Saturday, September 25, 2010

Good news in California polling

A new L.A. Times/USC poll finds:

-- Democrat Barbara Boxer leading Republican Carly Fiorina 51-43; and

-- Democrat Jerry Brown leading Republican Meg Whitman 49-44.

What's going on? California is a left-leaning state, obviously, but:

Republicans Whitman and Fiorina have yet to convince crucial groups of voters that their businesswoman backgrounds will translate into government success...

Both Republicans were hamstrung by voters' negative impressions of them -- particularly Whitman, who has poured a national record $119 million of her own money into an advertising-heavy campaign yet has seen her unpopularity rise, the survey showed.

But it's far from over:

Still, in this year of political tumult, the Democrats were facing stiff challenges too. As they do nationally, Republicans in California held a fierce edge in enthusiasm among likely voters. The poll defined likely voters based both on past voting history and enthusiasm about voting this year -- a measure that projects an election turnout that is more heavily Republican than is typical in California. If the Democratic turnout ends up being even more sharply depressed, that would put the party's candidates at risk.

It's the word that defines 2010: enthusiasm. Republicans have it, not least because of the whole Tea Party "movement," Democrats not so much, not least because of how Obama and Congressional Democrats have conducted themselves, which is, for the most part, less than admirably.

As I have argued before, however, I expect the enthusiasm gap to narrow now that the election campaign has begun in earnest. Republicans will still do well, as history tells us that the party in power loses seats in the first midterms, and they will likely make significant gains at both the federal and state levels, but there's no reason two strong Democratic candidates -- Boxer, the incumbent, and Brown, an ex-governor and currently the attorney general -- shouldn't prevail. Whitman in particular is a formidable opponent, but these are winnable races.

And these are very encouraging poll numbers.

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Just how crazy is Christine O'Donnell? (3)

The mind is boggled.

Christine O'Donnell may very well be the stupidest public figure in America. Okay, there's a lot of competition, I know. At the very least, she's up there.

On HBO's Real Time yesterday, host Bill Maher again showed a previously-unreleased clip of O'Donnell from Maher's previous show, Politically Incorrect. And what she said back on Oct. 15, 1998, taking one of the most ignorant stands against evolution I've ever heard, is a lot more revealing, and a lot more troubling than what she said about youthful witchcraft-dabbling:

O'DONNELL: You know what, evolution is a myth. And even Darwin himself –

MAHER: Evolution is a myth?!? Have you ever looked at a monkey!

O'DONNELL: Well then, why they — why aren't monkeys still evolving into humans?

As Maher noted after showing the clip (which you can watch below), O'Donnell is "someone that could be in the Senate," explaining: "See this is the point I want to make -- is the stuff from the witch from last week was silly. Who cares what she did in high school, if she dabbled in witchcraft. But this is someone who could be in the Senate, who thinks that mice have human brains and doesn't understand 'oh my God, that monkeys don't evolve in the time that it would take to watch them.'"

Of course, O'Donnell is hardly alone in believing evolution to be a myth. It's a common position, and perhaps even a near-universal one, on the theocratic right, among fundamentalists both Protestant and, in O'Donnell's case, Catholic. And while it's true that she could be in the Senate, there are many like her already there. The likes of Jim DeMint may not embarrass themselves quite as ridiculously as O'Donnell, but anti-evolution and, more broadly, anti-science narrow-mindedness, rooted in Christian fundamentalism, is prevalent throughout the Republican Party and its various conservative constituencies.

O'Donnell is insane, but let's not make the mistake of thinking she's the exception.

(You can find more of O'Donnell's craziness here -- click and scroll down.)

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Just how crazy is Christine O'Donnell? (2)

So crazy, and so removed from human nature, and so extreme in her theocratic views, that she once actually indicated that she wanted to stop everyone from having sex.

I. Kid. You. Not.

Here's part of a revealing exchange O'Donnell had with Eric Nies of the Moment of Hope foundation on Scarborough Country in 2003. At the time, she was with the right-wing Intercollegiate Studies Institute. The topic under discussion was what to tell young people about safe sex (if anything at all):

NIES: I tell them to be careful. You have to wear a condom. You have to protect yourself when you're going to have sex, because they're having it anyway.

NIES: There's nothing that you or me can do about it.

O'DONNELL: The sad reality is -- yes, there is something you can do about it. And the sad reality, to tell them slap on a condom is not --

NIES: You're going to stop the whole country from having sex?

O'DONNELL: Yeah. Yeah!

NIES: You're living on a prayer if you think that's going to happen.

O'DONNELL: That's not true. I'm a young woman in my thirties and I remain chaste.

Really? She was still "chaste" in her thirties? Whatever.

This whole exchange shows just how utterly ignorant and brainwashed and self-denying she was -- and remains to this day.

Here's the clip:

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Friday, September 24, 2010

More like this, please

By Mustang Bobby



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The truth about Ayn Rand

Yesterday, Paul Krugman quoted the best line he'd "ever heard about Ayn Rand's influence." And it's a really good one:

There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

I didn't see where this was going -- until the last line, of course -- but only because I consider Atlas Shrugged (and everything Rand ever wrote) to be far worse and far more damaging than "a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world."

If anything, this line, while accurate, understates Rand's demented and destructive influence on her weirdly cultish followers -- and, of course, she remains a powerful influence on American conservatism, which is also "emotionally stunted," "socially crippled," and "unable to deal with the real world."

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The Pledge; or, how Republicans intend to bring America to its knees

The Republicans' new "Pledge to America" is, for all intents and purposes, and not to put too fine a word on it, an utterly pathetic document, a transparently contrived attempt to lay out a plan without any actual substance at all. Compared to the party's 1994 "Contract with [on] America," which was quite radical, it's a flimsy rehashing of the same old standard Republican agenda, the same old failed policies of the past, trickle-down economics with dashes of anti-government libertarianism and theocratic social conservatism. If anything, it is a pledge that, if followed through on, would guarantee another Great Depression and hasten the collapse of the American Empire while making the rich richer and screwing everyone else. Here's how Ezra Klein sees is, and I think he's right:

Their policy agenda is detailed and specific -- a decision they will almost certainly come to regret. Because when you get past the adjectives and soaring language, the talk of inalienable rights and constitutional guarantees, you're left with a set of hard promises that will increase the deficit by trillions of dollars, take health-care insurance away from tens of millions of people, create a level of policy uncertainty businesses have never previously known, and suck demand out of an economy that's already got too little of it.


At the end of the day, America may be an idea -- but it is also a country. And it needs to be governed. This proposal avoids the hard choices of governance. It says what it thinks will be popular and then proposes what it thinks will be popular -- even when the two conflict. That's an idea that may help you win elections, but not one that'll help you govern a country.

What's funny, though, is that conservatives aren't exactly happy with it. Here's a sampling of responses:

-- Erick Erickson, RedState: "These 21 pages tell you lots of things, some contradictory things, but mostly this: it is a serious of compromises and milquetoast rhetorical flourishes in search of unanimity among House Republicans because the House GOP does not have the fortitude to lead boldly in opposition to Barack Obama... Yes, yes, it is full of mom tested, kid approved pablum that will make certain hearts on the right sing in solidarity. But like a diet full of sugar, it will actually do nothing but keep making Washington fatter before we crash from the sugar high...  Overall, this grand illusion of an agenda that will never happen is best spoken of today and then never again as if it did not happen. It is best forgotten."

-- Andrew Roth, Club for "Growth": "I want to like the new GOP Pledge to America. I want to endorse it, but it's so milquetoast that it proves to me that these guys just aren't ready to lead... This Pledge is weak. I wasn't expecting bold leadership with this Pledge, but I was hoping for it. It didn't deliver."

-- Philip Klein, The American Spectator: "Republicans have billed their "Pledge to America" as a governing agenda, but it is nothing of the sort. Instead of offering bold solutions to today's most pressing challenges, Republicans chose to compile some small ideas that wouldn't endanger their chances of regaining the majority this November... I understand that some would argue that it's unrealistic to expect a major political party to propose serious entitlement reform weeks before the election. But by the same token, Republicans shouldn't expect conservatives to adopt this exercise in cowardice as their battle cry. Republicans like to address Tea Parties and talk in terms of the revolutionary spirit sweeping across the nation, and they even invoke the Declaration of Independence in the opening of their "Pledge to America." But the proposals contained within the document show that all this revolutionary talk is mere rhetoric, and that in reality Republicans have learned nothing from their time in the wilderness."

Now, the editors of National Review like it, calling it "bolder" than the Contract and "a shrewd political document." The Times' Ross Douthat agrees that it's bolder, but "primarily in negation. Its most substantive promises -- indeed, nearly all of its substantive promises -- involve the rollback of the Obama agenda."

The GOP, you see, really doesn't have much to offer other than a facile recycling of a few of its greatest hits (or worst, depending on your perspective). All it really has to recommend itself to voters, many of them in a knee-jerkingly anti-incumbent mood in this difficult economic time, is that it isn't Obama, and in this is plays also to those who have propagandized into believing that Obama is some sort of fascist-socialist-jihadist anti-American Kenyan-Indonesian Muslim (but who at the very least is black, which is bad enough -- don't think race doesn't play a huge role in the anti-Obama sentiment Republicans are tapping into and feeding).

You can find more right-wing reaction here.

Ultimately, I don't think the Pledge will mean much at all. Republican fortunes in November will be determined by a number of factors -- Republican voter enthusiasm (i.e., turnout); the state of the economy; fear, anger, and frustration throughout the electorate; anti-incumbent sentiment; the success (or failure) of Republican propaganda and the media's willingness to advance pro-Republican narratives; etc. -- but I suspect that the details of the Pledge will not be one of them. Few voters will care about the inanities and inconsistencies of the GOP's policy agenda. Republican talking points, as picked up by the media, will have far more influence, and, right now, it would appear that voters are prepared to hand Republicans a fairly resounding victory -- enough of one to narrow the gap significantly in the Senate, perhaps retake control of the House, and make large gains at the state level. But of course we'll still a long way out and a good deal can change. One wishes that voters would actually delve into the Pledge and learn from it that Republicans really are ill-prepared to lead, and that a Republican victory in November would be terrible for the country, but there is no way rational, reality-based decision-making will prevail in this climate.

I'll give the last word here to independent conservative Andrew Sullivan:

Given the gravity of the debt crisis, this is the most fiscally irresponsible document ever offered by the GOP. It is to the far right of Reagan, who raised taxes and eventually cut defense, and helped reform social security to ensure its longterm viability. It is an act of vandalism against the fiscal balance of the US, and in this global economic climate, a recipe for a double-dip recession and default. It is the opposite of responsible conservatism.

Bring on the Apocalypse!

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Quote of the Day

By Creature

"So way to go, Democrats. Instead of celebrating the health care reform bill's positive effects and condemning Republicans for wanting to make the rich richer, you're cowering in the corner, hoping the American people don't hurt you too badly and praying that Republicans won't say mean things about you." -- The Rude Pundit perfectly sums up a pathetic week for Democrats.


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Sarah Hussein Palin will not be running for president

On Fox News with her pal/mouthpiece Greta Van Susteren on Wednesday, Sarah Palin said that she'd run for president in 2012 "if nobody else were to step up." She said she would do it "in the name of service to the public."

This, of course, is complete bullshit. She wouldn't do it out of a sense of public service but out of a sense of egomaniacal self-interest that is only magnified in the partisan ideological bubble she inhabits.

But here's the thing: She isn't going to do it.

Like Newt Gingrich, but more so, she keeps herself at maximum relevance by offering herself as a perennially prospective presidential candidate. Which is to say, she'll keep talking about running, and encouraging others to talk her up, and basking in the glow of pleas to run, without ever actually committing to anything -- without ever actually throwing her hat into the ring.

Because, let's face it, throwing her hat into the ring would be the end of her. She'd either lose the nomination or get crushed in the general election. Sure, there's a possibility she could win, what with the GOP becoming the Tea Party party and the economy struggling and voters susceptible to Republican propaganda and media-propelled Republican narratives, but even in her delusionally self-aggrandizing state she -- or anyone close to her who appreciates reality for what is is -- must know that her chances would be slim.

Much better to remain a major figure in the party and within conservatism generally, spewing her nonsense via Facebook and at her safe haven of Fox News, enhancing her political celebrity and reeling in the dough. And you've got to know that for this Wasilla hick, money is what it's (almost) all about.

Were she to run, and likely lose, her celebrity balloon would be punctured, the air let out of her ticket to fame and fortune. She'd be probed and exposed much more than she was in '08, when she embarrassed herself as much as anything, and I'm sure she doesn't want to go through that -- surely there are things in her closet that would knock her off her pedestal.

Of course, it's possible she'll run. Given how she's surrounded herself with sycophants, there's no telling what she thinks of herself other than to assume that she thinks so highly of herself as to think that no one in America is more qualified to be president. But, again, I suspect she won't.

Others will step up, after all: Romney, Huckabee, Pawlenty, to name but three of the better-known. And so she'll "serve" the public not by running but by trying to be kingmaker, issuing a decisive endorsement as a cult of celebrity in the Republican Party.

Meanwhile, she'll keep popping up all over the place, but mostly on Facebook and Fox News, places where she isn't challenged and can maintain the illusion of "Sarah Palin," mover and shaker, places where, to friendly hosts and audiences, she can hurl not just her usual nonsense but all the self-righteous vitriol she can muster -- where she can go on the attack against her various self-defined enemies, for she is nothing if not a bitter and resentful woman behind the smile and the wink and the aw-shucks affectations

And the money will keep pouring in along with the right-wing adulation as she tosses red meat to the faithful. It's what she does best -- like dropping the H-bomb (Hussein) to reinforce the Obama-is-a-Muslim myth so popular among her followers -- and it's what keeps her where she is.

Don't think for a second she's about to give all that up.

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Whoever shall replace Axelrod and Emanuel?

The Obama White House will look a lot different in 2011 than it does today -- hopefully for the better. Larry Summers, director of the National Economic Council, is taking his smug arrogance and conflicted Wall Street ties back to Harvard. Obama Senior Advisor David Axelrod, will be doing some "hippie punching" out on the campaign trail, and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, expected to be the next major player out the door, will likely be heading back home to Chicago, where it is expected he'll run for mayor.

So who will the new faces be? Who knows? (Who cares?) Howard Kurtz tweeted that, according to CBS, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs could replace Axelrod. But, honestly, does it matter?

Given what we've come to expect from Obama so far in his presidency, which is disappointment after maddening disappointment, I wouldn't be surprised if he re-populated his inner circle with a bunch of pro-DADT, pro-Bush-Cheney national security state, pro-Wall Street neocon-lite Republicrat Blue Dogs just to stick it to his liberal-progressive base and ensure that his policy agenda is solidly moderate Republican and uncompromisingly untransformative.

Pardon my mood, but that whole "change we can believe in" rhetoric now seems like a steaming pile of horse manure.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wait, Bush lied America into war with Iraq? Seriously?

Yeah, yeah, we knew this already, but it's important to keep track of the evidence as it mounts and to prevent the whole sordid episode from slipping into the oblivion of Americans' generally non-existent historical memory. Think Progress reports on the latest brick in the wall:

[W]ith the help of a Freedom of Information Act request, the National Security Archive has obtained a newly declassified document that details talking points that emerged from a meeting between Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and CENTCOM Commander General Tommy Franks in November 2001.

The talking points mainly revolve around the logistical planning for a war in Iraq. They detail the "decapitation" of the Iraqi government by U.S. forces and make regime change the goal. Interestingly, they already mention U.S. forces "coming out of Afghanistan" to join the invasion of Iraq. Yet the most alarming part of the document is a bullet point titled, "How start?" (which is a discussion that actually appears after the planning of the entire war). The participants in the Rumsfeld-Frank meeting discussed possible ways to provoke a conflict with Iraq, including an attack by Saddam Hussein against the Kurdish north, the U.S. discovering a "Saddam connection" to 9/11 or the anthrax attacks, or a dispute over WMD inspections. It appears from the language of the talking points that the Bush administration had already decided to go to war with Iraq and was looking for an opportunity to invade:


Another document obtained by the National Security Archive shows that the Bush State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research created an assessment of international support for a war against Iraq in December 2001.

This won't get much attention. It's not sensationalistic enough for the media and Americans just don't want to know what really happened lest they actually have to face the fact that their president lied to them and that a war that has cost thousands of American lives, not to mention countless Iraqi lives, was built upon a campaign of utter dishonesty and deception.

It is essential, however, that the truth not be swept under the rug. History, after all, has a way of repeating itself, including in a democracy with a demos that doesn't care enough to hold its leaders accountable.

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The Social Construction of Controversy

by Peter Henne

Observers and participants in the recent Park51 debate likely noticed some parallels to the 2005 Danish Muhammad cartoon controversy. Potent religious issues mixed with a clash between freedom of speech and the protection of communal values. But, as Lawrence Wright has discussed, the real parallel is in the strange dynamics of both controversies. What started as relatively insignificant incidents became issues of global contention. Nothing in the nature of the issues changed, and the lack of initial reaction indicated the controversy was not inherent in either of them. Instead, it was the framing of these issues in the media, and their manipulation by elites, that mattered. The nature of this manipulation, and how it can create controversies out of thin air, will have significant implications for both U.S. domestic politics and foreign policy.

Drawing from stands of sociology, international relations scholars such as Alex Wendt began in the 1980s to emphasize the "social construction" of politics. Things do not acquire an importance or meaning as a result of their material properties; instead, social interactions produce meanings, which participants then accept as "real." The example I like to give is of suits: there is nothing in the material properties of matching jacket and pants, shirt and tie that create formal attire, but meaning arises from shared understanding of the material properties. So for "constructivists," the dynamics of the two controversies would not be surprising: everything is socially constructed, including incidents of global significance.

Another set of academic arguments, however, are equally relevant to this topic. These are "instrumentalist" theories, which claim that ideas arise from elite manipulation of the public: elites propagate certain ideas they believe will advance their interests, even if this produces an unintended negative outcome. A notable example is Jack Snyder's 2000 book From Voting to Violence, in which he explains the rise of nationalist violence in many new democracies as a result of elites' manipulation of public fears and ethnic identities, a process facilitated by imperfect media.

There are thus greatly diverging explanations for the Park51 and Muhammad cartoon controversies. If the anger was inherent in the issues -- if Muslims will be inevitably angry about cartoons of Muhammad and many Americans don't want Islamic Centers in Manhattan -- then what we have is a classic clash of civilizations. If the contentious meanings of these incidents were constructed through a diffuse process of social interaction, then conflict is not inevitable, and propagating a less extreme set of ideas -- such as the oft-discussed "moderate Islam" -- will solve the problem. If, instead, elite manipulation of the planned construction of an Islamic center and drawing of offensive cartoons caused the conflict, then either undermining the power of those elites or correcting the media market to allow for a diversity of viewpoints is the solution.

In this case, the instrumentalists seem to have it right. The printing of cartoons about Muhammad or building an Islamic Center obviously did not lead to worldwide controversies by themselves. Neither did the meanings arise spontaneously through social interactions among Muslims around the world, or Manhattan residents and activists throughout America. Instead, as Wright notes, elites are responsible. Islamist networks in Europe and the Middle East spread the cartoons, amplifying their significance, while bloggers in the United States latched onto the Park51 story, inflating the contentious nature of the issue to what it is today.

An important element in all this, though, is the media. The media market in Middle Eastern countries is hardly perfect, with authorities restricting open debate; this has been replaced by official news outlets that serve state interests and Arabic-language satellite stations that -- while allowing greater debate than would be otherwise possible -- often provide a platform for radical voices, and are popular in both the Middle East and Europe.

Unfortunately, there are also issues with the American media. Mainstream news outlets are often guilty of either passing on politicized information or politicizing it themselves; "new media," like blogs, often selectively interpret events to support their authors' pre-existing viewpoints. As a result, the most dramatic and exciting news -- not the most accurate or valuable -- is highlighted, providing inaccurate details to Americans and a skewed perspective on most Americans' priorities to foreign audiences.

The parallel nature of the two developments makes a potential solution to seemingly irrational controversies like these widely applicable. It involves, in part, addressing the power of a small group of elites to manipulate information. It also involves ensuring open and high-quality debate in media markets, which translates to support for greater freedoms in the Middle East and a more responsible media in America. The problem is not conservatism, or the lack of a "moderate Islam." The problem, and the solution -- as Middle East experts have said of broader issues in the region -- is politics and institutions, and the particular forms of elite-led social construction they engender.

(Previously posted at The Huffington Post)

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Dems: no vote on extending middle-class tax cut

By Creature

If I didn't know better I'd think the Dems want to be in the minority again. When handed a winning political issue, in a potentially brutal election cycle, they punt. It makes no sense and is utterly frustrating. What the fuck is wrong with these people?

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Masturbation rules

At Slate yesterday, Joel Stein offered a hilarious, and startlingly perceptive, take on Christine O'Donnell's ridiculous anti-masturbation campaign. Read the whole thing -- "The Masturbation Lobby" -- but here's a great part:

After giving it a lot of thought, I don't think I'm going to stop masturbating. I mean, I will while I'm typing this column, but that's about it. And I don't think Christine O'Donnell should be a senator even of a completely made-up state like Delaware. But she and the rest of the far-right movement do play an important role in my life. If we listen to them instead of reflexively mocking them -- which is very difficult to do, especially when they dabble in witchcraft -- they can force us to consider the downside of progress. By which I mean lots and lots of porn.

But there is another kind of progress: It's undeniably better for kids not to grow up ashamed of their bodies and sexual desires, which led some of them to suicide, self-flagellation, and the priesthood. Conservatives like O'Donnell argue that social norms formed by millions of people over thousands of years have a wisdom that must be weighed against progress. All improvements have downsides, and we might want to make sure our virtual sex lives don't consume our real ones. Even if they are much, much, much better. I've got to go.

Right. On.

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Sharron Angle, Fox News, and the corrosive influence of money in American politics

This doesn't belong in our "Just how crazy is Sharron Angle?" series. If anything, this shows her to be a rather shrewd political player and media manipulator who even knows how to get the most out of conservatives like Limbaugh, Hannity, and O'Reilly (who may be supportive of her candidacy but who may not like to be taken advantage of like this, not when she evidently sees them primarily as cogs in her money-making machine and doesn't even care if they're "friendly").

At the Las Vegas Sun, Jon Ralston quotes "some audio of Angle at a house party this month, bragging about how profitable FOX can be":

Guest: Sharron, how are you doing as far as the fundraising?

Sharron Angle: It's going really well. If you're interested in just the Internet part of that -- and of course I've been criticized for saying that I like to be friends with the [press] -- but here's the deal: when I get a friendly press outlet -- not so much the guy that's interviewing me -- it's their audience that I'm trying to reach. So, if I can get on Rush Limbaugh, and I can say, "Harry Reid needs $25 million. I need a million people to send twenty five dollars to" The day I was able to say that [even], he made $236,000 dollars. That's why it's so important. Somebody... I'm going on Bill O'Reilly the 16th. They say, "Bill O'Reilly, you better watch out for that guy, he's not necessarily a friendly"... Doesn't matter, his audience is friendly, and if I can get an opportunity to say that at least once on his show -- when I said it on Sean Hannity's television show we made $40,000 before we even got out of the studio in New York. It was just [great]. So that's what I'm really reaching out to is that audience that's had it with Harry, and you can watch that happen when I go on those shows. Go on my website, it starts coming in. We have an automatic... when you put your name in there and it doesn't tell how much you gave, but it tells your name and where you're from. And so you can just watch it; it just rolls like this. In fact, with Rush Limbaugh we put it all down. We couldn't take the ticker going fast enough. And we've pulled in over [3,000,000] dollars just from that kind of a message going out.


If anything's crazy here, it's not just Angle herself but the entire political system, one in which money plays such a significant and corrosive role, one in which campaigning and fundraising are essentially one and the same, in which success has a price, in which victory can be bought, if only you have enough money to spend, spend, spend your way to the top.

It doesn't always work, of course, but there's no denying the supremacy of money in American politics. And at that house party, Angle, unwittingly or not, got right to the heart of the matter.

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Out Of Africa

By Carl
Altho the policy pronounced by President Obama is not specifically designed solely for Africa, it is essentially a development plan for the continent:

"Put simply, the United States is changing the way we do business," Obama said at the summit of the U.N. Millennium Development Goals, an ambitious agenda world leaders set 10 years ago to tackle global poverty, which has grown amid the world economic recession.

The program has four approaches. One is changing the definition of development. [...]

Second, the administration is changing how "the ultimate goal of development" is viewed. [...]

The third pillar is putting an emphasis on "broad-based economic growth," Obama said.[...]

[T]he fourth pillar is insisting "on more responsibility -- from ourselves and from others."

Let's take him at his word that this policy is genuine, and take a closer look at it. In this instance, "development" will supplant foreign aid, in many cases. Right now, much done in the name of development is to give food and humanitarian aid to a region, with a little actual development on the side. According to Obama's policy, that will change slightly. There will be a transition from aid to economic development, so that a region can become self-sufficient and competitive on the global market.

Aid is fine. It's a short term boost to a people. It doesn't solve the underlying problem, which is how to get those people on their feet and able to fend for themselves. This meme has been particularly true in Africa, where for any number of reasons, economic development has been slow to non-existent. This is particularly ironic for a continent that has perhaps the best climate on the planet. It should be a world leader.

There are any number of benefits for America in this policy. For one thing, poverty tends to breed terrorism. Somalia, as we have seen over the past twenty years, is a hotbed of terror activities, and provides a harbor for international terror groups to incubate plots.

For another, poverty breeds disease. It's not a coincidence that Africa and Asia, the two poorest continents on the planet, are home to some of the nastiest illnesses in human history. Eradicating malaria, for example, is a top priority of American health officials, and Africa is Ground Zero for the disease. In this day and age of near-instantaneous international travel, a bug in Africa is a bug in New York City inside of a week.

For a third, in the wake of really the first global economic catastrophe that occured simultaneously across the world, we need more trading partners. A safe, secure and viable Africa provides this.

But looming over all of this is China. China has made huge strides in Africa, securing contracts with Nigerian oil companies, for example. America simply cannot, for its own economic health, afford to let China have the run of the table. We have to be competitive there. We have to maintain a stake in the economy of the continent. 

The final pillar of this plan, responsibility, is a key. For too long, America has looked the other way as regimes and tyrants have raped and pillaged nations all around the planet. We let Saddam Hussein have his lead, we've let the Saudis practically dictate our foreign policy, we've given free rein to the Mugabes and Taylors of the world. and we've given all of them, all of them aid over the years. Hell, we just signed a $60 billion dollar defense contract with the Saudis! 

We drop a bagful of money or food off, pat the leader on the head, and then turn and walk away. That's no way to do business, nor is it a way to be humanitarian. We have to make sure that not only does a nation receive help, but that the people in that nation who most need the help get it.   

(crossposted to Simply Left Behind)

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Should Obama appoint a CEO to replace Larry Summers?

No, of course not -- as if a CEO necessarily knows what's good for the economy and has the political and bureaucratic expertise to operate effectively as a key advisor to the president.

Over at Salon, Andrew Leonard makes the case -- a fairly obvious one but one that needs to be made, and repeated -- that "there's no way that appointing a CEO would "allay the business community's doubts about administration policies":

The only way for Obama to "allay" the so-called business community's "doubts" would be to join with Republicans in seeking a repeal of bank and healthcare reform, abandon his efforts to raise taxes on the wealthy, and fire Elizabeth Warren. By the definition currently employed on the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal, anything to the left of Ayn Rand or Jim DeMint is "anti-business." The bleating from Wall Street executives who feel bullied and demonized only proves one thing: Anything less than their total freedom to pursue profit free of all government restraint is utterly unacceptable -- no matter what the consequences for the country at large.

The very notion that Obama is "anti-business" is an absolute charade, cooked up by conservative pundits and fed by financial industry lobbying muscle. It has no connection to on-the-ground reality, and if administration officials think it is one of Obama's problems then they are the worst kind of spineless idiots.

Very well put. Read the whole, aptly-titled piece, "The awesome stupidity of replacing Larry Summers with a CEO."

Along these lines, make sure also to check out Paul Krugman's "No, No, CEO" at the Times. Simply put, the president should pick someone well qualified for the job -- and CEOs, whatever their other talents, just aren't qualified for it.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Why I love Troy Polamalu

I'll get back to political blogging shortly. It's been a crazy busy week at work, and I've been exhausted.

We have also, as usual, had some extremely serious posts up over the past couple of days, including Capt. Fogg's on the death penalty, Carl's on job security and Social Security, Creature's and Mustang Bobby's on Obama fatigue and exhaustion, J. Kingston Pierce's on the GOP's culture of corruption, and mine on Christine O'Donnell's anti-gay bigotry.

So let's take a quick break.

You all know how much I love the Pittsburgh Steelers, right? (We're not all Steelers fans here, mind you. Creature loves the Giants, for example.) Well, needless to say, I also love Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh's all-pro safety and one of the best players in the league now and ever to don the black and gold (and perhaps, if he keeps going like this, a sure-thing hall-of-famer, one of the best safeties ever).

This past Sunday, in the Steelers' D-driven 19-11 win over the Tennessee Titans, Polamalu made of the greatest plays I've ever seen, an incredible play even by his incredible standards. Maybe you have to be a football fan to appreciate this, but take a look regardless. He's amazing.

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GOP revives “culture of corruption”

By J. Kingston Pierce

Will Republican’ts never learn that Americans don’t want their elected representatives to sell their souls to Big Business? That corrupting coziness is part of what lost the GOP its congressional majority in 2008. This comes from The Washington Monthly’s Steve Benen:

Congressional Republicans’ affinity for corporate lobbyists is hardly new. When Congress worked on a jobs bill, the GOP huddled with corporate lobbyists. When work on Wall Street reform got underway, the GOP huddled with industry lobbyists. When Congress worked on health care reform, the GOP huddled with insurance lobbyists. When an energy/climate bill started advancing, Republicans huddled with energy lobbyists.

Care to guess who’ll be writing the laws under a GOP majority on the Hill?

This week, however, the ties looked even more unsavory. The National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee announced that it would co-host an Election Night reception with one of the top lobbying firms in Washington, and corporate donors willing to write big checks could buy all kinds of nice perks.

GOP officials, meanwhile, are trying to argue this isn’t a fundraiser, and that donors to the Election Night event are merely “underwriters” who will help cover the costs of the shindig.

The midterm elections haven’t even been held yet, and the GOP--anticipating gains on Capitol Hill--is already returning to it’s sleazy practices. You can read more here.

(Cross-posted at Limbo.)

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By Mustang Bobby.

Following up on Creature's post below....

President Obama held a town hall meeting earlier this week where he took unscripted questions from the audience. Some the questions were rather pointed, and he also heard from a woman named Velma Hart who told the president that she was exhausted.
Exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the man for change I voted for, and deeply disappointed with where we are right now. I’ve been told that I voted for a man who said he was going to change things in a meaningful way for the middle class. I’m one of those people and I’m waiting, sir, I’m waiting. I don’t feel it yet.

She's not alone, and if the polls are to be believed, it's showing up as the "enthusiasm gap" between the Democrats and the Republicans in the run-up to the mid-terms. And as Digby says, it's not really new.
Those of you who went through the 90s will recognize this phenomenon. It's when the right's ferocious attacks are so vicious and relentless that they eventually wear down average, common sense people with normal lives to lead --- and even scare them a little.

In Clinton's case it was defending him from the non-stop personal attacks that was so wearying. It took a brave soul with a taste for political combat to keep fighting in the face of that onslaught. It was called Clinton Fatigue, the sense that even people who were sympathetic to the president's political plight and understood that his enemies were rabid and insane, just wanted it to end. Many analysts think it was the reason why Gore had such a hard time even though the economy was roaring --- normally the country would have not wanted to rock that boat. It was the prospect of four or eight more years of wingnuts shrieking and howling that made at least few people say "whatever... give it to them ... anything to shut them up."

In Obama's case it's this moribund economy vs the outsized expectations that form the substance of the Democratic base's complaint. And there's good reason for people to be disappointed and worried. But the exhaustion at defending him, at least some of it, comes from the same place as that Clinton Fatigue. The right's non-stop attacks eventually just wear people down, sap them of their enthusiasm, make them question their own judgment, especially in the face of a negative and less than hopeful future. You have to be pretty committed to want to wallow in this toxic mud every day and most people have better things to do with their time.

This is where it gets difficult. It's not easy fighting the relentless and the trivial; it's like being pecked to death by ducks. And don't think for an instant that the attackers don't know this; it's the basis of their strategy. Don't go after the big things like how to rescue the economy or fix healthcare; they've shown that not only do they not have any ideas, even if they did they wouldn't put them out there because that would both raise the argument to the level of a real discussion about things that matter -- which is the last thing that they want -- and take the attention away from the silly and the insane such as the conspiracy theories about birth certificates and Luo tribal anti-colonialism.

The thing to remember is that this fight cannot be about one person. President Obama or Sarah Palin or Newt Gingrich are, in the long term, temporary figures and at some point they will leave the scene, so focusing on them diverts our attention from the ideas, and those are the things that matter. That is why the right wingers label the healthcare reform "Obamacare"; they latch it on to a person and attach all the personal baggage that he brings with it rather than focus on the benefits that healthcare reform brings with it. It's an old tactic and it works.

Ms. Hart is right when she says she's exhausted by defending President Obama. But what about the ideas that she believes in that made her vote for him and support him to the point of her exhaustion? Is she ready to give up on them? Is she ready to concede the points of the opposition; that healthcare reform and the stimulus package are socialism and that the president is secretly a Muslim born in Kenya? Forget about Mr. Obama; is she -- are we -- too exhausted to fight for the things we believe in?

I'm not. I've been fighting for what I believe in all my life and I've faced some pretty steep and tough obstacles, and I have some scars to prove it. It can be exhausting. But if it wasn't, it wouldn't be worth fighting for.

(Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Obama fatigue

By Creature

Sure I'm disappointed in the way Obama's first two years have played out, and yes he is to blame for some of that, but it's the crazy coming from the other side that really has me down (and probably is why I'm having a hard time blogging lately). As Digby explains, it's Clinton fatigue all over again. Hell, part of the reason I didn't support Hillary in the primaries was simply because I couldn't live through the crazy of the '90s all over again. Yet here we are, only more so, and I'm exhausted.

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Death in Virginia

By Capt. Fogg

What do China, Saudi Arabia and Iran have in common? The practice of executing prisoners; and both China and the US have extraordinary numbers of them. It's a condition we oft times associate with tyrannies, police states and governments at odds with the will of the governed. I can't say much as to whether support for the practice owes religious fervor for the passion with which it's defended against all evidence of the inefficacy of 'deterrent' and certainly China has far less of that than do countries without a state religion or those, like the US, that have an unhealthy yearning for one. I can be quite curious when that support stretches the boundaries of what is usually called civilized behavior to the point at which one perceives fangs and claws on the representation of Justice as well as the traditional scales and blindfold.

Virginia once was an important source for the sentiments and values that represented the best of the American revolution although the worst remained an institution there for a long lifetime after the Declaration of Independence. Slavery, witch hunting, the power of religion to make law, define the moral -- and the power to kill people have been subdued in practice if not in spirit. Yet, of late, I think we can see another effort to bring it all back, like buried ancient demons in some H.P Lovecraft tale. I think the so-called Tea Party is but another manifestation of the restlessness of our resident evil and so is the plain but cold blooded lust to kill Teresa Lewis for her complicity in the murder of her husband and stepson.

It's not just that the two accomplices who carried out the crime were spared being strapped to a cross and having corrosive chemicals pumped into their veins while she has been sentenced to death: it's also that she has an IQ of between 70 and 72. If she dies in Virginia's house of death on the day after tomorrow, she will be the first woman since 1912, when Ms Virginia Christian, a black teenager was broiled to death in the electric chair -- if we can call a 17 year old girl a woman. In that enlightened state, the entity with the motto "thus ever with tyrants," the tyrannical ability to kill human beings is tempered by things like age and mental capacity, and an IQ of 70 is considered to be the borderline between incompetence and fit fodder for the sacrificial altar.

In our day of major candidates for high office rattling about witches, masturbation and the wrath of god and even little mice with human brains, is it surprising that a one or two point difference (well within the statistical noise level) can be like a bank vault door sealing off mercy, decency and respect for human life? For those eager from the lofty vantage point of a 20 or 30 point difference it may seem so, leaving those with an additional 60 or 90 to wonder about the moral quotient of those who presume to educate the public and to pass judgment upon us.

Whether or not Mrs. Lewis spends the 40 years she has left in jail or ends her existence in Virginia's sanitized charnel house, the question will arise repeatedly and inevitably, as long as we continue to confuse justice with a system of accounting and allow it to be driven by public anger and prosecutorial polemics. The mad, the imbecilic and even the innocent will continue to die and the beast will continue to rage in the heart of America and our vaunted respect for life will stink of the grave.

(Cross posted from Human Voices)


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Is Christine O'Donnell a criminal?

Yes, says a leading Washington watchdog group:

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, today filed a pair of complaints concerning Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell's use of more than $20,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses.

"Christine O'Donnell is clearly a criminal, and like any crook she should be prosecuted," CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said in a release. "Ms. O'Donnell has spent years embezzling money from her campaign to cover her personal expenses. Republicans and Democrats don't agree on much these days, but both sides should agree on one point: thieves belong in jail not the United States Senate." 

They should agree on that, I'm just not sure they can.

Regardless, there would appear to be something here -- some possible serious wrongdoing. Let's hope O'Donnell gets the vigorous investigation she deserves.

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Just how crazy is Christine O'Donnell? (1)

We do this for Sharron Angle, so why not for Christine O'Donnell, who might just be even crazier? Why not indeed. Here we go...

How crazy is she? Well, she's crazy in her bigotry towards gays and lesbians, as Think Progress reports:

Despite having a lesbian sister, Delaware GOP Senate nominee Christine O'Donnell has long history of taking hateful and ignorant positions against gay people, as ThinkProgress has noted in our report on the former anti-sex activist. For example, O'Donnell has said she "cannot understand" why gay people are offended by homosexuality being called a "deviant sexual orientation," and has claimed that gay people are "attacking the very center of what is America -- freedom to have different views." But in a 2006 quote uncovered by the Washington Post's Greg Sargent, O'Donnell took an even harsher stance, calling homosexuality an "identity disorder":

People are created in God's image. Homosexuality is an identity adopted through societal factors. It's an identity disorder.

As Sargent writes, "O'Donnell's suggestion that gays suffer from a psychological disorder is far worse than other comments about gays that have already gotten media attention." Indeed, until 1973 the American Psychiatric Association considered homosexuality to be a disease, causing tremendous problems for gay men and women who were labeled mentally ill. Now, the APA states firmly that "homosexuality is not an illness, a mental disorder, or an emotional problem," and that "human beings cannot choose to be either gay or straight." O'Donnell has claimed that her views have "matured" since she was in her 20s, but the recency of this homophobic remark raises serious questions about how much her extremist beliefs have actually evolved.

Clearly, her views haven't really "matured" at all -- and now she pits her fundamentalist Christian nonsense (religious opinion masquerading as psychological diagnosis, as if she's in any position to diagnose anything!) against the scientific establishment (which has matured a great deal as it has learned more and more). She has no idea what she's talking about, but that obviously doesn't stop her from saying whatever she likes, without a trace of humility or doubt, to advance her bigotry.

Oh, and how are gays "attacking" American freedom? How does being gay, and having rights, stop others from being free and having different views? O'Donnell is free to speak her mind and express her bigotry, is she not?

Crazy? You betcha! But these days, of course, she's just a run-of-the-mill Republican, a party in which such hate and ignorance is standard fare.

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The Tragedy Of The Common

By Carl
My dad retired at age 65, after 40 years of work as a carpenter. He was union, working mostly for contractors hired by the city. The term was "journeyman".
Some years, he worked all the time, except in inclement weather (a hazard of outdoor work with heavy machinery and power tools). Some years, he barely worked and had to subsist on unemployment benefits and the occasional cabinetry job he could scarf together out of the neighborhood.
Every year, tho, the union made sure he had money put away towards his retirement. A defined benefit pension, it was called. That meant that he was guaranteed a certain payout based on his income averaged over all those years. That, Social Security, and what little money he could sock away by living sparely (he didn't have a colour TV until long after I moved out, as an example) stood him well. He lived to nearly see his ninetieth birthday, and my mom is living on the residual.
His generation was the last who could promise themselves a future:

Older workers who lose their jobs could pose a policy problem if they lose their ability to be self-sufficient. “That’s what we should be worrying about,” said Carl E. Van Horn, professor of public policy and director of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, “what it means to this class of the new unemployables, people who have been cast adrift at a very vulnerable part of their career and their life.”

Forced early retirement imposes an intense financial strain, particularly for those at lower incomes. The recession and its aftermath have already pushed down some older workers. In figures released last week by the Census Bureau, the poverty rate among those 55 to 64 increased to 9.4 percent in 2009, from 8.6 percent in 2007.

But even middle-class people who might skate by on savings or a spouse’s income are jarred by an abrupt end to working life and to a secure retirement.

“That’s what I spent my whole life in pursuit of, was security,” Ms. [Patricia] Reid said. “Until the last few years, I felt very secure in my job.”

Back story. For more than fifteen years, Reid worked as an auditor for Boeing. She's 57, college educated, and has been unemployed for four years.

She could conceivably never work again. Worse, she could conceivably be bankrupt before she can officially "retire" at age 62 1/2. With no job, and no pension, and likely a 401(k) wiped out by the recession, she is in very serious danger of falling into and then through the safety net.

Social Security was designed to protect the elderly, among the most vulnerable of us when they are not seen to. Yes, it was a back up plan, meant to supplement a pension. Before we had SSI, we had elderly folks dying in our cities and towns for want of income. Literally. The elderly were the poorest citizens in society up to the 30s and 40s. After the advent of SSI (and Medicare) the elderly actually saw their life spans increase after they turned 65. And they could survive life. 

Retirement, which should be the end of stress, is suddenly now the largest stressor in many people's lives. Retirement is a very delicate balance of health and money. Destabilize one, and you end up pulling the whole house down. 

It's not uncommon now to work past 65. Hell, it's practically encouraged! If one is healthy enough and can manage to summon up the energy to perform, a person over 65 bring a boatload of experience to a job. 

Now, it may become mandatory. Not just because we've allowed the corporatocracy to do away with pensions, but also because Social Security itself is under attack, from enemies external and internal. Republicans want to privatize it, to move that much more profit into the hands of the greedy rich. And people are living longer, contributing less (fewer young workers and well, see above), and the system is draining money faster than its putting it away. 

The balanced system, pension with the supplemental insurance, is in danger of collapsing. People who have worked all their lives, have wanted to support themselves in retirement, cannot and will not be able to. 

All for want of some vision on the part of our national leaders. All for the sake of boosting the bottom line each quarter for companies that are already embarrassingly rich.

Shame on us.  

(crossposted to Simply Left Behind)

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If a new Gallup poll comes out and the media don't report on it, does it mean anything at all?

The latest Gallup "generic ballot" poll finds the Democrats actually leading the Republicans, 46 to 45.

That sound you don't hear is the media not reporting this turnaround.

And why? Because it doesn't fit the pro-Republican narrative, the narrative of Republican invincibility, that Republicans feed to them and that they reflexively regurgitate, buying that narrative without thought.


As I mentioned a while ago, I don't take much stock in these polls. It was a big story a few weeks ago when Republicans jumped out to a 10-point lead, 51 to 41, but there hasn't really been a discernible trend this year. It's been up-and-down for both parties, with the Democrats frequently ahead -- not that you'd ever know that if you only listened to the mainstream media and Republican talking heads.

The concern, for our side, has to do with the so-called "enthusiasm gap" -- and that was the concern when the Republicans took that lead. The gap is real, I suspect, but there's still a long time to go before November, and a lot can change. The Democrats will still lose seats in both houses of Congress, but it is quite possible that Republican gains won't be nearly as dramatic as some have suggested.

All Gallup tells us, I think, is that, generically speaking, it's a very close race.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

The UN, peacekeeping operations, and great power politics

by Peter Henne

As world leaders and pundits get ready for the upcoming United Nations session, the usual discussions of the UN's relevance are emerging. The UN is in a paradoxical situation of a favorable change in the United States--with Obama relatively less UN-hostile than Bush--but an increasingly difficult international and bureaucratic situation. As
one story discussed, this can be seen in the small number of peacekeeping missions the UN is undertaking, compared to earlier eras.

It is interesting to note the crises in which the UN has not intervened. These include the Congo, Kyrgyzstan, Somalia, and Sri Lanka. A pattern can be discerned. These are all situations where there is little public attention paid to the conflict (the Congo, Somalia, Sri Lanka) or a great power is opposed to action (Kyrgyzstan-Russia).

I am not an expert on UN peacekeeping missions, but it is fair to say UN action is caused by the convergence of two factors: public attention to the crisis (the "CNN effect") and the absence of great powers opposed to intervention. Both must be present. If publics are clamoring for action but a powerful state has an interest in letting the crisis continue, UN action will blocked. If, instead, no state is stopping action but people don't care about a crisis, leaders will not feel compelled to act.

The dynamics of UN peacekeeping decisions are therefore complex. We have an asymmetric causal relationship (explanations for action are not the same as those for inaction) and equifinality (multiple paths to the same outcome). This is interesting for social scientists, but is also important for those hoping for UN action on humanitarian crises. Namely, it is much easier to prevent a UN peacekeeping operation from occurring than it is to mobilize a response to a crisis. The latter needs both public support and great power acquiescence; the former can occur in the absence of only one of those conditions.

With the American public distracted from anything of real substance, and states like China and Russia becoming more involved in regional and extra-regional politics, the likelihood of the UN stepping up and trying to resolving ongoing crises is slim. But there are plenty of crises that the great powers care little about, and of which the American people could presumably be made aware. Theoretically, that is.

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You fight the fights that need fighting

By Mustang Bobby.

According to this piece in The New York Times, the Democrats are trying to come up with their last stretch strategy to keep the mid-terms from going down in flames.
President Obama’s political advisers, looking for ways to help Democrats and alter the course of the midterm elections in the final weeks, are considering a range of ideas, including national advertisements, to cast the Republican Party as all but taken over by Tea Party extremists, people involved in the discussion said.

White House and Congressional Democratic strategists are trying to energize dispirited Democratic voters over the coming six weeks, in hopes of limiting the party’s losses and keeping control of the House and Senate. The strategists see openings to exploit after a string of Tea Party successes split Republicans in a number of states, culminating last week with developments that scrambled Senate races in Delaware and Alaska.

“We need to get out the message that it’s now really dangerous to re-empower the Republican Party,” said one Democratic strategist who has spoken with White House advisers but requested anonymity to discuss private strategy talks.

So far so good. But wait...
Democrats are divided. The party’s House and Senate campaign committees are resistant, not wanting to do anything that smacks of nationalizing the midterm elections when high unemployment and the drop in Mr. Obama’s popularity have made the climate so hostile to Democrats. Endangered Congressional candidates want any available money to go to their localized campaigns.

Late Sunday night, White House advisers denied that a national ad campaign was being planned. “There’s been no discussion of such a thing at the White House” or the Democratic National Committee, said David Axelrod, Mr. Obama’s senior adviser.

Argh. This is what drives people crazy. Newt Gingrich is fulminating about passing a federal law banning the use of shariah law in the courts (we already have one; it's called the First Amendment); Christine O'Donnell, the Republican nominee for the Senate from Delaware, is deemed to be "a bit of a flake" by William Kristol (who says he would still vote for her. Of course he would); Sarah Palin is defending the use of racial epithets by radio pseudo-shrink; Sharron Angle is endorsing armed insurrection, and who knows what tomorrow may bring in the annals of right-wing batshittery. The Tea Party is delivering the Democrats campaign fodder to their door; they couldn't have asked for it better if they had done with candy and a stripper. But the Democrats are worried about taking advantage of these gifts because they're afraid of being attacked in a position of weakness and, as the article states further on, they want to hold their fire for the 2012 campaign.

That makes as much sense as the Tigers keeping their best pitcher out of the rotation in April because they want to save him for the World Series six months later. Trust me, he'll be in good shape if you never use him, but then you won't be in the World Series, either. Certainly the GOP and the Tea Party aren't going to hold their fire because they're afraid of exposing their weaknesses; they revel in that sort of stuff. They're going to capitalize on Christine O'Donnell's serial quotations as proof that she's a genuine American with all the quirks and peccadilloes that are emblematic of what we really need in Washington instead of the career politicians who wait until they're elected to go off the deep end.

A.J. MacInerney (The American President) said you fight the fights that need fighting, not just the ones you can win. That means you do it because it's the right thing to do. And that also means standing up for people who are fighting for their political lives right now because they won't be fighting for you two years from now if they're out of office.

(Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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