!) : The Herman Cain Sexual Harassment Accusation | Smoking Politics

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

    September 7, 2011

    A Deficit Pitch Without Social Security--The Only Chance of Winning

    Josh Rosenblum

    This past Friday night in Washington, a New York Mets pitcher threw the type of pitch President Obama must use in his march to stop any new proposals to cut Social Security if he plans to make it through the game of the deficit talks and his reelection. In the recent past the President and his teams have pitched a slew of failed curveballs that would cut our Social Security. The number 43 Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey helped beat the Nationals 7-3 with his slow velocity, highly unpredictable knuckleball. The 44th President and his multitude of committees have taken an approach to cutting the deficit that replicates a tied baseball game, with no end in sight. Could knuckle balls from a President battling to win the game, save the economy, and win reelection save the tied ball game called the deficit debate? Let’s take a look at the tape.

    R.A. Dickey has been pitching great this season, and has the best earned run average of the starters on the Mets but you wouldn’t know it by looking at his record of 7-11, which reflects injuries on the Mets but also the poorest run support from hitters out of all the Mets starting pitchers. It’s unclear to Mets fans why Dickey hasn’t gotten the run support he so deserves, just as it’s unclear to the general public why we haven’t gotten the support Social Security deserves from the administration.

    If the President throws a Social Security curveball that cuts our benefits to the GOP team trying to beat him, he ought to get ready not to receive any run support, not just from Democrats and the left, but also from the independents and moderate Republicans his advisers are so intent on courting again. By attempting a pitch that doesn’t appeal to his base, independent voters, and moderate Republicans, he may lose the game, the season, and ultimately his Presidency.

    But President Obama can still throw an amazing Dickey-like pitch to the GOP’s deficit, defeat the nonsense, not cut Social Security benefits, and win reelection. If Obama fights for Social Security, America’s fans will cheer for him and we’ll give him all the run support he needs to win in 2012.

    Social Security has remained one of America’s most successful programs for 76 years. Before it existed and since it’s existed, Wall Street and right-wing conservatives have been telling us how much it stinks, hoping we might one day believe such lies through repetition. Even popular Republican President Dwight Eisenhower recognized how cutting it would be plain “stupid.” But that’s exactly what each of the deficit groups have attempted to do, each throwing their own curveball that would lead to Social Security cuts.

    The President started his deficit pitching rotation with the grizzled, often irrelevant old-timers Bowles and Simpson, who proposed to cut Social Security with the indifference of players who knew their time had passed. He then hoped the journeymen Gang of 6 could take on the deficit, but the bipartisan group of men never seemed to materialize on the playing field. Obama’s team, “America,” never got far in the batting order without loading the bases against the “GOP Deficit” team, which lead up to another call to the bullpen. An enthusiastic reliever, Vice President Biden came charging on to the field to lead his bipartisan “gang of dudes” with every intention to save the game, and no ability to corral the Republicans who calmly watched every one of his pitches thrown for balls float by and hit every strike for an intentional foul ball, upping the pitch count until Biden’s arm had vanished.

    Then came the President himself, rolling up his sleeves and bringing back the long vanished player-coach, determined to get the save for America, but giving the GOP a few hits and intentional walks in the process so he could get the job done. He’s out on the field and he appears determined to win for America, at any cost to his future as a pitcher and as our President, but the fans are hopeful he’ll win for his future and ours.

    The President even told us about his curveball to the GOP, who seem determined to fight against America, 1 minute in to this video, when he acknowledges that he’d offered the Republican Speaker a deal to cut Social Security, which suggests he may throw the same bad curve again if the Supercommittee wants to take it up.

    In the next couple of weeks President Obama may let loose with another Social Security curveballl, telling us we need a COLA cut for Social Security. But America isn’t certain whether player-coach Obama would put the important program on the chopping block again for the Supercommittee and the GOP Deficit. This pitch to the GOP Deficit leads to one place—a lost game for the President, and a lost future for Democrats. But a well-placed knuckleball that leaves Social Security out of the ball game and out of the deficit talks would help America and Obama win. If the President throws a slow, hanging knuckleball that’s tough for Republicans to hit but that his own team can cheer for, he’ll win the hearts of Americans including Democrats, independents and reasonable Republicans, whether the Washington Republicans try to screw over America again or not with attempted cuts to Social Security.

    Posted by Josh at 7:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    May 31, 2011

    The Politics of 2012 and Maybe 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Dems Should Vote For Clean Debt Limit Bill

    The House is voting on a “clean” debt ceiling bill today -- a bill to raise the debt ceiling without any "hostage-taking" conditions. This is the right thing to do for the country and every Democrat should vote for this. Voting for a clean bill will draw the contrast for the public between those who are doing the right thing, and those willing to hold the world's economy hostage to a make-the-rich-richer plutocracy agenda. Democrats who do not vote for a clean bill should lose committee assignments, parking places, even bathroom keys.

    The Debt Ceiling

    The country's "debt ceiling" has been reached. This means that the government's authority to borrow money has reached its limit. The Treasury Department is engaging in gimmicks and schemes to keep the country going but time is running out. The Congress must extend this limit, or the government will default on its bonds.

    If our government defaults on its bonds it would initiate a worldwide financial crisis that dwarfs the Wall Street meltdown of a few years ago.

    WHY We Have This Debt

    In 1981 the Reagan administration dramatically changed the course of the country. They defunded government by passing huge tax cuts for the rich and massively increasing military spending, and began cutting back on the things We, the People (government) do for each other. The country cut back on maintaining -- never mind modernizing -- our infrastructure, our schools, colleges and universities, scientific research and other things that make us competitive in world markets. We began cashing in our factories and moving the jobs out of the country. As a result of Reagan-era changes our trade deficits soared, wages stagnated, pensions disappeared, and a few extremely wealthy started getting much, much richer.

    One major result of these changes, of course, was the huge budget deficits that accumulated into today's massive debt. This was the plan from the start, to "starve the beast" by defunding government and forcing the debt to reach a level where there was no choice but to cut back on democratic government's protections for the people, unleashing plutocracy.

    Hostage-Taking Enabled: The Tax Cut Extension

    This debate over the debt ceiling and hostage-taking follows the recent extension of the Bush tax cuts -- another product of hostage-taking. At the end of the last Congress unemployment benefits for the millions of unemployed were running out. Republicans -- having filibustered much of the legislation of the prior two years -- held the extension of benefits "hostage" saying they would not let it pass unless the deficit-creating Bush tax cuts were extended.

    Enough Democrats caved and passed an extension of the Bush tax cuts. This validated hostage-taking as a successful tactic while making the deficit much worse, setting the stage for today's debt-ceiling fight.

    The Vote Is A Trick

    Today's vote has been scheduled by the Republican leadership as a trap, trying to get some Democrats to vote with Republicans to support their hostage-taking agenda and create the appearance of bipartisan support for plutocracy. If the Republican position gets the support of enough Democratic members, Republicans can then demand deep cuts in Medicare and other programs that help people and hold corporate power in check, in exchange for their votes to allow the world's economy to continue to operate.

    From TPM: First Debt Limit Vote Today As GOP Looks To Divide Dems,

    The vote is intended to expose fault lines within the Democratic caucus, with Republicans counting on sizable number of Democrats to side with them and bolster their case that Democrats need to agree to deep spending cuts as a condition to raising the debt limit.

    Vote For A Clean Debt-Ceiling Bill

    Voting for a clean bill stops government-by-hostage-in its tracks. Voting for a clean bill saves the world's economy. Voting for a clean bill fights the plutocracy agenda. Voting for a clean bill saves Medicare, Social Security and the things We, the People do for each other. Voting for a clean bill is the right thing to do and doing the right thing is the right thing politically.

    Call your member of Congress NOW and demand a vote for a clean debt-ceiling bill.

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

    Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:27 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    May 6, 2011

    Appealing To The “Center” Drives Away Voters

    I have a post up, Appealing To The “Center” Drives Away Voters, over at the Dirty Hippies blog.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:12 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    December 14, 2010

    Prevent Hostage-Taking: Add Debt Ceiling To Tax Deal!

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

    If you like your Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, courts, roads, trains and the rest of what government does for We, the People, then you should pay attention to this. Early next year the Republicans will demand severe cuts to everything or they will allow the country to default on its debt. They mean it and they are planning for it. The coming "debt ceiling" fight can be averted by increasing the debt ceiling as part of this tax-cut deal.

    A week ago, in Stop The Next Bad Deal: The Debt Ceiling Fight, I wrote about this,

    If you think the tax cut fight led to a bad deal… it may also lead to an expectation by conservatives they will finally be able to cut, gut or shut the government in the coming fight over raising the debt ceiling. The President and Democrats in Congress should take steps now to keep them from thinking they can win that.

    Early next year the country’s debt ceiling has to be raised – or else. Conservatives are likely to push for “or else” and hold the “full faith and credit of the United States” hostage to their demands to gut the middle class and democratic government.

    Here is what Democrats can do: add the debt ceiling increase to this tax-cut deal or say no deal. Adding huge amounts to the deficit in this tax-cut bill is setting the Republicans up to take hostages again. But adding the debt ceiling increase to this deal prevents them from doing that.

    Democrats in the House, at the maximum point of leverage, should add this to their demands for passing this tax-cut deal.

    The Next Hostage-Taking Opportunity

    It's coming for sure. Conservatives see the debt ceiling fight as an opportunity to cut, gut or shut the government and are planning for it. They are planning to create a crisis -- possibly the worst the country has faced -- to force panic and then impose severe "Shock Doctrine" reforms. Here's what The Hill is reporting:

    Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Tuesday he's hoping to assemble a bloc of senators who will demand tax and spending reforms before agreeing to vote to raise the U.S. debt ceiling next year.

    The very idea that they might not vote to increase the debt ceiling -- and allow the US government to default -- tells you what is coming. But if you want more proof:

    "The debt ceiling, obviously, is going to have to be increased if we're not going to default, so the question is, what do we get in exchange for that, and what kind of fiscal controls?" said Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the incoming chairman of the House budget panel, last week on Bloomberg Television.

    They are going to do this. They are going to take the biggest hostage ever. You can stop this. Democrats in the House are at the maximum leverage point. You can stop this. You can literally save the country by demanding the debt ceiling be increased in exchange for this tax-cut deal and the huge amount of debt it adds.

    Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:18 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    November 17, 2010

    Tea Party Delivers Their Messaging on Reality TV. Is this How Propaganda Starts?

    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."

    Posted by Michelle at 1:11 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    November 10, 2010

    What's Next, Impeachment from the Republicans?

    So much for making nice Mr. President, the gloves are off as the Republican leadership comes out swinging. These folks don’t want to work with you, or your minions or any of us. Just tune into FOX News at any random moment, and the disdain is visceral. And to be blunt, what’s to keep them from starting impeachment proceedings as a tactic to erode your precious time and focus? Not much, if you listen closely to the Senate Republican leadership, the soon to be Speaker of the House, and all the other hooligans over the last few days, and even on the Sunday morning talk shows. Senator Mitch McConnell’s words sure don’t sound like a lullaby to me. Do not be fooled, it may be more than making sure that Obama is a one-term President. These are fighting words: “The only way to do all these things is to put someone in the White House who won't veto...”

    And if that’s not bad enough, there’s dissent and discontent (as usual) among our fellow Democrats. The so-called Blue Dog Democrats are acting out by attempting to distance themselves from the prevailing incumbent-rage by attacking now Speaker Pelosi. Have they no shame? This is self-serving hypocrisy at its worst. Not now kids. Go back to your corner and sing “Kumbaya” to keep from shooting off your big mouths at this fragile time. Enough of your ranks have been lost in this recent election. Stop with the posturing, and the “Anti-Pelosi Caucus.” These types of shenanigans only fuel the fires, and distract us from our goals. Please realize that we are under an unprecedented assault from the rabid Republican leadership. They will attempt to sink the Obama ship at any cost.

    Democrats (Blue Dogs, Moderates, and Progressives) hunker down. Put a stop to the malarkey from the newly anointed Republicans. This “lame duck” session is vital. We have barely two months to protect Social Security for the elders, unwind Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and fund many, many programs. Consider that the Congress may be deadlocked for two years with very little emerging from gridlock, and Pelosi's steam rolling machine has taken heavy artillery hits. If you feel compelled to beat up on someone or something, go after the bad guys. And pray that all attempts to bring impeachment proceedings against Obama are quashed. This would be a travesty filled with hate and racism from which this country might never recover. Don't let them take our President away.

    Note: A version of this article was published earlier today in the Huffington Post.

    Posted by Michelle at 8:46 AM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos

    November 6, 2010

    Catching The "Swing" Vote

    Here is what is very impportant to understand about the "swing" vote: No voters “switched.” That is the wrong lesson. There are not voters who “swing” there is a segment that swings, depending on who turns out.

    The lesson to learn: You have to deliver for YOUR part of that swing segment or they don’t show up and vote for you. That is what makes the segment "swing."

    Any Democrat politician who thinks ANY conservative will vote for ANY Democrat, no matter how far right they move, is a fool. All that does is cause your voters in that swing segment to turn away from you.

    The polling supports this conclusion. Greg Sargent, in Progressives and centrists battle over meaning of indy vote,

    Independents are not a monolith, and what really happened is that indys who backed Obama in 2008 stayed home, because they were unsatisfied with Obama's half-baked reform agenda, while McCain-supporting indys turned out in big numbers.

    . . . The key finding: PPP asked independents who did vote in 2010 who they had supported in 2008. The results: Fifty one percent of independents who voted this time supported McCain last time, versus only 42 percent who backed Obama last time. In 2008, Obama won indies by eight percent.

    That means the complexion of indies who turned out this time is far different from last time around, argues Adam Green of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. His case: Dem-leaning indys stayed home this time while GOP-leaning ones came out -- proof, he insists, that the Dems' primary problem is they failed to inspire indys who are inclined to support them.

    "The dumbest thing Democrats could do right now is listen to those like Third Way who urge Democrats to repeat their mistake by caving to Republicans and corporations instead of fighting boldly for popular progressive reforms and reminding Americans why they were inspired in 2008," Green says.

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

    October 21, 2010

    Republican Inevitability Strategy In Midterms

    Is a Republican sweep inevitable? Saying so is just a strategy.

    Don't forget Rove's Bush "inevitability strategy." And Hillary's. It's a strategy, that's all. We're seeing it used now in the midterms.

    Don't forget,

    It's well-known that Karl Rove believes that swing voters like to vote for the winner. Therefore, one of the central political strategies for Bush has been to create an "aura of inevitability" that, theoretically, will bring people to his side. If everyone believes you're a political juggernaut, the theory goes, then you will become a political juggernaut.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:55 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    September 29, 2010

    Beyond Peace in the Middle East at CGI

    The Clinton Global Initiative this year was a place where politics converged with philanthropy. Since inception, this venue has been the change agent for philanthropic work throughout the world. The commitments made have been massive and have provided millions worldwide with clean drinking water, mosquito nets, eye glasses, vaccines, and education-- among many others. This Foundation can be credited for ushering in new social philanthropic models involving private industry, the wealthy and government working together with non-profit organizations.

    Remarkably, the topics at CGI this year spanned Empowering Girls and Women (see the prior post) to market-based solutions, clean tech, jobs, manufacturing and world peace. What an extraordinary venue it was where the participants could experience a panel with the Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Kingdom of Bahrain, Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority, and the President of Israel discussing rebuilding the region after peace. Where else and with whom else other than former President Bill Clinton - could one see and hear such a constellation of world thinkers cutting across the issues of our time. Many of us bloggers, writers and journalist bustle through the high security and put up with the fanfare --just to be inspired and sustained for the coming year.

    It was a rare gift from the universe to be able to hear the Middle East session up close. It is curious that there was not enormous media coverage of this landmark discussion because all the bad stuff gets air time. Even CNN's Fareed Zakaria this Sunday morning did not mention it. Rather he focused on the fabricated photograph of the President of Egypt from the White House for the Arab press. It is perplexing because here sat the leaders of those enmeshed in the real peace talks. In this small room, they and former President Clinton were talking gracefully with one another about rebuilding the region. Only the former President could command such authority and respect. Remember, it was Bill Clinton that attempted peace between Israel Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat so long ago. It was that fateful handshake on the White House lawn that in many ways led to the assignation of Rabin. And it is now Madame Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that is officiating the peace talks today. Perhaps this is a forbearing for things to come later this year. If they can talk peaceably in front of Bill Clinton, maybe there is hope for a just and final resolution. Few of us get to see our dreams come to fruition, but it appears that the Clintons both have long reach, big memories and staying power. All this woman can say is - may it be.

    Posted by Michelle at 9:44 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

    September 22, 2010

    What If The President...?

    offered a job idea each day, and then explained how the Republicans are blocking everything?

    Maybe the public would start to understand what's going on.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:37 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    September 14, 2010

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

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

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

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

    September 12, 2010

    Dem Politicians Please Read

    The only thing "moving to the right" accomplishes is to keep the people who were going to vote for you from bothering to go to the polls. It doesn't win you a single vote from the right - they were never going to vote for you.

    Every Dem Politician please read at least this paragraph from Daily Kos: Rock bottom, at long last?

    What was unanticipated--at least by some--was the conspiracy-minded zealous insanity of the conservative base, as well as the utter unwillingness of Republican politicians to compromise in any way for the good of the country. The Democratic response--outside of an utter sense of disbelief at just how radical the right had become--was to try to protect its most vulnerable members against accusations of being too far left by avoiding a push for transformational policies that would have provided a tangible sense of accomplishment and motivation for the Democratic base. If the goal was indeed to convince the conservative-leaning voters in swing districts that the Democrats were not in fact socialist Muslim Marxist fascist Stalinist homosexual terrorist sympathizers, it didn't work. The conservative base was just as motivated, while the Democratic base felt that they had absolutely nothing to vote for. The end result? A massive enthusiasm gap, and the largest generic Congressional ballot difference in the history of the Gallup Poll.

    Moving to the right doesn't stop them from calling you a "socialist." It doesn't win you a single vote. All it does is keep the people who were going to vote for you from bothering to go to the polls.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:53 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos

    July 14, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Middlle Class

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

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

    June 4, 2010

    Go Off The Reservation

    Please read: Progressives: Time to Go Off the Reservation,

    We must be “off the reservation” as labor was under Roosevelt, and the civil rights movement was under Johnson. President Johnson wanted the Rev. Martin Luther King to shut down the demonstrations, saying that they would make reform impossible. With an independent movement, even King could not do that. Instead he went to Selma, and the resulting confrontation led directly to passage of the Voting Rights Act.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:05 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    March 9, 2010

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

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

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

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


    Miss him yet?

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

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

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

    February 22, 2010


    Assignment: from last July: http://bit.ly/du6Trc Is Bipartisan Stance Destroying Obama's Presidency?

    That was 7 months ago. Wow. Does anyone ever learn?

    Now, please read Chris Bowers' important post today: Republicans gained by obstructing, Democrats lost by reaching out

    The bloggers are always right. My post on this is coming soon.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:26 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    February 13, 2010

    Must-Read! Senate Republicans: Filibuster everything and win in November?

    Senate Republicans: Filibuster everything and win in November?

    This McClatchy Newspapers story explains that the Republicans are employing a strategy that has nothing to do with governing, policy, etc. Just block everything, while the country falls ever further behind, and in November their energized base will turn out while everyone else is so demoralized they won't bother to vote.

    And the Democratic leadership is helping them get away with this. In the Senate the Dems refuse to use "reconciliation" to pass things - something routinely done by Republicans under Bush. President Obama refuses to use recess appointments - again, something Bush did routinely - so his administration remains poorly staffed and unable to govern.

    The Democrats and Obama appear to be afraid the Republicans will say bad things about them.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:00 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    November 28, 2009

    Name It "The Bush Debt Tax"

    Christian_Dem_NY, a commenter over at Open Left has an idea,

    ... Enact a tax that applies ONLY to those that make $250,000 or more per year, and that only raises their top rate to 50% (which was the LOWEST rate under Reagan). Name that tax the "Bush Iraq Debt" tax, and use every penny from that tax to pay down the portion of the national debt that was created by Bush's war (with a built-in "self destruct" feature that makes the tax expire once Bush's war has been fully paid for). The teabaggers and Faux Noise and the rest of the right-wing noise machine will act as though Obama is the second coming of Stalin... but when grassroots Republicans get pissed off about the tax increase, they will look at that name "Bush Iraq Debt" tax and ask themselves: "Whom should I really blame for this tax? The man who spent the money to attack the wrong nation [Bush] or the man who just collected the money to get us out of debt [Obama]?"

    This is an excellent idea. People do not know who is responsible for the massive deficits and debt. The Republicans are engineering them toward blaming Obama. So let's tell them in a way that makes a LOT of noise.

    Dems in Congress can also submit bills named "Bush Bank Bailout Tax," the "Bush Tax Cut For The Rich Debt Tax," "Republican Borrowing Payoff Tax," "Republicans Moved Factories and Jobs To China And Borrowed Trillions Tax," etc. The Republicans will have a shitstorm and the resulting argument will reach all the way to regular people at the kitchen table.

    All it takes is ONE Dem to introduce the bill and start the noise. Alan Grayson, for example?

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:30 AM | Comments (8) | Link Cosmos

    October 22, 2009

    Creigh Deeds Tells Dems Not To Vote

    Creigh Deeds is a Democrat running for Governor in Virginia. In a debate last night he told Democrats not to vote.

    Here's the story: Deeds: 'I Would Consider Opting Out' Of A Public Option,

    At the final debate of race last night, Virginia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Creigh Deeds said he "shared the broad goals" of health care reform, but would "certainly consider opting out" of a public option "if that were available to Virginia."

    "I'm not afraid of going against my fellow Democrats when they're wrong," Deeds said. "A public option isn't required in my view."

    Wow, if I was in Virginia I'd be far away from the polls on election day.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:58 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    September 26, 2009

    What If?

    Since there are no Republicans supporting health care reform anyway, what if Democrats just give everyone Medicare, and pay for it by taxing the super-rich and big corporations?

    Would this bring more or fewer votes for Democrats from now on?

    I am asking a political question about votes only. Would the general public feel that the Democrats had delivered something they want - Medicare for everyone? Or would they feel it was wrong to tax the super-rich?

    Benefits of this would include taking a huge burden off of American companies. Any company now providing health insurance would have its costs dramatically reduced. Ans this would probably increase profits enough that those paying increased taxes would be taking more more than they were before.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:16 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos

    September 21, 2009

    Health Care With 51 Votes

    If Democrats present the public with a good health care plan that doesn't cost much the public will thank them and vote for them. If the public hears that Republicans tried to block it, they'll vote against Republicans in the future.

    They will not care if it raises the deficit
    . If they get health care cheap they will love it.

    I mean, how much did the public care when Republicans forced through Bush's tax cuts for the rich? That was forced through using "reconciliation," and took the budget from a $250 billion surplus to a $1.25 trillion deficit.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:49 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    September 20, 2009

    The Right's Strategic Propaganda Effort

    Always worth reading again: Tentacles of Rage: The Republican propaganda mill, a brief history

    This is a 2004 story looking at the history of how the right became so prominent in American politics in recent decades, roughtly from Gioldwater to George W. Bush. They had enormous funding - in the hundreds of millions per year - in those decades. Huge checks went to anyone who would promote right-wing corporate values. For example, mid-1970s:

    ... the terms of the offer an annual salary of $200,000, to be paid for life even in the event of my resignation or early retirement—spoke to the seriousness of the rightist intent to corner and control the national market in ideas.

    In the 1970s $200K a year promised for life wasn't bad at all. And supplemented with speaking fees, book advances, the occasional $10K check for an article denying global warming, etc...

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

    September 3, 2009

    Back When Democrats Were For The People And Said So

    "Selfish men have always tried to skim the cream from our natural resources to satisfy their own greed. And they have always sought to control the Government in order to accomplish this. Their instrument in this effort has always been the Republican Party."

    I was reading this, by Gene Lyons. He quotes Harry Truman. So I looked up the quote.

    Here is Harry Truman campaigning in 1948:

    This is not a new battle. Selfish men have always tried to skim the cream from our natural resources to satisfy their own greed. And they have always sought to control the Government in order to accomplish this. Their instrument in this effort has always been the Republican Party.

    The Republican administrations of our time have done their best to make the West an economic colony of Wall Street. In the 1920's, under Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover, quick and greedy exploitation was the order of the day. Many parts of the West were withering--withering from the failure to develop its power and irrigation, withering actually from Republican sabotage.

    Selfish men had control, and the great resources of the West were wasted with sinful disregard of the people.

    . . . That was the situation in 1932 after 12 years of Republican rule.

    . . . The long, costly job of rebuilding after the ruinous Republican years was begun with hope and vigor. Conservation of the forests and grazing land, control of soil erosion, propagation of fish and wildlife, and other sound measures were put into effect.

    . . . Today, after 4 Democratic administrations, there are some 60 reclamation projects completed or under way in the West. When these projects are finished they will provide water for over 10 million acres, and will produce over 5 million kilowatts of power.

    That's the record the Democratic Party has made.

    . . . The Republican Party has shown in the Congress of the past 2 years that the leopard does not change his spots. It is still the party of Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover. It is still the party that gave you the phony Coolidge boom and the Hoover depression.

    It is still the party whose money at election time comes from Wall Street. It is still the party which passes bills at the dictation of lobbies, and sacrifices the interests of the people for the profits of big business.

    The Democratic Party is the party of the people. We are fighting with all our strength to prevent the gluttons of privilege from swallowing up the country. We are fighting the battle of the West, because it is the battle of all the country. We are fighting the battle of the farmer and the worker and the small businessman, because that is the battle of all the people.

    Your Government is now planning the most ambitious irrigation development in all our history. The goal of our program is to bring every possible western acre under irrigation and to develop to the fullest extent the hydroelectric resources of this great region.

    Now, I'm going to fight for this program with all I've got. Now, can I count on you?

    You have the decision to make.

    A vote for the Republicans stops the program.

    A vote for the Democrats is a vote for a glorious West with wealth and security for our people.

    He talks about how the Republicans want spending cuts, and the Democrats want projects for the people. The Democratic Party was the majority party, and talking like this -- telling it like it is -- kept them the majority party for several more decades.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:52 PM | Comments (5) | Link Cosmos

    August 27, 2009

    The Medicare-For-All Opportunity Is Here Now

    The Republicans have shifted their attack on health care reform by claiming that it endangers Medicare. They have even introduced a new "Health Care Bill of Rights for Seniors" proposal to "protect Medicare." The Blue Dogs have stepped up their own attack, claiming that the costs are too high. The insurance industry flacks are claiming that at over 1000 pages the bill is too complex. Etc.

    The Republicans and Blue Dogs have given us an opportunity here. This is the opening to introduce to the bill the idea of adding people to Medicare by phasing in age groups starting with the youngest and oldest at the same time.

    Immediately lower age eligibility to 55 and immediately cover everyone up to 21. Every year add 5 eligibility years on each end so 2011 it would be up to 26 and down to 50, etc.

    Someone in the Congress can add a few paragraphs called the "Save Medicare Clause" or something to the reform bills. Just say you are addressing the concerns of the Republicans and their new "Protect Medicare" demands, and the Blue Dogs concerns about costs. The cost reduction from adding the youngest balances the added costs of adding people who are older, and this lowers all the costs in the current plan from covering these people. And the costs of doing this is so much less than the cost of covering these people under the current reform plans that this greatly lowers the costs of the overall reform schemes.

    How to fight for this? Simple: Answer anyone who says it is a "government takeover" Republican-style. Just say it isn't, that we're just adding them to Medicare. Then let the Republicans then explain to everyone that Medicare is a government program! I am sure we can find ways to answer every objection to this proposal using this kind of Republican-blunting argument. In fact it would be fun. The Blue Dogs say it is costly, just point out that it is much less costly than their own plan. And much less complicated. Medicare already exists, is already set up to cover millions and add millions every year, etc...

    We can point out how this simplifies everything people are worried about in the reform fight. Everyone loves Medicare -- so much so that the Republicans are using Medicare as a club to kill this complicated and expensive health care reform scheme. So what the hell, give them what they want, while giving the people what they want at the same time.

    This is an opportunity to achieve Ted Kennedy's and our own health care goals that we did not have at the start of this reform effort. The opponents have stirred people up so much and raised so many objections that everyone is looking for something simpole to get us out of this. "Medicare-For-All" answers every objection that the opponents of health care reform have raised.

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

    August 2, 2009

    The Biggest Reason No Single Payer

    I think the main reason we don't have significant public pressure for a "single-payer" option in the health care reform process is because supporters of "single-payer" insist on calling it "single-payer."

    If they had branded it "Medicare-for-all" it would have been a no-brainer. It might have already passed, avoiding all this fighting and back-and-forth.

    OK, listen. People love Medicare. They know what it is. They know it works. That is all you need to know. If you call what you want "Medicare-for-All" you can pass whatever you want to pass and people will support it.

    But no one understands what "single-payer" means. Every single time you talk about it you have to start out explaining what you mean. From scratch. and then you have to explain, from scratch, why it is a good thing. From scratch. Every single time.

    If you talk to regular people out there, mostly they have no idea what it means. But it sounds sort of scary. I have talked to people who, upon hearing the term, think it means that a single person will have to pay for all their own medical care. That is how far away from winning the argument you being when you use the words "single-payer" to describe what you want.

    This is a classic problem, where policy wonks don't understand basic communications. In computers I referred to it as the "designed by Linux engineers syndrome." To this day I still encounter Linux-only fanatics who insist that the command line is so powerful that no one should ever use graphical interfaces...

    I have written about this before and I received comments like "well, what we want isn't exactly Medicare. Medicare has its own problems, so..."

    Give it a break. Compromise a little. Use language that regular people respond to.

    Call it "Medicare For All"!

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:36 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

    July 24, 2009

    Is Bipartisan Stance Destroying Obama's Presidency?

    This post originally appeared at Open Left.

    Is Obama's insistence on bipartisanship killing his presidency?

    I submit that health care reform could fail and take the Obama Presidency with it, and that this may well be the result of attempting to appease Republicans who want only to destroy him.

    Let's look at the record. When Obama took office the country urgently needed sufficient stimulus to make up for the slack in demand from consumers and businesses. But before even offering his plan Obama weakened it because he believed this would bring in Republican votes. And then while the plan was going through Congress more and more actual stimulus was removed. Then the stimulus didn't get a single Republican vote in the House, and only a couple in the Senate. In the name of bipartisanship Obama gave up a good plan in exchange for nothing. Now the economy is beginning to suffer the consequences.

    Meanwhile the Republicans who Obama gave up so much to bring on board are working to destroy his administration with propaganda and lies about how the plan is failing, how the plan is part of a socialist conspiracy to ruin the country, etc.

    With health care Obama is again repeatedly offering up compromise in the name of bipartisanship while the Republicans are again working to destroy him and health care reform. If he was giving things up in exchange for the promise of votes that is one thing, but there will be no Republican votes. This is the big game now, and the Republicans have correctly stated that a failure of health care means the failure of this presidency. So they are doing everything they can to kill health care reform. They are telling every lie they can find, using every scare tactic in the book, calling him every name, and encouraging the worst in every nutcase out there.

    Bipartisan must be a two-way street. The assumption of bipartisanship on the part of the other side is a mistake when the other side has no intention of reciprocating. It misjudges the changes that have occurred in the Republican party.

    This political call for bipartisanship in understandable and politically astute. The country longs for a return to the days when the parties could argue their positions with Senatorial camaraderie and reach compromises that incorporated the best ideas from both sides. Politicians are smart to recognize this longing and appeal to it. But they are not smart to extend that wish into a belief that today's Republicans are willing to play along.

    We have seen this before. At the 2006 YearlyKos convention in Las Vegas a few bloggers were invited to a roundtable with Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, who was contemplating a run for President. With the "mainstream" press watching from the sidelines as if this was a football game, Marcy Wheeler and Natasha Chart tried to pin down Warner on his insistence that Iran was a problem while Pakistan was not. (It turned out that Warner hadn't thought that much about Pakistan.)

    Then we asked about his instinct for bipartisanship. "Hunter" from DailyKos asked Warner, "You said that in Virginia you got a lot done working across the aisle. Do you think that is possible on a national level now?" Warner answered that you can't "ram through transformational change in a 51-49 way, I don't think it 's going to get done. I may be naive on this, but I think there are still enough people of goodwill in the country and even in Congress. You have to reach out and grab them."

    I then pointed out that in 1993 as a party strategy the Republicans had decided to block Clinton's health care plan, even before any plan was decided on. Then I asked, "I think part of what Hunter's asking is, what if they don't? What if, just like with Clinton's plan they decide they're just going to block whatever you do?"

    Warner answered, "If you don't think there are enough people of goodwill willing to step up and do the right thing regardless of party, then I'm truly worried for the country."

    I replied, "So are we. That's why we're here. The question is, what if they don't? What's plan B?"

    Warner didn't have a plan B. He was going to just get bipartisanship because he was a nice guy who was willing to work with the other side. This appears to be Obama's position as well.

    This is recorded in Matt Bai's book, The Argument, pages 248-249. In the book, Bai faults the bloggers for their attitude against working with Republicans, saying that we are uncompromising. I love Matt, but he gets it fundamentally wrong here. I, and I think most bloggers, long for a Republican party that can be worked with again, because the extremists that have taken over are harming the country and the world.

    But when the other side is trying to destroy you, you just have to take that into account. You don't give in, and then give in more, and then give in more, thinking they will change. Why should they when you just keep giving them what they want? We're certainly learning that in California. Obama needs to learn that as well, before there is nothing left to give them.

    That's what they are waiting for, and that's when they will make their move.

    Here is my suggestion. The next time a Republican circulates anything like the picture of Obama dressed with a bone in his nose, and claims that he is trying to make us all live under socialism, Obama should say, "That's enough" and "ram through" a health care plan that works for the people. It will save his presidency.

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

    February 8, 2009

    Let's Challenge Radio Station Licenses

    Should we be organizing challenges to the licenses of radio stations that do not serve their communities in a balanced way?

    Earlier I pointed to Bill Press' op-ed on how corporate radio shuts our progressive voices, Seeing the Forest: Corporate Radio Not Balanced. Press reminds us that companies are given radio licenses by We, the People and,

    ... according to the terms of their FCC license, "to operate in the public interest and to afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views of issues of public importance."
    Obviously many radio stations are violating the terms of their licenses, using OUR airwaves to spew anti-democracy corporatist right-wing crap all day every day.

    Shouldn't we be organizing challenges to the licenses of these stations?

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:40 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    November 25, 2008

    Simon Rosenberg for DNC Chair

    I agree with this: Paul Abrams: Simon Rosenberg is the Perfect Choice for DNC Chair.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:54 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    November 24, 2008

    Are Bailouts Funding Lobbying?

    In the discussions of the bailouts progressives have talked about protecting the taxpayers through compensation limits, equity positions instead of just handing over funds, etc. But I don't think we have asked for what I think could be one of the most effective ideas for restoring and protecting democracy -- and thereby preventing disasters like the one we are experiencing.

    Let's start demanding that companies receiving bailout funds stop lobbying and stop the other things they do to influence public opinion and policy decisions! This includes funding right-wing "think tanks," PR firms, etc.

    My own preference would be to ban *all* use of corporate funds for any purposes of influencing public opinion or government policy. I am of the opinion that corporate money should be used to run the corporation, period. Lobbying, etc. does not benefit the interests of the corporations -- because corporations do not have interests. They are supposed to just operate within the rules WE set. What we are seeing is corporate resources wrongly being used for the personal interests of executives and a few wealthy shareholders, not to promote the broader interests of all the shareholders, the long-term well-being of the company, and our society. I believe that We, the People should be making the laws, telling corporations how they can operate, not the other way around. We are the boss of them.

    So demanding that companies receiving bailout funds must cease all lobbying is a way to introduce this idea that the people should be in control of decision-making in general. It is an Overton Window tactic to start getting the public talking about the idea that corporations should be out of our politics, leaving the decision-making to We, the People.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:22 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    November 12, 2008

    Blame For The Crash

    I've been thinking about something and haven't had time to write about it. The first stimulus package did nothing to help the economy, but it did put off the crash from happening for about 3 months. I mean, the worst of the crash is really just starting, just after the election.

    What I am getting at is the stimulus package, sending us all $600 checks, was one more time the Dems in the Congress fell for something that was designed only to help the Republicans in the election. It didn't help and Obama won, but that was their plan.

    And now the economy is starting to really crash. The bailout which obviously wasn't going to work didn't work -- and it used up all the money. I am starting to hear talk of the U.S. credit rating being lowered, with some expectation of default in the future.

    Things are going to get really, really bad next year. So we need to make sure the public understands blame.

    Here's how. The Congress needs to push through something popular, clearly designed to help the economy, that the Republicans filibuster, or Bush vetoes, before the end of the year. How about a whopping increase in the minimum wage? The bailout of the auto companies might be the issue. Maybe the new stimulus package, clearly aimed at creating jobs -- good UNION jobs. They would fight that.

    The point is, make it clear who is for and who is against the people. This is how the Republicans have been doing it for some time.

    AND, after Obama gets into office, we can even pass it.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:51 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

    October 29, 2008

    One Of The Worst?

    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.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:43 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    October 10, 2008

    WHY Are Republicans Accusing ACORN Of Voter Fraud?

    The Republican noise machine is going absolutely full-force after ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), accusing them of committing vote fraud on a massive scale. You can't turn on the radio or TV without hearing that millions of illegal votes will be cast for Obama because of ACORN's massive vote fraud. If you Google "Acorn" and "rigging" you get over 50,000 hits.

    The Republican National Committee website is headlining the effort. And they are issuing accusation press releases all day, every day, to drive this effort. They have a "fact sheet" listing numerous accusations.

    Here's the thing: ACORN is registering voters and is REQUIRED BY LAW to submit voter reg forms as the voter fills them out. Even so, the total "fraudulent" registrations they are accused of submitting nationwide is very low, maybe a few thousand. This is across the entire country when they have registered more than 1.3 million new voters. And this is all about registration forms that are filled out wrong by the voter, not ACORN, or a voter submitting more than one registration. This is what all the noise is about.

    This is the key thing to know: None of these faulty registrations are capable of resulting in a single fraudulent vote. The problem is ACORN workers turning in forms that were filled out wrong, in some cases by the workers themselves to make it look like they were working when they weren't. But vote fraud? The most common problems is duplication but if someone fills out 12 registrations, they're still only goign to vote once. It is up to county election officials, not ACORN to worry about election fraud. And on a call today with ACORN they pointed out that while there are bad registration forms submitted, there is not one case of a person commiting actual vote fraud as a result of ACORN's efforts. Not one, ever, anywhere.

    So the question is, why? Why the huge hissy fit over ACORN?

    Remember the Seeing the Forest Rule: When Republicans accuse, it is because it is what they are doing themselves.

    Working on the Election Protection Wiki I am seeing more and more accusations of a massive nationwide effort to throw millions of voters off of the registration lists, and otherwise keep them from voting. One example accusation: states like Florida are purging voters whose names do not exactly match their Social Security or drivers license, so "Bob" on one and "Robert" on another disqualifies them from voting. Another, across the country the Republicans are accused of mailing faulty absentee voter applications to Democrats -- they have incorrect addresses for sending the application, or when they can send them in they are thrown out for various reasons to do with the forms. Another: across the country students are being told they can't vote. These are just a few examples -- you may have heard that some states are even throwing people off voter registration roles if their homes are foreclosed.

    Could THIS be why there are so many accusations against ACORN? To provide cover for the REAL voting scam that is going on?

    Among the accusations is that they have "employed convicts to register people." That sure SOUNDS bad, but so what? Also among the crimes they are accused of is submitting duplicate registrations for voters. Here is the thing to keep in mind, when a duplicate registration is submitted, the person is registered once and the duplicates are thrown out. Again, so what?

    ACORN is an organization that helps poor and minority communities. One thing ACORN does is organize people to vote. They have submitted over 1.3 million new voter registrations this year. From their website,

    ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, is the nation's largest community organization of low- and moderate-income families, working together for social justice and stronger communities.
    This sounds exactly like something Repubicans would hate. A lot.

    Among the hundreds and hundreds of stories, these today:

    ACORN Investigations Provide Rallying Cry for Republicans

    Is Acorn Stealing the Election?

    Obama Hired ACORN For GOTV

    It’s time to shut down ACORN, work against voter fraud

    GOP Renews Complaints Over Voter Registrations

    ACORN’s Crimes

    RNC: CNN Exposes How ACORN Steals Votes & Ties to Obama

    Jive Turkey Rides Again

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

    October 4, 2008

    Bold Progressives

    Bold Progressives,

    Please email the below message to your progressive friends and family.
    This week, Democrats helped George W. Bush and Republicans loot the federal treasury and hand billions over to Wall Street.

    For some reason, we can never find money for kids' health care, clean energy, or other progressive priorities. But when it comes to right-wing priorities like war and giveaways to failed Wall Street executives, Republicans always find the money and Democrats go along.

    There were progressive solutions to the financial crisis that would have truly held Wall Street accountable and helped the middle class. But instead of fighting for a bold progressive alternative, Democrats caved to the least popular president in history.

    ENOUGH. Anyone with common sense will vote for Barack Obama and Democratic congressional candidates this November. But it's time for citizens to fight back and take this pledge -- will you join in signing it?

    "In 2009 and beyond, I will be part of the movement that pushes Democrats to be bold progressives -- and that helps pass a bold progressive agenda into law."
    Go read the rest and sign the pledge! And tell others!

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:02 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos

    September 14, 2008

    McCain Campaign Lie Strategy - Will It Work?

    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.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:00 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    September 10, 2008

    Republicans Just Lie -- It's What They Do

    Why are Republicans just saying so much stuff that is not true? Because it works. From April 2005, They Just Say Stuff,

    They say what they need to say to make the sale. If the focus groups and polls tell them to say something, they say it. That's all t is. Truth is just not a part of the calculation.
    July, 2005: Seeing the Forest: Focus Group Phrases vs Reality
    So here is how it works. The right-wingers hold focus groups and ask, "if we told you so-and-so, would you believe such-and-such?" And then they go out and spread the so-and-so, whatever it is, in their effort to persuade people to believe such-and-such. They find out that people don't like "activist judges," or at least react negatively to the phrase, and know that they are going to be appointing judges who are activist, so they repeat that Liberals appoint activist judges in order to get that fixed in the public's mind.

    And they follow a strategy of first getting people to believe one thing, and then building on that by adding new elements that depend on the belief they previously established. This is a strategic narrative. It unfolds into a story. "Liberal activist judges" is part of an unfolding narrative of "liberals' meddling with people's daily lives. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the truth, but it is useful for persuading people to support right-wingers.

    October, 2005, Yes, This Is The First Time In Three Decades That Republicans Were Hypocrites. Right.

    It's what they do. What they said an hour ago is not relevant - it's what they needed to say then, and that was then. When they need to do something else they willl. They'll just make stuff up, lie and smear people. They'll ask focus groups if they would be against Democrats if they learned that Democrats eat dog toenails on Yugoslavian yogurt at tea time, and if the focus groups said that would turn them against Democrats, we would start hearing that Democrats eat dog toenails on Yugoslavian yogurt at teatime, and we'll hear it on the radio, and in newspapers (incuding the one that published the story referred to above), and on TV and in magazines and in anonymous e-mails, and from friends, and soon "everyone knows" that Democrats do that. And it will work. It's what they do.
    So what are we expecting today -- different?

    As long as We, the People let this stuff work there is no reason for them to stop.

    Never mind the consequences: war, ten trillion dollars in debt, the financial system breaking down, the ice caps melting, people losing pensions and health care and houses and jobs... Look away! Never mind that! Obama tried to force kindergartners to take sex education --- even if he didn't.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:15 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    September 5, 2008

    What Is Obama's Story?

    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?

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:22 PM | Comments (6) | Link Cosmos

    August 31, 2008

    Attacking Palin

    One of the strategies behind choosing Palin for VP is to set up a "grievance trap." Much of the Republican appeal is grievance. "Those snobbish elites are picking on me again." "Those millionaire East Coast New York San Francisco Democrats give special privileges to everyone but me."

    So anyone who criticizes will be cast as picking on strong women, etc.

    But we have the perfect surrogate to lead the attack on Palin: Hillary Clinton. SHE can charge that this is an inexperienced "token" pick, a misdirection intended to fool people. SHE can charge that this is an anti-choice impostor, fronting for the old white male power structure.

    So bring out Hillary, and sic her on Palin.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:45 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

    August 19, 2008

    Republicans Block Everything, Now Say Nothing Getting Done So Vote For Them

    Remember how impeaching Bush was "off the table" so the Congress could get important work done? For a refresher, here is one conversation with Speaker Pelosi on this:

    Dave Johnson (of Seeing the Forest):
    We seem to be at a historic time right now with an administration that is starting to frankly assert that they are above the rule of law, and I’m wondering if you as Speaker can give us a short statement on this issue and what Congress is prepared to do to re-assert the rule of law of the people of the country.

    (Follow [this link and scroll down] to read her response.) Then Mike Stark asked about impeachment. Her reply,

    I made a decision a few years ago, or at least one year ago, that impeachment was something that we could not be successful with and that would take up the time we needed to do some positive things to establish a record of our priorities and their short-comings, and the President is... ya know what I say? The President isn’t worth it... he’s not worth impeaching. We’ve got important work to do... If he were at the beginning of his term, people may think of it differently, but he’s at the end of his terms. The first two years of his term, if we came in as the majority, there might be time to do it all...

    Mike, of course, responded,

    Mike Stark: Respectfully, that’s not the question. Respectfully, the question is whether or not the Constitution is worth it.

    Many argue that impeachment will distract the Congress from passing a progressive agenda. That is a pipe dream. The Republicans in the Senate are blocking everything. The President will veto anything that passes. And if something somehow manages to become law the Republicans and the President will just ignore it anyway.

    The following from today's Wall Street Journal is right-wing propaganda so of course doesn't explain that the reason nothing got done is that Republicans blocked everything. But this was the point we in the Netroots were trying to make -- the Republicans are going to block everything anyway... Here is the right today: As U.S. Economic Problems Loom, House, Senate Sweat the Small Stuff,

    Barring a burst of legislative activity after Labor Day, this group of 535 men and women will have accomplished a rare feat. In two decades of record keeping, no sitting Congress has passed fewer public laws at this point in the session -- 294 so far -- than this one. That's not to say they've been idle. On the flip side, no Congress in the same 20 years has been so prolific when it comes to proposing resolutions -- more than 1,900, according to a tally by the nonpartisan Taxpayers for Common Sense.

    In November 2007 I made some predictions for what we would see happen in time for this year's Presidential election. One of my predictions for the w008 election was:

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

    But who could have seen that coming?

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

    August 9, 2008

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

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

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

    The other day I wrote about,

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

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

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

    So I guess great minds think alike. Heh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    August 5, 2008

    On Democrats Reshaping Themselves As Republicans

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

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

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

    It begins with this picture:


    From the post,

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

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

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

    It includes the classic wisdom,

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


    Oh please go read the whole post. Classic blogging.

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

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

    August 1, 2008

    Defunding the Right

    Have you heard about Wal-Mart's campaign to intimidate its workers into voting against Democrats?

    Suppose Obama were to say something along the lines of "When I am elected we are going to enforce the law." Nothing more. This is not a statement that people can find fault with.

    Suppose that some of us started hinting that he means that after he takes office his Justice Dept and other agencies are going to look over who has been complying with various election laws, labor laws, etc. during this election. Suppose we hint that he means companies intimidating workers to vote a certain way, churches, think tanks, front groups incorporated as c4s but doing candidate work, campaigns violating election laws, etc.

    Suppose this became a big story with Obama refusing to comment on what he plans to do beyond enforcing the laws of our country.

    Suppose this created some concern among the Wal-Marts and the Sheldon Adelsons that they had better think about following the law?

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

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:54 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    April 25, 2008

    Flag Pins And Hypocrisy

    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.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:50 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    March 17, 2008

    From Take Back America - Monday

    This was originally posted at Speak Out California

    I am at the Take Back America conference in Washington DC.

    One common discussion here at Take Back America is that conservative economic policy chickens are coming home to roost. Another phrase I am hearing is Wild West Banking. People here are talking about the big story in the news right now: an economic and financial crisis that some economists are saying is the worst since the depression.

    For decades, as conservative economics increasingly led to lower wages, loss of pensions and health insurance, and general "you're on your own" economic insecurity many people have been using up their savings while other people turned to borrowing to make up the difference, taking out second mortgages or running up credit cards.

    Meanwhile the financial system, increasingly deregulated, cooked up riskier and riskier schemes -- like loaning money to people and companies to use to make their payments on their existing debt.

    Now we appear to be reaching the limit of people's ability to borrow. And when people and companies have been borrowing to meet their payments this can mean a collapse. When people can't pay the mortgages the financial companies aren't receiving their payments. So they can't make their payments, and the companies they aren't paying can't make their payments. Think of this as a spiral of debt extending from the overextended consumer at the bottom to the biggest financial companies at the top. Now that spiral is beginning to "unwind."

    This is happening because of so many years of conservative government focused on deregulating and on protecting the interests of the corporations and the wealthy instead of protecting the interests of the public from the moneyed interests. This is what conservatives do. A while back I wrote a very short post titled Republicans and Economics:

    ...there was a REASON that Americans were loath to elect a Republican into the government for an entire generation after the Great Depression: They remembered.
    But eventually the public forgot, and the moneyed-interests used their money to again become the dominant voice in the public discussion. They used this dominance to persuade people to dislike unions, accept 401Ks as alternatives to pensions, and all the rest of the things that have led to another economic crisis. But even many of my progressive readers didn't understand what I meant. So I had to add an update,
    Previous generations REMEMBERED. There was nothing to add. Over time people have forgotten how Republican economics caused the depression, and how they fought every single program that helped the people at the expense of the wealthiest and the powerful corporations. (And in fact led to the prosperity that the wealthiest and corporations enjoyed since.)

    But now people do not remember how concentration of wealth, corporations preying on citizens, anti-union policies, etc. LED TO the economic collapse.

    The depression was ended by pro-union policies, redistributive taxes, REGULATIONS on businesses and the fuinancial sector, and an understanding that We, the People run the government, and the reason we have corporations is for OUR benefit, not just the benefit of the few.

    Over time, as I said, people forgot. And here we are again.

    How do we help the public understand what is happening and how conservative policies are responsible?

    Click to continue

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    March 7, 2008

    New McCain Ad

    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?

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    February 18, 2008

    Creating Demand For Progressive Candidates And Policies

    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.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    February 10, 2008

    Driving A Wedge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    This is propaganda at its best.

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

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

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

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

    January 20, 2008

    More Wedge

    Why would the right-wing Drudge report have a headline that reads as follows?


    Could they be trying to ... DIVIDE US???? D'ya think?

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    January 19, 2008

    Trying To Drive A Wedge

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

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

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

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

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

    Don't fall for it. Stick together.

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

    December 21, 2007

    How To Reform The Democratic Party

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

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

    So what can we do about it?

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

    We can primary them.

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

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

    December 20, 2007

    The Republican 2008 Plan Is Revealed

    The Republican 2008 plan is revealed. In this case it plays out with the FEC, but next year the same strategy will play out over the whole government. The Republicans are demanding that the Democrats approve an unacceptable candidate for the FEC or they will shut it down and blame the Democrats for the shutdown. They don't want FEC oversight of this election, and if they must have it they want it run by Republican election-fixers.

    The larger plan is the same: force unacceptable choices on the Democrats, giving them only options of approving the unacceptable choice or shutting down the government. They don't want the government functioning, and if they must have it they want it doing their bidding - funneling cash to their cronies and protecting the corporations from the citizenry. The Republicans will not offer acceptable options. The options they offer will be worse and worse until Democrats have no choice but to refuse to go along. Yes, worse than voting this week to fund the war.

    From (Drudge lite) Politico: FEC heads toward shutdown,

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) just announced that the Senate will not clear four new appointees for the Federal Election Commission, meaning the panel that acts as a watchdog on political campaigns cannot function during the critical election-year period.

    [. . .] Reid said he will not relent on von Spakovsky, who has come under heavy criticism from civil-rights groups, and he blamed the White House and Republicans for the stalemate.

    . . . Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters today that Democrats are unfairly trying to block a GOP nominee to the FEC, which is overseen by a panel of three Democrats and three Republicans.

    Shutting down the government has been the 2008 plan of the Republicans for some time. They plan to blame the Democrats. They are currently preparing the ground by obstructing everything in the Senate and then going out with a narrative that the Democrats can't get anything done. They are telling the public that the Democrats are piling pork into the bills and massively increasing spending, etc.

    This is coming, you'd better believe it.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:15 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    December 6, 2007

    Republicans Building Narrative Blaming Economy On Democrats

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

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

    GOP claims Democrats are waging ‘war’ on economy,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    November 19, 2007

    Muskie Crying

    If you are following the whole Clinton /Obama / Novak bruhaha please go read Digby's take on what happens when people forget history.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:45 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    November 15, 2007

    A Paranoid Thought

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    November 13, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Oink, oink,

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

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

    Dems Tie Up Fiscal 2008 Appropriations Bill in Pork,

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

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

    Stopping steady flow of pork,

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

    Bush: Congress like 'teenager with a credit card'

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

    Bush vetoes labor bill

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

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

    Bush Veto Sets Stage for Budget Battle,

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

    Pork in the Water,

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

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

    Bush Wields Veto Pen _ Again,

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

    Democrats pile on the pork spending

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

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

    November 9, 2007

    What I Expect In 2008

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    November 1, 2007

    Bush Demands Gas Rationing, Draft, Tax Increases For War!

    President Bush today called for gas rationing, a draft and tax increases to fight the greatest threat the country has ever faced.

    Bush to Democrats: 'We are at war'

    President Bush compared Congress' Democratic leaders Thursday with people who ignored the rise of Lenin and Hitler early in the last century, saying "the world paid a terrible price" then and risks similar consequences for inaction today.

    ... "Unfortunately, on too many issues, some in Congress are behaving as if America is not at war," Bush said during a speech at the Heritage Foundation.

    ... Bush said denial that "we are at war" is dangerous. "History teaches us that underestimating the words of evil, ambitious men is a terrible mistake," Bush said. "Bin Laden and his terrorist allies have made their intentions as clear as Lenin and Hitler before them. And the question is, will we listen?"

    What? I'm sorry? You're saying he was asking for the right to wiretap without warrants, and nothing else?

    Oh ... never mind.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    October 29, 2007

    Obama's New Ad Could Help Kill Social Security

    (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!

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:58 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    October 25, 2007

    Digby's The Art Of The Hissy Fit

    In case you haven't read it yet, Digby's The Art Of The Hissy Fit is fast becomming a blogosphere classic. People are even e-mailing it around.

    So go read it.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    October 17, 2007

    Don't Think of a Sick Child

    Rockridge Institute is launching a campaign, Don't Think of a Sick Child.

    This is a prototype ad:

    About the campaign:

    The national debate over the future of health care security is complex and confusing to many Americans. There is little doubt that the country is in the midst of a health care crisis as more than 100 million Americans find themselves underinsured, uninsured and without adequate health care. Advocates on multiple sides of the debate inundate voters with various plans, statistics, prescriptions, and political sloganeering. Yet, the confusion remains.

    In launching this campaign, the Rockridge Institute is contributing to progressives as they consider and focus their health care message. We have written a thoughtful white paper, as well as talking points, prototype television advertisements, blog posts, op-eds, and other material designed to bring some consistency and honest framing to the cause of health care security. To the many groups and individuals engaged in this cause, it is our hope we will be of some help to your heroic efforts.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:19 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    Overton Window

    I'm pretty busy today, so instead of posting something, I'll send you to go read this talk I gave earlier this year, about the Overton Window and the right's strategy to get rid of public schools: We're All In This Together (Commonweal Institute Blog)

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    October 10, 2007

    Must-Read On How Republicans Win

    Open Left:: Emergence Politics and Rush Limbaugh,

    Politics is a nonlinear dynamic system, not a traditional closed system. Nonlinearity means that change doesn't happen in a steady fashion, but comes in violent clumps. Much of our political leadership doesn't think this way. Steny Hoyer thinks that Democrats will be in control of the House, and then that Republicans will be in control of the House, that there is a balanced oscillation. Choice, labor rights, environment - these are the 'issues' upon which one must take the correct 'positions' according to polling data. And yet, the assumptions here is that the electorate doesn't change its mind very quickly, that new problems won't arise, that pollsters tell the truth, and that priorities or intensity of feelings don't change. We'll push back and forth over certain bills, and compromise will be the result. The political system's contours are considered static, and linear.

    [. . .] Conservatives see politics as a nonlinear dynamic system, not as a two party system. They take advantage of crisis moments, as Naomi Klein points out in the Shock Doctrine, or even foment them, to create positive feedback loops for conservative ideas. Media consolidation under such institutions as GE and the gutting of antitrust create a dishonest media system that allows the country to go to war. War allows companies like GE to make money from selling weapons. Tax breaks for churches that become an arm of the GOP, creating corruption in government as a way to attack the concept of government, etc. These are all positive feedback loops for conservatives.

    Also, read the second comment, from Texas Dem.,
    One visual is arm-wrestling. Dems think that our government is a nice two-party contest within rules and boundaries and common understandings (that used to really exist). The Democrats engage in a nice arm wrestling match to see who wins various fights of prescribed consequence; meanwhile the Republicans offer one hand for the arm wrestling match, act like they accept its rules and are playing normally, and once the match is at a critical moment, they'll reach out with the other hand and slap the Democrats on the head. Obviously that's completely unacceptable and unsporting if you believe in the value of an armwrestling match, but the GOP doesn't. They don't believe in the value of the existing system at all, they strictly believe in victory, which means, ... , money and power. Nothing more or less.

    ...So Democrats are trying to play within a system that they believe in strongly and that they want to conserve; meanwhile the Republicans are actively trying to tear the Dems and the system down. It's a very difficult dynamic. Being the preserver and facing down the destroyer is not easy, because you are constrained in many ways your opponent is not.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    October 5, 2007

    A Bad Ad In A Teachable Moment

    The AFL-CIO, AFSCME, SEIU, MoveOn.org, Americans United for Change, USAction, and True Majority are going to spend millions of dollars running an ad against targeted Republicans urging them to override President Bush's veto of SCHIP, the child health coverage bill. The ad says the candidates are targeted because they support “Billions of Dollars for Iraq War, But Veto for Children’s Health Care”

    My problem with the ad is that it does not teach a larger lesson. This is "a teachable moment." People are upset that President Bush is vetoing this bill, but they do not understand the deeper ideological principals behind what is happening to them. This is an opportunity to teach people that conservatives believe in a you-are-on-your-own, dog-eat-dog philosophy and progressives believe we are all in this together for each other.

    The ad says "George Bush and his backers would rather send half a trillion to Iraq than spend a fraction of that here to keep our kids healthy." Even by changing "and his backers" to "and the conservatives" they could have let people know that it isn't just Bush and it isn't about particular politicians, it's the conservative ideology that is hurting them. This issue is about differences in philosophy between conservatives and progressives.

    But instead of teaching the public a lesson about what is happening to us all, this coalition will spend millions running this ad against individual politicians, and in the end the money will literally just go up in the air(waves) and nothing will remain behind.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:49 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    September 23, 2007

    Go Visit MoveOn.org

    Have you visited MoveOn's website lately? MoveOn.org: Democracy in Action

    MoveOn is run by its members - you and me. Completely. They only have 17 employees. MoveOn is about what YOU want the organization to do.

    From their About page:

    With over 3.3 million members across America – from carpenters to stay-at-home moms to business leaders – we work together to realize the progressive promise of our country. MoveOn is a service – a way for busy but concerned citizens to find their political voice in a system dominated by big money and big media.

    ... Every member has a voice in choosing the direction for both MoveOn.org Political Action and MoveOn.org Civic Action. Using our ActionForum software, you can propose priorities and strategies. Both organizations also take the initiative to organize quick action on other timely issues that our members care about.

    If you are not a MoveOn member this is a good time to sign up.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:21 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    September 12, 2007

    Stop Saying 'Single-Payer' PLEASE

    A letter-to-the-editor titled, "Single-payer plan is the way to go" in the San Jose Mercury News this morning reminded me to keep this drumbeat going. PLEASE stop saying "single-payer" and start saying "Medicare For All."

    NO ONE KNOWS WHAT "SINGLE-PAYER" MEANS!!! I was talking to someone last week who thought "single-payer" means you have to pay all your medical bills by yourself with no help. That's what it sounds like it means, and no one understands what it means otherwise, so why would anyone think it is a good thing? But everyone understands what Medicare is, and loves it, so why not just say "Medicare For All?" Sheesh!

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:56 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    September 9, 2007

    Playing The Victim

    One of the right's core propaganda tactics is portraying themselves as victims. Today's example has The Weekly Standard saying MoveOn.org is calling General Pertaeus a "traitor." MoveOn.org Calls Petraeus a Traitor begins,

    Tomorrow--as General David Petraeus provides his Iraq assessment to Congress--the antiwar group MoveOn.org is running a full-page advertisement in the New York Times under the headline: "General Petraeus or General Betray us? Cooking the books for the White House."

    Let's be clear: MoveOn.org is suggesting that General Petraeus has 'betrayed' his country. This is disgusting. To attack as a traitor an American general commanding forces in war because his 'on the ground' experience does not align with MoveOn.org's political objectives is utterly shameful. It shows contempt for America's military leadership, as well as for the troops who have confidence in him, as our fellow soldiers in Iraq certainly do.

    How silly can you get? No one is calling Petraeus a traitor here. But the cult wingnuts will just eat it up, of course.

    But the strategic purpose is to marginalize MoveOn.org, and thereby try to make Democratic party leaders afraid to accept their support. The article is written by the Executive Director of the Republican Party front-group Vets for Freedom.

    Morning update - The right's echo chamber is picking up the drumbeat, with one site actually calling for an American civil war against the left:

    Wake Up America:


    Is it going to take an escalation of things into violence, again, within this nation for us to unite AS a nation? Let me warn you of this, those of you who are BUCKING for a second "Civil War" in the United States: the MINUTE lines are draw and ranks are formed for us to do battle against one another, do you HONESTLY THINK that the rest of the world is going to stand idly by and let us duke it out amongst ourselves may the best side win? HELL NO! Russia and China are watching this with baited breath, mark my words. The Taliban and al-Queda are CHEERING us on to continue to pull apart internally. Our ALLIES are watching us to see what happens. And we have MoveOn.org planning to run this add calling the top general in Iraq a traitor because they don't like the war.

    Right Wing News:
    It's really shameful that the Left is trying to do this to a decent, talented general, whose only crime is winning a war that the Democrats are heavily politically invested in losing.
    Blue Crab Blvd:
    If any Democrat thinks they have a shield because MoveOn did it - not them - it is time to disabuse them of that notion. The disgusting, sleazy level of slime that MoveOn has reached here is beyond contempt.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:39 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    August 29, 2007

    Single-Payer vs Medicare For All

    I'm hearing proposals for "Single-payer healthcare" again.

    Please, please, please don't call it "Single-payer healthcare." Please call it "Medicare for all".

    Everyone knows and likes and understands Medicare. It has been around for a while. It has the word "care" in it. Everyone knows it works and helps people.

    NO ONE understands what "single-payer" means. It is a complicated word-construct. It contains the word "payer" which works against acceptance. It requires you to start from scratch to sell the idea, and from a marketing background I can tell you that all the money in the world isn't going to sell "single-payer healthcare" to the public.

    If you call it Medicare for all, people immediately understand, accept and like the idea.

    Please, please banish "single-payer healthcare" from your vocabulary. Please.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:35 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    August 14, 2007

    Sirota: Dems Beware

    WorkingForChange: Democrats Beware: An Economic Populist Is Rising In the GOP's Presidential Primary,

    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.

    ... 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.”

    This is the message the public wants to hear. Coming from a conservative this could be devastating.

    Please read the whole post.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:32 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    August 13, 2007

    Rove Resigning - Updated

    Karl "Party over Country" Rove is resigning "to spend more time with his family."

    Karl Rove did more to divide America than anyone since Newt Gingrich. (See Language: A Key Mechanism of Control)

    Just one example, after 9/11 Rove engineered the creation of the Homeland Security Department, which was entirely a "wedge" device for use in the 2002 elections. The core of the concept was to get rid of government employee unions. The idea was to force the Democrats to either vote against unions or pound them as "unpatriotic." And then, to pound them as unpatriotic anyway.


    Simon Rosenberg, How Rove will be remembered,

    Karl Rove was the "architect" of one of the worst governments in American history, and the one who engineered the end of modern conservatism, one of the most successful ideological movements of recent times.

    Brilliant yes. Bold, without a doubt. A compete and utter failure who left his country and his movement weaker than the found it? Yep.

    Eventually, perhaps, disgraced.

    How typical of him to slink off out of the bunker and leave the mess for someone else to clean up.
    All Karl ever wanted was to be left alone to work in secret to destroy America’s political landscape, and not be held accountable.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    July 24, 2007

    While Progressives Talk To Each Other, Conservatives Talk To The Public

    Progressive bloggers talk to each other. Conservatives talk to the public.

    For example, Bush and the Republicans recently renewed their claim Iraq attacked us on 9/11 and that is why we invaded that country. Their politicians, pundits, talk-show hosts, bloggers, news anchors, op-ed writers, letter-to-the-editor writers and others all said it, using largely the same "tested" words and phrases, on the radio, in the newspapers, in their blogs and on their TV channels. Progressive bloggers responded with the truth, but who did they reach?

    The right talks to the public, and it works. Support for Initial Invasion Has Risen, Poll Shows,

    Americans’ support for the initial invasion of Iraq has risen somewhat as the White House has continued to ask the public to reserve judgment about the war until at least the fall.

    [. . .] However, the number of people who say the war is going “very badly” has fallen from 45 percent earlier in July to a current reading of 35 percent...

    [. . .] The poll’s findings are in line with those of one conducted last week by The New York Times and CBS News.

    And other lies continue as well. Just today, for example, from the right-wing Heritage Foundation, The War in Iraq: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions,
    While WMD were not found, some may have been moved to Syria in the convoys of hundreds of trucks that crossed the border just before the U.S.-led intervention and during the first few weeks of fighting.

    [. . .] If the U.S. pulls out of Iraq before it has a stable government capable of defending itself, the likes of bin Laden will have a safe haven from which to attack the U.S. again.

    [. . .] If we stand back and allow al-Qaeda's terrorists to succeed, they will turn Iraq into a base for attacking us, just as they turned Afghanistan into a base for attacking us. The Clinton Administration decided that the U.S. had no stake in the civil war in Afghanistan in the 1990s. Only after the Taliban allowed al-Qaeda to operate from its territory did we discover—too late—that we did have a stake there.

    Right, blame Clinton. But it was Clinton who did something about Iraq's WMD, and tried to do something about al Qaeda before 9/11, not Bush. Remember the "aspirin factory?"

    Progressives need to start reaching the general public with the truth as well as each other. We need to start working together to fund and build the organizational infrastructure to develop and test messaging, then coordinate the use of messaging, train speakers, employ pundits, develop media channels, etc.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:11 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    July 7, 2007

    The Fall Lie-Attack Started Today

    Yesterday I said the lie-attack would begin this fall, but it only took a day. Yesterday I wrote,

    This fall President Bush will veto a number of spending bills, saying that they spend too much money. This will be accompanied by a huge, orchestrated media campaign blasting out the message: "We told you so. Now that Democrats are in charge they have gone wild with spending."

    ... There will also be an orchestrated campaign to convince the public that Democrats are making their taxes go up - because of the spending.

    Today, Bush's radio address, Bush sharpens budget attack on Democrats,

    Escalating a budget battle with Democrats who control Congress, President George W. Bush accused them on Saturday of pushing tax-and-spend policies and renewed his veto threat.

    "They are working to bring back the failed tax-and-spend policies of the past," he said in his weekly radio address. "Democrats are failing in their responsibility to make tough decisions and spend the people's money wisely."

    ... Bush accused Democrats of proposing in the next five years the "biggest tax increase in history" though he gave no details how he reached that conclusion. "I have made clear that I will veto any attempt to take America down this road," he said.

    Let's hope my other prediction - political prosecutors indicting Democrats - does not come true.

    I left out one thing from my prediction: Republicans will block every piece of legislation and then say that the Democrats aren't passing any legislation.

    Update - News media plays along, check this headline: Bush rips Democratic lawmakers' failures,

    President Bush accused Democratic lawmakers on Saturday of being unable to live up to their duties, citing Congress' inability to pass legislation to fund the federal government.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:21 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    July 6, 2007

    The Coming Orchestrated Campaign Against Democrats

    Here is my prediction for the national political environment, once summer ends.

    This fall President Bush will veto a number of spending bills, saying that they spend too much money. This will be accompanied by a huge, orchestrated media campaign blasting out the message: "We told you so. Now that Democrats are in charge they have gone wild with spending."

    It simply will not matter what is actually in those bills. Everywhere you go, every radio station you tune in to, every op-ed page you look at, every cable-TV channel you watch, you will hear over and over again that “The Democrats loaded up all the spending bills with billions and billions of dollars of pork.”

    There will also be an orchestrated campaign to convince the public that Democrats are making their taxes go up - because of the spending.

    By the way, I also expect that through 2008 there will be many highly-publicized indictments of Democrats in key voting regions. We know that the Justice Department has been politicized, and so far for all the noise and complaints nothing has been done about that. There is a reason the Republicans wanted "their people" in the prosecutor jobs, and that is so they can act in ways that influence the voters.

    And there's Iraq. How many ways will the coming fiasco be blamed on Democrats?

    Question: We know it is coming. What can be done to counter this?

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:15 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    June 24, 2007

    Tell Me What You Think Of John Kerry

    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.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:57 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    The Political Brain

    At the Take Back America conference I attended a session put on by Drew Weston, author of The Political Brain. He takes a Lakoff-style look at the language and narrative, adds a psychologist/neuroscientist look at how the brain works and then turns it all into a practical look at how to use this information in politics.

    Here is a book review.

    From the book:

    In his handling of the Swift Boat affair, what Kerry effectively told the American people was what he would do if America were attacked: he would wait an inordinate amount of time until he had gathered enough evidence to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law, use polls and focus groups to see what kind of response Americans preferred, and then write our enemies a letter imploring them to stop their terrorist acts immediately.

    Sometimes, the meta-message is the message.

    I have ordered the book.

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

    June 22, 2007

    Centrist Dem Reaction To 'Sicko' Movie: Appease The Corporations

    Michael Moore's movie 'Sicko' documenting America's health insurance crisis is likely to incite strong grassroots demand for a "single-payer" Medicare-For-All type of solution. So the Washington consultants/appeasers are at it again.

    From the article, 'Sicko' leaves top Democrats ill at ease

    Stoking the passions of rank-and-file Democrats for a government takeover of the healthcare system amounts to political folly, respond some liberal veterans of Washington's healthcare battles.

    "To presume that the private sector is going to sit idly by to see the destruction of private coverage I think is a misreading of reality," ... "I think the presidential candidates understand that if healthcare reform is going to have a chance of success, it will require bipartisanship and a balance of public and private coverage."

    This is what I call the "Afraid Rush Limbaugh Will Say Something Bad About You" syndrome. Clue: He will anyway.

    Whatever plan you propose, here is what will happen: the health insurance companies WILL oppose your plan, no matter what the plan is.

    Conventional Wisdom thinking is that you have to include private insurance companies in any plan, or they'll put so much money and effort into opposing your plan - and you - that nothing can pass. In the 90's the Clinton administration offered a comprehensive health care plan that involved private insurers instead of a "Medicare-For-All"-style national health plan, hoping to ward off industry opposition. ... And of course the private insurance companies did oppose the Clinton plan anyway, putting so much money into opposing it that it never even came up for a vote.

    .. So here is some news for Democrats who are offering health care plans that offer tribute to private insurance companies: They are going to oppose your plan.

    The logic seems to be that if we appease them, they will compromise. This ignores the reality - they want it all.

    "Medicare For All" is simple to understand and implement. On this subject Ezra Klein wrote,

    That's why Medicare-for-All is such a great banner. Medicare happens to be a very good, though deeply underfunded program. It keeps costs down better than the private sector, it enjoys sky-high satisfaction ratings from those on it, its administrative costs are dirt cheap, and so forth. ... It's just normal health care that the government pays for. Simple as that.

    Better yet, Republicans can't demonize the idea because it already exists and everybody's parents and grandparents use it.

    And if companies complain about all the jobs that will be lost - what they are saying is that the private sector is less efficient than a government solution. Medicare's overhead is a fraction of the insurance companies.

    It is time. It's simple. Let's expand Medicare to cover everyone.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:00 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    June 16, 2007

    What The Public 'Knows' - Congressional Spending

    I often write about what the public 'knows.' (For example, the public 'knew' that Iraq attacked us on 9/11 and was about to attack us with weapons of mass destruction before we invaded.)

    Right now the public 'knows' that in the last few years Congress went way out of control with the spending. And Republicans understand that the public 'knows' that Democrats tax and spend.

    I'm not sure that the public knows - or cares - that it was the Republicans who controlled Congress who were the spenders. I am sure that they won't remember that for very long because it is not being repeated and is not being tied to a larger narrative about Republicans.

    What is being repeated is that Democrats tax and spend. And the Republicans are busy reinforcing that: Bush blasts Democrats over budget spending,

    "I will use my veto to stop tax increases and runaway spending that threaten the strength of our economy and the prosperity of our people," Bush said in his weekly radio address. He was spending the weekend at his Texas ranch.

    "By keeping taxes low and restraining federal spending, we can meet my plan to have a balanced budget by 2012," he said. "The Democrats in Congress are trying to take us in a different direction."

    I wonder if the Democratic leadership understands what is happening. Everything that the public is upset about after years of Republican government is being transferred - in the public mind - over to them.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:55 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    June 13, 2007

    Reaching the Public - at Take Back America

    At next week's Take Back America conference I will be doing a "self-organized" session, titled Reaching the Public.

    Progressives need to promote the benefits of progressive values and ideas to the general public. This creates demand for progressive candidates and policy solutions.

    The idea is simple - right-wingers are out there all day, every day, and through every possible channel, repeating various forms of the simple marketing message "Conservatives are good and liberals are bad." The conservatives get it: persuasion, marketing, talking to the public WORKS. Over time this has an effect.

    Liberals and progressives are not responding by also talking to the general public and promoting the benefits of PROGRESSIVE values and issues. So after a few decades of this, the public has a negative view of liberals & progressives, and in surveys they say they are conservative - even though they line up with us on the facts and issues. All a conservative candidate has to do is point a finger and shout "liberal liberal" and this gives them a tremendous head start in a campaign.

    Joining me will be Jeffery Feldman of Frameshop and Conor Kenny of SourceWatch.

    If you are at Take Back America, please come to this session, at 4pm on Monday June 18.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    June 4, 2007

    Messiah-Candidate Thinking

    I hear lots of people express the sentiment, "If only Gore would enter the race (or if only Obama took the lead, etc.), everything would be OK and progressives would win again." This is what I call "Messiah-Candidate Thinking." The example that got me thinking about this was a DailyKos diary today: An Inconvenient Truth: Mr. Gore You HAVE to run in 2008,

    Mr. Gore, you are the person best suited to rescue us from the assaults on reason, our Constitution, our environment, our security, and our domestic infrastructure perpetrated on us by the Busheviks and their allies.
    I am not faulting the sentiment here. I love Gore and he would be a great President. I think most of the candidates would make great Presidents. But I don't think that one person or one election is going to lead us out of the wilderness. I think there is a lot of work required before progressives can win again and turn America in a progressive direction.

    Do the conservatives run great candidates? Is that what has worked for them? Was Bush a great candidate? Or was it something else?

    Here is what I think. Liberals and progressives used to win elections. They used to be a majority and everyone got used to it. So a lot of people think that all we need to do is find the right candidate who will articulate things well and get "the facts" out for them -- and the public will turn out in droves again. They look for another John F. Kennedy or Bill Clinton, thinking that's all that is needed to turn things back around.

    But times have changed. The "conservative movement" has spent more than thirty years bombarding the public with coordinated, professionally-crafted propaganda that has changed the thinking of the public. This propaganda has gone unanswered and we are seeing the effects all around us.

    Think about this - most people's political thinking developed since Reagan was elected. Heck, a good portion of the population doesn't remember a time before George W. Bush! So most of them have never been exposed to information that positively explains what progressives stand for, or the benefits of unions -- or even peace. This has had a terrible effect on the politics of this country.

    This right-wing assault has eroded the public's understanding of (and belief in) democracy and community. It has even eroded understanding of - and faith in - science and reason! So I think there is a lot of work that has to be done to bring things back. We have to spend the money and do the work and take the time to build the think tanks and communications organizations (like Commonweal Institute) that will reach the public and explain and promote the benefits of progressive values and a progressive approach to issues. Over time this effort will restore public demand for progressive candidates.

    Messiah-Candidate Thinking is a way to avoid facing the changes that have occurred in America. It is a way to put off the work that needs to be done.

    So yes, I am all for Gore running. But I don't think it is the be-all and end-all. There is a lot of work to do before America turns back to a progressive direction.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:49 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    May 15, 2007

    We Guarantee Al Gore Will Be Attacked Next Week. We Absolutely Guarantee It.

    By Dave Johnson and James Boyce of Smoking Politics

    All too often, Democrats are swiftboated, ozoned, attacked and smeared and after the attacks happen, sometimes they respond - sometimes they don't.

    We have had enough.

    Here's what we know and here's what we're going to do about it.

    On Monday, Al Gore has a new book coming out next week, titled, "The Assault On Reason".

    Because he is standing up, telling the truth and because he simply is a Democrat and Progressive leader, Al Gore will be smeared mercilessly by the right-wing smear machine. He will be ridiculed, made fun of and mocked. They will tease and make fun of him.

    They will rush to say that he is bitter about 2000, crazy, insane, pontificating and out of touch.

    They will bring up his utility bills and the boards he is a member of. They will talk about his kiss with Tipper, her crusade against vulgar rap lyrics.

    They will bring up his weight and the beard. And say it's all about 2008.

    But what they will not do:


    Why are we so sure?

    Because this is the core of the Right Wing tobacco-driven strategy. You distract. You create doubt. You sell fear and mock those that are not cool.

    You have to do this if you are them because you simply can't talk about the facts. Smoking kills - how are you going to sell that little fact? By ignoring the facts and selling smoking as 'Marlboro Country' clean healthy outdoor living. Right Wing programs and policies are not good for the average American. So how do you sell them? Same way. Ignore the facts. Instead, try to kill the messenger.

    In this book, Al Gore is going to go straight up against the Right Wing smear and noise machine - the one that we have been writing about at Smoking Politics. And we know what that means.

    Over at Amazon you'll find this description of Gore's upcoming book:

    A visionary analysis of how the politics of fear, secrecy, cronyism, and blind faith has combined with the degradation of the public sphere to create an environment dangerously hostile to reason

    ... We live in an age when the thirty-second television spot is the most powerful force shaping the electorate's thinking, and America is in the hands of an administration less interested than any previous administration in sharing the truth with the citizenry. Related to this and of even greater concern is this administration's disinterest in the process by which the truth is ascertained, the tenets of fact-based reasoning-first among them an embrace of open inquiry in which unexpected and even inconvenient facts can lead to unexpected conclusions.

    How did we get here? How much damage has been done to the functioning of our democracy and its role as steward of our security? Never has there been a worse time for us to lose the capacity to face the reality of our long-term challenges, from national security to the economy, from issues of health and social welfare to the environment. As The Assault on Reason shows us, we have precious little time to waste.

    You stand up and say this, that's courage. Just like Al Gore was right about the Iraq War back in 2002 when Democratic Senators were falling all over themselves to vote FOR THE WAR, and Al Gore was against it.

    So at Smoking Politics we are going to try to be ready in advance this time. Imagine that - not on the defensive, not surprised at the smear that shows up, not scrambling around trying to figure out what to do about it.

    We're going to respond the minute the first attack shows up. We're going to be researching the apparatus that transmits the smear. We're going to explain the mechanism of the smear. We're going to expose those behind the smear. And we're going to launch a pushback against the smear, into the press.

    At Smoking Politics we think that going into the 2008 election cycle - whoever the candidate is - nothing matters as much as this issue - the first thing we have to defeat is this Fear and $mear strategy that has been so effective at destroying our leaders and building up their own.

    For the Democratic Party, the Progressive causes it supports and for the country, taking dead aim against the Right on this issue is critical to future success. A most important but often overlooked first step is just to be able to spread the news of the existence of this system and highlight how it impacts public debate. Some of the suggested tactics may seem basic and simplistic, but they are the building blocks we need to execute in order to stand up and defend ourselves, our candidates and our values.

    While many feel that the Right's power and influence is diminished by the 2006 election, and that the Republican Party is waning, nothing is further from the truth and the stakes in the next election are extremely high.

    Will the party and the leadership that ozoned Al Gore, race-baited John McCain, destroyed Max Cleland and swift-boated John Kerry lay down their arms and play nice? Absolutely not. Why would they?

    The famous Chinese warrior Sun Tzu says:

    Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.

    Al Gore is ready to fight and he understands the battle and what's at stake.

    We are at peace as you can only be when you know what you're fighting for.

    Are you ready to stand up and fight with us?

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:09 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    May 11, 2007


    Anyone remember "Reagan's 11th Commandment?" Worked for them, didn't it?

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:29 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    April 27, 2007

    SP ALERT: The Candidates All Flubbed The ONLY Question.

    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.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:45 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    April 20, 2007

    Alberto Gonzales Isn't The Point

    Attorney General Alberto Gonzales can resign or not - so what? The PROBLEM will remain. The PROBLEM is that we have 93 US Attorneys who have already proven - by not being fired - that they will indict innocent Democrats and ignore Republican corruption and criminality. THAT is the problem we have to do something about!

    The Republicans learned in the 2006 election that lots of headlines about corruption influences votes. So the plan is to start investigating and indicting lots of Democrats - guilty or not - to provide plenty of 2008 election-time headlines. And the plan is to block as many investigations and indictments of corrupt Republicans as they can. (That brings other benefits to them as well...)

    So Gonzales can resign or not - don't be distracted from thinking about how to stop what is coming.

    Watch your backs!

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:07 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    April 14, 2007

    WHY They Say Such Outrageous Things

    Jamison Foser writes in this week's "Media Matters",

    In the midst of a torrent of comments about "femi-Nazis" and "bitches" and "hos," these more subtle problems are rarely even noticed, and even more rarely discussed among the media elite and those who appear on their shows.

    And that may be the most damaging effect of the kind of commentary that we routinely hear from the likes of Imus and Limbaugh and Coulter: Rhetoric that should be unacceptable becomes merely outrageous; that which should be outrageous becomes merely controversial; and that which should be controversial is barely noticed, if at all.

    I gave a talk a few weeks ago to an organization that supports public education. My talk as titled We're All In This Together. I began the talk by playing a video clip of Neil Boortz on Fox, saying that teachers unions are more dangerous to America than terrorists armed with nuclear weapons because a nuke could only wipe out 100,000 people but public schools are "destroying a generation."

    I talked about the terrible things right-wingers routinely say. Then I explained the Right's Overton Window strategy of walking people's thinking up a ladder that turns unthinkable ideas into acceptable and even reasonable-sounding.

    After explaining the Overton Window I said,

    NOW we can understand the role of people like the guy from the video clip. He is out at the extreme – on the right side of the see-saw. Anything LESS extreme sounds almost moderate by comparison – in the window of “thinkable.” THIS is why they say those outrageous things. They’re walking people up the ladder. It’s part of the long-term strategy.
    If you're interested, I have the whole thing posted over at the Commonweal Institute blog, along with links to reference materials.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:41 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    April 10, 2007

    Breaking News! - A Democrat Defended Another Democrat!!!!!

    This may be a first: A Democrat publicly defended another Democrat against right-wing attacks today!

    Hillary Smacks White House Over Criticism Of Pelosi's Syria Trip | TPMCafe,

    In a little-noticed interview with WSYR radio, Hillary has finally spoken out on the bogus Pelosi-to-Syria controversy, defending the Speaker from the phony charges being lodged against her by the GOP and the White House...
    Perhaps a reader can provide an answer to this: Is this the first time this has happened? Has a Democrat ever stood up for another Democrat before today?

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    January 25, 2007

    Doing The RIGHT Thing

    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.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:41 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    How Long DID The Right Let Us Love Obama?

    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?

    ... 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?

    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."

    "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.

    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."

    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,
    "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.

    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?

    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:
    Essential facts ALL should know concerning Barack Obama

    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.

    Naturally 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.

    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?

    ... "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."

    (Note CNN's refutation of this false story.)

    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.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    January 24, 2007

    The Webb Scenario

    Scenario: no candidate emerges from the primaries with enough delegates to win the Democratic Party nomination for President on the first ballot at the convention. Eventually Senator James Webb is chosen to be the nominee.

    In case you missed it last night:

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:42 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    January 16, 2007

    Marketing Conservatism and Corporatism

    "Conservatives and their ideas are good, liberals and their ideas are bad."

    You hear the message repeated a thousand different ways, over and over, every day. It is a strategy, an organized marketing campaign to create demand for conservatives, their policies and their candidates. Over time and unanswered, it sinks into the brain.

    The fact is, marketing creates demand. So after decades of this, people start to demand conservative policies and candidates and their politicians just ride that wave. In some areas conservative candidates can just point and shout, "liberal, liberal" and win elections. We see the results all around us - trillions of OUR dollars flow to the top. Our resources are "privatized" into the hands of corporations. We work longer hours for lower pay, losing our health insurance and pensions and rights... Our environment is polluted and our resources extracted.

    Repeat: this is a strategic marketing campaign to get people to accept being ruled by wealthy corporatists. Marketing creates demand. Repetition drives a point home.

    Today's example just came in the morning e-mail. Read this and you'll see that it follows the same tired script: liberals and their ideas are bad, and conservatives and their ideas are good. Marketing creates demand, and this is marketing, promoting conservative values and ideas and candidates.

    The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11

    "Why do they hate us?" Some conservatives, following President Bush, believe that Muslim anti-Americanism stems from irrational hatred of our freedom and democracy. Others lay the blame on our foreign policy. Now comes bestselling conservative author Dinesh D'Souza to argue that both views, while they contain elements of truth, miss the larger reason. In The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11, D'Souza makes the startling claim that the 9/11 attacks and other terrorist acts around the world can be directly traced to the ideas and attitudes perpetrated by America's cultural left.

    "In faulting the cultural left, I am not making the absurd accusation that this group blew up the World Trade Center and the Pentagon," D'Souza explains. "I am saying that the cultural left and its allies in Congress, the media, Hollywood, the non-profit sector, and the universities are the primary cause of the volcano of anger toward America that is erupting from the Islamic world. The Muslims who carried out the 9/11 attacks were the product of this visceral rage - some of it based on legitimate concerns, some of it based on wrongful prejudice, but all of it fueled and encouraged by the cultural left."

    In The Enemy at Home, D'Souza uncovers the links between the spread of America's decadent pop culture, leftist ideas, and secular values and the rise of virulent Anti-Americanism throughout the world. He shows how liberals are responsible for fostering -- and exporting -- a culture that angers and repulses not just Muslim countries but also traditional and religious societies around the world. He also reveals how liberals' outspoken opposition to American foreign policy -- especially our conduct of the war on terror -- contributes to the growing hostility, encouraging people both at home and abroad to blame America for the problems of the world.

    Though we are accustomed to thinking of the war on terror and the culture war as distinct and separate, D'Souza argues, they are really one and the same. Conservatives must recognize that the left is now allied with the Islamic radicals in a combined effort to defeat Bush's war on terror. A whole new strategy is therefore needed to fight both wars. It is only by curtailing the left's attacks on religion, family, and traditional values that we can persuade moderate Muslims and others around the world to cooperate with us and begin to shun the extremists in their own countries. In short, writes D'Souza, "to defeat the Islamic radicals abroad, we must defeat the enemy at home."

    This is horrible, lying, smearing propaganda, designed to incite hatred against half of America. And it works. We see this stuff in one form or another every single day. Conservatives bathe in it, but the regular public also is showered with it. The worst thing is, it is largely unanswered. People in some parts of the country never hear an opposing viewpoint.

    In Are Progressives Good? Then TELL PEOPLE! I wrote,

    So it is time to change the game. It is time to start funding organizations that talk to the public about the benefits that progressive values and ideas and policies and candidates bring to them. $1000 given today toward building public appreciation of progressive values could have greater impact than $100,000 spent in support of a candidate in the days before an election.
    And I closed that piece by writing,
    Marketing creates demand. Let’s create a demand for progressive values and ideas and policies and candidates.

    The Commonweal Institute wants to tell people that progressive values and ideas and policies and candidates are good for them. (Commonweal means "the public good" or "the common good.")

    As I wrote the other day, I am an unpaid Commonweal Institute Fellow. Let's change that. Click here to help.

    Marketing and repetition work, so Click here to help

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

    December 27, 2006

    Ford's Mistake

    Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon, which prevented a full criminal investigation and trial. He felt it would help to heal the country, which had been through assassinations, riots and the divisive Vietnam war. But the pardon had the unintended consequence of creating an impression that those in the highest office really aren't accountable to the public if their actions violate the law.

    Four years later the Reagan administration picked up right where Nixon's had left off, and got caught. Other select insiders made the decision not to pursue Reagan.

    As chair of the Select Committee to Investigate Covert Arms Transactions with Iran, Hamilton chose not to investigate President Ronald Reagan or President George H. W. Bush, stating that he did not think it would be "good for the country" to put the public through another impeachment trial.
    At a time when thousands were being sent away for years for smoking a joint or doing a line, the country was learning that things really are different for those at the very top.

    Bush1 then pardoned everyone involved, especially those being pressured by Lawrence Walsh to testify against him for his own possibly criminal part in it. The public got the message clearly that time.

    So by the time Clinton took office the public was ready to believe that all of the country's leaders are corrupt and pay no price for it. The conservatives had an opening to demand that a President finally be held to account. It's the old Seeing the Forest Rule: Republicans accuse others of what they are in fact doing themselves. They accused Clinton of everything, but the investigations found nothing. They impeached him anyway. Now the public understood just who the rules were for and not for. After what Nixon, Reagan and Bush1 had gotten away with, Clinton didn't even have to break any rules, yet he was impeached.

    And so here we are. Bush2 can do anything with impunity - and says so with a smirk. His cronies loot, lie and steal. The public and especially the Washington insider class are conditioned to accept that this is the way things are done. All partly tracable back to Ford's subversion of accountability. A mistake. A big one.

    Let's learn from Ford's mistake. HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE! Demand that the actions of those in power in the last six years are investigated and any crimes discovered are punished to the fullest extent of the law. Let's set the country and democracy back on course.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:23 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    December 20, 2006

    Expose Right-Wing Radicals

    Kevin Drum said something smart:

    Most people -- including a lot of rank-and file Republicans, I think -- simply don't realize just how radical the modern, Texified GOP is. But with majority control Democrats now have the institutional power to expose this at every turn, and Republicans have far less ability to hide it. If they're smart, Dems will use this newfound power at every opportunity.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:47 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    America's Two Party System: The Marketing Party and The Product Party

    Co-written with James Boyce, first published at Huffington Post.

    We do have a two-party system in America: The Product Party and The Marketing Party. We have one party that spends its energy and its resources creating a product that will improve the lives of its supporters, and then we have a second party, one that invests its energy and its resources managing perception.

    One party offers substance but without the sizzle, and one is so incredibly adept at selling that it can charm you into supporting an agenda that helps only those who don't need it, and actually hurts you and your family.

    By mastering the management of perception and with an utter disregard for facts and reality, the Marketing Party's agenda and vision gets implemented - despite its horrendous consequences for the country, and the world. It has never been worse than it is now. The chasm between their vision, its consequences and the lifestyle and security of the average American is mind-boggling.

    Do not underestimate the power of marketing. With enough money, a good campaign and some time, you really can make people think and do almost anything. Exactly why do you think Coke and Pepsi outsell all the other brands - because their sugar water is vastly superior to others? Exactly why do you think one brand of shampoo is "premium" and another is $5 a gallon - is it because they have different ingredients? No, it is because marketing works, especially on a public increasingly trained to respond.

    Marketing works so well that some businesses have grown so accustomed to looking for marketing solutions rather than product solutions that they have developed a mindset that it is cheaper to manage perceptions than to fix a product. If people think the product tastes bad - market it as the best-tasting product and make the rubes think THEY're the problem. The result is they can spend millions on the symptoms and nothing on the disease.

    Our "CEO President" Bush appears to be cut from this mold. As it became clear that the Iraq occupation wasn't proceeding as intended, Bush didn't change the product - he changed the sell.

    The administration spent $20,000,000 on hiring a PR firm to plant positive stories in the press - instead of spending $20 million on body armor to actually reduce the casualties that fostered the public relations disaster. It created "Vets For Freedom" and planted bloggers among the troops in Iraq to send back positive posts. President Bush made major speech after major speech. And top officials made surprise trip to Iraq after surprise trip to Iraq.

    But now we are in a time with the marketing no longer is sufficient to solve the problems. Increasingly, the American people have stopped buying the sell. Just as the American automobile manufacturers are forced to increasing amounts of dollars selling a product that increasingly the public does not want to buy, so too did the Administration have to step up the marketing of a war that the public no longer is willing to support.

    Sadly, the past two weeks have showcased the collision of perception and reality. Tragically, the administration continues to hold a cult-like belief in the power of perception management, regardless of circumstances and the politically acceptable options that it has provided itself.

    The Iraq Study Group recently came forward with a lifeline for the administration, but their recommendations did not sync with the administration's vision for a moment of victory - again, cheaper to change the marketing. So instead of working with the ISG, Baker and other members were - characteristically - smeared in the right-wing's echo chamber to "soften up" public perceptions in advance of the coming Bush rejection of their advice.

    Last week, James appeared as a guest on MSNBC's show THE MOST, and was asked how President Bush could improve the "public's impression" of the war. He said,

    "The president doesn't have a problem with the perception of the war, the President has a problem with the facts. ... Eventually the product has to speak for itself, and I think the American People are rapidly coming to the conclusion that we have an Edsel on our hands here. They want a solution, they don't need a new slogan."

    Between us, we have more than forty years experience in marketing and advertising, and we both know, all too well, that it is exceedingly common for companies to approach product failures as marketing and advertising failures - it allows them to continue to live in denial about the weakness of their product.

    With today's Republicans the first instinct is always about the marketing, and not about the country. According to Bob Woodward, Karen Hughes reportedly said, when she first saw the smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center, that it was "the perfect backdrop" for a photo opportunity. Even in tragedy, the instinct is toward the marketing instead of the managing.

    In the current tragedy the Bush image makers continue to search for the photo-op moment in Iraq. They are looking for the right image - the kiss in Times Square from World War II or the Japanese Admirals on the deck of the aircraft carrier, signing a treaty.

    The fact that no such moment exists or ever will exist only increases their desire for it.

    Why is their first instinct to market rather than to manage? And how exactly have they gotten away with this total management of perception? How have they been able to sell the American people over the past five years?

    The answer may lie in the study of how the "conservative movement" took control of the Republican Party. As Dave wrote last week in Are Progressives Good? Then TELL PEOPLE!,

    There are literally hundreds of conservative organizations that primarily exist to persuade the public to support conservative ideas (and, therefore, conservative candidates.) The people you see on TV or hear on the radio or who write op-eds in newspapers are paid by, or at the very least draw upon resources provided by, these organizations.

    You might or might not have heard of the Heritage Foundation or the Cato Institute or Americans for Tax Reform or the This Institute or the That Foundation or the Government-and-Taxes-Are-Bad Association - but there really is a machine or network of well-funded conservative organizations marketing the conservatives-are-good-and-liberals-and-government-are-bad propaganda every hour of every day and they have been doing so for decades.

    Yes, marketing. They have been doing this solidly for over three decades and they've been doing it well, and with an incredible amount of money, resources and talent behind it.

    The people in power in the Republican Party got there by marketing and perception management, and using a $ell and $mear strategy to demolish and humiliate their opponents, and that is what they know. They come from a culture of saying anything as long as it keeps the rubes buying. Why would a company spend all that money to clean up the product when you can instead spend less and sell the idea that Toxic Sludge is Good For You.

    The conservative movement understands this. They understand if they are going to cut student loans, hand over the management of Social Security, arguably the most successful government assistance program in our history, to the private sector, give away valuable public resources and then, on top of everything else, wage a war without reason or basis, the spend must be astronomical.

    The American people are a living focus group to the success of their plan. The past thirty years has seen a slow and steady decline in the public's understanding and acceptance of progressive values - like equal rights for all our citizens or the acceptance of all religions.

    It's important to point out another old expression: great products sell themselves. And while in practice, it holds that to reach great heights, great marketing combined with great products is actually the key - think Apple and the iPod - the better the product, the less marketing dollars need to be applied to drive sales. YouTube, Facebook, MySpace... If you're selling the best made car in America, the press reviews, customer loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing greatly enhances your paid advertising. If you're selling a lemon, you better have tens of millions to spend.

    This brings us to the other party in our two-party system - the well-meaning Product Party that doesn't understand marketing. The Product Party stands in bewilderment as time and time again, The Marketing Party works its perception management magic to win elections, control the debate and lead the media and public to diss its leaders and policies. As Dave wrote last week,

    We can see the results of the conservative marketing campaign all around us: War. Debt. Crumbling infrastructure. Falling wages. Loss of pensions. Loss of health insurance. Declining union membership. Massive trade deficits. Distrust of government, courts, schools and other institutions of community. The list just goes on and on.

    But really, after decades of conservatives pounding out their message and progressives keeping their message to themselves, what should we expect?

    And to make this problem worse, the Marketing Party is very good at shifting the blame for their bad product. For example: take a moment and look at the reality of the financial mess that is being handed to the new Congress - it is stunning. And yet, if the Democrats don't explain this clearly and succinctly to the American people, the result will be that the mess will land - squarely - in the wrong party's lap.

    The Product Party's product is responsible and involved government: a government that can fix the schools and patch up the potholes. A government that would actually practice hurricane rescue not just preach it.

    The Katrina debacle laid bare the failure of the right wing's anti-government agenda. The reason they didn't do anything for the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast is they don't really care. Government - or product - is just not what they do - marketing is.

    However, they cared deeply when they began to lose the public relations battle - like 9/11 and Iraq, the reality is inconsequential - managing the perception of the reality is paramount.

    The Product Party is known for fiscal management and international diplomacy and building mass transit and roads and bridges and schools. This is the party that brought us the middle class and the weekend and Social Security and inspections for e-coli.

    But the Product Party is a political party full of boring policy "wonks" holding community meetings where hours are spent arguing the best and most democratic ways to provide services and, well, fix those potholes and even working on the finer points of health care finance administration management policies subsection 3, paragraph... ... and who wants to hear about THAT?

    So where the people in the Marketing Party got there using marketing pizzaz, the people in the Product Party got there by plugging away and delivering a product. They're not the most adept at marketing. Whereas the people from the Marketing Party don't understand - or care - about the actual product, apparently the people in the Product Party don't understand - or care - about marketing - reaching and persuading the public. Democrats have long had the product but are woefully unskilled in the marketing and the willingness to spend and support the marketing. There is something to the idea of marketing and selling people on something that goes against the nature of the wonky democracy idealists of the Product Party.

    Which leads to their problem. Don't people realize that almost all the veteran leaders in America are Democrats? They ask this - thinking of Max Cleland, Wes Clark, John Kerry, Joe Sestak, Chris Carney, Tim Walz, Jim Webb and more. Don't people understand the Democrats want to raise the minimum wage, improve health care, make global warming a priority, enact the recommendations of the 9/11 commission and more? Don't the understand how much better the Democratic product is for their families and the future?

    No, the people don't.

    Because you can't just be the party that does the boring work of cleaning up the toxic waste left behind by that wrecking crew - the people known for marketing, selling and heading for the county line. If you want the public to understand what you are about you have to be the party that does the work, and communicates the fact in clear simple English to voters who have better things to do with their lives than listen to the nuances of toxic waste policy.

    In fact, The Product Party is not only running against the sell and smear tactics of the right, they're running against a coordinated program that says "government itself is bad." The Republicans have spent 40 years running down government. Ronald Reagan famously said that "government is the problem" and then left for the county line leaving us with 4 trillion of debt. George W. Bush, the "CEO President" emulated Enron, and implemented "no-bid" contracts while the Republican Congress got rid of the system of oversight.

    So what can be done? The Democrats have to understand that people respond to marketing, and that building a better product doesn't always mean that the people will flock to you if they don't find out about it. They must remain the party of the Product, but they also need to be the party of the Marketing. Only we can be both, the Republicans can not.

    Why? Because the last six years has not only demonstrated the Republican mastery of their marketing but it has shown the misery of the product. From not implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission to the absolute abandonment of our fellow Americans in the aftermath of Katrina, and the outrageous lies regarding the solvency of Social Security, the product that we are being sold is dangerous and destructive. "You can't fool all the people all the time." And on November 7, 2006, the marketing plan fell apart.

    So now the Product Party has the ball and there is no question that the Democrats will deliver the goods. However, the danger lies not in the performance but in the perception of the performance and especially in how we clearly communicate the mess we inherited.

    If Democratic leaders believe that all we have to do do is do a better job, and surely the American voters will reward us with the White House in 2008 and continued control of Congress, watch out.

    Our moment in the sun, and moment in power, will be very short-lived indeed.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    December 18, 2006

    Who Will Be Our 'Bar Fight' Candidate?

    Matt Stoller has a great post at MyDD, The Bar Fight Primary. He writes about looking for a candidate with the core progressive instincts you want backing you up in a bar fight.

    When Ronald Reagan announced his Presidential run in 1980, he did it in Philadelphia, Mississippi, the town where three Civil Rights workers were killed. ... Reagan, a genial and sunny Californian, could have it both ways because he had proved to the base that he was 'with them'. Opening his campaign on a site that fully repudiated equal rights for blacks, that in a very real sense murdered liberals, was a way of saying to the emergent right-wing Confederate base that 'I am with you, I hate who you hate'. ... It was a statement that Reagan would play the role of President, but in a bar fight, in a close vote, where it really mattered, in all those small appointments, his sympathies would instinctively lean towards his base.
    He says now we need a leader like that, one we know is with US,
    We need a leader committed to responsible governance, anti-cronyism, social justice, an expansion of the Bill of Rights to include infrastructure changes, and a humble and morally powerful foreign policy. But governing this way is not a matter of expressing the desire for unity and hope to all Americans, but expressing solidarity with the people who will help create such an America. Those people are liberals. We are the ones who want a different America, and who will help build it and push the right out of the way.

    [. . .] Just as Reagan said he'd unify the country by pushing the liberals out of the way, we need someone who will unify the country by pushing irresponsible right-wing power centers out of the way. They crushed our unions, we need to crush their talk radio, you know, that kind of thinking.

    Who does he see on his side in a bar fight? So far there's Clark and maybe Edwards:
    In a bar fight, Obama and Hillary are not on our side.

    [. . .] There are two candidates who can pass the bar fight primary. One of them, Wes Clark, passes the test clearly. He is a genuine liberal, and has fought the right clearly and consistently for the last four years, most recently in Connecticut when he was the only real surrogate against Lieberman. ... And then there's John Edwards. I think Edwards is split. He's spent much of his time working with unions, on the road, in low-key meetings. Elizabeth Edwards has done outreach to bloggers, so there's at least acknowledgment of the dirty hippy crew. He's announcing in New Orleans, which is dog whistle politics on our issues. He knows he was wrong on the war, and feels our betrayal. Unlike Clark, though, I still haven't seen him stand up for us in a real way. I haven't seen him attack McCain, for instance, or go after the politicians who supported the Bankruptcy Bill. I haven't seen him challenge any right-wing interests in a serious way, and so while I acknowledge he's in the ball park, he's not there yet.

    BUT he says this about Bill Clinton, and I want to come to Clinton's defense:

    Without a real commitment to weaken irresponsible elite actors, 'unity' simply means a replay of Clinton, only without the credit and power that we had in the 1990s, and with a much more advanced case of global climate catastrophe, peak oil, and nuclear terrorism capacity on its way.
    And later,
    Clinton was a very smart President who thought that he and his small crew had all the answers. We know now that he (and all of us) misunderstood the nature of the role. It isn't the job of the next President to have all the answers, that's up to the American people. It's up to the next President to show that he's going to clear the way for us to take back our country.
    I'd like to come to President Clinton's defense a bit. Sure, with hindsight we can see some things Clinton should have done. But remember - he didn't even have US. He didn't have anyone watching his back and he knew it. Few Dems back then were ready to take a hit for progressive policies, and there was no organized progressive base to fight for those things. He should have started building that - yes. But that was the 90s and the fact is most of the leadership of the big organizations and the Dems still today don't get it about the right and about how there isn't a majority progressive base anymore and that we need to market to the public to rebuild one. That's why the netroots is what it is.

    President Clinton had a Republican Congress and that 1990s Democratic Party. When he got in he did have the Dems, but he wanted to start with camaign finance reform and they wouldn't. He wanted a BTU tax and they wouldn't. Etc. So politically, Clinton recognized some realities - the country HAD been moved to the right, the Dem party and old progressive structure was almost useless, so he was a politician and played to where reality was. Hence his "triangulation" strategy - to manage public perceptions while fighting for a degree of progressive advancement in policies.

    Matt is correct that Bill Clinton failed to BUILD a movement for us -- to work to CHANGE where reality was. That is somewhat hindsight. No one else did either. As I said, that is what the netroots is about. It wasn't until the middle of his second term that we all started to get an inkling of what the "conservative movement" was about, the funding and organization of it, etc. Remember it was Hillary who coined the term "Vast Right Wing Conspiracy," and that was based on some of the early research into what was going on. And NONE of us were getting it yet and responding yet. We are now. It is slowly starting to make a difference. So that's why I say hindsight and give Clinton some credit.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    December 15, 2006

    Are Progressives Good? Then TELL PEOPLE!

    Every time you turn on the radio or a cable news show you hear one form or another of the same old message, “conservatives and their ideas are good and liberals and their ideas are bad.” Think about how often you hear one or another variation of that theme.

    But how often do you hear that liberals and progressives are good? How often do you hear that liberal/progressive ideas are better for people than a conservative approach? And if you are reading this you're looking for progressive ideas. So how often do you think the general public is hearing that progressives and their values and ideas are good?

    The public does not hear our side of the story very often – if ever.

    Why is that? Maybe it’s because we aren’t telling people our side of the story!

    There are literally hundreds of conservative organizations that primarily exist to persuade the public to support conservative ideas (and, therefore, conservative candidates.) The people you see on TV or hear on the radio or who write op-eds in newspapers are paid by, or at the very least draw upon resources provided by these organizations. You might or might not have heard of the Heritage Foundation or the Cato Institute or Americans for Tax Reform or the This Institute or the That Foundation or the Government-and-Taxes-Are-Bad Association – but there really is a network of well-funded conservative organizations marketing the conservatives-are-good-and-liberals-and-government-and-democracy-are-bad propaganda every hour of every day and they have been doing so for decades.

    Click this link to visit a collection of links to articles, studies, reports and other resources for learning about the right-wing movement, its history, how it is funded and how it operates.

    Now, can you think of any organizations that exist to tell the public that progressive values and ideas and policies and candidates are good? Do you know about any organized effort to persuade people to support progressive values and ideas?

    People respond to marketing, and conservatives have been marketing their cause while progressives have not. This has been going on for decades, and as a result of this the public’s understanding and acceptance of progressive values - like democracy and community - has eroded. We can see the results of the conservative marketing campaign all around us: War. Debt. Crumbling infrastructure. Falling wages. Loss of pensions. Loss of health insurance. Declining union membership. Massive trade deficits. Distrust of government, courts, schools and other institutions of community. The list just goes on and on.

    But really, after decades of conservatives pounding out their message and progressives keeping their message to themselves, what should we expect?

    So it is time to change the game. It is time to start funding organizations that talk to the public about the benefits that progressive values and ideas and policies and candidates bring to them. $1000 given today toward building public appreciation of progressive values could have greater impact than $100,000 spent in support of a candidate in the days before an election.

    Helping the public understand and accept progressive values will help the efforts of "issue organizations" like environmental groups, pro-choice groups, and others. As the public comes to understand and accept the underlying progressive values they will naturally support organizations that promote particular issues that are based on those values. And as the public begins to demand progressive solutions to problems the candidates they support will also naturally support the efforts of these organizations.

    Marketing creates demand. Let’s create a demand for progressive values and ideas and policies and candidates.

    The Commonweal Institute wants to tell people that progressive values and ideas and policies and candidates are good for them. (Commonweal means "the public good" or "the common good.")

    As I wrote the other day, I am an unpaid Commonweal Institute Fellow. Let's change that. Click here to help.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:07 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    December 8, 2006

    Don't Like The Democratic Party? Then BECOME The Democratic Party!

    This is California-specific, but the same applies where YOU live. The Party really IS democratic. The party is only the people who show up at meetings and vote. Go look up how to BECOME the Party in your state!

    And read MyDD :: Silent Revolution: Become The California Democratic Party. (Note - Chris BECAME the Democratic Party where HE lives, in Pennsylvania.)

    About one in every seven or eight members of the netroots is from California. Given this, the upcoming elections for the Democratic State Central Committee of California should be of great importance to the netroots. If my little reformer ward in Philadelphia can sneak two members onto the Pennsylvania State Democratic committee through a local write-in campaign, we the netroots should be able to put several new reform Democrats in the California Democratic Party with more than a month to campaign. Here are the details:
    The California Democratic Party is governed by the Democratic State Central Committee (DSCC) of California, membership of which is a two-year position going from odd-year Convention to odd-year Convention. Starting with the November 2006 election, the state party starts its reorganization, determining the new DSCC, which meets for the first time at the April 27-29, 2007 Convention in San Diego. As the DSCC members meet annually at the State Party Conventions, they are also referred to as delegates to the State Party.
    Go read, and get involved. BECOME the party. BECOME the government!

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:40 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    November 28, 2006

    Create A New Moderate Center

    There is this idea that a "centrist" position is a good thing, that we should take policy positions that are something in between the "extremes." This is "moderation." The thinking is something like, if the left is mad at you, and the right is mad at you, you must be doing something right.

    OK. So then doesn't it make sense for progressives to sponsor lots of far-far-far-out extremists? These extremists could call for things like actually eating the rich (maybe have recipe blogs), literally dividing up companies by having the police go in and take the desks and chairs and computers and hand them to the homeless, forcing Baptist ministers to have sex with their infant daughters, imposing the death penalty for driving, requiring LSD use in elementary schools -- all the things the conservatives already say liberals do... And maybe we could buy a TV network to put them on the air in front of the whole country like the Republicans did.


    This way the "moderate
    center" becomes somewhere between eating the rich and whatever the right is advocating? Clearly that is why the Republicans sponsor Ann Coulter to write things about killing journalists, etc. Maybe we should try it.

    But seriously, when are we all going to grow up, anyway? It's time to start actually thinking again.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:29 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    November 22, 2006

    How The Right Sells It

    In MyDD :: Pelosi's 100 Hours, kid oakland writes,

    "If the GOP had a 100 Hours program they'd be selling it like it was going out of style."
    We hear this all the time, "the Republicans" are doing something and "the Democrats" are not. For example, here Republicans would be selling a "100 hours" plan, and Democrats aren't.

    Yes, but... Let's examine the mechanism of that sell-job "the GOP" would be doing. First, it is not the Republican Party that does that sell-job. To me, this is a key point to understand if we're going to work on countering the conservatives and bringing the public back to understanding and accepting progressive values and ideas and candidates. It is not the Republican Party. And when you understand this point, you understand that it is not the Democratic Party that is falling down on selling progressive ideas.

    It is not the Republican Party, it is the "conservative movement" infrastructure that does the selling. It is the Heritage Foundation and the (oh-so-many) other marketing/communications think tanks. It is the anti-tax and anti-government organizations. It is the Christian Right organizations. It is the corporate lobbying groups that would be selling it. It is the right-wing media that would be selling it. Rush Limbaugh and 100 other radio talk-show hosts would be selling it. Fox News would be selling it. The Drudge Report would have headlines about it. The think tanks would be dispatching 100 pundits to the TV news shows to be selling it. The Ann Coulters and the Cal Thomases and Jerry Falwells would be selling it. There would be professionally-crafted op-eds in every newspaper selling it. There would be an organized letter-to-the-editor campaign selling it. There would be e-mail chain letters selling it. There would be anonymous posts on internet sports forums selling it. There would be PR firm-produced-and-placed YouTube videos selling it. There would be strategically-placed MySpace friends selling it. They would ALL be selling it, in concert, using the same polled-and-focus-group-tested talking points, repeating the same message over and over and over... But they are not the Republican Party.

    So don't blame the Democrats! That doesn't help you think about how progressives can counter this. When you think about how things like the first 100 hours (or the Contract for America) are sold and about how the public is persuaded to accept ideas and policies and candidates in general, stop blaming "the Democrats" for falling own on the job. Instead, look at how the conservatives do it and think about the infrastructure they have that progressive do not have. Conservatives have these marketing/communication organizations that reach out to the general public - progressive do not. They have the scores of media-trained pundits ready to go on TV or radio at a moment's notice - progressives do not. They have the op-ed writers and direct lines to the editors who accept them - progressives do not. They have an entire infrastructure designed around reaching the public and persuading them. And they fund it. THAT is how you persuade the public.

    Progressives do not.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:00 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    November 17, 2006

    Always Add the 'Because'

    I frequently say, Always add the 'because.' What I mean is, drive the point home, don't make your listener guess. When you cite something bad that the conservatives do, add the "because" that ties it to core right-wing philosophy, and explain why it's the philosophy that's bad and led to the bad thing that is in the news. Make the deeper point -- not just a complaint about the current event. For example, Republicans screwed up Katrina BECAUSE conservatives don't believe in government, they believe in a "you're on your own, dog-eat-dog, everyone out for themselves" philosophy that is not good for regular people. But progressives believe we're all in this together and in watching out for and sticking up for each other.

    This right-wing post makes my same point. They take a shocking incident, and then explain why you should TIE IT TO THE LARGER LESSON. This happened 'BECAUSE.' Cartoon Porn at Swarthmore College - The Right Angle @ HumanEvents.com,

    ...The mistake conservatives too often make in denouncing incidents like this is to focus on the superficial and ignore the underlying philosophy. This sort of thing is gross, perverse, juvenile, and offensive, to be sure, and we can (and do) score rhetorical points with the general public by saying so. But if that is all we do, we will lose, as evidenced by the steady coarsening of our culture.

    ... The leaders of American culture no longer see anything wrong with sleeping around before marriage, getting divorced, having an abortion, getting remarried, and finally reproducing via in vitro fertilization at the age of 38 -- making sure to screen the embryos for any potential problems before implantation. When that’s accepted, how can we possibly expect outrage over a few crude chalk cartoons? What there is can only arise from those who haven’t yet acquiesced to the implications of their beliefs.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:19 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    November 13, 2006

    Dumping Bad News Into the Next Two Years

    I co-authored a post at Huffington Post with Michelle Kraus: The Blog | Michelle Kraus: Plan B: On Taking Down the Quarter... Democrats Take Notice, looking at the possibility that the Bush administration will start dumping all the saved-up bad news into the next two year, hoping Democrats get the blame. Corporations, knowing they're going to have a bad quarter anyway, often dump all the bad news they can find into that quarter...

    Democrats Take Notice

    Think long and hard about Bush and the announcements made the day of the Democratic victory Wednesday of last week. Rumsfeld's firing had the "take no prisoners" demeanor of a Titan of industry cutting the fat from his earnings loss. Could this action presage a continued corporate approach to handling the Democratic takeover of the House and Senate?

    CEOs, knowing they are going to report a bad quarter, often throw all the "bad news" they can into that quarter. They write down all the losses they can dig up, and instead of reporting a bad quarter they report a really bad quarter and take it all in the shorts at the same time. This clears the books, and they can start fresh the next quarter to the applause of Wall Street.

    Is this an analogy for what Bush is planning to do to the Democrats? There is a lot of "bad news" that has been saving up for the last six years ... massive deficits, a huge trade deficit year-after-year with its resulting highest-in-history current accounts imbalance, the housing bubble, the deteriorating Iraq war -- all individually damaging, but grouped together enough to drag the whole country down. And now the administration has the Democrats in both Houses to blame for the consequences of the (lack of) policies of this lame duck President and his band of buffoons.

    Earlier this year Bush suspended oil purchases for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which brought down the price of a barrel of oil for the elections. Now the price will begin to escalate again and the price of gas will top $3.00 again soon. The Chinese and other central banks are diversifying away from the dollar and the dollar is falling. The nation's savings rate has been negative for five quarters and the GDP last quarter was an anemic 1.6%. The stage is set.

    Rumsfeld's firing and the Baker commission only address Iraq and "the market's" perception of that business unit. Undoubtedly, Iraq was the straw that broke this election and in business terms -- the market's rejection of the company's stock price. It is when one pulls back the curtain and the economic framework of the country is revealed in all its global fragility that the dirty little secrets of this administration will spin out of control. As we said, there is a LOT of bad news saved up for Bush to dump on the Democrats - and the country. The Democrats will need to have a coherent long term plan and powerful leadership to withstand these assaults.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:41 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    November 9, 2006

    50-State Strategy Won The Senate

    The Netroots/Dean strategy of running candidates in every district is why Democrats now control the Senate. Running a candidate in a Congressional district puts people on the streets, mailers in the mailboxes and ads on the air, building support for Democrats.

    In Virginia and Montana Democrats won by a small margin. Running candidates in "losing" districts certainly accounts for that margin. The same factor aplies to other statewide offices and ballot initiatives.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:36 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    October 22, 2006


    Go see these ads! Here: Daily Kos: "I'm A Democrat" and below the fold. They're only on YouTube so send the URLs to people so they can see them, too. Better:


    Medicine: (It's about stem cell research)


    From the YouTube site:
    A parody of the PC/Mac ads created and written by John Kramer, Directed by Jeff Hadick, Produced by Shannon O'Neil, camera by Sam Locke and starring Aaron Sjoholm as the Democrat and Shawn Girvan as the Rockstar Republican. With Special co-stars Sherman Edwards (African American Voter) and John Tolley (Halloween.) Thanks to Ryan Miera, Alison Riley and all our friends at The Second City!

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:31 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    October 13, 2006

    FEAR and Elections

    I have been hearing ads on the radio talking about what to do to prepare for a possible terrorist attack, and directing peope to this government site: Ready.gov - Prepare. Plan. Stay Informed.

    I wonder why the Bush administration chooses now to remind everyone to be prepared...

    And on a completely, absolutely unrelated point, check out this GREAT post at DailyKos, The Science Behind Scaring The Bejeebers Out Of Voters

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:07 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    October 1, 2006

    It's The Turnout, Stupid!

    Step one, spend millions to saturate the airwaves with the nastiest, ugliest smears and trash of "negative ads" until NO ONE wants to vote for any Democrat.

    Then step two, get your own voters to the polls: Pastors Guiding Voters to GOP - Los Angeles Times,

    With a pivotal election five weeks away, leaders on the religious right have launched an all-out drive to get Christians from pew to voting booth. Their target: the nearly 30 million Americans who attend church at least once a week but did not vote in 2004.

    ... The Rev. Rick Scarborough, a leading evangelical in Texas, has recruited 5,000 "patriot pastors" nationwide to promote an agenda that aligns neatly with Republican platforms. "We urge them to avoid legal entanglement, but there are times in a pastor's life when he needs to take a biblical stand," Scarborough said. "Our higher calling is to Christ."

    The campaign encourages individual pastors to use sermons, Bible studies and rallies to drive Christians to the polls — and, by implication or outright endorsement, to Republican candidates. One online guide to discussing the election in church, produced by the Focus on the Family ministry, offers this tip: If a congregant says her top concerns are healthcare and national security, suggest that Jesus would make abortion and gay marriage priorities.

    At a recent rally in Pennsylvania, Focus on the Family founder James C. Dobson told a crowd of 3,000 that it would be "downright frightening" if Republicans lost control of Congress. If there's a good Christian on the ballot, he said, failing to vote "would be a sin."

    ... Political preaching has been particularly fervent this season in Ohio, where two conservative mega-churches have promoted the Republican candidate for governor, J. Kenneth Blackwell. They've featured him in at least six rallies that blended patriotic appeals with Christian revival.

    ... Some of this fall's efforts are aimed at energizing politically active but disillusioned Republicans who might otherwise stay home. But Hanna is particularly eager to reach the 30 million regular churchgoers, and an overlapping group of 19 million evangelicals, who did not vote in 2004. Their indifference to politics is "either a tragedy or a scandal," he said, but he's certain it can be overcome.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:30 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    September 12, 2006

    Gas Prices After Election?

    Gas Prices are dropping -- just in time for the election. AAA Says Gas Prices Keep Falling; Down 42 Cents Since Reaching Highest Price This Year,

    The nationwide average price of self-service regular gasoline is continuing to fall and is 42 cents lower than it was on August 7; the date prices reached their highest point this year of $3.036 per gallon.
    What do you think will happen to gas prices after the election?

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:13 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    September 11, 2006

    Limbaugh on CBS News - Word-For-Word Matches New Republican Ads

    Media Matters - CBS gave Limbaugh a platform to attack nameless "critics" who are "not interested in victory," offer his definition of "patriotism",

    Summary: In a "Free Speech" segment on the CBS Evening News, Rush Limbaugh attacked unnamed critics who are "not interested in victory" over what he termed "Islamofascism" and who do not conform to his definition of "patriotism," specifically those who "are more interested in punishing this country over a few incidents of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay than they are in defeating those who want to kill us."
    The new Republican/PFA ad message: "These people want to kill us."

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:04 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    September 10, 2006

    Republican Ad Echos 'Path To 9/11' Theme

    After writing the post below I replayed the new Republican/PFA ad and noticed something. The ad says,

    “Many times before 9/11 al Queda attacked America and we took little action."
    Interesting how this lie exactly corresponds to the theme of ABC's Path to 9/11. Interesting how the ad is rolled out at the same time.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    Election Prediction Update

    OK, we're wrapping up the first week of election campaign season, which traditionally begins on Labor Day. How is my July Election Prediction holding up so far? Here is what I wrote then,

    Here is my election prediction.

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

    So far we're right on schedule. And remember, Path to 9/11, in which a major TV network tells the public that Clinton was responsible for terrorism, and Bush was a hero trying to prevent the attacks, is only the very beginning. Watch the first PFA ad that will be saturating the airwaves, and read this article, In a Pivotal Year, GOP Plans to Get Personal; Millions to Go to Digging Up Dirt on Democrats, for just a glimpse at next week.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    September 9, 2006

    A Must-Read

    Everyone involved in politics (or marketing), or concerned about politics (or marketing), should go read this. Daily Kos: Madison Ave. Ad Exec Reveals How GOP Wins Elections

    The perception you create IS the reality! Take heart! If they perceive something despite obvious evidence to the contrary, you will be able to make them perceive any number of things! Including your point of view! Rove knows this and uses it -- you must too!

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:22 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    September 8, 2006

    ABC 'Path To 9/11' Connected To Ongoing Effort To Blame Clinton

    According to Max Blumenthal at Huffington Post, Republican strategist (and Karl Rove friend) David Horowitz was involved from the start in ABC's Path to 9/11 smear blaming Clinton for 9/11. This is significant because Horowitz has been involved for some time in a strategic PR effort to shift blame for 9/11 from Bush to Clinton. According to a Feb. 26, 2002 story in O'Dwyer's PR Daily, titled "PR CAMPAIGN BLAMES CLINTON FOR SEPT. 11 ATTACKS",

    The Center for the Study of Popular Culture, in Los Angeles, has begun a PR campaign to pin the blame of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the Clinton Administration.

    The Center has mailed copies of David Horowitz's new pamphlet entitled "How the Left Undermined America's Security," to about 1,500 media outlets on Feb. 19. Horowitz is president of the Center.

    The 46-page pamphlet charges that the U.S. national security interests were undermined by the left, leading to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11.

    From Eat The Press | Max Blumenthal: Discover the Secret Right-Wing Network Behind ABC's 9/11 Deception | The Huffington Post,
    In fact, "The Path to 9/11" is produced and promoted by a well-honed propaganda operation consisting of a network of little-known right-wingers working from within Hollywood to counter its supposedly liberal bias. This is the network within the ABC network. Its godfather is far right activist David Horowitz, who has worked for more than a decade to establish a right-wing presence in Hollywood and to discredit mainstream film and TV production. On this project, he is working with a secretive evangelical religious right group founded by The Path to 9/11's director David Cunningham that proclaims its goal to "transform Hollywood" in line with its messianic vision.

    ...With the LFF now under Horowitz's control, his political machine began drumming up support for Cunningham and Nowrasteh's "Untitled" project, which finally was revealed in late summer as "The Path to 9/11." Horowitz's PR blitz began with an August 16 interview with Nowrasteh on his FrontPageMag webzine. In the interview, Nowrasteh foreshadowed the film's assault on Clinton's record on fighting terror. "The 9/11 report details the Clinton's administration's response -- or lack of response -- to Al Qaeda and how this emboldened Bin Laden to keep attacking American interests," Nowrasteh told FrontPageMag's Jamie Glazov. "There simply was no response. Nothing."
    So it is becomming clear that ABC's Path To 9/11 is part of a long-term campaign to smear the Clinton administration - and by extension Democrats and others opposed to Bush's takeover. This is an attempt to distract public attention from Bush's own lack of concern about - and efforts to prevent - terrorism before 9/11.

    But remember, George Bush was given an August, 2001 document titled, "Bin Laden Determined To Attack Inside U.S." and left for vacation instead of doing anything about it. In contrast Bill Clinton was accused of having an "unhealthy American obscession" with terrorism while Republicans tried to block his administration's anti-terrorism efforts..

    This April 2, 2000 Washington Post article, An Obscure Chief in U.S. War on Terror, discusses the extent of Clinton's anti-terrorism efforts - which were ignored or even stopped after Bush took office. I am quoting extensively because of the contrast to the Horiwitz/Republican efforts to rewrite history.

    Four weeks before, Clarke had sketched out a plan on the whiteboard in his office at the National Security Council for neutralizing the latest threat from the Afghanistan-based Saudi exile. Approved by President Clinton and his top foreign policy advisers, Clarke's plan became the basis of administration efforts to prevent bin Laden supporters from ringing in the New Year with what officials believed could be dozens, perhaps hundreds, of American deaths in a series of simultaneous attacks from the Middle East to the West Coast.

    Central to Clarke's strategy was a major disruption effort, orchestrated by the CIA and implemented by friendly intelligence agencies around the world, aimed at harassing members of bin Laden's al Qaeda organization and forcing them onto the defensive. Other moves included putting the FBI on a heightened state of alert, dispatching counterterrorism teams to Europe and having the State Department issue an informal ultimatum to Afghanistan to keep bin Laden under control.

    ... As the national coordinator for infrastructure protection and counterterrorism, Clarke has presided over a huge increase in counterterrorism budgets over the past five years to meet a wide array of new--and some would argue, still hypothetical--challenges, such as cyber warfare or chemical or biological attacks in New York or Washington. Last month, the administration submitted an $11.1 billion request to Congress to strengthen "domestic preparedness" against a terrorist attack.

    ... Such talk irritates national security adviser Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger, Clarke's direct supervisor, who insists that the threat of large-scale terrorist attacks on U.S. soil is "a reality, not a perception." "We would be irresponsible if we did not take this seriously," he says. "I hope that in 10 years' time, they will say we did too much, not too little."

    Clarke's warnings about America's vulnerability to new kinds of terrorist attack have found a receptive ear in Clinton. With little fanfare, the president has begun to articulate a new national security doctrine in which terrorists and other "enemies of the nation-state" are coming to occupy the position once filled by a monolithic communist superpower. In January, he departed from the prepared text of his State of the Union address to predict that terrorists and organized criminals "with increasing access to ever more sophisticated chemical and biological weapons" will pose "the major security threat" to the United States in 10 to 20 years.

    ... He compares the current threat of global terrorism with the situation faced by Western democracies in the period leading up to World War II, when appeasement carried the day. Imagine what would have happened, he says, had Winston Churchill come to power in Britain five years earlier and "aggressively gone after" Nazi Germany. Hitler would have been stopped, but in all likelihood, Clarke says, Churchill would have gone down in history "as a hawk, as someone who exaggerated the threat, who saber-rattled and did needless things."

    Which is precisely what some of Clarke's critics have said about him.

    ... The latest administration request for $11.1 billion in counterterrorism funds--compared with $5.7 billion in 1996--includes $1.5 billion for defense against weapons of mass destruction and almost $2 billion for protection of computer networks, utility systems and other "critical infrastructure." The figures do not include intelligence spending, which remains classified.

    ... Clarke's authority derives in large measure from the fact that Clinton shares his area of interest. According to aides, the president is a voracious reader of popular books on terrorism...

    ... The U.S. budget to fight terrorism has grown by more than 90 percent over the past six years in response to a series of terror attacks at home and abroad. New programs have been launched to counter the threat of terrorists using nuclear, chemical or biological agents. But critics question how dangerous the threat remains. [All emphasis added]

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:17 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    September 7, 2006

    43% Believe Saddam Ordered 9/11

    Every single day Bush equates the Iraq occupation with the "War on Terror." You and I know that Iraq had NOTHING to do with 9/11. But 43% of the public is still fooled. The Republican messaging will only increase between now and November 7.

    From yesterday's CNN poll:

    Asked whether former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, 52 percent said he was not, but 43 percent said they believe he was. [emphasis added]
    Go watch this video clip in which Cenk fro The Young Turks instructs us on the proper attitude to have over this. Cenk writes about this at HuffPo today.
    This is a colossal failure on the part of the press. It is the job of the press to get information to the public. They have failed miserably. Five long years after September 11th, 43% of the country still believes Saddam Hussein was personally responsible for 9/11.

    Obviously, the mainstream media did a woeful job of communicating the truth to these people. This should be an everlasting mark of shame on the press. And it is not in the past - it is in the present. These people still believe Saddam did it. When is the press ever going to let them in on the truth?

    .. Recently Zogby conducted a poll of US troops fighting in Iraq. And in this group, 85% believe Saddam was responsible for 9/11. When in the world are we going to tell these poor kids the truth? Don't they deserve to know that they are fighting and dying for a lie?

    Crooks & Liars points out something,

    The poll also shows that the lower education someone has, the higher the chances they believe in the Saddam/9-11 connection.
    As well as other stuff the Republicans feed them, I bet.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    September 5, 2006

    The Set-Up - Right-Wingers Leave Comments, Then Complain About Them - Updated

    Here is an opportunity to watch a strategic narrative develop in real-time. Remember the other day when the Republican National Committee had a picture of Howard Dean with a Hitler mustache? Maybe that was a tip-off of something coming. The Republicans are trying to make the public think that liberals hate Jews.

    A few days ago several bloggers noticed a flurry of anti-Semitic comments suddenly showing up at their blogs. It was obvious that the next step would be widespread circulation of right-wing stories about those anti-Semitic liberals...

    And, right on schedue: HATEFUL 'MOVE' VS. JOE By MAGGIE HABERMAN - New York Post Online Edition: News,

    A string of anti-Semitic rants about Sen. Joe Lieberman have popped up on the liberal MoveOn.org's open forum Web site, drawing criticism from the Anti-Defamation League.
    And of course, the chorus chimes in, here, here, here, here, here, here, and I'll add as they show up...

    More here, here, here, here, here and here.

    RedState: Ned, Junior, and their hate-filled endorsement,

    The type of hatred evinced by MoveOn.org and by George Soros is dangerous.
    Right Voices, MoveOn.org and Hateful Jewish Slurs Aimed At Joe

    Free Republic, MoveOn.org: Hot-bed for Anti-Semitism

    OK, the larger echo chamber is kicking in now:

    FrontPage: Moving On to Anti-Semitism

    Update - Will we see this in the right-wing media? ADL Welcomes MoveOn.org's Responsiveness in Removing Anti-Semitic Messages,

    The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) welcomed the responsiveness of MoveOn.org Political Action in removing anti-Semitic messages that had been posted on the Action Forum on their Web site.

    In response to a letter of concern, Eli Pariser, Executive Director of MoveOn Political Action, has been in direct contact with ADL. He indicated that MoveOn.org found the comments abhorrent and had them removed.

    ADL is pleased with Mr. Pariser's responsiveness to our concerns and believes the matter has been resolved satisfactorily.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:12 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    August 30, 2006

    Gas Prices Dropping for Election

    Did I call it, or what? APRIL: Seeing the Forest: Bush Was BUYing Oil At These Prices!

    This also means, by the way, the perception that oil prices are dropping just as the election approaches.
    Did I call it? Come on, who's your daddy?

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:15 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    August 23, 2006

    Reaching Low-Information Voters

    The other day I wrote that many people probably don't understand that "GOP" means Republicans. And I often say that those of us who read blogs should keep reminding ourselves that we are hyper-informed, and most people are not. And, of course, we're reminded of this every time we hear that a huge percent of the public thinks WMD were found in Iraq, or that the 9/11 hijackers were Iraqis...

    Along these lines I recently came across an interesting article, "The Uninformed Bloc, at Democratic Strategist,

    So, to put it in provocative terms, how ignorant is the electorate? Bennett found that nearly one-third of adults were unaware that the Republican Party is more conservative than the Democratic Party. And lest the reader think that this is an expression of cynicism rather than a lack of knowledge, Bennett found that whether or not respondents knew there were major differences between the two parties was associated with the amount of knowledge they had of major politicians and the parties but not with their levels of governmental trust.

    Only one in ten adults knew who Denny Hastert is. Out of eight similar questions about politicians and the two parties, the average adult got just 4.5 right. One-third of adults said they follow politics “hardly at all” or “only now and then”.
    It's so important to understand that we are not the audience we need to reach. We think that others know what we know. And we get so far ahead of regular people in our online discussions that people tuning in for the first time can barely understand what we're talkig about -- or can't understand at all. Once, when pondering this I wrote,
    We think facts are important. But in fact most of the public knows very little about politics and the news and the issues and understands even less. Many of the people who bother to vote at all base their decisions on things that would make informed people like us just pass out if we heard them.

    The key to winning elections is learning how various groups of voters make their decisions, and being there with the information they need in the form they need it and in the channels where they receive it.

    Chris Bowers at MyDD discovered that when a certain percentage of people can identify one party as controlling Congress, that party loses seats in the next Congressional election. It doesn't even matter if they identify the correct party.

    On this subject I wrote previously,

    Regular people are in a different world than the one we are in, get their information in different ways, and retain information for different reasons. The better we understand and utilize this, the better off we will be at getting regular people to see things our way.

    So before we work to pump "facts" out there, we need to cover the basics. Let's start by making sure that the public identifies their troubles with Republicans.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:40 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    August 22, 2006

    Think That the Dems Will Win?

    Anyone thinking the Democrats are going to pick up the House or Senate this year had better read this from a year ago. For Democrats, a Troubling Culture Gap,

    Democrats Karl Agne and Stan Greenberg, who conducted the focus group, said Democrats need a reform-oriented, anti-Washington agenda to overcome the culture gap. At this point, Democrats are in no position to capitalize if there is a clear backlash against Republicans. "No matter how disaffected they are over Republican failures in Iraq and here at home," they said, "a large chunk of white, non-college voters, particularly in rural areas, will remain unreachable for Democrats at the national level."
    I haven't seen a reform-oriented agenda to overcome the cultural gap from the Democrats. Have you? More importantly there still is not any kind of coordinated campaign from non-Party organizations ("progressive infrastructure" (also see skippy part I, part II and video), that reaches out across America to regular voters and promote the benefits of progressive/liberal values and a progressive/liberal approach to issues.

    Without reaching out to the public, explaining WHY liberal and progressive values are better for them, nothing is going to be getting better. Why SHOULD the public think our values and ideas are worth considering when we aren't bothering to even TELL THEM what they ARE?? This is what the conservatives are doing -- you can't go anywhere without hearing, over and over, how conservatives are better than progressives or liberals, how their ideas are good and liberal ideas are bad, etc. The public is STILL not hearing anything to counter that.

    If you want to help do something about this, send Commonweal Institute a healthy, healthy check.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:28 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    August 21, 2006

    How To Win

    Republicans understand marketing. They understand about "low information voters." They know that the public wants a change - so they are campaigning by saying to the voters that voting for them "sends "A Message for Change".

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:17 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    August 15, 2006

    Blame Dems For Partisanship?

    I've been seeing signs, and I thnk we're going to see a strong, nationwide Republican effort to blame Democrats for the partisanship in politics. The Republicans have been saying "Dems are rabid Bush-hater partisans" as a ploy to win votes and I think this is going to become a drumbeat.

    People really are fed up with the rabid partisanship and nothing getting done for the public, and the Republicans understand this -- that's why they're being such rabid partisans. They know that the public doesn't pay attention and blames everyone equally for it so they're building the pressure.

    Don't forget the power of Bush's "I'm a uniter not a divider" messaging -- never mind that it was the Republicans who had impeached Clinton. The broad public just doesn't pay enough attention to differentiate WHO is doing it, all they know is politicians call each other names and aren't getting anything done and they don't like it. Leading up to the 2000 election the Republicans screeched until everyone was holding their ears. Bush came along and promised to do something about it, and got votes for promising that.

    So here's what I think might be about to happen: the Republicans continue to call everyone names. The public is sick of it. Then this fall they come to the public saying "vote for us because you don't like name-calling and we'll do something about it." That message has a huge appeal to an uninformed (or, more accurately, misinformed) public.

    BUT I'm also seeing signs that this anti-partisan push might instead come from a new "centrist" party, sort of a McCain/Lieberman backed by the Freidmans and Broders and the entire insider "centrist," "conventional wisdom" machine. But really it would be the corporate machine, corporate-funded, corporate PR, leaving the Republicans with their Christian-right fanatics and Progressives labelled "socialist" and "out of the mainstream." Sort of a "friendly fascism."

    My gut feeling is that would probably get about 40%, Republicans would keep about 30%, and Progressives no more than about 20% because they have no marketing/messaging infrastructure to counter what will be said about them.

    This is what I suspect we will be seeing a lot of: BostonHerald.com - Opinion & Editorial: When partisan polarizers win, nation loses

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:59 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    August 12, 2006

    Bolton --The Next Wedge

    Matt Stoller says the next big fight is over filibustering Bolton's nomination to be UN ambassador, which is really about Israel. I've been saying the Republicans plan to use Lieberman as a wedge to split Democrats, and Matt says Bolton is the tool..

    MyDD :: Bolton's Pull versus Lamont's Push, Matt says,

    We'll learn just how committed the Democratic Party insiders are to opposing Bush's foreign policy objectives in the wake of Ned Lamont's stunning victory.
    Go read all about it.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    August 9, 2006

    Ask Connecticut Republican Candidates

    Someone needs to ask Republican candidates in Connceticut if they agree with their party that,

    “Connecticut should have its statehood taken away from it. The foolishness of its pampered residents should be demonstrated to others by a government program to bulldoze the entire state, salt the land and construct a windfarm to supply NYC with electricity. And its residents should be relocated to Guantanamo Bay where they can take a number behind the 3 who hung themselves this weekend, since they seem so intent on suicide.”
    Let's hear them explain why they are running as Republicans in a state that Republicans hate.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:14 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    August 6, 2006

    Why Liberals Love Pedophiles

    Because right-wingers say so - that's why.

    How often do you hear one or another variation of the message that liberals are bad and conservatives are good? And how often do you hear messages that counter that? Right. That is because one side is marketing a viewpoint, and the other is not.

    At the right-wing Townhall.com, Why liberals love pedophiles

    "Since modern liberalism's true goal is the actual eradication of God, moral values, and the ideas of absolute right vs. wrong, it should surprise no one that not a single leftist politician in America has denounced [pedohile no one has ever heard of]. Nor did they denounce [pedohile no one has ever heard of]. The truth is liberals seek sexual utopia where no rules apply. Restraint has in fact become a dirty word to them. Self control - a throughly foreign concept.

    ... For liberals to denounce pedophiles, ultimately they would have to denounce, lesbianism, homsexuality, and their particular favorite - adultery. And that's just no going to happen.

    At the end of the day there are such a thing as moral values, and liberals despise them - because as they see it - those moral values limit their sexual freedoms. And if this is "America" - isn't it all about the freedom to get your groove on?

    Liberals love pedophiles.

    Isn't it shameful?

    And don't we all wish - that they loved the well being of children more?"

    The guy tells a story about some pedophile no one has ever heard of, and turns it into a lesson about liberals being immoral. So let's learn from this. Let's look at how movement conservatives do it. They "always add the because". They tie every small story to a larger ideological lesson - a strategic narrative.

    But here's the thing. They have that strategic narrative in place to tie their stories to, even if they have to fall back on the old basic one - conservatives are good and liberals are bad. So they have a ready-to-go angle to use with any story that comes along. And they understand the basic marketing reasons to do this. Progressives don't. (Is that because progressives are bad and conservatives are good?)

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:37 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    August 5, 2006

    Bush's Buddies Chant "Death To America"

    Iraqis March, Chanting 'Death To Israel, America',

    Tens of thousands of Shiites thronged a Baghdad slum Friday to show support for Hezbollah as Arab anger toward Israel mounted on the Muslim holy day. Such protests have even reached Saudi Arabia, where public discontent is rare.

    ...Demonstrators wearing white shrouds symbolizing willingness to die for Hezbollah waved the guerrillas' banner and chanted slogans in support of their leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah.

    "Allah, Allah, give victory to Hassan Nasrallah," the crowd chanted before burning Israeli and American flags.

    Will the Republicans pass a law against going to war to put into power people who burn American flags?

    For those of you who, like President Bush, don't know about Shiites and Sunnis, Iran is Shiite. Iraq has a Shiite majority that was controlled by Baathist Party Sunnis until we invaded. Now the Shite majority in Iraq has come to support Hizbullah against Israel. Iran is a major backer of Hizbullah, and is gaining influence with the Shiite Iraqis. Iraq's Shiite Grand Ayatollah Sistani, even though he is independent from Iran and does not want Iraq run by Iran, has sided with Hizbullah over Israel and previously had publicly forbidden America from attacking Iran AND has said that he would consider an Israeli attack to be an attack by America. And of course the more militant pro-Iran Muqtada al Sadr's position is even more hostile to us.

    Southern Iraq is Shiite, and from the little I know about these things it seems to me that we face a danger that Iran has the ability to shut off the logistical "tail" of our forces in Iraq if they decide to. You see, almost ALL of the supplies for our forces in Iraq come up from Kuwait, through Southern Iraq, and surrounded by Shiites the whole way. That leaves our entire Iraqi military force vulnerable to the whim of Iran.

    So here we are. From the start I have said that America's interest, far from "bringing democracy to Iraq," might really be to prevent democracy there. "Democracy" sounds nice - a really good PR word - but democracy in a country with a Shiite majority necessarily strengthens neighboring Iran, possibly even leading eventually to a merger of Iraq with Iran -- and thereby brings Iraq's oil over to Iran/China/Russia's advantage in the world strategic picture. How is this in America's interest? Sorry, but that is just cold, hard "realpolitik."

    I think Bush's father and his circle understood this. They didn't want Iraq/Saddam in control of the region AND they didn't want Iran in control either -- the standoff between the two worked for our interests. When Saddam went into Kuwait, that upset the balance so they pushed him out. But they stopped before Baghdad because removing Saddam and his Baathist Party from power would also upset that balance. So that is why Bush's father abandoned the Shiites when they revolted against Saddam -- to keep that balance in the region, with the Shiites (Iran), Sunnis (Saudi Arabia, etc) and Baathists (Iraq and Syria) all in a kind of balance that reflected our interests.

    Now Bush II has handed the whole playing field to Iran. Everything Bush has done has played into Iran's hands there. So let me go a little further. Is it just an accident that everything Bush has done has played into Iran's hands? Were the neo-cons conned -- or paid -- by Iranians? Ahmed Chalabi, for example, was the head of the Iraqi National Congress exile group that was feeding the neo-cons the phony "intelligence" about WMD... Was he working for Iran, feeding the neo-cons what they wanted to hear? What do you think?

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:26 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    July 20, 2006

    Economic Talking Points for Democrats

    Go read (and recommend) Bondad's Economic Talking Points For Democratic Leaders,

    So there you go - three great things to say over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and again. And when you think you have said it enough, say it one more time just to make sure. In case you forget them - here they are:




    I expect to hear these soon. And I expect to keep hearing them, over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and again.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:19 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    July 9, 2006

    Attack Politics and Playing Victim

    Who wrote about,

    “providing a shield from attack” by “working away from the negative image your opponent wants to pin on you. If you know you are going to be attacked as morally imperious, it is a good idea to lead with a position that is inclusive and tolerant.” … “Symbols are so powerful that if you manipulate them cleverly … you can even launch mean-spirited attacks on your opponents and pretend to be compassionate while doing it.

    … positioning [yourself] as victims gives … a license to attack. … But remember this: using fear as a weapon can be dangerous. Enemies inspire fear, friends do not. … [so let] surrogates do the dirty work. When and how to use fear is a political art. If you are a white male … be careful when you go on the offensive, and be sure to surround yourself with allies who are neither white nor male.”

    The first paragraph sounds a LOT like the STF Rule, no?

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    July 4, 2006

    The Daou Effect

    You may have heard of the Daou Triangle, a series by blogger Peter Daou of Salon's Daou Report. (Parts 2, 3, 4) And you may have heard that Peter Daou has gone to work for Hillary Clinton.

    I dub this the Daou Effect:
    Sen. Clinton: Lieberman on own if he loses Dem primary

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:07 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    June 28, 2006

    Why I Think Sen. Obama Helped the Right

    Senator Barack Obama gave a speech and there is a lot of reaction in the blogosphere. In the speech, he said,

    "At worst, some liberals dismiss religion in the public square as inherently irrational or intolerant, insisting on a caricature of religious Americans that paints them as fanatical, or thinking that the very word "Christian" describes one's political opponents, not people of faith."
    Atrios writes,
    If you think it's important to court evangelicals, then court them. If, on the other hand, you think it's important to confirm and embrace the false idea that Democrats are hostile to religion in order to set yourself apart, then continue doing what you're doing. It won't help the Democrats, and it probably won't even help you, but whatever makes you happy.
    David Sirota says Obama is "Reinforcing Dishonest Storylines",
    One of the most infuriating behaviors among some Democrats these days is their willingness to create fake straw men that undermine progressives and reinforce false narratives about the Democratic Party?

    ... Obama, of course, is trying to portray himself as having the courage to stand up against these supposed Democrats that constitute the “we” in his rhetoric - the “we” that supposedly make this mistake of “fail[ing] to acknowledge the power of faith.” Yet, again, he doesn’t offer any names to tell us who constitutes the “we.” Why? Because there are none.

    [Update - More at the end of the post]

    I think it is important that we get the point here, so I'm going to keep this going. I think the point is about understanding the Right's long-term strategic narratives, what they are, how they work, and how it harms us. We all need to understand the battle we are in, and learn how to all aim at our targets instead of at each other.

    Sure, some Democrats and liberals are intolerant, hate religion, whatever (same with some Republicans). My point is that is not relevant to what is going on here. You can find examples of anything in any group. This wouldn't matter except that the Republicans are currently engaged in a larger battle they call the "culture war," with a larger, long-term agenda. They are using this particular argument - saying that liberals hate religion - as part of that war, to turn Americans against each other, divide and conquer.

    It's not about truth or details or who is really right or wrong, it is a cold calculation about a selected demographic and a strategic message designed (and tested, etc.) to sway that demographic, period. It's not about facts, it's about a long-term effort to move a target group into their column. This is marketing -- you decide you want to target a group, you learn the demographics of the group, you learn what is important to them, you learn their "language," you craft a message that generates an emotional response, you test and refine it, and you roll it out.

    They might tell a different targeted demographic THE OPPOSITE of what they tell this one, if they calculate that doing so over time moves THAT demographic into their column. Like I said, it is a cold calculation, not about facts or right or wrong, but about getting a job done.

    You have a shampoo for dry hair, and you have another one for damaged hair. Inside the bottle is the SAME STUFF but you are targeting different groups by addressi

    This particular strategic narrative is a drumbeat that has been going on for a long time with almost no response, and the result is that "conventional wisdom" forms around the core of their argument. They are telling religious people a big lie that Democrats and liberals IN GENERAL hate them, all of them, and therefore Christians and religious people need to vote for Republicans as the way to defend themselves and their religion from these attacks and insults and mockery.

    Sen. Obama, by agreeing the way he did with the core conventional wisdom, saying yes liberals DO that, advances that narrative and provides cover for them to continue it. He didn't need to do that to make his point, and doing that undermined his point. Though the speech sounds like it is trying to bring people together, by reinforcing the core idea that Democrats and liberals hate Christians, he is actually helping advance the right's campaign to set Americans against each other.

    THIS is why the Right goes to such lengths to do things like the whole "war on Christmas" campaign and that Cupertino, California lawsuit that falsely claimed the school district tried to " Ban the Declaration of Independence because it mentions God." Those are just lies, too. They put a lot of money and resources into efforts like that. It is a way to sway a targeted demographic. Nothing more.

    If prominent Democrats publicly publicly agree that the Cupertino school system tried to ban the Declaration, or that there is a War on Christmas, doesn't it help them advance their case? So why is Senator Obama agreeing that liberals hate religion?

    More posts from others: Matt Stoller,

    Thank you, Obama, for taking on this critical yet vulnerable stereotype, and reinforcing it with moral security measures.
    Chris Bowers,
    So thanks Senator Obama, for reifying this Republican-driven talking point about Democrats. Now almost everyone will think that Democrats are hostile to people of faith. Well done. Your mentor, Joe Lieberman, would be proud.
    The greatest victory of the radical right wing has been to train Democratic politicians to disrespect, mischaracterize and run against their base in the progressive movement.
    The Carpetbagger Report,
    Who are these inauthentic religious Dems? Who are these rigid secularists who want a religion-free public square? As far as I can tell, this more closely resembles GOP talking points than reality.
    The Agonist,
    See, now, this is a Lieberman moment. Because what Obama is doing is using Republican talking points about Democrats and religion to criticize his own party.
    Ezra Klein,
    Sigh. What's Obama doing? I'll say that I've seen disappointingly little liberal leadership from the guy, though I've seen plenty of soaring rhetoric and powerful charisma.
    Michelle Goldnerg at Huffngton Post
    Unfortunately, Obama's rhetoric ends up reinforcing Republic myths about liberal Godlessness instead of challenging them.

    [. . .] The religious right offers people a narrative arc, not just about their own lives, but also about America's decline and imminent resurrection. Democrats need a mobilizing vision as well, one that speaks to the despair that underlies so much of our politics.

    Obama recognizes this, but he errs in taking Republican propaganda as fact, or, to put it in Lakoff's terms, in accepting the GOP frame. He perpetuates the fantasy that there really is a liberal war on faith.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:32 PM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos

    Time For Dems To Redraw Some Maps!

    The Supreme Court ruled that it was OK for Texas to re-draw Congressional districts after they took control of the Texas legislature. The Texas redistricting gained them six seats in Congress, making it much more difficult for Democrats to take back the House - ever.

    This sounds bad. It isn't. Why not? Because it means that states with Democrats in control can now do the same thing. Over at MyDD Chris Bowers explains,

    We have a pretty good chance to take the trifecta this year in California, Colorado, Minnesota and Pennsylvania. We already have the trifecta in Illinois. After the 2006 elections, Democrats need the guts to wake up and realize that the public will not revolt in the face of Republican power grabs, and that Republicans will not play nice because we decide to do so. Redrawing the maps in those states will make it all but impossible for Republicans to hold the House after the 2006 elections. Further, we can take out several committee chairs and even the Speaker of the House out in so doing. If these are the tactics Republicans want to use, and if their Supreme Court say these tactics are legal, then its time we use these tactics to decapitate the most of Republican leadership. Let's see them whine and squirm when their own strategies are used against them. Failure to do so is a failure to fight the conservative movement's long march toward theocracy and totalitarianism.
    So, do the state Democrats have the fight in them to do it?

    Chris also links to this analysis at Off the Cuff.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:28 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    June 19, 2006

    Use The Buzz To Defund Republicans

    "The Buzz" is that Democrats will take back the House of Representatives. USE THE BUZZ. USE the perception that Democrats will have some clout soon to put fear into the corporate lawbreakers who are funding the conservative machine. I have written about this before, saying,

    Threatening now to investigate illegal corporate funding is a strategic move that fires a warning shot across the bow of the Right's corporate funding machine, and it will apply pressure even if it just leaks out, anonymously attributed to "Democratic leaders," because of the buzz-factor that is coming into play.
    Now there are even more signs that the timing is right:

    Talking Points Memo this morning,

    How much is that Democrat in the window? As the winds of change blow Democrats closer to a majority in the House, corporate interests have decided that Dem lawmakers are the "must-have" accessory for the fall season. Consequently, they're bumping up donations to Democratic candidates, and former GOP-heavy lobby shops are suddenly courting Dems to help fight their battles.
    The Note (Conventional Wisdom-Central) today,
    The Wall Street Journal's Brody Mullins detects a shift in giving among the Republican-leaning insurance, pharmaceutical and tobacco industries towards Democrats, signaling that "businesses believe Democrats will have more sway in Washington after the 2006 midterm elections or the 2008 presidential contest."
    And the corruption stories continue daily. See yesterday's NYTimes story about the corruption in the Department of Homeland Security, With Bush-appointees setting up huge contracts and then leaving for million-dollar jobs with the companies they enriched.

    So here's what I am saying. Use this buzz, take advantage of this Conventional Wisdom. Everyone is starting to think the Democrats will at least take back the House of Representatives, and strategists are looking at what this will mean. If the buzz proceeds toward thinking that the Democrats will be of a mind to seriously investigate the corruption and start putting corporate executives in jail, the Boards of these corporations, and the companies that insure them, will start worrying, and will feel pressure to start cleaning up their act and stop illegally funding the Republican machine.

    And aside from the obvious political benefits, it's just good for the country.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:51 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    June 17, 2006


    As I have suspected, many "conservatives" who leave comments at the blogs actually are paid to show up and spread right-win corporate disinformation.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:01 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    June 12, 2006

    Gov. Warner's Expensive Party -- Brilliant

    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.

    Ice sculpture at Governor Warner's party for YearlyKos attendees

    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.

    Others posting on this: Salon, Commonwealth Conservative, Booman Tribute, Jawa Report, emptywheel, skippy.

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

    June 5, 2006

    Grow The Base!!!

    Today's MUST-READ is: How to Grow a Democratic Majority,

    By developing an organizational structure now, Mr. Dean hopes that the Democrats will have something sturdy to rely on if, and when, they win back the White House.

    It's uncertain whether Mr. Dean will succeed. After all, Mr. Emanuel makes a persuasive argument for his approach. Why should the Democrats trade a chance to win the House now for an uncertain future?

    The answer? Because a victory now will most likely be short-term. As the Republicans have shown, creating a durable electoral majority requires a firm organizational foundation, something the Democrats don't have. But if Mr. Dean can hold fast to his plan, they just might be on the way to getting one.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:13 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    Social Network Analysis - Quiz Tomorrow

    I have been studying Social Network Analysis lately. (Much more here and here.)

    This is the study of interactions in groups, discovering who the key people are who hold the group together and get the group doing things. If you track this with sophisticated computer software you can learn some very interesting things. In politics, think of the value of knowing who are the key people for reaching and influencing large numbers of voters...

    What special role does Susan play in this group? And Claudia?

    So read up, there WILL be a test.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:24 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    May 16, 2006

    Even If Just Phone Records

    So what if the NSA spying really IS just phone records? The answer is that analysis of the data these records offers, combined with other data, is an extremely powerful tool for learning where to apply pressure on social groups in order to influence society in ways you can only dream of. Please, please read Daily Kos: The dangers of Social Network Analysis.

    I am familiar with Social Network Analysis, and this could be an extremely powerful political tool both for disrupting opposition and bolstering support. In short, it can tell you who the key connectors are. Once you know who they are, you don't need to spend much time on anyone else. You can take action and it can largely be "under the radar." From the simple,

    High value nodes are identified as thought leaders for these social networks and the IRS point count to determine who gets audited is increased for these people. This will reduce the time these thought leaders have to devote to organizing resistance.
    To the moderate,

    Social network analysis shows which of these groups have the largest number of connections with swing voters and these groups are targeted for highly publicized SEC investigations prior to the announcement of the initiative.
    To direct and personal intervention,
    Leaks of embarrassing information are making it into blogs. Network analysis indicates that the point of entry can be traced back to TPM Muckraker. An analysis of phone records then identifies that an administration staffer has made phone calls on his cell phone to his brother who has made phone calls to TPM.
    Do I need to say what comes next for them?

    This is a powerful, powerful tool for controlling people and society in ways that don't have to be noticed.

    Those seeking to spin away the NSA database as not a threat to individual liberties could not be more wrong. The NSA database and Social Network Analysis in the wrong hands pose a greater threat to democracy and individual liberties than the misuse of personal information.

    Watch your backs. And recommend this Kos diary so it gets the attention is deserves!

    Update - Reply to a comment: Social Network Analysis is traffic analysis plus 50 years of advances in knowledge. Combine it with the "Tipping Point" -- connectors, mavens, etc. and other understanding of how groups get organized and ideas spread. Knock out the leaders of the opposition before they become top leaders. Disrupt the meeting before most of them know they are going to have a meeting. Stop the union from forming by getting the likely organizer into another job - or jail...

    Sort of sounds like what happened to the Democrats and Progressives, actually.

    And NOW there is reason to fear that the government's resources could be used to apply these techniques to maintaining The Party in political power.

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

    May 14, 2006


    Matt Stoller, in MyDD :: Go Get Yourself Some Power, Progressives,

    What this means is that we have to make being progressive in politicians' self-interest, and acting as a right-winger against their self-interest.

    You see, politicians care about getting elected, and that's pretty much all they can afford to care about. You can't blame them for this, just like you can't blame companies for seeking profitable arrangements. I'm sorry if this bursts anyone's bubble, but Paul Wellstone was just a politician seeking power. So is Howard Dean. That Dean has popular support from an organized group that will rip people to shreds who criticize him means that he can afford to be progressive.

    ... The key for progressives is to understand that elections matter, but how politicians get elected matters more. It's not about sitting out elections if you don't get your way, it's about making sure that when a seat opens up, or an idea is under debate, or someone needs a set of numbers, your team is there with the people and the information. Politicians get elected based broadly on organization and money in a continuum. What we as progressives should be doing is trying to pull the political system away from money being the determining factor in how someone gets elected to making it one determining factor of many. And if possible, we want to make it impossible for a Republican or Democrat to be elected without taking progressive positions.

    PLEASE go read the whole thing.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:35 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    May 10, 2006

    Walking People Up The Crazy-Idea Ladder

    Digby, in Preparing The Ground, and Matt Stoller, in Ok, Here's a Big Idea: Citizen Coupons and a Government By the People are writing about this Kos diary, Why the Right-Wing Gets It--and Why Dems Don't.

    They are talking about the Overton Window. Here is the original. It's about how to "advance ideas" - take a wild idea and get people to accept it. This is a concept studied and practiced by the right - and they are talking about ideas like privatizing Social Security, or getting rid of public education. But there is a lot to learn here.

    The idea is that you walk people up a ladder of acceptability of an idea, one step at a time. As the people climb the ladder, their thinking about the idea at the top is walked through stages. The first stage is that the idea is unthinkable, then after hearing about it for a while it becomes just radical, then after enough repetition it becomes acceptable, eventually it sounds sensible, then seems popular, and finally it becomes policy.

    For example, let's say you have in mind getting rid of public education. To walk people up the ladder you get them to accept, in this order, allowing kids to leave to go to private schools, then legal home schooling, then tuition tax credits with public schools, then a voucher system with public schools (and "charter" schools), eventualy all schools become private with government regulation, and finally no government involvement in education. And make no mistake about it, getting rid of public schools is the ladder the Right is walking us up, one step at a time.

    The same process is underway with getting rid of Social Security - IRAs are getting rid of pensions, then Bush's push to partially privatize Social Security, and finally to get rid of it. (Bush might have lost a battle, but they will never give up that fight.)

    Please go read the links, this is important stuff to understand.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:07 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    May 7, 2006

    How To Shut Down the Right's Funding

    Confident Democrats Lay Out Agenda,

    Democratic leaders, increasingly confident they will seize control of the House in November, are laying plans for a legislative blitz during their first week in power that would raise the minimum wage, roll back parts of the Republican prescription drug law, implement homeland security measures and reinstate lapsed budget deficit controls.

    ... House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) said in an interview last week that a Democratic House would launch a series of investigations of the Bush administration, beginning with the White House's first-term energy task force and probably including the use of intelligence in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. Pelosi denied Republican allegations that a Democratic House would move quickly to impeach President Bush. But, she said of the planned investigations, "You never know where it leads to."

    And Democrats pledge probes of Bush, not impeachment

    Democrats will launch a series of investigations of the Bush administration if they take control of Congress in November but are not out to impeach President George W. Bush, a top Democrat said on Sunday.

    ... "I said we'd be having hearings on the war, we'd have hearings. But I don't see us going to a place of impeachment," Pelosi said in an interview on NBC's Meet the Press. "Investigation does not equate to impeachment. Investigation is the requirement of Congress. It is about checks and balances."

    Here's how to shut down the Right's funding:

    If a few top Democrats get the word out that they are also going to investigate corporate funding of the Right's machine - contributions to supposedly non-partisan tax deductible organizations like Heritage Foundation, but that are really bribes used illegally as Republican Party election-support organizations, the insurance companies that cover these corporations will shut down all such funding and the Boards will also work to stop it, fearing jail.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:25 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    May 2, 2006

    Dear Democrats

    A few simple words, repeated over and over.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:13 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    April 29, 2006

    Dear Democrats

    A few simple words, repeated over and over.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    April 21, 2006

    Draft Gore?

    Please go read Chris Bowers'Daily Kos: Draft Gore, But Only If You Mean It. He says if you want Gore to run you have to actually DO SOMETHING about it.

    Draft Gore in 2008, but only do it if you mean it. Back up you words with real action. Don't whine to me about how I or some other leadership element is keeping you down or preventing this from happening. Give over your persecution and get to it.
    Have blog readers reverted back to American couch-sitters who wait around for others to do something?

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:49 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    April 12, 2006

    Dems Can't Win If Nobody Votes For Them

    Kos linked to this quote from the National Journal,

    The off-year 2002 vote was about 160K, with about 290K in 2004. If today's vote will be closer to 100K, that suggests something less than strong grass-roots enthusiasm.
    Well I add the turnout up to about 128,000 people.

    So now can you see the outlines of a Republican win this November?

    Not yet? How about this Texas story, Low voter turnout isn't so bad,

    At most, about 12,000 people voted Tuesday in Tarrant County.
    And this one from Wisconsin, Low Voter Turnout,
    County Clerk Bob Ohlsen says, except for Sun Prairie and the Monona–Cottage Grove areas, where there are school referendums on the ballot, turnout has been unusually low ... about 5 percent in most of the county.

    And these from Missouri, Voter turnout low,

    Despite several important races, only 5,447 voters turned out at the polls out of a possible 25,906. In the Spring Creek West district, zero voters showed up at the polls.
    And, Randolph County voter turnout extremely low,
    Results are in for the 2006 general election and several local governing boards have new leadership even though voter turnout tallied in at just 9.85 percent.
    Now, combine those with this California story, New ID System May Block Voters,
    Thousands of Californians who register to vote or update their records may not receive sample ballots or be able to vote as absentees because of the state's new method of verifying identities, election officials say.
    If Demos don't - or can't - vote, they can't win. Even if the voting machines aren't rigged.

    I frequently remind readers that those of us who read (and write) blogs are not like the rest of the public. We are hyper-informed. I think it is so important to understand that the ways we get our information and the kinds of information we retain are profoundly different from the public-at-large, and if we want them to think and act a certain way, we need to reach out to them in the places they are listening with stories and information they will "hear" and act on.

    Obviously we're not getting through to them now. Not even to the ones who would naturally be on our side.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:28 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    April 3, 2006

    Great New "Red-Handed" Ads From MoveOn

    Four great news ads from MoveOn. Go see, and as always, send an e-mail to people letting THEM know to watch! And remind THEM to forward to others, as well. (Use "e-mail this entry" at the end of the post.)

    Chocola Ad

    Drake Ad

    Johnson Ad

    Pryce Ad

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    April 1, 2006

    Right-Wing Focus Group Guy Has Advice for Dems

    Daily Kos: Luntz focus group tests the early 2008 Dem field,


    1. Don't feel my pain - give me something to alleviate it. Democrats don't want to be told what's wrong with America. They want to be told what you plan to do about it. They're not looking for the diagnosis - they know what ails them. They want the cure. The candidate most focused on "solutions" will have the advantage.

    Go read. Interesting.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:17 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    March 28, 2006

    Doing OK?

    MyDD :: The 2006 election narrative should now focus on the progressive, activist base,

    The issue at hand is no longer "in the face of Republican collapse, why aren't Democrats doing better?" Democrats are doing better. They have huge leads, and have had them for several months.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:14 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    It's Republicans Doing It

    I woke up this morning thinking about something Chris Bowers wrote at MyDD a while ago. We need to start to tie Bush and the war to "Republicans."

    Chris Bowers discovered that when a certain percent of the public can identify which party controls the Congress, the other party gains seats in the next election. (Doesn't matter if they correctly identify which party.) He suggested that Dems advertise that Republicans control the Congress to win this election.

    I think we in the blogosphere are hyper-informed and don't really understand where regular people are at -- the thought that regular people can't even identify who controls Congress boggles our minds. But that's the way it is. Regular people are in a different world than the one we are in, get their information in different ways, and retain information for different reasons. The better we understand and utilize this, the better off we will be at getting regular people to see things our way.

    So before we work to pump "facts" out there, we need to cover the basics. Let's start by making sure that the public identifies their troubles with Republicans.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:42 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    March 24, 2006

    Propaganda Chain E-mail

    At ePluribus, in Viral Propaganda in the Rovewellian Age (originating here) Jeff Huber writes about a chain e-mail he received. It JUST HAPPENS to coincide with the White House's new campaign to blame the press for bad news out of Iraq.

    The subject is "Too Graphic for the 'Main' Stream Media."

    The opening paragraph says "Here is an important message you are not likely to get anywhere else, particularly from U.S. News sources--Pictures From Iraq That Are Too Shocking & Graphic for The Mainstream Media."

    Below that is a series of digital photographs depicting "positive images" from Iraq. Several show U.S. soldiers visiting Iraqi kids at their schools and playing with them on the street. In one, an Iraqi woman holds up two handwritten signs that read "Iraqi people happy today. Thank You Thank You U.S.A." In another, an Iraqi boy in a car holds out a sign that says, "Thank You Very much Mr. BUSH."

    Go read the rest. It has so much of the usual obvious professionally-crafted propaganda that I'm surprised it didn't start with "I used to be a Democrat, but..."

    Jeff writes,

    Viral propaganda works much like viral marketing. Viral marketing is a pyramid advertising scheme in which "genuine" word of mouth personal testimony about a commercial product's virtues is spread by "plain folks" who have been paid and trained to spread it but who don't let their target audiences know that. It's normally conducted in conjunction with more overt, traditional advertising campaigns. "Viral marketing" is an Internet age term that reflects the language of the contemporary information age--covert "testimonial" advertising can literally be spread like a computer virus.

    But covert viral marketing isn't limited to the electronic information sphere. Viral marketers arrive at parties, cookouts, school and church functions, and other social events with free samples of the products they're hawking. They engage family, friends, and acquaintances in conversations into which they interject carefully prepared and easily remembered slogans, buzz phrases, mantras, memes, and talking points.

    Pretty soon, the viral marketers' targets are repeating the marketing rhetoric, unknowingly becoming unpaid non-salaried employees of a sophisticated advertising firm.

    The Right understands how people get information, and what factors are involved in credibility and retention.

    The question is, was this government-funded?

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:49 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    March 22, 2006

    What People Mean When They Criticize "The Democrats"

    At MyDD there is an excellent post on a right-wing corporatist organization called ALEC: Exposing The Machinery Of The Corporate Right,

    Up in Wyoming, the local Casper Star-Tribune decided to take a look at the machinery that pushes conservative laws in the state's legislature. Many here at MyDD may be well aware of ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, the corporate-funded rightist law-writing factory that works behind the scenes to cram their agenda on the states. But I have a feeling it's a group that isn't discussed very often among readers of the Star-Tribune (or, for that matter, any local paper outside of Washington, DC). That's why their coverage of ALEC is so important.
    Please go read the post.

    Well I left a comment, based on a line in the post. Readers here might be familiar with this, but repetition works, and this can't be said often enough:

    "If you ever find yourself frustrated that the Republicans seem to be better tacticians than Democrats, you should know that ALEC is one of the reasons why."

    Let me add something here. We all find ourselves criticizing "The Democrats" for one thing or another. And it's usually in contrast to the way "The Republicans" are doing something - messaging, jumping on an issue, strategerizing, etc.

    But I think it's a key to understanding how to fix the problem, if we realize that ALEC isn't "The Republicans" at all. And it's almost always the ALECs -- Heritage Foundation or CATO or AEI one of those hundreds of non-Party organizations -- that we are talking about! ALEC is legally a non-partisan organization. Same with Heritage, etc. But these organizations, all part of the "conservative movement," all largely corporate-funded, have really taken over the Republican Party. It is THESE organizations, not the Repubican Party, that are out there talking to the general public, publishing books, paying pundits and geting them on TV and the radio, and all the other things that we credit "The Republicans" with doing so well.

    The Democrats don't have an infrastructure of similar organizations employing an army of operatives. And this is why "The Democrats" are not responding to events as effectively as "The Repubicans" are able to do.

    What this means to us is that we need to understand the need to build up an infrastructure of organizations designed to reach the public and persuade them that progresive values are better for them than conservative values, and that a progressive approach to issues and progressive candidates are better for them than conservatives. (If you have read Crashing the Gate, you'll recognize this idea.)

    This means sending money - real money - to PLAN and other organizations that are trying to counter this Republican machines. (Commonweal Institute is another such organization.) Start donating money to these organizations and you'll start seeing a difference.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:05 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    March 20, 2006

    Changing the Subject

    The Republicans are about to launch a major effort to Change the Subject. Just watch it unfold.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:30 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    February 28, 2006

    On Third Parties

    I left a comment to a Thomas' post about the Greens, and decided it is worth promoting to the front page. I believe in the "open-source think tank" concept of blogs -- a place where ideas can be introduced, discussed and refined. Here is my take on the Greens.

    Anything that divides the opposition is good news for the Republicans.

    If you care about what is happening to the people in Iraq, or the environment, or so many things we all care about you would understand the need to band together to fight against the Right.

    This is a crucial period, with the Right consolidating power. Every single one of us must stand TOGETHER to fight them. They mean to foment war across the Middle East. They mean to end our democracy and begin an era of corporate control over our lives. And they clearly mean to do this under the auspices of a theocracy.

    If you care about what is happening you will recognize the need to hold together and present a unified front. The labor movement learned this the hard way - union and solidarity are not just words, they have meaning. They LEARNED that standing together is the only power we have against the moneyed interests.

    In the 2000 election, the stakes were just as high, but many people either did not realize it or did not care, and voted for Nader. Since then we have seen hundreds of thousands killed in Iraq, the looting of our natural and financial resources, and the beginnings of domestic repression. There is no "ignorance" excuse this time.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:47 AM | Comments (17) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    February 20, 2006

    Creating a Change Election

    Bloggers are talking about how to create a "change election."

    My thinking is the public needs an ideological story about a problem that is causing them pain, a symbolic election-year focal point that illustrates how the ideology applies to the problem, and a simple way to fix the problem that hilites the story elements. As the story is unfolded, current events are utilized by explaining them in terms of the story and the solution.

    An example of one story the Republicans used this way is government spending.
    - The story was "tax and spend Democrats" representing a larger ideological story of do-gooder socialists in control of the government forcing righteous citizens to support lazy people who won't work
    - The pain was described as taxes "taken" by Democrats to spend on people who don’t work
    - The focal point event was the Congressional check-bouncing scandal illustrating how Democrats can't manage money.
    - The solution was the "Line-Item Veto" and longer-term cutting "big government." This proposal focused on the concept of let the Republicans block the stuff the corrupt Democrats add to spending.
    - Current events were worded into examples of excessive government spending that could be solved only with a line-item veto that electing Republicans would bring about.

    But this was not just an election-time strategy. They kept at it. They used "tax-and-spend" and they didn't stop using it. That is why it works so well, becomes conventional wisdom.

    I suggest developing a long-term story around the Culture of Corruption and Cronyism representing a larger progressive ideology of community and democracy – the people against the powerful, making rules and playing by them, influence-buying brought under control by an engaged community – vs right-wing ideology of greed, winner-take-all, power of aristocratic wealth dominating over the popular good.

    The pain still needs a simple representative phrasing. People need to feel how the corruption and cronyism hurts them – jobs moved overseas, people losing pensions, dirty water, all that – but we need one symbolic pain to focus on, where corruption directly leads to their pain. Imagine how Katrina would have affected pubic thinking if we had already been pounding on a theme that corruption and cronyism hurts people, and then utilized Katrina as one more focus event that illustrated our point.

    Possible focus events might be something that comes from the Abramoff scandal. (Keep in mind that the check-bouncing scandal was bipartisan, but was presented as a key example of Democratic misuse of public money.) The key is to repeat the core story, driving the ideological point home. An event will offer itself.

    I think a good focus solution is minority-party subpoena powers. Imagine if the minority party - Dems - could hold hearings and subpoena witnesses and documents. This solution hilites the lack of oversite, the party-wide corruption, the shutting out of the Democrats… It says that we need Democrats to keep corruption out of government because Republicans are the party of money over law.

    A point to keep in mind is that the Right does not work in a next-election timeframe. They were and are in it for the long term and their strategies play out over many years, even decades. We need to stop thinking we can fight them back in an election cycle if only a few things break our way, and start thinking about how we are going to turn things around over the long term.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:57 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    February 7, 2006

    Republicans Control Congress

    Over at MyDD, Chris Bowers has an amazingly simple plan for winning the 2006 elections:

    Rather than getting too much into the weeds over message, slogans, and policy proposals, in 2006 we something far more basic--something that the established news media cannot filter out and something that even Republicans are forced to agree with. Maybe one of our biggest messages in 2006, if not our primary message, needs to simply be to point out to the American public the simple fact that Republicans control congress.
    Go read why.

    I really think that we blog readers get too far out ahead of the public. We are hyper-informed. We think others know what we know. We think facts are important. But in fact most of the public knows very little about politics and the news and the issues and understands even less. Many of the people who bother to vote at all base their decisions on things that would make informed people like us just pass out if we heard them.

    The key to winning elections is learning how various groups of voters make their decisions, and being there with the information they need in the form they need it and in the channels where they receive it.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:04 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    February 3, 2006


    MyDD :: My Plea To Dems: Stop The Navel-Gazing,

    Representatives from Procter & Gamble don't go on CNBC and talk about the fact that the perception exists that Tide could do a better job of removing stains. They just show evidence to the contrary. This kind of message craft, starting from a negative assumption, is unheard of in the corporate world. It's a lesson Democrats need to learn if they're serious about winning the hearts and minds here at home.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:43 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    January 28, 2006

    David Sirota at Cal Dem Executive Board Meeting

    David Sirota was the featured speaker at the 4:00 meeting. David talks a little faster than Scott Ritter and presents more of a challenge as far as taking down a literal transcription. On the other hand, David offered to respond to comments, so hopefully that will compensate for any message errors from my loose transcription.

    Here goes nothing:

    We have to see outselves as part of a movement, not a group of special interests. (someone) mentioned that conservatives see the Republican Party as a means to an end. It was an offhand remark, because it is so obvious. Too often progressives have seen the Democratic Party as an end in itself and not a means to an end. We've got to start making real substantive change our goal.

    The Democratic Party is caught in a battle for its soul. The party permits and even congratulates those in its ranks who sell out the middle class and working Americans. Bills like bankruptcy, CAFTA, etc. When Democrats like Pelosi and Murtha say it's time to end  the Iraq war once and for all, there is always someone who will rush out and say they are not speaking for all Democrats.

    The only solution is for Dems toiling in the trenches to resist the urge to focus on elections instead of real goals. We also need to focus on an overarching progressive message that will resonate throughout the country. We don't need to reinvent the wheel. It is very clear what the public wants. There is nothing new about citizens want to be able to see a doctor. Nothing new about wanting to be paid a living wage or be able to retire without being homeless. There is nothing new about Americans wanting a good education and good job prospects for their children. Americans all want to know that their representatives are not bought off and they are working to achieve these simple goals.

    Let's be clear. I don't blame corporations; for pursuing the profit motive. The problem is that we have a government that has been bought. The government is supposed to make sure that corporate profits don't lower the standard of living of Americans.

    The one thing corporate interests have never been able to buy is grassroots support. Ads, yes. They cannot compete with us on the ground if we invest in building a grassroots movement as all of you are doing. As you know, this is not a two or four year project. As the movement conservatives realized it takes more than a couple of election cycles and requires doing things that may be at odds with the powers that be.  

    It requires a focus on elections and education. We are fighting a massive wave of conservative propaganda. The propaganda is designed to keep the population cynical, cynicism keeps down voter turnout.

    Part of your work is not only to win elections, but to educate citizens about what is really going on and what they can do to change things. I've worked on campaigns in places like Montana, where we used a massive grassroots campaign to elect Brian Schweitzer and take back the state legislature.

    A lot of people have asked me why I work in progressive politics, which until recently has been for people who devote their life to never win anything. Ordinary people are talking to each other about the issues they care about. We have a long way to go. War and peace should be at the center of our debate, but has been completely depoliticized, while social issues which should be depoliticized have been pushed to the center of our political dialogue.

    You all have to engage in movement politics. Stop leaving it up to the class of professional election losers. Grassroot movement politics is the way ordinary citizens will take their government back. You are taking the crucial first step. Feel confident that your state and your country are looking to you for inspiration and will follow.

    Q:  ?

    Sirota L.A. Times Brownstein wrote that if Dems continue to argue against the lawbreaking the Dems will lose the debate. Perfect example of how the M$M ramrods political debate into a box.

    In Montana the state was very eventy divided. Legislature passed a bill demanding the repeal of the Patriot Act. That is an example of how we can take issues out of the M$M and right wing box.

    Have  a vision of what we are for and don't be afraid to say what we are for. With everything biased against us in terms of media coverage, many of the messages coming out of D.C. don't fit into a model that most citizens can relate to. Dems need to speak in concise ways and contrast sharply with the Republican party.  In the WaPo strategists get quoted saying they will not take a position until the time is right.  

    We have to urge and force if necessary our leaders not to equivocate like that.

    Q: Is the national party doing anything to reframe arguments so we can take back our message?

    Sirota: I see the fundamental problem that the GOP has provided a message that gets their base, their activists and their voters that gets them to walk through fire for them. Dems hope that candidates will be charismatic enough that we will be willing to walk through fire for them.

    We will not win elections if we insist on people going into battle based on star power. The prescription sit that we have to articulate a message to people who are even totally disconnected.

    Posted by Gary Boatwright at 6:14 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    January 18, 2006

    Polling - Donate

    Please visit MyDD :: MyDD Polling Project: Can you top this thing off? Drop them a few dollars to get some polling going on issues important to us and the country.

    If you weren't going to donate anything at least donate $1 -- make that a habit -- because there are SO MANY of us, each giving at least a dollar really can add up!

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    January 12, 2006

    Tears - Came From A PR Firm

    TalkLeft has it -- Sparks Fly at Alito Hearing

    Please. While I'm not convinced as is Jane they were crocodile tears, engineered by Sen. Lindsay Graham, I do think they were pretty lame. Read James Wolcott who calls Ms. Alito the "new first lady of the American Theater." Then again, consider this, from Time Magazine Wednesday night:
    The always-alert Creative Response Concepts, a conservative public relations firm, sent this bulletin: "Former Alito clerk Gary Rubman witnessed Mrs. Alito leaving her husband's confirmation in tears and is available for interviews, along with other former Alito clerks who know her personally and are very upset about this development."
    I also think Lindsay Graham has some explaining to do about his dual role as murder board coach and hearing officer.
    Remember the first Iraq war, the babies thrown from incubators? Also from a PR firm.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:57 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    January 7, 2006

    Reject Caca

    Oliver Willis says to See the Forest, and don't get caught up in right-wing words that are intended to distract you from the point at hand.

    Oliver Willis : Let 2006 Be The Year Of The Rejection Of Caca

    There is a lot of work spent sitting around doing debunkery of right wing nonsense.

    ...If you’re talking about “X”, talk about “X” and don’t let them get away with it.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:19 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    January 3, 2006

    Republicans as Sociopaths

    Crooks and Liars says NewsHog: You don't have to a sociopath to be Republican, but it helps. is the best blog post of 2005.

    Of course, it isn't from Seeing the Forest, so it by definition could not be the best blog post of 2005. Hello!!! But the name of their site DOES say they are Liars. Maybe they were drinking or taking drugs. But, aside from that blatant flaw in their logic, what do you think?

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:45 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    January 1, 2006

    "But" Watch

    Just for fun I Googled the phrase "I used to be a democrat but" .

    This May 2005 STF post explains how Republicans use the phrase as a persuasion tool.

    It's the oldest trick in the book. A basic principle of influence is "the actions of similar others," where people tend to do things because others do. (This is so strong in people that suicides can even work this way.)
    (That post looked at the same phrase without the word "but", but I couldn't name this post "But Watch" if I did that again.)

    Go read several of the Google links for examples. Try to go out all the way to page 15 or 20 of the links. Seriously, that's how you really get a sense of it. And spend some time looking at the links without the word "but" to see some of the variations. After a while you see the pattern. What is interesting is to see how many letters-to-the-editor, etc. pop up. Also, note how many use exactly the same words.

    Some favorites:

    I used to be a Democrat, but now I bitterly despise the cruel deception and betrayal they work on all their male voters.
    I used to be A Democrat, but since the Reagan era - the Democratic party has put forth nothing but hate, ignorance, class warfare and race baiting.
    I used to be a democrat but again they are on the wrong side of the issue just like when they supported slavery!!!

    The Winner Is:
    I used to be a Democrat But after Bill and Hillary and their affinity to every nut Group out there I now find myself reading Bill Bennett, Sean Hannity, ...

    Runner up: (Richard?)
    I used to be a democrat..but then I switched over to communism.

    But, but...

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:24 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    December 30, 2005

    Post Of The Day

    I would like to refer everyone to Right Wing Target Marketing | CorrenteWire.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:35 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    New Rule!

    How Republicans win elections:

    Republicans criticize Democrats and Liberals.

    How Democrats lose elections:

    Democrats criticize Democrats and Liberals.

    New Rule!

    Democrats criticize Republicans and Conservatives.

    Observe the almost poetic symmetry of my new rule. It may seem counter intuitive, perhaps even illogical to DLC Democrats and moderates at first, but if you just go with the flow, after a short while it will begin to make perfect sense.

    Posted by Gary Boatwright at 10:02 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    December 22, 2005

    Negotiating When The Other Party Won't

    Today I was referred to a piece from Paperwight's Fair Shot written June, 2004. Take a read: The "Getting to Yes" Problem,

    When I was in law school, and early in my career, there was a lot of talk about the "Getting to Yes" style of negotiation, where you negotiate to a bigger pie for everyone (good) instead of zero sum positional bargaining (bad). Unfortunately, this is only true if both sides are willing to play along. If one side just wants to win, and doesn't care about establishing a relationship or creating a structure that will actually work, for the other side "Getting to Yes" really means "Rationalizing your Concession". Whichever is most willing to walk away will always win a negotiation. Ask anyone who's ever done business with WalMart.

    In the political context, it's clear that the Republican Party leadership is willing to walk away. They have no interest in compromise, even within their own party. They have no interest in governing wisely. All they want is what they want, whatever it takes to get that. If they don't get it, they won't play until they can. And once they established that, it was very easy to cram concession after concession down the throat of the Democrats, pulling the midpoint further and further toward themselves. The Democrats just tried to pretend to themselves that there had been some sort of reasonable negotiation and compromise.

    Now it's gotten to the point where the Republican Party leadership doesn't even pretend to compromise or try to get a concession. They rule. And apparently, from what we've seen of their internal thought processes, their vision is that they should rule absolutely.

    Like Yglesias, I would prefer to discuss, and hammer out, and reach workable solutions. Like Klein, I'd prefer to do so in a friendly way, over a beer (and can, with the principled conservatives that I know).

    But like Stoller, I know that you can't really have a beer or a friendly discussion with someone who wants you cowed and beaten, if not just completely eliminated. Not in business, not in politics.

    You have to go read the original, and follow its links. But a week on the internet is a very long time. A year and a half can be an eternity in blogging. This was just one "foundation" piece that helped shape people's thinking. A year and a half later it's frustrating because it seems like too many in Congress are still trying to make nice with a political party that seems to have turned into a power-cult. But how many of them were exposed to this thinking at all?

    I like to think of the "blogosphere" as a huge open-source "think tank" where ideas are proposed, discussed, amended and improved at a very fast pace. The problem is that those of us inside the process can lose track of how far away that can take us from the thinking and understanding of people who aren't able to stay connected to every discussion. (How many of us know about "turkee?")

    So, we're getting a lot done. How do we help the rest of us - the people who aren't as connected - to "get it?"

    See also Hulk Smash.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:30 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    December 18, 2005

    Let's Watergate Bush

    Hat tip to Fran for Dean at MyDD, Operation Flabergasted. This is a clarion call for a blogswarm to put pressure on our political representatives and the M$M. It was initiated by smintheus, who wrote a series of diaries at Daily Kos on how we can Awaken The MSM.

    Bush would like nothing better than to switch the topic from Domestic spying in violation of American law to anything else. We cannot let that happen.

    We have to ensure that by Monday, all hell has broken loose in D.C.

    Posted by Gary Boatwright at 8:46 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    December 9, 2005

    Marketing and Branding

    I strongly recommend that everyone read Daily Kos: Marketing, Branding, and Why We Can't Win in '06.

    Those of you who assume that either A) bad numbers for Republicans automatically translate to good numbers for Democrats, or B) the message we communicate in relation to the nation's #1 issue isn't a vital element of the party's brand, or C) voters will embrace an ill-conceived brand, are sorely and dangerously mistaken.

    Without a unified party, a consistent brand, or a coherent message, we're not even giving Joe and Jane Voter an alternative that they can justify. If anything, we're giving them a negative brand message that, carried out too much longer, will actually do us harm come November.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:06 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    Howard Dean vs. Harry Reid

    I just started a food fight over at MyDD. Already on the recommend list, Howard Dean Is Wrong Because He's Right, wherein I accuse Harry Reid of moral cowardice and challenge the DLC Sockpuppets at DLC Sockpuppet Central to bring it on.

    Stop by and participate in our national dialogue about the soul of the Democratic Party.

    Posted by Gary Boatwright at 5:13 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    December 6, 2005

    Orange County is ROCKING!

    Gary's report is from CA-48, where Steve Young is hoping for an upset in a special Congressional election today. Gary is working to help get out the vote. -- DJ

    Well we had about 150 people turn out to walk precincts, hang literature and knock on doors. If someone is home we ask them if they've voted yet and if not why not. By the end of the day we will have put in approximately 600 manhours walking precincts in CA-48.

    We started going out at 7:00 A.M. to stand on corners at busy intersections holding up Steve Young signs. I went down to the intersection of Bryan Ave & Jamboree Road with Willie and Miriam. After a short while I got bored .  .  .

    So I went back to my car and got a black and red magic marker and turned my Steve Young sign inside out. I made a new and improved sign that said in very large letters:



    which is exactly what the t-shirt I am wearing says. I held my sign up as high over my head as I could. Miriam is an annatopia doppleganger and she ran across the street, jerked my sign out of my hands and in bright red letters wrote on the other side:


    Some people's kids! That's not exactly what I would have written on the other side of my BUCK FUSH sign.

    My sign was quite popular in Tustin. I got a roughly equal share of thumbs up and middle fingers. Nobody else could see which signal the driver of the vehicle was flashing. So no matter which signal I received, I help up my thumb very high and screamed:


    After about thirty minutes a very nice officer from the Tustin Police Department showed up. Apparently a couple of people had called them to complain about some joker holding up a vulgar sign. After about thirty minutes the nice police officer told Willie that he had to move from the median over to a corner. No problem.

    I continued to hold my BUCK FUSH sign high over my head and give the thumbs up signal every time a motorist honked, gave me a thumbs up, or flipped me the bird.

    Guess who got a ticket?


    After about thirty minutes Willie decided to change corners to catch more traffic. When the left turn signal for vehicles came on, Willie left the corner and about half way to the median, the little white guy lit up on the traffic signal and Willie continued across the intersection. The nice police officer gave Willie a ticket for crossing against the light.  

    Would anyone care to guess what Willie's race is and why the nice police officer didn't say a word to the rude white guy holding up the BUCK FUSH sign?

    As it turns out, Willie had a very similar problem in San Diego a couple of days ago. Willie was circulating a petition at a Ralph's grocery store. He was arrested and spent three days in jail.

    Well, we're going out again about 2:30 and I'm definitely taking my BUCK FUSH sign with me. I'm not sure if Willie wants to go out with me again this afternoon. Willie may have had enough excitement for one week.

    Posted by Gary Boatwright at 2:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    November 25, 2005

    The Nixon-Bush Parallel

    Matt Stoller wrote a diary at MyDD about Wartime Politics. Matt was looking for an answer to one question:

    When has anti-war politics been good politics?

    For my money, as far as historical comparisons go, Vietnam is still the best comparison, both militarily and politically.

    Politically speaking Nixon and Bush were both re-elected as "war Presidents" only to have their popularity and effectiveness ended by an unpopular war. Watergate muddies the waters, but the question must be posed whether the political desperation that led Nixon into Watergate was influenced by McGovern and pressure from the anti-war movement.

    Both Presidents had pre-election scandals that were studiously glossed over by the M$M until after the election. Nixon's popularity plummeted [following his landslide victory over McGovern http://www.factmonster.com/ce6/people/A0860014.html]. Bush's popularity plummeted after his narrow and questionable defeat of Kerry.

    Chris Bowers has analyzed Bush's plummeting poll numbers, and The Poor Man has great charts that graphically illustrate Bush's problem. A bunch of M$M sources have pointed out how Reagan and Clinton both recovered their popularity after scandals, but they ignore the fact that Bush's scandals have just gotten started. How can Bush recover from scandals that are still building to a crescendo?

    Following Murtha's condemnation of Bush's war a bunch of M$M and conservative pundits, as well as several Democrats, insisted that we should wait until after Iraq's Constitutional Assembly, scheduled for December 15th. Is it realistic to expect dramatic changes in Iraq thirty days from now? How stupid is it for Democrats to help relieve the political pressure on Bush?

    Iraq and Bush's scandals are both going to get worse. I think the only question is whether a fatally wounded Bush lingers on or resigns. Cheney is more directly involved in the WMD scandals and the unpopularity of Iraq than Bush. Amazingly, he's also more unpopular than Bush. A variety of sources have insisted that Republican candidates in 2006 will ask McCain to campaign with them instead of Bush. Nobody has suggested that Cheney will be a big draw on the campaign trail.

    To answer Matt's question, I don't believe that historical parallels where anti-war candidates did well politically are necessary. I don't believe America has ever had a war that became this unpopular this quickly. I believe the relevant question that Democratic candidates should be asking themselves is Why has public support for Bush's war droped so dramatically? Public opinion has not been moved by opposition from the Democratic Party. There is not a principled case that the M$M is driving public opinion with anti-war coverage. Cindy Sheehan and the anti-war protesters aren't driving public opinion. Is it possible that America learned the right lesson from the Vietnam war after all, and we just didn't know it?

    I am not aware of a single Democrat in any state who has announced their intention to run in 2006 on a pro-war platform. If there are any they are fools. Bush and his war are both irredeemable failures.

    To win in 2006 all Democrats have to do is look at which candidates are the most popular with both Democrats and Independents. That would be candidates who oppose everything Bush has done or wants to do. Polls repeatedly tell us that a very substantial majority of Americans are displeased with the direction our country is going. It's time to start doing what the blogosphere has almost unanimously insisted Democrats should do for nearly a year now, which is start acting like an opposition party.

    Forget the nonsense about loyal opposition. Just oppose every single piece of legislation Bush proposes. Republicans like to accuse Democrats of being The Party Of No, as if that's a bad thing. They should become The Party Of Hell No! Stop helping Bush and the Republican Party get their legislation passed. Stop giving Bush cover on his immoral and unpopular war. Joe Biden should definitely stop saying he believes Bush is a nice guy. Democrats should definitely stop saying anything complementary about John McCain.

    That brings us to the issue of whether Democrats should have an actual agenda or just be mealy mouthed fence straddlers. Harry Reid has said that Republican budget cuts are immoral. Last week Rahm Emmanuel rattled off four or five policy initiatives the Democrats are proposing. Damn straight the Democrats should have an agenda. They don't need no stinking Contract On America. They just need a simple agenda that anyone at MyDD could write up in fifteen minutes or they could just steal Matt's agenda.

    Democrats should make it clear to the M$M and the American people that they do have a list of ideas and even some legislation they have dared the Republicans to bring up for a vote. Bush is running so far to his right that there is an entire galaxy of political space for Democrats to fill. They should absolutely not start chasing Bush to the right. Stand your ground on core principles and don't budge. Don't compromise.

    That brings us to Harry Reid. Harry Reid must start calling leadership votes on damn near everything. Threaten committee seats and bring the Democratic Senate Caucus into line. There is a rotating clique of about a dozen conservative and DLC Senators who can be counted on to give Bush as many votes as he needs to pass damn near any piece of legislation he wants. As long as Harry Reid allows Bush and Rove to strip six to ten votes from the DLC and Blue Dog democrats on every vote, Bush is going to keep winning legislative victories.

    The Senate is where unpopular legislation is supposed to get slowed down and stymied, not the House. Call leadership votes. Object to unanimous consent. Filibuster. Oppose Bush and win back Congress, win back the White House and take back America. It really is just that simple.

    Posted by Gary Boatwright at 8:42 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    November 24, 2005

    Rules For Radicals

    Rules For Radicals by Saul Alinsky © 1971


    The revolutionary force today has two targets, moral as well as material. Its young protagonists are one moment reminiscent of the idealistic early Christians, yet they also urge violence and cry, “Burn the system down!” They have no illusions about the system, but plenty of illusions about the way to change our world. It is to this point that I have written this book.

    Few of us survived the Joe McCarthy holocaust of the early 1950’s and of those there were even fewer whose understanding and insights had developed beyond the dialectical materialism of orthodox Marxism. My fellow radicals who were supposed to pass on the torch of experience and insights to a new generation just were not there. As the young looked at the society around them, it was all, in their words, “materialistic decadent, bourgeois in its values, bankrupt and violent.” Is it any wonder that they reject us in toto.

    Today’s generation is desperately trying to make some sense of their lives and out of the world. Most of them are products of the middle class.

    . . .

    They have seen the almost unbelievable idiocy of our political leadership – in the past political leaders, ranging from the mayors to governors to the White House, were regarded with respect and almost reverence; today they are viewed with contempt.

    . . .

    The young are inundated with a barrage of information and facts so overwhelming that the world has come to seem an utter bedlam, which has them spinning in a frenzy, looking for what man has always looked for from the beginning of time, a way of life that has some meaning or sense.

    . . .

    These are the days when man has his hands on the sublime while he is up to his hips in the much of madness. The establishment in many ways is as suicidal as some of the far left, except that they are infinitely more destructive than the far left can ever be. The outcome of the hopelessness and despair is morbidity. There is a feeling of death hanging over the nation. . . . To the young the world seems insane and falling apart.

    On the other side is the older generation, whose members are no less confused. If they are not as vocal or conscious, it may be because they can escape to a past when the world was simpler. They can still cling to the old values in the simple hope that everything will work out somehow, some way. That the younger generation will “straighten out” with the passing of time.

    . . .

    When they talk of values they’re asking for a reason. They are searching for an answer, at least for a time, to man’s greatest question, “Why am I here?”
    The young react to their chaotic world in different ways. Some panic and run, rationalizing that they system is going to collapse anyway of its own rot and corruption and so they’re copping out, going hippie or yippie, taking drugs, trying communes, anything to escape. Others went for pointless sure-loser confrontations so that they could fortify their rationalization and say, “Well we tried and did our part” and then they copped out too. Others sick with guilt and not knowing where to turn or what to do went berserk. These were the Weathermen and their like: they took the grand cop-out, suicide. To these I have nothing to say or give but pity – and in some cases contempt, for such as those who leave their dead comrades and take off for Algeria or other points.
    What I have to say in this book is not the arrogance of unsolicited advice. IT is the experience and counsel that so many young people have questioned me about through all-night sessions on hundreds of campuses in America. It is for those young radicals who are committed to the fight, committed to life.
    Remember we are talking about revolution, not revelation; you can miss the target by shooting too high as well as too low. First, there are no rules for revolution any more than there are rules for love or rules for happiness, but there are rules for radicals who want to change their world; there are certain central concepts of action in human politics that operate regardless of the scene or the time. To know these is basic to a pragmatic attack on the system. These rules make the difference between being a realistic radical and being a rhetorical one who uses the tired old words and slogans, calls the police “pig” or “white fascist racist” or “motherfucker” and has so stereotyped himself that others react by saying, “Oh, he’s one of those,” and then promptly turn off.

    . . .

    My “thing” if I want to organize, is solid communication with the people in the community. Lacking communication I am in reality silent; throughout history silence has been regarded as assent – in this case assent to the system.
    As an organizer I start from where the world is, as it is, not as I would like it to be. That we accept the world as it is does not in any sense weaken our desire to change it into what we believe it should be – it is necessary to begin where the world is if we are going to change it to what we think it should be. That means working in the system.

    . . .

    To bring on this reformation requires that the organizer work inside the system, among not only the middle class but the 40 percent of American families – more than seventy million people – whose incomes ranger from $5,000 to $10,000 a year. They cannot be dismissed by labeling them blue collar or hard hat. They will not continue to be relatively passive and slightly challenging. If we fail to communicate with them, if we don’t encourage them to form alliances with us, they will move to the right. Maybe they will anyway, but let’s not let it happen by default.

    . . .

    Let us in the name of radical pragmatism not forget that in our system with all its repressions we can still speak out and denounce the administration, attack its policies, work to build an opposition political base. True, there is government harassment, but there still is that relative freedom to fight.

    . . .

    We will start with the system because there is no other place to start from except political lunacy. It is most important for those of us who want revolutionary change to understand that revolution must be preceded by reformation. To assume that a political revolution can survive without the supporting base of a popular reformation is to ask for the impossible in politics.
    Men don’t like to step abruptly out of the security of familiar experience; they need a bridge to cross from their own experience to a new way. A revolutionary organizer must shake up the prevailing patterns of their lives – agitate, create disenchantment and discontent with the current values, to produce, if not a passion for change, at least a passive, affirmative, non-challenging climate.
    “The Revolution was effected before the war commenced,” John Adams wrote. “The Revolution was in the hearts and minds of the people . . . This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments andd affectations of the people was the real American Revolution.” A revolution without a prior reformation would collapse or become a totalitarian tyranny.

    . . .

    It hurt me to see the American army with drawn bayonets advancing on American boys and girls. But the realistic one: “Do one of three things. One, go find a wailing wall and feel sorry for yourselves. Two, go psycho and start bombing – but this will only swing people to the right. Three, learn a lesson. Go home, organize, build power and at the next convention, you be the delegates.

    . . .

    No politician can sit on a hot issue if you make it hot enough.

    . . .

    From the beginning the weakness as well as the strength of the democratic ideal has been the people. People cannot be free unless they are willing to sacrifice some of their interests to guarantee the freedom of others. The price of democracy is the ongoing pursuiut of the common good by all of the people. One hundred and thirty-five years ago Tocqueville gravely warned that unless individual citizens were regularly involved in the action of governing themselves, self-government would pass from the scene. Citizen participation is the animating spirit and force in a society predicated on voluntarism.

    . . .

    Here we are desperately concerned with the vast mass of our people who, thwarted thrugh lack of interest or opportunity, or both, do not participate in the endless responsibilities of citizenship and are resigned to lives determined by others. To lose your “identity” as a citizen of democracy is but a step from losing your identity as a person. People react to this frustration by not acting at all. The separation of the people from the routine daily functions of citizenship is heartbreak in a democracy.
    It is a grave situation when a people resign their citizenship or when a resident of a great city, though he may desire to take a hand, lacks the means to participate. That citizen sinks further into apathy, anonymity, and depersonalization. The result is that he comes to depend on public authority and a state of civic-sclerosis sets in.
    From time to time there have been external enemies at our gates; there has always been the enemy within, the hidden and malignant inertia that foreshadows more certain destruction to our life and future than any nuclear warhead. There can be no darker or more devastating tragedy than the death of man’s faith in himself and in his power to direct his future.
    I salute the present generation. Hang on to one of your most precious parts of youth, laughter – don’t lose it as many of you seem to have done, you need it. Together we may find some of what we’re looking for – laughter, beauty, love and the chance to create.

    Saul Alinksky


    The Purpose

    The life of man upon earth is a warfare . . .
    --JOB 7:1

    What follows is for those who want to change the world from what it is to what they believe it should be. The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. Rules for Radicals is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away.

    Posted by Gary Boatwright at 5:34 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    November 21, 2005

    The Intelligence Had Nothing Too Do With It - Good OR Bad

    Talking about the intelligence at all is another tree trick. See the forest, read Once Upon a Time...: Walking into the Iran Trap, Part I

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    November 19, 2005

    What Will Be Repeated At Thanksgiving Tables

    An addendum to my post below about long-term repetition of a narrative. This is my local paper's headline today, Tumult in House on Iraq pullout, and this is what it says,

    GOP leaders had scheduled the vote on a proposal by Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., to force the Bush administration to bring U.S. forces home now. The idea was to force Democrats to go on the record with a yes or no vote on a proposal that the Bush administration says would be equivalent to surrender.
    You and I know this just repeats a Republican lie, but the people around the country do not know this. What they read this morning - and what will be repeated at Thanksgiving dinner tables next week - is that the Democrats have proposed surrendering, cutting and running, leaving Iraq immediately.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:31 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    The Next Long-Term Narrative -- Democrats Lost Iraq

    Watch how a "narrative" develops and expands. Democrats want to "surrender" and "cut and run," such talk is "undermining the war effort" and "hurting the troops" and "aiding and comforting the enemy."

    It's because the war is going badly and the Republicans are planning to cut and run. It's about blame for the loss in Iraq, and the consequences that will follow. And it's about long-term repetition of a strategic narrative until the public accepts it as solid truth.

    You are starting to hear this narrative repeated everywhere. Get used to it, because you're going to be hearing it for many years. Today you think it sounds contrived and obvious, and you think the tide is turning on the Republicans. But over time this narrative could turn the loss in Iraq into a strength, not a defeat, for the Right. If, over time, the public blames the Democrats for the loss, the Right wins. And the Right understands this a lot better than the Democrats do.

    Today's polls for Bush are because "Bush lied, people died" has been repeated consistently over time. This message has been heard because we have developed new, albeit tiny (blogs plus one or two radio networks), channels for communicating. And the message has been repeated for long enough that it has started to sink in. That's how it works. Consistent repetition of a simple, strategic narrative over time through multiple channels. But this repetition has been more of an accident than a coordinated strategy. "Bush lied, people died" is a clear enough message and true enough to resonate, so people have spread it largely through word-of-mouth.

    The Right's narrative will dominate if they can reach more people, more often, over a longer period of time with the message that the Democrats sold us out by cutting and running. The question is who has the discipline and the means to win the message-repetition war, not just this short-term battle. Who do you think that will be? It's what the Right does, and does well. Today's narrative is based on the still-repeated lie that Democrats and the press forced the United States to surrender Viet Nam. Democrats and Progressives are not used to thinking long-term and are not used to thinking strategically.

    Thie narrative "echoes" today. At Heritage Foundation's Townhall, Call them what they are -- TRAITORS by Mark M. Alexander,

    Senators Harry Reid, Dick Durbin and Ted Kennedy have accused President George W. Bush of lying about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, insisting that he "lied us into war." Some Demo wing nuts are even floating the idea of impeachment. . . . In other words, Democrat Party leaders are using the gravely serious matter of the Iraq War for trivial political fodder -- and their politicization of our mission there has put our Armed Forces in the region in greater peril.

    [. . .] Clearly this Democrat "leadership" is willing to turn our national-security interests into political fodder by accusing the President of the United States of lying us into a war. Problem is, the President had no political motive for Operation Iraqi Freedom -- only a legitimate desire to fulfill the highest obligation of his office: that of defending our liberty against all threats.

    Ted, Dick and Harry, on the other hand, have plenty of political motivation for their perfidy -- and they've placed America's uniformed Patriots in the crossfire.

    [. . .] In the end, American Patriots must call out Kennedy, Durbin, Reid, et al., for what they are: TRAITORS. How else to describe political leaders who so eagerly embolden our Jihadi enemies and erode the morale of our fighting forces in Iraq and around the world?

    More examples of the narrative developing:

    David Limbaugh, at NewsMax, Republicans Must Fight the Withdrawal Mania,

    As for withdrawing our troops, Democratic leaders are talking to hear their heads rattle (and to score political points).

    . . . To prematurely establish an arbitrary timetable for our troop withdrawal ... would give the terrorists a victory they could never attain on the battlefield. It would reinvigorate their cause by confirming their suspicion that the American infidels lack the resolve to persevere.

    Heading toward a pressured and premature pullout?,
    It's all nuts - this seeming congressional determination to turn not only on President Bush, but on the American troops fighting for freedom and democracy on the Iraqi front of the terror war.
    Oliver North, How to lose a war -- the sequel,
    For more than two years the so-called mainstream media, the far left and some in Congress have been making trite comparisons between Vietnam and Iraq. Having spent a significant amount of time in both conflicts, about the only parallels I have seen in the two wars have been that bullets still wound and kill, and spilled blood is still red. But another common thread now ties the two hostilities together -- political cowardice in Washington, D.C.
    Bush himself, Bush Rejects Calls for Iraq Withdrawal, in a speech to a military audience,
    President Bush on Saturday swatted down calls in Congress for a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq, saying that American military leaders believe that retreat now would be "a recipe for disaster."

    . . . "In Washington there are some who say that the sacrifice is too great, and they urged us to set a date for withdrawal before we have completed our mission," the president said. "Those who are in the fight know better."

    Part of this narrative is clearly intended to give the troops someone to blame for the deaths of their comrades. The Rght wants them coming back home bitter, believing they were betrayed.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:14 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    Play To Win

    What a difference a day makes. Hat tip to Shauna Evans at BOP News, Play The Political Game To Win, for pointing out this Dana Milbank column:

    It was a lonely day for once-mighty Murtha, who has long served as Democrats' conscience on military matters because of his moral authority on the subject. But Democrats were cutting and running yesterday -- not from Iraq, but from Murtha.

    "I don't support immediate withdrawal," came the statement from Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

    Aides to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) hinted that she would back Murtha, but when she finally spoke, it came out as "Mr. Murtha speaks for himself."

    Murtha being to the left of his Democratic caucus on military affairs is like Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) being to the right of the caucus on gay rights. But Murtha seemed unconcerned. Asked if he had any co-sponsors, he replied, "I didn't ask for any."

    Let's hope that every single Democrat in Congress learned an important lesson about leadership from Jack Murtha's example. We can only hope that they also learned a lesson about being a tool of the RWNM.

    Posted by Gary Boatwright at 8:27 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    November 18, 2005

    Democrats Read This

    Matt Stoller has a post up, MyDD :: A Platform for 2006: Dream Big, Democrats. I know some of you "Washington Democrats" are reading here, so if you haven't yet, go read Matt's post.

    • Impeach the Secretary of Defense and all other responsible parties for incompetence and criminal negligence in the prosecution of the war in Iraq
    • A Constitutional Right to Privacy
    • A Higher Minimum Wage
    • Universal Health Care
    • Universal Free University Education
    • National Mass Transit
    • Full Corporate Governance Reform to End Corporate Corruption
    • National Free Internet Access and Copyright Reform
    If I had to pick just one addition it would be the Apollo Alliance.
    ...a moonshot for energy independence and good jobs. A crash program for sustainable energy independence would create three million good jobs, free the nation from imported oil, and promote a healthier environment.
    Jobs, energy, environment and strengthening the country. What's not to like? (Remember to join while your at their website.)

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:46 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    November 15, 2005

    Reason Not To Go With Polls

    Back in Dec. 2003 I wrote,

    Many "moderate" Democrats take the position that, since most of the public currently believes that Iraq was responsible for 9/11, it is therefore foolish to go against the grain and claim otherwise. Their political position is that it is not politically advantageous to disagree with a majority of the public regardless of where the facts lie on a given issue.

    . . . It may be true on any given day that it is a politically risky position to contradict what the public believes. Doing so leaves you open to opportunistic attacks from those who would prefer that the public remain deceived for their own political advantage. On any given day this may be a political reality. But what happens when you take a position that is at odds with the facts -- as well as at odds with the overall good of the country -- and do so for short term political advantage, and then the public's understanding of the facts changes? Doesn't today's convenient political position bring with it the risk that public understanding of an issue will change tomorrow, leaving you looking foolish and opportunistic? Isn't it therefore better in the longer term to take positions that agree with the truth and facts of an issue, and the good of the country?

    ... As time passes the number of people supporting Bush on this issue can only decline, because the facts do not support his position.

    Yes, this was after the war began, but it's an example of what all us bloggers had been sayng for some time. And now here we are. Would Bush have been beaten back sooner if the Democrats had pushed this theme? Have they learned? I think so.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    November 14, 2005

    The President Is A Liar

    The President is a liar. Repeat.

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

    November 9, 2005

    Work smarter, not harder

    Cross-posted from MyDD, the latest installment from Frameshop Is Open, Outsmart 'em:

    The 'Outsmart and Outhustle' Frame

    Torturing prisoners will not change the fact that the Bush Administration has failed to outsmart and outhustle the terrorists. It will only make a bad situation worse. President Bush's policy of torture is just the latest in a long list of mistakes by an administration that has failed to be smart and fast enough to protect the American people.

    When the United States military outsmarted and outhustled Osama Bin Laden, and trapped him in the caves of Afghanistan--President Bush chose to forfeit that success by using brute strength to destroy Iraq. And he failed. And American is less safe for it.

    When homeland security started to outsmart and outhustle terrorists through a series of innovative security measures at airports and in our cities--President Bush chose to abandon that success by setting up a network of secret prisons that use brute strength to torture suspects. And he failed. And America is less safe for it.

    When local state authorities try to outsmart and outhustle illegal immigrants crossing into America, and the potential danger than this influx may cause--President Bush chose to give billions in tax breaks to wealthy Americans, forcing vigilante groups to resort to brute strength to protect our borders. And this is failing. And America is less safe for it.

    And the list goes on.

    Rather than trying to outsmart and outhustle the threats to America, President Bush keeps taking the road to failure--he keeps trying to protect America with the tactics of the dumb brute.

    But as every child in America knows, it is Jack who outsmarts the giant, and it is David who slays Goliath. The dumb brute may look menacing in the short run, but he is always brought down.

    Posted by Gary Boatwright at 9:37 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    November 8, 2005

    The Pro-Growth Progressive

    There's an excellent discussion over at TPM Cafe's Bookclub about Gene Sperling's new book, The Pro-Growth Progressive: An Economic Strategy for Shared Prosperity.

    Gene got into a little dust up with David Sirota over free trade versus fair trade. Stop by and join in.

    Posted by Gary Boatwright at 4:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    November 1, 2005

    Message From Howard Dean

    Howard Dean just sent out this message about what happened today in the Senate.

    Dear Fellow Democrat,
    Late this afternoon my friend Senator Harry Reid forced the Senate into an extraordinary closed session to discuss the manipulation of intelligence on Iraq and subsequent cover-up that led to the indictments last week.

    It was the first indictment of a sitting White House official in well over a hundred years. Why? It's not because other administrations haven't gotten into trouble -- they have. The difference is that most administrations have a Congress willing to live up to its Constitutional responsibility. But this Republican-led Congress has blocked an investigation for over a year.

    Today Harry Reid said that enough is enough -- and from here on Democrats should use every tool at our disposal to demand answers and accountability.

    Do you agree? If you do, you can send a message that you're with Harry Reid and the rest of the Democrats who are tired of business as usual. Make a special donation and send a note of thanks to Harry Reid asking him to keep up the fight:


    It's important that Democratic lawmakers know where you stand, but they can't do the job on their own.

    Harry Reid is ready to lead a Senate that will hold this administration accountable for its corruption, incompetence and ideology-driven agenda. And on a Tuesday twelve months from now America can elect a new Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate that will investigate the White House cover-up.

    But are you ready to lead? If we're really going to build the Democratic Party in every state, every county, and every precinct, it's up to you to take responsibility for getting you and your neighbors organized.

    On November 15th, Democrats across the country will gather for national Organizing Kickoff meetings. If you agree to host one in your neighborhood, you'll be able to download all the materials you need to run a successful meeting to jump start Democratic organizing in your community. I'll also be joining all of the meetings -- over 400 have been scheduled so far -- for a nationwide conference call.

    For the next twelve months Harry Reid will be taking the lead on the Senate floor -- and for the next twelve months you need to take the lead in your community. Sign up to host a meeting on November 15th that will kick off twelve months of unprecedented, intense organizing in all 50


    Whether it's the string of arrests and indictments of corrupt Republican leaders or their pandering to extremist ideologues, America cannot afford to be in this situation. We need fundamental change in Washington to hold this administration accountable and begin doing the work to solve real problems.

    It's our responsibility to create that change by electing Democrats.

    If we're going to do that, we can't afford to wait around until a few months before the election. We have spent the last several months investing staff, dollars and volunteer hours in an effort to build a permanent party infrastructure in all 50-states -- but starting on November 15th it will be up to you to plug in and get organized.

    Enough is enough and we're ready to lead.

    Thank you.

    Governor Howard Dean, M.D.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    October 31, 2005

    Always Add the "Because"

    I added my two cents to the discussion following Kos's post The showdown finally arrives. Kos says that the Right is forcing a showdown over this new Supreme Court pick, and,

    This is a gift to Democrats. Katrina, massive budget deficits, and continued economic hardship have proven that Republicans can't govern. Iraq, Plame, and Osama Bin Laden have proven that Republicans can't run an effective foreign policy or protect our nation. Now Scalito, along with Bush's social security debacle, will prove to the American people that conservative ideology doesn't have their best interests at heart.

    Let the debate begin.

    I agree, but we need to do it right. I left the following as a comment:

    One of the effective arguments about the Katrina disaster was that people tied it to something deeper. By tying the Katrina mess to underlying ideological ideas we were able to point out that Bush and the Right have failed the country in a more fundamental way.

    Yes, Bush appointed cronies. Yes, Bush's administration wasn't ready, etc. But -- and here is the important thing -- people added the word BECAUSE, and tied it all to something more fundamental. And this was effective. Bush wasn't ready to respond to Katrina BECAUSE Republicans don't believe in government. Bush appointed cronies BECAUSE Republicans don't believe in government. People suffered and died after Katrina BECAUSE we need government and that is the primary thing government DOES.

    See what I mean? When we are criticizing Republicans on narrow issues we should always tie our criticisms to make a point about how Progressive values are better than conservative values. We should learn to always drive the deeper point home. We should always be arguing that Progressive values are better for people than conservative values.

    That's what the conservatives do, and it works.

    Discuss. (See also Frameshop)

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:19 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    October 29, 2005

    Enough Already!

    Steve at The Left Coaster:

    It's Time For The Democrats To Start The "Enough, Already" Campaign

    Regardless of how you feel about yesterday’s developments, may I suggest that if the Democrats were waiting for an opportune time to finally take the stage and make a claim for power, now is that time?

    [. . .] the Democrats have their opening to begin the “Enough, Already” campaign for next year. Here are some possible lines of attack for such a campaign:

    You have to go there to read the rest.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:07 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    October 27, 2005

    Washington Democrats - Read This

    Democrats Should Dump the Mommy Meme,

    Thus the time has come for the Democrats to stop with the mommy meme, stop with the 135,294,312 point plans to fix the country - and focus on the recreation of the Democratic Party in a different image.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:41 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    October 23, 2005

    What Democrats Stand For

    Kevin Drum has a good post on everyone's favorite subject: "What Democrats Stand For." He points to one source who learned from focus groups that the public perceives,

    The purpose of the Democratic party is to help the poor and the disadvantaged. [. . .] if the purpose of the Democratic party is to help the disadvantaged, what can the party possibly offer to the overwhelming majority of Americans who see themeslves as middle class?
    He offers that the
    gnawing stress and uncertainty that has always afflicted the daily life of the poor is increasingly afflicting the working and middle classes as well: stagnant wages, booms and busts in income from year to year, disappearing pensions, predatory lending, unreliable healthcare, and the constant, everpresent background fear of being laid off and falling into a hole you can never dig yourself out of.

    This growing instability affects a huge swath of workers in the United States, and it's something the Democratic Party should dedicate itself to addressing.

    Let me sum that up as I see it: The Democrats are the political party that created the middle class (working hand-in-hand with organized labor), and are now fighting to keep the middle class from falling back again. It's the party of the people, not of the rich and corporations. Now that the country has had a good, long taste of the Republican agenda and its effects, they might be ready to hear that.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:36 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    October 14, 2005

    Paul Hackett Wants You To Run For Office

    Running in 2006

    We need more candidates for congress, we need more candidates for state legislatures, we need more candidates for local offices and school boards. Think about the people you know and respect, the people who would make you proud and get them to run.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    ON HIS WATCH: Katrina == 9/11 == Iraq == Bird Flu

    With the serious threat from Bird Flu on the horizon and in light of the Bush administration's very public lack of preparedness for responding to hurricane Katrina (not to mention lack of a plan for occupying Iraq) I think it's time to revisit Bush's pre-9/11failures. The public might be ready to accept that Bush let us down back then just as much as with Kartina, took his eye off the ball, cared more about politics than protecting the public, listened to political hacks instead of career professionals, and allowed his vacation to interfere with understanding what "bin Laden determined to strike in US" meant.

    Katrina == 9/11.

    (Long sentence, short sentence thing...)

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:51 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    October 13, 2005

    A New Contract With America?

    TruthOut just posted an article by Stephen Pizzo, entitled: 10 Pledges to Demand from Democrats. In it, he outlines what he thinks we need to hold the Democratic Party accountable to doing if it takes control of Congress and the White House. Read the article, and then come back here and tell me whether you think this represents a real vision for
    "A Progressive Contract with America".

    Here's my reaction: LAME. If this is the best we can do, we as a country are doomed (and so human civilization and most of the living beings we share this planet with). I was going to deconstruct the posting in detail, but I'll leave it with this question: what's missing? (I'll provide my own answer as a commnnt).

    Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 7:48 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    October 10, 2005

    Why the Right Is Focused on MoveOn

    The Right seems oddly obsessive about MoveOn. For example, today's Moveon.org Embraces Nazi Defender by Joel Mowbray, just one of a constant stream of similar smear attacks.

    Here's the reason. It is a strategy. One thing the Right does well is think ahead and strategize. MoveOn is a major force in Progressive politics. The Right knows that MoveOn can raise lots of money and motivate lots of people to support candidates and issues. So the Right is working now, in advance of the next election, to "discredit" and "marginalize" MoveOn. It is one step in a plan. They are laying groundwork, preparing the public now for later attacks and smears on Progressive candidates. By spending time now when they are relatively unopposed and MoveOn is relatively undefended they are working to "raise MoveOn's negatives" and form a bad feeling about MoveOn in people's minds. Then they can later "demand" that candidates repudiate the marginalized MoveOn and try to make them refuse to accept their money and support. Get it? At the very least it will cause candidates to be distracted and on the defense.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:24 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    October 3, 2005

    Great Environment For Dem Candidates -- You Should Run

    The more I look around, the more it's looking like 2006 could be a big year for Democrats nationwide, federal, state and local. This could be a real sea-change election.

    So here's what I'm getting at: Do you live in a Congressional or State Representative/Assembly/Whatever-it's-called-where-you-live or County Supervisor district that usually goes Republican? This could be your year! Find out what it takes to run for office and sign up! Or talk to people you think should run.

    The blogs will help you win.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:14 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    October 1, 2005

    Rove is going to HATE this!

    Want to know what the American public thinks (but isn't being asked about)? Want to upset Rove's apple cart, and that of the right-wing spinmeisters?

    After Downing Street has begun collecting donations to pay for professional pollsters to ask the questions that aren't being asked. This is a very saavy initiative that could have a significant impact on the American political dialogue, in the media, in D.C., and across the kitchen table and at the water cooler. Not to mention being vastly more cost-effective than almost any other initiative imaginable. An ideal use of the blogosphere's fundraising potential.

    Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 2:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    September 19, 2005

    How They Do It

    Following is an e-mail that is circulating. This came from a friend who got it from a friend who works at a major defense contractor.

    This is how they do it. Read between the lines. This is a series of propaganda points reinforcing a long-term strategic narrative ("government is bad") disguised as humor. This stuff works.

    Subject: humor - responses

    How various governmental entities might have responded to hurricane Katrina...

    US Postal Service - Takes two weeks to deliver supplies to New Orleans; 10% of the supplies are lost. Nevertheless, demands that no private firm be allowed to deliver supplies. Recipients must wait in line for hours at a few inconvenient offices to receive their supplies. A few postal workers fire guns at recipients. Asks for a postage increase.

    NASA - Evacuates New Orleans for two years while they study the problem. Eventually, rebuilds the levees exactly as before, but installs a network of television cameras to watch the levees. As soon as the city is repopulated, the levees leak again. Asks for more money.

    FDA - Same as NASA, except 10 years, no television cameras, and when the levees leak, sues the levee manufacturer and demands that all cities with levees be closed.

    Transportation Security Administration (TSA) - Requires all evacuees to pass through a metal detector and remove their shoes for inspection. Evacuees without shoes, not covered by regulations, are required to stay in the city. Maintains a secret "no-evacuate" list. Asks for more money.

    Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) - Surrounds New Orleans with snipers and shoots anyone attempting to escape. Eventually requests military support to bomb the city with napalm. Afterwards finds some unregistered firearms in the rubble; officially exonerated for its actions. Asks for more money.

    Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac - lobby to create "Cindy Lou", the Catrina National Disaster Loan Unit (CNDLU), specializing in zero-down-payment, below-prime loans to homes likely to be destroyed in five years or less. In ten years, amasses a portfolio of $500 billion in loans. Insists it doesn't need a bailout.

    Child Protective Services (CPS) - removes all the children of New Orleans from their parents, on the grounds that their parents are unable to provide a safe and clean home. Relocates the children to foster homes in Baghdad. Asks for payment for each child relocated.

    CIA - Sends covert operatives to 20 other American cities to report on the water level. Concludes that there is no flood risk. Asks that its budget be secretly increased.

    Congress - Holds six months of hearings to investigate the problem, finally placing blame on some low-level staff workers at the NOAA. Passes new legislation banning hurricanes from entering the continental U.S. Votes itself a pay raise.

    Supreme Court - Concludes that hurricanes are an Act of God, and by a 5-4 vote, bans them from federal property and public schools. The dissenting opinion holds that it should be up to the states to decide if they want hurricanes in their schools.

    FEMA - See Postal Service.

    I suspect this originated in a Washington-based "conservative movement" think tank because of references to the initials of agencies, knowing what NOAA does, insider joke about the FDA drug approval process, throwing in a reference to the evils of gun registration... Also note the dig at the CIA - you didn't used to see something like that.

    Is this a sign of what's coming? Bush's Katrina response proves that government is bad...?

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:01 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    September 15, 2005

    Poll Numbers Not Important

    The Decembrist writes:

    The president's popularity dipped into the low 40s, and they passed the energy bill anyway -- what more proof do you need that the president's poll numbers hardly matter, if you control the instutions? Before Katrina, they were on the verge of permanent repeal of the estate tax plus another tax cut in reconciliation, even with Bush's numbers in the toilet!

    That's why I didn't fully accept Garance's argument last week that they aren't really PR geniuses because of the poll numbers -- they don't need the poll numbers until they need the poll numbers, and when they need them, they figure they can find a way to push them up a bit and/or push the relevant Democrats down.

    WHat is the Progressive long-term strategic plan to take the country back?

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:34 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    September 10, 2005

    Stop Giving To The Red Cross

    From Nathan Newman at The House of Labor over at TPM Café, It’s Politics Now

    With tens of billions now flowing from the government towards Bush's business cronies for supposed reconstruction of the Gulf Coast-- stripped of any requirement to pay people decent wages -- progressives have to stop treating all this as humanitarian relief and recognize it's now about political control of the money.

    The Bush administration sure recognizes that.

    And the only people who will have the moral power to fight the corporate looting of reconstruction money are going to be well-established organizations on the ground, able to mobilize poor families there as well.

    Newman recommends that a good place to start is ACORN, nationally based in New Orleans, which is mobilizing poor families to demand fair treatment and decent wages in the aftermath.

    Community Labor United. Donate through True Majority here.

    Mississippi Workers Center. General political support here

    Southern Empowerment Project. (links to a range of worthy local groups)

    Project South

    Posted by Gary Boatwright at 7:19 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    September 8, 2005

    Democrats Speaking Out

    "The Democrats" do speak out. The media doesn't necessarily report what they say. People get an impression that "the Democrats" are silent... Some of what is found on the front page of the Democratic Party website (go there to click the links):

      * TIMELINE: What Happened When With Katrina
      * GOP RESPONSE: The Blame the Victims Chorus
      * KATRINA: Bush Will Report to Bush on Investigation of Bush Administration
      * SENATE: Another Republican Smears the Victims

      * KATRINA: President Bush's Responsibility * KATRINA: Senate Democrats' Relief Plan * KATRINA RESPONSE: Dean on the Bush Adminstration's Political Strategy * HELP THE RED CROSS: Contribute to Relief Efforts * PARTY AFFAIRS: DNC Fall Meeting Postponed; Staff Given Leave to Participate in Volunteer Relief Efforts * IRAQ: There was a Plan to Win WWII; Why Not Iraq? * LOUISIANA: Landrieu Blasts Bush for Photo-Ops and Lack of Help * ARIZONA: Kyl Smears the Victims * LOUISIANA: Emergency Numbers and Other Important Information * MISSISSIPPI: State Emergency Managment Agency Resources * ALABAMA: Utility and Safety Contact Information * YOUNG PEOPLE: Democrats from Texas and Nevada Organizing Aid * WOMEN: Celebrating Women's Equality Day * YOUNG PEOPLE: On the Road with Young Democrats * VETERANS: Bush Has Abandoned National Guard and Reserve * WOMEN: We Need the Truth on Robert's Partisan Agenda

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:24 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    September 7, 2005


    The Deadly Bigotry of Low Expectations? Did the rumor mill help kill Katrina victims?

    "We don't have any substantiated rapes," New Orleans Police superintendent Edwin Compass said yesterday, according to the Guardian.

    [. . .] Relief efforts ground to a halt last week after reports circulated of looters shooting at helicopters, yet none of the hundreds of articles I read on the subject contained a single first-hand confirmation from a pilot or eyewitness. The suspension-triggering attack—on a military Chinook attempting to evacuate refugees from the Superdome—was contested by Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Laura Brown, who told ABC News, "We're controlling every single aircraft in that airspace and none of them reported being fired on." What's more, when asked about the attacks, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff replied: "I haven't actually received a confirmed report of someone firing on a helicopter."

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:45 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    September 6, 2005

    Someone I'd Vote For

    Brian Ellner is a candidate for Manhattan Borough President in New York City. Fox News refuses to run his ad, saying it is disrespectful to President Bush. Go to his website and take a look at his ad, (and his blog) and tell me if you think it is disrespectful.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:01 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    September 5, 2005

    Civil Rights Hero John Lewis Calls For Urban Marshall Plan

    Hat tip to Paul Rosenberg at MyDD. In a Newsweek op-ed, This Is a National Disgrace, civil rights hero John Lewis, Lewis, Congressmember from the Fifth District of Georgia recalls his own experience, our history, and the glaring contrast between how we go to war vs. how we care for our own cities. We need a Marshal Plan, not just for New Orleans, Lewis writes, but for urban America as a whole, with New Orleans as a model:

    I was headed to New Orleans as a Freedom Rider in May of 1961. It would've been my first visit, but we were arrested in Jackson, Miss., and never made it. In happier times, though, I have been able to visit New Orleans over the years. It's one of my favorite cities, one of the great Southern cities.... It's very painful for me to watch and read about what is happening. I have a sense of righteous indignation. I think all Americans should rise up and speak out. It's not like 9/11 that just happened. We saw this in the making....

    Read the rest

    Posted by Gary Boatwright at 6:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    September 4, 2005

    Roberts should replace Rhenquist

    Bush could either nominate Roberts to be Chief Justice or elevate Scalia to Chief Justice concurrently with Roberts' nomination. The Court would not be a justice short for the two to three month period that vetting, nominating and confirming another Supreme Court nominee would take.

    The suggestion would be difficult for Bush to refuse and would discredit the inevitable claim that Democrats must rush through the second nomination, because the court is still one justice short of a full bench.

    [Update: 9/05] Supreme Court Picture Gets Complex:

    It would be easy for the president to switch gears on the Roberts nomination. He could withdraw his nomination to be an associate justice and resubmit his nomination to be chief justice, lawyers and judiciary committee staffers said Sunday.

    "The president can do that without almost any uncertainty because he knows how the Roberts nomination [for associate justice] has been received," said Brad Berenson, a Washington lawyer who worked for the Bush White House. "Barring something unforeseen, he would be easily confirmed for chief justice."

    Berenson added: "This is the only scenario in which the court could begin the term with a full complement of justices, since Justice O'Connor pledged to stay on until her successor is confirmed."

    Posted by Gary Boatwright at 6:25 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    NAACP Calls For 9/11 Fund For New Orleans

    I just heard this on MSNBC. I couldn't find anything on a google search yet, but it sounds like a terrific idea. The precedent of establishing a disaster relief fund was established by the federal Victim Compensation Fund.

    President Bush has said Hurricane Katrina is a worse disaster than 9/11. The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund was not a perfect program by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a good initial attempt that could be improved on.

    Keep your eyes on the NAACP homepage for an update. While you're there, if you still haven't squeezed out the last dime you can afford, call 1-866-996-2227 and pitch in a few dollars to the NAACP Relief Fund.

    The NAACP has also teamed up with Move On.org Civic Action to identify 17,000 beds for hurricane victims in Louisiana and Alabama.

    Posted by Gary Boatwright at 11:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    August 31, 2005

    It Takes A Hurricane

    "Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem."
    -Ronald Reagan

    That is the key sentence in Ronald Reagan's first inaugural address, which was titled Putting America Back To Work. We can only hope that Hurricane Katrina demonstates once and for all that callous conservatism is not the solution. Callous conservatism is the problem.

    A long line of callous conservatives have been accusing liberals of being soft hearted do gooders because they have genuine concern for the common welfare of the American people. On a long string of issues from Social Security to wetlands to mundane tasks like building levees, conservatives have been riding on Reagan's coat-tails to insist that government is not the solution to our problems.

    It is time to drive a stake through the heart of that canard. If it takes a hurricane to wake up the American people, I will not be apologetic for pointing out the obvious. Red state voters have no one but themselves to blame for the excess hardship that will be caused by years of callous neglect from the Bush administration.

    For all of the naysayers who wish to accuse me of playing politics with a natural disaster, I will simply point to how President Bush shamelessly politicized 9/11. If telling the truth is playing politics, then we need more of it, not less.

    This is exactly the time to remind the American people about the preamble to the Constitution of the United States of America:

    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

    Protecting the American people from natural disasters, the National Guard, ensuring adequate supplies of gasoline, energy refining capacity and natural gas, protecting our environment and our wetlands, Social Security and Medicare, bankruptcy, border patrol and public education are all necessary and vital programs and roles for the federal government that conservatives and President Bush have spent decades trying to destroy.

    Enough is enough. It's time to take back America. It's time to take back the Constitution. It's time to take back Congress and the White House from America's conservative domestic enemies. I'll say it again and I'll say it now. The greatest threat to America and freedom is not Bin Laden. The greatest threat to America, freedom, our civil liberties and the general welfare of America is President Bush.

    The President of the United States is America's greatest enemy.

    Posted by Gary Boatwright at 4:53 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    August 11, 2005

    Pressure and Consequences

    A comment by Ian Welsh at this post: Run Everywhere, Build Everywhere:

    Stirling once formulated that insiders understand pressures and the outsiders understand consequences. I've found the same thing at work during periods when I've worked closely with management - you understand how they see the world and the constraints and pressures they work under, the inside politics of the corporation and you come to understand why the things that should be done "can't" be done.

    And if you get sucked in too far you start to think that the pressures are all that matters and that how something will actually work doesn't matter. Because if you please the right people it doesn't really matter whether what you did is "good" by some sort of independent metric, because there is no independent metric other than what your superiors think.

    But if you actually want a well run company, or a well run party, or a well run country or to be winners as a team, then the consequences matter. Of course, you may go to the floor and lose to the internal enemies (and I have done so).

    The good guys don't often win, the entrenched interests do. And people who want a political career have to understand that to get paid they need to make sure the right people like them. But that sort of cognitive dissonance is painful, so over time they come to believe the people with power are right.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:54 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    DCCC Call - I Say Grow The Base

    I participated in a DCCC blogger conference call last night with DCCC Chair Rahm Emanuel. DCCC is an important component if we are going to take back the Congress and it is good that the DCCC is active with the blogging community.

    In the call Rahm repeated that they feel they have limited resources and must choose carefully which candidates to support. To them this means it is not a good use of resources supporting candidates in districts that have often voted largely Republican in the past. (Also it isn't easy recruiting candidates to run in such districts.) So they are saying that it is just a fact that you won't win the election in such districts so put the resources where you can win.

    I understand this concern, but I think it's a strategy that eats the seed corn. It's looking for short-term results but with a long-term cost. As a result of this approach the numbers for next election will be even worse, and so on after that.

    I have experienced this before. At the Democratic Party "Campaign Academy" I attended traditional Democratic strategists taught campaign planning as analyzing precincts according to how many "base" voters there are, and figuring out the costs of finding them and getting them to the polls. You add up your available resources and calculate how many calls and door-stops you can make with those resources (there are specific formulas for this) and plan your campaign around that. You ignore precincts that don't have a high enough base turnout, and ignore anyone who is not a regular base voter.

    This turnout strategy is based on assuming that there is a Democratic majority in place, and you will win if you can just get enough of them to show up. It was a good strategy because that used to be true, so it worked. (And I think it's the only way to run a localized campaign.)

    This is a pragmatic strategy that says you have to accept the "facts on the ground" and work with them. To Washington professionals those facts include a "conventional wisdom" belief that "the public" has "moved to the right" so you have to move to the center, and a bunch of stuff like that. It does NOT take into account HOW the public was moved. And it certainly does not address how to bring the public back.

    It's not true anymore that there is a Democratic majority in place, and I think maye the traditionalists don't realize that - or don't know any other way to operate. To my mind this is similar to the AFL-CIO split, where the AFL-CIO wants to keep working to get a shrinking membership to the polls, and do lobbying, while SEIU and others want to put the resources into growing the membership again.

    That's where I'm at on this. To me this is about accepting the facts on the ground vs changing the facts on the ground. Getting out the base vs growing the base. If you put resources into districts that you might not win, you are growing the base. You are informing the local electorate. You are changing minds. You are laying the groundwork for winning that district the next time, or the time after that.

    I agree with everything Bob Brigham writes at Swing State Project about the call:

    Here's what was missing. Had the DCCC had a call with bloggers two years ago, the exact same conversation would have occurred. "The same, just better" is not a valid slogan.

    I'm holding out hope for Emanuel. I'm waiting to be inspired. But nothing leads me to believe that the DCCC realizes the importance of investing early and running full campaigns. Everything still seems based on the last two weeks and 30 second ads.

    But that isn't what Democrats need as a Party, especially in congressional races. We need to talk to everyone. Voters deserve a choice. Let's involve all of America when we reform the Culture of Corruption. Technology has circumvented geographic distance, people have free cell phone evenings and IM and email. People talk and we need them talking about the Culture of Corruption – everywhere.

    Corrupt Congressmen have been known to live outside of swing districts. Let's put everyone on notice, it is time to do the possible instead of just better than before.

    Howard Dean's 50/435 strategy is a longer-term strategy of working everywhere to educate and change people's minds. It might take more election cycles, but it is a strategy for growth. It understands and leverages the concept of an involved netroots.

    Update - DCCC thinks I got it wrong, and Jesse e-mailed "Rahm definitely did not say that this meant leaving traditionally Republican seats out of the equation." My grammar was bad, I did not mean it to sound like that was a quote.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:38 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    August 10, 2005

    The Revolution Is Being Blogged

    The revolution will not be televised, but it will be blogged. In a follow up to his Hotline article on progressive bloggers, Ron Brownstein covers some of the same turf in his L.A. Times column, Campaign Battlefield May Grow: Liberals activists want Democrats to storm congressional races, even on GOP's turf.

    Last year, Lois Herr, a former corporate executive, entered the race against Pitts just before the filing deadline. She drew one-third of the vote.

    But this year, Herr is seeking a rematch, and her uphill bid against Pitts could mark a crucial test for liberal activists pressuring Democrats to radically revise their strategy for recapturing the House of Representatives.

    An array of liberal Internet activists is urging Democrats to vastly expand the 2006 congressional battlefield by recruiting and funding challengers in dozens of districts that have been virtually conceded to the GOP, like the one represented by Pitts.

    Imagine that! Bloggers actually want the Democratic Party to take Howard Dean's 50 state strategy seriously.

    Brownstein is actually covering the blogosphere:

    Those calls are drawing new energy from Democrat Paul Hackett's narrow defeat this month in a special election in an Ohio district where Republicans usually romp. Hackett's showing "proved that you could build the party if you pay attention to every race," said Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, founder of the popular liberal website the Daily Kos.

    The DCCC braintrust is not quite as ossified as the DLC, but it's close:

    Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, has responded to the pressure from liberal activists by saying he intends next year to fund Democratic challengers for 50 Republican-held seats, about double the number the campaign committee backed in 2004.

    But the committee, and many leading Democratic strategists, say that funding a wider circle of challengers in heavily Republican areas would divert money better spent on districts more closely balanced between the parties.

    Mark Gersh, a longtime strategist for Democrats, said the liberal websites and blogs were right that the party needed to expand the battlefield for House seats.

    "But to expand it into districts where [Democrats] have no chance of winning is absolutely crazy," he said.

    The DCCC doesn't get it. What's crazy is giving hundreds of millions of dollars to good buddies of Bob Schrum and Al From for expensive campaign commercials. I'm still suspicious of The New Democrat Network, if for no other reason than the fact that the DLC still has a link to them on their website, but Simon Rosenberg gets it:

    The dispute, complete with incendiary attacks on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee from some liberal websites, marks the latest disagreement between the Democratic political hierarchy and a left-leaning Internet activist base demanding a more aggressive strategy to regain power.

    "The challenge the bloggers are laying on the table is to not concede and not accept becoming a minority party," said Simon Rosenberg, president of NDN, a centrist Democratic group that has befriended Internet activists. "Their argument is correct. If we really want to win in 2006 and 2008, we have to expand the playing field."

    Of course, everybody except the DCCC and the DLC is crazy:

    In an article last week, Jerome Armstrong, co-founder of the popular liberal website MyDD.com, called on Democrats to run "Hackett-like operations" against every Republican House member.

    But Gersh argued that it would be a mistake to build a strategy around the Ohio example, because special elections often produced surprising results that didn't necessarily offer clues about the general election to follow.

    Diverting money to long-shot contests is "what the Republicans would want to see," Gersh said. "This kind of craziness would exactly play into Republican hands."

    Here's a round-up of some relevant articles:

    DCCC: Leave No District Behind, by Tim Tagaris at Swing State Project.

    DCCC: How Slow Can You Go?, by Bob Brigham at Swing State Project.

    More Hackett Jobs, by Jerome Armstrong at Tom Paine.

    DCCC & challenging all 435 seats in 2006, by Jerome Armstrong at MyDD.

    An introductory effort at two way communication with the blogosphere from the DCCC The DCCC, the Blogosphere, and Progressive Movements: A Sincere Thanks and Challenge, posted by John Lapp at MyDD.

    A Model for Contesting them All - Blue 7th PAC, by Nathan at MyDD.

    Those are just some of the highlights in an important dialogue between the Democratic Party and the blogosphere. Let the conversation continue . . .

    Posted by Gary Boatwright at 5:43 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    August 9, 2005

    Winning Districts

    Bob Brigham, at Swing State Project: Charlie Cook Waits by his TV for The Revolution,

    Democrats need to stop judging success on Election Day. We need to start judging success each and every day. This simple mindset change is critical in a post-broadcast environment. Out west, one question you hear in HQ is, "We winning?" Democrats need some West Coast Offense because the right investments now can catapult a tidal cycle. We need to stop The Fear from influencing decision making and start focusing on winning every single day in every district in every state. If we can make this simple mindset change before it is forced upon us, then we will win more elections. Stop compromising, play hard and start winning.

    [. . .] When the DCCC tells new candidates to go raise $100K if they want to talk, they are breeding fundraisers, not political leaders.

    [. . .] If you are the Democratic nominee for the United States Congress, you deserve to have a campaign. It isn't about buying TV in every race, it is about leaving no district behind.

    [. . .] If we focus on winning every day, then we will never have to worry about coming in late. If we stop worrying about the 30 second ad, we can build scalable models that will result in more ads. If we build a nationwide, post-broadcast congressional communications network, then we can do more than talk at people on TV, we could connect.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:06 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    August 3, 2005

    Six year itch?

    So, Paul Hackett turned a 75%/25% Red/Blue district into a 52%/48% one, despite somewhat late intervention by the blogosphere, etc. Pretty impressive. Bodes well for 2006.

    Here's a thought: maybe having Bush re-elected in 2004 was a GOOD thing. Wait. No. Hold on. Hear me out. Yeesh.

    Here's the pitch: while the Presidency is important, in many ways, it is essentially a reactive position, dependent on the Congress for policy implementation. You can replace a President every four years, and control of the office shifts fairly often.

    Control of Congress does NOT shift very often. If Hackett's level of success is indicative (setting aside any exceptional aspects), then the six-year itch factor is very much in play, and Republican control of the House (at least), and maybe even the Senate could be threatened. That, folks, would be huge: even potentially enough to compensate for the re-election of Bush. Or not? Comments welcome.

    Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 11:42 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    July 29, 2005

    It's Time To Blame The Democrats

    All of the end of session legislation on Bush's wish list would not be getting so many Democratic votes without Harry Reid's blessing.

    With Democrat Support, Bush Agenda Moves Forward

    Tom Vilsack has declared war on the Democratic party.

    Democrats don’t get this. Sure, at a cognitive level they recognize the task, but they don’t “get it.” (If you want to see just how much they don’t get it, watch Charlie Rose’s interview with the new head of the DLC Vilsack. The war against Dean and liberals is now official.)

    Blueprint Magazine has declared war on the Democratic party.

    Will Marshall has declared war on the Democratic Party.

    Harry Reid Is A Bush Sockpuppet.

    Posted by Gary Boatwright at 10:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    July 26, 2005


    I agree with Altercation:

    I don’t understand why the DLC thinks its job is to continue to attack liberals, here, much less to do so, as Atrios, points out here, by putting words in the mouth of people who did not say them, but merely hosted them. Me thinks Mr. Peter Ross Range owes a few apologies, while his bosses might want to suggest that he redirect his fire. (By the way, I don’t attack the DLC, though I disagree with much of they say and do. None of us has a monopoly on wisdom. They have turned out to be right and I have turned out to be wrong on a few things of absolutely crucial importance over the years. But really, what is the point of an organization with the words “Democratic” in its name that obsesses over attacking liberals, and then does so on the basis of false accusation?)
    Go to the original to follow its links.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:30 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    July 23, 2005

    Is Joe Biden a closet Republican?

    I can't tell if Lieberman or Biden would make the best Republican. Excuse me, but do you ENJOY being in the minority??:

    The absence of the Democrats is even more glaring considering just today the New York Times reported that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald called Karen Hughes before the grand jury to testify as to her involvement in the leak-case. Of course, this begs the obvious question: Karen Hughes, did you have a role in leaking the name of an undercover CIA agent?

    Even worse was this comment by Biden:

    I am particularly interested in and supportive of the nomination of Karen Hughes to be undersecretary of state for public diplomacy. What this job requires, among other things, is continuity. The last two undersecretaries have stayed six and 18 months, respectively.

    I met with the nominee yesterday and understand that, barring unforeseen circumstances, she is willing to stay through the president’s term.

    I believe that she is highly qualified because of her professional background, and, importantly, enjoys the full confidence of the president and the secretary of state.

    She will bring new energy and creativity to our public diplomacy efforts. I commend the president for choosing her and persuading her to return to Washington, and I look forward to working with her for the next three years on this important foreign policy priority.”

    Wouldn't it be nice if either one of the Joe twins had as much admiration for the Chair of the DNC as they did for one of the sleaziest Republican operatives in history?

    Posted by Gary Boatwright at 9:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    July 21, 2005


    The Liberal Disease:

    That's pretty much the last ten years of American political history in a nutshell. While liberals sift and weigh the evidence, debate alternative points of view, and reach for that ever elusive "fairness," the conservative machine sifts and weighs alternative propaganda points, debates the best way to manipulate public opinion, and reaches for power -- first, last and always.

    The modern conservative movement understands that fair and balanced is a marketing slogan: an Orwellian label for its exact opposite. Or, as David Horowitz wrote in his Art of Political Warfare -- a totalitarian how-to manual for GOP candidates and conservative activists:

    ?You cannot cripple an opponent by outwitting him in a political debate. You can do it only by following Lenin's injunction: "In political conflicts, the goal is not to refute your opponent's argument, but to wipe him from the face of the earth."
    Lenin: (teary eyed) He's like the son I never had!

    I think we all understand what the conservative response would be in the current situation if the tables were turned: Attack, attack, attack. Ted Kennedy clone! Wild eyed radical pro-sodomy extremist! Vince Foster's murderer!

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:05 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    July 20, 2005

    Happy Blogosphere Day

    A little late on the ball (I have a life, unfortunately), but the Swing State Project is participating in a July 19th one day event (Happy Blogosphere Day) to help raise funds for Paul Hackett, a Democrat running for a special election to Congress in Ohio's 2nd District - and to demonstrate the power of the Blogosphere to change the financial dynamics of a political race overnight.

    So far, according to Act Blue, he's raised over $100,000 from approximately 2000 donors in a single day.

    Pretty impressive. Not quite a match for the Republican fundraising machine (which deals in $50,000 chunks of chump change, not $50 chunks), but still quite nice.

    Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 3:45 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    July 1, 2005

    Democrats Know Better

    Chris Bowers at MyDD:

    We can make gains in 2006 by pointing out a simple truth: Republicans think things are great in Iraq. Democrats know that isn't true. Republicans think the economy is great. Demcorats know that isn't true. Republicans believe that the direction of this country has never been better. Democrats know that isn't true. Demcorats will make an economy that works for everyone. Demcorats will make a more accountable Iraq, with a real timetable to end the war. Democrats know the future can be better, while Repbulicans think everything is fine as it is.
    Of course go read the whole thing.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:02 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    June 30, 2005

    How To Rebuild Support for Progressives

    In the post Democrats: The Party of Losers, BopNews blogger AaronBurrFan is writing about the Joe Bidens who repeat right-wing talking points, and the effect this has on the public perception of Democrats. He says that a lot of the public supports Progressives, "but they do not consider Democrats a progressive party."

    Indeed, what has been going on for the past six months is that progressives within the Democratic Party have been fighting tooth and nail, this has hurt Bush, and conservative empty Democrats have taken credit for the victories. And progressives - as seen in their support for Hillary Clinton and Bob Casey - are quite willing to let this happen. [. . .] As long insider Democrats insist on running on empty and mistake carping and whining for fighting, and as long as progressives seek to work with insiders instead of unseating them, the Democrats will not be in charge. Oh sure the Republicans will screw themselves over, but that won't redound to our benefit. It will just help a different group of Republicans. They are good at the endless outsider thing. Americans can smell unprincipled corruption in the Democratic Party, and will accept the principled corruption of a McCain instead.
    He also refers to a David Sirota post, Why the Public Believes Dems Stand for Nothing. Sirota writes,
    - When you vote with Republicans for an energy bill that showers huge oil/gas companies with massive tax breaks at a time of record deficits, and that energy bill won't lower the cost of gasoline, Americans will believe you stand for nothing.

    [. . .]

    - When you say you are for economic fairness, and then your top leaders start negotiating the elimination of the Estate Tax that falls on the wealthiest 2 percent of citizens, Americans will believe you stand for nothing.

    [. . .] If the party really wants America to believe it stands for something, then the party has to actually stand for something – not just talk about standing for something. Americans aren't stupid – they know the difference between lip service, and action.

    I completely agree, BUT... (expanding on comments I left at the BopNews post...)

    I think that as we articulate the vision of the kind of country/society we want and argue for that vision, that more and more people will come to agree. Then people will elect candidates who share that vision, and will support Progressive issues.

    This is a long-term project, and it requires a lot of work focusing and articulating that vision (think tanks, etc. and the MONEY to fund them). It also requires a lot of effort advocating that vision to the public-at-large (advocacy communications organizations and the MONEY to fund them).

    This is how the Right has accomplished so much. They reached out to the general public to PERSUADE them. They spent decades articulating their vision and communicating it to the public. (That's the nice wording -- they also use threats and intimidation and trickery...) They have put literally billions of dollars into their movement-building efforts.

    So I think it isn't JUST a matter of politics and electoral tactics - and of getting the Bidens and DLCers out. The public used to support Progressive ideals. The Right came along and spent decades persuading the public to instead support their side. I think the Bidens and DLCers are just acknowledging the "facts on the ground." So while we should pressure them to be more supportive of Progressive views, we have to also work to get the general public people BACK, so the Bidens and DLCers will feel that there is more widespread support for more Progressive views. To accomplish this we have to start making the BASIC CASE again that democracy and community are superior values. In marketing terms we need to talk about the BENEFITS of Progressive values, and reach the general public.

    Let's examine why on the Right the elected officials all voice the RW talking points in unison and ours do not. Look at where the Right's people get their media training and those talking points from. That's how the RWers all know what Progressive ideas they aren't supposed to reinforce. They're educated, and that takes money and effort. They are provided with seminars on that very subject. Ours are not.

    It is not that their candidates are so good. Jeeze, Bush better than Gore? I think that the Right's organizations out there "educating" the public-at-large on the Right's issues and ideology for decades paves the way for them to insert their clones into the election process. Their candidates just repeat the talking points. On the right it is the funded conservative movement that leads the way, not the party or the candidates.

    Meanwhile, candidates on our side are largely on their own, and start from scratch at the start of election season. They have to "come up with issues for the campaign" and educate the public on those issues, from scratch, in a short campaign season. Their campaigns are largely independent of other Progressive campaigns, while the Right's are all coordinated.

    The decades of the RW pounding away on their underlying ideology has a huge effect on the viability of candidates.

    Here's what I am saying. The BopNews post (go read it) noted that X% of the public agrees that "The role of government should be to promote the principle of a strong community. America is most successful when we pull together to pursue policies that expand opportunity and create a rising prosperity for all, not just a few." But it used to be a much higher percent. In fact, it used to be a near-universal consensus. Where did that consensus GO? We're losing ground, and we're not really doing anything about it.

    I think that much of the leadership of our side assumes there is still that consensus and is only now beginning to come to grips with the fact that so many of the public now believe "The role of government should be to promote the principle of self reliance. America is most successful when we have a limited government that keeps taxes low so that businesses and individuals can prosper." (That's also from the BopNews post.)

    I think that part of the solution to this is to start reaching out to the broad public-at-large with a very basic underlying message that explains that democracy IS good, and community IS good, and explains why they are good, and explains the benefits of these. Marketing word: benefits.

    I think that we really do have to go back to the basics, because the Right has spent decades and billions in their effort to break down that consensus. And they are succeeding.

    It's like being college professors and realizing that we have to go back and start over and teach all of our students that 2 plus 2 really does equal four, and explaining why they should know that, and what they will get out of knowing that. We have been assuming that everyone knows that and we are wrong. Meanwhile the Right has been out there telling them 2 plus 2 really equals 5 and those pointy-headed professors are trying to trick them.

    So the Joe Bidens, recognizing that the public thinks 2 + 2 = 5, and recognizing that they are rewarded for going along with that, go along with that. It's not just that we have to put pressure on them, it's that we ALSO have to get going on the long, hard slog of reaching the public-at-large and rebuilding that broad base of support for 2+2=4.

    (Several articles on building Progressive Infrastructure here.)

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:48 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    Focus Group Phrases

    "Fight them over there so we don't have to fight them over here."

    "Taking the war to the terrorists."

    "He gased his own people."

    "Social Security is going broke."

    "The media is liberal."

    "They dumped babies out of incubators."

    "Environmentalists care more about trees than jobs."

    "The science on global warming is inconclusive."

    "Children trapped in failing public schools."

    "Out-of-control lawsuits."

    These are all phrases that have a "ring" to them. They all evoke in the mind an image that leads to certain conclusions. They all are (or were) repeated endlessly until everyone was repeating them in their sleep.

    Phrases like these come out of focus groups. Focus groups probe people's feelings and beliefs. The way this kind of focus group works is you bring together small groups of people who belong to "target demographics," and run through several catchy groups of words and ideas, and asking "If you were told so-and-so, what would you then believe about such-and-such?"

    In the 90's it was "If you learned that Bill Clinton had done so-and-so would it make you more likely to vote for a Republican for Congress (Senate, etc.)?" If the focus groups concluded that when the right people learned that Bill Clinton secretly dyed his pubic hair green then they would be more likely to vote Republican, the next day stories would start circulating that Clinton dyed his pubic hair green. Rush Limbaugh would pass it along. Columnists would hint at it. E-mails would be forwarded with a joke, a joke, a line about Clinton's green pubic hair, and a couple more jokes. Rock DJs would slip it in with a snicker between tunes. The story would be everywhere.

    Think about the phrase, "Fight them over there so we don't have to fight them over here." What is it supposed to mean? It sounds good, but does it really make any sense as a strategy for protecting the country?

    The main premise is that there is this unspecified number of mysterious "they" who "want to attack us." Another premise is that the people fighting in Iraq are the same people as these people who attacked us on 9/11. Another is that these people are somehow swarming to Iraq instead of pursuing any plans they might have to launch attacks against us here.

    Like I said, maybe it sounds good, maybe it tricks the mind into relaxing and not thinking this through, but it certainly is not a realistic plan for protecting the country. The phrase is meaningless, but you are hearing it repeated everywhere.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:46 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    June 23, 2005


    Okay, have we learned a lesson????:

    That any Democratic politician or pundit in 2005 does not understand how the right wing media machine operates is beyond me, but it happens over and over.
    In fact, let me repeat that:
    That any Democratic politician or pundit in 2005 does not understand how the right wing media machine operates is beyond me, but it happens over and over.
    That post links to David Sirota, Democratic idiots & the parroting of right-wing lies
    You see, the GOP feeds off of people who purport to represent progressives and Democrats, yet who carry the right-wing's most shameful lies/stereotypes. Conservatives have an entire infrastructure to get the criticism as far and wide as possible.

    ... This is exactly how it's supposed to work for the GOP: they grab someone who calls themselves "liberal" or "progressive". ... Then they get that idiot to validate dishonest right-wing lies in the media. Finally, they then cite that self-proclaimed "liberal"/"progressive" as proof that the GOP's dishonest stereotypes are actually true, no matter how factually inaccurate. It's a brilliant machine, actually - but it is pathetic that so many people in the insulated Washington, D.C. Democratic Establishment play along.

    Learn, you people! LEARN!

    Referred by Atrios, in Learn Damnit Learn

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    June 21, 2005

    Democracy For America Downing Street Memo Flash

    DFA has a snazzy little Flash presentation illustrating what the Downing Street Memo is all about, designed to be forwarded to friends and family who are not familiar with what all the fuss is about. It's attached to a petition they are encouraging folks to sign, demanding that Congress get the message.

    Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 11:22 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    June 18, 2005

    Lies and Strategic Lies

    Sometimes you have an opportunity to study a lie. The Right's current smear-lie about Senator Durbin is an example. (Also here and here). We can look at what he said, and we can look at what the Right is SAYING he said, and compare them. What they are saying he said is a lie. Washington Times, Gitmo called death camp

    The hysteria and historical illiteracy, not to mention irrational moral equivalency, continued on the floor of the Senate yesterday as Dick Durbin equated American military personnel at Gitmo to Nazis, Stalinist thugs, and the genocidal Pol Pot...
    and Boston Herald,
    The second highest ranking Democrat in the Senate has compared American servicemen and women to Nazis on the floor of that body.
    But it is more than just a lie, it is a strategic lie. It is a lie designed to trick Americans into believing something that is strategically convenient to the Right. This lie is being used to reinforce an ongoing strategic narrative that Democrats "hate America" and "hate the military."

    Let me illustrate by looking back at another strategic lie. Do you remember the lie that Clinton had once written that he "loathed the military?" You have to follow the Right to understand how extensively that lie was circulated. Read just the first few of 26,700 summaries of websites with the words "Clinton," "loath" and "military" that a Google search turns up. (Summaries are exactly as they appear)

    Clinton and his crew, however, are the exact opposite. They do not care a fig about their country and they loath the military.


    President Clinton's plan to murder our U. S military which he statecl "I loath" is doing well.


    Bill Clinton, the man who wrote, "I loath the military." is successfully "murdering" our soldiers through his defense cuts. He really hates this country.

    The next one, from Heritage, isn't about that story, but look how it uses the same words and reinforces the narrative:
    ... are loath to challenge, and make promises he eventually failed to keep. ... It is bad enough that President Clinton is letting US military power atrophy

    The next one actually has the truth:

    People think Clinton said he "loathed the military." He didn't. ... "fine people that include Bill Clinton" and "fine people who loath the military" do not ...
    But then the trashing continues...
    Clinton to Withdraw Claim of Armed Military Service, May 27, 1996 ... lives while wearing the uniform of the American military you once professed to "loath. ...


    ... we military mostly think that you feel the same way about us that Bill Clinton did. You loath us." I will point out that the military downsizing that ...


    True conservatives understood what Bill "I loath the military" Clinton was doing. He was trying to destroy the character, morale and integrity of the US ...


    This is from those who found no problem with Bill Clinton’s “I did not have ... or his lies under oath, or his statement that he did “loath the military. ...


    Come To Loathe the Military,' a phrase taken from a letter that 23-year-old ... Clinton had used that expression in a letter to the head of the ROTC in the ...


    There is a moral pit and Clinton and his media supporters are wallowing ... traditional values, especially patriotism, and loath the military. It ...


    Nothing, but a Clinton era “perfumed prince” as Colonel Hackworth would call them. ... The Left has no problem demeaning the military and siding with our ...


    Do you have any idea how many military personel Clinton put out of work? ... Clinton screwed the military up so bad that I saw tons of people leave...just ...

    Reading these gives you just a hint of how widely this was circulated, and the kind of vitriol that is used by the Right.

    This is what is happening now with the story about Senator Durbin. It is important to see the role that the "mainstream" players on the Right - Heritage, Fox, Limbaugh, Washington Times, Murdoch's papers, etc. - are playing in this effort to advance the narrative.

    And, finally, remember that all of this is done in defense of the use of torture.

    Update - In response to something in the comments, here are Durbin's words: "If I read this to you, and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis,..."

    Here is what Scaife's NewsMax used as a headline: "Sen. Durbin: Gitmo GIs Behaved Like 'Nazis'", and then in IDENTICAL words to every single other right-wing outlet, "Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin compared U.S. troops to Hitler's concentration camp guards..."

    Update - More on Gitmo.

    Update - David Neiwert

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:50 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    June 13, 2005

    Oldman Says Don't Impeach

    Here be Dragons,

    Impeaching President Bush before a new Constitutional consensus has been reached in this nation would cause a terrible split and schism and lead almost inevitably to Civil War. That may indeed happen, but it would be short sighted. While I hate the guy, it is far better to let him linger and tar him with the deeds of his own hands' fashioning, until he and the Republicans become noxious to every single non-fanatic American. The better route is to let the stench of mendacity and fanaticism rise to high heaven while the apologists and defenders of such a creed look ever more creepy and ever more deluded.
    Read the whole thing. He makes some good points. On the other hand, a lot of the trouble we're in now is because they let Reagan's crew get away with Iran Contra.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:51 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    June 10, 2005

    Explaining the Progressive Vision

    E. J. Dionne today, in Kerried Away,

    That raises the larger question. The Republicans and their allies spent millions taking Kerry apart. They would have done the same to John Edwards, Wesley Clark or Dean. Would those three have handled the attacks better? Who knows? Would they have looked a lot worse for the wear? You bet.

    [...] Were John Kerry to quit politics and spend the rest of his life windsurfing off Nantucket, Democrats would still have to figure out how to deal with national security, social issues and economic stress. That's hard work. Making fun of Kerry is easy, fashionable and, ultimately, useless.

    Same for criticizing Dean.

    Where do we go from here? Over the last few years I have written about the Republican Party's "infrastructure." This is the network of organizations that comes up with The Party's ideas, develops and spreads the message, recruits and trains the troops and candidates, and everything else needed to make The Party dominant in American politics. The actual Republican Party organization itself is a small part of - and not in control of - this operation.

    So now people are "getting it" and starting to talk about developing "Progressive Infrastructure." At the recent Take Back America conference lots of people were talking about this, but 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.

    I think another part of the Republican machine needs to be understood and countered. This is the "idea development" part of the infrastructure. I'm talking about longer-term intellectual policy and strategy development. These are the ideological advocacy organizations that persuade people to become conservatives. IN ADDITION to a comprehensive tactical infrastructure we need to build several think tanks focused entirely on articulating the Progressive vision, and on explaining to Americans why Progressive values and ideas are better for them than conservative values and ideas. Over time this will result in more Progressive voters, and greater support for Progressive programs and candidates. I haven't heard this talked about much, and I'm not sure that enough people really understand that the success of the Republican machine comes out of these organizations, not the other way around.

    David Sirota recently wrote,

    The right understands that creating and fostering a conservative conviction/ideology naturally leads to political support for the Republican Party - and that political support is far stronger and more fervent than a blind ideologically-deprived loyalty to a partisan label. That investment in "conviction infrastructure" (aka. ideological/issue organizations) as opposed to investment exclusively in a partisan infrastructure (aka. the RNC, the Young Republicans, etc.) is one of the reasons why Republican politicians always seem to know where they stand - even on bills/issues they don't know much about. It is because they have an ideology (however disgusting) that reflexively guides them. It's unfortunately also why Democrats - who have too often invested in partisan and not conviction infrastructure - regularly fracture off into disunity.
    It costs money. It should be an underlying Progressive value to take care of each other -- to donate at least $100 per year to Progressive organizations -- this is in addition to donations to candidates.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:20 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    June 9, 2005

    Downing Street

    Bush lied. And lied. And lied. And continues to lie.

    America's sons and daughters died. And died. And died. And they continue to die.

    Pass it on.

    Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 1:32 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    Afraid of Rush

    I keep hearing people say that Howard Dean should be more careful not to say things that the Republicans can twist around and make into something that sounds bad. They say that Dean is "just giving them ammunition." I call this the "being afraid that Rush Limbaugh is going to say something bad about them" syndrome.

    I have some news. Sit down. Prepare yourself. Take a breath. Here it comes:

    Rush Limbaugh is going to say something bad about you. Republicans are going to twist whatever you say. It doesn't matter what it is that you actually say. They lie. They distort. They manipulate. Get it into your head.

    As much as Howard Dean is able to advance a narrative that the Republican Party is a party of white male Christians, it forces Hispanics, women, blacks and Jews to return to the Democrats.

    As much as Howard Dean is able to advance a narrative that Republicans only work for the interests of the rich that brings blue collar and middle class people back to the Democrats.

    I mean, why do you THINK the Republicans are trying to get him to stop saying that?

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:18 PM | Comments (17) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    Backing Each Other Up?

    If you want to know what NOT to say on any given day, go to NewsMax (Scaife) and the Washington Times (Moonies) and don't say what they're saying. As I write this the headlines at NewsMax are

    Sen. Obama: Dean Using 'Religion to Divide'
    Dean Riles Both Sides of the Aisle
    Dean Defends Slurs Against GOP
    And the Washington Times is happy today, Democrats decry Dean's rhetoric,
    Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut -- who like Mr. Dean sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 -- said he doesn't think he will be the only one to recommend an apology when the chairman meets for lunch today with Senate Democrats.

    "I thought the comment that he made about the Republican Party being a white, Christian party was just way over the top," Mr. Lieberman said. "It was divisive and wrong, and I hope he apologizes for it."

    Too many Democrats, like Lieberman, are criticizing Dean! How does that help us? Do you hear Republicans criticizing each other in public? Bill at Liberal Oasis says,

    Stand Up For Dean and the DNC,

    They all have done nothing but feed the GOP narrative that our party leader has contempt for voters.

    [. . .] Instead, they could have stood with Dean, put Dean’s words in proper context, and amplified the message Dean was trying to send, not the message the GOP is trying to send.

    Question, when was the last time you heard Lieberman calling for an apology from a Republican for remarks about Democrats or Liberals? The Agonist says,
    "...when was the last time you saw an orgy of recriminations in Republican ranks about what Tom DeLay said? He is certainly a lot more powerful than Dean."
    Atrios has a good solution,
    "So if you're a wee bit unhappy with the way the spoiled brat Dem insiders are behaving, go give Howard Dean a few bucks."
    And raised more than a little bit. (Update - more here.) But Stirling Newberry at BOPNews goes after Atrios for it.

    What do I think? It happens that I was there in the room when Dean said,

    "you know, the idea that you have to wait on line for eight hours to cast your ballot in Florida -- there's something the matter with that. You think people can work all day and then pick up their kids at child care or wherever, and get home and then have a -- still manage to sandwich in an eight-hour vote? Well, Republicans, I guess, can do that, because a lot of them have never made an honest living in their lives."
    It was clear what he MEANT. It was a great line. You have to parse that pretty closely to dig out the line people are complaining about. But Republicans talk about "Democrats" and "liberals' all the time. THEY never specify "Democratic party leaders."

    I thought the things Dean said were quite good, and are exactly the kind of things the country needs to be hearing. It's called a strategic narrative, a "story" that leaves an impression. The Republicans have a narrative about Democrats being treasonous, weak America-haters and they say it all the time. They say terrible things about ALL Democrats and liberals because it advances the narrative. Well, Dean is advancing a narrative about Repubicans, and it is a good one and it is the right one and it is true. Good for him!

    But beyond that, Democrats should not be aiding the Right's efforts to divide us. The "Dean's mouth" story is a right-wing narrative. It is driven by Drudge and the rest of them. Don't fall for it. If you want to attack someone, attack someone who is on the other side.

    Click here to donate some cash to the DNC.

    Update - What he says.

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

    May 29, 2005

    National Democratic Party a liability to local progressive Democrats?

    Well, at least in Portland, Maine, that appears to be the case, see this article about the impact Green Independent Party members elected to the local school board are having.

    Sive Neilan, head of the Portland Democratic City Committee, said the Greens are making inroads in city politics because they run effective campaigns. "They really have that piece of the politic down."
    She said voters who are frustrated with the lack of new ideas in the national Democratic Party tend to mistakenly view Democrats here in the same light.
    Yet, she said, Portland Democrats have long led progressive causes. "They have fought the right causes for a very long time, but people new to politics equate us with the people in Washington, and that is simply not the case."

    Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 8:23 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    May 28, 2005

    They ARE Speaking Out

    From a Kos diary: If a Senate Minority Leader Gives a Speech,

    ... to the National Press Club, a major policy speech, and hardly anybody reports it, has he made a sound?

    [. . .] CNN? Nothing.

    Fox News? Nothing.

    MsNBC? Nothing.

    ABC? Nothing.

    CBS? Nothing.

    New York Times? Nothing.

    Washington Post? Nothing?

    Sometimes, many of us are quick to criticize our Democratic leaders for not being aggressive enough, for not stating what their positive goals are for the country, instead of merely outlining their opposition to the Republican agenda.

    But in truth doesn't the fault primarily lie with our illustrious media? The same media that accepted the propaganda that led us to the Iraq quagmire. That gave the Swift Boat Vets all the free PR they could ask for to slander and lie about John Kerry's military career. That time and time again has dropped the ball regarding, or simply ignored, stories of Bush's deceits and Republican scandals like Gannongate, Valerie Plame, The Medicaire Prescription Drug Boondoggle, the Downing Street Minutes, Tom Delay's ethics, ad infinitum.

    Isn't our media as much or more to blame as our Democratic leadership for the spread of this profoundly undemocratic Repblican hegemony?

    Go read the rest.

    I wrote about this yesterday.

    A lot of bloggers, readers here and commenters at other blogs complain that the Democrats don't speak out enough. I think what is going on is that they are speaking out, every day, and the media is not covering it.
    Bloggers, let's get on this. Our readers shouldn't be blaming the Democrats for this.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:21 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    May 27, 2005


    Mary makes a good catch at The Left Coaster in Bush on Propaganda.

    Mary makes a good catch at The Left Coaster in Bush on Propaganda.

    Mary makes a good catch at The Left Coaster in Bush on Propaganda.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:56 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    May 24, 2005

    Social Security Is Different

    Just so there is no misunderstanding, everything I have been saying approving last night's compromise on the filibuster does not mean that any Democrats should "compromise" on Social Security. There is nothing that needs "reforming."

    Democrats have an alternative plan. It's called Social Security.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:32 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    May 23, 2005

    Killing the filibuster to save the filibuster

    It looks to me like the Democrats agreed to kill the filibuster to save the filibuster.

    Am I missing something? Didn't the Democrats agree not to filibuster to preserve their right to filibuster? Going in all Bush wanted was a judge as radical as Scalia or Thomas. Now Bush can nominate a judge as radical as Owens or Brown and the Democrats have already agreed not to filibuster them.

    If Bush nominates two or three judges as radical as Owens or Brown, won't that make Scalia and Thomas the new centrist middle of the Supreme Court?

    Posted by Gary Boatwright at 8:52 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    May 7, 2005

    Time To Donate To Dems

    From Robert Novak's column:


    Democratic National Committee (DNC) fund raising under the chairmanship of Howard Dean shows a disappointing $16.7 million raised in the first quarter of 2005, compared with $34 million reported by the Republicans.

    That tends to confirm dire predictions by old-line Democratic fund-raisers of a fall-off in money if Dean became chairman. He had promised to bring in heavy individual contributions, as he did in his 2004 campaign for president. But the DNC in the first quarter received only $13 million from individuals, compared to $31 million for the Republican National Committee (RNC).

    Throw some money to the Dems!

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:31 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    May 3, 2005

    A Quick Thought

    I was listening to a radio talk show today and someone called in and said, "I used to be a democrat", but...

    Now come on! How any times have I heard that call? How many times have I seen that letter to the editor? It's the oldest trick in the book. A basic principle of influence is "the actions of similar others," where people tend to do things because others do. (This is so strong in people that suicides can even work this way.)

    Searching for examples of this I came across a post by the great Oliver Willis, in which he writes,

    "Ya sort of remind me of the individuals who call programs like C-span's Wall Street Journal or talk shows and begin their assault on the Democrats with, "I used to be a Democrat...but" ... then go on to prove that they have never been a Democrat and are very likely a Republican seminar caller, or a shill for the establishment."
    When you hear someone saying this, you might be encountering a pro. Or at least a trained volunteer.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:13 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    April 29, 2005

    They Just Say Stuff

    Steve at Left Coaster points out that Bush Blames Others For No Energy Policy - But GOP Tried To Eliminate DOE In 1990's.

    The Republicans tried to get rid of the entire Energy Department. Never forget that. (And the Education Department, too, by the way.)

    They say what they need to say to make the sale. If the focus groups and polls tell them to say something, they say it. That's all t is. Truth is just not a part of the calculation.

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

    April 26, 2005

    Clueful Union Organizing

    No Hard Hats Worn Here

    I especially like the bit where the scum-sucking corporate capitalist sends the workers a separate check from a different temporary company (at the same address as the primary one) to cover any hours worked beyond the normal 40 hour limit. Boy and howdy, we can't be paying time and a half on a $7.50 per hour base wage, can we? That'll just break the bank.

    Bastards. I hope they get sued, big time. Eliot Spitzer, where are you? :)

    I look forward to seeing more stories like this.

    Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 7:17 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos


    Frist Says He's Not Interested in Deals

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    April 24, 2005


    What Chris says.

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

    April 20, 2005

    Bush and DeLay and Frist, Oh My!

    Tom DeLay wants to define good behavior. Don't take my word for it. Read Tom "I am the Federal Government" DeLay's words for yourself in this morning's L.A. Times article, DeLay Criticizes Justice Kennedy:

    However, DeLay has called repeatedly for the House to find a way to hold the federal judiciary accountable for its decisions. "The judiciary has become so activist and so isolated from the American people that it's our job to do that," DeLay said.

    One way would be for the House Judiciary Committee to investigate the clause in the Constitution that says "judges can serve as long as they serve with good behavior," he said. "We want to define what good behavior means. And that's where you have to start."

    Is there a Jewish word for cosmic chutzpah? Have we given Tom DeLay enough rope yet Sen. Reid? Is it OK to call out the Democratic political lynch mob? To be fair, DeLay has a perfect insanity defense. I don't know how anyone can argue that Tom DeLay is not completely unhinged from reality.

    In my first Bush and DeLay and Frist, Oh My! post, I argued that Bush and DeLay and Frist are "the Republican triumvirate that will emerge as either the Three Musketeers or The Three Stooges of the Republican party. Which one is largely up to the Democratic party."

    Now that Tom DeLay has actually propsed that the House Judiciary Committee, i.e. Tom DeLay, should rewrite the Constitution to define what good behavior means, the same argument makes even more sense:

    "Democrats can seize the opportunity to brand the Republican party as corrupt religious fanatics hell bent on destruction of our Constitution and our economy or allow them to seize the high moral ground as defenders of moral values and the American way of life.

    Bush and DeLay and Frist. The triumvirate that will be the albatross and the anvil of the Republican party if Democrats can demonstrate a little spinal fortitude."

    Is there a chiropractor in the house?

    Posted by Gary Boatwright at 5:43 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    April 16, 2005

    Bush and DeLay and Frist, Oh My!

    That is the Republican triumvirate that will emerge as either the Three Muskateers or The Three Stooges of the Republican party. Which one is largely up to the Democratic party.

    Is the Democratic party capable of presenting a unified message that combines Lakoff's approach,
    Social Justice Sunday and kossack Delaware Dem's approach, Screw the Republicans, All of Them with a twist of Billmon, The One True Frist?

    Democrats can seize the opportunity to brand the Republican party as corrupt religious fanatics hell bent on destruction of our Constitution and our economy or allow them to seize the high moral ground as defenders of moral values and the American way of life.

    Bush and DeLay and Frist. The triumvirate that will be the albatross and the anvil of the Republican party if Democrats can demonstrate a little spinal fortitude.

    Which begs the question: Will Joe Lieberman become The Fourth Muskateer of the Republican triumvirate? Will Joe throw the triumvirate a life preserver?

    Posted by Gary Boatwright at 7:44 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    April 14, 2005

    The Religious Prejudice Protection Act

    Sen. Kerry and Sen. Santorum have proposed an amendment to the part of the Civil Rights Act that governs unlawful employment practices. The Unlawful Employment Act generally prohibits discrimination by employers based on that individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

    Three problems:

    1.) This bill provides protection to employees for their discriminatory conduct. It actually permits and protects discriminatory conduct, based on unstated religious beliefs. That is a very broad brush. I don't think we have a clue in how many different situations individuals will decide to exercise their "conscience without consequence" rights under this bill.

    2.) I believe all of the penalties for non-compliance under the Unlawful Employment Act apply to employers. What is the penalty if a pharamcist or any other employee violates this law? I haven't seen anything about the consequences an employee faces if he or she violates the procedural safeguards built into this amendment.

    3.) I could be wrong, but it seems like the penalties would be against the employer for failing to make the proper staffing and scheduling improvements that would allow an employee to exercise their "right" to discriminate based on their religious prejudices.

    The fundamental problem is that this is a "conscience without consequence" bill, that protects an unlimited "right" of religious discrimination. I believe a similar battle has played out, in the judicial arena, under our fair housing laws. A person's religious beliefs do not allow them to discriminate against another citizen, in the area of renting or selling housing, based on that persons religious prejudices against blacks, inter-racial couples or gays.

    Will this amendment to the Civil Rights Act over rule those judicial decisions sub silentio?

    Posted by Gary Boatwright at 12:31 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos