Wednesday, July 02, 2003
"I Gotcher Baathist Resistence For Ya, Right Here"
"There are some who feel like that conditions are such that they can attack us there," Bush told reporters at the White House. "My answer is bring them on. We have the force necessary to deal with the situation."
Oooh. Time to hose down all those panting Bush fans again. You know how they get when Commander Codpiece gets all manly 'n shit. Especially when he's inviting attacks on American soldiers. That is so cool. I bet it skeers all those cowardly lil' Arabs half to death to hear a big tuff Murikan prezdunt call 'em out like that.
It reminds me of when he drunkenly drove up on the front lawn of the family home and challenged his father to fight him "mano a mano." That's what real men --- cowboys --- do.
Makes you proud to be an American.
digby 7/02/2003 10:44:00 AM
Monday, June 30, 2003
Oh Ricky You're So Fine
Researchers at the University of Georgia conducted an experiment involving 35 homophobic men and 29 nonhomophobic men as measured by the Index of Homophobia scale. All the participants selected for the study described themselves as exclusively heterosexual both in terms of sexual arousal and experience.
Each participant was exposed to sexually explicit erotic stimuli consisting of heterosexual, male homosexual and lesbian videotapes (but not necessarily in that order). Their degree of sexual arousal was measured by penile plethysmography, which precisely measures and records male tumescence.
Men in both groups were aroused by about the same degree by the video depicting heterosexual sexual behavior and by the video showing two women engaged in sexual behavior. The only significant difference in degree of arousal between the two groups occurred when they viewed the video depicting male homosexual sex: 'The homophobic men showed a significant increase in penile circumference to the male homosexual video, but the control [nonhomophobic] men did not.'
And the minute the horny homophobes left the room, they ran right out and engaged in some heavy man-on-dog action (and I'm not talking about the missuz.)
Gay sex is one of those "gateway" things, dontcha know.
digby 6/30/2003 06:01:00 PM
Democratic Majority Will
"Let me be clear that I have nothing against homosexuals, or any other group, promoting their agenda through normal democratic means...every group has the right to persuade its fellow citizens that its view of such matters is the best ... But persuading one's fellow citizens is one thing, and imposing one's views in absence of democratic majority will is something else."
That is a beautiful thing, yes? Justice Scalia does not believe in imposing one's views in the absence of democratic majority will. If you can't persuade one's fellow citizens of something then you just shouldn't impose your will on them. That's what it's all about.
But, I sure wish that Nino would have given us a little clue as to how we ought to determine that all-important "will of the majority," because his decisions and the actions of his political allies make it a bit difficult to know how it's supposed to be done these days.
We know that gaining a half a million vote plurality in a national election is completely irrelevant to any determination of a winner on a logical, legal or moral basis. One should never let something simple like that get in the way of anachronistic rules of centuries gone by as a way of informing themselves as to the democratic majority will.
We also know that even the traditional way of determining the democratic majority will --- counting all the votes --- is not acceptable because it could irreparably harm one of the party's claim to have won. It's going to be tough from now on to win a disputed election because that irreparable harm thing is pretty much inevitable in any contest where a winner and loser are determined.
And if Bush vs. Gore taught us one thing it's that arbitrary rules and conflicting deadlines are sacrosanct when determining the will of the democratic majority prior to the votes being completely counted.
However, if a party does not like the democratic majority will after the election has been determined, it is perfectly acceptable to remove elected officials through partisan impeachments, recalls and ad hoc gerrymandering.
Nino and his allies believe that democratic majority will should be respected above all other things.
Except when it comes to elections.
digby 6/30/2003 03:28:00 PM
The Company He Keeps
I can't help but feel just a little bit sorry for Justice Clarence Thomas. Clearly, he feels ashamed that his appointment to the Supreme Court is seen in the same light that many see other forms of affirmative action policies. Indeed, one can assume that certain people see his appointment as being the fulfillment of an African American quota, which can only be deeply embarrassing to an extreme conservative such as he.
However, he needs to ask himself whether the problem is the policy or the company he keeps.
In the liberal circles I inhabit, I can't say that anyone assumes that African Americans or hispanics or women are somehow less qualified for the jobs they do. That stigma certainly doesn't apply in politics or the professions. If I even made note of the fact that say, an airline pilot was black, I would probably assume that he had been trained by the military as are most commercial pilots. I wouldn't assume that he was less qualified than others.
My doctor is an African American woman. It never occurred to me to think that she got into medical school, and managed to graduate cum laude, complete a residency at Johns Hopkins and teach at a major medical center without somebody, somewhere, flunking her out if she started killing patients. But, I guess that's just me.
Liberals, being the standardless relativists that we are, don't judge people on the basis of whether they are a different color or gender. That's one of our things, you know? Our assumption is that if you might need help in getting into college, you surely aren't going to be able to graduate and succeed in the world beyond that if you can't deliver. In fact, I would argue that most liberals believe that women and racial minorities have to be better than others in order to achieve the same things --- they are cut much less slack, overall.
We don't hate Thomas because he's black or because he was a recipient of affirmative action. We hate him because he's an extreme right wing radical who nonetheless claims the mantle of racial victimhood and uses it dishonestly in the service of bigotry. Instead of recognizing that the same old racists are using the epithet "affirmative action admission" as a way of saying that racial minorities are inferior, he blames those who are trying to mitigate that bigotry by developing systems like affirmative action.
If Clarence finds himself feeling ashamed of being the beneficiary of affirmative action then Clarence needs to take up the issue with those who really do see racial minorities as being less qualified because of it. He, of all people, is in a unique position to have a long chat with those in his social circle who mutter "typical affirmative action type" under their breaths and fret to their friends down at the club about the new hispanic lawyer their law firm was "forced" to hire. Because I can guarantee that it isn't the liberals who are saying these things. It's Thomas' best friends and closest colleagues.
I can understand why he might get the impression that everybody thinks that racial minorities are "given" sinecures and special treatment because that's the way itit's perceived in the insular right wing world in which he lives. He needs to take it up with Nino, Rush, Bill and Newt at the next bar-b-que.
They're the ones with the problem, Clarence, not us.
Update: He probably should start by taking a little walk down the hall to Big Bill's office. Via Atrios, we see how old Bill felt about that wonderful highlight of American jurisprudence "Plessy vs. Ferguson." Clarence needs to give his good friend a piece of his mind, if he's truly concerned about how African Americans are "perceived" in our society.
Atrios' link is bloggered. Scroll down to Rhenquist 1952 from Sunday.
digby 6/30/2003 01:59:00 PM
Friday, June 27, 2003
Kos has an interesting post up today about the military and it’s political leanings. He says:
First of all, most military people I served with (and I was in a combat arms unit -- artillery) were apolitical. I served overseas, so perhaps the hassle of voting absentee made people less likely to participate, but in any case most people didn't bother voting.
Of those who did vote, there were three blocs -- the officer corps, which was very Republican, the southern gun-culture whites, who were also Republican, and the northern whites, all African-Americans, and all Latinos, who were Democrats.
But there's a shift -- an important one -- amongst the top military brass. These are men and women who appreciate the social benefits bestowed upon our servicemembers -- benefits like housing and food and an aggressive affirmative action program that ensures we maintain the best trained, highest morale fighting force in the world. They do not appreciate GOP efforts to curtail such programs in the "real" world.
Generals Shinseki and Clark are the highest profile examples of this new outspoken breed of left-leaning top brass, but they are not alone.
I think the reason why the officer corps might be moving toward the Democrats is that, aside from the fact that, as Kos says, they are, “sick and tired of constant deployment, and see the damage that perpetual (and unnecessary) war causes with troop morale, reenlistment rates, and the general well-being of their troops,” they are also an inherently conservative group.
Their belief system requires a fealty to tradition, rules and personal honor. They might not be entirely happy with civilian cultural norms, but they have respect for the democratic system and over time they have come to accept the necessity for diversity and cultural change as part of their own military tradition. Along with a large part of the country and the world, the American military recognizes that a commitment to racial and gender equality and an appreciation for basic social services and educational opportunity is no longer an experiment in social change but an accepted bedrock conservative value --- a just and honorable tradition, made from well over half a century of successful implementation.
What is not a conservative value is dishonest, PR-style, opaque communication and lack of accountability. The military does not function well in a system of swirling, circular logic and post-modern cognitive relativism. The “War Show” is not Reality TV to these guys. It’s just plain old reality.
Therefore, it is unsurprising that you would see quite a few in the military being very disconcerted by what the modern Republican party is becoming. These are people who are actually conservative --- and the Republican Party just isn’t. They are radicals.
Kos points out an editorial in the The Army Times (subscriber only) that begins like this:
Nothing but lip service
(Issue Date: June 30, 2003)
In recent months, President Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress have missed no opportunity to heap richly deserved praise on the military. But talk is cheap -- and getting cheaper by the day, judging from the nickel-and-dime treatment the troops are getting lately.
This is a case where no amount of spinning and plausible deniability can deny to any individual service member that they are personally getting screwed.
I agree with Kos that this is an exceptionally good issue for the Democrats. I can’t imagine that Americans really believe that it is patriotic to give tax cuts to millionaires while failing to adequately provide for these guys and their families. If the citizens of this country do not find that kind of trade-off offensive, particularly when the President assumes the mantle of military leader as if he’s Ike and Black Jack Pershing rolled into one, then we are so far gone in delusional, irrational thinking that it may just be hopeless.
digby 6/27/2003 04:54:00 PM
Thursday, June 26, 2003
The Secret Of His Success
In this article, it is said that noted herbalist and cultural observer Michael Savage Weiner writes in his bestselling book "Weiner’s Herbal,” that when you are feeling a little bit peaked, a little bit low --- and your dietary supplement, KavaAndroPhedraTest doesn’t get the blood pumping like it used to, a coffee enema might be in order.
According to Modern Manna, a prayer group and coffee enema web-site, "a coffee enema, when done properly, causes the liver to produce more bile, opens the bile ducts, and causes the bile to flow. In this process, a toxic liver can dump many of its toxins into the bile and get rid of them in just a few minutes."
There are many ways to mix your “backdoor pick-me-up,” but Savage Weiner's personal ingredient preference, and that which he says is the most important, are the high quality beans picked by child sex slaves in the Brazilian jungle. (The beans aren't any better, but he likes to support the productive corporate coffee producers who make their economy run efficiently.) And, needless to say, he does recommend that you cool that cup ‘o java down to less than 100 degrees (although “some like it hot.” )
There is one tiny little side-effect, however. He admits that if you repeatedly give yourself 10 to 15 coffee enemas a day, you may get addicted to the unusual “caffeine rush,” and then your liver begins to expell toxic right wing bile which you will fell compelled to spew in public. Sadly, the truly hooked often hit bottom and end up doing it in front of cameras purely for money. Apparently, they compulsively watch and listen to each other. Indeed, an entire industry exists to service this bizarre obsession.
Oddly, despite their strong stand against mind altering drugs, every single member of the Republican caucus in Washington refused to allow hearings about the growing caffeine enema crisis in rural America. Evidence suggests that the CE epidemic rivals the crystal meth and oxycontin problems throughout the Heartland, but oddly seems to be most prevalent around the Washington DC beltway, thus explaining the unusual number of Starbucks outlets in an area so proud of its “common touch” and connection with “real Americans.”
The only CE issue the congress acted upon was the so-called DeLay/Hatch “jitters” bill, which changed the name of French Roast cafe to Freedom Roast Java. (It passed the House handily, but required a very bright-eyed and fast-talking Vice President to break the tie in the Senate after midnight. It remains in conference where it is said that Folgers lobbyists have repeatedly passed their $150 “gift” limit. The “caffeine-conferees” as they are called, are determined to bring a bill to the president by labor day if they have to stay up night after night hashing out the differences.)
Weiner admits that coffee enemas are not for everyone. In fact, they are really only helpful for middle aged white males who are looking for new careers in the media or politics but are physically repulsive and have no talent. These are the people that CE’s are designed to help. For everyone else, Caveat Emptor.
And, take a pass on the non-dairy creamer. Real men take it strong and black.
digby 6/26/2003 04:29:00 PM
Tuesday, June 24, 2003
What The Hell?
Abbas said that at Aqaba, Bush promised to speak with Sharon about the siege on Arafat. He said nobody can speak to or pressure Sharon except the Americans.
According to Abbas, immediately thereafter Bush said: "God told me to strike at al Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them."
Gee, I wonder if he could fit in smiting world hunger and revealing a cure for male pattern baldness before the debates?
And, in what form do you suppose these messages from God come, anyway? Stone tablets? Vivid dreams? Memos from Karl Rove's office?
This must be a test of some sort...
Check out the Burning Bush at Rushlimbaughtomy.
digby 6/24/2003 06:44:00 PM
Commander Codpiece is shamelessly running on his "success" in the War on Terror.
As those smarter than I have already suggested, perhaps it's time we turned the tables on their lying asses.
You want to run on the war, Maverick? Then maybe you would like to explain to the American people how they're supposed to feel so safe in your big, manly embrace when you obviously let a bunch of terrorists run off with the makings of dirty bombs and huge amounts of fully weaponized bio-chem WMD, right under your nose.
At least we knew where they were when Saddam was in power, didn't we Colin?
C'mon Condi, you assured us quaking Muricans that if we took out Saddam that we'd be keeping the weapons out of the hands of terrorists. Are you going to try to convince us that it was worse to have them in the hands of Saddam than to NOT KNOW WHO HAS THEM OR WHERE THEY ARE?
So, where the fuck are the weapons?
We know Saddam and Osama are on the run and we're smokin' 'em out of their caves and all, but let's hope they haven't been able to stash those"thousands of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, sarin nerve gas, VX nerve gas" that we knew were in Iraq right before the war. We already have evidence that the spent uranium that the IAEA had carefully catalogued and kept under lock and key was looted by somebody while American troops just stood outside the gates and watched. What happened to it? (Ever heard of a suitcase bomb, Junior? Even a little one sure could make a mess of shopping mall or an office building.)
Who but TRAINED TERRORISTS could waltz around an Arab country in the middle of a war and steal a bunch of unconventional weapons, huh Rummy? It's looking pretty damned likely that bin Laden and Saddam, whose organizations the administration claimed had been meeting for over a decade, and both of whom are also missing, are together in a cave somewhere with a bunch of lethal weapons preparing their next attack on America. How could you have let this happen?
Thanks, folks. Thanks a lot. If this is what the Republicans call "Mission Accomplished" you've got to wonder which side they're actually on.
*I'm serious, here. We will get nowhere by trying to take these guys down with standard logical arguments. They are not playing by those rules and we can no longer afford to. The NY Times is now saying openly that lying is just a form of selling an idea to the public (as long as it isn't about consensual sex.)
Okey dokey. So, just as we should start using the phrases "Bush's economic plan," "dangerous" and "socialism" in the same breath, we should use their wartime propaganda to our advantage -- "Saddam and al Qaeda," missing WMD", "dirty suitcase bomb," "on the run."
Over half the country believes (or pretends they believe) that al Qaeda were in cahoots with Saddam and that Iraq was crawling with nukes and bio-chem weapons before the war -- because these guys made that case. By taking them at their word and asking the obvious questions that follow, they either have to admit they lied or explain why the public shouldn't be worried that the weapons --- and the evil ones who hate us, Saddam and Osama --- are all unaccounted for.
These guys are 100% in charge. What do they now propose to do about all these unconventional weapons and America-hating terrorists that are now on the loose because we invaded Iraq and obviously didn't have any clue about how we were going to secure them?
Bush is running as the flyboy hero who is winning the War on Terrorism.
Well now, that all depends on how you look at it, doesn't it?
digby 6/24/2003 05:52:00 PM
Holding Out For A Hero To Emerge
I got a lot of mail this morning from people criticizing my alleged fickelness for writing positive posts about Clark, Dean and Edwards.
Just so you know, I may very likely write positive articles about every other candidate, as well. In this election I'm not going to bash any Democrats (unless they do something really egregious.) I'm not interested, at this point, in any more hand-wringing about the Party and I don't feel like indulging in self-flaggelation. Winners aren't self-loathing.
We Democrats don't annoint our candidates in the smoke filled boardroom of the Carlyle Group the way the Republicans do. Our primaries are real. They are an open field for every candidate to make his or her case. It's rough and tumble and often self-defeating, but at least it's democratic. Normally, I'm up for the fight, but this time I'm looking at it differently.
I have, in years gone by, worked for candidates in the primaries. I was a big supporter of Hart in both 84 and 88. And, I liked Clinton early, too. I was never entirely focused on the general election in those cases. Instead I was focused on the candidate himself, the direction of the party, laying the groundwork for the future and developing an overall political strategy. In other words, I was being a good citizen, involved in civic affairs and voting my conscience. I cared about winning, but I never saw politics in solely those terms. I was in it for the long haul.
But, that was then and this is now.
We are in the midst of a radical experiment in both domestic and foreign policy -- all of the institutional safeguards are dysfunctional and the people are overwhelmed with an unprecedented barrage of soothing images, cognitive dissonance and white noise. The power to conduct this radical experiment was attained by undemocratic means and is being consolidated with the same underhanded processes. The potential ramifications of this political revolution are as serious as anything we've experienced in the history of this country. This is no drill. They will continue to push the edge of the envelope until they are stopped. They have no self-governance.
So, I don't care about anything this time but winning the presidential election. The Republican Party has demonstrated that they cannot be trusted to hold this much power and the presidency is the quickest, most efficient way for us to check it. I will vote for any breathing Democrat (and maybe even one who's not) running against Bush.
But, I can't tell the future and neither can anyone else. Because my calculation is based solely upon who can beat Bush, I can't choose a candidate based on a combination of where I would like to see the country go and the practical notion of electability, as it should be, but rather solely on who can win in the political environment of the fall of 2004. (It's cynical, I know, but I don't feel very idealistic. It's a war of survival at this point.) It's simply too early to tell
So, for now, I will continue to highlight the strengths of each candidate and try to analyze what all of them bring to the party that could be useful in defeating Bush. And, I refuse to give the Wurlitzer any extra notes to play. They - and the servile jades of the press - used Bradley to beat Gore over the head mercilessly and in a close election (which this is likely to be) these things count.
I've concluded, with great distress, that this media age has had the effect of trivializing politics and blurring the distinction between fantasy and reality to such an extent that, in this instance anyway, we must capitulate to that and learn to exploit it. So, considering how high the stakes are, my prime interest in a Democratic candidate is in how he can be marketed rather than whether his ideas are the right ones. Sadly, I don't think ideas in and of themselves are particularly relevant at the moment --- it's what they symbolize, how they affect the competition's game plan and how well they are framed in the mind of the public. The single most important thing has nothing to do with policy or philosophy. It is the likeability of the man himself, what heroic "type" he represents, and the "feeling" he engenders in the public.
However, we must also take into account the fact that the electorate is closely divided and turn-out is going to be essential. This requires that candidates also inspire our ideological base in an environment where many are paralysed and hopeless at the sight of a Republican onslaught so shockingly aggressive that it seems that the entire nation is dealing with it by putting its fingers in its ears and singing "lalalalalalalal." The candidate has to make Democrats believe that he has the balls to take the punches and come up fighting. Otherwise, it's very tempting to make the choice to see this whole thing as a reality game show that you can tune out until next week when you like the story line better. (That's one of the effects of the non-stop shoutfests. Their omnipresence and constantly high decible level, no matter whether it's Laci, Clinton's cock or nuclear war, has created the impression that it's all posturing. This makes it easy for people to simply switch the channel and pretend that Bush is no worse than anybody else.)
It would be pretty to think that the Green delusion is true --- that there exists a great untapped liberal constituency in the non-voting public, but there is little evidence to suggest that's true. So, in addition to rousing the grassroots (which I believe is best done through rhetoric, not emphasis on policy) the candidate will also have to be prepared to reach out to the swing voters who are too dumb to see that the difference between the two parties in this era is so great that if you don't know which you are then you shouldn't vote. (While I generally consider the political press to be part of the hostile beltway establishment, I think they are really just stupid swing voters. They'll go with the sexy candidate -- or at least allow themselves to be sufficiently seduced by him to neutralize their establishment bias.)
So, basically we are on two tracks. One is to inspire the base and fight back. And, the other is to field a candidate who knows how to swim in the post modernist media muck and who can be explained to a confused and disengaged electorate in symbolic heroic terms. The person who will win must do both. That's who I'm looking for and only through the trial by fire of a real campaign can this man emerge.
None of this is to say that Democrats shouldn't pick a candidate early and work in the primaries for them. Indeed, it is a necessity if we hope to get the best person nominated. But, it's not going to be me. I just can't see this election in those terms and I wouldn't be a very good partisan for any particular candidate at this point.
Right now, I'm a supporter of all and a denigrator of none. Perhaps in 6 months time, it will have all become clear. If the race remains close then and I think I've found the guy, then I'll probably write about why I think that's the case.
Until then, godspeed all you Dean, Kerry, Edwards etc supporters. I love 'em all. And whoever wins, I'm behind him 100% percent.
digby 6/24/2003 03:19:00 PM
Monday, June 23, 2003
“Equal opportunity for all, special privileges for none.”
I just read something that blew the top of my head off and has me reeling with appreciation and awe. Maybe everybody in Blogovia has already discussed John Edwards speech of last week, but I just got to it.
This is the single most creative re- framing of issues I've seen in many a year. In fact, it is so audacious, it might just work.
Do you want to see a wing nut's head spin around like Linda Blair's in the Exorcist? Try comparing Bush's economic policies to socialism:
This is the most radical and dangerous economic theory to hit our shores since socialism a century ago. Like socialism, it corrupts the very nature of our democracy and our free enterprise tradition. It is not a plan to grow the American economy. It is a plan to corrupt the American economy."
Damn. That is just beautiful.
Edwards gets it. It's about changing the Left/Right paradigm and putting the Republicans off balance, without moving further to the right. This is new and it has the potential to seriously shake up the dynamic, particularly if the economy continues to sputter. This is just great -- a truly new way of coming at the Republicans, using all of their patented propaganda tags against them. It's awfully smart and I would hope that every Dem candidate keeps this in the back of his mind.
I'm not signing on to any particular campaign this early in the race. But, I think the Democratic candidates are all good people and I wouldn't be unhappy with any of them (although Lieberman, with his moralizing and religiosity, would be very hard to take.) I am partial to Clark because I think he neutralizes a potent issue for the GOP, has a great Q rating and it would be nice to catch a fucking break like that for once. Earlier, I mentioned that Dean has a fiesty attitude that I find refreshing and inspirational and John Kerry is a good man with a fine mind and a lifetime of experience to prepare him for the job.
But, Edwards is the natural of the bunch. He's the one who has the talent to really communicate with average Americans and get them to recognize that the Republican Party does not have their best interest at heart. Like Clinton, he is very, very good at explaining complicated issues in understandable terms without being condescending. 20 years as a litigator will do that, and from all reports he was an extremely effective advocate before a jury.
Our economy, our people, and our nation have been undermined by the crony capitalists who believe that success is all about working the angles, working the phones, and rigging the game, instead of hard work, innovation and frugality.
And these manipulators find comfort in an Administration which, through its own example, seems to embrace that ethic.
We will never turn this country around until we put our economy and our government back in line with our values."
It’s time for a new approach that trusts people to make the most of their own lives and gives them the chance to do so. It’s time to stop emboldening entrenched interests and start empowering regular people. Above all, it’s time to end the failed conservative experiment and return to the idea that made this country great: Instead of helping wealthy people protect their wealth, we should help working people build their wealth."
The President and I agree on one thing: this campaign should be a debate about values. We need to have that debate, because the values of this president and this administration are not the values of mainstream America, the values all of us grew up with – opportunity, responsibility, hard work.
There’s a fundamental difference between his vision and mine. I believe America should value work. He only values wealth. He wants the people who own the most to get more. I want to make sure everybody has the chance to be an owner.
That is progressivism turned inside out. PoMo populism. As with the flag and God, the smart Democrat (and the one who will beat Bush) will take those "bedrock American" advertising symbols and use the patented GOP rhetorical stylebook to his own purposes, because whether we like it or not, that stylebook defines political speech in this era so we'd better start finding ways to use it to our own ends.
(And, through this whole speech he very subtly digs at Bush's pedigreed sense of privilege. Junior is a spoiled little fucker and although nobody wants to admit it, it's something everybody knows. Maybe in 2000 when everybody asumed that they too were going to be rich and privileged, it didn't matter so much. It could have a little more relevence this time around.)
Look at the choices they make: They have driven up the share of the tax burden for most working people, and driven down the burden on the richest few. They got rid of even the smallest tax on even the largest inheritances on earth. This past month, in a $350 billion bonanza of tax cuts on wealth, they couldn’t find $3.5 billion to give the child tax credit to poor people who work. Listen to this: They refused to cut taxes for the children of 250,000 American soldiers who are risking their lives for us in Iraq, so they could cut dividend and capital gains taxes for millionaires who were selling stocks short until the war was over.
It is wrong to reward those who don’t have to work at the expense of those who do. If we want America to be a growing, thriving democracy, with the greatest work ethic and the strongest middle class on earth, we must choose a different path.
If Junior ever had to debate a trial lawyer like John Edwards, he wouldn't stand a chance trying to defend himself against a charge like that. What in the hell can any Republican say to that argument? They'll scream class warfare, but in light of the charges it starts to sound like sniveling defensiveness. They really have gone to far and all it will take is for somebody to find the right way to educate the American people about what has been done to them.
Third, I will cut taxes to encourage savings and wealth creation for the middle class and working poor, not take away their tax cuts. I believe ordinary Americans are taxed too much, not too little. As a direct result of this President’s policies, all across this country people are seeing their property taxes, their sales taxes, their state and local income taxes, and their college tuition bills go up. Now some in my party want to take away their federal income tax cuts, too. That’s wrong. The answer to Republicans who have made middle-class incomes and nest eggs go down should not be Democrats who make middle-class taxes go up.
I know this President wants to make the next election about taxes. That’s why I’m going to tell America the whole story: “This president is the reason your taxes are going up. I’m going to cut them.”
Woah Nelly. Walter Mondale, take a look in the funhouse mirror. He's saying that Bush is making taxes go UP for ordinary Americans. That is brilliant. Paula Zahn will pop a vein trying to wrap her mind around that concept. It's also true, of course, but rather than get into some long winded discussion of tax rates and the state budget crisis' Edwards just says bluntly, "Bush is making your taxes go up. I'm going to cut them."
Eat shit Grover.
I care deeply about this, because it’s the reason I’m standing here. My dad worked his whole life in the mill. When I was young, my mom folded sheets on the second shift. Both my parents started out with nothing, except a blessing that was worth more than diamonds and gold – the chance to live in a country whose dream belongs to anyone willing to work for it.
A country where the sweat and toil of mill workers can give a boy the chance to one day run for President is a far different place than a country that says how you’re born, not how hard your work, is all that matters. I owe everything I am to the America I grew up in. I hope you’ll join with me and fight with all we’ve got to save it.
The fucking American dream, baby. The immigrant, the working stiff, the self-made man putting in the hours and sweating the blood so that his kids can have a better life. Being the first in your family to go to college and going on to become one of the most successful lawyers in the country, a US Senator and a presidential candidate. It's not quite as inspiring as a rich, alcoholic playboy sobering up at 40 and allowing his daddy's rich friends to buy him a codpiece so he can eliminate the inheritance tax for himself, but it might have a chance.
This is a very interesting direction that Edwards is going. There is some salience to the shame factor among the rich, as well. I happened to listen to a group of Republican ladies discussing politics the other day (don't ask), and they were quite uncomfortable with the idea that their leaders were saying that poor people shouldn't get tax cuts and particularly the fact that some were left out of the recent tax cut bill. One of the gals said, "That's really not right. It makes me feel embarrassed."
I wish that we didn't have to use rhetoric of religion, values and tax cuts. It's tiring to hear it. But, we do. It's what people's ears are trained to hear in this era. And, there is no use pretending that reversing Bush's tax cuts is going to be a simple matter even if we win the presidency. It makes sense to begin laying the groundwork, however, for reversing the outrageous tax cuts on the rich, which will have to be done. This is a very effective way of beginning to make that case.
And, Edwards is using some language that I think has been too long neglected by Democrats and speaks to something that is an undercurrent of discomfort amongst average Americans who don't follow politics in great detail --- the oddly unamerican nature of our current leaders relationship to wealth and power.
"Here in Washington, we like to think we’re important. But what’s great about America is that whether you’re a senator or a bus driver doesn’t make you a better person. You just have different jobs. America is not a nation of kings and commoners, masters and servants. We’re a nation where every person has equal value, every dream deserves an equal chance, and every soul should be as equal in the law of the land as it is in the eyes of God."
That's a Democrat talking, there, and everybody knows it.
Bush can spout bullshit like "soft bigotry of low expectations" and "I care about the working people", but every poll shows that most most Americans do not believe he cares about or understands people like them. There's power in this message. It's worth keeping an eye on.
digby 6/23/2003 11:07:00 PM
CheezeNip Bobo in Paradise
You just have to read this perfect post on Bobo Brooks's latest from SullyWatch. It hits so many fine points about the current political scene that I urge you to read the whole thing. (If the first link is bloggered go to the second.)
Bobo is one pundit who drives me particularly crazy. Yeah, yeah, I know he's more "reasonable" and less "shrill" than your average wing nut, but the reason he drives me crazy is that he writes about American culture as if he's from Mars. This bothers me because the Republicans are winning the Po-Mo political PR contest and it's only because the Democrats aren't even trying. This guy is typically clueless.
Recently, he wrote an op-ed in the NY Times using WalMart and Trader Joe's as symbols of American political philosophy.
Trader Joe's, as you may know, is the grocery store for people who wouldn't dream of buying free-range chicken broth from a company that didn't take a position against offshore oil drilling. Trader Joe's is so painfully socially conscious that it has to go through back flips just to find some snack food it can approve of. If you tried to smuggle a bag of Cheese Nips into the store, a half-dozen ethics alarms would probably go off. Instead the store stocks baked pea-pod chips and Veggie Booty with kale, for kids who come home from school screaming, ''Mom, I want a snack that will prevent colon-rectal cancer!''
Yes, this is terribly cute (especially coming from a guy whom you just know lives on moon pies and yoohoo) but as usual, he completely missed the point. Yes. Trader Joe's stocks health foods. But the most important thing that distinguishes Trader Joe's is the fact that it sells all of these items CHEAP, (just like the WalMart where Brooks buys his Velveeta and Wonder bread.) The difference is that Trader Joes has taken the capitalistic road of providing a small number of niche market goods at reasonable prices while Walmart has taken the road of selling a huge number of mass market goods at reasonable prices. But, essentially, these two successful enterprises are the same. They keep their overhead low, buy goods in large lots and pass on the price break to the customer.
Trader Joe's sprang up in Los Angeles, a place where there are many, many grocery stores that will sell you every partially hydrogenated, mass produced, empty calorie CheezeNip you could ever want. They made the decision to provide unusual goods at a reasonable price in a market glutted with predictable mass market goods. They should be ashamed of themselves, the socialist bastards.
And predictably, Brooks overlooks the single biggest item that Trader Joe's sells and one which brings in plenty of God-fearing, ESPN watching, GOP regular guys like himself: cheap booze. Trader Joe's is as much a discount liquor store as a grocery store and if Brooks is going to make a case that it's somehow an effete, liberal institution that is out of step with Real Muricans like him, then he needs to lay off the Spaghettios and krispy cremes for awhile and check out who actually shops there and for what.
He might just be interested to know that the largest group of people who shop at Trader Joe's for food aren't white wine swilling liberal brie and cheezers. But, they might be worried about chole-rectal cancer, to be sure. It's senior citizens. And, they shop there because the stores are in their neighborhood and the prices are low.
digby 6/23/2003 06:59:00 PM
What In God’s Name Could He Have Been Thinking?
I’ve noticed that a lot of people are still surprised that Saddam behaved as he did before the war in the face of the fact that he was not as imminently dangerous as we portrayed him to be. Kevin Drum says today, “David is right to say that Saddam's non-cooperation remains a mystery if he really didn't have any WMD…”
I can think of several reasonable explanations.
First, Saddam was a strongman dictator who maintained his power, both within the country and in the region, through fear and violence. Kowtowing to the UN and especially to the US would have substantially weakened his reputation as a ruthless tyrant who was willing to do anything to stay in power. If a totalitarian shows weakness, the whole house of cards can come tumbling down. It’s possible that he felt he had to bluff or lose his grip on power from within.
And perhaps he simply made the logical calculation that, as the North Korea situation has shown, the US will not unilaterally invade a nuclear power and will hesitate to put large numbers of troops in the way of lethal unconventional weapons. Anyone in his shoes might have felt it was in his best interests to keep the world guessing about his WMD capabilities and willingness to use them. When it became clear last fall that the US was going to call his bluff, it appears to me that instead of preparing a traditional defense and going down in a blaze of glory, he made plans to go underground or escape (and perhaps live to fight another day.) I doubt very seriously that even crazy Saddam ever entertained the illusion that his army could defeat the US military in a straight up fight. Once that was inevitable, he went to plan B. Plan A was to keep the world guessing as long as he could about what he was really capable of .
On a sidenote, the mere fact that we called his bluff in defiance of the whole world indicated at the time that Bush knew Saddam didn’t really have a large stockpile of unconventional weapons. Would he have staged a long public buildup if he really thought there was a chance that tens of thousands of US troops stationed on the Kuwait border could be killed in their sleep while awaiting the published invasion date of the middle of March? I don’t think so. They knew it would be a cakewalk. They said so. And Saddam, of course, knew this better than anyone.
It was the main reason many people logically didn’t buy the argument for preemption. As with Korea, we would have tried a lot harder to talk him down if we thought he really had the capability of killing large numbers of American boys and girls in one fell swoop. (That much death and carnage for a controversial war of choice would have been terrible politics and Uncle Karl wouldn’t have stood for it.) Those of us who were paying attention knew this when Uncle Dick blew the pooch with his August speech saying that we were goin’ in come hell or high water. The whole UN inspections/cooperation charade was staged for the single purpose of buying time to get the troops in place and to try to get some financial backing from rich countries.
On the other hand, I find it quite interesting that many of the people who claimed Saddam was an irrational actor who blithely dismissed the clear fact that his country would be decimated if he actually launched a WMD at anybody, now seem surprised that he might have acted irrationally in this particular way. Apparently, it hasn't occurred to them that crazy people could manifest their craziness in any way other than waging a suicidal war with unconventional weapons against innocent people. Who would have ever dreamed that a crazy, megalomaniac would bluster and lie in the face of certain defeat? Nobody’s that crazy, right?
I have no idea whether Saddam had any WMD. If he didn’t, I’m sure he wished he did. But it is quite clear that the US and British governments felt confident that if he had anything it wasn’t catastrophically dangerous. They also knew that, as a hated and brutal tyrant, he was not in a position to become a good and wholesome global citizen by allowing the US and the UN to dictate matters of Iraqi sovereignty. Totalitarian dictators don’t stay in power long if they show that kind of weakness.
Both Bush and Blair made it quite clear that nothing Saddam could have done, short of killing his sons and then blowing his brains out on national television, could have kept the US and UK from invading and overthrowing him once the decision was made. There was obviously no amount of “cooperation” that could have saved him and I don't imagine that was lost on him. That's the kind of thinking a guy like him could really appreciate.
Saddam surely knew by August of 2002 that we knew he didn’t have large stockpiles of WMD and that we didn't care. He was dead meat from that point on. He just hung on as long as he could until the day of reckoning.
digby 6/23/2003 04:05:00 PM
Fine blogs everywhere, these days. Mark Singer of this new (to me, anyway) group blog, Not Geniuses, writes about the MoveOn primary:
Alright, if you're one of those folks who has actually been writing blog-posts on why MoveOn is unnecessary, I recommend you read this post, 'cause, folks, MoveOn is clutch.
I’m not sure I agree that this primary is an absolutely essential win, but I do think that MoveOn is significant and should be closely watched by all the candidates.
It’s a mistake to tag MoveOn as a particularly “liberal” organization and I hope that the Party doesn’t make the mistake of dividing itself on this. MoveOn is a partisan organization --- it’s really not all that ideological. It was formed to try to put a stop to the impeachment charade and its focus is still on stopping the undemocratic power grab of a Republican Party that has become dangerously radical, increasingly unaccountable and verging on open corruption.
This is the reason that Dean is a favorite of rank and file Democrats and is likely to win the MoveOn primary. He’s not really all that liberal, either, but he is a partisan. He’s actually an iconoclastic Democratic centrist who takes some pretty bold stands outside party orthodoxy on both the left and the right. (I don’t think that is a bad idea at all because Democrats are presently such ciphers in the media that any change in predictable storylines is a good thing.) His rivals of both parties want to paint him as a wacked-out hippy Governor Moonbeam, but that’s just politics. And, it’s actually a good test to see how he holds up. Any serious Democrat has to show he can take a punch because if he has the personal misfortune to actually beat President Asterisk, the right wing is going to go completely apeshit. These guys aren’t the first to play dirty politics, but they are the first to privatize and then turn a profit at it.
More pertinently, Dean just doesn’t look like a wacked out liberal when you watch him. He comes off like a slightly cranky, straight talking, no bullshit, common sense, grown-up guy guy. Think Truman, Perot, Bogart, McCain, Sinatra --- he’s hot not cool. This is a good American archetype. (Or, using the Lakoff paradigm, he’s one of the strong father types who could make Junior’s inchoate, brittle gibberish look gawky and adolescent by comparison.)
I can’t think of a more conventional strategy than running to the left in the primary, yet everybody’s acting like that is some sort of bizarre, unprecedented move. And, he’s energizing the base which also seems to be interpreted as a grave tactical error, for some reason. You would think that after ’00 and ’02, where only a handful of votes changed the course of history, it would be obvious that motivating every single member to vote would be at the very top of the Democratic Party’s priority list. And, the rallying cry for Democrats is not going to be any particular plan or program, it’s going to be passionate, engaging partisan rhetoric. This is a red meat era and sober moderate statesmanship will be overwhelmed by a shitstorm of right wing fire breathing --- and that's if the torpid infotainers bother to cover them at all.
I don’t think the powers that be are aware of how hopeless many Democrats feel as they watch Junior get away with murder over and over again, particularly after the 8 solid years of brutal partisan attacks on Clinton. I get very worried that enough Democrats are going to succumb to the Rove juggernaut strategy to hand him the election with a low Dem turnout. If you get your news from television it’s very easy to believe that Bush is inevitable, even if you think he’s a menace, if only because the Democrats are almost invisible.
That’s why I think the grassroots are responding to Dean for reasons unrelated to ideology. (And, I think most liberal Dems concur with Jeanne D’Arc on this.) It’s a visceral reaction to somebody who seems willing to take on the Republicans and a belief that it will take somebody with balls, like him, to rouse the somnambulant electorate.
The vein of enthusiasm into which Dean has tapped is Democratic partisanship. I’m sorry if that word is considered unseemly on our side, but it’s pretty obvious that the other side doesn’t have any problem with it. It’s a shame we all can’t get along, but we can’t. Grassroots groups like MoveOn know this is a fight.
I’m not committed to Dean, but I’ve gotta say, I like his attitude.
digby 6/23/2003 04:13:00 AM
My Tennessee Doppelganger
The Rush Limbaugh Show is like VIDEODROME or The RING once you are exposed enough there is a point of no return like a bad trip on LSD - you believe in your paranoid delusion that you have come down and re-entered reality, but in matter of fact you are sitting in a padded room in a straight jacket in a mental institution.
This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Thanks to South Knox Bubba for the introduction.
digby 6/23/2003 02:36:00 AM