Tuesday, September 07, 2004
Dumb As As Swing Voter
Irony is indeed dead. In fact, it's been cremated. Unless it's George Bush making a Beavis and Butthead joke, every utterance is now taken literally no matter how obviously absurd or satirical.
For instance, everyone from Adam Nagourney to Chris Suellentrop is all atwitter at how stupid John Kerry was for betraying that he cannot make up his mind at a restaurant."Oh my God, doesn't he realize that it makes him sound indecisive? Somebody tell Teresa!"
Now, I know that Kerry is no Chris Rock, but really, it is clear to any twelve year old that he was speaking with his tongue firmly in his cheek when he said this:
Kerry decided it would be a good idea in Pennsylvania to talk about how he has difficulty deciding what to eat at restaurants. "You know when they give you the menu, I'm always struggling, what do you want?" he said. A cook at a local restaurant, though, solves Kerry's dilemma by serving "whatever he's cooked up that day. I think that's the way it ought to work for confused people like me who can't make up our minds what we're going to eat."
It's not particularly funny, but it is also not an earnest admission of Kerry's flip-flopping dining habits fergawdssake. He was making fun of himself.
digby 9/07/2004 10:07:00 PM
Today's The Day
Freewayblogger Plans 100 Sign Protest in LA
I'm about to hit the 10, the 405 and the 101. I'll let you know what I see.
digby 9/07/2004 10:32:00 AM
Isn't It Time To Ask
One Simple Question?
"How many times have you been arrested, Mr. President?"
There's money in it to the first one who asks it. You can also contribute to up the bounty.
digby 9/07/2004 09:48:00 AM
They Can't All Be Democratic Liars
George W. Bush: AWOL in Alabama
and contribute to the Texans For Truth.
Texans for Truth, established by the 20,000-member Texas online activist group, DriveDemocracy.org, has produced a 0:30 second television advertisement, "AWOL." The ad features Robert Mintz, one of many who served in Alabama's 187th Air National Guard -- when Bush claims to have been there -- who have no memory of Bush on the base. In other words, Bush failed to fulfill his military duty while others were dying in Vietnam.
Click here to see the ad
digby 9/07/2004 09:18:00 AM
Just a little word about whisper campaigns. In a gossipy whisper campaign, the evidence, by its very nature, will not hold up in a court of law. It fact, that is the point of whispering it.
The point is to make nasty personal gossip take on a life of its own and have people thinking "where there's smoke there's fire." Whether something is logical or truthful is largely beside the point. It just has to be believable.
So, if you find over these next few weeks that you are hearing whispers about Bush's drinking, drug use or anything else, keep in mind that it's useful to let the Republicans do the debunking. It keeps their minds off of world domination and forces them to defend against a moving and vague target, which isn't easy. Ask Bill Clinton.
digby 9/07/2004 08:40:00 AM
Brazile said Kerry is right to go on the offensive, but that he's got to be careful when he does it. "It has to be a precision hit," she said, because Bush is the president and because large numbers of Americans bonded with him the moment those planes hit the twin towers. Brazile offered the beginnings of one theme that could work: "On Sept. 11, he led us. On Sept. 12, he misled us."
Precision? This is as precise as "I voted for the 87 billion before I voted against it." Terrible.
First of all, we have it documented on film that Goat Boy couldn't lead anybody out of a paper bag on September 11th. Second, this statement is deeply offensive to the base who knows better. Third, it is unbelievably stupid to utter the other side's talking points. In a close race, the Republicans would NEVER say the words "he led us" about the opposition. Never.
Kerry's biggest problem right now is too many cooks throwing fetid garbage into the soup. (If I were of any influence instead of a kibbitzer, I'd include myself as one of them.) For all that the Republicans are myopic, simplistic and overly controlled, we are the opposite. Democrats are embarrassingly undisciplined about this stuff and can't keep our mouths shut, so this all plays itself out publicly.
At this point, it's all about Kerry's political instincts. There is no consensus on the right approach going into the stretch. The race is a nail biter and he's got people all around him telling him different things. He has to sort out for himself what he thinks will work. It's up to him.
digby 9/07/2004 08:14:00 AM
Monday, September 06, 2004
"We got an issue in America. Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many good OB/GYN's aren't able to practice their love, with women all across this country," he said.
He's right. If we could just get rid of all those malpractice suits, the OB/GYNs could spread love all over the place with no fear of reprisals. Of course, if women would just relax and stop suing these fine doctors for practising their love on them, this country would be a much better place in so many ways.
digby 9/06/2004 10:23:00 PM
Alcoholics Don't Drink Fake Beer
Count the glasses on the table. Eight glasses for the G8. Sitting next to Junior is (I think) EU president Romano Prodi. There's a glass of white wine directly in front of him and another in front of Gerhardt Schroeder. Schroeder has a glass in his hand. Next to Schroeder is Jose Maria Aznar, who would be the owner of the glass in front of Schroeder. Next is Koizumi with an empty beer glass. Putin has the full one. Then at the end of the table are two unknowns with a glass of red wine and what appears to be a coke. I assume that would be Chirac and Blair, but it's impossible to know. However, one thing is clear. At the end of the table, directly in front of Junior is a brewski.
Here's a link to a bigger version of the picture.
Now, I don't want to jump to any conclusions, but with what we already know about the president's cocaine use at Camp David, his septum problems in the early 90's, his bizarre and unexplained falls in which he is unable to keep himself from scraping his face and the common knowledge and now photographic proof that he has been drinking as president, isn't it time that somebody asked the question?
When it the president going to come clean about his drinking and drug use in the White House?
Correction: The man with the full glass sitting next to Koizumi is Chirac. Which means that Putin is drinking either the red wine or the coke. According to this website, Putin is a teetotaler, so I'm thinking he's the coke. Of course, Bush is allegedly a teetotaler as well.
digby 9/06/2004 10:01:00 PM
"Hates To Drink. Only In America Could A Guy Like Him Even Find Work"
This wedding video of George W. Bush in 1992, has been widely circulated. But, in light of what we now know about his cocaine use long after he claimed that he had quit drinking, shouldn't we take another look at it?
I realize that this doesn't prove anything in and of itself, but knowing what we know about his illegal use of drugs on government property well into the 90's and his inadequately explained facial scrapes and bruises during the past three years, it's long past time that somebody asked the question:
Shouldn't the president came clean with the American people about his ongoing drinking problem?
digby 9/06/2004 06:35:00 PM
The Nose Knows
I had seen this video before, but until now I didn't realize how significant it was. Nose "issues" are a common problem for those who snort a lot of cocaine. This video was taken while Bush was owner of the Texas Rangers which means that Bush would have been in his mid-forties.
I realize that this is not proof that Bush was using cocaine well into the 90's. But, it does raise serious questions in light of what we already know.
Isn't it time for the president to come clean and tell the American people if he is still using illegal drugs?
digby 9/06/2004 06:05:00 PM
He said he would bring honor and integrity to the White House
...he never said anything about Camp David.
Sometime between 1988 and 1992 --- when Junior was a young and irresponsible 42 to 46 years of age, it is alleged by a member of his family that he used cocaine at the presidential retreat.
It's sad that all of these allegations from long ago are being brought up once again. But, now that they are "out there" I think it's incumbent upon the president to put these rumors to rest once and for all and tell the American people exactly when he stopped using drugs. It appears that he may have still been snorting cocaine well into the 90's. This is reason for concern, particularly with his acknowledged problem with addiction to alcohol. Indeed, it is said to be an open secret that he has been drinking again, as president.
These pictures, two of several from different incidents over just the last three years, show a very alarming and unusual propensity to fall flat on his face.
It's long past time someone raised the question:
Do we have an addict in the White House? Isn't it time that Mr. Bush came clean with the American people?
digby 9/06/2004 03:43:00 PM
Angry Bear points out that there is some actual evidence that smear politics are winning politics this election cycle. He notes that Bush has benefitted so far from staging the most relentless negative presidential campaign in history and that his handpicked candidate in Florida won by eviscerating his Republican opponent in the primary. Anybody who thinks that this campiagn is going to be waged on issues is terribly misunderstanding the public mood. This election is about how far you are willing to go:
Voters' high-minded claims notwithstanding, negative attacks work. Witness the just-completed Republican Senate primary in Florida, which pitted the very conservative Bill McCollum against the previously somewhat conservative Mel Martinez. The winner would move on to compete against Betty Castor for the Senate slot opened by Bob Graham's impending retirement. Let's watch:
... a political storm is roiling Florida's U.S. Senate race, fueled by hard-hitting accusations that Republican nominee Mel R. Martinez leveled against his chief rival in the closing days of this past Tuesday's GOP primary.
The attacks infuriated some prominent Republicans, and Democrats hope the discord will help their nominee, Betty Castor, win the closely watched contest to succeed retiring Sen. Bob Graham (D).
President Bush handpicked Martinez ... considered more centrist than early GOP front-runner Bill McCollum. McCollum, a solidly conservative former House member, lost the 2000 Senate race to Democrat Bill Nelson, and many Republicans felt they needed a more moderate nominee this year.
But Martinez's campaign was hardly moderate in its homestretch assault on McCollum. First, it arranged a conference call by conservative religious leaders who challenged McCollum's integrity because of his support of embryonic stem cell research and a hate crimes bill. Enraged, former Republican senator Connie Mack wrote to more than 15,000 state GOP activists, saying Martinez's campaign "sunk to a new low in Florida politics" by launching a "mean-spirited, desperate and personal attack" that would "only hurt our party and doom us in November."
A few days later, the Martinez campaign labeled McCollum "the new darling of the extreme homosexuals" because he had supported including protections for gays in a failed federal hate-crimes bill. Editorial pages condemned the comment, and the St. Petersburg Times withdrew its endorsement of Martinez.
Did it work? Yes:
Martinez, who had trailed in several polls, won the primary with 45 percent of the vote to McCollum's 31 percent. Martinez and his allies in the GOP establishment immediately tried to heal the hurts.
Of course it did. The "moderate" Martinez proved he had balls. Read the rest of the post. Aside from the fact that it agrees with my thesis (which obviously means that it is brilliant) AB comes up with some excellent ideas for attack ads. I particularly like this one:
Start with this quote from The Dallas Morning News, Feb. 25, 1990:
"I was not prepared to shoot my eardrum out with a shotgun in order to get a deferment. Nor was I willing to go to Canada. So I chose to better myself by learning how to fly airplanes."
Then cut to Lt. Colonel Bill Burkett alleging that he witnessed Bush's National Guard records being scrubbed, and point out that Bush has never accounted for his whereabouts during 1972 and 1973, nor why he stopped flying.
Then end with Linda Allison:
Before there was Karl Rove, Lee Atwater or even James Baker, the Bush family's political guru was a gregarious newspaper owner and campaign consultant from Midland, Texas, named Jimmy Allison. In the spring of 1972, George H.W. Bush phoned his friend and asked a favor: Could Allison find a place on the Senate campaign he was managing in Alabama for his troublesome eldest son, the 25-year-old George W. Bush?
"The impression I had was that Georgie was raising a lot of hell in Houston, getting in trouble and embarrassing the family, and they just really wanted to get him out of Houston and under Jimmy's wing," Allison's widow, Linda, told me. "And Jimmy said, 'Sure.' He was so loyal."
... Asked if she'd ever seen Bush in a uniform, Allison said: "Good lord, no. I had no idea that the National Guard was involved in his life in any way."
AB notes that neither Kerry or the DNC or even MoveOn can do this sort of thing:
Democrats will need some truly Shadowy groups, brand new 527s that spring up, launch ads and push polls in key states, and then fade away. I'm not sure who would pay for them, but there is an ever-growing number of angry Democrats out there, so the money is surely out there.
We disagree when he says that we should wait until after they launch their next smear. I think we should just go ahead. We get nothing by playing by any kind of rules. After the Swift Boat liars, I see no reason to wait. They set the terms of this campaign.
digby 9/06/2004 02:58:00 PM
James Wolcott gets a sneak preview at Kitty Kelley's shocking new expose of the Bush Dynasty. Frankly, I'm disappointed. The thing about Bush's national Guard bunkmate and the "special" rubdowns was thoroughly vetted in his 1994 run for Governor and the story was dropped when Karen Hughes produced an affidavit from a chiropractor showing that Bush had a serious problem with carpal tunnel syndrome during the 70's. There's nothing there.
I thought this book would reveal things we didn't already know. Well, there is this:
The Elvis White Panty Parties that the teenage Bush twins would reenact for the sordid entertainment of Prince Bandhar on "Saudi Night" at the Crawford ranch.
That I hadn't heard about.
digby 9/06/2004 10:12:00 AM
Sunday, September 05, 2004
Ferchristsake. Apparently, I've caused something of a stir over on Kos and unfortunately, I'm not registered there (although gawd knows I read it obsessively) so I cannot respond properly in the comments section.
First, my comment in the "Diving Into the Mud" post about "girly-men" was an ironic play on Arnold's little tag line. I certainly was not referring to any individual posters on Kos. I don't usually use childish euphemisms in my own voice. I would have used the grown-up word if I meant it.
The fact is that I was mock lecturing generic handwringers whom I assumed were about to launch into a full fledged freak-out about the "spineless" Kerry campaign and how they didn't "fight back" a fact which is evident by my statement "the Republicans do not respond to adversity by turning on their candidate and neither should we. Take a deep breath and then get mad --- not at Kerry. At Bush."
All I knew at the time, yesterday morning, was that Time, Newsweek and a coming Gallup poll were reporting an 11 to 14 point bounce for Bush. When three polls report a bounce, I generally figure there was, you know, a bounce. I didn't say it meant that Kerry was toast or that Bush was coasting toward victory. My characterization of this bounce was that it was a "good" bounce which evidently makes me Wolf Blitzer. (And btw, doesn't two years of hardball lefty blogging get me Olberman? Paula Zahn, at least? Geez.)
Shockingly, it seems I failed to thoroughly peruse Kos before I wrote (which I will never fail to do again) so I didn't realize when I posted my piece that the Time and Newsweek polls were a subject of huge contention. I have since been informed that the methodology of weighting the party ID has been called into question and I greatly look forward to seeing those polls blown out of the water in the next few days. Believe me, when it happens I will not only say it is "good" I will say it is "fabulous!" (which probably makes me George Bush.) However, at this point, I think it's still fair to assume that Bush did, in fact, get some kind of bounce. At least, that's what MYDD's analysis suggests.
Since the polling was such a small part of my post, when I was informed of this new information I did not think it necessary to clarify my words. Please consider this to be that clarification. The post should read, "Bush may have gotten a bounce, but I don't say it's neccessarily good because it may not be. However, assuming that he may be ahead for now...."
And all of the fine Kossaks who are offended by my alleged disrespect please rest assured that I was speaking of handwringing, 20/20 hindsight types not those who were calling the polls into question. Believe me, no one will be happier than I if all the new polls show Bush is clinging by his fingernails.
My post was not meant as anything more than a call to arms and an analysis of why the public didn't seem to reject the smears and the ugliness of the Republican convention as I think many of us anticipated they would. My contention is that the zeitgeist of this race is "toughness" and a willingness to "do what it takes" and the one who convinces the public they will be and do those things will win.
It remains more likely than not that it will be close because most people have long ago cast their lot with one or the other. Bush's alleged lead is highly unlikely to break beyond a few points and I fully expect it to dissipate back to within the margin of error (if indeed it ever went outside of it.) But, if I had to peg the undecideds who will ultimately tilt this election, I think they'll go with the guy they think has "the right stuff." And in this era, that means a guy who is willing to go for the jugular.
I have also concluded that hitting below the belt would only help our turn-out. The base is hungering for a show of force and while I have resisted it up to now, I think it may be called for. This feeling of impotence is going to take its toll. If turnout is key, the Kerry campaign has to be willing to feed its beast a little red meat from time to time. Clearly, the Republicans understand this and so should we.
Donkey Rising says that this is a panic reaction, but I really don't see it that way. The polls, bounce or not, only show me that Bush's over-the-top mud slinging isn't hurting him and may very well be helping him. And, it's not going to stop. Certainly, the tracking polls during the convention don't show that people were turned off by the likes of Zell and Cheney. The numbers went up. I saw Bush out there on the stump today extolling Zells virtues and saying it proved that the GOP welcomed Democrats. While those of us in blogland recoil at such naked aggression, I think plenty of people think it's the sign of a fighter, even if they disagree with their policies. Ask Richard Cohen. He finds their "amoral wildness" to be "beautiful."
We are in the midst of a national security crisis that is the sub-text of everything going on in this campaign. The campaign is a proxy for handling that crisis and Bush is showing that he will do anything to win. I think that tips it to him if we don't hit back hard. John Judis draws a comparison to 1980 and says Reagan won by only occasionally responding to attacks and directing attention to the underlying failures of the Carter administration. Perhaps that's how he won, but I also remember a relentlessly negative press corps and a deeply divided Democratic establishment ripping at Carter day in and day out over the economy and the Iran hostage crisis while Carter used a Rose Garden Strategy and barely campaigned. People were very skeptical of Reagan, but at the end of the day, Reagan won because he was able to show the nation that he was not a scary madman while persuading them that Carter was a wimp. It's a different set of problems for Kerry. Reagan laying back and responding to Carter like he was landing fly swats made him seem reasonable. Kerry laying back makes him seem weak. Republicans and Democrats labor under different assumptions and must meet different thresholds on national security.
And, then there is the fact that our political discourse, thanks to the Mighty Wurlitzer and cable infotainment, has become a sewer. We need to fix that. But, we can't do it between now and November so we have to work within the parameters that exist. To get the mediawhores' attention we have to do something dramatic and it has to put Bush on the defensive --- the place he functions worst.
That's all I'm saying.
digby 9/05/2004 04:00:00 PM
Saturday, September 04, 2004
Richard Cohen, liberal pundit, admires the Republicans for being so manly:
The GOP convention was successful because it was part of the overall Republican campaign. It was a loathsome affair, suffused with lies and anger, but also beautiful to watch, like a nature show about some wild animal, amoral and intent only on survival. Speaker after speaker stomped on Kerry because, really, he had made himself the entirety of the Democratic campaign. It's a variation of what I learned in high school: When the man is the message, trash the man.
Is that hot or what?
Liberal pundit Cohen just successfully secured himself invitations to all the right parties where he will be allowed to sycophantically admire the wild and amoral beauty of his Republican masters in person. Yum yum. If you'll recall he's always found Junior to be a distinctly attractive man at any given moment in history. He lobbied hard for Gore, another un-manly man like Kerry, to concede immediately because the nation needed a compassionate uniter not a divider. George W. Bush is a man for all seasons. Understanding that is why liberal pundit Richard Cohen makes the big bucks.
digby 9/04/2004 10:45:00 PM
It Will Never End
...until we cause them enough pain to make them stop.
Michael Froomkin tells us that it looks like Bush's navy may be investigating Kerry's medals in the middle of the presidential campaign:
Among other records to be examined is a citation of Mr Kerry for bravery that was apparently signed by the former Navy Secretary, John Lehman, and contributed to the award of his silver star. The glowing citation states: “By his brave actions, bold initiative and unwavering devotion to duty, Lt Kerry reflected great credit on himself.” But Mr Lehman denies all knowledge of the commendation. “It’s a total mystery to me,” he said last week. “I never saw it, I never signed it and I never approved it.” The inquiry will also investigate other reports and citations leading to the award of Mr Kerry’s medals.
On Friday, Mr Lehman endorsed the investigation of Mr Kerry’s awards, saying that the relevant navy records needed to be “thoroughly researched and the facts established”. Mr Fitton said: “We hope this is the beginning of an actual investigation of the legitimacy of Sen Kerry’s awards by the navy and the Pentagon.”
Update: This is coming too. Note the severity of the charges. Apparently, Kerry said something happened on a Saturday and it may have been a Sunday so he's unfit to be commander in chief.
Update II: here's another. Via Myblahg and pandagon
digby 9/04/2004 07:10:00 PM
Diving Into The Mud
Ok, Democratic girly-men and manly-girls, now is the time to show what we are made of. No 20/20 hindsight, nervous-nellie self loathing is acceptable. Nobody likes whiners. Bush got a good bounce and he's got momentum, but we have two months to go and worrying about spilled milk is worthless self-flagellation. The Republicans do not respond to adversity by turning on their candidate and neither should we. Take a deep breath and then get mad --- not at Kerry. At Bush. That's where the focus has to be. If we lose, we'll help Chris Matthews sort out where it all went wrong later. It's showtime.
First of all, the conventional wisdom about bounces is true. What goes up must come down. That's why they call it a bounce not a trend. Bush's double digit lead is very unlikely to stay double digit for very long. But, he is ahead, no doubt about it.
So let's see if we can figure out the state of the electorate, what it was they liked so much about Bush's convention and what we can do to combat it.
First, I think it's pretty clear that many of us misread the allure of the red-meat, in-your-face macho rhetoric that emanated from the speakers and the delegates. The convention was unrelentingly negative toward the Democrats --- even the so-called moderates called us out. There is no escaping the fact that people seem to like what they were selling. Bashing Democrats is a very satisfying pastime that the whole American family can love. (Perhaps we Democrats could try to change that by not indulging in it with such relish ourselves, but that's another topic.)
After thinking about it for a bit, I realize that the Republicans have their finger on the pulse in a way I didn't understand. Right now, Americans are in the throes of a macho feeding frenzy. Combat, competition and manly virtues are being sold as the product everyone wants to own. One of the biggest shows on TV even features beautiful female models proving their manhood by eating bugs and allowing themselves to be near drowned in some sort of NavySeal hazing ritual. Popular culture is awash in masculine images.
And the 2004 version of heroic manliness isn't an honorable gentleman fighting a duel with elaborate rules and rituals. Today's hero is a guy who will stop at nothing, even scheming, backstabbing and cheating if necessary because winning is the only thing that brings manly respect.
Frank Rich gets to the essence of this political season in his column today called "How Kerry Became a Girlie-Man":
Only in an election year ruled by fiction could a sissy who used Daddy's connections to escape Vietnam turn an actual war hero into a girlie-man.
As we leave the scripted conventions behind us, that is the uber-scenario that has locked into place, brilliantly engineered by the president of the United States, with more than a little unwitting assistance from his opponent. It's a marvel, really. Even a $10,000 reward offered this year by Garry Trudeau couldn't smoke out a credible eyewitness to support George W. Bush's contention that he showed up to defend Alabama against the Viet Cong in 1972. Yet John F. Kerry, who without doubt shed his own blood and others' in the vicinity of the Mekong, not the Mississippi, is now the deserter and the wimp.
Don't believe anyone who says that this will soon fade, and that the election will henceforth turn on health-care policy or other wonkish debate. Any voter who's undecided by now in this polarized election isn't sitting around studying the fine points. In a time of fear, the only battle that matters is the broad-stroked cultural mano a mano over who's most macho.
But with the high stakes of an election at hand, it's not enough to stuff socks in the president's flight suit. Mr. Kerry must be turned into a girl. Such castration warfare has been a Republican staple ever since Michael Dukakis provided the opening by dressing up like Snoopy to ride a tank. We've had Bill Clinton vilified as the stooge of a harridan wife and Al Gore as the puppet of the makeover artist Naomi Wolf. But given his actual history on the field of battle, this year's Democratic standard bearer would, seemingly, be immune to such attacks, especially from the camp of a candidate whose most daring feat of physical courage was tearing down the Princeton goalposts.
The truth is that Mr. Kerry was a man's man not just when he volunteered to fight in a losing war but when he came home and forthrightly fought against it, on grounds that history has upheld. Unless he's man enough to stand up for that past, he's doomed to keep competing with Mr. Bush to see who can best play an action figure on TV. Mr. Kerry doesn't seem to understand that it takes a certain kind of talent to play dress-up and deliver lines like "Bring it on." In that race, it's not necessarily the best man but the best actor who will win.
This last, I think, is very astute. Bush and the Republicans understand that the public actually prefers someone who plays the role in a way that brings them emotional satisfaction, than someone who actually embodies that role but plays the part imperfectly. In the media age, people care more about the way a president seems, than what he really does. They know that Bush is no manly man, but they appreciate the fact that he is good at pretending to be one. It's a form of respect.
Moreover, this pageant has been played out in one form or another in every election since 1968. It has a nice familiarity to it, kind of like watching "It's A Wonderful Life" at Christmas. (Democrats are pussies,Zuzu. Can we open our presents now?) It's not all that hard to squeeze the players into their designated roles when it is exactly what people expect. Let's face it, even we Democrats expect it. Why else are we always loudly complaining that Democrats have no spine even when they have just hurled themselves into the moshpit of bloodthirsty Republican thuggery? It's a narrative as comfortable as a well loved bedtime story.
The zeitgeist now, more than ever before, is all about testosterone. As much as people care about issues, and most people do, they are even more seduced by the pageant of The Politics Show. The 2004 season of The Politics Show isn't in the genre of Oprah, or Jerry or even the Sopranos with it's prozac and family problems. It's Survivor.
It's time to recognize and put to use the ugly truth that not only do people respond to smears and dirty tricks --- they actually enjoy and respect them. "By any means necessary" is no longer a revolutionary concept. To many people, it is an All American ideal. It means that you believe that winning is the only option and you will do anything to achieve that. Apply that belief to terrorism and you can see why people respond to talk radio eliminationist rants and George W. Bush's Rambo rhetoric.
People did not recoil at the Republican convention's ugliness as they did in 1992 because that rhetoric was aimed at parochial culture war issues alone. This is about a much bigger, nationalist grievance at the entire world. People believe that it's us against them, good against evil and they want our leaders to sound like movie heroes, not politicians, because in the movies the good guys always win.
So, where do we go from here? Via Suburban Guerilla I would draw your attention to a column today by Susan Estrich, liberal law professor and craven FoxNews enabler:
My Democratic friends are mad as hell, and they aren't going to take it any more.
They are worried, having watched as another August smear campaign, full of lies and half-truths, takes its toll in the polls.
As one who lived through an August like this, 16 years ago -- replete with rumors that were lies, which the Bush campaign claimed they had nothing to do with and later admitted they had planted -- I'm angry, too. I've been to this movie. I know how it works. Lies move numbers.
Never again, we said then.
Not again, Democrats are saying now.
What do you do, Democrats keep asking each other.
The answer is not pretty, but everyone knows what it is.
In 1988, in the days before the so-called independent groups, the candidate called the shots. To Michael Dukakis' credit, depending on how you look at it, he absolutely refused to get into the gutter, even to answer the charges. His theory, like that of some on the Kerry staff, was that answering such charges would only elevate them, give them more attention than they deserved. He thought the American people wanted to hear about issues, not watch a mud-wrestling match. In theory, he was right. In practice, the sad truth is that smears work -- that if you throw enough mud, some of it is bound to stick.
You can't just answer the charges. You can't just say it ain't so.
You have to fight fire with fire, mud with mud, dirt with dirt.
The trouble with Democrats, traditionally, is that we're not mean enough. Dukakis wasn't. I wasn't. I don't particularly like destroying people. I got into politics because of issues, not anger. But too much is at stake to play by Dukakis rules, and lose again.
That is the conclusion Democrats have reached. So watch out. Millions of dollars will be on the table. And there are plenty of choices for what to spend it on.
I'm not promising pretty.
Perhaps with money on the table, or investigators on their trail, we will learn just what kind of wild and crazy things the president was doing while Kerry was saving a man's life, facing enemy fire and serving his country.
The arrogant little Republican boys who have been strutting around New York this week, claiming that they have this one won, would do well to take a step back. It could be a long and ugly road to November.
Throughout the Swift Boat Liar controversy, I have been posting and exchanging e-mails and talking with various people who believe that Kerry should have been prepared and "fought back" sooner. But, we've mostly concluded that "fighting back" would have come down to more effective responses to the charges, a good rapid response team, better more pithy retorts, well prepared surrogates, more righteous indignation on the stump. And, my feeling is that none of that would have made a bit of difference. The whole point of smears is to raise doubts and get them out there however you can. And with the Mighty Wurlitzer and the cable networks being what they are, even if the major papers had debunked them on the first day --- with sheaves of refutations and rebuttals from the Kerry campaign, it still would gotten out there. It was an entertaining segment of The Politics Show and there was no stopping it.
I reluctantly concluded that the only effective response was probably to engage in the same kind of smear and hope it becomes a zero sum game. And, in the process, we would be forced to drive our politics further and further into a fetid sewer. I find the prospect of that deeply depressing which is what distinguishes me from a Republican. They do not have that emotional reaction. Indeed, they are energized by the prospect. It's a problem.
Still, the stakes are so high that we have no choice but to try to win today by any means necessary and begin the hard work of repairing our politics --- and honestly, our culture --- after we have wrested power from those who have brought us to this place.
Dirty, hate filled, testosterone fueled, phony political spectacle is what the public wants to buy. They are not going to turn off their car radios and TVs and suddenly reject the entertaining pageant they are enjoying so much. They will continue to assure pollsters that they hate all this negativity, but they will tune in to absorb the bloodlust and feel vicariously empowered by this show of masculine prowess. They want action. They will vote for the one who gives it to them.
As God-fearing, all-American winners in the game of politics and life, we have no choice but to give them what they want. It's time to dive into the mud. It's the only hope we have of saving the country.
I'm probably going to take a couple of days off from blogging although I may check in from time to time. I need to clear my head. Next Tuesday, everyone should fasten their seatbelts and get ready for the political fight of our lives. The next couple of months are going to be unprecedentedly turbulent. But we must win and we will.
digby 9/04/2004 01:41:00 PM
Picture If You Will
It's September of the year 2000. The election is heating up. And it is revealed:
FBI counterintelligence investigators have in recent weeks questioned current and former U.S. officials about whether a small group of Iran specialists at the Pentagon and in the Vice President's office may have been involved in passing classified information to an Iraqi politician or a U.S. lobbying group allied with Israel, according to sources familiar with or involved in the case.
Do the Malebranche in The Inferno come to mind? Yeah, me too.
digby 9/04/2004 01:01:00 AM
Friday, September 03, 2004
Here's A Shocker
They Still Don't Know Who They'll Vote For
...because they are from another planet.
In Las Cruces, N.M., government professor Jose Z. Garcia, 59, said of his dilemma, "Bush lost me when we went into Iraq, and Kerry has never really grabbed me." He thinks come Election Day that he will choose between Democratic challenger John F. Kerry and third-party candidate Ralph Nader.
digby 9/03/2004 11:29:00 PM
Months ago, Kevin Drum wrote a post that I have thought about quite a bit recently. He said:
It's true that doom-and-gloom messages by themselves don't sell, but something similarly negative does: fear. And it sells big.
You buy deodorant because you're afraid of the social ostracism of BO. You buy Wisk because you're afraid your husband's colleagues will think you're a poor homemaker if they notice his ring around the collar. You drive your kids to school because you're afraid of kidnappers and child molesters.
Of course you need a positive program too, but before anyone will listen to it you have to make them afraid of the opposition. So the fundamental problem for liberals is this: figuring out how to convince the middle third of voters that they should be afraid of what extreme conservatives are doing. When they are more afraid of them than they are of extreme liberals, then the real work can start.
That's not a very inspiring message, is it? But it's the reality of politics today, and liberals need to learn it. Fast.
Kevin wrote a piece earlier today about how to make the case against Bush in what has become a ruthlessly negative campaign:
...Bush plans to run an intensely negative campaign. And guess what? For all the whining we do every four years about negative campaigning, it works pretty well.
So: what's the best way to make Bush seem either scary, unlikable, or untrustworthy? Forget about trying to turn his charges around and painting him as a waffler or a weakling. It won't work. His branding in those areas is just too strong.
But Bush does have a couple of core negatives that can probably be exploited:
He's a reckless warmonger who's going to get a lot of people killed. This doesn't apply just to Bush, of course, but to all the people around him. It shouldn't be too hard to find a few video clips that make Bush and his supporters look like slavering warmongers --- Zell Miller provided a good start Wednesday night --- and there's enough truth in the charge to turn doubts about Bush's judgment into genuine fears. Basically, Kerry should do to Bush what LBJ did to Goldwater: convince the middle of the country that he can hardly wait to get his finger on the button.
He operates in secret and doesn't tell the truth. Again, there's enough truth to this that it shouldn't be too hard to convince people that Bush and his administration are fundamentally secretive and manipulative. Maybe a few clips of John Dean talking about how they remind him of Nixon would work well.
I'm not convinced that you can sell people on the idea that Bush is a Nixonian madman. But I certainly agree that we should probably go hard negative on Bush. Bush threw down the gauntlet. Kerry had to introduce himself to the public and could not be too harsh until he had at least set out the parameters of his positive image. Now, he must concentrate on tearing down Bush. The question is how should he do it.
This evening Kevin is very discouraged because Kerry's new ad campaign focuses on economic issues when it's all about 9/11, stupid.
It's fine to hammer away on domestic issues with specific target groups. It's fine for John Edwards to focus on the two Americas. But anyone who thinks the primary message of Kerry's campaign should be anything other than national security is just deluding themselves. To paraphrase James Carville, "It's 9/11, stupid."
In fact, it's a no-brainer: somehow Kerry has to convince people that he can be trusted with national security and Bush can't and if he doesn't, he's going to lose. But I guess he still doesn't get that.
I'm finally beginning to think Mickey Kaus might be right: Kerry has spent too much time inside the liberal cocoon. It's going to cost him the election if he keeps it up.
I think that's a bit premature since nobody's seen the ads yet. It may be 9/11, stupid, but in my view, there is no reason that a harshly negative fear campaign cannot be waged using economic issues as one of the symbols of Bush's frightening recklessness.(If the ads are bunch of namby-pamby,kumbaya nonsense with Kerry and adorable children, then I'm discouraged too.)
The fact is that war (not 9/11 particularly, although Bush would like that) is the subtext of the entire campaign no matter what we actually say. All criticism, all negative ads all harsh rhetoric plays to insecurity about Bush's leadership --- and leadership is defined at this moment in history as wartime leadership.
This is more about an aggressive attitude and tone and the general way Bush is portrayed than it is about any ad's literal message, at this point. It's about making people see that Bush is frightening, because as Kevin said lo those many months ago, --- fear sells. And, at this point all fear is wrapped up with Iraq and 9/11 and economic instability and the gnawing in your gut that things are going terribly wrong because Bush is at the helm.
As Kevin said, if we are going to wage a campaign of fear, it's got to be believable and Bush as some kind of scheming warmonger who wants to blow up the world is not believable. What is believable is Bush driving the ship of state into an iceberg because he's reckless and out of control.
To make that case, I think it's perfectly reasonable to use economic issues as well as national security issues to illustrate that point. At the end of the day, if the message is that Bush is a dangerous man for the health of this nation, it doesn't really matter what the subject is. People will make the association with national security all by themselves.
digby 9/03/2004 09:22:00 PM
CNN is implying that Clinton must have covered up his health problems while he was in office.
Now, passing out eating pretzels and falling flat on your face several times while in office certainly doesn't merit such scrutiny. I'm awfully glad they aren't doing that.
On other hand, Tweety just said the race is over, so I'm going down to the beach.
digby 9/03/2004 03:56:00 PM
Why is the AP just reporting this now? Some of us had it weeks ago, but more importantly, the Kerry campaign sent it out in its press release at the same time:
PARTISAN: Bush Administration Ties
He is a member of a Bush administration advisory panel on veterans’ issues.
[“VA Announces Membership of POW Advisory Committee,” PR Newswire, 4/17/02;
Better late than never, I guess.
digby 9/03/2004 03:31:00 PM
Heartbreak and Joy
It's a bittersweet day in blogland.
It is with a heavy heart that I share the news that Neal Pollack has shuffled off his mortal coil. Farewell, sweet teabag prince.
But, do not despair. James Wolcott --- writer, gentleman and all around bon vivant (and occasional commenter on this blog, even) has decided to throw in with us lowly bloggers. It must be all the glamour and the money.
Welcome to our little obsession. I hope you don't have a life or anything.
Via TBOGG and Atrios (as if you didn't already know that.)
digby 9/03/2004 01:30:00 PM
The Big One
At a loose moment on radio row in the Garden, I saw Bob Barr, off in a corner, hosting a talk-show. This set me to wondering about the other great Unmentionable -- other than that bin Laden chap -- at the Republican Zellapalooza this week.
Six years ago, the Republicans, for reasons of high principle and in defense of the rule of law and the Constitution, brought forth the only impeachment ever of an elected president of the United States. Remember the soaring rhetoric, the agonized lawmakers talking over their epochal decision with their dogs and their children. (I guess Cokie Roberts's kids came through the Clinton years unscathed after all.) I particularly liked that one guy from California who went surfing, and the great power of the sea convinced him that, sadly, Bill Clinton had to go. It was a bold and brave moment for these young conservatives. Remember how proudly they bore themselves on the talk shows? Remember how nobly they suffered their betrayal at the hands of their Senate brethren? Remember how they attached themselves to the uncompromising Thomas More created by Robert Bolt in "A Man For All Seasons"? (They quoted that movie the way some sportswriter pals of mine quote "Caddyshack.")
My question, then, is this: Where in hell's the video tribute?
Where's the 15-minute package honoring these selfless solons, some of whom got the boot shortly thereafter? Where's the stirring music, the NFL Films narration? Where's the appreciation from the Republican Party for what these courageous men of honor did? They fearlessly dragged out what Thomas Jefferson -- a Democrat, and wouldn't you know it? -- famously called a "scarecrow," and they used it on behalf of the laws to which we all must be subject.
Where's the movie, y'all?
A couple of more conventions without one, and I might think the whole impeachment thing was a prolonged dirty-trick aimed at hamstringing a moderate Democratic president that you couldn't beat at the polls, and rammed through because of some aggravated nutbaggery from the extremists in the House of Representatives. This would be very disappointing to me, and to Thomas More, I'm sure.
I was struck by this as well. The great battle of the blowjob was not even mentioned despite the grave danger to the nation it once presented. I fear that, like Vietnam, the wounds will never heal until we openly honor the brave fighters who served our nation in the great Clinton cockhunt. If we don't, years from now a fine young Republican may wish to run for president and Democrats will mockingly wear condoms on their heads at their nominating convention. I'd hate to see that happen.
On the other hand, if these brave men and women were able to stop even one grown man from enjoying fellatio, then they can take pride that they did their duty. But sadly, like Vietnam, I'm afraid this may be another example of the "best and the brightest" sending our boys and girls out to fight an unwinnable war for the hearts and minds (and penises) of the nation. I could be wrong.
digby 9/03/2004 11:26:00 AM
Tin Foil Soldier
Is it possible that they are incapable of doing anything that doesn't smack of propaganda and self serving bullshit? Do they do this stuff just because it's fun to get away with it time after time, even if they don't have to?
Sigh. Remember the stirring letter from a soldier in Iraq that Bush quoted so dramatically last night?
It turns out that the guy is a soldier all right, but he's also a "scholar" at one of the Scaife funded, right wing foundations.
I don't suppose they could have found any letters of support from members of the military who aren't employed as operatives in the VRWC.
Actually, now that I think about it, they probably couldn't.
Via The Progress Report
digby 9/03/2004 11:02:00 AM
Clinton To Undergo Emergency Heart Surgery
Taken To Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital In New York City
Sen. Hillary Clinton Was At An Event In Syracuse
Sep 3, 2004 11:52 am US/Central
CBS News has learned that former President Clinton was hospitalized on Friday in New York City after complaining of chest pains.
A source close to Mr. Clinton tells CBS News that Mr. Clinton complained of chest pains Thursday night and was taken to a hospital near his home in Chappaqua, N.Y.
Doctors, according to our source, found a blockage. Mr. Clinton is now in the New York Presbyterian hospital in Manhattan.
The New York Times reports on its Web site that Mr. Clinton had a heart attack. CBS News has not independently confirmed that.
Mr. Clinton's wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., was attending an event in Syracuse, N.Y., when the news of her husband's condition broke.
Clinton, who is 58, struggled with his weight during his presidency but has slimmed down since leaving office.
In July, the former president addressed the Democratic convention in Boston.
"We Democrats want to build a world and an America of shared responsibilities and shared benefits. We want a world with more global cooperation where we act alone only when we absolutely have to," he said. "We think the role of government should be to give people the tools to create the conditions to make the most of their own lives. And we think everybody should have that chance."
He appeared on the "Late Show with David Letterman" in August to promote his biography, but much of his talk was about the 2004 presidential race.
"Of all the people I dealt with in Congress," Mr. Clinton said of Democratic nominee John Kerry, "he cared the most about trying to find programs that would keep young, inner-city minority kids out of trouble and out of jail and in school."
Update (thanks to Fiat Lux)
Send Get Well cards to:
The William J. Clinton Foundation
55 West 125th St.
New York, NY 10027
digby 9/03/2004 09:59:00 AM
White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card said yesterday that President Bush views America as a ''10-year-old child" in need of the sort of protection provided by a parent.
Card's remark, criticized later by Democrat John F. Kerry's campaign as ''condescending," came in a speech to Republican delegates from Maine and Massachusetts that was threaded with references to Bush's role as protector of the country. Republicans have sounded that theme repeatedly at the GOP convention as they discuss the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the war in Iraq.
''It struck me as I was speaking to people in Bangor, Maine, that this president sees America as we think about a 10-year-old child," Card said. ''I know as a parent I would sacrifice all for my children."
I don't know about you, but there is something very discordant about that statement. Perhaps because having Bush for president then means a sixteen year old delinquent is in charge of the family. (Please don't kill me, please don't kill me.) And the "sacrifice all" is a bit much considering the fact that he's never sacrificed anything in his entire life except getting drunk every night.
Or maybe it's because adults --- voters--- usually don't care to think of themselves as ten year old children. In any case, if this is true, I think his line about "people should be able to keep their own money" is a bit of a problem. As is all the imperial goosestepping. A country of ten year olds should concentrate on their reading and comprehension skills. But then, if they did that they'd probably vote big brother off the island.
digby 9/03/2004 09:09:00 AM
Thursday, September 02, 2004
And another party leaves him. Maybe it's time he took a look in the mirror and asked himself what he might be doing to constantly alienate the ones he loves.
GOP backs away from Miller’s blast
Democrat ‘speaking for himself,’ Bush aide says
After gauging the harsh reaction from Democrats and Republicans alike to Sen. Zell Miller’s keynote address at the Republican National Convention, the Bush campaign — led by the first lady — backed away Thursday from Miller’s savage attack on Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, insisting that the estranged Democrat was speaking only for himself.
Late Thursday, Miller and his wife were removed from the list of dignitaries who would be sitting in the first family’s box during the president’s acceptance speech later in the evening. Scott Stanzel, a spokesman for the Bush campaign, said Miller was not in the box because the campaign had scheduled him to do too many television interviews.
There was no explanation, however, for why Miller would be giving multiple interviews during Bush’s acceptance speech, or what channels would snub the president in favor of Miller. Nor was it made clear why Miller’s wife also was not allowed to take her place in the president’s box 24 hours after his deeply personal denunciation of his own party’s nominee.
The change was made only a few hours after Laura Bush, asked about Miller’s speech, said in an interview with NBC News that “I don’t know that we share that point of view.” Aides to President Bush and his campaign said Miller was not speaking for all Republicans.
The Bush campaign stepped backed from Miller’s comments Thursday after it was received with almost immediate criticism, including complaints from prominent Republicans like Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
“Well, Zell Miller is a very experienced politician,” McCain, who spoke earlier at the convention, told NBC News on Wednesday night.
“I’m sure he knew exactly what he was talking about. [But] I just don’t agree with the fact that the Democrats are unpatriotic or the assertion that the Democrats are unpatriotic,” he said. “I don’t think they are.”
In an interview Thursday, Laura Bush told NBC News’ Tom Brokaw: “I don’t know that we share that point of view. I mean, I think Zell Miller has a very interesting viewpoint, just like I had the personal viewpoint to talk about the president when I spoke on Tuesday night. ...
“But, I mean, his voice is one with a lot,” the first lady said. “You also heard Senator McCain. You also heard Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Governor [Arnold] Schwarzenegger.”
A senior White House official, speaking to reporters before Bush’s address Thursday night, said, “Senator Miller was speaking on behalf of himself and obviously on behalf of himself.
Boy, those Republicans sure aren't very steadfast and loyal, are they? But then, turncoat Zell couldn't have expecting much on that score, now could he? As ye sow....
I imagine that overnight polling has shown that the frothing at the mouth wasn't a big hit. I heard one of the pundits on CNN say earlier that polls showed Bush strengthening his support the red states and remaining static in the battle ground states. I haven't seen any numbers, but that wouldn't surprise me. If that's true then their strategy may have failed. The speculation is that they were trying to cement their bond with white males in the mid-west with all the tough talk. It's possible that they may have done that and lost an equal number of women and minorities.
We'll see soon enough. But, clearly Zell was not a big hit, despite Maureen Dowd's bizarre assertion that the convention was a masterpiece. (And she was acting so oddly that I was downright uncomfortable watching her. She is much too shy to be on TV, obviously.)
digby 9/02/2004 09:18:00 PM
Demonstrators Were Held Illegally, Judge Rules
This was harsh. Two days in a holding pen is a long damned time. And, naturally, the police lied about it.
NEW YORK, Sept. 2 -- A criminal court judge ordered the release of hundreds of anti-Bush protesters Thursday, ruling that police held them illegally without charges for more than 40 hours. As the protesters began trickling out of jail, they spoke of being held without access to lawyers, initially in a holding cell that had oil and grease spread across the floor.
Several dozen of those detained said that they had not taken part in protests. Police apparently swept up the CEO of a puppet theater as he and a friend walked out of the subway to celebrate his birthday; handcuffed two middle-aged women who had been shopping at the Gap, and arrested a young woman as she returned from her job at a New York publishing house.
Throughout this week, Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne had insisted that just a few dozen protesters had spent more than six hours behind bars without being charged or released. On Thursday, Browne acknowledged for the first time that large numbers of demonstrators had endured long detentions. But he blamed them for overwhelming the police department.
"It's a new entitled, pampered class of demonstrators who want to engage in civil disobedience but don't want to be inconvenienced by arrest processing," Brown said. "There's a lot of reasons for a holdup. If you were in a group this morning you are going to go through the process very quickly; if you were arrested with 200 people it's going to take longer."
Michael Sladek, who owns a film production company in Brooklyn, was arrested in Midtown two evenings ago as he photographed the police and demonstrators. He spent 48 hours in custody without access to a phone before he was charged with obstructing a pedestrian -- an administrative violation -- and released.
"For us, it was very clear this was a detention to keep people off the street," Sladek said outside the jail. "And the saddest thing was that so many people had nothing to with protesting the convention."
This is terrible, but I must say that I'm proud of the people who are willing to engage in acts of civil disobedience to preserve their right to free speech. Use it or lose it.
The innocent bystanders who were swept up and held for more than two days should sue the City of New York. There is no excuse for keeping people that long without charging them. None.
digby 9/02/2004 07:30:00 PM
He'll Fight That Sucker In A Phone Booth
On Monday morning I wrote a post called Cold-Cock Him saying that I hoped the Kerry campaign would metaphorically stalk across the ring and slam Bush right in the nose on the day after the convention and change that storyline immediately.
It looks like they are going to do just that. Atrios has the link to the prepared remarks and they are very tough. As TAPPED notes, Kerry announcing this speech on the day of Bush's speech seems to have knocked them off their game a little bit:
CNN, 8:42 P.M.: The Kerry campaign has begun to make an impact with the press conference they've announced tonight. At midnight, John Kerry will begin returning fire with a surprise press conference, for which they've already released excerpted remarks. It's all over the cable shows; Karen Hughes is on the defensive on CNN right now, and the first question that set her back was on the press conference. They're late to the party, but it is possible that they brought punch.
Even more intriguing, Ryan Lizza at TNR says:
...tomorrow there will be a significant announcement from the Kerry campaign about a new media buy that will be far tougher than anything Kerry has done this year.
I've been hoping for "My Pet Goat", but whatever it is, I'm looking forward to it. I think timing is important and perhaps laying out a bit and then stepping hard on Bush's night was smart. The press corpse is slavering over the notion of a knock down drag out fight and Kerry is making a big show of it.
digby 9/02/2004 06:32:00 PM
Fuck this little right wing prick. I think I understand why the smirking codpiece likes him so much:
Porter Goss, tapped as the next CIA director, says the Senate lacked "balance" in its public hearings investigating the Iraqi prison scandal and should not have plucked military commanders from the field to question them about the abuse.
Goss took a hard line on interrogations in interviews with The Associated Press earlier this year, saying "Gee you're breaking my heart" to complaints that Arab men found it abusive to have women guards at the Guantanamo Bay terror camp _ statements that could draw scrutiny during his Senate confirmation hearing, possibly next week.
During one interview in May, the eight-term House Republican from Florida said he couldn't count the number of ongoing prison abuse investigations, but "we've got the circus in the Senate, which is always the likely place to look for the circus."
"Even though I say that lightheartedly, I do honestly question whether or not they have balance over there on this issue," said Goss, who has declined interviews since President Bush nominated him last month.
Let's let Porter spend a little time having Lyndie walk him around on a leash and see if he still thinks the Senate is "unbalanced" by asking the military to answer a couple of tepid questions about its immoral torture policy. He's a smart ass wingnut who has absolutely no business being anywhere near real power.
If he wants to see a circus, he should take a look at this sickening medieval sideshow:
The Bush administration is ignoring, if not defying outright, the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that all terror suspects must be able to challenge their imprisonment. The opening round of detainee military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay last week resembled something between a Mel Brooks farce and the kangaroo courts of former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. Maybe Captain Kangaroo courts. The proceedings didn't look anything like justice, military or otherwise. Meanwhile, two U.S. citizens still sit in military brigs, isolated from their lawyers and months if not years away from the hearings the high court says they deserve.
The U.S. criminal justice system, including its military stepchild, is supposed to stand for due process, impartiality and openness. These are the same principles, after all, that U.S. troops are fighting — and dying — to seed in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the slapdash preliminary hearings for the first four of some 600 Guantanamo detainees violated basic tenets of fairness.
The tribunals are an ad hoc invention, authorized by President Bush three years ago when he rejected the established military court-martial system and the federal criminal courts, either of which would have worked more smoothly. As a result, military officials have few precedents to follow and last week seemed confused about which rules or legal procedures applied.
Members of these tribunals — the jury, in effect — are military professionals appointed by the Pentagon. The tribunal's chief officer is a retired Army judge, the only member of the panel with legal training. He is both the judge and a jury member, ruling on motions and voting with the five other commissioners.
In a criminal court, the lay jury decides the facts and the judge rules on questions of law. Here, however, tribunal members decide on both. Yet the five nonlawyers were clearly befuddled last week when asked to define concepts such as due process and reasonable doubt.
The cards are stacked against detainees in other ways too. Government prosecutors got spacious quarters and their own staff to prepare for the hearings. Military defense lawyers were crowded into one room. Midway through the week, the conference table they all shared was removed. The Arab interpreters were so incompetent that the proceedings resembled a game of "telephone," in which the message veered closer to gibberish with each repetition. Yet this game is about men's futures.
Given the confusion, officials must feel justified in limiting reporters to pen and paper, which might as well be quill and parchment. No photographic, video or audio recordings of the hearings will ever be released. From the government's perspective, perhaps the less that Americans know of these bumbling proceedings, the less they'll care.
The two U.S. citizens that Bush has labeled as enemy combatants, Yaser Hamdi and Jose Padilla, haven't gotten even this much. Years after their arrests, each remains in a military brig, often in solitary confinement. Even after the Supreme Court's declaration that they have a right to a hearing, government lawyers outrageously are fighting every lower court petition filed by lawyers retained by the men's families. And still the government has filed no charges against Hamdi or Padilla.
The Supreme Court made itself clear in its June rulings: Terror suspects are entitled to at least bare-bones due process. For government lawyers to insist otherwise is unprecedented. Their assertion probably doesn't scare terrorists, but it throws a pall on the lush praise for U.S. freedoms that decorate the Republican National Convention.
The rank dishonesty and hypocrisy of the Republicans turns my stomach. Freedom and democracy, my ass. We simply have to defeat these people.
digby 9/02/2004 03:17:00 PM
Bad Omen, George
2.5 Million Told to Flee Fla. Hurricane
Residents and tourists in cars, trucks and campers clogged highways Thursday in the biggest evacuation ever ordered in Florida, fleeing inland as mighty Hurricane Frances threatened the state with its second battering in three weeks.
About 2.5 million residents were told to clear out ahead of what could be the most powerful storm to hit Florida in a decade.
digby 9/02/2004 02:34:00 PM
A Moving Tribute To The Man They Call Junior
Via Atrios and One Good Move, If you aren't going to be home in time to see the Bush campaign video tonight, Jon Stewart was lucky enough to get a sneak preview:
George W. Bush: Because He Says So
digby 9/02/2004 02:02:00 PM
Matt Stoller has a fascinating post up in which he describes a Republican training seminar for women. They laid out the strategy for getting to their target group in this election --- "married women with high religiosity, women who voted for Bush in 2000 and value their family's safety." This explains the bizarre babble I heard the other night on Matthews after Laura Bush's speech. They were, unsurprisingly, parroting GOP talking points (which are pretty insulting if you ask me.)
However, they seem to have targeted a very specific group whom they evidently don't feel they are insulting by characterizing them as something like nineteenth century farmwives with no knowledge of the world beyond their homestead. I guess the Republicans know their constituency.
What's interesting to me about the data Matt compiles is the focus group comments from independent Republican-leaning women, 30% of whom are undecided:
*"I don't believe anything anymore"
* "I don't like slinging mud and they all do it..."
* "I can't hear anything from a government and trust it."
* "I don't believe anything anymore and we can't make a difference because we don't have any truth..."
* "I don't really know aht's happening but I know someone knows what's happening."
* "I absolutely believe they have no clue."
* "They tell us to keep doing what I've always done, but watch out for something. If there's something I'm supposed to worry about why am I supposed to do what I've always done?"
* "Kerry hasn't won my trust yet, I don't feel safe with him. I'm waiting to see, I think we are vulnerable."
* "If Kerry did win the change of hands of government would lessen the protection of the country."
* "We're putting money into the college funds every month and it seems like it stays at the same level."
* "What's going to be there when our kids are ready."
* "What's going on with the economy. I'm not happy with my job."
* "Turning the corner - I didn't get that one. I want to find that corner and stand on that corner."
These are Republican leaning married women. And they do not sound as if they are very happy with the way our politics are being waged and they are very cynical. They don't sound like nineteenth century farmwives to me, they sound like some severely irritated twenty first century citizens.
This issue of rabid partisanship is a difficult problem to engage right now because just as these women, and I suspect many others, are getting sick and tired of the yelling and screaming --- the white male contingent is kicking it up a notch. And, if you don't properly fight back you risk looking weak, which neither men or women want, but if you do fight back, these exasperated women see you as part of the problem, not the solution. It's the old, "I don't care who started it, you're both grounded" routine. Not that I blame them. It is exhausting and you have to wonder sometimes if there will ever be an end to it.
But, I have to say that if those comments are representative of this group then the Zellfire and brimstone attack of the last couple of days probably has gone over like a lead balloon with these women. From Matt's post it appears the GOP believes they are looking for someone to "protect" them and will respond to male strength. That sounds like wingnut wishful thinking to me. Those comments sound like some people who are sick of the bullshit and would like their leaders to shut the hell up and start dealing with reality. I don't think many of them would have been impressed by this cock-of-the-walk chest thumping that's been going on this week in NYC.
There's a reason why the gender gap continues to widen. The GOP remains an old fashioned boys club that welcomes rich trophy wives and fundamentalist believers in female subservience. Until they figure out that those two categories are rapidly dwindling groups in this culture and that most women reasonably don't see politics as a particularly heroic endeavor, all this strutting around with codpieces is pretty much playing to the locker room crowd. Women are their own heroes these days.
Read Matt's post all the way through if you're interested in this topic. He brings up one thing that is crucial and that is the the Democrats don't do this kind of grassroots seminar teaching which is a big mistake. People on the ground want the talking points and the rationale, they just don't know where to get it. If the Dems aren't doing this they damned sure should be.
Update: John Edwards knows how to make this appeal for our side and it's not because he's so darned cute. It's because he knows how to subtly aim the message.
"If you got up and went to the refrigerator to get a Diet Coke, you would have missed any discussion of what they’re going to do about health care, what they’re going to do about jobs, what they plan to do about this mess in Iraq."
Diet coke, see? He's not talking to some hairy mook.
Here's a little bit of the premiere wingnut talk radio harpy, Dr Laura's, new book:
I believe [women's self-centeredness] is a result of the women's movement, with its condemnation of just about everything male as evil, stupid, and oppressive, and the denigration of female and male roles in families, as well as the loss of family functioning as a result of divorce, day care, dual careers, and the glorification of shacking up and unwed motherhood by choice. These are the core destructive influences that result in women not appreciating that they are perfected when they are bonded in wedlock and have obligations to family.
I think that says it all.
digby 9/02/2004 01:32:00 PM
Coalition Of The ... Never Mind
Kos tells me that Blair and his socialist comrades are showing their true colors:
That does it! Time for Republicans in Congress to adopt the metric system! We'll eat Freedom Muffins. And we'll rename our language "Freedomish".
And long overdue it is, my friends. Why we ever trusted those limey bastards is beyond me. There's that little Norman Conquest thing that nobody wants to talk about, but there's more than one Frenchman in the woodpile over there, if you know what I mean.
digby 9/02/2004 12:28:00 PM
Now This Is Just Sad
Don't look now, but Karl Rove is the Republican Party's newest sex symbol.
The bespectacled, wispyhaired political guru - known in some circles as "Bush's brain" - had to be physically protected Tuesday night from a flock of lady admirers during a cocktail party at Gotham Hall.
"As soon as he got off the stage, he was mobbed by a group of women," party volunteer Warren Seubel told Lowdown.
"Women were fawning over him. They were swooning," said Seubel. "I've never seen someone so gnarly get so much attention from so many women."
Things got a tad ugly when Rove's handlers tried to separate the man from his fans.
"It was unbelieeeeevable. I had to start throwing elbows at senators and congressmen," said Seubel. "But the real problem was the congressional wives."
Maybe it was the 53-year-old Rove's toast that had the gals excited. Addressing the crowd - which included human Uzi Ann Coulter, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, G. Gordon Liddy and Interior Secretary Gale Norton - Rove yelled, "We're right, and they're wrong! On the economy, we're right, and they're wrong! On the war on terror, we're right, and they're wrong! On marriage, we're right, and they're wrong!"
Yesterday, a Rove associate tried to knock down the sex-symbol scenario. "He's like a rock star, and people want to shake his hand, take pictures with him, say hello, etc." the associate E-mailed. "I've been here all week and it is crazy, but I don't seriously think it is because he's a babe magnet. He's just the man!"
Having taken a good look at the men on the floor at Madison Square Garden this week, I can see that the GOP women are pretty hard up. But, there's really no excuse for this. First it was Ari, now this. For Gawd's sake, ladies, have some dignity.
digby 9/02/2004 11:54:00 AM
Mark Your Calendars
Via Suburban Guerilla, I see that we have something very powerful and important happening on September 13th:
In Chain of Command, Hersh takes an unflinching look behind the public story of President Bush's "war on terror" and into the lies and obsessions that led America into Iraq. He reveals the connections between early missteps in the hunt for Al Qaeda and disasters on the ground in Iraq. The book includes a new account of Hersh's pursuit of the Abu Ghraib story and of where, he believes, responsibility for the scandal ultimately lies. Hersh draws on sources at the highest levels of the American government and intelligence community, in foreign capitals, and on the battlefield for an unparalleled view of a crucial chapter in America's recent history. With an introduction by The New Yorker's editor, David Remnick, Chain of Command is a devastating portrait of an Administration blinded by ideology and of a President whose decisions have made the world a more dangerous place for America.
And something powerful and trivial will be happening on September 14th:
Foes of the president are salivating over a description of Kitty Kelley’s forthcoming tell-all about George Bush and his kin. “The Family: the Real Story of the Bush Dynasty” goes on sale Sept. 14, and the description on Amazon.com promises that Kelley — who made international headlines with her scathing Nancy Reagan bio — will reveal “the matriarchs, the mistresses, the marriages, the divorces, the jealousies, the hypocrisies, the golden children, and the black sheep” of the first family.
I hope that operatives are preparing to milk this situation. Here we will have two book tours, one featuring a scathing indictment of the administration's terrible (and immoral) decisions in fighting the war on islamic fundamentalism and the other a deliciously gossipy screed that will entice the tabloid appetite of the press corpse. In today's media climate it isn't about a specific fire, it's the accumulating smoke that puts the other guys off his game. The timing here is no accident.
digby 9/02/2004 10:52:00 AM
It's gratifying to see that the aristocratic Lord Saletan has seen the light and is now in favor of democracy. This piece certainly hits the nail on the head:
The election is becoming a referendum on democracy.
In a democracy, the commander in chief works for you. You hire him when you elect him. You watch him do the job. If he makes good decisions and serves your interests, you rehire him. If he doesn't, you fire him by voting for his opponent in the next election.
Not every country works this way. In some countries, the commander in chief builds a propaganda apparatus that equates him with the military and the nation. If you object that he's making bad decisions and disserving the national interest, you're accused of weakening the nation, undermining its security, sabotaging the commander in chief, and serving a foreign power—the very charges Miller leveled tonight against Bush's critics.
Are you prepared to become one of those countries?
This is quite interesting (and gratifying) but I'm puzzled. At the beginning of the week Saletan wrote:
6:33 p.m. PT—This will be an interesting convention for me. Five years ago, when I moved out of the District of Columbia—a one-party state, minus the statehood—I had to think seriously about which party to register with. I was sick of the liberal dogmatism of my college and post-college friends. I'd come to the conclusion, through personal and political experience, that while Democrats had the right values, Republicans had a better operating theory of human nature: People behave more virtuously and wisely when they bear the consequences of their actions.
I also agreed fundamentally with something Newt Gingrich said a lot when he was speaker of the House: If we leave the money in Washington, the liberals will spend it. So, when George W. Bush got elected, I wasn't terribly disturbed. I thought he was dumb and unqualified, but with a fat surplus accumulating in Washington, sending the money back to taxpayers before Congress spent it struck me as prudent.
I didn't agree with the conservative urge to legislate on abortion, homosexuality, or other moral issues. But in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, I found a Republican who shared my libertarian instincts on those questions: Rep. Connie Morella. On many spending issues, Morella was to my left. But I was happy to find a sensible representative who didn't have to follow the Democratic Party's line of bribing approved constituencies and equating virtue with spending.
The Maryland Democratic Party refused to let me vote in its primaries if I registered as an independent. The Maryland Republican Party, in need of converts, demanded no such loyalty oath. So, I registered as an independent and voted in Maryland's Republican presidential primary for John McCain, whom I admired even when I disagreed with him. Then I voted for Morella in a tight general election contest, and she won. I was beginning to feel comfortable thinking of myself as a liberal Republican, even if this was one of just a few pockets in the country where people like me could find a place in this party.
Four years later, I come to this convention stripped of that feeling. The past four years have alienated me from this party. I'm here, among other things, to find out why.
He seems to have figured it out in the last three days. The modern Republican party is hostile to democracy.
But, dear God, what on earth did he think was going on for the last fifteen years when Bob Dole went on the floor of the senate and declared that Clinton won with only a plurality so he wasn't legitimate? What was Saletan thinking when the Republicans insistently employed their investigative power and relentlessly mau-maued the media into pressuring the admnistration to appoint special prosecutor after special prosecutor over insignificant issues? What in the world did he think was happening when they impeached a twice duly elected president over a trivial sexual matter?
And what did he think was happening when they played an unprecedented form of hardball in seizing the presidency and then governing as if they had a huge mandate for radical change?
Did any of those actions speak of a party that gave a damn about the spirit of democracy?
It has been clear for quite some time to anyone who is paying attention that the modern Republican party is actively undermining the democratic process. Look at the Republican funded recall in California or the strong-arm redistricting all over the country, not to mention the more subtle forms of anti-democratic rule like bald-faced lying about government statistics and holding secret meetings and creating entirely new forms of executive privilege.
Yes, standing up before the nation and saying that speaking out against the president during a presidential campaign is putting our troops at risk is a very shocking charge. But, this is hardly the first time they've said that. I simply don't understand how people who are paid money to watch politics for a living have missed what seems to me to be an obvious development over more than a decade. Every election since 1992 has been dicier and dicier. With each cycle, they have gotten more and more aggressive in breaking the rules and challenging accepted norms. The only real question at this point is if they have been successful in rigging enough voting machines to swing this election if it's close enough. I'm hoping that they just haven't had the time to get it done because if they have there is absolutely no reason to believe they won't do it. They do not have any limits.
So yes, this election is a referendum on American democracy. At this point, they all are --- and they have been for quite some time. I'm glad some members of the media are noticing. Maybe this time they won't be so willing to smugly tell us to "get over it" if things go wrong.
But, I doubt it. Until elections are actually cancelled (which we -- shockingly -- even discussed openly for a while)or journalists are jailed for sedition or some other heinous suspension of the constitution (for ordinary white people, mind you) is employed, the media will continue to support the slow erosion of our political system until it will be too late to get it back.
After all, Lord Saletan still believed the Republicans held the abstract philosophy that "people behave more virtuously and wisely when they bear the consequences of their actions" in 1999, after the Republican congress had weakened the constitution and impeached Clinton over a blowjob. If he was that slow on the uptake, then I'm not anticipating that he will figure out the rest of the story until everything is already lost.
digby 9/02/2004 08:44:00 AM
Damn That Al Gore
Does everyone remember when Jeff Jacoby got nailed for passing on that stupid chain letter about the heroes of the revolutionary war all ending up broke? Or when Pierre Salinger fell for a photo shopped picture on the internet of flight 800 being shot down?
After his speech last night, Zell was waving around a sheaf of papers claiming that it proved his claims about Kerry were true. I wonder if anybody actually got a look at it because both pandagon and Martini Republic have found some shocking similarities between Zell's lies and a couple of bogus chain e-mails that have been going around for months.
You don't suppose that Zell actually fell for that crap, do you?
On the other hand, baldfaced lying is no longer seen as political death, so why not? Perhaps we should have Kerry start doing speches about Bush's long term affair with Osama bin Laden's third wife. Somebody sent me an e-mail that said it was true so it must be.
digby 9/02/2004 08:30:00 AM
Wednesday, September 01, 2004
What About The Flying Monkeys?
THE MILLER GAMBLE [Jonah Goldberg]
I think the Miller speech was fantastic, as I said. But I do think that if it had been delivered by a Republican it would be seen as a major liability for Bush -- largely because the press would but that spin. I think the Bush campaign believes that the counter-spin that Miller's a Democrat will defuse that sort of thing; "the Republicans weren't mean. Zell Miller's a Democrat."
I think the gamble will pay off. But expect a blizzard of spin from those who want to Buchananify the speech.
The speech made Buchanan sound like the other Jenna. But the problem, Jonah, is that you can pretend that the GOP has some distance from the speech all you want because Miller calls himself a Democrat. But, how are you going to explain the shrill, shrieking freaks in the audience whose eyes were veritably rolling back in their heads in ecstasy every time old Zell let fly. Are they Democrats too?
It's kind of hard to distance yourself from your own convention delegates, know what I mean?
digby 9/01/2004 10:17:00 PM
We haven't lost PA
I can't tell you how important it is to read Donkey Rising every day from now on if you want to know what's going on with the horse race. Today, Ruy has a very informative piece on likely voters vs. registered voters --- and reports that the doom and gloom about Pennsylvania is bullshit.
This is not some "Pollyanna let's all cross our fingers and hope as hard as we can that the poll numbers are wrong" nonsense. Polling is actually fairly accurate, particularly showing trend lines over time. And, we are not behind. In fact, as Ruy points out, when they poll registered voters we are quite a bit ahead. This is where the scenario of the new and motivated Democrats comes in. If it is true that we are more intense than the other side then these numbers reflect that if we get a good turnout, we win handily. When they all switch to a more reliable likely voter model closer to the election, we'll have a little better idea if the Dems really are as motivated as we think. I'd bet we are.
Read his posts on the details of political polling and what it all means. You'll feel better. We are doing fine.
digby 9/01/2004 09:15:00 PM
Blitzer, Greenfield and Woodruff are interviewing Zell Miller directly after Cheney's speech. (After Edwards, the very first words out of anybody's mouth came from Ralph Reed.)
The good news is that they are challenging his lies. I'm beginning to think, watching him, that I was closer to the truth than I realized when I said he had a mental problem. He sounds ridiculous trying to defend his crazy talk.
Blitzer is accusing him of sounding so angry that "some are saying" his speech may have backfired. Now he's babbling incoherently. I almost feel sorry for him.
Cheney's speech was simultaneously dull and nasty, which isn't an easy feat. Tad Devine is doing just fine framing the difference between the two parties as between hope and fear. After tonight that claim has even more salience. The whole thing was discordant and ugly --- and the crowd was way over the top with the cheering at the Democrat bashing. It's not a pretty picture.
Clearly, Rove has given up on tacking to the middle. He is totally playing to the base. This election is trench warfare --- get out the vote.
BTW: Nice of them to make Mary stay off the stage, don't you think? How do they sleep at night?
Update: Someone should have put a little drop of laudenum in Ziggy's Starbucks this evening. He apparently challenged Chris Matthews to a duel. For real.
digby 9/01/2004 07:59:00 PM