Friday, December 26, 2008

"Third Culture Kids"

This piece hit the Daily Beast awhile back but didn't seem to get a lot of play. I think it's fascinating: According to sociologists, Obama is a classic "Third Culture Kid" sharing the traits of many people with expat childhoods. These TCKs often grow into adults who are socially adaptable, intellectually flexible, and have a global perspective. They think outside the box and are good at reconciling opposing points of view. At the same time, they sometimes feel rootless and detached and are criticized for seeming aloof.

Sound familiar?
The great challenge for maturing Third Culture Kids is to forge a sense of personal and cultural identity from the various environments to which they been exposed. Barack Obama’s memoir, Dreams of My Father, could serve as a textbook in the TCK syllabus, a classic search for self-definition, described in living color. Obama’s colleagues on the Harvard Law Review were among the first to note both his exceptional skill at mediating among competing arguments and the aloofness that made his own views hard to discern. That cool manner of seeming “above it all” is also a classic feature of the Third Culture Kid.

The TCKs’ identity struggles can be painful and difficult. The literature documents addictive behaviors, troubled marriages and fitful careers. But meeting this challenge can become a TCK’s greatest strength. Learning to take the positive pieces from a variety of experiences and create a strong sense of “This is who I am, no matter where I am” gives a steadiness when the world around is in flux or chaos”—which helps explain “no-drama Obama.”
Obama is stocking his inner circle with other TCKs: advisor Valerie Jarrett (a childhood in Tehran and London), Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner (East Africa, India, Thailand, China, Japan), National Security Advisor James L. Jones (Paris), and Commerce Secretary Bill Richardson (Mexico City).

Sociologist Ted Ward calls TCKs the "prototype citizens of the future." I think starting the future now is a great idea.

Monday, December 01, 2008

McCarthy to Nixon to Bush to Palin

Oh, interesting. The father of the modern Republican party isn't Goldwater. leading on to Reagan and then to G.W. Bush. The bloodlines run straight from Joseph McCarthy.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Political facts you NEVER imagined

According to a new study of personality and politics:
  • Right-wingers hoard cleaning supplies, calendars, postage stamps, and laundry products.
  • Liberals have cluttered offices, colorful bedrooms, lots of CDs, and eclectic taste in music and movies.
These differences map out regionally just like our red-blue voting map. Also:
  • Conservatives are traditional, self-disciplined, rule-following, organized, dependable, and responsible. They're religious, indifferent to inequality, and happy.
  • Liberals are creative, curious, intellectual, and tolerant. They think too much, worry about other people, and their happiness consequently plunges during hard times.
I almost hate to say it, but it sounds like we need both kinds.

UPDATE: But not until we get way past this election.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Protecting yer yard sign

I've been hearing reports of yard-sign theft from the good Democratic front lawns and highway triangles of Lincoln County, so I was pleased to see this handy advice from our friends at the Hancock County Democratic Committee:

Sign theft and vandalism continues to be a problem in some areas. District Attorney Michael Povich has issued a statement regarding this, which you can download from the HCDC homepage, or use this link.
The statute:
23 MRSA §1917-A. Unlawful removal of political signs

1. A person who takes, defaces or disturbs a lawfully placed sign bearing political messages relating to a general election, primary election or referendum commits a civil violation for which a forfeiture of up to $250 may be adjudged.
Hope that's helpful.

UPDATE: Then there's this solution, from New Mexico.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Democrats, please write 100 times: People do not vote on issues.

I've said this before, haven't I? Dems keep nominating cortex candidates while Republicans go all lizard-brain. Except that this time we didn't, even if it was by the skin of our teeth. And by choosing Obama over Clinton, we finally have a candidate who communicates emotion, not policy. Obama is our Reagan, according to George Lakoff.

And here's why it matters so much. Democrats, can we please learn this lesson once and for all and not backslide next time with a Hillary or Kerry or Gore or Dukakis?
First of all, 98 percent of our reason is unconscious; it's what our brain is doing when we're busy being conscious.

Second, it turns out that you can't be rational without being emotional; emotional is necessary for rationality.
In politics, this means that people don't vote on issues. Lakoff again:
Ronald Reagan learned from all of this that people vote not on the basis of positions on issues and on programs but on five things. Namely, values, communication and connection, trust, authenticity (do you tell the truth), and identity (do you identify with the candidate). Obama understood that, and ran his campaign that way. Clinton ran on the basis of positions on issues, and bored people, basically. She didn't run on those five things. Now, Obama had the positions on issues and all the experts, but that's not how he ran his operation against Clinton.
Note please: Obama had the policies; he just didn't run on them.

Lakoff mentions other interesting things like "mirror neurons," and why we feel comfortable when we see Obama and why McCain makes us tense. But the take-home message is, thank God we nominated Obama.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Conservatism has been meth-head for 50 years

...if not longer. Ilyka cures us of any latent William F. Buckley nostalgia. Conservatism as ushered in with the founding of the National Review is little more than a euphemism for white supremacy:
I am telling you, leftybeans, you have all had amnesia. Every single piece of drivel you find in The Corner, every lulzy post at Bacon o’Playdough, every Goldsteinian meltdown and Instapunditious I-just-link, I-don’t-endorse oily oozy blob of propaganda, every Confederate Yankee conspiracy theory, every Patterician investigation of IP addresses and other ridiculous internet minutiae, springs from this half-a-century-ago source.

And that source is based upon one single, easily attacked premise: That white men in America are losing out on the American dream, and “those people”–be they queer, black, women, transgendered, latin@, disabled, or OMG all six at the same time!–are to blame for it. Thus must we stand athwart their lives and their bodies and yell, or beat into them, our message to STOP. Because what is history but the story of people?
And conservatism won't be dead with this election, she writes, "it's resting."

h/t Atrios.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fake Americans head McCain's donor list

Check out the top ten zip codes of his donors:
  1. 10021 - New York, N.Y.
  2. 85253 - Paradise Valley, Ariz.
  3. 10022 - New York, N.Y.
  4. 06830 - Greenwich, Conn.
  5. 92660 - Newport Beach, Calif.
  6. 22101 - McLean, Va.
  7. 75205 - Dallas, Texas
  8. 77024 - Houston, Texas
  9. 78209 - San Antonio, Texas
  10. 63124 - St. Louis, Mo.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Can the netroots save democracy?

Huffpo on the netroots and the end of Rovian politics:
  • Traditional media might call out a lie once and then move on to the next shiny thing. Bloggers are obsessive and, being everywhere, will follow a story into every last corner, forever.
  • The internet makes easier to disseminate character smears but harder to make them stick.
  • Instead of relying on 30-second campaign ads and TV sound bites, voters now - by the millions - watch full-length speeches and YouTube videos posted by a wide range of people. They're getting much fuller, rounder pictures of their candidates, and it's harder to scare them.
Let's hope.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Matt Taibbi does not suffer fools gladly

And therefore, when National Review's Byron York tries to pin the credit crisis on Democrats, minorities, and the Community Reinvestment Act, Taibbi hands him his head:
Tell me you're not ashamed to put this gigantic international financial Krakatoa at the feet of a bunch of poor black people who missed their mortgage payments. The CDS market, this market for credit default swaps that was created in 2000 by Phil Gramm's Commodities Future Modernization Act, this is now a $62 trillion market, up from $900 billion in 2000. That's like five times the size of the holdings in the NYSE. And it's all speculation by Wall Street traders. It's a classic bubble/Ponzi scheme. The effort of people like you to pin this whole thing on minorities, when in fact this whole thing has been caused by greedy traders dealing in unregulated markets, is despicable.
h/t Washington Monthly.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Next time you hear "liberal media" can point out that we're down to five and they all want those McCain tax cuts:
The multinational corporations that run the mainstream media — GE (NBC), Time Warner (CNN), Walt Disney (ABC), News Corporation (FOX), and Viacom (CBS) — stand to benefit hugely under a McCain presidency. The centerpiece of Sen. McCain’s economic plan — actually, the whole plan — is large tax cuts for corporations. It would deliver $1.44 billion in tax cuts to the five largest media companies, according to an analysis by the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Friends of the Earth Action Endorses Tom Allen for Senate

From FoE Action's press release:
Allen called a consistent supporter of clean air, clean water and clean energy; Collins has frequently sided with Bush and special interests

Friends of the Earth Action today endorsed Congressman Tom Allen for Senate, saying there is a significant difference between his consistent support for environmental protection and fair trade and incumbent Senator Susan Collins’ frequent votes against these principles.

“Maine residents deserve an A voter in the Senate, not someone who scores a C- through her career but then gets green the year before an election,” said Dr. Brent Blackwelder, President of Friends of the Earth Action. “Far too often, Susan Collins has sided with special interests and George Bush—and against the health of the planet. Tom Allen is a strong supporter of clean air, clean water, clean energy and fair trade. He has earned our endorsement.”

According to the League of Conservation Voters, Allen has a 92 percent pro-environment lifetime voting record, but Collins has a lifetime record of only 69 percent, Blackwelder said.

Allen’s track record includes opposition to the Bush-Cheney Energy Bill of 2005 with its billions for Big Oil, which Collins supported. Allen has been a leader on clean energy and is an original cosponsor of the Safe Climate Act (H.R. 1590), one of the best bills yet offered on climate change in the House of Representatives. Allen is also a recognized leader on ocean pollution issues, writing successful legislation to create a comprehensive ocean observing system and to monitor ocean acidification.

Allen is also a strong supporter of fair trade, Blackwelder said:

“There are big differences between Allen and Collins on a central issue for Friends of the Earth Action—global trade agreements. Unjust agreements have led to a race to the bottom in environmental and workplace standards, causing outsourcing to businesses that tolerate sweatshops, and facilitating natural resource exploitation. Allen has consistently opposed these bad trade deals. Collins has not.”

Collins supported the Peru free trade agreement as well as “fast-track” negotiating authority for the president, which Friends of the Earth Action opposed. She has been ambiguous about how she will vote on the deeply flawed Colombia Free Trade Agreement. Allen on the other hand has pledged to “put a stop to trade deals that benefit the multinational corporations at the expense of Maine workers” and has consistently voted against bad agreements.

Collins and Allen also differ on strongly on judicial nominations, with Collins voting to confirm all of President Bush’s Supreme Court nominees.

“The future of the Supreme Court is one of the most crucial issues for those of us focused on clean air, clean water and the climate crisis,” said Friends of the Earth Action board member and Maine resident Michael Herz. “Unfortunately Susan Collins voted to confirm both of George Bush’s right-wing Supreme Court nominees, jeopardizing numerous environmental protections.”

Justices John Roberts and Sam Alito, both of whom Collins voted to confirm, have already sided against the environment in major decisions including Mass v. EPA, Rapanos v. United States and Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker.

Collins also voted to confirm Gale Norton as Bush’s Secretary of Interior. Norton has turned out to be one of the most anti-environment secretaries in our nation’s history.

Finally, Collins and Allen differ significantly on the Iraq war, which Friends of the Earth Action strongly opposed. Collins voted for the war and has supported the disastrous Iraq policies of President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Allen was one of only 133 House members to oppose using military force in Iraq.

“In all of these areas, Tom Allen has been an advocate for the health of Maine’s people and the planet,” Herz said. “We are proud to support his candidacy for the U.S. Senate.”

Sunday, September 21, 2008

No. Blank. Check. For. Crooks.

On the economic bailout front, don't miss:
As one commenter put it,

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Listen up, Dems: here's why people vote Republican

They live in a different moral universe. And we need to take it seriously.

Republicans have different gut feelings than we do, because they use a different mix of the morality spectrum.
That's the thesis of a piece called "What Makes People Vote Republican?" It's overly long, but a must-read for anyone working in the fields of persuasion or reconciliation:
Not everyone who votes Republican has been 'duped'. Conservative ideals appeal to some because they reflect heartfelt visions of a 'good society.'
The author is a Penn-trained psychologist who has studied morality in the special subculture of politics and come to two conclusions. First, and this is not news, gut feelings trump reason:
[W]hen gut feelings are present, dispassionate reasoning is rare. In fact, many people struggled to fabricate harmful consequences that could justify their gut-based condemnation. [...]

These obviously post-hoc rationalizations illustrate the philosopher David Hume's dictum that reason is "the slave of the passions, and can pretend to no other office than to serve and obey them." This is the first rule of moral psychology: feelings come first and tilt the mental playing field on which reasons and arguments compete. If people want to reach a conclusion, they can usually find a way to do so. The Democrats have historically failed to grasp this rule, choosing uninspiring and aloof candidates who thought that policy arguments were forms of persuasion.

Second, morality differs across cultures, including cultures like R and D:

[M]orality is any system of interlocking values, practices, institutions, and psychological mechanisms that work together to suppress or regulate selfishness and make social life possible. It turns out that human societies have found several radically different approaches to suppressing selfishness [...].
He goes on to explore five different kinds of morality:
  • harm/care
  • fairness/repricocity
  • ingroup/loyalty
  • authority/respect
  • purity/sanctity
You can see where this is going. Put together, these values function in our lives almost like the sliders on a stereo equalizer. Conservatives use a mix that is distinctively different from that of liberals; therefore, our messages don't "sound right" to each other. A story that makes beautiful music to us may sound thin and incomplete to people we are trying to persuade.

I can't excerpt it further. Go read. And you can test yourself at

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Former National Review publisher speaks out on McCain, Obama

Friends, relatives, countrymen… if you know and love any Republicans (or are one), I beg you to read this piece by Wick Allison, former editor of the National Review. It’s an extraordinary repudiation of the conservative movement as it stands today, along with a thoughtful look at Obama. Then send it on:
In 1964, at the age of 16, I organized the Dallas County Youth for Goldwater. My senior thesis at the University of Texas was on the conservative intellectual revival in America. Twenty years later, I was invited by William F. Buckley Jr. to join the board of National Review. I later became its publisher [...]

[T]oday it is so-called conservatives who are cemented to political programs when they clearly don’t work. The Bush tax cuts—a solution for which there was no real problem and which he refused to end even when the nation went to war—led to huge deficit spending and a $3 trillion growth in the federal debt. Facing this, John McCain pumps his “conservative” credentials by proposing even bigger tax cuts. Meanwhile, a movement that once fought for limited government has presided over the greatest growth of government in our history. That is not conservatism; it is profligacy using conservatism as a mask.

Today it is conservatives, not liberals, who talk with alarming bellicosity about making the world “safe for democracy.” It is John McCain who says America’s job is to “defeat evil,” a theological expansion of the nation’s mission that would make George Washington cough out his wooden teeth. This kind of conservatism, which is not conservative at all, has produced financial mismanagement, the waste of human lives, the loss of moral authority, and the wreckage of our economy that McCain now threatens to make worse. [...]
I held my breath and sent the piece to my entire family and some RW friends, along with a pre-emptive apology and a request for humble bipartisan outreach. Because of this segment:
I now see that Obama is almost the ideal candidate for this moment in American history. I disagree with him on many issues. But those don’t matter as much as what Obama offers, which is a deeply conservative view of the world. Nobody can read Obama’s books (which, it is worth noting, he wrote himself) or listen to him speak without realizing that this is a thoughtful, pragmatic, and prudent man. It gives me comfort just to think that after eight years of George W. Bush we will have a president who has actually read the Federalist Papers.

Most important, Obama will be a realist. I doubt he will taunt Russia, as McCain has, at the very moment when our national interest requires it as an ally. The crucial distinction in my mind is that, unlike John McCain, I am convinced he will not impulsively take us into another war unless American national interests are directly threatened.

“Every great cause,” Eric Hoffer wrote, “begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” As a cause, conservatism may be dead. But as a stance, as a way of making judgments in a complex and difficult world, I believe it is very much alive in the instincts and predispositions of a liberal named Barack Obama.
hat tip kos.

UPDATE: And if you're wondering what makes people vote Republican in the first place, head over here.

Monday, September 15, 2008

This is your nation on white privilege

I hadn't heard of Tim Wise, author of White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son, until a recent email. He's thought-provoking, to say the least. Excerpts:
  • White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because "every family has challenges," even as black and Latino families with similar "challenges" are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.
  • White privilege is when you can call yourself a "fuckin' redneck," like Bristol Palin's boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you'll "kick their fuckin' ass," and talk about how you like to "shoot shit" for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.
  • White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.
  • White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town smaller than most medium-sized colleges, and then Governor of a state with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of the island of Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be president, and people don't all piss on themselves with laughter, while being a black U.S. Senator, two-term state Senator, and constitutional law scholar, means you're "untested."
  • White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you.
  • White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a member of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from the Union, and whose motto was "Alaska first," and no one questions your patriotism or that of your family, while if you're black and your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately think she's being disrespectful.
Emphasis and formatting added. Read the whole thing here.

Count the lies

The DNC is tracking lies over at McCainpedia.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Life vs. death: how can a wingnut tell?

An entirely fresh take on the cell-war debates, from a doctor in the family:
If McCain and Palin believe that life starts at conception when there is but one cell, how do they define death? When someone is dead and their heart stops and they stop breathing and their brain stops working, there are still trillions of functioning cells that are very much alive and carrying out their individual routines, even when they run out of oxygen. And some of these cells are those beloved, protected progenitor cells like stem cells. So is death when all those cells finally die and we are just a big pile of goo? I mean if they are going to use microbiology and biochemistry to define life then the same rule should apply for death! You can't use a strict definition for one and an "arbitrary" one for the other.

Anyway, thought educated minds should be informed!
I'm going to start using this argument wherever I can, because at least it might make people stop and blink. (And wouldn't it be great if voters cared about things like logic and being informed?)

Monday, September 01, 2008

A local (Alaskan) on Palin: "This pick floored me."

This interesting take on Sarah Palin comes from Pete Hauschka, a school principal who has lived in Alaska for ten years. He's the brother of Warner Chabot, a colleague of my husband. Pete requests that we pass his words on "to those who will use them well." Emphasis added by me:
Good evening, lots of friends and relatives have been asking me (as an Alaskan) what I think of Sarah Palin, our Governor and new choice for McCain as a VP candidate.

Here it goes:

This pick floored me. Sarah Palin is a nice person. I've met her, I've even talked to her for a few minutes at a principal's conference a couple of years ago. She has lots going for her superficially. She speaks from the heart, like a spitfire mother; she can even be sort of funny sometimes. She is quite beautiful; athletic, and has that radiant glow of someone who actually spends time doing things outside. Unlike many politicians, she has lived a "real life" and done things that few living and working in DC could ever dipnettin' fish, shootin' stuff and eating it out on the tundra, and havin' 5 kids.

Personally, I'd never vote for her. She has an extremely simple view of the world. I don't even think she has ever been abroad. As governor she has repeatedly shown us that she is unable to grasp the demands of leadership. She is very prone to cronyism of the worst kind. Every cabinet level political appointment she has made she has over-ridden suggestions of our state advisory boards, and instead promoted those who had granted her direct political favors. Not that other politicians don't do this, they do, but most of them are able to balance their appointments to ensure that at least a few people with real skill and experience are running big state agencies.

She also has been unable to pay attention to her Alaskan constituency. Personally, I've written several of our previous gov's and been asked to comment publicly on education policy. All the previous gov's have always acknowledged that contribution, criticism or comment; sometimes by direct reply, or at least by that of a staff member. Palin's office has been a zone of silence. Not I, nor one person I know commenting has ever gotten any sort of reply. Her claim of running an open or transparent government is totally false; the public simply has no role in her administration.

Her previous claim to fame was being mayor of Wasilla, a growing town about 40 minutes from Anchorage of about 15,000 people. Wasilla is a hellhole, even by Alaskan standards, where there are plenty of hellhole towns and villages. Wasilla is an ugly place that shows a complete absence of planning, design, or sense of public vision. Gov't agencies and services are completely overrun in this town; things are so bad that they can't even track their population or build schools in the right place, because most parts of the town don't require building permits, so the only clue about where people are settling are utility receipts. Imagine trying to be an emergency responder in this kind of place: Houses don't just catch on fire in Wasilla, they burn to the ground, because by the time the fire department has figured out which road to take (no signs) or whose house it is (no directory), the place is done for. Palin was mayor this town for at least 2 terms before being elected gov. a year and a half ago.

Her moral sense is simplistic and not inclusive. She is the sort of person who is used to using their "faith" to divide and isolate minority groups of human beings instead of uniting them. To her credit as Gov. she has kept out of this arena pretty well, but when in comfortable company (i.e the Matanuska Valley Republican Women's Club), she lets her moral cat out of the bag.

I will do what I can to ensure her defeat and that of her running mate as well. :) Please share this information with those who can use it well.

Cheers, Pete Hauschka

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Democratic flag

A modest proposal: Between now and election day, let's all fly the American flag proudly alongside our Obama and Tom Allen yard signs. It sends a powerful image. Just check out this picture over at Bag News.

(And while you're at it, check out the rest of their excellent work.)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Closing Daou's Triangle

Netroots alone lack the critical mass to change a media narrative, both because we're small and because we're not yet legitimate. We need established opinion-makers to pick up and continue any buzz that we start. We did this with the Trent Lott/Strom Thurmond story and then again with the Plame case and the attorney general firings scandal. But we failed in lots of other cases (the Downing Street Memo comes to mind).

Now with McCain's housing gaffe story, Paul Rosenberg thinks we're at last starting to close Daou's Triangle, creating a powerful synergy between blogs, traditional media, and the political establishment. We're just at the beginning of this task, but the prospect of building a functional progressive message machine is hugely important and exciting.

Next up on our agenda: overplaying the POW card.

UPDATE: Eric Boehlert discusses smackdown power and why swift-boating isn't what it used to be.

UPDATE 2: Writing from the Big Tent in Denver, thereisnospoon says that Goliath is beginning to notice David.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

OMG the comments (Wonkette edition)

I have friends that, for whatever reason ( "It's too mean!" "It's too evil!") still don't read Wonkette. But oh my god the comments. The names alone - dogless liberal, speakerblowupdoll (with tiny Newt icon!), ronaldpagan, MoodProcessor, NoWireHangers, neitscheprojectile, The Incomparable Tiny Valdez - bring sunshine to my day. Not to mention the wit and the pithy, pithy, insidery insight.

Here are a few selections regarding McCain's latest whine memo on Obama's popularity with the elite:
  • SayItWith Wookies: John McCain eats fried squirrel and olive stones. And frequently gums them.
  • AxmxZ: So Hopey is hot, sexy, beloved by the world, eats well, keeps in rockin’ shape, - and is therefore unelectable?
  • Larry McAwful: Ben, moi aussi, j’aime bien la forêt noire. Je me suis promèné là-bas souvent quand j’habitais Strasbourg… Alors! Est-ce que je suis élitiste moi-même? Passe-moi l’arugula!
  • sezme: I’m elitist for worrying about the price of Arugula? WHY? It’s fucking expensive! Here I am scrounging for Japanese Knotweed, purlane and dandelions in the back alley because they’re free (and bitter!) but unless I eat iceberg lettuce from Yuma picked by some migrant worker for $50/hr (John McCain wages) I’m elitist.
  • capt. tim: I looked up arugala. I totally eat that all the time, just never knew what it was called.
  • El Bombastico: Motherfucker, your candidate is wearing $520 Salvatore Ferragamo loafers! WITH BUCKLES!
Read Wonkette. You know you want to.

UPDATE 7-31-08. Special bonus comment from today's story on Lanny Davis:
  • Obfuscator: I can’t listen to Lanny Davis interviews unless he’s constantly being drowned out by the sound of metal folding chairs.

Monday, July 28, 2008

I am very tired of polling Democrats who plan to support Susan Collins

Here, courtesy of Collins Watch, is a list of key Bush initiatives she supported:
    • Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq
    • Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001
    • Defeating withdrawal time lines in Iraq supplementals--multiple votes
    • Military Commissions Act of 2006
    • Confirmation of Samuel A. Alito to the Supreme Court
    • Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003
    • Legalizing warantless wiretapping via Protect America Act of 2007
    • Medicare Part 'D'
    • No Child Left Behind Act of 2001
    • Energy Policy Act of 2005
    • Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005
    • Retroactive legal immunity for telecom companies
    • Confirmation of John Roberts to the Supreme Court
    She voted with Bush 81% of the time overall, and when the stakes were highest she was with him 100%. Tom Allen should be kicking her hind end all over the state with a story like this. Instead, Dems, Greens, and Unenrolled are telling pollsters like me they're going for Collins, Undecided, or (boding worst of all for their intelligence) Hoffman.

    I'm told not to worry because the DSCC has budgeted a huge ad buy here. That is good news. But when do we start seeing a change in the "Collins is doing a good job" narrative?

    Monday, July 21, 2008

    We're #12! We're # 12! human development, that is, as measured by health, education, and income. The BBC reports on Oxfam's American Human Development Project:
    • Americans live shorter lives than citizens of almost every other developed nation.
    • The US ranked 42nd in the world for life expectancy despite spending more on health care per person than any other country.
    • Overall, the American Human Development Report ranked the world's richest country 12th for human development.
    • Of the world's richest nations, the US has the most children (15%) living in poverty.
    • Of the OECD nations, the US has the most people in prison - as a percentage and in absolute numbers.
    • 25% of 15-year-old students performed at or below the lowest level in an international math test - worse than Canada, France, Germany and Japan.
    Those dirty effing hippies at Oxfam! Why don't they do something useful instead of digging up stupid America-hating facts? Incidentally, I wonder how much coverage we'll see of this study in our own national press? (Hat tip: Don M.)

    Sunday, July 06, 2008

    The policies behind the bad news

    They add up to neofeudalism, and it's time to push back:
    Growth means 'more billionaires'. Progress means 'less taxes' and 'lower wages'. Freedom means anything that brings "growth" and "progress."

    Wednesday, July 02, 2008

    Five kinds of stupid

    Collect the whole set:
    1. sheer ignorance: Ignorance of critical facts about important events in the news, and ignorance of how our government functions and who's in charge.
    2. negligence: The disinclination to seek reliable sources of information about important news events.
    3. wooden-headedness: The inclination to believe what we want to believe regardless of the facts.
    4. shortsightedness: The support of public policies that are mutually contradictory, or contrary to the country's long-term interests.
    5. bone-headedness: The susceptibility to meaningless phrases, stereotypes, irrational biases, and simplistic diagnoses and solutions that play on our hopes and fears.
    Which would help explain why during poll calls, when voters tell me that "energy & the environment" is their top concern this election cycle, they're voting a straight Republican ticket.

    Sunday, June 08, 2008

    Hegemony is the enemy

    At the National Conference for Media Reform, Bill Moyers is sparking, as always, incredible dialog on the media's responsibility for our current political situation. Now comes Paul Rosenberg to say that Republicans are not the enemy in November (they're "a pathetic wreck"). It's hegemony, led by the corporate media:
    In the 1990s, the media led the charge to depose Bill Clinton. As Gene Lyons meticulously documented in Fools for Scandal: How the Media Invented Whitewater, the New York Times and Washington Post persistently, repeatedly, and egregiously misreported virtually every major aspect of the so-called "Whitewater scandal." When that failed, and the Monica Lewinsky scandal emerged in its place, dozens of leading newspapers editorialized that Clinton should resign. Sixty percent of the American people disagreed, but they couldn't get a word in edgewise-which is where, when and how was founded.

    In contrast, George W. Bush has not merely subverted the most central aspects of our constitutional order with his dictatorial theories of unchecked executive power, he has shredded the Magna Charta as well as the Constitution, and yet the media persists in lying that only the "loonie left" thinks that there's anything amiss.

    That's hegemony for you.
    Read the whole thing here. And don't miss the great aikido ambush journalism video at Crooks & Liars.

    Wednesday, May 28, 2008

    Why we liked Ike

    Steve Clemons at The Washington Note has published a collection of Eisenhower quotes so thoughtful it makes you almost long for the 50s... Very worthwhile reading. Go here for the full set. Here's a sample:

    If you want total security, go to prison. There you're fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking. . . is freedom.

    -- Dwight D. Eisenhower

    In most communities it is illegal to cry "fire" in a crowded assembly. Should it not be considered serious international misconduct to manufacture a general war scare in an effort to achieve local political aims?

    -- Dwight D. Eisenhower

    May we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.

    -- Dwight D. Eisenhower

    Only Americans can hurt America.

    -- Dwight D. Eisenhower

    The problem in defense is how far you can go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without.

    -- Dwight D. Eisenhower

    When people speak to you about a preventive war, you tell them to go and fight it. After my experience, I have come to hate war.

    -- Dwight D. Eisenhower

    Saturday, May 24, 2008


    Senator Clinton writes to say,
    "Thank you for your message. I have received thousands of emails from people all over the country. Your comments are very important to me and I am excited that so many people are joining our conversation about how to change the direction of the country." She suggests that I volunteer, donate, become a Hillraiser, or otherwise get involved in the campaign. She thanks me again for my interest.

    To which I answer:
    I'm not interested in joining Team Hillary. You obviously didn't read my comments. I want Senator Clinton to drop out of the race - gracefully and now, please - before she does any more harm to the Democratic Party. Don't send me chirpy emails. Just do what's right and fold up this campaign immediately.

    A Disgusted Former Hillary Apologist

    Senator Clinton, I am a white woman over 50, a loyal Democrat, who has defended and admired you for years. But because of the campaign you have run, I now despise you. This latest musing about RFK's assassination is merely the latest outrage in a long line of slurs, innuendo, personal attacks, vote suppression tactics, and whining. So here's my suggestion:
    You will not be the nominee. You will not be selected as VP. 2012 is now out of reach for you. Stop tearing down Senator Obama to no purpose and hardening your supporters' opposition to him. We can all see through your desperation. The country is ashamed for you. Salvage what little reputation you have left.
    Thank you.

    Friday, May 23, 2008

    "The future does not belong to those who are content with today"

    Ted Kennedy, on the death of his brother, Robert:
    The future does not belong to those who are content with today, apathetic toward common problems and their fellow man alike, timid and fearful in the face of new ideas and bold projects. Rather it will belong to those who can blend vision, reason and courage in a personal commitment to the ideals and great enterprises of American Society.
    I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling sad today.

    Sunday, May 11, 2008

    Dear Maine superdelegates

    Your indecision has a cost.
    • You are permitting a candidate who cannot possibly win to tear down our presumptive nominee for no purpose.
    • As you sit idle, Clinton supporters are hardening their opposition to Obama, and weakening him in the eyes of the general electorate.
    • You are giving John McCain a clear field to consolidate his support among disparate groups, make conflicting promises, and issue misstatements of fact – all with zero press attention.
    • You are denying Obama a chance to rest and regroup before the general election.
    • You are starving Congressional races of money and attention and alienating potential donors. This is particularly true of lower tier races and long shot challengers.
    The time and goodwill you waste cannot be recovered. In the words of opinion writer David Broder, “history shows that the earlier a candidate nails down his nomination, the better his chances of winning.” Broder cogently spells out the political costs of delay in decision making by those of you who remain uncommitted. Please read this column carefully.

    Moreover, your fellow citizens are losing respect for you. Here’s Broder quoting Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin on the topic of uncommitted superdelegates:
    "They want to avoid hard votes," Durbin told me at midweek, referring to his colleagues. "They want to be spared controversy. Most of them are looking for certainty, for inevitability, before they commit."
    It is past time for you to act. Your decision could determine whether or not John McCain becomes our next president and keeps us in Iraq for the next half-century!

    Mr. & Mrs. Alna Dem

    Saturday, April 05, 2008

    Historian-Americans smarter than regular Americans

    This just out: Professional historians weigh in again on the Bush Administration and 98.2% say it's a failure (up from 81% four years ago). Sixty-one percent further judge Bush as the worst American president of all time (up sharply from 11.6% four years ago). By contrast, 28% of the American public still think Bush is A-okay.

    The poll, conducted by History News Network, includes responses from 109 historians. It is admittedly nonscientific and almost certainly premature in that history has a way of taking its time to mature. I don’t care. The quotes are hypnotizing:

    “Glib, contemptuous, ignorant, incurious, a dupe of anyone who humors his deluded belief in his heroic self, he has bankrupted the country with his disastrous war and his tax breaks for the rich, trampled on the Bill of Rights, appointed foxes in every henhouse, compounded the terrorist threat, turned a blind eye to torture and corruption and a looming ecological disaster, and squandered the rest of the world’s goodwill. In short, no other president’s faults have had so deleterious an effect on not only the country but the world at large.”

    “When future historians look back to identify the moment at which the United States began to lose its position of world leadership, they will point—rightly—to the Bush presidency. Thanks to his policies, it is now easy to see America losing out to its competitors in any number of areas: China is rapidly becoming the manufacturing powerhouse of the next century, India the high tech and services leader, and Europe the region with the best quality of life.”

    “[T]he paranoia of Nixon, the ethics of Harding and the good sense of Herbert Hoover. . . . . God willing, this will go down as the nadir of American politics.”

    “He is not a conservative, nor a Christian, just an immoral man . . . .”

    “[Bush’s] denial of any personal responsibility can only be described as silly.”

    “His domestic policies have had the cumulative effect of shoring up a semi-permanent aristocracy of capital that dwarfs the aristocracy of land against which the founding fathers rebelled; of encouraging a mindless retreat from science and rationalism; and of crippling the nation’s economic base.”

    “George Bush has combined mediocrity with malevolent policies and has thus seriously damaged the welfare and standing of the United States.”

    And my personal favorite:

    “Bush does only two things well. He knows how to make the very rich very much richer, and he has an amazing talent for f**king up everything else he even approaches. His administration has been the most reckless, dangerous, irresponsible, mendacious, arrogant, self-righteous, incompetent, and deeply corrupt one in all of American history.”