New Voters vs. Swing Voters III

Adapted from a Calpundit comment thread:

What I especially argued for in my piece (here below) was a long-term strategy of party-building. The registration shift toward the Republicans Godless speaks of didn't just happen. It was the result of about four decades of effort and investment. It's my understanding that the Democrats have not made that effort, and that their only long-term strategy is continued courtship of the swing voters. Since the Republicans are building their base and we aren't, the rightward shift really is inevitable.

To me the Dem strategy is comparable to a weak basketball team playing a slowdown game and hoping for the last shot. A strong party could certainly play more aggressively.

For the last couple of years, anyway, I have not asked the Democrats so much to move to the left on the issues, as to play a tougher, more aggressive game. It's hard to win when you've forbidden yourself to take the game to the enemy. And this plays to the main weak spot in the Dem's image -- the wimp factor. A party that campaigns wimpy will be perceived as wimpy on everything. As the infamous (though moderate on most issues) Bartcop asks, how can the Dems fight for the American people when they can't even fight for themselves? (This is why the Lieberman candidacy is such a joke. Conservative Southern Dem policy wonks like him on the issues, but to the average Southern voter he projects about as much macho as my mother would, and for the Dems losing the wimp image is probably at least as important as the issues.)

So, as I keep saying, I'm Clark/Dean neutral, and I don't especially propose a leftward shift right at the moment. I just think that, win or lose, after the election the Democrats should rethink their long-term strategy. (If we win, it will only be the Presidency. Congress will still be solidly theirs).

Here's something I wrote in the past on how DLC caution has materially hurt the Democrats (i.e., has been a loser strategy):

How the New Democrats have Hurt the Party


New Voters vs. Swing voters II

Confessore's Tapped article (which I discuss below) is now the subject of a thread on Calpundit.

This has unfortunately become a left-right Dean-Clark debate. One point I was trying to make, though, in addition to advocating the "increase the base" strategy, was that the Democratic party should be taking some initiatives and setting some long-term goals, rather than merely starting to talk about strategies right before each election.

And one of my premises, denied by some, is that we haven't been doing too well recently. I'm thinking mostly of the loss of Congress here, but partly also of some of the things Clinton and Gore had to do in order to get elected. (And in that sense this is indeed a left-right disagreement).

And so my conclusion is that the swing-voter strategy, which has been dominant for almost two decades, isn't enough. I'm not saying we should forget the swing voters.

So it seems to me that the Democrats should be looking here, there, and everywhere for the votes we need. The Republican core is pretty solid, so we have a choice between looking for votes among the 20% of the voting-age population who are swing voters, and among the 50% of the voting-age population who are non-voters. Shouldn't we be looking in both places? Should the rejection of the very idea of trying to find new voters be as unanimous as it is? Isn't that lazy, fatalistic, and defeatist?

Confessore mentions a number of unsuccessful Democratic attempts to find new voters, but they were all flash-in-the-pan one-time efforts organized by one man's campaign. He does not mention all the work that the Republicans have been doing since 1964 or so to develop new constituencies.

ReBuilding Iraq 2

Naomi Klein in the Guardian describes December's crony imperialism trade show.

The reconstruction of Iraq has emerged as a vast protectionist racket, a neo-con New Deal that transfers limitless public funds - in contracts, loans and insurance - to private firms, and even gets rid of the foreign competition to boot, under the guise of "national security". Ironically, these firms are being handed this corporate welfare so they can take full advantage of CPA-imposed laws that systematically strip Iraqi industry of all its protections, from import tariffs to limits on foreign ownership. Michael Fleisher, head of private-sector development for the CPA, recently explained to a group of Iraqi businesspeople why these protections had to be removed. "Protected businesses never, never become competitive," he said. Quick, somebody tell Opic and US deputy secretary of defence Paul Wolfowitz.

The issue of US double standards comes up again at the conference when a CPA representative takes the podium. A legal adviser to Bremer, Carole Basri has a simple message: reconstruction is being sabotaged by Iraqi corruption. "My fear is that corruption will be the downfall," she says ominously, blaming the problem on "a 35-year gap in knowledge" in Iraq that has made Iraqis "not aware of current accounting standards and ideas on anti-corruption". Foreign investors, she adds, must engage in "education, bring people up to world-class standards". It's hard to imagine what world-class standards she's referring to, or who, exactly, will be doing this educating. Halliburton, with its accounting scandals back home and its outrageous overbilling for gasoline in Iraq? The CPA, with its two officers under investigation for bribe-taking and nonexistent fiscal oversight?

UggaBugga Must Be Stopped!

Before he kills me.

New Voters and Swing Voters: Letter to Nick Confessore (TAPPED)

I sent the letter below to Nick Confessore of Tapped in response to this piece.

One thing I neglected to say in the letter is that the "new-voter"/"swing-voter" strategies are not mutually exclusive. It should be possible to do some of both, and what we're really talking about here is the mix. The reason that Dean's "new-voter" strategy seems extreme is that during the period during which we've lost control of Congress. the Democratic emphasis has been almost entirely on swing voters.


One reason talking about getting new voters has never brought forth any results is that since 1984 or so (DLC takeover) this strategy has not actually been tried. "Party-building" soft money was deliberately diverted into big media buys with only immediate effects and no long-term gain, and the swing-voter strategy has been the only one in effect.

Per voter won, the swing-voter strategy is more effective, but there are more non-voters (~50%) than swing voters (<20%) to work on. Furthermore, by now swing voters have to be either pretty conservative, or dumb as stumps. There's scarcely an issue on which the Bush-DeLay adfministration has not taken a strongly conservative initiative.

From my point of view but not yours, the rightward pull of this strategy is bad. However, if it is true (as I suspect) that the lame Dem pros and the right-wing New Republic types (Sullivan and Krauthammer still work there, right?) would actually prefer to lose with a right-center swing-voter strategy than to win with a left-center new-voter strategy, then I think that even the mad-dog-moderate Matt Yglesias might come around to my point of view.

Some of the bad advice Gore got in 2000, in my paranoid opinion, came from people who would rather lose than win the wrong way. I think that Gore might agree with me by now.

The working poor are one group which tends not to vote, and they're a natural Dem constituency. Yeah, they're hard to organize, but they said that about labor in the old days too (ethnically fragmented, semiliterate, poor, embattled, unstable, etc.) Young, poor, alternative-culture cynics are another such difficult group, and in fact the groups tend to merge in later years (e.g. restaurant workers). I don't think that failure can be declared before the strategy is tried. It would indeed be a big job, but we've been losing with the other strategy. I doubt that it's ever possible to tell in advance whether something genuinely new will work; my guess is that poll-driven caution will normally tie you to an unventuresome policy leading to continuous gradual decline.

jje/ ex-zizka


Let me just say in ADVANCE this time that this is a spoof: Tom Burka at the american street: GOP To Reshuffle Swing States; Plan To Redistrict America:
"The boundaries of New York State now include only the relatively conservative upstate area and Staten Island, which is solidly Republican. Democratic New York City is now part of Rhode Island, which will have four electoral votes in November.

[. . .] Republicans were aghast at charges by Democrats that redistricting American states in this way was unconstitutional. "It is amazing to me," said Republican Senator Zell Miller (D - Ga.). "These Democrats whine at the drop of a hat whenever they don't get their way."

BloggerStorm! From Iowa

Blog for America: BloggerStorm!So far: annatopia, DailyKos, Howard Dean 2004, Seth-Tech, Southpaw, Taegan Goddard's Political Wire, Robert Baren for Delegate, Pacific Views, yin, Wanderlust and Jim Moore's Iowa blog aggregator

Divide And Conquer

Leaked letters reveal plot to split US church:
"A letter, written within the past fortnight by a senior American dissident pastor to like-minded parishes, details how the dismantling of the US Episcopal church can be achieved. Marked 'confidential, share it in hard copy only with people you fully trust, do not pass it on electronically to anyone under any circumstances', the document was passed - electronically - to this newspaper.
Written by Geoff Chapman, rector of St Stephen's church, Sewickley, Pennsylvania, one of the leaders of the breakaway movement, it openly boasts that while the current tactic is to seek oversight by conservative bishops for parishes that cannot accept the authority of the two-thirds of American bishops who supported the consecration of the gay bishop Gene Robinson last November, the ultimate goal is much more radical.

It is nothing less than a realignment of the US and Canadian churches for 'biblical faith and values' - code for a much more conservative, even fundamentalist, church to replace the liberal Episcopal church. Traditionalists have threatened a break-up before, over the ordination of women in the 70s, over the consecration of the first woman bishop in the 80s and over gay clergy in the 90s, but Bishop Robinson's ordination has given the movement new momentum.
[. . .]
Its break-up would be enormously welcome to the religious right, including wealthy and fundamentalist supporters of the Republican party who would like to see a more militant Bible-based Christianity spreading across all areas of public life. "
Those pesky Republicans -- everywhere there's trouble and divisiveness, there they are.

Al Gore

From Al Gore's MoveOn.org speech on the natural environment:

These and other activities make it abundantly clear that the Bush White House represents a new departure in the history of the Presidency. He is so eager to accommodate his supporters and contributors that there seems to be very little that he is not willing to do for them at the expense of the public interest. To mention only one example, we’ve seen him work tirelessly to allow his friends to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Indeed, it seems at times as if the Bush-Cheney Administration is wholly owned by the coal, oil, utility and mining companies.

While President Bush likes to project an image of strength and courage, the truth is that in the presence of his large financial contributors he is a moral coward – so weak that he seldom if ever says “No” to them on anything – no matter what the public interest might mandate.

Read it or watch it.


Lies Lies Lies Yeah

Atrios points us to this excellent column by James O. Goldsborough that demonstrates, once again, that W and the boys were lying about their intentions for Iraq:

Richard Haass, Powell's head of policy planning, resigned when it became clear that Bush demands for Iraqi disarmament were only a pretext for war.

Haass, now head of the Council on Foreign Relations, calls Iraq a war of "choice," not "necessity." He recounts a meeting with NSC director Condoleezza Rice in July 2002, two months before Iraq hit the headlines and three months before Bush went to the U.N. Security Council putatively to seek a resolution on Iraqi disarmament.

As head of State's policy planning, Haass' mission to the NSC was, he says, to discuss "the pros and cons" of escalating toward war with Iraq. Says Haass: "Basically, she (Rice) cut me off and said, 'Save your breath – the president has already decided what he's going to do on this.' "

So when Condi said two months later in September of 2002 (and for many months afterward) that Bush hadn't made up his mind about Iraq, we now know she was lying. Impressive.

Anyway, this column also mentions another of the mounting multitude of lies and exaggerations by this administration, the desperate (and hilarious) attempt to claim that the situation in Iraq was like that of post-war Nazi Germany. (Here's what I had to say about it here.)

But this reminded me of my favorite moment of historical illiteracy on the part of this administration. That would be the even more desperate attempt of Rummy to claim that the post-war Iraq situation was just like that faced in the wake of the American Revolution. More specifically, he claimed it was just like Shays' Rebellion.

All three of these instances bring up a couple of rather obvious questions: Is there anything they won't say? Is there any lie they won't tell?

I'm sorry folks. I just couldn't resist this little trip down memory lane.

I hope you enjoyed it.

Me too

Announcing CJR Campaign Desk

The new Columbia Journalism Review Campaign Desk will provide, "Critique and analysis of 2004 campaign coverage from Columbia Journalism Review."

Weekly Unemployment Insurance Claims Report

This week's ETA Press Release: Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report:
In the week ending Jan. 10, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 343,000, a decrease of 11,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 354,000. The 4-week moving average was 347,500, a decrease of 3,000 from the previous week's revised average of 350,500.
And the UNadjusted numbers?
"The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 677,883 in the week ending Jan. 10, an increase of 128,233 from the previous week. There were 724,111 initial claims in the comparable week in 2003."
I report, you decide.


Dead Armadillos

Adapted from a comment thread:

If you decide in advance that the truth is always in the middle, it makes your life easier, but it cripples you with a jellified inability to respond effectively whenever one side or the other happens to be right.

Likewise, if you decide that they're all crooks, you become incapable of spotting crooks.

The Republicans have learned to game the moderate voters by noisily claiming that liberals are really dangerous radicals, that moderates are really liberals, and that the conservatives are the real moderates.

Since one category of moderate voter is dumb as a stump, this strategy works far too often. I know that you can't win by running against the voters, but -- bless their little hearts -- some of them are really hard to talk to.

Dean Article

There's an article on Dean here: U.S. News: Is Dean the one? Campaign heats up as wary Democrats look for a winner(1/19/04).
Though Dean did not enter the race with the expectations of winning, he did see a way to win. "Karl Rove [President Bush's political guru] discovered it, too, but I discovered it independently," Dean says and adds that the theory is embodied in the writings of George Lakoff, a professor of cognitive science and linguistics at the University of California-Berkeley. "What you do is crank the heck out of your base, get them really excited and crank up the base turnout and you'll win the middle-of-the-roaders," Dean says. The reason, according to the theory, is that swing voters share the characteristics of both parties and eventually go with whatever party excites them the most. "Democrats appeal to them on their softer side--the safety net--but the Republicans appeal to them on the harder side--the discipline, the responsibility, and so forth," Dean says. "So the question is which side appears to be energetic, deeply believing in its message, deeply committed to bringing a vision of hope to America. That side is the side that gets the swing voters and wins."
Since it's dated the 19th, it might tell us who wins in Iowa.

Bush Imposes ISLAMIC LAW On Iraq!

Think I'm kidding? From Juan Cole * Informed Comment *:
"But the American-appointed Interim Governing Council has suddenly taken Iraq in a theocratic direction that has important implications for women's rights. As reported here earlier, the IGC took a decision recently to abolish Iraq's civil personal status law, which was uniform for all Iraqis under the Baath. In its place, the IGC called for religious law to govern personal status, to be administered by the clerics of each of Iraq's major religious communities for members of their religion. Thus, Shiites would be under Shiite law and Chaldeans under Catholic canon law for these purposes."
Of course, read the entire story. And yes, this means what you think it does for women in Iraq:
For the vast majority of women who are Muslim, the implementation of `iddah or the obligation of a man to support a woman for 3 months after he divorces her (a term long enough to see whether she is pregnant with his child) has the effect of abolishing the divorced woman's right to alimony. This abrogation of alimony was effected for Muslims in India in the mid-1980s with the Shah Banou case, as the Congress Party's sop to Indian Muslim fundamentalists. The particular form of Islamic law that the IGC seems to envisage operating would also give men the right of unilateral divorce over their wives, gives men the right to take second, third and fourth wives, and gives girls half as much inheritance from the father's estate as boys.


Josh Marshall gets it just about right:

Number of days between Novak column outing Valerie Plame and announcement of investigation: 74 days.

Number of days between O'Neill 60 Minutes interview and announcement of investigation: 1 day.

Having the administration reveal itself as a gaggle of hypocritical goons ... priceless.

BuzzFlash Interviews Lakoff

We'll Grant This to the Republicans: They Know How to Frame Issues and Keep the Democrats on the Defensive. A BuzzFlash Interview with "Framing" Expert, UC Berkeley Professor George Lakoff - A BuzzFlash Interview

the american street Today

Digby has a post up over at the american street.


O'Neill Poll

Did O'Neill retract his Iraq charges faster than you thought he would?
Yes - I thought he would know to hide his grandkids
No - I figured they located his grandkids as soon as they knew he had a book coming

Free polls from Pollhost.com

THAT Didn't Take Long

From this:
"These people are nasty and they have a long memory," he tells Suskind. But he also believes that by speaking out even in the face of inevitable White House wrath, he can demonstrate loyalty to something he prizes: the truth. [. . .] That goal is worth the price of retribution, O'Neill says. Plus, as he told Suskind, "I'm an old guy, and I'm rich. And there's nothing they can do to hurt me."
to this: CNN.com - O'Neill says war plans account distorted - Jan. 13, 2004
"Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill said Tuesday his account of the Bush administration's early discussions about a possible invasion of Iraq has been distorted.

"People are trying to make a case that I said the president was planning war in Iraq early in the administration," O'Neill told NBC's "Today" show. "Actually, there was a continuation of work that had been going on in the Clinton administration with the notion that there needed to be regime change in Iraq."
THAT didn't take long. This was a guy who SAID he knew what they were capable of, but was going to stand up to them.

Well, I guess he DIDN'T know what they were capable of. But I bet he does now.

Angry, Angry Dean

Angry Dean.

"It makes you wonder what happens to ordinary Iraqis."

Guardian Unlimited | US military 'brutalised' journalists:
"The international news agency Reuters has made a formal complaint to the Pentagon following the 'wrongful' arrest and apparent 'brutalisation' of three of its staff this month by US troops in Iraq.

The complaint followed an incident in the town of Falluja when American soldiers fired at two Iraqi cameramen and a driver from the agency while they were filming the scene of a helicopter crash.

The US military initially claimed that the Reuters journalists were 'enemy personnel' who had opened fire on US troops and refused to release them for 72 hours.

Although Reuters has not commented publicly, it is understood that the journalists were 'brutalised and intimidated' by US soldiers, who put bags over their heads, told them they would be sent to Guantanamo Bay, and whispered: 'Let's have sex.'

At one point during the interrogation, according to the family of one of the staff members, a US soldier shoved a shoe into the mouth one of the Iraqis.

The US troops, from the 82nd Airborne Division, based in Falluja, also made the blindfolded journalists stand for hours with their arms raised and their palms pressed against the cell wall.

'They were brutalised, terrified and humiliated for three days,' one source said. 'It was pretty grim stuff. There was mental and physical abuse.'

He added: 'It makes you wonder what happens to ordinary Iraqis.' "
This is just one more instance of Americans violating the Geneva Convention. There is no accountability.

Thanks to Calpundit.

A Must Read!

Editorial: The wrong war/Why Iraq was a mistake:
"Imagine that President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell had made a case for the invasion of Iraq along the following lines:...

[great reading, go read it]

...the most sacred duty civilians have to their armed forces is to ensure they are never called to sacrifice their lives unless this nation faces a real threat."

at american street today

Kash from Angry Bear, and Mark A. R. Kleiman are posting today, over at the american street. Also, it's american street founder Kevin Hayden's birthday.

Warning -- PLEASE be alerted that I only post there on Mondays. I'm telling you this now, so you don't become too overly disappointed when you get there, and don't see a fresh post from me. I'm pre-alerting you in order to want to avoid trouble with guns and stuff, and rioting, and any potential suicides. I'll still be here for you, at Seeing the Forest.

Senile Broder accidentally gets it right

David Broder has been brain-dead for so long that you're surprised that he's able to locomote or respire. But in this piece, which he all-but-confesses is a recycled version of things he wrote decades ago ("Coming back to Iowa after a long absence...."), he says something which is made striking by the implied contrast.

".... I was struck, as I have been before, by the extraordinarily conscientious way that those few souls approach what they see as their serious responsibility in starting the process that leads, a year later, to the inauguration of a president. They sort and weigh personal attributes and policy positions, then do it again, before finally deciding which hopeful they will stand up to support."

Yeah, a bunch of ordinary people in flyover country who all have other jobs take America seriously. It's just the hip, well-educated, highly-paid, ever-so-professional national media who can't seem to get around to doing that.

No, Broder didn't mean that; he is really and truly brain-dead. But the contrast is frightening and very real.


Sometimes it really does seem like...

this is the most petty and vindictive administration in American history, doesn’t it?

I think most of us would agree there are two types of classified documents. There are documents that genuinely endanger national security – launch codes, defense strategies, etc. These documents are classified because to have this information made public would threaten the safety of us all.

And then there are other documents that are classified because um, well, you don’t want people to know you’re corrupt scheming bastards who have planned for years to take over Saddam’s oil fields in order to, presumably, make big profits for your rich buddies and campaign contributors in the oil industry.

I agree wholeheartedly with charging someone with a crime for releasing a document that really threatens national security. However, I’m afraid W and the boys will look terrible if they charge O’Neill with a crime for exposing that their little scheme to invade Iraq had nothing to do with terrorism and 9/11 and had been hatched since the earliest days of the administration.

I’m afraid he’s got you boys. You might as well just grin and bear it.

Boy and you know O’Neill has got them when the best thing they can do is retaliate with something petty like this. My goodness, they’d set a new low for an administration if they actually charged a former cabinet member with a crime for exposing them as the scheming fiends that we all knew they were. If that’s the best they can come up with, you know they’re in trouble.

But this is the minor one folks. When Richard Clarke’s book comes out in April, it is possible that the entire Karl Rove 2004 gameplan may rapidly unravel over the course of a few days. In his book, Clarke is reportedly going to explain how W and the boys turned a deaf ear to his dire warnings about terrorism during the summer of 2001 and, therefore, are, at the very least, partially responsible for the 9/11 disaster.

If Clarke’s book is the bombshell it’s likely to be, this administration may well go down in $150 M a blaze of glory.

At least we can all hope, can’t we?

Update: Paul Krugman addresses this today -- and gets it just about right:

So far administration officials have attacked Mr. O'Neill's character but haven't refuted any of his facts. They have, however, already opened an investigation into how a picture of a possibly classified document appeared during Mr. O'Neill's TV interview. This alacrity stands in sharp contrast with their evident lack of concern when a senior administration official, still unknown, blew the cover of a C.I.A. operative because her husband had revealed some politically inconvenient facts.



Can Dean Survive This One?

Pandagon: Democratic Candidate Can't Answer Question; Democracy "Will End" Unless Bush Elected

Tuesday update -- It was a spoof! I guess it was a little bit too weblog-reader-insider... Here's the joke: There is an AP reporter named Nedra Pickler who writes "news stories" from an extremely pro-Bush angle. Other weblogs have been pointing out her stuff lately. So pandagon wrote this as a spoof of the kind of thing she writes. Here is one example of her writing a "news story":
"Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean on Friday criticized President Bush for restricting stem-cell research based on religious beliefs even though his own faith affected his decision to extend legal rights to gay couples. "

The Iron Law Of Wages

I referred to this piece in an update in the piece below, "Jobs Americans Won't Take". But I want to bring special attention to it, because I think it says a lot: William Pfaff: The price of globalization .

(Thanks to Sideshow)

What It Means

What does it mean, that former Treasury Secretary O'Neill says they were planning to invade Iraq right from the start, long before 9/11?

It means that after we were attacked on 9/11, the Bush administration betrayed us, and instead of going after the attackers, and instead of putting 100% of their efforts and resources and energy and brainpower and skills and talents into protecting us from additional attacks, they used that event to accomplish a different, PRE-EXISTING agenda. PRE-EXISTING! They harnessed our shock and emotions, and redirected them, and used them, and used us, and, worst of all, used our 3,000 dead in a cynical, corrupt, dishonest, drive to win an election and then to commit aggressive war against a country that had not attacked us, had not even threatened us.

WE all knew this, because we are informed. But much of America-at-large still thought that Iraq was behind 9/11, and now they are hearing this news -- on 60 Minutes, no less. Let that sink in a while.

(cross-posted at the american street)

Fourth Annual Weblog Awards

Fourth Annual Weblog Awards. Go nominate someone.

The Bush Defense

The defense of the Bush administration against the charges by former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill that they began planning the Iraq invasion immediately upon taking office is breaking down into two camps:

1) O'Neill is a liar. He is a disgruntled employee who was fired for incompetence, who nobody ever listened to anyway, and who is lying to get back at Bush for firing him. Quote: "A senior administration official said O'Neill's "suggestion that the administration was planning an invasion of Iraq days after taking office is laughable. Nobody listened to him when he was in office. Why should anybody now?"

2) Of course we did it. The stated policy of the administration, and the previous administration, was regime change in Iraq, and the Bush administration would have been remiss to NOT be planning to invade Iraq. (I guess this covers the bases, for those who don't fall for the smears on O'Neill's credibility...)

So they would be remiss if they weren't planning a war, and anyone who says they were planning a war is an incompetent liar.

See the forest: they lie. They just lie. Look at what they DO and ignore everything they say. Remember, before the war, when they were running their "marketing campaign," they had us all arguing about whether there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and whether that necessitated our immediate invasion. And for many of us, that's where our focus went.

Update - (And smear people. They do that, too.)

Update 2 - (Oh yeah, they steal, too.)

Update 3 - (Cheating. I forgot cheating. Definitely cheaters.)

Update 4 - (Right. Hypocrites. Sorry.)

Update 5 - (Sorry, I'm not going to say "poo-poo heads" in my weblog. No matter how many e-mails you send.)

Why did we go to war? Ask the experts

Head over to the DNC weblog and scroll down to "Why did we go to war? Ask the experts. Leave a comment. Get involved.

Then scroll up to "Why we went to war, Part II," and "More revelations from Paul O'Neill" and, finally, "The right wing goes into attack mode":
"As Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame know, this administration will turn no stone when it comes to destroying people who tell the truth about President Bush's deceptions."
It's good to see the DNC acting like they "get it."

the american street

the american street has new posts up today, by different bloggers than yesterday. ;-)

(I'll be posting there regularly on Mondays. TWO places to get your Dave!)

"Jobs Americans Won't Take"

We hear Bush talking about "jobs that others won't take," to sell his new "guest worker" plan. He is talking about importing workers for jobs that are not filled by American workers -- largely agricultural jobs, but also including jobs in restaurants and others. Sounds reasonable, right?

Economists talk about "the law of supply and demand." This law applies to labor as well as consumer goods. What this law is supposed to mean is that if you can't find enough workers to fill your jobs, you raise wages until you can. What is happening in this instance is that the American companies are not paying enough, so people are not taking the jobs. These are not jobs that can be exported to China -- the farms and restaurants are here. So, instead of raising wages until they are able to fill the jobs, they are proposing to allow more Mexican and other immigrant workers into the country to take these jobs, keeping wages low.

This "guest worker" scam is just one more example of the Bush administration working against the interests of American workers. The minimum wage need to be raised.

Update - 7:30pm - (Thanks to Sideshow) - William Pfaff: The price of globalization:
Ricardo, however, had a second theory, which he called the "iron law of wages." You do not hear much about the iron law, in part because you wouldn't want to hear about it, and also because experience has seemed to prove it untrue. But times are changing.
The iron law of wages is also simple and logical. It says that wages will tend to stabilize at or about subsistence level. That seemed inevitable to Ricardo, since while workers are necessary, and so have to be kept alive, they have no hope of any better treatment since they are infinitely available, replaceable, and generally interchangeable.

Ricardo's wage theory has seemed untrue. The supply of competent workers in a given place is not unlimited; neither workers nor industry are perfectly mobile, and labor demonstrated in the 19th and 20th centuries that it could mobilize and defend itself. The iron law of wages would seem to function only if the supply of labor is infinite and totally mobile.

Unfortunately that day, for practical purposes, has now arrived, thanks to globalization.

Globalization is removing the constraints imposed in the past by societies possessing institutions, legislation, and the political will to protect workers.
If you have time read the entire piece as well as Sideshow's comments:
That'd be things like, oh, unions, for example, and laws that prevent import of goods produced under unacceptable worker conditions, and that old stand-by, import duties. Fantasies about free trade are all very nice, but if ultimately they mean stabilizing wages at subsistence globally, you're not doing much good with it for anyone but that small handful of nobility at the very top.
During the '90s you had all these economists who should know better claiming that the modern economy had somehow magically risen above everything that had gone before and that now there could be no down-cycle. And I said, "No. It doesn't work that way." And I was right. So now when economists are rhapsodizing about the wonders of free trade and how it will make everything better for us all, I'm again saying, "No."

Globalization is good if it means retaining high standards of treatment for workers at home and exporting those standards to other nations when we trade with them, but not if it means exporting American jobs without the encumbrance of those standards. You don't have to be a genius to work this out, you just have to be able to separate the hype from what you can see with your own eyes.


Chinese Coal Miner


I received this in the e-mail:
The first in the nation caucus was held in Santa Cruz on Saturday, January 10. It was a lot of fun with donkeys, bagpipes, banners, cheers... Congressman Sam Farr spoke at the event and noted that when Democrats form a firing squad, they form it in a circle.

Three candidates generated the most energy - Dean, Kucinich and, surprising, Clark. BUT... Dean won the vote of over 400 participants at 49%. Kucinich was 2nd with about 25% and Clark not far behind with about 21%. The remainder of the field garnered the remaining 5% of the vote.
Interesting that Kucinich didn't win! If you know Santa Cruz (Rasta Cruz to locals), you're as surprised as I am.

Announcing A New Group Blog - The American Street

the american street
We Are The Street Where You Live
by Kevin Hayden

Welcome to The American Street. Ours is not the typical street gang. Our neighborhood is larger.

Our gang is spread out from coast to coast. We come from many regions, from city streets and country roads, from every economic class. We are blue-collar, white-collar, self-employed and unemployed.

We are single, married and divorced. We have children and are childless. We attend church and we don't. We have advanced degrees, college and high school educations, and have dropped out of high school. We work, we play, we cry, we laugh, we love, we get angry and we work things out.

We love America. We love its freedoms and ideals, its achievements and possibilities. We live and breathe the American Dream and refuse to surrender it to anyone.

We might live in your neighborhood. Our hopes and dreams and fears and beliefs are likely not much different than yours. We are The American Street. Our opinions matter as much as yours, no more and no less.

We believe America can do better. Let's talk about how.
Please bookmark this weblog, and if you are a weblogger, please add it to your blogroll!

Go have a read, and return often. There will be new posts through each day, and there will be different people posting through the week.

Libertarians have to put up or shut up

How can any libertarian even consider voting for Bush?

Some of the ones I've talked to recently point out that the Democrats have given no strong signs of being much better than Bush on this issue. Be that as it may, however, it seems very unlikely that they're worse, and what the Bush administration is doing is totally unconscionable. (E.G. sending innocent suspects to Syria for torture, or holding an American citizen incommunicado without a lawyer for a full year, plus major changes in American law) And this is not just temporary state-of-emergency stuff -- they're permanently changing our whole legal system.

I obviously have an axe to grind. I'm not a libertarian, though I am a civil-libertarian liberal and have had problems supporting corporate Democrats who seem to be unaware of this kind of issue. Still, if the libertarians in this country don't at least vote for a Libertarian for President this year (but preferably the Democrat, of course) the whole libertarian movement should just pass out of existence and be forgotten. It's at critical turning points like this one that you find out whether someone's ideals are real or phony.

Leaving the ballot blank doesn't cut it. It says nothing and does nothing.

(Based on a comment I made on Brad Delong's site).

The Rational Conservative Republican: A Mythical Beast

What "conservativism" means today is a knee-jerk, partisan, anti-intellectual, faux-populist blend of Armageddon Christianity, anti-government rhetoric, homophobia, and chauvinist militarism (with a concealed neo-Confederate element).

If you read James Fallows at the Atlantic, or Lewis Lapham and John MacArthur at Harper's, you'll find that they are strongly anti-populist and don't really repeat the liberal pieties. Their fundamental ideas and their tone are conservative, but they all count as liberals, because of what American conservativism has become.

There's really no contradiction here. "Liberal" and "conservative" are nominal opposites in American politics, but the opposite of "liberal" is "repressive", and the opposite of "conservative" is "rash, radical, and adventurist". The Republicans today are neither liberal nor conservative.

In the arguments over the long-term consequences of Bush's ten-year tax plan, I've repeatedly heard conservatives argue that since economists cannot predict in any detail farther than a rather short time into the future (true), we should give no thought whatever to the long-term consequences of Bush's long-term plan. Elsewhere the notorious "Al" has argued that one single little order of magnitude isn't really very much. Complete idiocy.

I often wonder whether the idiot trolls who inhabit liberal blog comments are characteristic of the conservative movement. My belief is that they are. For them,arguing about politics is like arguing about football teams -- fling all the shit you can come up with and hope that some sticks. It isn't in their nature to listen or think.

Until I have reason to believe otherwise, I will remain convinced that the rational conservative Republican is an extinct or mythical beast. I expect the Tacituses and the Brookses and the Drezners ultimately to fall obediently in line behind Karl Rove, Tom Delay, Pat Robertson, and Grover Norquist.

(This post is adapted from a comment I made on Kevin Drum's site. One reader there cited two excellent articles by Fallows in the Atlantic, one from the summer of last year and one in the forthcoming issue.)