Getting Nastier In Washington

It's getting even nastier in Washington. Three stories today: Rejection of 'Earmarks' Angers Democrats,
"Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Ohio), who chairs the subcommittee that controls spending on education, health and jobs programs, recently stunned Democrats by announcing plans to reject every "earmarked" project they are seeking in the final, compromise version of the bill, which funds the departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Labor."
No government funding for projects in any district with a Democratic representative!

And White House Puts Limits on Queries From Democrats,
"The Bush White House, irritated by pesky questions from congressional Democrats about how the administration is using taxpayer money, has developed an efficient solution: It will not entertain any more questions from opposition lawmakers."
Democratic lawmakers are no longer allowed to ask the White House any questions!

And Judicial Nominee Approved 10-9:
"The GOP's main event will be a 30-hour talkathon, which would keep the Senate in session through the night Wednesday into Thursday evening, to showcase the GOP's case against the Democrats. "
This means that they won't just have a vote to see if they can override a Democratic filibuster, they'll make the Democrats talk for 30 straight hours. When Clinton was President the Republicans blocked almost everything using filibusters -- and then told the public, "The Democrats are in charge but aren't pasing the bills you want" -- but the Democrats never made them actually filibuster by talking nonstop. This shows the difference between a party that is willing to fight for its constituents, and a party that doesn't even know it's in a war.


Dean & Public Financing

Dr. Dean is likely to drop out of the public financing system. The reason is that Bush is going to have $200 million+ to use in the primaries, even though he has no opponent. Meanwhile the Democrats are all going to use up all of their money working to get the nomination. If they stay in the public financing system they are not allowed to spend any more money until after the convention in August.

This means that Bush will be running $200 million of nasty, negative ads between May and August, while any Democratic nominee who chooses to stay in the public financing system is not allowed to respond in any way.

Dean will get the nomination -- I think that's a given at this point. He is far ahead of the other candidates in all the states that matter, and he has a huge base of supporters and contributors, while the other candidates do not, and are depending on party insiders to get them through. And they're hanging around in case something changes -- Dean says something stupid or who knows what.

If Dean drops out of the public financing system he will be able to ask his base of supporters for the money to respond to Bush. He will easily have 2 million+ donors by then. He is going to ask each donor for $100, bringing him $200 million with which to respond.

Now, you can't even imagine Kerry or Edwards or even Clark being able to round up enough supporters to raise that kind of money. And, frankly, I also can't imagine Kerry or Edwards fighting back. Clark, yes. But he is not running the kind of campaign that is bringing in the numbers of active supporters.

So I support Dean leaving the public financing system.

Too Obvious For Smart People To See?

A week ago I attended a panel discussion on the election of Schwartzenegger, put on by Bay Area Dems. Speakers that day included California's Controller, Steve Westly, and Treasurer Phil Angelides. The panel included several high-level campaign consultants and ex-Clinton-White House officials.

Each panelist offered reasons they thought the recall occurred. Lots of high strategy was discussed. The reasons included the unpopularity of Davis, the failure to find and use a consistent framing narrative, the entry of Democrats into the race, failure of Get Out The Vote efforts, and others.

I listened to the panel and couldn't get over the feeling that all these smart people were missing what to me is the most obvious component. I think that we can't ignore that when you turn on AM radio you hear nonstop ridicule of Democrats and praise for Republicans. There's just no way around this. This is what radio IS now, and this has to have an effect, not just in California, but nationwide. (I'm using AM radio as my example, but the fact is that the right dominates every communications channel.) Before the California election every AM station I tuned into was promiting Arnold all day, every day, nonstop. I mean national as well as local talk shows. Sean Hannity, Limbaugh, Beck, etc. All of them, all the time. They were talking about how the Democrats had caused all the problems in the state, and how "we" all want Arnold to get rid of Davis and "fix" the state. All day, every day.

I have a little bit of a marketing background, but I don't think you need to be a professional to know that marketing has an impact on people. It's pretty basic that repetition drives a message into people's consciousness. And what is going on around us, on the radio, on TV, in the newspapers, and from the Right's politicians is repetition. Coordinated repetition of strategic messages.

In most parts of the country there is NO OTHER SOURCE OF INFORMATION. The public is saturated with right-wing messaging from radio, Fox News, and right-wing local newspapers. People like you and me don't tend to listen to these right-wing talk shows, but I think we should. I think we need to understand the extent of right-wing domination, we need to experience it, and it would benefit our understanding of America to know what they are saying, every day. I listen when I'm driving somewhere -- usually turning it off in disgust after a few minutes of lies -- but I try to listen in several times a week.

There are a lot of people listening to this stuff. When you only have limited sources of information and everyone around you is in agreement on certain points, it's hard to resist joining them. Most people are not newshounds. They form their opinions based on hearing a few filtered news items, and from a sense of what most people around them are thinking. For example, everyone has heard about the woman who spilled coffee on herself and sued and got rich, and thinks there are too many lawsuits. This story is a flat-out lie, intentionally spread to further a right-wing agenda, but it is accepted as fact by almost everyone in this country. This is an example of manipulation of an information-poor environment to generate conventional wisdom. THIS is what is going on out there in America. Marketing professionals know how this works and know how to use it. When your message is repeated to a distracted public without opposition, your product sells.

It's also much of the reason that Democrats are completely on the defensive, even in their own minds.

1) It doesn't matter what your messages, arguments, merits, etc. are if the public doesn't hear them -- and hear them repeatedly.

2) The general public isn't paying attention, and almost all of their information comes from right-wing dominated sources. (CBS cancelling the Reagan miniseries demonstrates the extend of right-wing's domination of ALL sources of information AND the Right's understanding of the importance of furthering thisdomination.)

Update -- I just came across this piece by Thom Hartmann. Here's an excerpt:
"The result of conservatives buying their way into our airwaves has been a conservative transformation in average Americans' political viewpoints. Soccer Moms and NASCAR Dads tune in to coast-to-coast, dawn-to-midnight conservative talk radio, and many have come to believe the right's slogans and myths.

Thus, traditional American values of community and compassion have been replaced with the conservative notions that greed is good and corporations can better administer a democracy than a freely elected government. A vast national right-wing echo chamber across the AM dial has propelled conservative Republican candidates into office [emphasis mine - DJ], led us into two wars in two years, and succeeded in burying the high crimes and misdemeanors of the Bush administration while continuing to blame all things bad on Bill Clinton."

Howard Dean Talks About Confederate Flag Remarks

Dean's statement:
"We're at a space today that's rich in our nation's history, a place where citizens have gathered for more than a century to debate the great issues of the day. From this platform and from this very podium Abraham Lincoln spoke nearly 150 years ago as a presidential candidate and when Lincoln came here, he did not shy away from talking about the greatest threat that our republic faced at that time which is the terrible institution of human slavery. I will not shy away today either.

The issue of the confederate flag has become an issue in this presidential race. Let me make this clear. I believe that we have one flag in this country, the flag of the United States of America. I believe that the flag of the Confederate States of America is a painful symbol and reminder of racial injustice and slavery, which Lincoln denounced from here over 150 years ago. And I do not condone the use of the flag of the Confederate States of America. I do believe that this country needs to engage in a serious discussion about race, and that everyone must participate in that discussion. I started this discussion in a clumsy way.

This discussion will be painful, and I regret the pain that I may have caused either to African-American or southern white voters in the beginning of this discussion. But we need to have this discussion in an honest open way.

In 1968 the Republican Party embarked on a strategy to divide white people from black people in the south just as they were divided when Abraham Lincoln stood at this podium 150 years ago. That is intolerable. Ending that is what this campaign is all about.

I am determined to find a way to bring white Americans and black Americans--as Dr. King said--to the same table of common brotherhood. As I said, we have started in a difficult way, but there is no way to escape the pain of this discussion. To think that racism was banished from the face of this country--even after the success of the civil rights movement is wrong.

Today in America, you have a better chance of being called back for a job interview if you're white with a criminal record than you do if you're black with a clean record--never having been arrested or convicted. Institutional racism exists in this country not because institutions are run by bigots or racists, but because of our unconscious bias towards hiring people just like ourselves. I am determined we will overcome this. I am also determined that we will not leave anyone behind in this discussion--no matter what their color, no matter where they live.

I understand Senator Edward's concern last night that we not have people from the north telling people from the south how to run their states--but we all need to understand that we are in this together and that it will be a difficult and painful discussion, and feelings will be hurt. And what we must do is that people of good will must stay at the table.

If we are ever to vanquish the scourge of racism left over from 400 hundred years of slavery and Jim Crow, only 40 or 50 years ago [did] the Civil Rights Movement begin to see relief from that. We can't think it is over; we must have the dialogue Bill Clinton promised us; we must continue that dialogue, and we must all be at the table. Many of the people in the African American community have supported what I have said in the past few days, because they understand. Some have not, so I say, to those, I deeply regret the pain I have may caused. Many of our white supporters have understood, but to those who do not, I regret the pain that I have caused. I will tell you, there is no easy way to do this. There will be pain as we discuss it; we must face it together--hand-in-hand, as Dr. King and Abraham Lincoln asked us to do.

Because this is about taking back our country and when white people and brown people and black people vote together in this country, that's when we get social justice in America."

The Draft

The Zeitgeist talks about the draft.

Also, I read somewhere (I forget where) speculation that while bringing back a draft is clearly necessary, Bush won't do it before the election. So just after the election Bush will start it up if he wins, or will leave it as a present for Dean to have to start up, ensuring him a stormy presidency. Bush won't do it now, because doing what is necessary for the country would harm The Party. Dean would do it because it is necessary for the country.


Blatant Lies

Turns out I get a lunch break this time. (Last time too many voters, no breaks.)

I'm watching Crossfire. It looks like the Republicans are afraid of Dr. Dean because they are using the smear machine on him. The Republican guy just said, "Howard Dean has said he is the candidate for white guys with confederate flags on their pickup trucks."

This is a blatant lie. What Dean said was that poor Southern white guys driving pickup trucks with confederate flags should vote for him, too, because their kids don't have health insurance either, and they didn't get the tax cut either.

That is a very different statement, and it has a very different meaning -- one that really scares Republicans, because it's true. Dean is going to campaign in the South, and he's going to point out that the Republican appeal to racism isn't benefiting anyone, that the poor whites should look at what they are really getting out of voting Republican.

They have to lie, because Dean is going to tell the truth. What really gets me is that the Republican guy KNOWS what Dean really said, and is choosing to blatantly lie.

And later they have a "Democrat" guy on -- clearly a Kerry or Leiberman supporter -- who pretends to agree that this is what Dean said. This is why so many of us are Dean supporters. We are so tired of these corporate Demcorats who are willing to play this kind of Washington politics game, handing Republicans issues to use against them as well as against the rest of us.

Working At The Polls Today

I'm working at the polls today. It starts at 6am and ends about 9pm so I'm not going to be in too much of a mood to be blogging. No blog hero here. Maybe if my wife was having contractions... :-)


It's March. That's when we have to remove a significant number of troops. From Krugman today:
"In September the Congressional Budget Office analyzed how many U.S. soldiers could be kept in Iraq without extending tours beyond one year. The conclusion was that force levels would have to start dropping rapidly about five months from now, and that the forces in Iraq and Kuwait would eventually have to shrink by almost two-thirds. As the report explains, the Pentagon can use various expedients to maintain a larger force in Iraq, but all of these expedients would threaten to undermine our military readiness."
We know it, and the Iraqi opposition and al-Queda know it, too. So in April and May the shit hits the fan.


DNC: Kicking Ass Guest Poster is Al Franken

DNC: Kicking Ass

The Party Orders Reagan Miniseries Off Air

Oliver Willis says it better.

Army Times Poll

At Army Times:
"If you were going to vote for president right now, which candidate would you support:

Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun 2.07 % (738)
Gen. Wesley Clark (Ret.) 22.12 % (7,875)
Gov. Howard Dean 12.12 % (4,315)
Sen. John Edwards 10.19 % (3,626)
Rep. Dick Gephardt 0.59 % (211)
Sen. John Kerry 4.02 % (1,432)
Rep. Dennis Kucinich 16.24 % (5,782)
Sen. Joe Lieberman 0.62 % (219)
Rev. Al Sharpton 1.04 % (369)
President George W. Bush 30.98 % (11,029)
Total votes: 35596"
Something tells me the Kucinich campaign has asked people to vote.

The Randi Rhodes Show

I hope you'll tune into the The Randi Rhodes Show over the internet. I'm listening now. Click on "Listen Live 3pm-7pm ET."

The Draft - Another Example of Republican Party Over Country

Salon has a story about the draft:
"Divisive military actions are ongoing in Iraq and Afghanistan. News accounts daily detail how the U.S. is stretched too thin there to be effective. And tensions are high with Syria and Iran and on the Korean Peninsula, with some in or close to the Bush White House suggesting that military action may someday be necessary in those spots, too.

[. . .] military experts and even some influential members of Congress are suggesting that if Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's prediction of a "long, hard slog" in Iraq and Afghanistan proves accurate, the U.S. may have no choice but to consider a draft to fully staff the nation's military in a time of global instability."
Here's the fact. We've overcommitted in Iraq. We don't have enough troops there now and next year the rotation schedules will have the military severely understaffed WITHOUT another conflict breaking out. So how are we going to defend the country if another conflict DOES break out?

From the story:
"The closest parallel to the Iraq situation is the British in Northern Ireland, where you also had some people supporting the occupying army and some opposing them, and where the opponents were willing to resort to terror tactics," says Charles Peña, director of defense studies at the libertarian Cato Institute. "There the British needed a ratio of 10 soldiers per 1,000 population to restore order, and at their height, it was 20 soldiers per 1,000 population. If you transfer that to Iraq, it would mean you'd need at least 240,000 troops and maybe as many as 480,000.

"The only reason you aren't hearing these kinds of numbers discussed by the White House and the Defense Department right now," Peña adds, "is that you couldn't come up with them without a return to the draft, and they don't want to talk about that."

The Pentagon has already had to double the deployment periods of some units, call up more reserves and extend tours of duty by a year -- all highly unpopular moves. Meanwhile, the recent spate of deadly bombings in Baghdad, Falluja and other cities, and increasing attacks on U.S. forces throughout Iraq have forced the U.S. to reconsider its plans to reduce troop deployments."
The Republicans are refusing to reinstate the draft purely for political reasons: it will cost them votes. Never mind that it will cost lives and threaten our security if there is a conflict in, say, Korea or Iran. Or something unforeseen. The country NEEDS the draft now, but they refuse. Party over country, as always.

House Nixes Anti-Profiteering Penalties in Iraq Spending Bill

House Nixes Anti-Profiteering Penalties in Iraq Spending Bill:
"The final version of the $87 billion spending bill for Iraq and Afghanistan is missing provisions the Senate had passed to penalize war profiteers who defraud American taxpayers."
The Republicans rigged the "conference committee" to take out the reasonable provisions that the Senate had added to the Iraq spending bill. THIS change allows corrupt crony contracts that reward campaign contributors.

Remember that immediately after taking office Bush gave the go-ahead to corporate lawbreakers.

I think it's time for the Democrats to make an issue of this corrupt cronyism. This spending bill should be filibustered.

(Thanks Atrios for the original article.)


CBS Self-Censoring Reagan Miniseries

According to The War Over the Gipper, CBS executives are cutting out anything they think the Right might object to:
"Director Robert Allan Ackerman has opted out of the editing, and CBS executives are now cutting it themselves.

[. . .]

The script was vetted by two teams of lawyers, and producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan, who would not be interviewed by NEWSWEEK, have insisted that every fact (though not every line of dialogue) is supported by at least two sources. Before a New York Times story last month detailed conservatives’ complaints, network executives reportedly loved the movie. “They all thought it was brilliant,” says someone who worked on the film.

But the day the Times’s story broke—”The Reagans” crew calls it “Black Tuesday”—the movie instantly became trouble. CBS chairman Leslie Moonves, who approved both the script and a juicy eight-minute trailer, ordered the lawyers to look at the movie again, and asked for assurances that the facts were all in order. When he was told everything was fine, Moonves started editing anyway. “There are things we think go too far,” he told CNBC’s Tina Brown last week. (Moonves also declined to be interviewed by NEWSWEEK.) At that point, Ackerman removed himself from the editing in protest and the actors stopped talking. “Nobody seems to know what’s going on,” Ackerman told NEWSWEEK. “Whatever is going on is going on very secretly.

As of late last week, the film had been through at least three edits. The most incendiary line—where Nancy asks the president to do more for AIDS victims and he replies, “They that live in sin shall die in sin”—has been cut. "
Once you let yourself care what the Right is going to think about ANYTHING you do, it's all over.

Another Voting Machines Article

Newhouse A1:
"The problem? 'There's no guarantee that what you see on the screen is what the machine is recording or counting,' said Stanford University computer scientist David Dill."
And, let me add, there is no way for anyone to ever KNOW if what you see on the machine is what is recorded.

Voting Machines

Warren Slocum, San Mateo County's Chief Elections Officer has a web page called Support Verified Voting, talking about electronic voting machines.

Voting Machines Story At CNN

CNN.com - Worries grow over new voting machines' reliability, security.

Blog Hero Award

From DailyKos this morning:
"Ok guys. I'm checking out. Elisa is having contractions three minutes apart which means it's time to go to hospital."
OK, this guy's wife is having contractions three minutes apart and this guy is WRITING IN HIS WEBLOG!

For this he earns the coveted Seeing the Forest Blog Hero Award.

I mean, how can I even call myself a blogger after that?

I mean, I'm supposed to be at my aunt's right now, walking the dogs. And my wife is yelling at me to get off the computer and into the car. But that's NOTHING. That's not even worth mentioning next to Daily Kos!

I'm not worthy.

Few of us are.

By Nightfall

From Daily Kos:
"In other news, Deputy Secretary of State Paul Wolfowitz spoke at Georgetown University on Friday and and took questions. (hat tip Juan Cole.)
Q: Hi, Mr. Wolfowitz. My name is Ruthy Coffman. I think I speak for many of us here when I say that your policies are deplorable. They're responsible for the deaths of innocents and the disintegration of American civil liberties. [Applause]
We are tired, Secretary Wolfowitz, of being feared and hated by the world. We are tired of watching Americans and Iraqis die, and international institutions cry out in anger against us. We are simply tired of your policies. We hate them, and we will never stop opposing them. We will never tire or falter in our search for justice. And in the name of this ideal and the ideal of freedom, we assembled a message for you that was taken away from us and that message says that the killing of innocents is not the solution, but rather the problem. Thank you. [Applause and jeers]
Wolfowitz: I have to infer from that that you would be happier if Saddam Hussein were still in power. [Applause]
Q: I'd just like to say that people like Ruthy and myself have always opposed Saddam Hussein, especially when Saddam Hussein was being funded by the United States throughout the '80s. And -- [Applause] And after the killings of the Kurds when the United States increased aid to Iraq. We were there opposing him as well. People like us were there. We are for democracy. And I have a question.
What do you plan to do when Bush is defeated in 2004 and you will no longer have the power to push forward the project for New American Century's policy of American military and economic dominance over the people of the world? [Applause]
Wolfowitz: I don't know if it was just Freudian or you intended to say it that way, but you said you opposed Saddam Hussein especially when the United States supported him.

It seems to me that the north star of your comment is that you dislike this country and its policies. [Applause]

And it seems to me a time to have supported the United States and to push the United States harder was in 1991 when Saddam Hussein was slaughtering those innocents so viciously.
That is OUT-FREAKING-RAGEOUS. I'd like to see this excerpt all over the blogosphere by nightfall.
Doing my part to get this all over the blogosphere by nightfall.


Voting Machines Cartoon

This Modern World: Something Truly Terrifying.

Voting Machines Petition

ActForChange Petition: Stop the Florida-tion of the 2004 election

"I'm A Uniter, Not A Divider"

Bush said, "I'm a uniter, not a divider."

Newspaper story today, Nation Is Again Divided Over Bush.

Actually, he's nothing more than a big liar.

"Strict Father, Nurturant Mother"

I left a comment over at DailyKos, in the discussion of Lakoff's "Strict Father, Nurturant Mother" description of politics. This is being discussed by Digby and Body and Soul. Please go take a look at what they're writing and discussing.

My comment:
"Lakoff is a linguist, and he studies how people think about new concepts. His research shows that people use metaphors to understand new conecpts. For example, if you are familiar with cars, and then see a bus for the first time, you'll think 'big car,' using the car as a model for your metaphor for understanding and categorizing what you are looking at. And when you see an airplane you'll think 'bus with wings that flys.' This is how our minds work.

Lakoff has done research into the metaphors that people use to understand the concepts of nations and politics. His research has shown that people think in terms of a family when formulating an understanding of politics, and his research has shown that this thinking breaks down into two basic metaphors. He has described them as strict father and nurturing parent because that is what his research has shown. He has put together an excellent model describing how condservatives and liberals see politics and why they are so different.

Please read his book 'Moral Politics' to understand this better. I think this book is essential for understanding what is going on in politics. It is also essential because the Right has also been doing this research, and clearly has these concepts nailed, and they are using them skillfully.

Lakoff is DEscribing. You might not like WHAT he is describing, but don't blame Lakoff. If you look at this with an open mind, you'll realize that 'strict father' and 'nurturing parent' ARE the metaphors that people use."
I advise everyone to read Lakoff's book, Moral Politics.