Saturday, December 01, 2007

A red ribbon day

By Carol Gee

Today is World AIDS Day. Millions of Americans' lives have somehow been touched by AIDS. Our family lost a dear friend to the disease in the '90s. Years ago I, like many , was required to get a negative AIDS test for a new insurance policy. And some of the money we paid in taxes has been spent to battle this sad and scary epidemic now devastating Africa.

Bush marks World AIDS Day at church that supports children orphaned by the disease," is the headline in yesterday's International Herald Tribune. The article begins:

President George W. Bush urged Congress to approve an additional $30 billion (€20 billion) for the global fight against AIDS over the next five years, and announced he would visit Africa early next year to further highlight the need and his administration's efforts.

"We dedicate ourselves to a great purpose: We will turn the tide against HIV/AIDS — once and for all," Bush said Friday, the day before World AIDS Day. "I look forward to seeing the results of America's generosity."

. . . In honor of Saturday's World AIDS Day, the White House hung a red ribbon — 28 feet (8.5 meters) tall and 8 feet (2.5 meters) wide — in the North Portico of the mansion to symbolize the fight against AIDS. It will stay up for two days and, on Saturday, guests who visit the White House will receive a red ribbon sticker and a fact card.

The article concludes with another side to the story, that perhaps the administration of our current president (OCP), has not been very effective. To quote further from the IHT story:

Forty protesters, including students, HIV-positive activists and health advocates, were arrested Friday after they sat down on the sidewalk in front of the White House and refused police orders to move, said Lt. Scott Fear of the U.S. Park Police.

Demonstrators said the Bush administration's response to the spread of AIDS has been ineffective. They called for increased funding and an end to abstinence-only sex education requirements for U.S.-funded HIV and AIDS programs internationally. They said the disease also has been largely ignored in the nation's capital, which has the country's worst rate of infection.

"You don't know how to save lives, Mr. President," Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, Washington, D.C.'s nonvoting member of Congress, said to cheers from a crowd of more than 150 at a rally before the arrests. "Stop sending mixed messages with the taxpayer funds of the American people.

The truth about AIDS in Africa probably lies somewhere in between these two views. But the statistics are clear. According to AVERT, an international AIDS charity, I quote:

Sub-Saharan Africa is more heavily affected by HIV and AIDS than any other region of the world. An estimated 22.5 million people were living with HIV at the end of 2007 and approximately 1.7 million additional people were infected with HIV during that year. In just the past year, the AIDS epidemic in Africa has claimed the lives of an estimated 1.6 million people in this region. More than eleven million children have been orphaned by AIDS.

The extent of the AIDS crisis is only now becoming clear in many African countries, as increasing numbers of people with HIV are becoming ill. In the absence of massively expanded prevention, treatment and care efforts, it is expected that the AIDS death toll in sub-Saharan Africa will continue to rise. This means that impact of the AIDS epidemic on these societies will be felt most strongly in the course of the next ten years and beyond. Its social and economic consequences are already widely felt, not only in the health sector but also in education, industry, agriculture, transport, human resources and the economy in general.

What can we as individuals do? I do not post at DailyKos very often, but today I did and closed with this:

Much as we hate to give credit to OCP, is should be noted that his commitment to helping fight the AIDS epidemic has been considerable.

The AIDS virus knows no party lines, no geographical borders, no gender preferences, no time-limited scope.

Just for today give it a thought, "send white light" to its victims, and get tested if there is any question in your mind about your own status.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Friday, November 30, 2007

There is never just ONE WAY

By Carol Gee

Our current president (OCP) has a governing style that is maddening to his opponents. In contrast to former President Clinton's "Third Way," OCP almost always proposes the ONE WAY to handle an issue. Some examples:

  • Hate Crime -- "Civil Rights Protesters Surround The Justice Department, Demand More Focus On Hate Crimes," from Think Progress.Quote:

    Both the House and the Senate have passed hate crimes bills this year, but the Bush administration has threatened to veto any stand alone hate crimes legislation.

  • Firm date for withdrawal -- "Australians set Iraq withdrawal date" from Quote:

    See. Setting a withdrawal timetable really isn't all that difficult. A country just needs a new leader.

  • Spying on Americans -- "Late Nite FDL: Was the Showdown in Ashcroft's Hospital Room Over Internet Spying?" (link included 200+ comments) Quote:

    I have previously written about CALEA (the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act) and the fact that a petition was filed by DOJ, FBI and DEA dated March 10, 2004 asking that the FCC interpret CALEA to make it cover Internet communications.

    The thing is, CALEA really doesn’t seem to cover Internet, at least not according to 3 of the FCC Commissioners.

    . . . Somebody needs to tell Congress, before the FISA telcom immunity vote, cause I’m guessing it’s not just telcos, it’s ISP providers too.

  • Open-ended Iraq war budget -- "The Hidden Costs of Imperialism: Report Estimates Cost of Iraq Occupation at $1.6 Trillion," from The Daily Galaxy. Quote:

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev said the report "is another reminder of how President Bush's stubborn refusal to change course in Iraq and congressional Republicans' willingness to rubber stamp his failed strategy — has real consequences at home for all Americans."

    The White House is trying to downplay the report, but Israel Klein, spokesman for the Joint Economic Committee, took issue with the White House's dismissive attitude toward the panel's report.

These are just a few of the issues about which OCP maintains that there is one way, his way. Words that have been used by bloggers to describe OCP over the years include, "stubborn, obdurate, unyielding, obstinate, persistent, demanding, difficult." It is perhaps his personality trait, but I submit that it also comes from ignorance and black-and-white or shallow thinking. It is as if OCP is handed a slogan that he then uses as his answer -- forever. Stubbornness can also come from insecurity and immaturity. Wanting one's way as the first requisite signifies an adolescent level of development.

All this is is to suggest that we make our presidential nominee choices based on something other than ONE WAY-style thinking. Think about yourself as a computer user. These (sometimes) "infernal machines" are handy metaphors for political problem solving or choice making.

Computers very often allow us more than one way to do the next task. We can use the "mouse" or keyboard shortcuts. We can use the browser Internet Explorer or increasingly, Mozilla Firefox. We can use the "free" version of a service -- and sometimes look at ads -- or we can purchase an ad-free version. Ironically, that range of choice is a characteristic that has always made the medium almost "the only way" I am now able to write.

I suggest we use the computer model as a way to decide in choosing the Democratic presidential nominee from among a number of excellent candidates. We can avoid the "keyboard shortcuts" of voting for gut feeling, horse-race leader, or electability. We can browse smart with more attention to candidates' positions on issues, rather than debating skills. We can put some money into the effort, whatever we can afford," because that is a solid principle of participation. And you could really stretch yourself by hand writing a note (rather than sending an e-mail) to someone with the power to make a difference in the election.

There is always more than one way for us, if we just think about it a bit. And it just might not hurt to add the leadership qualities of flexibility, intellect, creativity, and personal stability as traits by which to vote for your ultimate candidate.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

Labels: , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Karl Rove, living in an Etch-A-Sketch kind of world

By J. Thomas Duffy

What's going on with the Turd Blossom?

Is he punch-drunk? Does he have that Cell Phone disease? For all his years in the Bush Grindhouse, did he sit too close to those huge screens down in the Situation Room?

Last week, on The Charlie Rose Show, the Smear Meister -- you may want to sit down for this -- blamed Congress for the invasion and occupation (and politicization) of Iraq.

From Think Progress;

ROVE: Charlie– Charlie, I’m not going to tell you the answer to this but I want you to remember you asked me about that because one of the untold stories about the war is why did the United States Congress, the United States Senate, vote on the war resolution in the fall of 2002?

ROSE: Why?

ROVE: This administration was opposed to it. I’m going to talk about that in my book.

ROSE: Tell me, give me–

ROVE: No, no.

ROSE: Give me something.


ROSE: Give me something.

ROVE: I just did. I told you the administration was opposed to voting on it in the fall of 2002.

ROSE: Because?

ROVE: Because we didn’t think it belonged in the confines of the election. We thought it made it too political. We wanted it outside the confines of the election. It seemed it make things move too fast. There were things that needed to be done to bring along allies and potential allies abroad and yet–

ROSE: So you didn’t do it because…?

ROVE: There was a vote, and I’m– I’m–

ROSE: But you were opposed to the vote.

ROVE: It happened. we don’t determine when the Congress vote on things. The Congress does.

ROSE: You wish it hadn’t happened at that time. you would have preferred it did not happen at that time.

ROVE: That’s right.

ROSE: Because your argument– your argument is you would have had maybe more inspections. You would have been able to build a broader coalition. You could have done a whole lot other things if you didn’t have to have a vote, right?

ROVE: Right, right, exactly.

Now, all well in good, but Rove has told so many lies, he's losing track.

It was just earlier this year, in April, that he blamed Osama bin Laden for the war in Iraq.

And, The Garlic noted, how, earlier this month, Herr Karl was blaming the Democrats for all that is wrong in our country (Surprise, Surprise! ... Rove Blames - Can You Guess - The Democrats!), and you can safely bet that he will use his new post, the column at Newsweek, to do some further revisionist spin.

But this Charlie Rose thing, man, that is some serious doodling on the ol' Etch-A-Sketch.

Wasn't The Turd Man supposed to be the genius? Bush's Brain, and all that?

Appearing on Keith Olbermann's Countdown Tuesday evening, to discuss the recent spin, Arianna Huffington, and she laid out the obvious;

"But the only problem is that when 1984 was written, Google and Lexus nexus did not exist. And right now they do. And you could go to the White House Web site and we can go to endless statements about that time. We can go to the fact that Karl Rove and Dick Cheney had created the Iraq study group. Remember the White House‘s main objective was to sell, sell, sell that war. I actually happened to be at a conference in Aspen in September 2002 before that vote when Karl Rove himself spoke and was so a bit about that war. I remember him saying things like we have Rumsfeld‘s new army which is going to basically produce this liberation of Iraq, casualty-free. And he was completely elated about the prospect of dominating the Middle East by invading Iraq."

So there Smear Meister Rove, work that Etch-A-Sketch, and turn, ferverishly, those two little white knobs.

Draw away, your little neocon sand castles, your field of dreams of the Republican Majority.

But everytime you start conjuring, yet, another lie, another spin, another untruth, on The Commander Guy, the regime, and your hand in the contribution to the deterioration of our government, there's going to be an army of people who are going to walk over to you, grab the Etch-A-Sketch out of your hands and shake it, and shake it and shake it, reminding you, with your own words and deeds, that you are in a No Spin Zone.

Heaven help us, you may, some day, be held legally accountable for your actions.

So, you may want to pick up the phone and call some of those cronies you placed in the Justice Department. Ask them which of the penal institutions will allow you to have your little Etch-A-Sketch in your cell.

Hmmm ... You then will have a great deal of time, to perfectly draw out, painstakingly, an exact likeness of, say, a certificate of commutation, or pardon ...

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Rudy and the mistress 2

By Michael J.W. Stickings

In response to the recent revelation in that he billed various New York City municipal agencies for "security" expenses while engaging in an extramarital affair, Rudy Giuliani was quick to defend himself. The billing was "perfectly appropriate," he said, the story as reported by The Politico "totally false". His former chief of staff, now a campaign aide, called it "a bookkeeping exercise".

After the GOP debate Wednesday night, Giuliani called the story "a hit job," as if for some reason The Politico, hardly a left-wing publication, was out to get him. It could be paranoia on his part, but clearly the plan is to attack the messenger. He and his people are evidently hoping that they can get away with not addressing the merits of the story in any serious way, hence this, along with the various efforts at deflection.

Meanwhile, the city comptroller, William Thompson, said that his auditors "were getting stonewalled by City Hall and this is in the previous administration, under the Giuliani administration. They were not giving answers." Indeed, The Politico notes that "neither [Giuliani] nor his aides have questioned any of the facts reported" in the original piece.

They are still not giving answers, it seems, hoping the story goes away, along with all the media attention, if they spin it long enough.


As Steve Benen has reminded us -- see here and here -- much of this isn't new. For example, it was "reported a few months ago that Giuliani kept his emergency command center in 7 World Trade Center, in part so he could maintain a convenient love nest for his extra-marital affairs". Indeed: "We knew about the trips to the Hamptons. We knew Giuliani ordered a security detail for both women. We knew that taxpayers ended up footing the bill. What we didn’t know was that steps may have been taken to cover up the true costs of Giuliani’s extra-curricular activities."


And there's more:

Well before it was publicly known he was seeing her, then-married New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani provided a police driver and city car for his mistress Judith Nathan, former senior city officials tell the Blotter on

"She used the PD as her personal taxi service," said one former city official who worked for Giuliani.

Also a hit job, Rudy?


In response, Andrew Sullivan asks the right question: "How does any sane person trust the power of the presidency with this money-raking friend of mobbed-up Kerik and accused child-molester Placa?"

Ah, yes, Bernie Kerik. Where exactly does he fit into this corruption scandal? You know he's there somewhere. (Yup, see Josh Marshall's take.)

As for Alan Placa, you can read about him here.


And there's still more -- on Rudy, if not the mistress -- from Kevin Drum:

And, hell, as long as we're piling on Rudy, ABC also reported today that for the past two years Giuliani Security & Safety has been providing security consulting and advice to the Qatar Interior Ministry, "which is currently run by a member of the royal family who has long been accused of supporting al Qaeda, according to security consultants familiar with the area."



Yes, there's the Shag Fund story (Shagfundgate?), but the dirt on Giuliani just keeps piling up from many different sides. Ask yourselves Andrew's question again, but expand it to include everything else we know about this wretched man.

Simply put, he cannot be trusted. At his core, Rudy Giuliani is nothing but a corrupt thug.

Labels: , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The new faces of influence in the Middle East

By Carol Gee

And some old faces in brand new roles -- George W. Bush and Tony Blair -- The Financial Times headlined: "US takes ownership of peace process". Written by Harvey Morris, November 28, 2007, the story opened with a succinct summary of the current reality:

When George W. Bush this week read out the words of what historians will no doubt come to call the Annapolis Declaration, the Israeli and Palestinian leaders peered over his shoulder as if trying to read for the first time the terms of the contract they had just signed.

Low down in the fine print was a clause that handed the US president ownership of the peace process as monitor and judge of their performance during the remaining year of his term.

The BBC carried a story earlier in the week that discussed the new role of former Prime Minister Tony Blair in the Middle East. To quote:

The envoy of the Quartet of Middle East peace negotiators, Tony Blair, has announced a series of economic projects to help boost the Palestinian economy. . . ."It is a strong beginning for what is a critical part of this process, because without hope of prosperity... then politics will never succeed," said Tony Blair, Middle East envoy.

(Suleiman photo from AFP at Aljazeera)

Lebanon has not been in a strong position for some time. It would be good if both sides could agree on someone to lead them, not into more conflict, but into problem-solving.

According to Aljazeera, the Lebanon presidency deadlock seems to be easing. To quote:

The commander of Lebanon's army has emerged as the candidate most likely to be agreed as the country's new president, officials say.

Parliamentarians from both the ruling majority and the opposition, which is led by the Shia Muslim party Hezbollah, said on Wednesday that General Michel Suleiman was being discussed as a compromise candidate.

Retired Marine General James Jones will soon have a new job, according to Israel's Haaretz. To quote:

Former NATO head expected to join Rice's Mideast team

Former NATO commander, retired General James Jones is expected to accept a role as adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on security issues related to peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, according to official sources.

The retired Marine Corps general will go by the official title of "Special Envoy for Middle East Security."

Jones, 64 next month, ended his 40-year career in the Marines last February, and will remain in his current job as president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Energy. Last summer, he headed a congressionally-chartered panel that studied the readiness of Iraq's army and police.

However, Israeli sources say that Jones is not a favorable choice because of his blatantly cool attitude to Israel.

We will see how it all works out. I am not holding my breath for any effective contribution from our current president (OCP). I am cautiously hopeful for former NATO Commander General Jones and Tony Blair, and particularly for Jones, who is among the most competent and independent people Secretary Rice could have chosen for the job. It should be a very positive signal to the Palestinians that he will not be biased in favor of Israel.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Trouble for Hugo

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Venezuelans are set to go to the polls this coming Sunday, December 2, to vote in a referendum on constitutional reforms that would expand President Hugo Chavez's powers and allow him to remain in power indefinitely (with the abolition of presidential term limits).

There seemed to be no doubt, at first, that passage was inevitable. Chavez would win, or, put differently, would not allow himself to lose. But recent polls suggest that the outcome is uncertain. Indeed, some polls put the No side in the lead. And Chavez, the Tyrant of Caracas, is not amused:

President Hugo Chávez is encountering unexpectedly strong opposition to a referendum on constitutional reform which would cement his rule in Venezuela, with violent clashes between rival demonstrations and security forces feeding a mood that the country is at a turning point.

According to opinion polls, the socialist leader could lose this Sunday's vote amid unease over his radical policies and ambition to stay in power for decades.

Defections from his movement's ranks and food shortages have galvanised a student-led opposition campaign which is due to climax at a final rally in downtown Caracas today.

Defeat would stymie Chávez's effort to abolish term limits and oblige him to step down in five years. He has expressed a desire to keep running for president until 2030.

The president, a formidable and charismatic campaigner, has cast the referendum as a verdict on his rule and said anyone who supported him but voted against would be a traitor. "It's black and white. A vote against the reform is a vote against Chávez," he told state television.

He said he would enter a period of "profound reflection" if he lost, but dismissed the prospect. "We're obligated to victory, to continue triumphing. This is a battle of world proportions."

The referendum is not about reforming the constitution so much as it is about entrenching Chavez's tyrannical rule. In other words, it's personal, as he himself has acknowledged. It is not "a battle of world proportions," of course, but he is fighting as if this is the fight of his life, a fight for his life, and, "obligated" or not, he will do whatever it takes to win.

For example, troops have used tear gas on student protesters opposed to Chavez's reforms. (Although it seems that the military is divided.) These courageous and determined students have taken the lead in speaking out and demonstrating against what they correctly see as their president's quest to obliterate democracy in their country. But it isn't just tear gas they're facing out in the streets. Some have been attacked by gunmen, thugs no doubt in Chavez's employ. There have been more protests this week -- more tear gas and rubber bullets, more clashes with police. Given that the more formal opposition has been beaten into submission, given that Chavez effectively controls the legislature, the judiciary, and the media, hope rests with these students and those who, like them, are prepared to take a firm stand against tyranny by voting No on Sunday.

But do the protests even matter, other than to express disaffection with Chavez, other than to raise awareness of what is going on in Venezuela? A poll conducted by a firm close to Chavez puts the Yes side ahead by as many as seven points. No wonder Chavez can be so confident. No wonder he can pre-emptively attack the No side's accusations of fraud if and when it loses. No wonder he can assert that the referendum "cannot fail". No wonder he can threaten to resign if he loses. He won't lose. He won't allow it. The entire process has been rigged, and the referendum is no exception. If he can't win through intimidation, he will find some other way.

Whatever the polls say, Chavez's power grab is pretty much a sure thing.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Watching the wheels spin

By Carl

This ain't
rocket science, guys...

CINCINNATI (Reuters) - Every politician in the U.S. presidential race claimed to be fighting for the middle class, and it seemed a sound strategy -- until the Democratic front-runners tried to define who, exactly, was middle class.

While Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama couldn't agree during a recent debate whether someone earning $97,500 or more could be considered middle class, voters have little difficulty judging who isn't -- the presidential candidates themselves.

"None of them really represent the middle class," said Rick Fulmer, 52, who works at the YMCA as a fitness trainer. "Both parties are tied to big business. It takes millions to run for president."

This is both ridiculously easy and profoundly difficult.

The middle class is easily defined, economically. Since the average family of four earns $45,000 a year, the safest definition of the "middle class" is the 80% or so who range around that point. Let's say any family (of neaarly any size) that earns from $35,000 to $75,000, just to be on the safe side, because census data says that a third of American households earn in that range.

Simple, right? Here's where it gets tricky: people who earn more (and some who earn less) believe they are middle class, when in fact they are not.

It's the belief that matters, however. A family that earns around $200,000 (two wage earners, with two kids, say) that lives in New York City or its suburbs will assume it's middle class, because that $200,000 doesn't buy much, once you factor taxes, mortgage, heating, and health insurance into the mix. Perhaps their disposable income is more along the lines of someone earning $75,000 but lives in Texas or Florida.

See? Not middle class, yet very middle class. The family in New York can't afford private schools, even if their income says they should. So education initiatives are very important to them (indeed, they probably moved to a district with better schools because of that very fact).

Too, when firefighters and some teachers make $75,000 a year or more, the definition of middle class becomes even fuzzier. While technically these earners are upper-middle class, you'd have to agree that their jobs keep their values firmly planted in middle class terra firma.

When politicians talk about "middle class," they're talking about the values of hard work, saving a buck, trying to live the American ideal of 2.6 kids, a house, two cars in the garage and providing for the family.

The proverbial "chicken in every pot" of a few generations ago has morphed into a Nintendo in every living room (or a PC, if you buy Microsoft's mission statement), but that's the spirit of the middle class.

Which is what makes the election of George Bush all the more unlikely, since he was born on third base thinking he'd hit a triple. He shares NO middle class values. He's never worked a hard day in his life that wasn't for a photo opportunity.

Sure, he can talk a good "middle class" game, but how can someone truly understand the middle class unless he (or she) has either lived it, or gone out of his way to understand it, like the Kennedy clan has?

What makes this discussion even fuzzier when it comes to Democrats, who traditionally have been and rightly should be the party of the middle class, is this interesting tidbit from the Heritage Foundation: 2005 tax data showed Democrats represent nearly 60 percent of the wealthiest one-third of congressional districts -- those with a high number of people earning more than $100,000 per year.

Admittedly, most of those are on the coasts, which means much higher costs of living, which means, yes, these "rich people" are the very essence of the middle class. Unfortunately, the tax code is skewed towards viewing them as rich, which means they get hammered by things like the alternative minimum tax, even if like you and I, they send their kids to public schools and ride the subways.

(OK, full disclosure...I'm not middle class. I make much more money, so extract the "me" and "we" bits out, even if I do ride the subways and sent my daughter to public school.)

This might be part of the disagreement that Obama and Clinton are having over the increased Social Security tax that Obama proposes. It would hit New Yorkers hard, "middle class" New Yorkers.

Personally, I have no problem with Obama's proposal. While there is no current Social Security crisis, I've always believed that Social Security taxes should not have a ceiling and in fact, should be applied to ALL income (with the possible exclusion of bank interest earned in a savings account, but that's a different part of my NotPresident platform), and that this revenue really should be locked away and not used in return for IOUs from the general spending fund.

So what are "middle class values," anyway?

Well, here's what I believe and if I was counseling a candidate, what I would tell him or her:

1) Hard work is its own best reward, but is also a path to the American Dream. I'm aware of the naivete it takes to swallow that, but enough people do that you have to account for it. The American Dream was never about being wealthy. The Horatio Alger stories saw the hero only achieve a decent living, never wealth. He became comfortable. The "chicken in every pot" ideal. To that extent, this is an attainable value. To the extent that this value gets warped by the economic royalists into "the American Dream is a million bucks," and the concommitant tax cuts they espouse and manipulate the average American into supporting...well, that's a con game. People don't get rich through hard work for someone else, and studies show that most people who work hard for themselves can't even promise a comfortable lifestyle.

2) Since Christ championed the poor, we should help them too. This will piss off an awful lot of hard left readers, but the simple fact is, America is a Christian nation, and while that has negative connotations in some circles, it shouldn't be perceived as evil. Hell, I'm Christian, and what goes on in the Religious Right offends me, too. But Christ's teachings about "Do unto others" and the other rules he set forth for living in a state of grace hold deeper meaning to most Christians, the ones you meet everyday in stores and at the PTA. They really Do believe that the poor need our help. This message gets warped by the economic royalists as "the poor are all about handouts," which distracts attention from the real reasons middle class families can't get ahead: the profiteers and pirates of the corporate classes.

3) If you leave me alone, I'll leave you alone. True dat. I think most families, apart from the gossip aspect, are happy not to know what their neighbors are up to, because it makes them fair game for intrusion themselves. This gets corrupted by the economic royalists into the pro-life logical fallacies and the pro-gun "from my cold dead hands" trope. I'm not sure why. I think it has to do with another distraction, possibly as government and the rich explore how to exploit the new technologies available for intrusion into control and economic devastation. But that's just a guess.

4) Finally, I'll have what he's having. Pretty simple, this is about not just fairness, but comparative greed. We all know this as "Keeping up with the Joneses." Naturally, as any TV watcher will tell you, this gets exploited by the economic royalists to create a need where none exists (really, if a Prius can get you from point A to point B, why would you need a Hummer?), which is the linchpin mechanism that feeds all the other exploitations I've listed above.

So this really is simple. And hard. And confusing. But once you grasp it, you can go with it.

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

Labels: , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Rudy and the mistress

By Michael J.W. Stickings

This is awesome:

As New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani billed obscure city agencies for tens of thousands of dollars in security expenses amassed during the time when he was beginning an extramarital relationship with future wife Judith Nathan in the Hamptons, according to previously undisclosed government records.

The documents, obtained by Politico under New York's Freedom of Information Law, show that the mayoral costs had nothing to do with the functions of the little-known city offices that defrayed his tabs, including agencies responsible for regulating loft apartments, aiding the disabled and providing lawyers for indigent defendants.

At the time, the mayor's office refused to explain the accounting to city auditors, citing "security."

I'm sure Giuliani's people will come up with some sort of bullshit explanation. Maybe he was off investigating al Qaeda cells in the Hamptons, for example. You know, because he was all over terrorism pre-9/11. Right?

My opposition to Giuliani has never been directed at his lifestyle, at the choices he's made with respect to his personal life, nor to his more liberal past. So what if he's pro-choice? So what if he lived with a gay couple? So what if he wore a dress in public?

No, what I object to, strenuously, is his quasi-fascist authoritarianism, including his support for the use of torture. It is safe to say that he would be far worse than Bush with respect to waging the so-called war on terror. He would turn America -- and much of the rest of world, wherever possible -- into his own personal police state.

But now there's something else: corruption. Tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money, all to spend time with a mistress.

Nice job, Rudy, America's mayor.

Here's hoping your opponents, Republicans and Democrats alike, make a big deal of this going forward into the primaries and, if you happen to win your party's nomination, next year's election campaign.

And here's hoping the media keep digging. I'm sure there's a lot more to be exposed.

(This is the top story at Memeorandum right now. See here.)

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Vision imposition

By Michael J.W. Stickings

This is where we need Jon Stewart. (Could the entertainment industry please accept the writers' demands and get on with it?)

Commenting on the Israeli-Palestinian situation on CNN today, in an interview with the Blitzman, President Bush said that he would "facilitate negotiations" between the two sides and that he supported the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state: "Ultimately, if this can be done, if the state can be laid out -- what the state should look like -- then it gives people like President Abbas the chance to go to the Palestinians and say, 'You can have their vision of violence or this vision of peace, take your pick.'"

So far so good, pretty much, although I'm not sure how much his facilitation will help, if at all.

But then -- cue the unintended irony, cue the laughter -- he said this:

America can't impose our vision on the two parties. If that happens, then there's not going to be a deal that will last.

This is a president for whom diplomacy has been, form the start, a dirty word. His entire presidency has involved imposing his vision -- on America, on the world -- without regard for those who do not share that vision. He is arrogant and self-righteous -- and, of course, it is the Iraq War and Occupation, disaster that it continues to be, that best reflects what he is all about. He has spewed the high-falutin' rhetoric about democracy and freedom, but everything about America's involvement in Iraq suggests that the rhetoric is meaningless drivel, a scam.

Where's that Mess O' Potamia graphic?

And now he wants to be taken seriously as he intervenes in a conflict in which he has thus far shown appallingly little interest, so wrapped up has he been in Iraq and his so-called war on terror? And, in so doing, he wants us to believe that the imposition of vision is... wrong?

About that, of course, he is right. The U.S. should be taking a lead in trying to resolve the situation, but not by imposing itself on the two sides and trying to force them to agree to American terms. The problem is, Bush has destroyed America's credibility around the world. Who now takes Bush seriously? Who likes and respects him as a world leader? Who will listen to the U.S. with Bush at the helm? (Put down your hand, Sarkozy. You've got your own problems at the moment. Harper? We'll deal with you at the next election. Howard? Sorry, you lost. Go away. And you Central Asian thugs, well, yes, point taken, you get along fine with Bush, I know, he's your sort of guy.)

Listen carefully, Mr. Bush. That's the sound of us laughing at you. Even if you don't quite get the joke.

Unfortunately, what you've done as president is hardly anything to laugh about.

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Is Hillary running or is that Amy Poehler?

By Edward Copeland

Obviously, I've been on the record quite often as being against Hillary Clinton, partly because I don't believe she stands for anything other than political expediency and her own ambition, but mostly because I don't believe she can win the 2008 General Election, an election that should be a gimme for the Democratic Party.

Ever since the October debate where she flubbed the question on illegal immigrants and driver's licenses, the Clinton campaign has destroyed their argument that she's withstood blistering attacks from the GOP for years and would be best equipped to fight next year. The most important thing about that debate was that it would have been a mere blip in an otherwise smooth-running campaign, but that self-inflicted wound showed the world the Hillary and her campaign live in a bubble as impenetrable as the one in which Dubya resides.

First, the campaign leaks to Matt Drudge that it was all Tim Russert's fault, then they decided that all the other candidates from the "all boys club" were piling on her because she was a woman. When that spin backfired, they denied that they were saying she was being attacked for her gender, but because she was "winning," despite the fact that no vote had been cast.

Then, Bill Clinton comes riding to the rescue and perhaps the most talented politician of his generation shows he's a bit rusty, first by appearing to be trying to protect his woman (going so far as to equate criticism of her to the Swift Boating of John Kerry), then by undermining her spurious claims to be an integral part of everything that happened in his administration by trying to say Hillary's health care reform failures were all his fault.

Still, Hillary tries to take credit for the good stuff and her surrogates, such as former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, make crazy claims like saying she was "the face of foreign policy" during the Clinton administration. When she wanted credit for the Clinton economy, Barack Obama correctly pointed out that she wasn't the treasury secretary, that was Robert Rubin.

This week — and we're barely halfway through it — Bill and Hillary have each offered moments that must puzzle even those who support her candidacy.

While stumping in Iowa yesterday, Bill said that he'd opposed the Iraq war from the beginning, when there is ample video and other evidence to prove otherwise. Then, on later stops, he changed his wording to say he opposes it now.

For me though, this week's capper, the most damning evidence of the Hillary's delusions, that make comparisons between her and Dubya even more striking, came during a one-on-one interview Katie Couric.

When Couric asked if Hillary would be disappointed if she doesn't win the nomination, Hillary responded:

“Well, it will be me."

Couric reasonably said that she has to have considered the possibility that she won't win. Her reply: "No, I haven't."

There is a line between confidence and a sense of entitlement. Most candidates don't like to admit that they might not win, just like most who get asked questions about accepting a vice president slot, brush it off. That's perfectly understandable. This was different. Her entire demeanor in the interview made it seem as if she was living up to Amy Poehler's parody of her on Saturday Night Live where she gave an early acceptance speech for the presidency, assuming that it was a given that she would not only win the Democratic nomination but the presidency as well.

The 2008 presidential election truly is the most important in a long time and the Democratic Party and the country as a whole cannot afford to become a victim to one person's fantasies.

When and if Hillary starts losing contests, we may see a meltdown that will make Howard Dean's scream sound like a whisper.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

An un-"holy" alliance

By Carl


The diplomatic chess game around Iran's nuclear program includes an unlikely bishop. According to several well-placed Rome sources, Iranian officials are quietly laying the groundwork necessary to turn to Pope Benedict XVI and top Vatican diplomats for mediation if the showdown with the United States should escalate toward a military intervention. The 80-year-old Pope has thus far steered clear of any strong public comments about either Iran's failure to fully comply with U.N. nuclear weapons inspectors or the drumbeat of war coming from some corners in Washington. But Iran, which has had diplomatic relations with the Holy See for 53 years, may be trying to line up Benedict as an ace in the hole for staving off a potential attack in the coming months. "The Vatican seems to be part of their strategy," a senior Western diplomat in Rome said of the Iranian leadership. "They'll have an idea of when the 11th hour is coming. And they know an intervention of the Vatican is the most open and amenable route to Western public opinion. It could buy them time."

Did someone say Ahmadinejad is crazy?

Not so much, it appears. One had to wonder at the alternating hot and cold rhetoric he was spewing, and now we have a big clue as to how he felt he could get away with it.

Not only would a Papal intervention make Americans sit up and take notice, it would immediately bring to bear pressure from all of Europe, South America, and much of Russia. Knowing that, to risk an invasion of Iran, Bush would have to carefully calculate whom he could count on to defy the Pope (not many European nations would dare do that).

How much influence does Benedict XVI wield?:

Last April's release of 15 British sailors held by Iran — a decision that Ahmadinejad called "an Easter gift" — came just a day after the Pope had sent a private letter asking for their liberation. "There was respect for the request of the Pope," said [Iranian Vice-Ambassador to the Vatican Ahmad] Fahima

Wow. That is stroke. If Bush or Blair had made that request, and I'm sure they did, it would probably have been laughed at.

Believe it or not, Iran has the second largest ambassadorial presence to the Vatican in the world. Only the Dominican Republic has a larger embassy staff.

How likely is the Vatican to side with Iran in any confrontation that might blow up into war?:

Though Vatican officials say they are concerned about Iran's development of nuclear arms, the pontiff is both doctrinally bound and personally inclined to pursue a negotiated settlement at almost any cost. In 2003, then serving as a senior Vatican Cardinal, the current Pope was firmly behind John Paul II's opposition to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Indeed, many in Rome cite parallels between the current push from American hardliners to confront Iran and the walkup to the war in Iraq. "The Holy See hasn't forgotten what happened in Iraq," says one Vatican insider. "Seeing how that situation has developed, there is great, great prudence on the part of the Holy See. The judgment shown on Iraq weighs on the Iran situation."

So the Pope is a defeatist Democrat!

A difficult and complex situation has just taken a very interesting turn. Not only will America inflame the Muslim world with any invasion of Iran, that same invasion not only would spike oil prices and make Europe and China angry, it would also force the Pope to come out strongly against America, and Benedict is not particularly known for his soft diplomatic language.

You could almost say he was the Catholic Bush...

(crossposted to
Simply Left Behind)

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

"Everything that is rancid and corrupt with our political media"

By Michael J.W. Stickings

You don't need me to tell you to read Glenn Greenwald, but for God's/god's/gods' sake, read this.

In case you haven't been following Glenn's recent blogging, his "nutshell" discussion of all that is "rancid and corrupt" with the media is the latest in a series of posts exposing the lies, misrepresentations, and appalling journalistic shortcomings, to put it mildly, of Joe Klein and Time magazine. It began here, with this:

For the sake of its own credibility, Time Magazine needs immediately to prohibit Joe Klein from uttering another word about the eavesdropping and FISA controversy. He simply doesn't know what he's talking about and he publishes demonstrably false statements.

Klein's latest article in Time does nothing more than what Klein and most Beltway "liberal" pundits always do and have been doing for the last twenty years -- namely, warn Democrats that they will lose elections unless they renounce their beliefs and act as much as possible like Republicans on national security issues. The article is entitled "Still Stumbling on National Security" and contains every 1980-2003 cliche about how Democrats better not oppose the big, mean, tough George Bush on war issues or else Rush Limbaugh will attack them and they'll lose.

It then continued here, here, here, and here. As it turned out, Time didn't prohibit Klein from uttering more FISA nonsense:

Joe Klein has just posted yet again about his FISA confusion, and it has now moved well beyond farce into an almost pity-inducing realm. If Time has any dignity at all, someone there will intervene and put a stop to this. It's actually difficult to watch.

In the last five days alone, Klein has now written five separate times about his FISA debacle, and is further away than ever from having any idea what he's even talking about -- first was the column itself; second was the Swampland post the same day in which he emphatically defended the accuracy of what he wrote in response to my post; third was the post yesterday in which Klein said he "may have made a mistake in [his] column this week about the FISA legislation" -- the understatement of the year; fourth was an Update he added to that post this morning claiming that he did speak to a Democrat but "may have misinterpreted a Democratic source's point" and "if [he] did, a correction will appear in the print magazine next week"; and now, his fifth effort in tonight's post, actually worse than all the others, in which he still professes confusion after "spen[ding] the past few days nosing around in the ongoing dispute about what the House FISA Reform bill actually says."

Which is to say, he offered advice to Democrats from a position of abject ignorance. But he kept on writing about FISA, confusion notwithstanding, and Time kept on supporting him, providing a platform for his ignorance and confusion -- and his arrogance -- and a readership of millions. And instead of admitting error, Time has hidden behind the charade of "balance":

All Time can say about this matter is that Republicans say one thing and Democrats claim another. Who is right? Is one side lying? What does the bill actually say, in reality?

That's not for Time to say. After all, they're journalists, not partisans. So they just write down what each side says. It's not for them to say what is true, even if one side is lying.

In this twisted view, that is called "balance" -- writing down what each side says. As in: "Hey - Bush officials say that there is WMD in Iraq and things are going great with the war (and a few people say otherwise). It's not for us to decide. It's not our fault if what we wrote down is a lie. We just wrote down exactly what they said." At best, they write down what each side says and then go home. That's what they're for.

That our typical establishment "journalist" conceives of this petty clerical task as their only role is not news. But it is striking to see the nation's "leading news magazine" so starkly describe how they perceive their role.

Oh, and how badly did Klein first misrepresent the Democratic version of FISA? He initially claimed that it "would give terrorists the same legal protections as Americans" -- or, in other words, that Democrats defend terrorists.

Which was a lie, however much he may plead ignorance, if he pleads at all -- and a vicious lie at that.

"Well beyond stupid." "Factually false."

Under the pompous guise of advising Democrats, all Klein has done, like so many othere in the professional punditocracy, is spew Republican talking points, criticizing Democrats for not being more Republican. (Again, read Glenn on this, especially his first post.) "I can't recall a recent incident that has shone as much bright light on the ugly, vapid, propagandistic practices of our national media. The more they speak, the more they reveal what they are," Glenn concludes.

I don't expect much from a hack like Joe Klein, nor even from Time, nor from any other major media outlet. And I've given up using words like "incredible" and "unbelievable" when commenting on such incidents. There's nothing surprising anymore about how the media operate. There is a "bright light" here, and this is an illustrative case, but what is being revealed is the sickness and corruption that we already knew was there.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Zeitgeist and the Pendulum

By Carol Gee

Will the political pendulum swing with next year's elections? For those of us who occasionally border on "desperate" in our wish for significant political change, the current reality is of more than passing interest. What do we know about today's political climate? To be more specific, about the current political "zeitgeist," a fancier word used in this story about Obama and the Zeitgeist from which I quote:

Salit: Let me see if we can unpackage that a little bit. Would you say that Obama’s candidacy is based on a belief that there is a major sea change going on in American politics?

Newman: Or, if not the belief, the possibility.

Salit: The possibility. Okay. And with the right figure to galvanize it – and Obama believes he’s it – that, to use John McLaughlin’s term, there’s a “new political zeitgeist” in the country.

Newman: And a new base.

Voters desiring a major change hope the pendulum has swung as far to the right as it will, and has already reversed to its leftward direction. That possibility is what accounts for Senator Obama's emphasis of "change" themes. It is also why Senator Clinton is being forced to differentiate herself from the past at the same time as she emphasizes "experience."

Zeitgeist was a term that was popular back in 2004, according to my original Yahoo! search, which returned an interesting article. Titled, "American Political Cycles," it was written by Michael Alexander in November of 2004, at the website Safe Haven - Preservation of capital. The author explores the idea that a Liberal era in some ways began in 2001, as evidenced by going to war in Iraq and embracing very high levels of spending. To quote the author's intro:

The American historian Arthur Schlesinger Sr. (1888-1965) proposed a cyclical concept of American politics in which the political "spirit of the times", or zeitgeist, oscillated between "liberal" and "conservative" eras [1]. Although he never formally proposed a model to explain the cycle, Schlesinger suspected that the dynamics of political organization itself was responsible for the timing. A successful political party or movement takes about 15 years to define its agenda, mobilize its resources, implement its policies as best it can, and obtain the inevitably less-than-hoped-for results [2]. This movement proceeds through several fairly predictable stages: growth and vitality under a charismatic leader, a period of mature leadership, and then a gradual decline as supporters tire of the message. With decline, the baton of leadership passes to the opposition. The result would be alternating periods of ascendancy that should last about 15 years.

One of the clearest indicators of a pendulum swing is the number of Republicans retiring from Congress. Minority Whip Trent Lott is the latest. It is possible that they do not see their party ascending any time soon, and do not enjoy their minority party status. Public opinion polls are not reliable indicators except when tracked over time. And, of course, the course of events can change elections, as did 9/11 in 2004. Barring another terrorist attack on home soil, the other issue that could make a difference in 2008 is if the U.S. economy goes into a recession, giving Republicans the perfect excuse to continue to talk tax cuts to "spur the economy."

Which way do you think the pendulum is swinging as we head into 2008?


  1. Patrick Ruffini's 2008 Presidential Wire
  2. "Zeitgeist"at Wikipedia
  3. Zeitgeist, the Movie
  4. (Technorati - 2004) Site Tracks Political Zeitgeist
  5. Google Zeitgeist Special -- 2004 Election
  6. MSNBC's Willie Geist blog, "Zeitgeist"

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

Labels: , , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Fringeroots fail to deliver

By Libby Spencer

Via John Cole, I see that the NRCC is running a contest. Chris Bowers has the details.

Five weeks ago, the NRCC launched a project to get supporters to create their own campaign videos attacking Democrats. If successful, this project would defy a pattern where Republican grassroots activists never take action into their own hands.

Advising them to "be creative and have fun," the entrants were asked to submit YouTube ads illustrating the theme, “Has the Democratic Congress Worked For You?”

The contest is now closed and the judging panel will "select the top five videos [to] be hosted on and voted on by the general public." Selecting the finalists is going to be an easy job. They only received a total of five entries. I completely agree with Chris, that this one is the best.

In fact, with the general public voting, I'm pretty sure that this video will win easily, thus earning the $500 Apple Gift Card, a press release distributed to political news outlets across the country, and an on-camera interview to be aired and distributed on NRCC TV.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find anyplace on the NRCC website where you can cast a ballot yet and this site that's promoting the contest doesn't seem to have any further information either, but they are already pitching a new Christmas ad contest that Hugh Hewitt is sponsoring with a $500 prize and this caveat.

Negative ads accepted, though of course only the 527s will run ads showing Hillary in a sleigh loaded with a huge pile of coal etc.

Chris thinks the fringers lack creativity and became mere zombies unable to think for themselves. I'm not sure that's true. They're pretty creative when it comes to meaness and mockery, so I'm kind of surprised the NRCC didn't get more entrants when they were soliciting negative ads. But I doubt Hugh will get many positive ones. For that they would need some positive accomplishments to point to.

(Cross-posted at The Impolitic.)

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

The "Hail Mary" pass

By Carl

You're going to read a lot over the next few days about Bush's courage in tackling the Middle East peace process.

Keep in mind that this issue was supposed to be settled with the establishment of a stable democracy in Iraq, that Iraq's neighbors would somehow, mirabile dictu, gaze in wide wonder at the sight of the Sunni lions lying with the Shi'a lambs, beat their swords into plowshares and study war no more, accepting Israel as brethren in Abraham.

Yea, how's that working out?

So, in Annapolis today, we see the
start of phase two of Bush's foreign policy: If you can't beat 'em, bore 'em.

Mr Bush said in prepared remarks ahead of the Maryland conference that the aim of the meeting was to launch talks, not conclude an agreement.

Mr Bush is hoping to find a solution before he leaves office in early 2009.

(Parenthetically, I wonder if this was how he pulled Gentleman C's in college and grad school: waiting until the last possible minute, then cramming.)

In remarks prepared for delivery to the diplomats and representatives from more than 40 countries and international organisations, Mr Bush said the goal of creating a Palestinian state to co-exist in peace alongside Israel would not be easy.

"Such a state will provide Palestinians with the chance to lead lives of freedom, purpose and dignity," Mr Bush said in the statement released by the White House.

"And such a state will help provide Israelis with something they have been seeking for generations: to live in peace with their neighbours."

...except that Hamas was distinctly not invited to the meeting, and Hamas controls the Gaza Strip, which for all intents and purposes is the major sticking point to a dual state in the region.


In fairness to Bush he is downplaying the importance of this summit, but his true ambitions are obvious from the fact that over 40 interest regional and world leaders are sitting in on the talks, including China, Russia and much of the EU. He's not doing this just to talk about talks about talking.

Had this been 2003, and we were not tied up in a horrible invasion of Iraq, I'd give him a fifty-fifty chance of succeeding. I simply don't see how a rushed solution to problems that have existed for thousands of years is going to be either effective or long-lived. The enormous pressure he can bring to bear on Israel and some of the surrounding nation-states can make them bend to his will, grudgingly, but to get the Palestinians, particularly Hamas, to agree to terms is beyond ludicrous.

They're not stupid. They have calendars, and they know Al Gore won the Peace Prize this year, so they understand Bush's self-
aggrandisement in this matter and the urgency he is under. They'll ask the moon, and when they don't get it, they'll stomp their feet and lob a few shells into Jerusalem or Tel Aviv.

I expect there will be lots to talk about before they even get to the peace process:

Three Gazans die in Israel strike

US fire kills Iraq bus passengers

Putin says US behind poll boycott

Given Bush's history in foreign affairs, things will deteriorate to the point where he could have done better by steering clear of the entire situation.

And we'll pay that tab, too, when the time comes.

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Muslims need not apply

By Capt. Fogg

I haven't yet stooped to using any candidate's religious affiliation against him and I operate under the assumption that most will not let such things interfere with their professional lives or their oath of office. Of course since so many of the Republican tribe have been espousing Christian Supremacy and confusing Church teachings with the law, it's sometimes hard to refrain.

I continue to think it has nothing to do with his being a Mormon, but Mitt Romney may have crossed a boundary and it may be time to ask what kind of prejudices he has or is pandering to.

"[B]ased on the numbers of American Muslims in our population, I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified. But of course, I would imagine that Muslims could serve at lower levels of my administration."

said Mr. Romney to The Christian Science Monitor. I presume that by "lower levels" he refers to something more than waxing the presidential limo but this, I feel, is a revealing position and shows us as did his snubbing of the man in the wheelchair that there is something less under the tailored suit than is advertised. Would it be too much to consider an appointee's knowledge and skills rather than what ethnic pigeonhole you can stuff him into?

In choosing a candidate, I'm not necessarily put off by suggestions that a cabinet "look like America" but I'm not looking for tokens, I'm looking for competence and that's something sadly lacking in recent years.

"More ironic, that Islamic heritage is what qualifies them to best engage America's Arab and Muslim communities and to help deter Islamist threats,"

says Mansoor Ijaz, writing for the Monitor, and I agree. Would that the idiot George had been able to listen to an adviser who knew the difference between Sunni and Shia and the tensions between them. Ijaz, by the way, is substantially responsible for exposing A.Q. Khan, who had been selling Pakistani nuclear technology on the black market and he did so at some personal risk. Nice to know that Mitt would disqualify him for reasons of ethnic purity.

What I'm looking for in a president is a man who will look for the best and won't preclude anyone on the basis of religion or race or his feelings about abortion or gay marriage or the war in Iraq. That's not Mitt, obviously. I don't care what the president's advisers look like or what ethnicity he thinks they should represent and by automatically relegating people who identify with Islam to lower positions by virtue of that identification, Mitt further disqualifies himself from consideration.

Perhaps he's pandering to what he perceives as an anti-Muslim bias in America or perhaps he really means it. In either event I don't think he belongs anywhere but on the cover of some Men's wear catalog where looking good and holding the pose isn't an act of dishonesty.

(Cross-posted from
Human Voices.)

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

The electability campaign against Hillary Clinton

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Although a more scientific poll conducted by Gallup "finds Sen. Hillary Clinton with a slim but not statistically significant advantage over both former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Sen. John McCain in head-to-head matchups for the 2008 general election for president," as well as with "much more substantial leads over former Sen. Fred Thompson and former Gov. Mitt Romney, and polling better against Giuliani and McCain than Obama, there is much ado at the moment in response to rather more dubious online Zogby poll of "individuals who have registered to take part in online polls":

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton trails five top Republican presidential contenders in general election match-ups, a drop in support from this summer, according to a poll released on Monday.

Clinton's top Democratic rivals, Barack Obama and John Edwards, still lead Republicans in hypothetical match-ups ahead of the November 4, 2008, presidential election, the survey by Zogby Interactive showed.

Clinton, a New York senator who has been at the top of the Democratic pack in national polls in the 2008 race, trails Republican candidates Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, John McCain and Mike Huckabee by three to five percentage points in the direct matches.

This is infuriating, indeed, more infuriating that most such polls. The Zogby poll essentially means nothing. It is an unscientific poll of online Zogby users. That is all. The question must be asked: Who are these people? And why do they matter?

The problem, however, is not just the nature of the poll but the dubious conclusions that are already being drawn both by the media and by their puppeteers on the right. And what key conclusion is being drawn? Why, that Clinton is unelectable, of course, or at least that her seeming unelectability is a major obstacle both for her and for the Democratic Party heading into next year's primaries and, should she win, general election campaign.

While it is true that Clinton's electability -- and it's not quite clear what that even means; it's become little more than a popular epithet tossed around without much regard for substance -- has been an issue, and while it is true that Clinton is opposed by many who will not vote for her no matter what, this is largely a manufactured "problem" for her and her party.

Instead of engaging her on the issues, and on her policy positions, many of her critics are bringing up her supposed unelectability as a reason not to support her. (Remember that one of John Kerry's supposed virtues was his supposed electability.) Either that, or supposedly neutral observers are reading far too much into dubious numbers. Take Zogby himelf: "The questions about her electability have always been there, but as we get close this suggests that is a problem." Really? Is this a real problem? Or just a problem because people like Zogby -- and the unelectability meme is parrotted everywhere -- say it is?

To explain this phenomenon further, let me turn to NMMNB's Steve M., who puts it well:

The obvious -- and wrong -- conclusion to draw is that Hillary is the least electable of the three leading Democrats. The correct conclusion to draw is that it's absurdly easy to drive the supposedly inevitable Democratic nominee, whoever that may turn out to be, into a position where he or she is trailing the Republican -- yes, even this year. All it takes is a sustained (even briefly sustained) run of bad press for the Democrat. When something like this happens, it's inevitably amplified by fellow Democrats in their usual circular-firing-squad mode (and don't think that'll stop after the nominee is chosen, because it never does), while the GOP, the right-wing media, and the supposedly neutral but really Democrat-loathing mainstream media seize on the bad press (when they're not initiating it) and sustain it until the nominee is badly tainted.

It happened to Hillary Clinton over the past few weeks -- and if she's not the nominee, it will happen to whoever beats her.

And, meanwhile, no Democrat is doing an effective job of framing any Republican, or the party as a whole, and no negative story about any Republican candidate has legs -- even Giuliani's Kerik/Regan mess.

I'll be shocked if a Democrat wins this election -- any Democrat.

Actually, I'm not sure I'd go that far. I think "any Democrat" (Clinton or Obama) has a good shot next year. But it won't be easy.

And it won't be easy not just because of the Republicans and their dirty tricks but because of pollsters like Zogby and a media establishment that is, in essence, a mouthpiece for the right-wing spin machine.

Labels: , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share