Monday, February 28, 2005

Argue what you believe. Believe in what you argue.

The Moose is out with a suggestion that Democrats pull a "Sister Souljah" on Hollywood.

The short of it is that Chuck Schumer, in his role as head of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, is actively recruiting pro-life Representative Jim Langevin to run against Republican Lincoln Chafee in Rhode Island and a group of Hollywood actors, producers and philanthropists have signed a letter protesting this action, saying it undermines the core and soul of the party. The Moose suggests that Schumer should, ever so politely, tell the signers of that letter to shove it. The Moose suggests that by doing so Schumer will demonstrate that Democrats aren't beholden to Hollywood liberals.

Now let me be up front about this. I don't know anything about this situation beyond what The Moose is reporting in his post. I don't know anything about Jim Langevin. I don't know to what extent Mr. Langevin's position on abortion has influenced Mr. Schumer's decision to recruit him. I don't know anything about the inner workings of Rhode Island politics. I don't know if this is or is not a wise choice.

But I do know some things about the important role that triangulation has played in recent Democratic history. Triangulation is the Clintonian strategy in which a Democrat convinces the great middle part of America that they share their values by openly attacking people to the left that do things that make the middle uncomfortable (rap music, gay marriage, etc.). It was a strategy that probably helped Clinton win the presidency.

But it has also knee-capped the party as a whole. When Democrats spend an inordinate amount of time attacking fellow Democrats it leaves the impression that Democrats are people worthy of attack. Thus, attacking another Democrat or a fellow traveler is something that should be done only when it is necessary. Not when it is political convenient.

The problem with triangulation is not the attacks on any individual example of questionable behavior but instead the reason for those attacks. The problem with triangulation is that has been used as a cold, calculating political move rather than a heartfelt expression of honest disagreement with those attacked.

Case in point: Howard Dean made a name for himself by attacking Democratic appeasement to the Republican agenda. But he did it because he honestly believed it was the wrong thing to do and that if it continued it would doom the Democrats. I don't think anyone, even Dean, expected him to get the kind of positive response he got for his attacks. But he didn't do it for the positive response. He did it because it was the right thing to do.

Now, if Schumer honestly feels that the signers of that letter have got it all wrong then yes, he should make it clear that they have got it all wrong. But if Schumer were to turn on Hollywood out of some calculated attempt to curry favor with the great middle then he will simply add weight to the stereotype of Democrats having no core values. Which, ironically, is precisely what the signers of that letter are warning against.

Argue what you believe. Believe in what you argue. The rest will follow.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The McDonald's Myth

This is a particular favorite of mine, but not in a good way. Anyone who has gotten into a layman's conversation about "tort reform" has inevitably encountered the McDonald's story. You know the one right? The one about the woman who won millions of dollars in a lawsuit against McDonald's because she spilled some coffee on herself. Its a favorite story told by those who like to complain about the runaway legal liability cases. Everyone chortles and tsks in response to the story since everyone knows how ridiculous it is to think that this woman deserved any compensation for her clumsiness.

Think Progress has the facts:

FACT: As a result of her injuries, 79 year old Stella Liebeck spent eight days in a hospital. In that time she underwent expensive treatments for third-degree burns including debridement (removal of dead tissue) and skin grafting. The burns left her scarred and disabled for more than two years

FACT: Before a suit was ever filed, Liebeck informed McDonald’s about her injuries and asked for compensation for her medical bills, which totaled almost $11,000. McDonald’s countered by offering her $800.

FACT: The original, $2.7 million award was equal to two days of McDonald’s corporation coffee sales.

FACT: On appeal, a judge lowered the award to $480,000, a fact not widely publicized in the media.

FACT: During trial, McDonald’s admitted that it had known about the risk of serious burns from its coffee for more than 10 years. From 1982 to 1992, McDonald’s received more than 700 reports of burns from scalding coffee; some of the injured were children and infants. Many customers received severe burns to the genital area, perineum, inner thighs and buttocks.

I have no evidence for this, but I am certain that the popularity of this story is due in part to the fact that it is pushed hard by insurance industry propagandists.


BTW, Think Progress is doing a whole series of articles based on the latest Frank Lunz "How To Lie and Win" manual. The "McDonald's Myth" is just the first in the series. My "favorite" so far:

Finally, Luntz advises, 9/11 is the perfect way to dodge responsibility for sinking the country in red ink. In a section headed “Without the context of 9-11, you will be blamed for the deficit,” he points out “supporters are inherently turned off to the idea of fiscal irresponsibility.” The best way to counter that fact? “The trick then is to contextualize the deficit inside of 9/11.”

When will someone confront Luntz on TV about this and ask him why he thinks it is acceptable to use 9/11 to "trick" the voters?

Foot stomping Dems

So, one reason the Democrats have yet to come out strongly against the effort to attack AARP is because there is still some "lingering resentment" against the organization because of its support of Bush's disastrous prescription drug bill (from The Hill):

The Democrats’ apprehension about AARP, the nation’s largest group representing senior citizens, registers at different levels throughout the caucus. Some lawmakers are willing to set aside their lingering resentment over the party’s defeat on Medicare in hopes of defeating the president’s proposal to offer personal accounts. Less forgiving Democrats, however, say AARP should stay on the other side of the aisle and work with “their new GOP friends.”

Message to "Less forgiving Democrats": get over yourself.

I'm as upset as the next person at AARP's stupidity with respect to that bill. But there is simply no point in letting that resentment get in the way of what could be a strong and lasting alliance between the party and AARP. AARP is a powerful political force in this country and they will remember who their friends are if the Democrats come to their defense now.

According to The Hill, Nancy Pelosi has been excluding AARP from strategy meetings. Bad idea Nancy!

One of those "Less forgiving Democrats" is named in the article:

Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) is one Democrat who has not moved beyond AARP’s support for the GOP prescription-drug plan.

“I am still very disappointed,” said Ackerman, who suggested that AARP might find more doors open on the Republican side. “The Republicans are the ones that bought them, or at least rented them for a while.”

“Let the AARP deal with the Republicans, their new friends,” he added.

Contact Pelosi and Ackerman. Let them know that they need to stop acting childish.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


What a bunch of whiners!

Ten Republican state senators in Washington have put forward a measure to ask President Bush "to create a new state east of the Cascades that would comprise 20 of the current state's 39 counties," the AP reports. The senators consider the Cascade Mountains to be an "indisputable wall between political ideologies," and thus wish to create the 51st state. "But even if the measure passes the Senate and House and is signed by the governor, the U.S. Constitution says that Congress, not the president alone, has the power to create a new state."

Especially laughable is the fact that Bush has no power to change state lines yet these yahoos apparently think he does!

Game Plan

Steve Soto lays out a precise plan for how the Democrats should hit back on the USANext attack ad.

But will they actually do it?

I'm a bit disappointed that there has been so little official comment on this from anyone (AARP, Reid, Pelosi and even Howard Dean).

Get on the ball guys! Opportunities like this don't come along every day.

Stop USA Next

Democracy for America has a petition

Monday, February 21, 2005

Time to invoke the Chicago rules

The first strike in the "Unfit To Age" campaign against AARP is out. This is an ad running on the front page of the American Spectator web site. (courtesy dKOS).

On its surface this is a laughable. The suggesting is that AARP is anti-troop and pro-gay. Yet clicking the ad, while taking you to the USANext site, will not provide any explanation for the attack..

AARP should not treat this as a joke, however. They should not assume, as John Kerry did, that these kind of attacks will be laughed off. AARP should hit back and hit back hard. They should demand a retraction. Furthermore, they should make anyone bleed who doesn't demand a retraction who should logically do so.

Yes, this will just bring publicity to this campaign. But don't doubt that this campaign won't become a big deal without our help. Apparently USANext has around $10 million to promote this effort. FOX will undoubtedly be on board. The time to respond is now!

The good people at dKOS have come up with an excellent counter-ad:

Those who forget the past...

I've seen several people openly mock the idea of pulling a Swift-Boat style smear campaign against AARP. Josh Marshal's post makes it sound like he is amused by the whole idea of attacking grannies. There's a whole thread of people over at dKos chortling over the idea as well.

I'm sure John Kerry thought the idea of attacking his service record was equally laughable.

Closet Tolerants

I'm going to side with Matthew Yglesias on the question of whether Bush is a "closet intolerant". It is clear to me that Bush personally has no problems with homosexuality. Indeed, I am often struck by the impression that he is almost liberal in his personal views on many aspects of human relations. I think it is a mistake for people on the left to ascribe to him motives for which there is very little evidence.

The sin of Bush is not intolerance but his willingness to use the intolerance of others for his own personal gain. Bush strikes me as a person who is so enamored of his own personal qualities that he thinks that it excuses him from the pain he causes by enabling the intolerance of others. He is not personally hateful, so the hatefulness of others is not his fault.

I would also suggest that it is Bush's own personal openness that makes him so personally appealing to those who advocate for social tolerance. How many times have we heard stories from people who are his political opponents who, none-the-less, find the guy personally likable? Bill Clinton is just the latest in a long line of such individuals. But, just as Bush enables the intolerant by his manipulation of their feelings, those who personally like Bush are also guilty of the sin of enabling his own self-inflated ego.

Damn but this country is in serious need of an intervention.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

GOP caught on tape!

(No, not with Guckert's Gannon!)

'House Republicans supporting President Bush's privatization plan can run, but they can't hide from their pledges to not cut benefits or privatize Social Security. Click below to see the GOP "Caught on Tape"'

Brit Hume must resign

Oliver has the details.

Surprise Surprise

I'm going to do something I've never done before: compliment Alan Colmes.

This report comes courtesy of News Hounds ("We watch FOX so you don't have to"):

Hannity will do anything to make Howard Dean look bad and since people aren't buying the far left and unstable tag anymore,Hannity is forced to create material for his nightly Dean smears. Tonight there were two segments devoted to destroying Dean and both were ridiculous. 2/16/05

The first attack concerned a comment Dean made while speaking to the Congressional Black Caucus. Hannity and Michael Steel claimed that Dean's comment was racially insensitive despite the fact that Dean recieved a standing ovation at the end of his speech.

Tony Coelho refused to fall into Hannity's trap and started talking about the budget cuts that would radically affect the Black community. Hannity immediatly interjected, "I don't have a lot of time here." Colmes cornered Steele with a direct question, "Are you calling Dean a racist?" Steele backed down.The big scandal quickly turned into a meaningless non issue and it was finished.

The recent attacks on Dean are pretty much standard operating procedure for the Republican party. The attacks are by implication than by direct assertion. A Republican hate group doesn't say Dean sympathizes with suicide bombers. But they place a quote from him above a picture of men with bombs strapped to their chest. The head of the NY state Republican party doesn't say that Dean is in league with terrorists, but he lists Dean with a lawyer who was recently convicted of aiding her terrorist client. And Hannity and Steel don't directly call Dean a racist, but they feign outrage over a joke Dean made about black Republicans.

Alan Colmes, to his credit, goes right to the heart of the matter by asking Steel to make his accusation direct instead of just implying it. Steel, of course, can't comply, so he has to back down.

Good job Mr. Colmes! Have a biscuit.

Pelosi: I want money. Dean: I want help

Before I get into this I want to make something clear: I am a fan of Nancy Pelosi and I am grateful that she is applauding the ascendancy of Howard Dean to Chairman of the Democratic Party.

Having said that, though, I would like to use a recent email solicitation from her for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to illustrate an important point. First of all, here is the text of the email (I can't find a hard link for it):

Dear Chris,

On Saturday we elected a great Democrat as the chairman of our Party -- Howard Dean. Governor Dean has used the power of technology, the force of his personality, and the depth of his ideals to energize the grassroots, and bring more people into the political process.

I have seen Howard Dean's campaign strengths firsthand as he traveled across the country for House Democrats -- organizing voters and raising money. I have seen people who have stood in driving rain for hours to hear his message. We all thank Governor Dean for his enthusiasm and support for our candidates.

This is a critical time for our Party.

Governor Dean joins the DCCC's new Chairman Rahm Emanuel as a pair of visionaries who are already working quickly to reform our party and refine our message.

Our new Chairmen need you on board. The 2006 elections have already begun. We need the support of loyal Democrats like you to continue in our fight.

Please renew your support in the DCCC today.

Democrats are shaking up the status quo, reaching outside the Beltway for ideas and direction, and striving to strengthen the bonds with the great citizens of this country. We will restore a government that protects the interests of the people against the massive special interests that would use government to gouge them - rather than the other way around. You want real reform, and we will bring it to you. But we can only do it with your help.

We will fight together, and together we will prevail!


Nancy Pelosi
House Democratic Leader

Now, compare this with the recent "Message from Gov. Howard Dean". You can read the whole message here.

Notice that both messages are interspersed with hyperlinks. However, while the links in Pelosi's message lead to a contribution form for the DCCC, the links in Dean's message lead to page describing his plan for the DNC and asks for our help in making the plan work. Pelosi's message is a solicitation for money. Dean's message is a solicitation for help. Which message sends the message that the Democratic party wants its supporters to become more involved?

Dean understands something that Pelosi and others need to learn: in the Democratic party, money from the grassroots comes as a result of a feeling of involvement. Dean raised so much money in 2003 because he made people feel like they had an important part to play in his campaign. They became invested personally in that campaign. As such, when it came time ask for money, the bucks flowed in like manna from heaven.

Pelosi needs to learn to trust that we will come through for the Democrats when the money is needed. Until then, she needs to solicit our involvement first before she starts passing around the hat.


A beautiful metaphor from commenter bink over on dKos, "Pelosi's letter is a "hunter-gatherer" attempt. Forage where you remember you were last able to find food. Dean has reached the "agriculture" stage. Plant a field. Watch it grow. Reap a harvest."

Guckert an OSI operative?

Frank Rich has an excellent takedown (as does Maureen Dowd) of both the White House and the media on the whole matter of Guckert's Gannon. I highly recommend it.

I would like to highlight one passage because it brings up something I've been thinking about with respect to all these outings of Bush administration shills:

A Pentagon Office of Strategic Influence, intended to provide propagandistic news items, some of them possibly false, to foreign news media was shut down in 2002 when it became an embarrassing political liability. But much more quietly, another Pentagon propaganda arm, the Pentagon Channel, has recently been added as a free channel for American viewers of the Dish Network. Can a Social Security Channel be far behind?

I've had this sneaking suspicion for several weeks that OSI never really went away. Sure, they did away with the name. But does that mean they did away with the program?

Guckert is, after all, a former marine.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Blowback already?

daveweigel has a diary that links to an article by Forward (the same magazine mentioned previously) that addresses the Republican hate groups' attack on Democrats.

Some choice comments:

The National Jewish Democratic Council called the Republicans' anti-Dean ad a "vicious smear campaign." It said the ad campaign "dangerously politicizes support for Israel, threatening the crucial legacy of bipartisan support for Israel."

The Democratic council's executive director, Ira Forman, predicted the Republican ad would backfire. "It helps us when you go over the top and put a picture like that," he said.


The anti-Dean advertisement drew criticism from some Jewish community leaders considered sympathetic to the Bush administration's anti-terrorism policies. Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, called the ad inaccurate and "ill advised."

"To make it accurate, it should say 'said,' because [Dean] doesn't say it now," Foxman told the Forward. He went on to question why the Jewish Republican group did not simply highlight the recent efforts of President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to promote the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

The article also puts the ad campaign into the wider context of past Republican efforts to paint Democrats as sympathetic to terrorists.

Speaking uncomfortable truths

Check out this post by Kevin Drum.

The short of it: Dean makes a joke about there not being many blacks at Republican events. Some Republicans are outraged over it and claim it is another example of Democratic racism. And who comes to Dean's defense? A nonwhite Republican!

Give me a break. Dean is saying, hyperbolically, that there aren't many blacks or other nonwhites in the Republican party. He's right. I've been to many, many Republican dinners where most nonwhites present have been serving the food. (Or giving the keynote.) If Republicans are bothered when people make that observation, they should try to make it less true.

I know some Democrats cringe when they hear these stories about Dean. But really, what is there to cringe about? As even this Republican admits, Dean's comment was spot on. Why do I get this picture of Howard Dean standing in a shallow pond, waving to a bunch of shivering Democrats on the shore and shouting out, "Come on in! The water's fine!"

If Democrats were to simply stifle their squeamishness anytime another member of their party speaks an uncomfortable truth then maybe those truths would stop being so uncomfortable to speak.

More on hate group attack on Democrats

Following up on the previous post...

Here are the three quotes that accompany this hate filled advertisement:

"Howard Dean's statements break a 50-year record in which presidents, Republican and Democrats, members of Congress of both parties have supported our relationship with Israel based on shared values." -- Senator Joseph Lieberman, A.P., 9/10/03

"It is unacceptable for the U.S. to be 'evenhanded' on these fundamental issues" -- Letter to Howard Dean from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and more than two dozen Democratic members of Congress. A.P., 9/10/03

With Dean as chairman "a lot of mainstream, middle-of-the-road, centrist Jewish Democrats would be very turned off and concerned and would be left wondering whether they have a home in the Democratic Party" -- Jay Footlik, John Kerry's campaign liaison to the Jewish community. Forward, 1/28/05

The links on Lieberman and Pelosi will take you to their official home pages. Use them to send requests to them that they condemn this ad. Lieberman and Pelosi's comments are old hat and really had more to do with Dean's inadvertent use of a hot button phrase in Middle East diplomacy more than any accusation that Dean was sympathetic to suicide bombers. I would hope that they both would be outraged that this hate group would choose to use their comments out of context to paint Democrats as being just that.

Furthermore, Lieberman was a rival of Dean's for the nomination and Pelosi was a supporter of Gephardt's bid at the time of these quotes.

Jay Footlik is a different case. I've never heard of the guy before. Perhaps he is more well known within the Jewish community. The link above will take you to his bio page at the Harry Walker Agency (a lecture circuit booker). Here's a Google search for "Jay Footlik". If anyone has contact information for him please let me know.

Footlik's comment is of a much more recent vintage. The Forward article the quote comes from is here. However, that link requires a subscription. Fortunately, I found that a copy of the article through the Google cache here (not sure how long it will last). The focus of the article is the worry among some Jewish Democrats that Dean's ascendancy would hurt the party with Israel backers. Here's the relevant paragraph:

Once again, Dean's critics tend to come from the centrist, Bill Clinton wing of the Democratic Party, many boasting ties to Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman. Once again, those critics are trying to torpedo Dean's candidacy by highlighting some comments that Dean made during the primaries about Israel and national security — such as a statement about how "we ought not to take sides" in Middle East peace negotiations — that Dean spent much time and money repudiating. Once again, the critics are warning darkly that if Dean were to succeed, "a lot of mainstream, middle of the road, centrist Jewish Democrats would be very turned off and concerned and would be left wondering whether they have a home in the Democratic Party," in the words of Jay Footlik, who served as Lieberman's and then John Kerry's campaign liaison to the Jewish community.

The article also quotes a supporter of Simon Rosenberg's bid saying, "The prospect of Howard Dean's chairmanship must have folks at the Republican Jewish Coalition licking their chops ..."  It looks like he was right.

The question is whether Democrats who opposed Dean's bid, such as Footlik, will allow their opposition to be used to paint all Democrats as being sympathetic to suicide bombers. Will they unite behind their party's chairman in the face of an attack that is against all Democrats or will they undermine their own party for the opportunity to sit back and say, "I told you so"?

BTW, I think Dean should take this situation as an opportunity to do some outreach with these Jewish Democrats who are "left wondering whether they have a home in the Democratic Party". As long as they are willing to meet him halfway and condemn this ad.

Republican hate group equates Howard Dean with suicide bombers

This comes courtesy of Ari Berman of The Nation:

As RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman praised the election of his new counterpart Howard Dean, influential Republican front groups were already planning a mendacious offensive against the new DNC chair.

The first attack came courtesy of the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), a big money pro-Israel lobby group linking Jewish-American neoconservatives to the Christian Right and Israel's Likud government. On Monday the RJC began running full-page ads in major Jewish newspapers across the country featuring a large photo of militants strapped with explosives coddling a young Palestinian boy. Above that arresting image is a quote by Dean: "It's not our place to take sides." Below the photo are quotes by Democrats critical of Dean. The ad effectively equates Dean's election with the appeasement of suicide bombers.

Time for the Rapid Responders to swing into action! Howard Dean has already shown the way with his own rapid response to the smear from the head of the New York Republican Party. We need to do the same in response to this outrage!

It is long past time that we demand that Republicans stop coddling hate mongers for their own political benefit.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

A message from Howard Dean

Howard Dean has been Chairman of the Democratic Party (gee I like the sound of that) for only three days and I already like what I am seeing. For example, I just received a message from him the encourages Democrats to endorse his plan for reforming the party and to work to make it happen. Click the link below to see the full message yourself.

Dear Chris,

The following is my favorite part:

The Republicans' biggest victory has been to convince many Democrats that we can only win by abandoning our values and doing what they say.

It's one of their favorite tactics -- just watch how right-wing pundits talk endlessly about the internal politics of our party. They try to divide Democrats by ideology just as they divide all Americans by race or gender or faith.

But there is no crisis of ideology in the Democratic Party, only a crisis of confidence. Bill Clinton once described the Democratic Party's problems in the era of George W. Bush, saying that in uncertain times people would rather have a leader who is strong and wrong than weak and right.

He's exactly right. And we become both weak and wrong when we abandon our core values for short-term political gain. But when we Democrats talk straight and stand up for ourselves, we have a huge advantage: We are both strong and right.

We will only turn that advantage into victory if we make a concrete plan and work hard to execute it. Declare your support and offer feedback now on the plan to build an organization that will help us win everywhere, and win with pride:

Monday, February 14, 2005


I want to repeat something I posted a little while back.

Q: How do you eat an elephant?

A: One bite at a time.

I bring this up in light of the latest twists and turns of the Jeff Gannon/James Guckert story. John Arevosis is out with his scoop on Gannon/Guckert's background (WARNING: not a work friendly link) and it looks like he has the goods on everyone's favorite right-wing press plant. I applaud John's diligence in pursuing this story (even if I did express some reservations about the way he hyped it (reservations I still have btw)). But I would urge those who are following this story not to pursue the leads too eagerly. If they do they may find themselves taking a bigger bite than they can swallow.

For example, I just heard a contributor to Raw Story, in an appearance on the Ed Schultz show, pass on the rumor that one member of the White House Press team has a gay past and thus may have had something more than a professional relationship with Guckert.. That's a pretty big bite to swallow in addition to the current bite that Arevoris has given us to chew on. It may be true, but if so then it should be the next bite taken, after the Guckert bite is swallowed down (an unfortunate image given the turn this story has taken).

If I can be allowed to mix my metaphors, I'd also point out that it is bad military strategy to attack deep into enemy territory without first securing the perimeter.

This is one area where a professional news organization has an advantage over bloggers: the good ones have an editor who can reign in over-eager reporters and make sure they dot all the i's before continuing on to the next part of the story. Bloggers behave more like sharks in a feeding frenzy, pursuing the scent of blood even to their own destruction.

Don't let this story bite us in the ass.

Stop it John! [Update with apology]

I may not be popular for saying this but I think John Aravosis of AMERICAblog is being irresponsible with his "I've got a secret" posts.

Let me count the ways...

1. It builds an expectation in his audience that he may not be able to fulfill. At this point, unless the secret leads to the downfall of the house of Bush, a significant number of people are going to be disappointed.

2. It provides a greater opportunity for his enemies to lay the groundwork for refuting his story (he's apparently already clued Gannon/Guckert into the secret). Woodstein didn't inform Mitchel of their story on the CRP slush fund until minutes before the story went to press. By playing it the way he has, John is giving Gannon/Guckert and whoever he is allied with plenty of time to develop a counter-response.

3. It strings along his most loyal fans (again, he's already told Gannon/Guckert, so he's told the enemy something that he isn't willing to tell his friends). Reading the comments to the hint posts I am reminded of a bunch of puppies yipping and leaping at a piece of meat held aloft by their master. Is that really the kind of humiliating position you want your fans to be in John?

4. It diverts the energies of thousands of people in the blogosphere into trying to figure out what Aravosis' secret is instead of trying to figure out what Gannon/Guckert's secret is. Several valuable investigative man hours have been wasted by followers of this story looking up pictures of cartoon bulldogs on google.

5. It artificially inflates his audience in the exact same way as the evening news teasers. Is that the kind of company you want to keep John?


John, please, if you have something important to say then say it. If you aren't ready to say it, then just keep quiet about it until you are.

(And yes, I still will feel this way even after the secret is revealed and it turns out to be the thing that leads to the fall of the house of Bush.)


UPDATE: I just want to be clear about something here: I am not criticizing John for wanting to hold off on this story until he has it locked down. That is the responsible thing to do. What is irresponsible is the way he is stringing people along with these hint droppings. I am as interested in what John has as is anyone and will analyze it independent of my thinking of how he is handling it now. But regardless of how good the story turns out to be, the way he is handling it now is just plain wrong.


UPDATE 2: I own John Aravosis an apology. I should have posted my criticism to him in private first before doing so in public here, on dKOS and in the comments section of his own blog. I should have given him the chance to respond in private before going public.

I still stand by my criticism. But I was wrong in my method. I'm going to leave this post up as is since the damage is already done and as an example of how not to handle things like this.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

The Battle For America

Has Begun

Keep contributing!

The bat to the right comes courtesy of Spare Change For America.

Here's the code I used:

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<param name="allowScriptAccess" value="sameDomain" />
<param name="movie" value="DNCBat.swf" />
<param name="quality" value="high" />
<param name="bgcolor" value="#ffffff" />
<param name="FlashVars" value="goal=125000&money=88246.08" />
<embed src="" quality="high" bgcolor="#ffffff" width="150" height="325" name="DNCBat" align="middle" flashvars="goal=125000&money=88246.08" allowscriptaccess="sameDomain" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" pluginspage="" /></embed>

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Dean: "I won't respond to blind quotes"

Just caught a press conference Democratic Party Chairman (ooh that sounds nice) Howard Dean gave after winning the chairmanship. One reporter asked him a question with a "some Democrats say that they are worried about the image you will give to the party" bent to it. Dean responded by saying he "won't respond to blind quotes".

This is an excellent policy which I would encourage everyone to follow.

A blind quote the same as a un-attributed quote. The latter is stated as coming from a specific individual, usual with some indication that that individual has some position of authority from which to make the statement (such as a "high government official", etc.). A blind quote, on the other hand, isn't even un-attributed. It's just "someone" out there.

The bad thing about such quotes is that there is (1) no way to know if they accurately reflect what was actually said (because the person who said them can't correct the record) and (2) no way to know if the quote is just made up out of whole cloth.

Dean is taking exactly the right position with respect to such quotes: don't get drawn into the trap of arguing with an unknown.

Dean Officially Elected Chairman of the Democratic Party

Now it's time to get his back. There's a contribution link to the right. Here's the code if you want to add it to your page as well:

<form method="post" action="" id="form">
<p>Get Dean's Back:</p>
$<input style="text-align:right" name="amount" size="6">
<input type="hidden" name="list" value="dnc">
<input type="hidden" name="referrer" value="">
<input type="hidden" name="successuri" value="">
<input type="submit" name="startdonate" value="Contribute Now!">

update: The button may not work. ActBlue, the site handling the contributions, appears to be swamped right now. This is a good thing. If the button doesn't work you can go to the contribution page directly.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Flashback, Two Years Ago

Dean will be officially ensconced as Chairman of the Democratic Party at this weekend's Winter DNC meeting. The irony of this is that it was at this very meeting, two years ago, that Dean first unveiled his signature "What I want to know" speech. Many Deaners say that it was Dean's version of this speech a few weeks later at the California Democratic Convention that launched the Dean juggernaut. But for me it was the Winter DNC speech that first brought Ho Ho to my attention.

Here's a little walk down memory lane:

What I want to know is why in the world the Democratic party leadership is supporting the president's unilateral attack on Iraq. [cheers, applause].

What I want to know is why are Democratic party leaders supporting tax cuts. The question is not how big the tax cut should be, the question should be can we afford a tax cut at all with the largest deficit in the history of this country. [cheers, applause].

What I want to know is why we're fighting in Congress about the Patient's Bill of Rights when the Democratic party ought to be standing up for health care for every single American man, woman, and child in this country. [cheers, applause].

What I want to know is why our folks are voting for the president's No Child Left Behind bill that leaves every child behind, every teacher behind, every school board behind, and every property tax payer behind. [cheers, applause]. [Audience member: "We want to know too."].

I'm Howard Dean and I'm here to represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic party. [cheers, applause]. 


My political career is about change, and this campaign is about change. And what we're going to do here is we're first going to change this party, because this party needs to look in the mirror and ask itself, is this party about the next election or is it about changing America, about changing America? [cheers, applause].

This party [cheers, applause continue] this party--I know--this party needs to be about changing America, because only by changing America will we win back the White House.

I want a party that stands unashamedly for equal rights for all Americans. [cheers].

I want a party that stands unashamedly for health care for every single American.

I want a party that stands unashamedly for balanced budgets and taking care of poor kids and voting together and healing the divides instead of expressing the divides and exploiting them the way the Republican party has so shamelessly done since 1968. [cheers, applause].

I need your help. I need your help. We're going to change this party and then we're going to change this country, and we're going to take back the White House, and we're going to balance the budget, and we're going to have health care for everybody, and we're going to have an America with its best institutions right up to the cabinet that looks once again like America.

We're going to bring hope to America, jobs to America, peace to America; we're going to bring pride to the Democratic party. I need your help. Let's go get it; let's go do it. Let's win the White House in January of 2004. Thank you very much. [music starts; cheers, applause, chants].

Today the party. Tomorrow America!

Dealing with the Yuck Factor

The Moose points to this passage in an "eye-opening" piece by John Judis on Latino attraction to the Republican cultural message (subscription only).

"The organizers from New Mexico attribute part of Republicans' success to Latinos' belief that the military is the best career choice for their young. But the Texans point to cultural conservatism among Catholic Latinos. One priest from San Antonio says, "Abortion was a major issue for Hispanics. There was confusion in the messages from the bishops. My congregation in San Antonio was in a lot of pain over that." He says that some Catholic Latinos who did vote for Kerry went to confession afterward to seek absolution. Ernie and the IAF organizers don't suggest that Democrats should oppose abortion, but they criticize Kerry for failing to address Catholic concerns the way Clinton did when he called for making abortion "safe, legal, and rare." Ernie says Catholic prelates tell him, "We don't expect Democrats to overturn Roe v. Wade, but give us something. Something that we can cite when the right wing attacks us." [emphasis mine - Chris] He adds, "They feel that they helped build the labor movement and the Democratic Party, and now they feel jilted." 

What I find interesting in this passage is the suggestion that the Democrats can address a lot of the concerns people have on cultural issues by simply acknowledging that those concerns are legitimate. When Democrats fail to do this or, even worse, openly mock those concerns, then it leaves a natural economic constituency of the Democratic party vulnerable to the cultural appeal of the Republican party.

Unfortunately, to many Democrats still have a knee-jerk reaction to more culturally conservative opinions. Back in 2000 Al Gore came under criticism from the left for having said that abortion was "arguably" the taking of a human life. Gore's comment was a simple acknowledgment that one does not have to be a raving loony to feel uncomfortable with abortion. Yet too many Democrats read his comment as some kind of appeasement to the right-to-life movement.

Hillary Clinton is facing some of the same heat for her recent comments about the painful decision to have an abortion.

Yes, I know all about the slippery-slope argument. But we have to be willing to risk a little slipperiness if, as Judis' article suggests, a significant number of voters are shifting towards the Republicans simply because Democrats aren't willing to talk openly about these issues. If you think that even acknowledging the concerns that people have for, for lack of a better term, "yucky" issues could lead to enshrining them in law then what do you think will happen if Democrats are beaten by candidates who openly advocate doing just that?

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

A Prairie Home Senator?

Garrison Keiller (courtesy Ezra Klein):

Medicare says that even though you're not working and may need special help with the ordinary business of life, you have value in this society. This is a Democratic idea. Be a howling right-winger if it gives you pleasure, but nonetheless milk comes from cows and Medicare comes from Democrats.

I'm not convinced that Keiller would make a good Senate candidate in Minnesota. He has the chops as far as speaking ability goes. But has he ever really been involved in the kind of warfare that is a modern Senatorial campaign?

Of course, I wasn't convinced at first that Dean would make a good run for DNC chair so what do I know?

More Full Faith and Credit

As does Josh Marshall:

So if you've paid Social Security taxes in any of the years from 1983 until today, you've been advance paying. And now President Bush just said that that money is gone. So, you thought you were advance paying to cover part of the future expenses of your generation's retirement. But it seems you were just a sucker since President Bush is now saying the money ain't gonna be paid back. You're just fresh outta luck, you could say.

So here's our question: Does Alan Greenspan think there's a Trust Fund? Does he believe those bonds are backed up by the full faith and credit of the United States government? Does he think they will and should be paid back? If he doesn't, he's got a hell of a lot of explaining to do since it was under his guidance that we came up with this whole idea.

Or how about Sen. Bob Dole? He was on the Commission too. What does he think? Does he agree? Or the recently-retired House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Archer (R). He was on it too.

Let's ask all of them ...

In other words

The Rude Pundit says it better.

Do you think anyone's told President Bush that his Daddy's friends can't bail him out this time if his "business" (that'd be, you know, America) goes belly up? 'Cause, see, and really, that's the pattern of Bush's business life: run a company into the ground and then wait around until someone who wants some of that Bush-name glory comes over with a wad of cash for a buy-out or infusion. Like all wannabe wildcatters, Bush knows that he's gotta be a gamblin' man. The problem is, of course, that real gamblers know, well, when to walk away. Bush is a gambling addict, and he's got the biggest wad of cash in history on loan from the nation. Problem is that the vig on that wad's a motherfucker, and it's gonna come due. And you can bet that it ain't Bush's legs that're gonna be broken.

Full Faith and Credit

This is as about a clear cut an example of Bush lying as you can find (either that or he is so willfully misinformed as to be scary):

“Some in our country think that Social Security is a trust fund—in other words, there’s a pile of money being accumulated. That’s just simply not true. The money—payroll taxes going into the Social Security are spent. They’re spent on benefits and they’re spent on government programs. There is no trust. We’re on the ultimate pay-as-you-go system—what goes in comes out. And so, starting in 2018, what’s going in—what’s coming out is greater than what’s going in. It says we’ve got a problem. And we’d better start dealing with it now. The longer we wait, the harder it is to fix the problem.”

In Personal Finance 101 you learn that the only "piles of money" lying around are those in people's mattresses and in Scrooge McDucks money vault. The balance on an account of any kind is not a measure of how much cash is actually in that account but is instead a measure of the holder of the account is obliged to pay the owner when the owner comes asking for his money. The money in all accounts are always invested somewhere. It never just sits around.

For Bush to imply that the Social Security trust fund is somehow unreal because there isn't an actual pile of trillions of dollars in a vault some where is equivalent to saying that all accounts are mere illusions and can be treated as if they were unreal.

Try making that argument the next time you get a bill for your credit card.

Now, assuming that Bush is not a total moron (and I know for some of you that's a pretty big assumption), he should know this. Therefore, in making this argument, he is deliberately trying to fool the American people into believing that our bedrock financial institutions are built on nothing but air and can therefore be simply ignored.

Here's the truth: the Social Security trust fund is invested in United States Treasury Bills. At around 2018, the amount of money coming into Social Security from the payroll tax will be less than the money that is owed to retirees. That means that, in order to meet that obligation, the Social Security Administration will have to start cashing in some of those T-Bills. That means the Treasury will have to find the money to meet that obligation. Most likely by selling more T-Bills to other investors or, if we have a sensible administration by then, by raising revenue through additional taxation.

There is a "crisis" in 2018 only if the Treasury cannot pay the Social Security Administration for its T-Bills. But that is not a problem of the Social Security Administration. That is a problem of the Treasury. Or, more generally, it is a problem of the entire U.S. government! For, if Treasury can't return money to the SSA then the U.S. government will have defaulted on its debt.

Let's be clear on this: in the entire history of the United States, through civil war, depression, and two world wars, the United States has never defaulted on its debt. This stellar record of rock solid financing is the reason why U.S. T-Bills are considered the safest investment you can make today.

Bush, in order to scare people into supporting his privatization plan, is threatening to default on the good faith and credit of the United States. If he is not then he is lying about the danger to Social Security. If he is not then he really is a moron and as such is a clear and imminent danger to the safety of the republic and should therefore be removed from power.

It really is that simple.

Clawback Tax Redux

Someone's listening:

Ranking Member on the Senate Finance Committee Max Baucus joined Democratic Senators Dick Durbin, Charles Schumer and Jon Corzine Wednesday in calling on President Bush and the Republicans to come clean about the effects of the “privatization tax” contained in the President’s Social Security privatization plan.

With the new “privatization tax,” the Republicans are going to give with one hand and take away with the other. Their plan will allow individuals to take money from the Social Security Trust Fund and put it into private accounts. But to recoup this money and lost interest for the Trust Fund, the Republicans will issue the new privatization tax, which will eliminate benefits by up to 70 percent or more.

I talked about this a few days back (here and here). This is the clawback provision. I commented then that Bush, by this proposal, was in effect instituting a new tax on the earnings people get on their private investment accounts.

Unfortunately, the Dems aren't using my suggested moniker for Bush's new tax: the clawback tax. Ah well. Can't have everything (where would you put it?)

(link courtesy Oliver, joke courtesy Stephen Wright)

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


Reid ain't nobodies pushover:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid questioned President Bush's honesty on Tuesday and said he wanted "the boys at the White House" to know he wasn't losing any sleep over the Republican Party labeling him an obstructionist.

It was the second straight day the Nevada Democrat grew animated in response to the GOP criticism, and he said, "When you have a real bad chafe, is that what they call it, it's hard to get soothed."

The object of Reid's ire was a lengthy RNC document headlined "Sen. Minority Leader Determined to Obstruct President Bush's Agenda."

Condi Rice was heard to say that the document was only "historical" in nature.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Harry no Daschle

The RNC is rolling out plans to 'Daschleize' Harry Reid in response to Reid's effective efforts to unite Democratic Senators. Reid has already taken to the floor of the Senate to deride the effort and to call on Bush to put a stop to it.

The President's State of the Union speech last week once again reminded us about how much work we have to do in Washington. And in my response to his speech, I pledged that Senate Democrats will not "let partisan interests get in the way of what's good for the country."

I had hoped that was a commitment the President and his Republicans colleagues would live up to as well.

Unfortunately, it became crystal clear today that some in the President's Party are going to keep playing their petty, divisive game of politics as usual. And I call on the President today to put an end to it. The Republican National Committee said today they plan to launch a concerted and prolonged campaign against me. And in an even more disgusting step, they have announced their intention to unfairly attack my family as well.

I've been in Washington enough to expect to be the target of criticism every now and then, but raising false accusations against my family is the sort of despicable politics the American people are tired of. It's disappointing to see the Republicans up to their same old tricks. Americans are tired of the same old Republican hackery, and it is incumbent on the President to stop it.

You know, the day after the election the president called me and said, "now that I've been elected for the second time. I don't have to campaign again. I'm going to do everything I can to work with you." I believe he meant that. And it's time for him to show it.

Actions speak louder than words Mr. President, and it's time for you to act. I call on you today to repudiate the plans of the RNC and tell them to cease and desist from spreading this document they have prepared.

With all the important issues facing the American people right now, there is no room in Washington for this revolting kind of politics.

The President needs to stand up today and put an end to it.

Doesn't sound like Daschle to me.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Talking Point

George Bush thinks its "fantastic" that a single mother of three, one who is mentally challenged, has to work three jobs to keep "food on her family". He thinks it's funny that she might not be getting any sleep.

In Omaha on Friday, a divorced single mother named Mary Mornin tells the president, "I have one child, Robbie, who is mentally challenged, and I have two daughters."

"Fantastic," the president exclaims, and he tells her she has "the hardest job in America, being a single mom."

Later, the 57-year old Mornin tells Bush that she works three jobs, which the president deems "uniquely American" and "fantastic." He asks her if she gets any sleep.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Re-framing the War on Terror

One bit of framing advice to Democrats has been to avoid using the term "War on Terror". Doing so just re-affirms the Bush conception of the war we are in. But how do you talk about this war without using this all purpose, commonly accepted term?

The first way is to divide the war into its component parts, thus highlighting the contrast between the different conflicts. Refer to it as the "War in Afghanistan" and the "War in Iraq". This highlights the fact that they are separate conflicts that need to be justified separately.

The second way is to re-emphasize the reason we got into this conflict in the first place. This all stared with the attacks on September 11th. Thus, any conflict we get into must be justified on the basis of redress for that attack. We are in a war that is a response to 9/11. Therefore, this is the "9/11 War".

Be careful with your assumptions

Steve Gilliard brings us a story about a conflict between rural farmers and transplanted urban/suburbanites who seem to think that any open space is public space. Steve and commenters to his post express outrage at the arrogance of the transplants who don't understand that they are trampling all over someone's livelyhood. One of them even concludes that these transplants must be Bush voters.

I wouldn't be to sure about that.

These people are urban/suburban transplants. That means they moved from predominantly blue parts of the country to predominantly red parts. It is quite possible that they voted for Gore and Kerry in the last two elections. This article could just as easily have been picked up by the right side of the blogosphere as just another example of blue stater arrogancs vs. red stater down-home/living-of-the-land humbleness.

This ties nicely into my previous post about the different conceptions of "The Land" by rural and urban/suburban residents.

The point is that neither side has a monopoly on arrogance.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Strength of purpose

First there was Boxer's lone dissent against counting the Ohio electors. There was some squawking in the media about it, but her star has risen because of her actions.

Then there came 12 Democrats opposed to Condi Rice. Again there was some squawking, but generally those twelve have come off looking good for their opposition.

Now there are 36 Democrats opposed to Abu Gonzalez. There will, of course, be more squawking. But I predict that those 36 will feel energized by their handling of this issue.

Next comes Social Security, which may produce a 100% Democratic opposition and even bring over a few wavering Republicans.

This is how it works folks: oppose, even if you are going to lose the vote, because in opposition you build the respectable contrast that you will need to ultimately win. With each show of opposition the Democrats are more emboldened and demonstrate a greater strength of purpose. The voters always respond positively to shows of strength, especially in the face of insurmountable odds.

Who doesn't root for the underdog?

Thursday, February 03, 2005

This is God's Country

I've finally gotten around to reading "What's The Matter With Kansas?" by Thomas Frank. I've only read the first chapter and have had something of a revelation. Frank was talking about the whole red-state/blue-state, two-nation paradigm when he mentioned how the Republicans acted like the huge swathes of red in the electoral map meant that they had won a huge mandate, even though the election was technically a tie.

A lot of people have made fun of this attitude by pointing out the obvious point that, in America, it is people, not land, that votes. But I found myself doing a sub-conscious Lakoffian analysis on the metaphors Frank was talking about. That's when it dawned on me: many Republicans actually do believe that political power derives more from the land than from the people (an echo of the original foundations of our Republic in which the right to vote was based on ownership of land.).

For the Republicans, land is more real than people. People are unreliable. Land is solid. People cannot be trusted. Land will always be there.

Furthermore, people who live in rural areas have a greater Land per Person ratio. This means that rural people see themselves as smaller in comparison to the Land than do those who live in over-crowded cities. This explains the characterization of rural people as more humble then city dwellers. The former are humbled by the vistas they see around them while the latter can't appreciate the gift of the small parcel that has been doled out to them.

But, at the same time, the Land per Person ratio also gives rise to a sense of greater authority. For, after all, didn't God give The Land to The People to dominate? Rural people have a wider swathe of Land to dominate. That means that God gave them the greater portion of the Land and thus the greater authority.

The rural resident is humble in comparison to the size of the Land around them, but they also have a greater sense of moral authority because God has granted them so much of the Land to control. The city folk are egotistical because they are so much larger than the Land over which they have authority. But they are also more insecure because God has given them less authority over The Land.

City people are cursed by their small parcels. Rural people are blessed by their large parcels.

Once again, it all comes down to size.

Own your anger

Richard Hoefer, a blogger at DemSpeak and a lone liberal out of a staunchly conservative family, finally had enough with his brothers degrading comments about his beliefs. But he didn't just get angry, he "owned his anger" in a way that I think all of us can learn from.

I stood up to the bullying and I told them they'd gone way over the line with those just absurd and biting and deadly-serious statements like... "You'd like to have another 9/11 happen here JUST TO embarrass Bush, because you all just HATE him, you just hate him for no reason and will do anything to obstruct him just for politcal gain because you so fundamentally hate THE MAN himself that you could never give him credit for anything. You'd rather our American soliders be ambushed and picked off and killed in Iraq because you just so bitterly hate Bush  and would rather him fail through tragedy, just for your political gain."

(I'm going to be posting the entire series of emails, with all identifying info removed, at DemSpeak, at DailyKos, and at Rockridge Forums).  I had a lot to say in these exchanges, but let me cut to the chase of what I said in my final round:

"If that's what you really think about me, then I want you to tell that to my face in front of your 3 kids and my Goddaughter, because I am clearly not a good influence on them."

I told him I was fed up -- from years of these assaults -- and that he needed to apologize for this time and all prior times he has impugned my integrity, assaulted my moral values while elevating his own, questioned my love for my country, claimed I want out Troops to die, claimed I do not support our troops, assaulted me as Unamerican because I'm questioned policies of our government, and belittled my character.  I told him don't ever EVER do it again. That I don't do that to him, so don't ever do it to me again.

18 hours went by.

And he apologized in an email which had a completely different tone than the assaults. It came about 6 hours before the State of the Union address.

Read the whole post. I eagerly await the posting of these emails.

TARGET: Joe Lieberman

Over on The DailyKOS, mixed in with the cheers for the overwhelming number of Democrats who voted against confirming Alberto Gonzalez is an understandable desire to make all of the five pro-torture Democrats suffer for their votes. I say it is understandable because I want these idiots to suffer as well. But we must think logically as well as emotionally. Losing one or two more Senate seats might not be that bad (we are already going to lose most of the votes over the next two years). But losing enough seats to give Bush a filibuster proof Senate is a high price to pay for such principles.

Which is why I think we should focus all of our efforts on making an example of one of these five. We need to put the fear of God back into these people.

The obvious choice is Joe Lieberman. He has given aid and comfort to the Republicans on multiple occasions. If there were a 10 strikes and your out rule he would have been carted off months ago.

Here's what I propose: we find, field and support an opponent for him in the primary. If that opponent wins, we work like hell to get that person into office. But, if that opponent loses, we make it clear that we will not support the re-election of Lieberman. Even if that means his seat will go to a Republican.

Bush already has a toady Senator in Lieberman. Who cares if that Senator has a D or an R after his name?

Getting it right

"Groundhog Day" is one of my favorite movies. I never really considered its more spiritual aspects until I read this Slacktivist post.


is not an American value. (flash)

Just imagine...

Bush's plan to gut Social Security is passed. Millions of Americans open up private investment accounts. Thirty years from now there is a massive down turn in the markets and millions of those same Americans lose all of their savings in those accounts just as they are about to retire.

Where do you think they will turn to for relief?

Who would have the political will to resist their demands for relief?

Standing with Franklin

(L-R) Senators Harry Reid (D-Nv), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Jim Jeffords (I-Vt), Patty Murray (D-Wa) and Jon Corzine (D-NJ), pose next to a statue of Franklin Delano Roosevelt after a press conference at the FDR Memorial in Washington February 3, 2005. Senate democrats are urging U.S. President George W. Bush to re-think his plan to privatize Social Security. REUTERS/Shaun Heasley

Democrats are definitely getting better a better handle on this "power of the image" thing. (courtesy First Draft)

(Also note the use of the word privatize. The Democrats have pushed back on the whole GOP attempt to switch to using "personalization" and that push back is working.)

I'm Envious

I want to get banned from a Bush event too!

Bush's Clawback Tax

I said earlier that Bush's plan for gutting Social Security contained a new tax on the earnings that people might earn with their private accounts. I learn from this DailyKOS post that it is even worse:

I see from the early comments that people find this hard to believe. And it is astonishing -- but completely true. The policy wonks call this the "clawback" provision -- the government 'claws back' most of what you make to fund the system. In fact, they claw back the principal plus the assumed 3% annual gain EVEN FOR A WORKER WHO EARNED LESS THAN 3%, so you could earn 2% a year and lose $$$ on the deal! As for why they do it: because if they didn't, they would basically have to wipe out the guaranteed benefit entirely to make the numbers add up.

That's right! Bush is proposing a new tax that could be equal to 150+% of your earnings on your private accounts!

And don't you just love the imagery of the term "clawback"?

Typical Bush

The world was united as it has never been after the attacks of September 11th. Bush squandered that unit on his frivolous war of choice in Iraq. Now America is as hated by the world as it has never been before.

Social Security is the most successful government program ever instituted. Now Bush wants to bankrupt the treasury in order to dismantle it all in the name of solving some mythical crisis.

Truly, Bush has a talent for making lemons out of lemonade.

Shoving it back in Bush's face

Sen. Max Baucus is demonstrating to Democrats how to behave when one rejects the Bush appeal to become his bi-partisan, Social Security monkey-boy: don't just reject the overture, reject it loudly and proudly!

Doing anything less would be showing weakness.


That's the magic word to use when talking about Bush's Social Security plan.

It has the advantage of being true.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Universal Health Care

The Journal of Health Affairs has a new study out that says that half of bankruptcies are due to high medical bills. This is true even of those who have health insurance but even worse for those who don't.

Now consider this: if someone is uninsured or has poor insurance and then gets sick or injured and has to go to a hospital, how do they pay for their care? They often don't. When the hospitals come looking for payment these people declare bankruptcy as the only viable means of keeping the bill collector off their backs.

So who ends up paying for the medical costs? The cost gets spread around to those who can pay, thus raising the medical bills even higher and forcing even more people into bankruptcy!

And Bush wants us to think the problem is all those evil lawyers and their medical malpractice lawsuits!

The simple truth of the matter is that universal health care lowers medical costs by spreading the burden of coverage commensurately throughout the population. Those who would complain that this means they would have to pay for other people's health insurance have to pay for it anyway!

Wouldn't universal health care at least be more upfront and honest?


Interesting bit of reframing I got from tonights DFA meetup.

They Say: "The March Towards Freedom"

We Say: "Crusade"

SOTU blunder?

Anybody besides me think Bush made a fundamental mistake in the SOTU speech by holding off on the big emotional moment (the hug between the Iraqi and American mothers) until the second half of the speech? Rhetorically, wouldn't it be better to lead first with your strong emotional image and then use that image as the groundwork upon which to build the rest of your speech?

If Bush head led strong with his alleged foreign policy successes he could have used the emotional afterglow to sell his domestic policies. Instead he left Social Security "reform" and other measures just dangling out there on their own.

The Bush Personal Investment Tax

I was struck by something while reading this post-SOTU Q&A session with the Washington Post's Robert Kaiser (link courtesy The Stakeholder). Read it and then tell me if you don't see the same thing I see.

Albany, N.Y.: What do you make of the "personal" versus "private" accounts sematic battle. I see that your earlier posts have leaned in both directions. Will this battle be settled by such small -- but potentially crucial details?

Robert G. Kaiser: As we've reported, pollsters have discovered that voters are made nervous by the term "privatization of Social Security." So, in the spirit of this plastic age we live in, promoters of changes in Social Security decided to change the terminology they themselves introduced, and refer now to "personal accounts."

Significantly, the senior administration official who briefed today on details of the White House plan on Social Security did make clear that thinking of them as "private" would be a mistake. The governmetn will control the money, the citizen will have narrow choices as to where to invest it, and the government will retain the first three percent per year of all earnings the money accrues (this being the interest paid on the Treasury Bills now in the Social Security trust fund).

So, let's be clear on this. If Bush's plan goes through, the government will put strict controls on how the money in these private accounts will be invested (so much for the "ownership society") and, on top of that, the government will "retain the first three percent per year of all earnings the money accrues".

In other words, the government will TAX the first three percent of interest people earn on these accounts.

That's right! Bush has just proposed a new tax!

Get over yourselves

I am a big fan of both Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, especially Reid, who has done a remarkable job of stiffening the spine of the Senate Democratic Caucus in both the Gonzalez and Social Security Fights. But this kind of behavior is just childish:

"I think that Governor Dean would take his lead from us," said Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader.

And Mr. Reid said: "The Democratic chairman has a constituency of 447 people. Our constituency is much larger than that."

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Frost is out!

Martin Frost, after failing to secure the endorsement of the AFL-CIO for DNC chairman, has thrown in the towel.

"I am calling my supporters to thank them and to inform them of my decision today to withdraw from the race for DNC Chair. I have also called Governor Dean and congratulated him for running a strong campaign. The challenge ahead for Governor Dean will be to unite the Party, rebuild the DNC and win elections in every region of the country.

"This campaign was never about me or any other candidate. It was about rebuilding the Democratic Party so that we can better present to the nation our strong, hopeful alternative to the dishonest, corrupt and elitist Republican Government that keeps selling out the nation in order to reward its few, privileged friends.

"Make no mistake, Democrats are the party that can best meet America's challenges - challenges like keeping our people safe and winning the war on terrorism, stopping the Republican attack on Social Security, solving the health care crisis, and ensuring that all Americans have good jobs and the opportunity to build a better
future for their children.

"With a strong, unified Democratic Party, a real 50-state party structure, and a commitment to working together and speaking directly to Americans' concerns and values, I am confident that we can and will elect Democrats at all levels and in all parts of the country. I look forward to continuing to play a constructive role in those efforts."

Of course, Dean hasn't officially won, but Frost can read the writing on the wall. He knows that Dean has a very strong chance of winning on the first ballot and, if not, certainly on the second. He doesn't outright endorse Dean, but the message is clear to his supporters: vote for Dean because the party needs to be united now more than ever. In other words, if Dean is going to win he must win with an overwhelming vote on the first ballot. Only then will he have the political capital necessary to re-organize the party and win in 2006.

I've never been as critical as some of Frost's use of Bush in his campaign ads in 2004. It was a necessary political calculation on his part given his untenable electoral position. But I firmly believe that, as much as that move may have been necessary for Frost to survive DeLay's redistricting, it automatically disqualified him for the DNC chair.

Thanks for being gracious Congressman Frost. Now lets go out there and kick some elephant butt!