Expect a Terror Alert

President Bush is vacationing today, after a pleasant day yesterday joking around on the campaign trail.

Meanwhile the nightmare in Iraq has started to unfold. The Shias and the Sunnis are working together, there is fighting in seven or more different cities, and some of the Iraqi police we trained are joining the rebels.

Nothing Bush has said about the war has been true, and the planning for the occupation was insanely optimistic and unbelievably sloppy. How can anyone still support the guy?

In the Washington Post, Meyerson says what we've all been saying -- dump Bush. Even George Will seems shaken, as if he's starting to realize how worthless our President is. (Though all he really recommends is a delay in the fake transfer of sovereignty).

Bush has to counterattack, but he's running out of tricks. Expect the worst.

Meyerson -- Washington Post:

"The only unequivocally good policy option before the American people is to dump the president who got us into this mess, who had no trouble sending our young people to Iraq but who cannot steel himself to face the Sept. 11 commission alone."

George Will in the Washington Post:

"Not much else having gone as planned since the fall of Baghdad, a delay in the transfer of sovereignty, scheduled for June 30, should not be unthinkable. A delay would trigger violence. But, then, the transfer on schedule probably would be preceded by an offensive by the insurgents. The transfer is to be from the Coalition Provisional Authority, whose authority does not extend throughout the country. A U.S. official in Baghdad says Sadr will be arrested if he appears "any place that we control."


Pandagon: Corporate Taxation

I left a comment to this post: Pandagon: Corporate Taxation about whether companies pass taxes along to their customers: (ETMMLB)
Taxes are not a COST. You don't even know your taxes until the end of the year, after you figure your costs and revenues. THEN you compute your taxes. So you can't pass on your taxes to customers.

AND, if you did add something for taxes, what about your competitors? They don't have to, and that makes them more competitive because they aren't tacking on some extra price, so why would you add to the price?

AND if you are not optimally pricing your product... I mean, if you are not charging what you can get ALREADY you are n't doing a good job.

This argument that companies pass on their taxes to their customers is so silly.

A corporation SHOULD be taxed. Otherwise there is no reason for us to charter them. We let corporations do business (and give the stockholders benefits like limited liability) IN ORDER TO BENEFIT US. So if they make money, we tax them and have schools and stuff. Jeeze. How far have we been pushed by this right-wing stuff?
And now thinking about it, the people who really ARE taxed when corporations are taxed are the rich clucks who own most of the stock in corporations. So by convincing people not to tax corporations they're convincing the public to give the rich clucks a break and tax themselves instead. Nice work if you can get it.

What think you?

Iraq seems to be falling apart

I know that no one comes here for late-breaking news, but it's Tuesday afternoon and all hell has broken loose in Iraq. At least 20 coalition troops have died in the last 24 hours, and the uprisings seem to be by many different groups in at least 4 different places -- and the Fallujah offensive is continuing.

Juan Cole has speculated (and mild-mannered Kevin Drum seems to agree) that hawkish elements in the administration, sensing confusion (!!) at the top, have deliberately escalated military action in order to leave the relative doves in the State Department a fait accompli which would be hard to withdraw from -- Ariel Sharon's old "facts on the ground" trick.

I have never gone wrong so far in expecting the worst from the Bush administration. The worst we can see here would be continued escalation (with each American death being used as a reason for further escalation) coordinated with vicious domestic attacks on the patriotism of any American who criticizes or opposes the Bush plan. War is going to be the only thing Bush has to sell this fall, and a hot war of revenge would be easier to sell than the piecemeal war of attrition we have been seeing up until today.

I don't see any possible positive outcome in Iraq itself, but I can easily imagine that if the killing continues the Bush propaganda machine might be able to spin his disastrous failure into a heroic defense of freedom -- and re-election.

I was not active in the last three anti-war movements, and I only really opposed the second Iraq War. However, if we see Bush continuing to escalate the killing while demonizing his opponents and supercharging his election campaign, I think that the time to take to the streets wil have come.

Even if you never call your Congressman, call him now.





The Truth Really IS "Out There"

Cross-posted at The American Street.

The Bush campaign is marketing a candidate as a consumer product. Where Senator Kerry talks of "issues" and "has positions" the Bush campaign talks about "feelings and values" and avoids specifics. As a person with a marketing background I understand that the Bush approach is very effective. After all, his campaign is handled by the kind of people who sell tobacco, convincing people to kill themselves and hand over their money while doing it; they are very good at what they do. But as a citizen I blanch.
Sales and marketing is not about "truth," it's about forming an emotional attachment with a "brand." Consumers tend to make purchases seeking short-term emotional satisfaction rather than long-term value. They buy "brands" based on emotional things like a "new car smell" or because "nothing says loving like something form the oven." (Psychological studies show that this ad's target demographic -- homemakers -- feel they best express their love for their families by cooking or baking things for them. So instead of selling taste or ease-of-baking or other attributes, they sell "says loving.")

When we hear that Bush is trying to "define" Kerry, it means he is trying to establish a "brand identity" and an emotional attachment in the consumers' mind. (Negative emotions for Kerry, positive for Bush.) Bush is selling himself as the "low taxes, leadership" brand. Here's the key: in branding you only have to repeat it over and over, not actually be it, for the brand identity to stick. "Compassionate Conservative" is a great example of this. By repeating over and over that he was a "compassionate conservative" Bush BECAME that in the public mind. You don't have to BE it, you just have to SAY you're it. It works.

Unfortunately segments of the American public are increasingly trained to see themselves as consumers rather than citizens, so there we are. Bush blasts out another $10 million in ads funded by corporate special interests, and we see poll numbers move in his favor. (Bush is the "low taxes and leadership brand." Can you tell me what brand Kerry is?)

Just this morning in a Washington Post article about the Republican National Committee’s Ed Gillespie, we read the following:
"Gillespie's mission is stripped-down simple: He has a presidential election to win. You do that by having the most votes (okay, usually). To get the most votes, you expand your party. To expand your party, you make your message very clear, distilling policy until a voter can throw it down like a shot of whiskey."
And, of course, you repeat it over and over. And again.

Most of us see Bush ads saying Kerry will raise taxes, or won’t protect us from terrorists, and we are insulted, and we wonder how anyone can be stupid enough to believe this stuff. We know lies when we hear them, and we resent that they would think we are stupid enough to be tricked by such deceptions. (We know that the Bush smell is anything but "new car" -- not by a long, long shot.) But unfortunately many, many people are not as well-informed as we are, and are busy, and don't know much about Kerry or about politics in general, so these ads do have an effect. Keep this in mind: polls show that most people STILL believe that Iraq was responsible for 9/11! Meanwhile Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the Right are telling people not to believe any news other than FOX.

So the question is: How do we -- informed online blog-readers -- fight this? How do we do our part? We fight it with information. There is a tremendous power that comes from lots and lots of people with good information. And there are lots and lots of us. We must get more and more people connected to information and news sources that are willing to tell it like it is. There is a list of weblogs on the left side of this page, and every one of them is a great resource. (Start with BuzzFlash and go there every day.) Then we take our information out there and talk to people, and persuade them.

Note – I’m talking about us here, the well-informed, online, active people. In hi-tech marketing we would be called the "early adaptors" and "influencers." We still need -- more than ever -- the short, condensed, focus-group-tested sound-bytes that convey our message in a few words, designed to be repeated over and over. That must also be there for the general public, and for US to use as talking points. And that's the job of the professionals. (I hope they're working on this -- where's my talking points?)

Air America Radio is off to a great start, and I can feel the positive effect it has on our morale and our courage to FINALLY hear a counter to the incessant 24-hour 7-day right-wing pro-Republican propaganda. It is just so refreshing and I hope you are listening, too. (You can listen online from anywhere in the world by visiting their website.) One thing that I find very encouraging is that I am hearing them using bloggers as their pundits! Last week I heard Atrios, and Kos, and Josh Marshall on the air! This is a significant development because it further legitimizes what we are doing here, offering an alternative voice.

What've I Been Saying?

Ed the Quipper, about the head of the Republican National Committee:
"To get the most votes, you expand your party. To expand your party, you make your message very clear, distilling policy until a voter can throw it down like a shot of whiskey."
Bush is the "lower taxes, leadership" brand. Can anyone tell me what Kerry's short, simple message is?

Who Gets the Money?

Today columnist Bob Herbert writes, We're More Productive. Who Gets the Money?: "American workers have been remarkably productive in recent years, but they are getting fewer and fewer of the benefits of this increased productivity. "

Or, as I like to put it, Who is our economy FOR, anyway?


The Other Side of the Story

People complain that we at STF don't give the opposition a chance to be heard, so I've decided to offer equal time to "Al" (none@none.com), who diligently defends our President on The Washington Monthly comments board and elsewhere. The topic is the claim that the Republicans have been demanding that Bush and Cheney be questioned together because they're worried that Bush will embarass himself if he doesn't have a handler present.

I have deleted an unfortunate personal attack on Kevin Drum who, whatever he is, is a happily married man and in no sense a "fucking" liar.

Al speaks:

"This can easily be dealt with, and I'm confident that the President will do so in his usual masterful fashion.

Get Bush's toughest press critics together (yes, even the fearsome David Broder -- Bush isn't afraid of anyone.) Bring out the gum, pass it around so everyone knows that it's really gum. Have him put the gum in his mouth in such a way that everyone can clearly see it. Then have [him] walk across the room and back without falling down, and the whole controversy is over and done with.

And for a clincher, he can confidently and unerringly reach around and grab his butt with both hands, looking all of those bastards straight in the eye. A lot of people are going to have egg on their faces.

And the whole story will disappear. Just like the fake Plame controversy, and the fake WMD conbtroversy, and the fake cocaine controversy, and the fake AWOL controversy, and the fake drug bill controversy, and the fake "jobless recovery" controversy, and the fake Harken controversy, and the fake Halliburton controversy, and the fake Florida election controversy, and all the other BS that the Democratic conspiracy theorists have dreamed up in order to cripple a lawfully elected President who is proudly supported by over two-thirds of the American voters.

People say that Cheney is worried about the results of the gum-chewing photo-op and wants to videotape it just in case, but that's complete lying bullshit......"


I Haven't Been Posting Much

I haven't been posting much because I am working on a union research contract. We've got John Emerson and Richard and sometimes Thomas, and I'm looking for guest bloggers (any volunteers?) to fill the slack as well.



The word all the wingnuts must use to describe Air America Radio is "boring". On Crossfire yesterday, Tucker Carlson took care of his obligations to the talking points right off the bat. But he wasn't quite ready for Franken's answer. The whole place cracked up, even Bowtie Boy himself.

CARLSON: Al Franken, thanks for joining us.

Like all good liberals I spent a good part of my day listening to your show, "The O'Franken Factor." And I want to read back to you an exchange that took place between you and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

This is your pretty hard-hitting question. You said, quote, "Senator, you went to Iraq and Afghanistan right after Thanksgiving, right?"

"During Thanksgiving," said Mrs. Clinton.

Quote from you, "Tell us about that a bit."

Now here's my question. You're not simply liberal, but you're a partisan Democrat. Doesn't an exchange like this give people the impression that you're not going to be tough on Democrats, that you're essentially part of the establishment? That you're playing for a team and not for an idea? And isn't the result boring?

FRANKEN: I think that you took that out of context, because I said, I think you would have liked this better, because I think you left out, I said "Tell us a little bit about that, bitch."

Everything has changed

Avedon deconstructs:

While Journalistan was roaming around the dictionary after 9/11 declaring that "everything has changed," the administration, more than anyone, was acting like nothing had - nothing had changed even since 1987.

But Journalistan, too, was letting the Bushistas get away with this refusal to understand that terrorism is terrorism. "Everything has changed," apparently meant, "We don't have to make sense anymore." 9/11 didn't mean we could no longer make ICBMs our principal (and maybe only) fear, or that terrorism was independent of individual states, or that 9/11 could happen - oh, no. "Everything has changed" was never meant to apply to the means of warfare that might be used against us or what we understood about the way the world sees us. It didn't apply to anything outside of the purest partisan politics. It only meant that our attitudes toward George W. Bush were supposed to have changed - that suddenly we were supposed to believe he was a great president.

Bush's reputation has taken a hit

An earlier poll made it seem that the Clarke revelations were having no real effect on public opinion. This more recent CBS poll shows the opposite, and I think that the other poll was taken before the news had had time to sink in.

Counter-terrorism is really one of the few things Bush has to sell, and he really needs overwhelming support on this issue if he's going to be reelected.

"The latest CBS News poll, conducted Tuesday through Thursday, shows declines in the president's approval ratings in a number of policy areas, but especially changes in the evaluation of the president's handling of terrorism.

Six in ten Americans are following the hearings closely; 56 percent say the administration is cooperating with the panel. But what the administration is saying does not receives high marks: 59 percent say it is hiding something it knew before Sept. 11, and 11 percent even say it is lying. Only one in four think the administration is telling the entire truth.....

When asked whether Bush administration policies have made the U.S. safer from terrorism, 53 percent say they have – but that is a decline of nine points in two weeks."


I just sent my 2 cents to Air America Radio.

Subject: Two words

Mike Malloy.

OK, more than two words. Randi is great. The "stars" are marginal. You need something hot, talented and radio-competent, and there's only one other (besides Randi) host in the country who can bring what you need.

Do this: Kill the awful (sorry, but I don't know of anyone who can stand it) 7-8 show. Start Janeane at 7:00. Put on Mike for three hours at 10:00.

Are you serious or not?

Jobs in Portland Oregon?

I've been looking for a part-time job for the last while. I'd especially like a job doing writing, internet research or some kind of Democratic political work, but if I don't find that I will take almost anything. I need to earn $500-$1,000 / month one way or another.

Details here.