Merry Little Christmas Now

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
Next year all our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the yuletide gay
Next year all our troubles will be miles away

Once again as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Will be near to us once more

Someday soon, we all will be together
If the fates allow
Until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now.

Composed by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane in 1943.

[UPDATE: A comment motivated me to look harder for a complete online version of the original Judy Garland version. I found a fine take. It was recorded soon after the film for which it was written, Meet Me in St. Louis, became a big hit. So presumably the lyrics are accurate. I changed two words above to reflect the lyrics as sung.]

DNC Chair

Read this and tell me is this isn't the right person for the job!

Social Security Issue Guide: Facts at a Glance

Social Security Issue Guide: Facts at a Glance

Happy Howlidays from the Johnsons!

Happy Howlidays from the Johnsons!

- Dave and Sudeep and Buddy and Espresso

The back of this card reads: Published by DoggiePaw, Inc., Subsidiary of BarkMore, Offices in Dog Bed, New Howlton, Copyright: Botticelli 1549, Card by Sudeep

Boycott The Right's Funders!

Corporations are some of the core funders of the Republicans and the Right. They have paid no price for doing this while the rewards – removal of environmental, health and safety regulations, tax beaks, government subsidies, outright crony contacts – have been great. But there is a way to hold them accountable and make them pay a price for acting against the interests of the public-at-large.

The owner of the Curves fitness and weight-loss centers for women also funds the worst of the anti-women, anti-abortion right. When word got out about this, many women chose not to do business with them. Now a new campaign takes this to a national level bringing us a way to show corporations and their shareholders that there is a price to pay after all.

The "Buy Blue" and "Choose the Blue" campaigns offer us a way to work to convince corporations that there is a price to pay for meddling with democracy and funding the Right. These websites show which companies have been supporting the Republican Party. If you truly feel that the Republicans and the Right and their lies are bad for the country, you can hit back at some of their big-money supporters by learning who they are and taking your business elsewhere.

So spread the word, publicize this, encourage it. BUY BLUE and CHOOSE THE BLUE! Boycott the funders of the Right. MAKE THEM PAY A PRICE.

Over time this will show corporate boardrooms that there is a price for funding the Republican Party and the Right. Eventually shareholders will ask why tens and hundreds of millions of dollars are going to politics instead of into shareholder pockets.

(Burnt Orange Report was on the Curves story earlier this year.)


Addressing Holiday Cards

Every holiday card we have received was addressed to "Dave and Sudeep Johnson" -- even the ones from my wife's friends. How come they didn't address those to "Sudeep and Dave Johnson?"

Social Security

Social Security runs a huge surplus, which is put into government bonds. In the 2000 election Al Gore said this money should be kept in a "lockbox," to pay back the bonds when Social Security needs it. Instead Bush said this surplus was "your money" and gave it out as tax cuts for the rich.

That tax cut WAS "your money" and it was supposed to be in safe keeping until you needed it for your retirement. Instead Bush and his cronies got their hands on it.

In 2018 Social Security stops running a surplus and needs that money to pay YOU or your parents. Bush doesn't have it because it went to tax cuts for the rich, and says that because of this Social Security is "in crisis." So we need to cut benefits, etc. But saying this 2018 problem is because of Social Security is like blaming the bank when you don't have enough to pay your mortgage payment this month, and insisting that the bank lay off employees so they won't need your money.

Jesse Jackson used to say, "get the money FROM where the money WENT."

Spread the word. Watch your backs.


Thomas Friedman writes a pretty good column in the Times today, Worth a Thousand Words:
"... There is much to dislike about this war in Iraq, but there is no denying the stakes. ... this is a war between some people in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world who - for the first time ever in their region - are trying to organize an election to choose their own leaders and write their own constitution versus all the forces arrayed against them.

[. . .] However this war started, however badly it has been managed, however much you wish we were not there, do not kid yourself that this is not what it is about: people who want to hold a free and fair election to determine their own future, opposed by a virulent nihilistic minority that wants to prevent that. That is all that the insurgents stand for.

[ . . . ] What is terrifying is that the noble sacrifice of our soldiers, while never in vain, may not be enough. We may actually lose in Iraq. The vitally important may turn out to be the effectively impossible."
Yes, those are the "facts on the ground" now -- thanks to Bush. We caused this horrible situation -- even more horrible for the people in Iraq than for our troops there -- and we have to try to help them form a government now, and work to calm things down. But then Friedman gets it entirely wrong, buying into right-wing framing:
"We may lose because most Europeans, having been made stupid by their own weakness, would rather see America fail in Iraq than lift a finger for free and fair elections there."
The Europeans and others are not refusing to help in Iraq, they are refusing to help when the offer is entirely on Bush's terms! The Europeans are not buying into the typical Republican trick of offering their solution and then casting anyone who won't do it their way as obstructionist.


A Blue State Christmas at the Chattanooga Choo Choo

Patrick O’Heffernan

I had to sit down one night this week and let the memories flow as a I opened Christmas ornaments and found frosted white globes with an old- time steam engine and the words Chattanooga Choo Choo” on them. My family spent Christmases in the ‘90’s at the Choo Choo Hotel built in the stately old turn-of-the-century railroad station in Chattanooga. We loved its magical Christmas world with a tree so tall you had to crane your neck to see the angel on its tip, trains in the frosty garden, and the Elf “tuck-in service” for our children in the Victorian Pullman Car rooms.

Before checking in, we would visit the Tennessee Aquarium, whose twin-pyramid design rivals even the Monterrey Aquarium. After a stroll through the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame where we goggled at the ingenuity of early truck builders, we would head to Rock City. Advertised on barns throughout the South, this mountain wonderland sounded hokey to my sophisticated San Francisco ears until I saw the shine in children’s’ eyes as they raced through the painted rocks and played hide and seek around the plaster Mother Goose figures.

The hotel staff often blessed us when we registered and there were prominent lists of local churches and even the occasional offer of directions to a Sunday service. But the blessings and the directions were presented with generosity, not superiority. Other guests I talked with in the dinning car spoke easily of the approaching birthday of their Lord, Jesus Christ. Their spirit was welcoming even when we talked politics from different sides. There was no animosity, even when I spoke of my brother-in-law singing in the San Francisco Gay Mens Chorus or my Buddhist beliefs. We disagreed on some things, but felt the same magic of Christmas and the Choo Choo.

How different these memories are from the lies I hear today from the Alliance Defense Fund that pubic schools have banned Christmas symbols. How different they are from Bill O’Reilly falsely telling his Daily News audience that store clerks not wishing customers “Merry Christmas” is a plot to force gay marriage, partial birth abortion and legalized drugs on everyone. How different they are from Newt Gingrich charging imaginary Liberal zealots with turning Christmas into a godless shopping day.

The Right Wing message machine has done deep damage to American democracy. It has fooled the media into believing that its version of “morals” – one based on oppression of gays and women – is the only correct one, and fooled us into believing that is why Progressives lost the election when polls say otherwise. So we are now building our own message machine to reframe morals as Christ – the object of the season’s celebrations regardless of one’s beliefs - intended them, that is, the obligation to care for our brothers and sisters. We are repairing the holes in the wall protecting church and state from one another. We are expanding our constituencies, building new leaders, and taking back our nation.

But as we do this, we must appreciate the values of the staff at the Choo Choo who offer blessings even to unchurched Northerners, and the families enjoying Rock City after worship services, and the pride of Frank Thomas, Manager of the Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame, in showing people daily life in simpler times. We must appreciate the people of Chattanooga who dared to build one of the nation’s finest aquariums in a declining steel town after the Federal government abandoned them. And we must listen to Fred Denson of the Tennessee Military Department , who welcomes even liberal trial lawyers as volunteers to fight corporations denying returning troops their jobs back.

The Right Wing propaganda machine has damaged them also. It has taken their values of hospitality and neighborliness and turned them into tribalism and suspicion. It has robbed them of their open hearts and tried to slam shut their open minds. And it has stolen their jobs, their security, and their futures while it gives them only false hopes and promises of Armageddon in return.

But it is hard for Progressives – and Conservatives – to see our common humanity in the face of the daily damage being done to us both by the radicals running the Right. The 2004 election was a brutal battle in what appears to be an unending ideological war. But unending war is democracy’s worst enemy. Somehow, while we are fighting the Right’s leaders to take back our nation, we must learn to celebrate our common values with the people of America’s heartland, with people in places like Chattanooga. We don’t yet know how to do that, but Christmas at the Choo Choo is a good place to start.

Wait A Minute!


EU Orders MS Windows Split

Here's how a system less hampered by corruption handles things. But in the United States, after Microsoft had already been found guilty in the courts, a new "business friendly" (friendly to the businesses paying them, too bad for other businesses) administration comes in and lets them off the hook! The result has been very little investment in competing products, and little innovation by Microsoft. (In fact, it goes backwards -- my laptop crashes all the time since I installed XP Service Pack 2. Running the Firefox browser has reduced the crashes somewhat.)

Hear, Hear! (+ "Happy Holidays")

I'll be doing Christmas and family things from now until about January 6, and I'll be sharing one dialup with 10-20 people so posting will be sparse. Until then, happy holidays! (Yeah, I used to say "Merry Christmas" in my scroogy, grinchish way, but the illiberal media have given me my marching orders!)

I've updated this thing twice, so I'm moving it forward on the queue. #1 and #2 are bitches about the Dems, and #3 is a recognition of how tough a row it really is that we have to hoe.

"But what makes me angry was Kerry and his gang's inability to take advantage of the situation. I may regret saying this later, but fuck it -- they should be lined up and shot." -- Kos

I was a reasonably good sport during the campaign, and I agree now that we should try to avoid the circular firing squad, but there should be some accountability. Losing with a cautious, compromising campaign leaves you with nothing to work with. If Kerry had won that way, we'd still have the Clinton problem -- no real mandate. But he lost, and we take nothing away from the campaign but a reputation for weakness.

According to Newsweek, Kerry, Edwards, and Cleland all wanted to strike back at the Swiftboat smears, but the pros in the campaign stopped them. Democratic Party pros are such a bunch of preshrunk losers. You don't really need to bother with the election if you've got them working for you. (Thanks to Yuval at The Left Coaster.)

In the New York Review of Books Mark Danner shows how the Bush campaign won via fear, the cult of personality, groupthink, and flooding the media. He doesn't dot the I's and cross the T's, but it's scary. He points out that the key Bush voters voted on the basis of Iraq and terrorism -- and that the majority of these voters, including well-educated professionals, were misinformed about Iraq and terrorism. Danner's story shows the Bush campaign successfully selling Bush as strong, and successfully labelling Kerry as weak. (Via Tomdispatch)

Danner also points out that the Democrats' job during wartime may have been impossibly hard, since the divided party made it difficult for Kerry to present a strong stand on Iraq one way or the other. From that point of view, especially given the media flood he describes, neither Kerry nor the pros can entirely be blamed.


The Perranoski Prizes

Supplementing the Koufax blog awards, The Perranoski Prizes. Go nominate.

Starving Hysterical Naked

Angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,

who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz,

who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs illuminated,

who passed through universities with radiant eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the scholars of war,

who were expelled from the academies for crazy & publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull,

who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burning their money in wastebaskets and listening to the Terror through the wall

What the FUCK is he talking about?

Free polls from Pollhost.com

Last Chance To Nominate

Wampum: Koufax Awards Nominations Closing

The Smut-Vendor Party

Terry Neal, in GOP Corporate Donors Cash In on Smut:
"In this world of irony, corporate leaders at companies as diverse as News Corp., Marriott International and Time Warner can profit by selling red state consumers the very material that red state culture is supposed to despise. Those elites then funnel the proceeds to the GOP, which in turn has used the money to successfully convince red state voters that the other political party is solely responsible for the decline of the civilization.

[. . .] It's almost impossible to get a handle on how much money corporate America is reaping by peddling smut. General Motors Corp. is not eager to brag about how many dirty movies it sold last year through a subsidiary.

[. . .] On one hand, Fox News employs commentators who promote the connection between Republicans and family values while other divisions of the company profit from sexually explicit content."
Rather than quote any more, I ask you to go read the whole, excellent article.

So, the big Repubican donors push the stuff into the Red states and then the Republicans claim that the elitist, immoral liberals are responsible for it. They're accusing others of what THEY are doing.

It's like a perpetual motion machine. They make problems worse, and then ask voters to support them because only they can clean up the problems. They used to use crime this way - they'd be the "lawn odor" party (law and order) and crime would always get worse when they were in office. Since they are the lawn odor party, this means they get MORE votes. Same for fiscal responsibility: they say Democrats are the spenders, then get into office and spend like crazy, running up the debt. How about the party of defense, let us get attacked, and start wars. How many more examples can you find?


More on Obama

My post about Obama's book deal pissed of a lot of people. I said he shouldn't have accepted a $1.9 million advance on a book deal (from a German media conglomerate) because politicians accepting money outside of their salary breeds public distrust.

I was not accusing him of accepting a bribe. I don't for a minute think it was a bribe. But I do think it sets a poor example. Several said he needs to money to get by in Washington. Others say he earned the huge advance because he already wrote one best-selling book. So let me point out that if he already has a best-selling book out there, then he doesn't need more money to live in Washington. He is going to be very busy as a freshman Senator, but is now obligated to write two books.

Look at the example set by Terry McAuliffe - not even an elected official. How much of his good work was undercut by the millions he made from telecom stock (for which he paid only $100K)? More to the point, how much of our criticism of Republicans for their part of the telecom and Enron stock frauds was undercut by it. Directly to the point: We certainly can't criticize any Republican politicians for taking money now, can we?

Here's a role model for politicians: Jerry Brown. Elected California Governor in 1974, Brown refused to stay in the Governor's mansion and slept in a rented apartment, on a mattress on the floor. He refused to use the Governor's limousine and drove around in a state-owned Plymouth.

Update - It is against the rules of the House of Representatives for members to accept advances for book deals. The Congressional Accountability Project is trying to get the Senate to follow. Regarding Obama's advance:
A Congressional watchdog group still raised questions about the deal, noting that Crown Publishers is owned by Bertelsmann AG, a publishing, music and broadcasting giant with interests before Congress. "There's a large potential conflict of interest here," said Gary Ruskin, of the Congressional Accountability Project. "What's happening is that the enormous media conglomerate Bertelsmann AG is putting a huge check in the pocket of senator- elect Obama for no work done."

Great minds think alike

Either Simon Rosenberg has been listening to Dave, or else Dave has been plagiarizing Rosenberg:

As NDN has been discussing for the past several years, the modern Republican political machine has redefined politics as we know it. Years of investing billions of dollars in their infrastructure have created a vast and complex web of multimillion dollar operations which include think tanks, for-profit media outlets like Fox News, traditional political advocacy groups and, in recent years, a very healthy and strategic set of national, state and local party organizations.

The Republicans understand the division of labor required to run such a political empire, and have a diversified set of leaders to build and manage their affairs - spokesmen like Bush, Colin Powell, Bill Frist, Rudy Giuliani, and Arnold Schwarzenegger; strategists like Karl Rove, Ralph Reed, Grover Norquist; managers like Roger Ailes, Ed Gillespie and Ken Mehlman; intellectuals like those at Heritage, Cato and the dozens of other local and state think tanks; propagandists like Rush Limbaugh and Matt Drudge; and investors like the Coors and Scaife families.
(NDN, quoted on Kos)

Musings (Ramblings) On Why We Lost

This piece went by among many others on election night, but I think it is worthy of calling out for attention. I was working at MSNBC and had been thinking about this all day. I put it up about 8:30 Eastern time.
Republican "Silent But Deadly" Ground Operation
As well as Bush does tonite, The Republican Get-Out-The-Vote operation is much of the reason. Some facts about the Bush ground operation: (Sorry I had to put this together hastily...)

- Bush GOTV budget $125 million
- Pennsylvania, volunteers made 1.8 million calls last week compared to 415,000 in 2000.
- Washington State, GOP mailed out 1.2 million absentee ballots, up 53% from 2000
- And in WA volunteers contacted 200,000 homes last weekend
- Bush campaign contacting 400,000 people a day in Ohio
- In PA Bush campaign plan to contact 2 million voters since Friday
- Four years ago, Bush employed 22 paid staff members in Florida. This year, he has 500 on the payroll.
- Bush campaign Florida goal was 6,600 volunteers, instead they recruited 15,000
- RNC paying travel, hotel & food for at least 5,000 loyalists working in battleground states
- Minn - GOP contacting 1 million with freshly-refined database
- Chamber of Commerce claims to have registered 500,000 new GOP in corporations
- Chamber hopes to "reach" 20 million employees.
- Chamber/BIPAC membership was 50 corporations, now 500
- Oregon GOP 22,000 volunteers "largely hidden from view" "keeping their plans under wraps" and "silent but deadly"
- Iowa, GOP making 32,000 voter contacts each week
The details behind those blurbs are available at the link. I think the really important stealth GOTV effort was the Chamber's operation within businesses -- there's an unconscious intimidation factor when your employer asks you to do something. And there's loyalty, group dynamics like acceptance...

I think this is one of many factors.

Message (lack of) was the most important, in my opinion. Kerry just didn't have a message. And then they would suddenly come up with some message and use it for about a week and drop it and move on to a new one. The Bush campaign (actually the infrastructure of "conservative movement" organizations that underlies and controls The Party now...) had their message ready maybe two years before the election. They pounded out the same message every day. The message on the last day of the campaign was the same as on the first day.

AM radio as a 24-hour-7-day ever-ongoing Republican Party advertisement/Democrat-bashing machine was a crucial factor. Ask any marketing person the value of having all the stations relentlessly broadcasting your message. It sinks in.

There's one other major factor that I haven't seen very much written about, which I'll be writing about soon. This is the massive Republican "insfrastructure" effort, consisting of the think tanks, supposedly "independent" non-profit organizations, etc. These organizations are supposed to be non-partisan but actually spend all of their time engaged in activities to promote the Republican Party. This is a huge multi-billion dollar effort that goes on OUTSIDE of the election cycle, while aiming it's entire effect at the election process. This effort goes on full-time, all the time, and it is long-term. The book The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America sums up this process in a passage describing the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation as long-term intellectual and short-term legislative-focused operations respectively:
"This allows for a two-pronged assault on liberal orthodoxy. The AEI softens up the liberal establishment with long-range bombing; Heritage then sends in the ground troops to capture the territory and convert it into a conservative fief."
More on that later, but I think this is a major, largely-unrecognized factor in the last election.

Update - Jeeze, I left out something important. About a year ago I was at a presentation by Ellen Malcolm of ACT where she said the plan was to use the Media Fund's ads to make the election close in the swing states, and the GOTV effort to tip the scales. Well, this brings to mind the Republican strategy -- use lies and smears to make the election close, then use voter suppression and intimidation to drive it home. Like how Ohio Democratic precincts did not get enough voting machines, and had four-hour lines, while Republican precincts had 10-minute waits.