Friday, December 31, 2004

Media Girl Recaps 2004

Via Chris Bowers, a final year-end post from media girl:

If, over this past year, you've been feeling rather oppressed by the pinko atheist left wing media elite, ponder this: It could have been worse! There are many stories that were successfully filtered, censored and/or withheld from the public by our protectors in the board rooms that control our media outlets. Let's look at some of the stories that received virtually no attention in 2004...

#1: Wealth Inequality in 21st Century Threatens Economy and Democracy(...)
#2: Ashcroft vs. the Human Rights Law that Holds Corporations Accountable (...)
#3: Bush Administration Censors Science (...)
#4: High Levels of Uranium Found in Troops and Civilians (...)
#5: The Wholesale Giveaway of Our Natural Resources
#6: The Sale of Electoral Politics
#7: Conservative Organization Drives Judicial Appointments
#8: Cheney's Energy Task Force and The Energy Policy
#9: Widow Brings RICO Case Against U.S. government for 9/11
#10: New Nuke Plants: Taxpayers Support, Industry Profits
#11: The Media Can Legally Lie
#12: The Destabilization of Haiti
#13: Schwarzenegger Met with Enron's Ken Lay Years Before the California Recall

I feel better knowing that Rupert, GE, Viacom, Time Warner, Sinclair, Clear Channel, and all the other friends of the common man are watching out, making sure we don't learn something that may makes us think that maybe some of them liberals might be right.

-- media girl

American Casualties in Iraq

AP has these graphs graphs counting American casualties and attacks American forces in Iraq.


Thursday, December 30, 2004

Saying No to Unjust Wars

From joshyelon

I think we have a remarkable ally in the form of the Catholic Church.  They have beautifully and concisely summarized the liberal position on war, in a simple four-bullet-point format.  Here is a copy:

"The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration. The gravity of such a decision makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy. At one and the same time:

* the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
* all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
* there must be serious prospects of success;
* the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition."

DeLong's two cents on outsourcing? Read Daniel Drezner and

Unfortunately, despite the fact that every single serious article or paper on this subject has shown it to be a non-issue, it continues to excite xenophobes and others who lie awake nights worrying about the trade deficit.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

iPod Phone? But Do We Care?


Jobs took pains to point out that the phone would not compete with Apple's popular iPod music player, but should viewed as an iPod accessory. "Wouldn't it be great if you could take a dozen of your favorite songs with you" on a cell phone, Jobs said at the time.

Well, no it would be stupid. Remember how the iPod became successful, even though there were lots of other MP3 players already? That was because those players only held a dozen of your favorite songs. I own an iPod that holds 15,000 songs. It's always full, and it's always in my pocket. Value added to a cell phone by adding space for a dozen MP3s? $0.

Regime Change (Iran, 1953)

Stephen Kinzer has a fascinating history of the first CIA-orchestrated regime change: the overthrow of the Iranian government, 1953 (streaming audio). This first CIA overthrow was considered a success at the time. Today, not so much.

Voting Rights

From Chris Bowers

Felony disenfranchisement laws have been on the books for decades. With the massive upswing in the prisoner population over the past twenty-five years, these laws have contributed to a systematic disenfranchisement of minority communities. As the Sentencing Project notes:

"Nationally, more than four million Americans are denied the right to vote as a result of laws that prohibit voting by felons or ex-felons. In 48 states (with the exception of Maine and Vermont) and the District of Columbia prisoners cannot vote, in 35 states felons on probation or parole are disenfranchised, and in 14 states a felony conviction can result in a lifetime ban long after the completion of a sentence. This fundamental obstacle to participation in democratic life is exacerbated by racial disparities in the criminal justice system, resulting in an estimated 13% of black men unable to vote."

It is not a coincidence that the rise in the prison population was concurrent with the rise in conservative politics nationally. By disenfranchising millions of potential Democratic voters, conservatives titled the electorate in their favor. However, these laws are now being challenged

more at mydd....

Podhoretz v. Markos

John Podhoretz claims that Democratic "bottom-feeders" like those at dailykos "spew...bile at at our soldiers, sailors and Marines.". Says Markos,

I would love to see examples of "bile spewed" at soldiers on this site that haven't been troll rated out of existence. And it's always rich to have asshole chickenhawks like Podhoretz attack the bona fides of a military veteran like me.

Dramatic Tsunami Videos

Video of Tsunami hitting Phuket beach.

Perhaps the best is this Sri Lankan tsunami video.

There are long lists of photos and videos from Jimmy Crackcorn and JL Golson.

Jerry Orbach is Dead at 69

The long-time star of Law and Order, where he played Detective Lennie Briscoe, died Tuesday night of prostate cancer.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Media History

From David Crisp:

What stuns me about this discussion is the notion that "citizens" had no access to media prior to the internet. Cincinnati got its first newspaper in 1793, when it had fewer than 500 citizens. Leavenworth, Kan., consisted of four tents in 1854 -- but it had a newspaper. In 1910, there were about 2,600 daily newspapers in the United States, nearly twice as many as there are now. There were six Yiddish dailies in New York City at the turn of the century, and African-Americans had founded more than 1,000 newspapers by 1900. In 1912, Appeal to Reason, a radical Kansas weekly, had a national circulation of 750,000 -- a figure most bloggers can only envy. In the 1920s, more than 500 U.S. cities had competing dailies (stats from Thomas C. Leonard). News came in all flavors, with a wide choice of biases and editorial stances.

Earthquake: a Report from India

Our thoughts are with the people of coastal South Asia. One report from a traveler:

2 days ago, I was at the very tip of India, away out in the water visiting a temple, where you can admire the geographic glory of three bodies of water meeting and curving around the horn of India. Stunning. Millions of holiday travelers from all over India and the world. Impressive number of people. Then we were off for a lovely dinner at Kovalam beach.

Yesterday, I was in Alleppuzha on a houseboat for Christmas. We wandered around the backwaters of Kerala and marveled at how close people live to the water, as if it never ever floods there.

Today, we got off the boat at about 10 am and got on a bus to Cochin at about 10:20. By the time we got to Cochin, 2 hours later, we began to get the inkling that something was very wrong.


It's a sobering report.

Howard Dean Must be DNC Chair

For two reasons.

First, only he has the power to fix the party, because only he has massive grass roots support and visibility that will continue to keep activists interested in taking over the party and fixing it. Donnie Fowler or Simon Rosenberg would simply disappear from view -- ok in some ways, but the fact that Dean has agreed to run for DNC Chair means he realizes that we have to fight from the inside. The grass roots need a man on the inside, and it matters that even novice grassroots activists can see that we have a man on the inside: it has to be Dean.

But more, I'm not yet convinced that either Rosenberg or Fowler can be an effective reformer. Fowler certainly knows how to kick ass -- frankly I'd like to see him run for Governor of his home state of South Carolina -- but does he have what it takes to tear down the Democratic Party and turn it into a grass-roots funded, reformed party? I don't know the case yet for that. Dean has famously run a grass-roots-funded campaign in the past. Him I know I can believe in.

Nor am I convinced yet about Rosenberg. I've read Matt Stoller's case for Simon and nothing in there persuades me that he has what it takes to turn the Democratic Party into a grass-roots funded party. Can anyone persuade me?

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Cute Animal Section

If you're looking for a Cool Photo Section for your blog diet I recommend Arablog. This week in cute animals he provides this cute kitty:
kitty in xmas stocking

this cute, chilly orangutan:

and many other cool images that aren't of beguilingly cute animals. Arablog. Check it out.

Anatomy of a Malefactor

Josh Marshall has begun trying to understand in detail how the Bush administration creates fake problems and then pretends to solve them.

The president and the White House have now compared their build-up to the Iraq war with their push to phase out Social Security enough times that it seems worth creating a detailed taxonomy of the Bush White House approach to major policy initiatives in order to predict their efforts over the next two years.

The Journal said last week ...

The president has yet to lay out specific ideas for changing the entitlement program; he and his aides are focused first on selling the idea of change. "For a while, I think it's important for me to continue to work with members of both parties to explain the problem," he said in a Monday news conference.

This would suggest that we're now in the lying and fear-mongering phase of the campaign, which would be followed of course by a later phase in which a specific policy remedy is brought forward, nominally meant to address the fake problem.

Perhaps if folks could note beginning and end points of various phases of the Iraq war mumbojumbo that could help us pinpoint signs to look for in the unfolding Social Security debate.

-- Josh Marshall

If you can shed any light on the relevant details, you ought to email Josh.

8.9 Earthquake Kills Thousands in Indonesia, India

The BBC reports

More than 7,000 people have been killed across southern Asia in massive sea surges triggered by the strongest earthquake in the world for 40 years.

The 8.9 magnitude quake struck under the sea near Aceh in north Indonesia, generating a wall of water that sped across thousands of kilometres of sea.

More than 3,200 died in Sri Lanka, 2,200 in Indonesia and 2,000 in India.

Casualty figures are rising over a wide area, including tourist resorts on Thailand packed with holidaymakers.

USGS report here.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Right-wing Media: Think-tank Source Statistics

From David Brock's Republican Noise Machine:

The mainstream media disproportionately relies on conservative think tanks for expertise, and interpretation, of the news. Thus the think tanks are a powerful source of conservative slant in the news. In 1997, for example, Heritage was cited by the media 1813 times, and the American Enterprise Institute 1323 times, as compared with 610 citations for the Urban Institute and 576 for the Economic Policy Institute, the top Progressive think tanks....

Often, the media does not identify the conservative think tanks as conservative, thereby obscuring their bias to the reader or viewer. For instance, The New York Times has referred to The Manhattan Institute as a "national policy research organization."

Re Iraq, Father Andrew Greeley Tears into Bush Administration

American-style freedom and democracy in Arab countries are hallucinations by men and women like Paul Wolfowitz and Condi Rice whose contribution to the war is writing long memos -- Republican intellectuals with pointy heads.
This time of the year we celebrate ''peace on Earth to men of good will.'' Americans must face the fact that they can no longer claim to be men and women of good will, not as long as they support an unnecessary, foolish, ill-conceived, badly executed and, finally, unwinnable war. If most people in other countries blame the war on Americans, we earned that blame in the November election

There's plenty more.

Journalists Report Iraqi Captors Had Supported Bush for Re-election

Despite the Bush campaign's insinuations earlier this year that islamic terrorists supported John Kerry, there has never been any evidence of that at all. There have been reports, however, that terrorist supported George Bush for President. I've always been skeptical this, but now comes this AP report (via DarkSyde888) that one paricular group of Iraqi hostage-takers supports George Bush:

French journalists held hostage for four months in Iraq said their militant captors told them they wanted President Bush to win re-election.

In a four-page account of their ordeal, one of the reporters, Georges Malbrunot, also wrote that they saw several other hostages who were later decapitated. The journalists said their captors viewed foreign businessmen working in Iraq as their enemies.

One of the captors from the group calling itself the Islamic Army in Iraq said Bush's re-election would boost their cause, Malbrunot wrote in Friday's edition of Le Figaro, the French daily he works for.

"We want Bush because with him the American troops will stay in Iraq and that way we will be able to develop," Malbrunot cited the captor as saying.

Bush beat Democrat John Kerry to win the presidency last month.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Jon Stewart on Political Blogs

The internet: combining the credibility of anonymous hearsay with the excitement of typing.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Ohio's Blackwell Calls for Reform

It's about time. The Times reports that Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell (R) has 'called for updating voting machines, and also for early voting, multiple-day voting and other changes that he said would shorten lines and encourage people to vote. "I don't think it's wrong to have high expectations," he said.'

Democrat Gregoire Wins Washington Governor's Race

Christine Gregoire has won the Governorship of Washington state. This is the conclusion of the second hand recount, initially given to Gregoire by a mere eight votes (initial Democratic count) which was then amended to 10 votes. This was, however, before coutning 732 ballots from heavily Democratic King County which were erroneously set aside before the first count. Republican candidate Dino Rossi made an unpatriotic attempt to block the counting of those ballots with a lawsuit, in which they argued some undemocratic gobledigook or another, but the Washtington Supreme Court gave them a much-deserved, unanimous fuck you. Now that the votes of those 732 voters have finally been counted, Gregoire has won by 130 votes. Further legal challenges are still possible, though any such challenge would have to allege actual fraud.

Hours of fun here.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Immigration Reform

The Bush Administration’s policy on immigration has been, to no one’s surprise, designed to facilitate the erosion of worker’s rights, the exploitation of illegal immigrants, the further flow of money from the bottom to the top and the destruction of the middle class.

Part of a long essay from firedoglake called Taking Back the South.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Washington Dem Gregoire Wins Recount by 8 Votes

That's state-wide; that's preliminary; that's without the 723 disputed votes. See the article at the Seattle PI:

"We're confident Christine Gregoire has been elected the governor of the state of Washington," Berendt said. "I believe Dino Rossi should concede."

Donnie Fowler Kicks Some Republican Ass

There is a third reform candidate running for the Chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee. Donnie Fowler is a Southern boy who knows how to talk about values and God. This fine cut of red meat comes from the video (streaming, 11:00) of his C-Span appearance on December 11th:

I'm sorry to see that you're reading straight from the talking points of the Republican Party.
What I'm tired of as a Democrat is somebody like you...telling me that I can't be somebody for values and be a Democrat. I'm tired of hearing Republicans say you can't believe in God and be a Democrat. I'm tired of Republicans who take away pensions, who won't raise the minimum wage, who want to throw people out of work so they can outsource jobs overseas and who cater to the CEOs who make gazillions of dollars -- I'm tired of them saying the Democratic Party doesn't represent values and doesn't stand up for people. And what I'm tired of the most is for somebody to tell me as a Southerner that because I'm white I have to be a Republican, and because I'm a Southerner, but I'm a Democrat, I can't believe in values and God. Let me tell you something, and let me tell everybody here: if I'm Demoncratic Nation Chariman, nobody's going to take God away from the Democratic Party. I'm a Democrat because I'm a Christian, not in spite of it, Sir. And the Democratic Party, when they stand up and talk again about what we start for and what we believe in, then you who have these crazy beliefs that the only people right in the world are right wing Republicans that exclude people, you're gonna have a new day.

President Santorum

That was a little motivation. (Yes, his name is being mentioned.) Now get out there and take over your local Democratic Club.

President Santorum.

You think it's funny now, but you'll think about it a little differently when you're living in a van down by the river.


From Dailykos diarist Devilstower, a story I take to be a recommendation rather than a horror story:

Arnold is typical in another way, too.  It has come completely under the sway of a rapidly expanding, right-wing, evangelical church.
Arnold Baptist was designed from the outset to be your all-inclusive home away from home.  It has sports leagues for your kids, so you don't have to bother with the local little league.  It has an exercise gym that you can use for free, so you don't join the local Y.  It has catchy music on a Sunday morning, with special services for teens and children.  There are big family meals two nights a week.  The church makes sure the facilities are always open to any Arnold event, so you can bet that the high school football banquet will be held there.  Short of a hospital, there is practically no need that can't be fed by Arnold Baptist Church.  And there's a genuinely warm welcome at the door.
The only way to stop these mega-churches from covering more and more of America in a nice conformist tone of red, is to offer an alternative.

You've already seen a hint of what this alternative looks like.  It's called "Meet up for Dean."

To say nothing of dailykos. But he goes on to point out that Meetups only meet once a month, and that hardly constitutes a community. Where is the childrens' softball league, for example? Well, it's not at Dailykos either, but at least that's there when I need it. Within the link, a commenter suggests local chapters of Kos, an idea which has also been on my mind of late.

Monica Crowley: MSNBC's Plagiarizing, Right-wing Pundit

From KingOneEye

Paul Johnson, 1988:
"So great was the inequity of Nixon's downfall that future historians may well conclude he would have been justified in allowing events to take their course and in subjecting the nation to the prolonged paralysis of a public impeachment, which at least would have given him the opportunity to defend himself by due process of law. But once again his patriotism took precedence over his self-interest ..."

Monica Crowley, 1999:
"Given the inequity of Nixon's downfall, historians may yet determine that he would have been justified in allowing events to take their course and subjecting the country to a prolonged process of impeachment, which would have given him the chance to defend himself by due process of law. His allegiance to the country, however, overrode his political self-interest."

There are more parallel quotes here. If you want to complain to MSNBC about the fact that they employ Monica Crowley, you can email them.

Markos Reflects on the Election

Markos reflects on the Iraq war and the election.

First of all, Karl Rove got screwed by Time Magazine. He deserved that Man of the Year award after selling this lemon to the American people.

But what makes me angry was Kerry and his gang's inability to take advantage of the situation. I may regret saying this later, but fuck it -- they should be lined up and shot. There's no reason they should've lost to this joker.

And you can tell Time Magazine what you think of their crap choice for man of the year. The poll is at the lower left.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Man of the Year

Fafblog nominates its Man of the Year.

By the way, Time considered nominating Bloggers as their wo/men of the year, but they didn't, because at Time Magazine, they're idiots.

Batshit Bush

A review of today's Presidential press conferrence from Sam Rosenfeld of The American Prospect

The president got a tad petulant when fielding questions on Social Security. His emphatic response to any and all queries about his position on the subject was an indignant, righteous refusal to answer: “You’re not going to get me to negotiate with myself,” he repeatedly told the perplexed reporters. “I know what you’re trying to get me to do. You’re trying to get me to answer ‘Why this,’ ‘why that,’ to take positions -- don’t bother to ask me.” Rather than merely dodge the questions, Bush seemed intent on staking out an explicit, principled position in favor of dodging the question.


Absofuckinglutely "Tell Tony Blair we're going alone! Tell Tony Blair!" batshit.

List of Novak Distortions

MediaMatters has begun publishing much more detailed content, including this list of distortions by Robert Novak, Douchebag of Liberty.

Simon Rosenberg on the DNC Chair's Job

Finally, I understand fully why Kos has been so supportive of Rosenberg as a possible DNC Chair. For those of you have haven't read this at dailykos, here is Simon Rosenberg's letter to his group the New Democratic Network (NDN), in which he lays out the job of the DNC Chair:

As NDN has been discussing for the past several years, the modern Republican political machine has redefined politics as we know it. Years of investing billions of dollars in their infrastructure have created a vast and complex web of multimillion dollar operations which include think tanks, for-profit media outlets like Fox News, traditional political advocacy groups and, in recent years, a very healthy and strategic set of national, state and local party organizations. 

The Republicans understand the division of labor required to run such a political empire, and have a diversified set of leaders to build and manage their affairs - spokesmen like Bush, Colin Powell, Bill Frist, Rudy Giuliani, and Arnold Schwarzenegger; strategists like Karl Rove, Ralph Reed, Grover Norquist; managers like Roger Ailes, Ed Gillespie and Ken Mehlman; intellectuals like those at Heritage, Cato and the dozens of other local and state think tanks; propagandists like Rush Limbaugh and Matt Drudge; and investors like the Coors and Scaife families.

They run their politics like a business. They have strategic plans, targeted outcomes, measures to gauge progress and accountability. As Democrats, we must come to terms with what they have built and how they run their affairs, for today they have a much better system that yields much better results than ours.

Finding someone who can take on Bush on TV is not the biggest or most important part of the job of chairing the DNC. Terry McAulifffe has repeatedly said as much, and the Republicans have clearly recognized this in their recent choices for chair of the RNC. We already have dozens of national leaders well-equipped to take on the GOP each day. They are named Clinton, Kerry, Edwards, Richardson, Gore, Dean, Reid, Pelosi, Obama, Hoyer, Bayh, Lieberman, Vilsack, Landrieu, Menendez, Graham, Salazar, Ford Jr., Nelson, Lincoln, Durbin, Stabenow, Granholm, Rendell, Warner, Biden, Holbrooke, Harman, Spitzer and Emanuel. We could all add more.

What we need at the head of the DNC is someone who can take on Rove, Reed, Norquist and Mehlman. Someone who understands how to defeat the modern Republican machine at its own high-level strategic game; someone who understands the demographic, attitudinal and socio-economic complexities of the coming America; someone who is deeply rooted in the emerging new media world of databases, digital media, satellite and cable television; someone who understands the internet and modern community-building techniques; someone who can speak for the mainstream of the party and connect with its increasingly youthful activist base; someone who has successfully raised money and worked in all regions of this diverse country; and someone who has a proven track record at running a business or political organization.

Save Social Security: Contact Congress


Why haven't our Democratic congressmen haven't taken the lead in saving Social Security? I don't know. But it's time we tell them to start doing their job. Email your Senators and Congressman now, and ask them to get on tv. Then call them on Monday morning. (For references, their previous records on Social Security are here -- but this is about leadership today, not voting yesterday.) Tell them the talking point is

George W. Bush's war against Social Security is the crisis.
Social Security is successful. Social Security is healthy. George W. Bush's war against Social Security is the only crisis.

And tell them that's going to keep being the talking point every day until George Bush's attack on Social Security is dead.

Why is this the talking point? Because the reality is that if we do nothing, Social Security will still be solvent in 2055. George Bush is pretending to "reform" Social Security -- the changes he is proposing will destroy it.

Why are we asking Democratic Congressmen to repeat this talking point? Because they are the ones with the tv appearances. They are the ones equipped to do the heavy lifting of saving Social Security. Because it is their job. Writing letters to the local newspaper helps too, but activating Congress is where the real money is.

We'll know our Congressmen are doing their job when every dialog on every tv gabfest looks like this:

Matthews: The President's planning to attack the Social Security Crisis --

Congressman: Let me stop you right there, Chris. George W. Bush's war against Social Security is the crisis.

Matthews: Trent Lott has called for Donald Rumsfeld to step down within a year. Do you think we're seeing the beginning of the end for Mr. Rumsfeld?

Congressman: George W. Bush's war against Social Security is the crisis.

Matthews: How 'bout them Iraqis?

Congressman: George W. Bush's war against Social Security is the crisis.

Matthews: Are you going to finish that sandwich?

Congressman: Chris George W. Bush's war against Social Security is the crisis.
Social Security is successful. Social Security is healthy.

When you talk to your legislators, make sure you find out what their position is on George Bush's war on Social Security, and send an email to Josh Marshall

Phraxos Cited by DraftGray

We at Phraxos are proud to report that we are cited by Draft Gray, which supports Gray Davis for DNC Chair.
gray davis
However, the best line on their sight is still

Texas energy traders spent years raping California and Gray Davis never once squealed. Gray Davis knows how to take it like a man, and a gentleman at that.

Call for a Hard Line on Social Security

The Democrats don't just need to keep their caucuses overwhelmingly together on this issue. They need to avoid even a single defection in the House or the Senate. From what I hear from knowledgable sources this is already pretty close to doable in the House; and probably no more than three or perhaps four are even in play in the Senate.

Such unity has the obvious advantage of giving Republicans less breathing room in putting together majority votes in both houses. But it does much more than that. Making the elimination of Social Security a strictly Republican gambit raises the political stakes dramatically. Many Republicans will be far more cautious without bipartisan cover. Democrats must deny them even the thinnest of fig leaves. Making it a strictly Republican affair will also provide valuable clarity in the coming election, rather than the muddled picture created by Democratic defections on the 2001 tax bill.

Still another important benefit is the boon it will give to Democratic morale and energy in opposition. The coming debate over Social Security could become an engine for unity or disunity for Democrats. And the leaders of the party should be doing everything they can right now to lay the groundwork for making it the former rather than the latter. And party unity is the place to start.
The Social Security "crisis" is manufactured; there is no crisis. To the extent there are long-term financing problems, the president's plan will gravely worsen them. The problem we face isn't over Social Security, which continues to run up huge surpluses (just as it was intended to under the early-80s reform), but that our non-Social Security budget continues to run massive structural deficits. Or rather, it has returned to running massive structural deficits after getting into the black in the late 1990s through the combined exertions of a Democratic president and a Republican congress. Social Security isn't the problem, but rather George W. Bush's reckless fiscal policy.

In any case, as I say, the whole thing is lies.
Democrats should consider pulling together the major funders of the party, the official committees, the major organizations, basically the entire infrastructure of the Democratic party and making clear to individual members that if they sign on to the president's plan to phase out Social Security, those various institutions and individuals won't fund their campaigns. Not in 2006, not ever.

Similar committments can come from voters, activists and volunteers. And free rein to primary challengers....

Next, as we've discussed before, this isn't a debate about 'reform', 'privatization' or 'saving' Social Security. It's about phasing out the Social Security program, or not. Framing it any other way concedes half the battle before the fighting even begins.

-- Josh Marshall, 12/15

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Weird Whining about 'Happy Holidays' From the Christian Right

From Kevin Drum:

A quick Nexis search shows that in just this weekend alone the Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holiday issue has been written up in the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Herald, the Akron Beacon Journal, the San Francisco Chronicle, the London Telegraph, the Tallahassee Democrat, the Arizona Republic, Newsday, the Winnipeg Sun, the Christian Science Monitor, CNN, and the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel....

How do they do it? How do they get everyone to pay attention to this nonsense?

And most of all, how do we copy them?

CEOs Robbing from Their Owners

Ever notice how huge stock option awards are often given to executives just ahead of bullish company news? The Securities and Exchange Commission apparently has.

Last Tuesday, Analog Devices, a maker of integrated circuits, disclosed that the S.E.C. had requested information about the timing of option grants given to company executives and directors during the last five years. In its disclosure, the company noted that its grants in some years "occurred shortly before our issuance of favorable annual financial results." The company added that it believed other companies had received similar inquiries from the regulator.

-- From Gretchen Morgenson of the Times.

Good News on Social Security

That's just what the advocates of 'Social Security reform' with private accounts are up to. They want to phase out the program; but they're just too cowardly to say it. They lack the confidence of their ideological ambitions.

-- Josh Marshall

The Times is reporting that almost 'everyone' (I love when they do that) expects Bush to have a difficult time dismantling Social Security without bipartisan support. And they report that Democrats in Washington are on the case:

Democratic leaders dispute the Republicans' central assertions: that the problems facing Social Security constitute a crisis, and that diverting payroll taxes to private investment accounts is the way to solve it. Social Security trustees have estimated that without changes, the system will start running short of money to pay full benefits in 38 years.

"If we allow them to frame it that way - that there is a crisis, therefore we must go to private accounts - if we allow them to frame it that way, the fact is, we've perpetrated a huge fraud," said Senator Byron L. Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota and chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee.

As for bipartisan support:

There is no question that the Republicans need some Democratic help, if only to make it through the Senate, where they are still short of the 60 votes necessary to break any filibuster. Moreover, even in the House, where the rules allow broad power to a majority, many Republicans do not relish the idea of having to produce all the votes for Social Security themselves.

While there is strong support among Republicans for private accounts, the details, like whether to pay for them by government borrowing, can be very divisive. Moreover, Republicans do not have the political cover of the AARP, the huge retirees' lobby, as they did when they tackled Medicare restructuring.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Pelosi and Reid Support Anti-Choice Roemer to Chair DNC

Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have trotted out candidate after candidate to oppose Howard Dean for the Chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee. The latest is Tim Roemer, a former Indiana Congressman and 9/11 commissioner.

But Roemer isn't a reformer. He doesn't even come from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. He is anti-choice. As was delighted to report, 'the former South Bend-area congressman, acknowledged that the incoming chairman would have the power to help "shape the future organization, message and direction of the party." ' Lists of his positions on abortion are here and here; a more comprehensive voting record is here. There is also an article at blogforAmerica.

If you want to take action, see here.

Reform Democrats Article in USA Today

Lest you thought eh echo chamber wasn't listening to us all: there's an article in Friday's USA Today

Simmons and his fellow "Young Turks" worry about the Democratic Party's dependence on interest groups, their relations with minority groups, the stereotypes that they are weak on defense and values, the Republican appropriation of the "reformer" label and the swaths of America that Democrats seem to have written off.

Bob Shrum: Tone-Deaf Chardonnay Populist

We at Age of Reason think Bob Shrum sucks, so we were pleased to read in USA Toady. They start by quoting Dan Gerstein, who was writing in WSJ:

He called for more muscle in foreign policy, more respect for religion and "banishing Bob Shrum and his tone-deaf Chardonnay populism" from future presidential campaigns. Shrum, 61, was nominee John Kerry's top adviser.

Gerstein is among the many concerned about the Democrats' image. "We've lost the mantle of reform we had for the whole 20th century after Franklin Roosevelt," says Matt Bennett, 39, a former Clark aide and co-founder of a new group called Third Way. "We are seen as defenders of an old system that no longer meets the needs of the 21st century world we live in."

Gerstein, by the way, is a former Lieberman aid, and probably has no interest in what I would see as real reform. But if he wants to help with the much-needed work of shoving Bob Shrum aside, we're glad to have him.

Sirota Says Most Americans Hungry for Progressive Reform

From Sexy David Sirota

The CEO of the corporate-sponsored Democratic Leadership Council and his wealthy cronies are in their regular postelection attack mode. Despite wins by economic populists in red states like Colorado and Montana this year, the DLC is claiming like a broken record that progressive policies are hurting the Democratic Party.

[CEO Al] From's group is funded by huge contributions from multinationals like Philip Morris, Texaco, Enron and Merck, which have all, at one point or another, slathered the DLC with cash. Those resources have been used to push a nakedly corporate agenda under the guise of "centrism" while allowing the DLC to parrot GOP criticism of populist Democrats as far-left extremists. Worse, the mainstream media follow suit, characterizing progressive positions on everything from trade to healthcare to taxes as ultra-liberal. As the AP recently claimed, "party liberals argue that the party must energize its base by moving to the left" while "the DLC and other centrist groups argue that the party must court moderates and find a way to compete in the Midwest and South."

Is this really true? Is a corporate agenda really "centrism"? Or is it only "centrist" among Washington's media elite, influence peddlers and out-of-touch political class?
The "centrists" tell Democrats not to hammer corporations for their misbehavior and not to push for a serious crackdown on corporate excess, for fear the party will be hurt by an "anti-business" image. Yet such a posture, pioneered by New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, is mainstream: A 2002 Washington Post poll taken during the height of the corporate accounting scandals found that 88 percent of Americans distrust corporate executives, 90 percent want new corporate regulations/tougher enforcement of existing laws.

The emerging image here is that the DLC supports crony capitalists just as much as Republicans do -- and that you're not alone if you feel very differently. And re taxes, healthcare, jobs:

A September 2004 CBS News poll found that 72 percent of Americans say they have either not been affected by the Bush tax cuts or that their taxes have actually gone up.
The [Washington Post's] 2003 national poll found that almost two-thirds of Americans say they prefer a universal healthcare system "that's run by the government and financed by taxpayers" as opposed to the current private, for-profit system.
A 1999 poll done on the five-year anniversary of the North American trade deal was even more telling: Only 24 percent of Americans said they wanted to "continue the NAFTA agreement."

These are the values reform Democrats stand for.

Washington Judge Tries to Steal Election for Republican Governor

Will these crooks never stop? Another Republican who don't believe in elections. In this case, a judge

The state Republican Party's request to keep more than 700 disputed King County election ballots from being counted in the governor's race was granted by a Superior Court judge this afternoon.

Pierce County Superior Court Judge Stephanie Arend ruled that since the ballots had not been made a part of the first vote count, they shouldn't be included in the recount now underway.

"It's clear to me it is not appropriate to revisit the decision whether the ballots should or should not be considered," she said.

Democrats say they will appeal immediately to the State Supreme Court.

But in fact the votes in question are valid

King County Elections Director Dean Logan said Monday that approximately 561 absentee ballots were rejected because it was mistakenly thought that the signatures on the ballots did not match original voter registration records. However, he said the signatures simply were not on file in the county's voter registration system, and that original registration records should have been checked.

and are now believed to be 723 in number. King County is heavily Democratic.

The article doesn't go into the legal particulars, so we are left to wonder: Is Judge Stephanie Arend the unindicted criminal she appears to be, or just an unAmerican, undemocratic douchebag?

Friday, December 17, 2004

Buy Blue

Buy Blue

One of the latest and most powerful ways of being a Democratic Activist is to Buy Blue. The page looks like a mall directory: a list of well-known shops, separated into Clothing, Spirits, Retail and Books, Airlines, etc. The ones on the left, in pink, donate money to political campaigns, and most of it goes to Republicans like Circuit City, which bears the annotation "96% to Republicans". On the right, in blue, refreshing stores like Barnes and Noble, "98% to Democrats". It's the place to start your holiday shopping.

And happy holidays.

-- Conchis

Howard Dean: Reformer

There's a nice interview with Howard Dean at Peopleforchange.

His goal: to remake the Democratic Party. Maybe “remake” isn’t really the right choice of words. And the focus on the Democratic Party, even that is too narrow. We are talking about no less than a Renaissance of the populace. Reinvigoration of long moribund participatory democracy free and unfettered by corporate lobbyists. A return to Core Values of the American Ideal. For Howard Dean and his legions, this is the goal. I march with them.
If we can reform politics in this country, reforming it through the major party is worth a try. If we can’t do it, then we can’t do it, but I think it’s worth doing. I think the Democratic Party will be, can be a vehicle for real reform, it has in the past .and I think that’s what the public wants. I think the common agenda that we have for the American People is reform. DFA [Democracy for America, which Dean leads] is made up of all kinds of people from the progressive end of the spectrum to the moderate Republican end of the spectrum, and what we all have in common is we want progressive reform.
You know, I don’t think we should dwell on [the DLC]. ... Instead of worrying about that there’s some other groups that want to move to the right, I think we ought to keep going straight forward. I think we are the moderate folks. They can tag us with the word “liberal” or whatever they want, and there’s nothing wrong with “liberal”, believe me, but I don't think we should pay attention to that any more. That’s one thing I would do differently if I were ,if I had to go back and do it over again, I wouldn’t  bother with the DLC or the retrogrades, their forces in the party, I would try to move forward on our own agenda. You get sucked in to letting somebody else frame the agenda, that’s a problem. We shouldn’t let the Republicans do it nor should we let the DLC or anybody else like that do it.

Kerik Alert System

Here it is, your color-coded Kerik alert system:


Kerik Pimp Killed Woman

An Atrios reader points out that Anthony Bergamo, who supplied Bernard Kerik with his Battery Park City love nest, killed a woman with his car in September of 2000. The death was ruled accidental (and quite plausibly was, judging by the NY Daily News' description). Who was police commisioner at the time at the time? Why, Bernard Kerik.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Daily Show: This Just In

In response to William Donahue, who said that "Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity" and "Hollywood like anal sex" Stewart says of Hollywood: "You cannot go to a restaurant there without getting sodomized."

"Social Security: because if we don't destroy it might be there later."

"Justice oughtta be fair." -- George W. Bush

2006 Ballot Initiatives for Election Reform

In 2004 the Republicans helped themselves by putting wedge-issue initiatives on ballots in a number of states: initiatives to ban gay marriage. This is an effective technique that Democrats should use.

Preparing for 2006 and 2008, we should begin now preparing language and positions to put election reform on the ballot. There are at least four different groups of reforms we should put on the ballot in each state.

1. "No one should have to wait in line to vote." Require that all voters be allowed to vote at any precinct in their county. Keep the polls open all week. Constitutionally mandate equal numbers of voting machines per person, regardless of location. Make the state pay for voting machines, not the counties -- so that poor areas are not disadvantaged.

2. "Get a Receipt." Fairness in Voting. Require voting machines to produce a paper record. To quote Howard Dean, "We need to try to get laws passed, by referendum if necessary, that say that no voting machines in a particular state or jurisdiction may be used unless they can be recounted by hand. Oregon has such a statute because Bill Bradbury (Oregon’s Secretary of State) got one passed in 2001."

3. Amend Ohio's constitution to provide nonpartisan supervision of the elections, removing the Secretary of State from the picture. And Florida's. And South Carolina's. And Wisconson's. And Pennsylvania's. And California's.

4. "Gerrymandering is wrong. It's politics as usual, and it has no place in our state." Gerrymandering is an unfair way for incumbents to use power to keep themselves in office. We need to put a stop to it.

Let me close by quoting Chris Bowers, who was writing about gerrymandering, but could have been talking about any of these reforms.

In 2006, we should put a series of constitutional amendments on state ballots to deny state legislatures the power to draw legislative and congressional maps. Instead, that power should be given to bi- and non-partisan commissions who should have the twin goals of insuring as many competitive elections as possible. This should even become a national Democratic position in the 2006 elections. It allows us to be ourselves, to seize the mantle of reform, and to call the right-wing power grab for what it really is. For an accountable government, end gerrymandering now!

Have Some Red Meat

David Brock of MediaMatters, quoted in full:

Letter from David Brock to Bill O'Reilly

Bill O'Reilly
The O'Reilly Factor
FOX News Channel
1211 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 1003

Dear Mr. O'Reilly:

In May of this year, I asked that you allow me to come on The O'Reilly Factor to discuss your attacks on philanthropist George Soros. Your producer denied my request, saying you were no longer discussing the topic. Yet in subsequent weeks, you continued to discuss Mr. Soros on your radio and television programs. Despite my offer to discuss Soros, you still did not invite me on -- even complaining during your June 1 Radio Factor, "I mean, we really can't get anybody in here [to defend Soros] that's not a raving, raving Far-Left person, and why we would want to do that, I don't know."

In recent months, you have repeatedly attacked me and my organization, Media Matters for America:

  • On the June 28 O'Reilly Factor, you referred to Media Matters as a "Far Left website";

  • On the August 5 Radio Factor, you likened Media Matters to Mao Zedong;

  • On the August 5 O'Reilly Factor, you claimed your critics are "hiding"; in response, I reiterated my willingness to appear on your television show;

  • During your August 7 debate with New York Times columnist Paul Krugman on CNBC, you compared Media Matters to the Ku Klux Klan and Fidel Castro;

  • On August 13, Media Matters noted your recent attacks on us, and wondered how long it would be before you compared us to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. It took less than a month: On the September 14 Radio Factor, you referred to comments I made as "Joseph Goebbels Nazi stuff";

  • On the December 9 Radio Factor, you called Media Matters "the most vile, despicable human beings in the country";

  • On the December 14 Radio Factor, you called Media Matters "sneaky"; accused us of "tak[ing] things out of context"; called us a "Far Left, deceitful, disgusting website"; and called us "character assassins" and "despicable weasels."

As you can see, Mr. O'Reilly, you have repeatedly and personally attacked me, Media Matters for America, and my fine staff, calling us "vile," "despicable," and "weasels," and comparing us to the Ku Klux Klan, Castro, Mao, and the Nazis. And you have refused my repeated requests to appear on your broadcast.

You once offered your viewers your definition of the word "coward." On the January 5, 2004, O'Reilly Factor, you declared: "If you attack someone publicly, as these men did to me, you have an obligation to face the person you are smearing. If you don't, you are a coward."

Well, Mr. O'Reilly, you have attacked me publicly on numerous occasions, and you refuse to face me. You, sir, are a coward -- by your own definition of the term. You are "hiding under your desk" (to paraphrase your August 26, 2003, claim about a "coward" who declined to appear on your show) rather than allowing me on your program to discuss your insults. You are "gutless," to borrow the phrase you used on January 10, 2003, and February 8, 2001, to describe people who would not appear on your program. I attach additional examples of your pejorative descriptions of those who decline invitations to appear on your broadcast.

Your frequent complaint that your words are taken out of context appears to have spurred your recent assault on my organization. While reasonable people can disagree about conclusions we, or you, have drawn about your comments, you are simply wrong to say that we took you out of context. I remain willing and eager to appear on either your television or radio program to discuss your contention that my organization has taken your comments out of context.

Should you continue to refuse this offer, it is only reasonable that the American people will conclude that you are not only -- as you would put it -- a "coward," but a hypocrite as well.


David Brock
President and CEO
Media Matters for America

And there's even more. These are the sorts of cojones I like to see on our activists.

Bush Employs Russian Arms-Trafficker Suspected of Links to Talaban

This is Russian arms dealer Victor Bout, working "for" the Bush administration in Iraq. Bout allegedly sold airplanes to the Taliban for use in transporting arms into Afghanistan.

[Sen. Russell] Feingold [D, WI] said Monday, "What's obviously wrong is that U.S. taxpayer dollars are going to fatten the wallet of someone associated with the Taliban and with atrocities in places like Liberia and Sierra Leone."

Article in The L.A. Times

George Bush's War Against Social Security

This is the best frame I've seen for talking about Social Security, from Jeffrey Feldman. The thing to say is

George W. Bush's war against Social Security is the crisis.

Jeffrey also supplies email addresses of media outlets who either use Bush's Scaremonger Frame for Social Security, or would benefit from knowing this better frame. And he supplies a carefully written letter you can use when writing to these people.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Blogs. Think Tanks.

The left needs think tanks. We need them a lot. They are one of the three most important thinks we will have to work on after February 12th (which is the day the DNC elects its new Chair).

But we are not lost without them. This stuff Chris Bowers does at mydd-- this is serious thinking of exactly the sort that's warranted. When I first read Chris's posts on taking "Reform" positions it made a big difference to how I think. Now I (and I hope thousands of other people who read those posts) think about things in a more clear and persuasive way, integrated under the notion that we must reform: our party, our capital city, their SCLM. All of it must be taken apart and fixed (or scrapped), and that is the job of Americans who work for reform: that is why we are reform Democrats.

The biggest problem that Chris (and the Progressive Thinkers listed in the sidebar) face in their efforts is not having a big enough megaphone -- but here again blogs are think tanks: doing a better and better job of getting the word out every single month -- that's what mydd, and all of us in the left blogosphere, are doing. Yesterday Atrios hosted The Majority Report, a radio show heard on 40 radio stations and on countless computers and iPods throughout America, and his first move was to interview bloggers Kos and Chris Bowers. Call that a small step or a giant leap. This is us, slowly getting the word out.

From the Lakoff Book Club

From tonight's mydd Book Club, highlights of Chris Bowers' thoughts on Don't Think of an Elephant

This is one of the keys to the entire idea of framing: progressives are so weak when it comes to using frames to articulate their beliefs that they do not even know how to talk to themselves about what they believe. We are unable to use short frames to evoke our own ideas, and instead resort to convoluted “hypercognition,” where long descriptions of simple ideas are required to explain our beliefs (read here: Al Gore and John Kerry). Because we have not invested the billions of dollars in think tanks and studies to learn how to talk to each other and evoke our beliefs in short frames, conservatives are far, far superior at framing than are progressives. Because of this, we are unable to evoke our frames in the minds of voters, end up reinforcing the frames of our opponents, and lose because their frame is dominant in the majority of the population.

Lakoff says that we must make the required infrastructure investment in think tanks, books, and language development that are required in order to better evoke our values to ourselves and to the 20-30% of the country that swings from one frame to the other. He notes that right now conservatives are able to invoke their entire worldview in just ten words: Strong Defense, Free Markets, Lower Taxes, Smaller Government and Family Values. However, progressive have a lot of work to do before they can reach that point:

"We progressives have a different ten word philosophy, but it won’t be as meaningful yet because it will take us a while to get our values, principles and directions out there. My nomination for a ten word philosophy versus theirs is the following: Stronger America, Better Future, Broad Prosperity, Effective Government, Mutual Responsibility."

Compare to the words at the top of the page here at Age of Reason (which come from here).

Meanwhile, Paul Rosenberg has this to say about the Right Wing Power Grab frame, which Democrats still haven't learned to transmit well enough:

Although Lakoff doesn't discuss this, the Right Wing Power Grab makes perfect sense in Strict Father terms. If conservatives really are so virtuous, and liberals really are so vile, then it makes perfect sense to say that only conservatives deserve to rule, and that virtually anything they do to win is therefore justified.  I believe that this is actually how conservatives think--although not necessarily consciously.

The book club also spent some time discussing the essentials of succeeding at the debate:

Show Respect
Respond by Reframing
Think and Talk at the Level of Values
Say What You Believe  

They are part of a much longer list. Among the gems.

An opponent may be disingenuous if his real goal isn't what he says his goal is. Politely point out the real goal, then reframe. Example: Suppose he starts touting smaller government. Point out that conservatives don't really want smaller government. They don't want to eliminate the military, or the FBI, or the Treasury and Commerce Departments, or the nine-tenths of the courts that support corporate law. It is big government that they like. What they really want to do away with is social programs -programs that invest in people, to help people to help themselves. Such a position contradicts the values the country was founded on-the idea of a community where people pull together to help each other. From John Winthrop on, that is what our nation has stood for.

But my favorite is a funny one: "If you remember nothing else about framing, remember this: Once your frame is accepted into the discourse, everything you say is just common sense. Why? Because that's what common sense is: reasoning within a commonplace, accepted frame," funny to me because I've always been acutely aware that to think of something as common sense is to cop out of arguing for it rationally.

Let's Save Social Security.

Josh Marshall has begun hammering on Bush's attempts to destroy Social Security.

Do your part by contacting NBC about Tim Russert, who repeated the administration's inaccurate "crisis" rhetoric on Meet the Press this weekend. Media Matters has been on the case, and will continue to identify instances of the press repeating the administration's bogus views about social security.

For anyone who has begun wondering if maybe Social Security is in trouble, Brad DeLong's chart once again:

As a footnote, this seems a particularly good time to remind readers that I often refer to the "mainstream" media as the right-wing media. As they mouth Bush Adminstration social security talking points day after day after day, you can easily see why. Let's start calling the right-wing media what it is.

Rush Limbaugh

For those of you who don't read Atrios

FCC Action Alert!!!

1. Go to and find your Limbaugh station.
2. Send an email to with your own version of the following:

On Monday, December 13 in the 2nd hour of his program (1pm EST) broadcast on [CALL SIGN HERE], Rush Limbaugh used the vulgar, sexual term "dick" when referring to a Miss Plastic Surgery pageant. Specifically, Limbaugh said:

"LIMBAUGH: Miss Plastic Surgery. (chuckle) And – I’d – I’d – I – I don’t – I don’t know what the winner – I – and, oh, I didn’t print out both pages, so I don’t know what the – I don’t know what the winner gets. Probably a certificate to go to San Francisco to have an add-a-dick-to-me operation. "

The silver lining here is that Rush is a pretty funny guy. It's a pleasure to be entertained by his wit, even in transcript.

Reform Copyright

I've bought in to Chris Bowers' notion that reform is key to political success. Reform is everything: we must reform the Democratic Party into something competent, we must fight for reform against the entrenched interests of crony CEOs and the Republicans in Washington. Law Professor Tim Wu of U. VA Law School has this to say about the special interest legislation that Disney bought:

My vision of copyright will sound conventional: I think copyright law should serve authors and consumers. But that turns out to be a radical view. Because if we took those ideals of copyright seriously, as opposed to paying them lip service, the law would look a lot different than it does today.

Today’s copyright law problem is structural. The law does too much to serve the interests of disseminators—the film industry, recording industry, and publishers—often at the expense of both authorship and consumer welfare.
Copyright needs to accept fully the idea that competition can be a good thing.
Copyright is too easily abused by incumbent disseminators to block the market entry of new technologies. Too many technologies – cable television, digital radio, satellite broadcasting—have at one time of another fallen into the “Copyright Gap”—facing stiff government regulation even before getting off the ground. ... Today you can often use copyright to stop a new technology, but what about making the new entrant pay a fee to the incumbent? It is an idea that even the Supreme Court has talked about but it will take a courageous judge to put the idea into practice. That would help prevent copyright from becoming a bottleneck that blocks new technologies from emerging.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Hitchens: Reform Illegal Immigration

From the mydd diaries.

It is clear where America stands on illegal immigration and our porous borders. Americans don't like it and want something to be done.

There are three arguments that are against the oppostion to illegal immigration:

It is racist to oppose illegal immigration, rights, and benefits for illegal immigrants.

It benefits America more than it hurts America, and people don't want to do the work illegals do anyway.

Military intervention to seal the borders just won't work.

None of these arguments stand up.

Hitchens is right. The lefty moral argument that I sometimes see -- that enforcing immigration laws is somehow unfair to illegal immigrants -- doesn't stand up. It's true that foreign nationals, in as much as they'd like to come to America, are marginalized by (or beyond the margins of) the U.S. But if you truly want give people who "were born in the wrong place and were too poor" full access to America, the only fair way to do it is to actually legalize more immigration, perhaps emphasizing specific countries, most obviously Mexico.

But when you do something else instead, when you condone illegal immigration, you promote a culture of cheating. That's why George W. Bush supports illegal immigrants: because he is a cheater. The reality is, when we condone illegal immigration, we still keep people out -- specifically honest people who won't cross borders illegally. And why should these honest people risk their lives trying to cross our borders? It seems a preposterous thing to encourage. Now, you might say that the cheating being done by the immigrants is understandable -- it is.

What's not understandable is the cheating being done by employers, who are delighted by illegal immigration, because it depresses the wages of the poor Americans they employ. And this gets to my second point. Once we decide that we want to reform our immigration system, the key tool to use is the prosecution of George W. Bush's (and Rudy Giuliani's) good friends, the cheating employers.

All of this serves to protect one Democrats' favorite constituencies, and one who could use a lot more help: people who work for a living, especially at low-wage jobs.

Sente Democrats Will Investigate White House


New Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said Monday his party will launch investigative hearings next year in response to what he said was the reluctance of Republicans to look into problems in the Bush administration.

"There are too many unasked and unanswered questions and the American public deserves better," the Nevada senator said at a news conference. He will formally succeed Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., as party leader next month.

Sen. Byron Dorgan (news, bio, voting record), D-N.D., who heads the Democratic Policy Committee, said the first hearing will be at the end of January and he suggested it might focus on contract abuse in Iraq (news - web sites). He said the policy committee, which has held occasional investigative hearings in the past, planned to convene at least one such hearing a month.

-- Jim Abrams, Associated Press

Give 'em hell, Harry.

Google Plans to Allow Search for Physical Books

Apparently Google's plans now include not just returning results that come from inside books, but giving the locations in local libraries of the books themselves. From Harvard's Library

Plans call for the eventual development of a link allowing Google users at Harvard to connect directly to the online [Library] catalog for information on the location and availability at Harvard of works identified through a Google search. This would merge the search capacity of the Internet with the deep research collections at Harvard into one seamless resource—a development especially important for undergraduates who often see the library and the Internet as alternative and perhaps rival sources of information.

I continue to be impressed.

FEC Sued Over Norquist and Bush-Cheney '04

Finally, the beginnings of legal action against Norquist.

A group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is filing a complaint against the Federal Election Commission (FEC) alleging that it "abused its discretion by failing to enforce election law against Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform and Bush-Cheney '04."

In February of this year, CREW had filed a complaint with the FEC alleging that Norquist gave Ken Mehlman, the campaign manager for Bush-Cheney '04 a "master contact list," including the names and information of conservative activists in 37 states compiled by Norquist over a period of 5 years.

Another Thing to Reform: Crony Capitalists Comitting Patent Terrorism

From Jason Schultz at Salon

Many have compared these new patent licensing firms to terrorists, and in some ways, the analogy is apt. When the Soviet Union collapsed, one of the biggest worries was that rogue military personnel might sell off one or more of the USSR's nuclear missiles to a terrorist group. Securing those weapons became a top priority. The reason was fear -- fear that the terrorists, who had little to nothing at stake in terms of world peace and national stability, would use the missiles to extort or manipulate the world political climate.
With the patents of bankrupt dot-coms, the dynamics are similar. Rogue licensing firms buy up these patents and then threaten legitimate innovators and producers. They have no products on which a countersuit can be based and no interest in stable marketplaces, competition or consumer benefit. Their only interest is in the bottom line.

While profit itself is often a worthy objective, it is not always synonymous with innovation. Every dollar a tech company pays to patent lawyers or licensing firms is one less dollar available for R&D or new hires. Thus, many companies that offer new products end up paying a "tax" on innovation instead of receiving a reward. When this happens, it's a signal that the patent system is broken. Forcing companies to pay lawyers instead of creating jobs and new products is the wrong direction for our economy to be headed and not the result our patent system should be promoting.

Google Starts Digitizing Books

From The Times:

Google, the operator of the world's most popular Internet search service, plans to announce an agreement Tuesday with some of the nation's leading research libraries and Oxford University to begin converting their holdings into digital files that would be freely searchable over the Web.

It may be only a step on a long road toward the long-predicted global virtual library. But the collaboration of Google and research institutions that also include Harvard, the University of Michigan, Stanford and the New York Public Library is a major stride in an ambitious Internet effort by various parties. The goal is to expand the Web beyond its current valuable, if eclectic, body of material and create a digital card catalog and searchable library for the world's books, scholarly papers and special collections.

Monday, December 13, 2004

This Should Win Us the Washington Governor's Race

Our candidate for Governor of Washington, Christine Gregoire, is within a few dozen votes of winning the seat. 561 uncounted votes have just been discovered in the heavily Democratic county that contains Seattle. From KOMO Channel 4 News:

King County Elections Director Dean Logan said Monday that approximately 561 absentee ballots were rejected because it was mistakenly thought that the signatures on the ballots did not match original voter registration records. However, he said the signatures simply were not on file in the county's voter registration system, and that original registration records should have been checked.

"In the case of these ballots, the mistake was on our part in not finding signatures of what appears to be eligible voters," Logan said in a news release. "We take full responsibility.

"An error has been made that has prevented valid ballots from being counted. We need to correct the error and count those votes."

How refreshing to hear an election official take responsibility and count votes!

Draft Howard Ad Video

Draft Howard and Driving Votes are airing this ad inside the beltway.

A Call for Daily Talking Points

I've been impressed by how the press slavishly repeats the Republicans' talking points all the time, and I guess it's because.....they have them.  This has been so successful for the Repubs that I've wondered for a while why Democrats don't have daily talking points.

So I've started proposing that we have daily talking points.

And when I say we, I mean the Democratic and liberal blogs.  Essentially what I'm proposing is this:

(1) Once or more a week, Chris Bowers or Jerome Armstrong, Markos, Atrios, and Josh Marshall (or some such group) exchange a series of emails proposing lists of talking points for the coming week.  One of them is the moderator each week, and that moderator tries to let everybody get a point or two in, but he gets final say.  The moderator position rotates.

(2) How do our fearless leaders (FLs) decide what talking points to submit to the above process?   Presumably Josh Marshall just makes his up himself, because that's how he works. On the Scoop blogs it could be done with suggestions from the community in comments and polls, or, if it was worth the effort, with a Wiki. It could be done all sorts of ways.

(3) Once the ubermoderator has chosen the 7 talking points, he assigns them to seven days, and assigns whoever is most passionate/available to write them.  Let's say Tuesday's talking point is social security reform, Atrios had agreed to write the talking point.  Last thing Monday night he posts the talking point.  It's written so that the post's title makes the talking point succinctly, the first sentence makes the point a bit less succinctly but still very persuasively, and the whole post is less than ten lines long.  Often it'll include two or three zingers.

(4) The other FLs wake up Tuesday morning.  They either take Atrios's post verbatim or, if they feel like writing a bit, they can write it differently.  It's labelled today's talking point.  Maybe it even has a spot in the sidebar.

(5) Other bloggers also echo it if we like. If we want to influence the stream of daily talking points we do so as members of the big community blogs.

(6) When each of us read it we know it's the point of the day.  It's the point to bring up over lunch with the people at work.  It's the point to call a radio talk show about.  If you're one of the people who goes to mediamatters and sends complaints about right-wing bias to news organizations, then when you see the talking point one of the things you do is look for items related to that talking point, and you complain about them.  It's the point you mention to your mom if you talk to her about politics on the phone.

That's about it.  It seems like somebody needs to do it.  It seems like it could be done without too much effort (easier said, I know).   It seems like the lefty blogs are a unified, rising group that could take control of this problem and fix it.

Wednesday: Chris Bowers Leads Book Club on Lakoff

Chris Bowers is one of the best political thinkers around. We're lucky to have him as a blogger. This Wednesday at 7 pm PST, he'll be leading a discussion of George Lakoff's Don't Think of An Elephant at mydd, where he writes on the front page. Highly recommended.

And remember, it's a short book, so if you can find a copy, there's still plenty of time to read it before Wednesday.

State Parties Like Netroots Money; Don't Seem To Like Netroots

This is the best article this week about party reform, from blogswarm, with useful annotation by Chris Bowers.

In my humble opinion, the ADSC should have kicked out anyone who doesn't have a blog.
While almost all of these states have a mechanism for accepting online donations, none of them decided to catapult their online campaigns by having a blog. Likewise, almost all of these websites ask people to volunteer without offering daily reasons why their time is needed.

As NE and NV have demonstrated, a state party can spend 20 minutes to set up a free blog on blogger, put a link on their website, and be a modern Party in a half an hour.

If state parties want to do more, they could follow the lead of California's Bob Mulholland who uses his blog to bash Republicans, fire up activists, and raise money -- in real-time, almost every day.

Atrios on Air America Radio Tomorrow

"Duncan Black" -- a pseudonym for Atrios -- will be co-hosting The Majority Report on Air America Radio Tuesday and Wednesday. Listen on your local station or timeshift with the mp3 archive (also available as a podcast).

Bloggers Shut Out of State Democratic Party Conference

I wrote yesterday about Jerome Armstrong and Matt Stoller being thrown out of the Democratic State Chairs meeting because they were considered press. One issue here is when bloggers count as press, when they count as party activists and fundraisers, etc. There's a good discussion of this here, in addition to the discussion here between Jerome, Matt, and Jenny Greenleaf, who both blogged the meeting and attended as a newly-elected reform DNC member.

Vote Fahrenheit 9/11 Best Film

Apparently it's still possible to vote in the People's Choice Awards for a few more hours.

Another Hypocrite on Fox News

Atrios has a wonderful bit on Fox New's Judith Regan, who, for about a year, was having an extramarital affair with Bernard Kerik. In quote after quote, Regan appears on Fox and finds fault with Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky guessed it:

REGAN: I don't know. I mean, I think that they're going to move forward here, and I think it's alarming to me that the country is not concerned about having an amoral man in the White House.

Ms. REGAN: Let me tell you something, my father has never cheated on my mother, my brothers have never treated cheated on their wives. I come from a big Italian Irish Catholic family and I have to say that for the most part, they have not cheated on each other.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Howard Dean Can be Trusted

Howard Dean was on Meet the Press today. Actually all he met was Tim Russert. But I digress.

"As I said earlier, we ran the best grassroots campaign that I've seen in my lifetime.  They ran a better one.  Why?  Because we sent 14,000 people into Ohio from elsewhere.  They had 14,000 from Ohio talking to their neighbors and that's how you win in rural states and in rural America.  If we don't do those things, we aren't going to win.  We have to learn to do those things."

Howard Dean is a man who learns from his mistakes. Yet another reason why he can be trusted with the Democratic Party.

The President is Lying About Social Security

From Moe Blues:

Well, here’s my own big, bold idea: Maybe some Democrat could stand up and say, “The president is lying when he says there is a crisis in Social Security.”

Why I am a Reform Democrat

From PhillipG at DailyKos

The message to the rank-and-file Democrat should come through loud and clear:  "We'll take your money, your vote, and your organizing skill, but when it comes to overarching policy or making decision about the real direction of the party, you can forget about it."

In a lot of ways, it is akin to the notion "Taxation without representation.
It seems to me, more and more, that Gore Vidal's thesis is correct:  In the United States, we have only ONE political party--the Property Party that represents the interests of the wealthy and the super wealthy.  It has two right wings, the more reactionary of the two being called "Republican," and the conservative wing being called "Democrat."

Look, when the Party establishment did what it did to Howard Dean during the primary season, they weren't just taking out Dean.  They were taking out his 600.000 supporters who were part of one of the most exciting, dynamic and innovative grass-roots movements that had come along in years.  In doing so, they were showing that they  have nothing but CONTEMPT for the grass roots.  

Face it:  All these people care about is their own positions, their own power, their own money, and the interests of their super wealthy and corporate backers.  The rank and file--and the blogosphere, which is the rank and file's pipeline into the process--can  go to  hell for all they care.

The Man Behind the Mailing List

What is the power of the political mailing list? The list itself, or the man who manages it?

Dean's list has already proven to be substantial and sustaining. Dean directs his list based on the fact that the people on his list trust him?

AARP's list was decimated when they tried to run rough shod over its members by backing the Medicare bill which will directly hurt their member.
Kerry has a list of over 2 million can he wield his list as handily as Dean??? Or were the people on his list just buying protection from Bush...ABB [Anybody But Bush].

-- From Parker, at mydd

Bloggers Shut Out of State Democratic Party Conference

Jerome Armstrong has an account of how he, Matt Stoller, Joe Trippi and other bloggers were banned from some sessions (which were otherwise open to the public) at the state Democratic Party conference in Orlando. A dispassionate account comes from Markos:

While the attendees talked a good game about "netroots" and small dollar donors, they shut out the bloggers from more than one event. Unacceptable, especially since they were specifically exluded from various proceedings. One of the tenets of "reform" is accountability, and you cannot have accountability without transparency.

People may disagree on the party's ability to keep "press" out of certain events. But Democratic bloggers aren't "press". We're not disinterested observers chronicling events. We're engaged and active in the fight to rebuild our party, and as such, deserve, at very least, to stand in the back wall and observe those events that have an impact in our party.

This is something the party will have to resolve, as more and more of America's 56 million Democratic voters become bloggers. Most charitably, they have some sorting out to do re which bloggers count as press and which do not. (They couldn't kick out blogger Jenny Greenleaf, whose report on the meetings is here, because she recently won a spot on the DNC. See here for a discussion in which Jenny and the group at mydd tries to sort this out.) Much more concerning: this is a sign that there are elements of the party that see the netroots as a one-way cashflow, and see any blogging they do as a one-way announcement.

In 2004 the party asked us to trust them with John Kerry. We did, and we gave them hundreds of millions of our dollars in small contributions to get him elected. This will not happen again. Either the Democratic Party will reform, operate transparently, and follow up the best idea of the grass roots -- or all those internet contributions will end up in other hands.

Killing the Internet to Kill P2P

Copyfight has the best summary I've seen yet of the issues surrounding the weird attempt of MGM v. Grokster to illegalize peer-to-peer file-sharing.

Making "P2P networks...illegal" involves more than flipping a switch and banning P2P networks narrowly. As Ed Felten explains, crafting a definition that includes P2P and leaves out most other Internet technologies is basically impossible.

The problem, as most Americans know in their gut, is that making a copy of something you own is inherently legal in our free society -- the right to do what one wants with one's own property is just so deeply built into the fabric of our free society, that overzealous attempts to limit it often threaten much broader elements of our civilization: in this case, our internet.

A Fair and Balanced Look at our Right-wing Media

This is one of those days when I cannot believe that the Republicans -- and the tame lapdogs in the press who print their words without surrounding them with, in bold and red, "LIAR!! LIAR!!" -- are simply ignorant or deluded, but must be mendacious and malevolent.

-- Brad DeLong, from his article pointing out that Social Security is not in trouble.

But if the right-wing media keep repeating a lie, doesn't that make it so? Yes, Virginia, Social Security is in trouble -- but the danger is lying Republicans and the lying reporters at CNN and CBS, not a lack of funds.

A Cheating Culture

A Gilas Girl pointed out this bit on This Week

In the panel on steroids in sports – the only time I can recall that I have ever seen two black men on the screen at the same time in any public affairs show not specifically programmed for African American audiences – Tavis Smiley did an excellent job of “changing the frame”. Rather than comply with the focus on cheating in sport, or falling into the trap of discussing role models and or big money sports, Smiley broadened the discussion to the issue of a “cheating culture”. He did it smoothly and effortlessly and in one breath linked together the cheating and dishonesty in corporate practices, in politics, in interpersonal relationships and in sport. When George Will tried to deflect the point by suggesting that we have higher standards today than we’ve ever had and the cheating and dishonesty simply isn’t tolerated because of the increase in scandals, Smiley looked at him and asked, “Do you really believe that George?”

Not only did he manage to connect this basically diversionary story to serious political and cultural issues, he’s one of the few people to speak the unspeakable: that not only do we tolerate a level of trickery, deceit, dishonor and even danger in many of the institutions and aspects of our daily lives, but we also celebrate them. Progressives need more of this. And Smiley provided a textbook example of how to do it. It’s worth having a look at.

Social Security is Not in Trouble


The mainstream media has made a number of inaccurate reports this week (summary here) stating that the social security system is in trouble. It's not, as Brad DeLong's chart shows.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

BuyBlue Off to Successful Start

Our friends at BuyBlue report that they're getting a lot of press

This week we have been fortunate enough to get write-ups in memepool , Mother Jones , linkfilter as well as numerous sites throughout the blogosphere.  However, today marks a momentous occasion, because we got front page coverage in the Cleveland Plain Dealer...Also - be on the lookout for an article in the Dallas Morning News early next week.
Wal-Mart Vice President Ray Bracy confirmed that the chain makes 80 percent of its political contributions to Republicans, as noted on the site. The donations help Wal-Mart make its case for free enterprise to the U.S. government, he says.

"We have seen certain groups suggest that people not shop at Wal-Mart," Bracy says, "and that doesn't keep customers away."

I'd read that as Mr. Bracy basically stating that we can't make a difference, even if we try.  I think we owe it to ourselves to prove him wrong.  We'll see who is right when the officers at Wal-Mart have to answer for their sales numbers after the Christmas shopping season.

I'd encourage all of you to do everything in your power to get the word out about and specifically to target Wal-Mart this holiday season.  Don't buy a single thing from them if you occasionally shop there and please do make an effort to convince everyone you know to do the same.