Friday, June 29, 2007

Ohio's Non-Insured Prescription Drug Plan to Merge With Golden Buckeye Card

If you know any senior citizens who do not have prescription drug coverage, they might want to check out this story in the Dayton Daily News. Seniors enrolled in Ohio's Best RX plan, which covers eligible Ohio citizens who don't have prescription health insurance coverage, is merging with the Golden Buckeye Card. This will mean that Ohio seniors can use the Golden Buckeye Card for prescription medicine if they are otherwise eligible.

This quote from the article explains the coverage:

For adults younger than 60 to be eligible, they also must have annual incomes below 300 percent of the federal poverty level — $30,636 for singles, $41,076 for families of two and $10,440 more per additional person.

The article also points out that:

The program can complement other drug discount cards and Medicare Part D. Only one can be used per prescription.

The Daily News article notes that participants in the Best RX program save approximately 34% on their prescription drugs. If you click on the above link to the Daily News article you can read a telephone number and an Internet address where you can get more information.

Election of Strickland Changes Budget Priorities

Here are four examples from Ohio newspapers on how Strickland' election is changing Ohio:

Budget bill extends health insurance coverage to 4,000 children who have serious illnesses but can't get private health insurance.

Kent State University will not be raising tuition for undergrads and credits the just enacted budget bill.

Seniors applaud homestead break pushed by Strickland.

Funding for clinics treating women for breast and cervical cancer restored, saving 18 clinics.

Do you think that we would be reading these stories if Ken Blackwell had been elected?

NOTE: This entry is the 500th entry posted on the MCDAC Blog.

Brown, Voinovich Vote Against Cloture for Immigration Bill Debate

During the last week, we have highlighted how Ohio's two United States Senators split over raising the average fleet mileage standards for vehicles sold in America and over the 2007 Employee Free Choice Bill. Yesterday, (6/28/2007), Ohio's two Senators voted in unison to defeat a cloture motion on the immigration bill. (You can see the vote here.)

We actually think this bill is a bad idea and would cost the Democratic Party in states like Ohio, Pennslyvania, and Michigan. We also think that it would allow employers to create a permanent group of workers who would act as a way to make sure that employees don't organize or seek better wages.

In an earlier post we suggested linking free trade treaties to support for the Employee Free Choice bill which would make it easier to form unions. Absent such a linkage we thought, for what it was worth, that the trade treaties with South Korea, Peru, Panama, and Columbia are bad deals for the American middle class.

Those bills, however, would not be near as damaging as the immigration bill that would basically allow guest workers to come in, stay for a period of time, and then return to their native counties. That idea is just crazy.

Those who read this blog know that we have advocated for a policy of "Bring the Troops Home from Iraq and Put Them on the Border." Once Americans saw that the government was serious about protecting border security, and serious about cracking down on employers who hire illegal immigrants, they would be much more willing to accept some changes in the status of the 12 million illegal immigrants living in the United States.

So congratulations to both of Ohio's United States Senators for standing up for Ohio's workers on this flawed piece of legislation.

Global Warming Forcing Millions to Flee Homes?

A reader sent us this link and we wanted to pass it on:

50 million on the run from deserts, warming?
Desertification represents one of the "greatest environmental challenges of our times" and could set off mass migrations of people fleeing degraded homelands, a United Nations report warned Thursday.

This is a quote from the article:

The report said about 2 billion people, a third of the Earth's population, are potential victims of desertification, which is defined as land degraded by human activities like farming and grazing.

If the problem is left unchecked, some 50 million people could be forced from their homes over the next decade, the report said.

The report, the work of more than 200 experts from 25 countries, said policies on preventing desertification are often inconsistent, frequently not implemented at local levels or inadvertently fuel conflict over land, water and other resources.

This article reminds us of a conversation we had a with a friend last week who said that he didn't see what all the problem was with global warming because if the predictions are true, he will be able to play golf more of the year. When it was pointed out to him that Florida might be underwater, he said that since he didn't like Florida, that really didn't strike him as a big problem. We were shocked at his answer and so didn't ask him if he felt that way about Iowa, Nebraska, and other states that are our and the world's granary.

Thanks for Ed U. for sending us this article.

How Right Wing Nut Jobs Use Alleged MSM Concern Over "Fairness"

If you click here you can see David Gregory of NBC News talking with Elizabeth Edwards about Ann Coulter. Note that he believes that if you just "strip-away her inflammatory" language, you can take her seriously. This is what members of the mainsream media do, they pretend that these right-wing nut jobs are actually serious observers making serious observations about society. They aren't and of course, the problem is that you can't overlook her language, because that is what Ann Coulter is all about. She just doesn't say this hateful things because they help her get attention and sell books, no, she says them because she believes them.

Gregory reminds me of the people in Germany who thought that Hitler didn't mean what he wrote in Mein Kampf. You know, the kind who thought, "Adolf's language is a little extreme, but underneath all his anti-semitic utterings, he is making a serious point about Germany and our future."

When Ann Coulter says things like, "The next time I will just call for Edwards to be assisanted", she really means it. She would have no problem with some nut job killing John Edwards. Unlike David Gregory we don't conscend to Ann Coulter, we take her at her word.

This is how the mainstream media gets sucked into taking hatemongers like Coulter seriously. They think that because they are on television and because a lot of other nutjobs purchase her books, she must have something serious to say. Well, the problem is, as John Edwards pointed out to Chris Matthews on Hardball, is that America has always had hatemongers and probably always will.

In this interview with Mathews, Edwards points out that when he was growing up in North Carolina during the civil rights revolution in the South, there were nutjobs all around making vile, personal attacks on people. In the 1950s and 1960s there used to be billboards with the message "Impeach Earl Warren" all across the South. Can you imagine any reporter from NBC taking the head of the John Birch seriously, or the head of the White Citizens Council seriously during the 1960s?

Yet, because Coulter sells books and appears on television David Gregory thinks that she is a serious thinker. Well, by that standard, the cartoon characters from South Park or the Simpsons should be considered serious thinkers as well, at least according to the David Gregory standard.

New Report Claims that Right-Wing Talk Radio Dominance Results From Concentration of Media Ownership

AlterNet has an article out concerning a report issued by the Center for American Progress and the Free Press about why talk radio is dominated by right-wingers. This is a quote from that article:

The report contrasts the amount of right-wing talk -- nine out of every ten hours broadcast on talk-radio is exclusively conservative -- with a talk-radio audience that, according to Pew Research, identifies itself as follows: forty-three percent of regular talk radio listeners are conservative, while "23 percent identify as liberal and 30 percent as moderate." In other words, fewer than half of those listening to some of the most feverish voices on the right are themselves self-identified conservatives.

So why is this happening? According to the AlterNet article it is because of concentration of ownership of media outlets. The article notes that the report found that when media outlets are owned by women and minorities, such outlets are much less likely to just have right-wing talk radio. As the article noted:

An analysis of all 10,506 licensed commercial radio stations found that stations "owned by women, minorities, or local owners are statistically less likely to air conservative hosts or shows." In contrast, "stations controlled by group owners--those with stations in multiple markets or more than three stations in a single market--were statistically more likely to air conservative talk." Markets that aired both conservative and progressive programming were "less concentrated than the markets that aired only one type of programming and were more likely to be the markets that had female- and minority-owned stations."

What the article points out is that large media companies who own a lot of media outlets have a financial interest in promoting a political philosophy that worships the so-called "free market". It has a disincentive in promoting a political philosophy that looks at the airwaves as a public trust. This translates into supporting conservative talk radio even in markets where progressive talk radio has been a market success.

The article's authors also point out that, contrary to what right-wingers like Michelle Malkin are saying, the report does not call for a re-enforcement of the Fairness Doctrine. What it calls for is, from the viewpoint of media companies like Clear Channel and Fox, much more radical and that is limiting ownership of radio and television outlets. Such ownership was limited back in the 1950s and 1960s, but over the last three decades the FCC and the Congress have allowed companies like Clear Channel to buy up literally thousands of media outlets. If you are interested in the media, check out this Alternet Article.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Retired General Tells House Committee Bubble-Boy's "Surge", aka Escalation, Isn't Working

Retired U.S. Army General John Batiste told the House Foreign Relations Committee that Bush's so called "surge", aka escalation, isn't working. In written testimony to the Committee Batiste said: The [Bush] administration drove this nation to war without the military planning and capability required to be successful in this kind of war.

Not surprisingly Congressman Dan Burton, (R-IN), decided that he knew more about military matters than a retired three-star general as he argued with Batiste at the hearing. You might remember Dan Burton. He is the Republican Congressman who chaired the House Government Operations Committee and devoted his time to investigating the Clinton Administration, including a time when he conducted his own shooting experiments to show that Vince Foster didn't commit suicide and was actually murdered.

Here is a video clip of General Batiste's oral testimony to the House Committee:

If you click on the link in this entry's title, you can read a story from Defense News about the hearing and the General's testimony.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Mitt Romney Strapped Dog to Roof of Family Car, Dog Crapped Over Car

Okay, so this is not a dog bites man story, but still it is instructive on so many levels. According to the story linked to in the Boston Globe Mitt Romney was once taking his family on a vacation from Boston to Ontario for the summer. He put his children and wife in the car and then strapped his dog to the roof in a carrier for which he has constructed a windshield. Apparently the dog had to go after several hours and crapped down the back of the car. Good ol' Mitt pulls into a gas station, hoses down the car and dog, and then puts the dog back in the rooftop carrier.

If you want to know something about a person, check out the way they treat people who have to serve them and the way they treat animals. If a person is rude to a waitress, or to an employee, someone who can't really fight back, or if they are mean or cruel to animals, then that person is an inconsiderate jerk. We think that Mitt certainly fits the description.

Of course, we may be overly sensitive. After all we have been told by the media for the last six years or so that the "cute" nicknames that Bush gives his friends shows his affection for them. Names like "Turdblossom" for Karl Rove and "Fredo" for Alberto Gonzales. Personally, if one of our friends called us "Turdblossom" we would be reconsidering our relationship with that person. But, hey, that's just us. Maybe Karl Rove likes to be referred to a flowering piece of human waste. Come to think of it, maybe Bush has the right idea after all.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Voinovich Joins Lugar in Urging Bush to Start Pulling Troops Out of Iraq

George Voinovich joins Lugar in urging Bush to start pulling troops out of Iraq.

Brown and Voinovich Split on Employee Free Choice Act

As you can see from this vote in the United States Senate today, Ohio's two Senators split on the vote to shut off debate over the 2007 Employee Free Choice Act. This bill would allow employees to form labor unions and negotiate with employers by signing cards authorizing representation. Such a system would work against companies that block union representation by intimidating employees. Such intimidation usually takes place in activity leading up to representation elections. Senator Sherrod Brown voted to stop the debate while George Voinovich voted against stopping debate. The cloture vote needed 60 votes to pass and it got 51.

Senator Richard Lugar Breaks with Bush's Iraq Plan

Senator Richard Lugar, (R-IN), on Monday, June 25, 2007, that Bush's Iraq plan isn't working and that a new strategy is needed. Lugar's remarks came in a Senate floor speech. In his speech he called for the United States to downsize the military's role in Iraq. Lugar is the former GOP Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He is regarded as one of the Republicans leading members of the Senate. This quote is from his speech:

"In my judgment, the costs and risks of continuing down the current path outweigh the potential benefits that might be achieved. Persisting indefinitely with the surge strategy will delay policy adjustments that have a better chance of protecting our vital interests over the long term."

This is not a good thing for Bubble-Boy and the Duck Hunter. Lugar is well regarded by the Washington media insiders. He is known to be a staunch Republican, but one with a brain. As this article points out, his defection will give "cover" to other Republicans who are uneasy about BB's Iraq strategy. If you are a views of the Sunday morning talking heads shows, expect to hear a lot about Lugar's comments this next Sunday. Tim, George, and others will take note of Lugar's refusal to keep drinking BB's Iraq Kool-Aid.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Arrogance of the Media's Emphasis on "Character Issues"

If you run a search on Google and use the words "Al Gore" and sighing, you will find that there are approximately 21,500 entries returned by Google's search engine. If, however, you run the terms "George W. Bush" and "lack of intellectual curiosity" you will get a return of 719 entries. This example illustrates the problem with the emphasis on so-called "character issues" by the media.

The range of the media's concern with "character issues" is very limited. Did the candidate ever cheat on his or her spouse, did he lie to someone about something important, is he or she hypocritical, did the candidate ever do a favor for a contributor, are about all the questions asked by the media regarding "character." Almost none of them, however, relate to the policies that such a candidate will adopt if elected, and there is no indication that the public really cares about the answers to those questions.

The illustration given above shows the problem with the media's approach. Did it matter at all whether Al Gore was condescending to George W. Bush during their debates? Does it really matter at all if Al Gore is condescending to his political opponents and thinks that a lot of them are idiots? Would such character traits impact on the policies he would have pursued if elected? The answer is "No, they wouldn't."

Contrast that with George W. Bush's lack of intellectual curiosity. Almost every mistake made by this administration can be traced to the fact that George W. Bush never questions the adoption of policies that seem consistent with the beliefs he held before becoming President. As he once famously said, "I know what I believe and I believe that what I believe is right." Nowhere in that statement is any appreciation for the concept that actual facts may challenge a person's beliefs. Yet, almost no member of the media reported about Bush's lack of intellectual curiosity prior to him becoming President in 2000.

One reason is that it is a hard concept to illustrate by example. People close to Bush aren't going to talk about his lack of intellectual curiosity and such a character trait isn't apparent from a distance. Intellectual curiosity shows up in the books a person reads, or in conversations, or in who a person has discussions with and the topics discussed. It is shown over time and is not easily verifiable.

Contrast that with sighing during a debate. There you have proof since the sighing was done during a televised debate. It is a singular event in time. It is easily understood by the public. In short it is ready made for media analysis. The same is true about cheating on a spouse, once one of the people involved is willing to talk about it, or about doing a favor for a contributor, once the favor is discovered.

During the 2008 Presidential campaign millions of words will be written and/or spoken by the media about so-called "character issues", and almost none of them will have any relation to policies that the winning candidate will adopt once elected.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Ohio's Senators Split Vote on Energy Bill

Ohio's two United States Senators split on the energy bill passed on Thursday, June 21, 2007, by the United States Senate. Senator Sherrod Brown voted "Yea" while Senator George Voinovich voted "Nay." The bill raises corporate average fleet mileage requirements on vehicles sold in the United States.

As this Washington Post article makes clear, the United States is behind Europe, Japan and even China in setting mileage requirements for vehicles. This is a quote from the Post article:

The United States, with current efficiency standards of 27.5 miles per gallon for cars and 22.2 per gallon for SUVs and small trucks, has lagged behind the rest of the developed world. In the European Union, automakers have agreed to voluntary increases in fuel-economy standards that next year will lift the average to 44.2 miles per gallon, according to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. In Japan, average vehicle fuel economy tops 45 miles per gallon. China's level is in the mid-30s and projected to rise, propelled by government policy.

This is not a politically easy vote for Ohio's two United States Senators. Ohio has lost a lot of auto industry jobs over the last two decades. The United Auto Workers are an important ally of the Ohio Democratic Party and have supported Senator Brown in past elections, including the 2006 election. If political courage is defined as acting and voting for measures that either opposed by or not supported by political allies, then Senator Brown displayed political courage by his vote yesterday. Senator Voinovich? Not so much.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Do Roman Catholic Bishops Expect Catholic Supreme Court Justices to Reverse Roe v. Wade?

According to this article, the nation's Roman Catholic Bishops are considering how much involvement they should have in the 2008 Presidential campaign. The article points out how certain Bishops were involved in the 2004 campaign, with one Bishop announcing that he wouldn't allow John Kerry to receive communion in his diocese. What was remarkable about that statement was that there was no indictation that Kerry intended to take communion in his diocese, so his announcement served no other purpose than to indictate to his parishioners his opposition to Kerry.

What is even more remarkable about this article, however, is that the American Catholic Bishops are ignoring the one governmental body that has control over Roe v. Wade and has a majority of Roman Catholics. That body is, of course, the United States Supreme Court. Out of the nine United States Supreme Court Justices, five are Roman Catholic. They are Justices Scalia, Roberts, Alito, Thomas, and Kennedy.

So here is the question: why aren't these Bishops who were opposed to John Kerry putting pressure on the Roman Catholic Supreme Court Justices to reverse Roe v. Wade?

What is even more interesting about the Roman Catholic Supreme Court Justices is that all of them were appointed by Republican Presidents and are presumably Republicans. So it would seem that they would be the most receptive to the argument that abortion is a "fundamental" issue for Roman Catholics.

Of course, Americans are very touchy about attempts to interfere with the judiciary and might react very negatively to such an attempt. Which is, of course, why even those Bishops who were opposed to John Kerry's election might heistate to pressure Supreme Court Justices. In the final analysis, however, it seems hypocritical to criticize Roman Catholic Democratic politicians on abortion and ignore the fact that five Republican Roman Catholic Supreme Court Justices could reverse Roe v. Wade anytime they chose to do so.

Will Iraq War Hurt Democrats More Than Republicans?

Most Democratic activists believe that the Iraq War assures that the next President of the United States will be a Democrat. While it would seem that Democrats have an advantage because of the Iraq War, success is not guaranteed. The Iraq War could actually cause more trouble for Democrats than for Republicans.

On the Republican side there doesn't seem to be any intraparty turmoil over Bush's war. The Republican base seems to support Bush on the war. The Republican candidates are pretty much in support of Bush for starting the war, although some break with him on how the war has been managed. On the Democratic side, however, it is a different story.

In the June 21, 2007 edition of the Washington Post we have this article by Senator Carl Levin, a sponsor of the recent war funding bill that was vetoed. On the face of it, this article seems to be a reasoned defense of why Democratic Senators don't want to vote for cutting off funding for the war. Sen. Levin's approach, however, leads to this response on Daily Kos. As you can see, by reading the entry on Daily Kos the writer rejects any argument that Democratic Senators who voted to fund the war without the timelines following Bush's veto did the correct thing. If you read the comments to the posting, it is almost impossible to find anyone who agrees with Senator Levin's article.

The problem is, of course, what to do about the fact that Bush has a veto power over Democratic passed legislation. Right now there does not exist enough Republican votes to pass a funding bill with timelines over his veto. The alternatives then seem either to be pass the funding bill without timelines or don't pass a funding bill at all. Of course, that means that Democratic Senators will be subject to the repeated claim by Republicans that they are "abandoning" American troops. Given the complicity of the media in Bush's war, this claim is very likely to be picked up by the media without any thought or consideration of whether it is correct.

Furthermore, such a funding cut-off of American troops while they are fighting has not, to our knowledge, been done before. Congress cut off funding for aid to South Vietnam in 1974, but that was after American troops had withdrawn from Vietnam. It also came after 12 years of American involvement in Vietnam. (Click here to read a short history of how Congress ended American involvement in South Vietnam.) Cutting off funding to South Vietnam is a far cry from cutting off funding for American military operations while American troops are engaged in combat.

Yet, such distinctions don't seem to matter to many Democratic activists. It is easy to see a situation where the activist base of the Democratic Party, angered at what many activists regard as complicity in Bush's War and by the nomination of a presidential candidate like Hillary Clinton who voted to authorize the war, walk away from the Democratic Party in 2008. This could easily lead to a situation where the Republican candidate has more support from his party than the Democratic nominee does from his or her party. It was just such a situation that helped elect Nixon in 1968 and Reagan in 1980. Who says that political history can't repeat itself?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Jordan's King Predicted Three Civil Wars in Middle East in November, 2006

If you click on the link in this entry's title, you can read the transcript of an appearance by King Abdullah of Jordon on ABC's This Week on November 26, 2006. During that appearance he predicted three civil wars in the Middle East in 2007. One in Iraq, one in Lebanon and one in the territory controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Now, with 2007 not yet halfway over, we have seen two of the three civil wars take place, or rather, the continuing civil war in Iraq has been joined by the civil war between Hamas and Fatah in the Palestinian Authority. Only Lebanon has not yet seen an outbreak of civil war.

Yet, despite this record of devastation across a crucial area of the world, Tony Snow today, June 18, 2007, said it was "hard to say" whether the Iraq War has helped the peace process in the Middle East or whether the removal of Hussein has helped stabliize the Middle East, a claim made by the Bubble-Boy before the War.

Well, here is a hint, Tony, Iraq is now in the middle of a civil war, which wasn't happening before we invaded and took down its government. The Palestinian Authority is no longer functioning as any kind of government, and Hamas, a terrorist supporting political party, controls the Gaza Strip. Lebanon saw a war last year between Hamas and Israel and could see a civil war this year between Hamas and Christian factions. So, clearly Tony, this War hasn't done a thing to encourage the peace process in the Middle East or helped stabilize the Middle East.

The truth is that we are going to be dealing with the blowback from Bush's insanity for the next 50 years. Think how many terrorists we are creating in Iraq. How many Islamic terrorists are being generated by our involvement in Iraq. How many Iraqis are going end up hating the United States because our military has killed their husbands, fathers, brothers, mothers, sisters, and other relatives.

Clearly not all of the violence can be traced back to the Iraq War, but it is just as clear that the Iraq War is contributing to great instability in the region. Since 2003 there has been violence in Iraq, Gaza, Lebanon, and Iran has gained influence with organizations such as Hamas. Meanwhile, there is continued violence in Afghanistan and a resurgence of the Taliban in that country, you know, the people that bin Laden to use their country as a terrorist training camp. And because of Bubble-Boy Bush and Cheney the Duck Hunter, America is right smack dab in the middle of it all.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Slapping Down of Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul Pfeifer

One of the worst kept secrets in Columbus is that Justice Eve Lundberg-Stratton wants to be the first woman to be Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice. She has been planning her election as Chief for a long time. She has important allies in the business community. She has very good public relations skills as shown by her efforts to establish mental health dockets for Ohio's trial courts. In short, she seems to be on track to accomplish her goal.

Democrats and their allies in labor and the plaintiffs' bar have been looking for a candidate who could beat Stratton. One rumor going around is that the Justice Paul Pfiefer will jump parties and run as a Democrat for Chief Justice in the 2008 election. Pfiefer is liberal for a Republican, has allies in labor and the trial lawyers' bar, and has run state-wide more times than Stratton.

Which brings us to this article that appeared in the Sunday, June 17th, 2007 edition of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. This article deals with the allegedly long time that the Ohio Supreme Court takes in rendering opinions. The article points out that the time the Supreme Court takes in releasing opinions is increasing.

What's interesting is that while most of the Justices are having problems releasing opinions, it is Justice Pfiefer that gets most of the attention for being a slowpoke in judicial decision writing. This is a quote from the article about Pfeifer's slowness: Justice Paul Pfeifer was the slowest, taking an average of 291 days to produce each of his 21 opinions in 2006 - nearly two months longer than the next-slowest justice, Lanzinger The article goes on to describe how Pfeifer doesn't have three law clerks like the other Justices. He uses two clerks and an administrative assistant. This assistant helps him write a weekly column for small city newspapers and the Supreme Court's website.

Justice Stratton, on the other hand, is the one Justice who is described as being relatively speedy in releasing opinions. This is a quote from the article about Stratton's promptness: Stratton, who is now among the most efficient justices at turning out opinions, said she puts a premium on speed. "I just believe that it is very important that the public gets a timely opinion," she said.

Do we see a difference in the way the two Justices are being treated by this article?

The article also doesn't analyze other factors that could be leading to an increase in the amount of time Justices are taking to issue opinions. One of those is whether the direct appeal of death penalty cases from Ohio's Common Pleas Court to the Ohio Supreme Court, bypassing the Ohio's Courts of Appeals, is adding to the time being taken by the Ohio Supreme Court in issuing decisions.

Nor is there any reason given for why other Ohio Supreme Court Justices are taking longer. The article gives a reason for Justice Pfeifer's tardiness, but what about the fact that Justice Lanzinger, who apparently has the usual three law clerks, is taking longer than the other five Ohio Supreme Court Justices who were there in both 2006 and 2007? What is the reason there?

We have no idea if Justice Pfeifer is going to switch parties and run for Chief Justice. What we do know, though, is that if he does, the Republicans have already set in motion the material for an attack ad to use against him. That material appears in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

What Do You Make of This Video by Obama Girl?

Okay, we are pretty sure that there are not making this kind of video about McCain, Guiliani, Romney, or for that matter, any of the other Republicans. This video clip has already been seen on You Tube over 800,000 times. The question becomes, according to this blogger on Huffington Post, what white American males are going to make of this video. Will it help Obama by making him appear hip to younger voters, or will it frighten white Americans, especially white American males, with its obvious reference to Obama's sexuality?

The Huffington Post blogger is afraid that this video clip will do to Obama what the infamous video clip of the white woman telling Harold Ford to call her did in the Tennessee 2006 campaign for U.S. Senate. Of course, one problem with that ad was that Ford didn't address the obvious racist appeal of that ad head-on. What he should have done is cut an ad that said somthing like,"Have you seen that ad with the woman telling me to call her? Well, here's the thing. I don't know that woman and never met her. Now, why is she lying about me? Because the people who made that ad think all white voters are ignorant racists." He didn't and he lost by about 3%.

See, here's the thing. That kind of ad is always going to work with a genuinely racist voter, who isn't going to vote for a black candidate anyway. What you want to do if you are the black candidate being attacked is make white voters who aren't racists mad at the people who made the ad, and, by extension, at the candidate benefiting from the ad.

When Republicans appeal to fear and play culture war politics, the only answer is to call them on it. Think about the swift-boat ads against John Kerry. Think what would have happened if Kerry had cut an ad along the lines of "Let me get this straight: George W. Bush used political connections to avoid serving in Vietnam. I volunteered and now my service record is being attacked by Republicans? Does this make any sense to you? Why are Republicans talking about my military service? Because they can't talk about their own."

Instead John Kerry ignored the ad, put no counter-theme out there and lost the election. We don't think that Democrats should necessarily be the first to go negative in political advertising. What we do believe is that when Republicans hit Democrats, Democrats need to hit back hard and fast.

AlterNet Article on How Iraqis React to Iraq-Korea Comparison

If you click on the link in this entry's title, you can read a fascinating article on how the American press didn't bother to call up Iraqis and ask them how they felt about Tony Snow's Iraq-Korea comparison. You may remember that Tony Snow revealed that President Bubble-Boy analogizes American military involvement in Iraq to American military involvement in Korea. This apparently means that he sees American troops in Iraq for at least the next 50 years.

AlterNet decided to do what the American media wouldn't do and that was contact Iraqis to see what they thought about this idea. Their reaction was unequivocal: this idea sucks. Here is a quote from the article about the reaction of a pro-American member of the Iraqi government:

Sanger might have called Dr. Alaa Makki, a senior official in the reliably pro-occupation Iraqi Islamic Party, for his reaction. We reached him in Baghdad, and he was taken aback to hear of the talk coming out of the White House and the Pentagon. "I haven't heard about this," he said, "and I'm very surprised they'd make such statements without consulting with the Iraqi side." After asking us to send him copies of the statements made by the White House and the Pentagon, he told us that his party is "against leaving any permanent bases in Iraq; in fact, we are for setting a timetable for a complete withdrawal of the MNF from Iraq." That was, again, a representative of the pro-occupation Iraqi Islamic Party.

What this article points out is that the American news media sees the question of how long American troops should be in Iraq only from the perspective of Washington, never from the perspective of Iraqis. The article's authors have a theory about why this is so. Here is a quote from the article:

But they didn't make those calls, and that's an important part of how consent for throwing thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars into an occupation of a distant land is manufactured here at home: It starts with the assumption that the story of the U.S. "intervention" in Iraq can be told by talking to military analysts and "senior administration officials" in D.C., but without ever hearing from the people living on the fringes of the American Empire. It not always intentional; it's a facet of our media culture: You talk to "serious" analysts in Washington if you want to be seen as serious yourself.

The media culture in America is partly responsible for the tough questions not being asked of Bush before he started this war. Now that same media culture is partly responsible for the tough questions not being asked of the Bush Administration as it continues that war. At least one American reporter should have asked Tony Snow this question: "What makes you think that the Iraqis want us to stay in Iraq for the next 50 years?"

Pentagon Hides Total Number of Americans Killed, Wounded in Iraq

If you click on the link in this entry's title, you can read an article appearing in the Washington Post on Saturday, June 16, 2007, about the increasing number of employees of private security companies who are being killed or wounded in Iraq. The article points out that this number is unknown since the Pentagon doesn't always include them in its official statistics. The number that you keep hearing on the news is the total number of American military personnel killed in Iraq. It doesn't include employee of private security companies since they are not in the United States military.

The amount of work that is being done by these private security companies is shown by this quote from the report:

The security industry's enormous growth has been facilitated by the U.S. military, which uses the 20,000 to 30,000 contractors to offset chronic troop shortages. Armed contractors protect all convoys transporting reconstruction materiel, including vehicles, weapons and ammunition for the Iraqi army and police. They guard key U.S. military installations and provide personal security for at least three commanding generals, including Air Force Maj. Gen. Darryl A. Scott, who oversees U.S. military contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A comparison of the casualities for employees of private security companies to military forces is shown by this quote from the article:

The U.S. Labor Department reported that ArmorGroup has lost 26 employees in Iraq, based on insurance claims. Sources close to the company said the figure is nearly 30. Only three countries in the 25-nation coalition -- the United States, Britain and Italy -- have sustained more combat-related deaths.

Private security company employees are sustaining more casualities since their use is increasing as the American military escalates its operations because of Bush's surge. This makes sense since some of these private security contracors are providing security for conveys furnishing supplies for American military forces.

So, the next time you hear a news report about the total number of Americans killed in Iraq, keep in mind that the number only represents American military deaths. It doesn't represent the total number of Americans killed and it doesn't reflect the total number of American families who have lost a relative because of Bush's stupidity.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Sojourners' Campaign Against Burger King On Behalf of Florida Farm Workers

Below is a message we received from Sojourners, the faith-based, Christian, progressive organization founded by Jim Wallis:

Farm workers who pick tomatoes for Burger King's sandwiches earn 40 to 50 cents for every 32-pound bucket of tomatoes they pick, a rate that has not risen significantly in nearly 30 years. Workers who toil from dawn to dusk must pick two tons of tomatoes to earn $50 in one day.

Worse yet, modern-day slavery has reemerged in Florida's fields; since 1997, the U.S. Department of Justice has prosecuted five slavery rings, freeing more than 1,000 workers. As a major buyer of Florida tomatoes, Burger King's purchasing practices place downward pressure on farm worker wages and put corporate profits before human dignity.

Click here to send a message to Burger King: "Farm workers deserve fair wages!"

Last year, Sojourners supporters like you sent over 25,000 letters in support of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers' (CIW) campaign to urge McDonald's to do right by Florida farm workers.

Together, we helped to win an important victory, as McDonald's recently committed to work with the CIW to improve wages and enforce a code of conduct for conditions in the fields. And YUM! Brands, corporate parent to such chains as Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut, has made the same commitment.

But Burger King -- the second-largest hamburger chain in the world -- has so far refused to work with farm workers and heed the call of the faith community to improve wages and working conditions for those who pick their tomatoes.

Burger King is able to pool the buying power of thousands of restaurants to extract the lowest possible tomato prices from its suppliers. But these artificially cheap tomatoes come at a high cost for farm workers.

Tell Burger King to clean up its act and ensure fair wages for farm workers.

As people of faith, we believe all workers have the right to a safe and productive work environment, including a wage that allows them to support their families with dignity:

"Listen! The wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts." (James 5:4)

Send a letter to Burger King CEO John Chidsey to call on Burger King to work with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to ensure fair wages and human rights for farm workers in its tomato supply chain:

Click here for more details.

Thank you for taking action in solidarity with Florida farm workers.


Yonce, Amy, Bob, Kim, and the rest of the team at Sojourners/Call to Renewal

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Military Professor Calls Iraq War a Strategic Mistake

In this article, a professor at the Naval War College, lays out what most Americans already sense about the Iraq War: it is a disaster that could haunt America for decades. This is from the article:

At some point during the recriminations to come, let us hope the American people will seize the opportunity to ask themselves fundamental questions about the role and purpose of U.S. power in the world. How much influence can the United States have in the Middle East? Is its oil worth American blood and treasure? Might we not be better off just leaving the region alone?

Since the end of WWII, the US has never asked itself the question: what in the hell are we doing in the Middle East? It is past time for us to be asking that question. We seem to have a choice: either get serious about conserving oil and reducing our imports of oil or see our sons and daughters die in the sands of Arabia.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

"Man in the Arena" Speech by T. Roosevelt Applies to Most Political & Sports Pundits

This is a quote from a speech given by Theodore Roosevelt in Paris in April of 1910:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

The reason why are posting this quote is that political and sports pundits are the proverbial "cold and timid souls who neither know victory or defeat". Time and time again you see political and sports pundits sneer at politicians and athletes such as Al Gore, John Edwards, or, as a very recent example, LeBron James. These pundits won't put themselves on line and run for political office or have the ability to play professional sports. No, their role is to just observe and complain about those who don't report, but actually do.

Over the next few days there will be a lot of complaining about LeBron James and the Cavaliers. Most of it coming from people who have no idea what they are talking about. Over the next several months there will be a lot of complaining about whoever the Democrats nominate for President. Again, most of it will come from people who have no idea what they are talking about. If all this blather starts to get you down, just remember the TR quote, it will put the critics in perspective.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Democrats Should Let Immigration Bill Die

According to this report from the Washington Post in the June 12, 2007 edition, Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader, is considering allowing the immigration bill to go back on the Senate's calendar. Our advice, for what it is worth, is "Don't."

Democrats need to focus on trying to get white working class families to support its 2008 nominee. This group, especially white males, is important to our party. We should have their support because on economic issues we are far ahead of the Republicans, but we often lose their support because of our party's stand on social issues.

Although cast as an economic issue by its sponsors, the status of illegal immigrants is a social issue because it affects the social make-up of our country. By siding with Bush and his corporate buddies to pass this bill, we run the risk of alienating millions of working class males who see this bill as threatening the economic well being of their families. We run the risk of giving the Republicans another populist issue to use against Democrats in 2008.

Right now it is clear to Americans of Hispanic descent who is responsible for this bill's defeat and that is the Republican Senators, most of whom voted against cutting off debate on this bill. There is a good possibility that the Hispanic backlash will be against them and not against Democrats. Continuing to push this bill, however, runs the risk of identifying our party with Bush. Given his horrible poll numbers, this would be a mistake.

State Senator John Boccieri Declares for Congress

With Governor Ted Strickland and Ohio Treasurer Richard Cordray looking on, Democratic State Senator John Boccieri announced his candidacy for the 16th Congressional District, Monday, June 11, 2007 in North Canton, across from the soon-to-be closed Hoover Plant. Medina County Chair Pam Miller joined fellow 16th District Democratic Chairs Johnny Maier of Stark County, Jean Mohr of Wayne County, George Bringman of Ashland County, and Lisa Antonini of Mahonng County, along with area elected officials, labor leaders, and veterans in a show of support for Boccieri, who is widely considered an exceptionally strong candidate for the 16th District seat, currently held by 83-year old Ralph Regula. In addition to his State Senate seat, Boccieri serves in the Air Force Reserve and has been deployed 3 times to Iraq.

Rural Vote Starting to Turn Democratic, Ohio Led Way in 2006

According to this report from NPR the reliably Republican vote out of the rural areas of our country is staring to turn Democratic and the war in Iraq seems to be the reason. This is a very important development. The rural vote is credited with giving Bush both his 2000 and 2004 election victories.

What’s important to remember is that Chris Redfern, Ohio Democratic Chair, realized the importance of the rural vote in 2005 when he encouraged Ted Strickland to run for governor. Prior to 2006, and since 1962, Ohio Democrats had nominated eight candidates for governor. Seven of them had come from the top five counties in the state based on population. Those seven candidates won a total of three elections.

The reason why they lost was that they weren’t able to run up enough votes in the big counties to off set their losses in the areas outside of the large urban counties. The same thing happened in 2004 when Kerry won the larger counties, but lost counties that bordered the large urban counties such as Medina, Delaware, and Butler. They also lost more rural counties and didn’t carry the southeastern part of Ohio.

Contrast this with Ted Strickland who is from a rural part of Ohio. He carried not only the large urban counties, but ran up the vote in the rural parts of Ohio. He carried the southeastern part of the State.

Why did Strickland do so well all over Ohio? It is tempting to agree with the conventional wisdom and say it was largely because the Republicans nominated a nutcase for Governor. Like most conventional wisdom, however, the GOP nomination of Blackwell is only part of the story. Another part of the story is that Strickland was able to appeal to all sorts of Ohioans, not just those from large urban counties.

Take guns for example. Strickland’s position on guns is not favored by a lot of Ohio Democrats who come from large urban counties. Yet, in 2006, it was not possible for the GOP to demonize Strickland on this issue. Because the GOP couldn’t demonize Strickland on that issue, a lot of voters for whom guns are a deal breaker actually listened to Strickland on other issues such as education, jobs, and corruption.

Redfern deserves credit for realizing that the Ohio Democratic Party had to expand its reach in order to win state-wide victories in 2006. National Democrats who want to learn about winning the rural vote could do a lot worse than talking to both Strickland and Redfern.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Bill Richardson on Iraq is Not Ambiguous

According to this article on Huffington Post, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson said yesterday on CNN's Late Edition, that he would pull all the troops out of Iraq. He claims that his position is different from all the other Democratic candidates who, according to him, are proposing that some American troops stay in Iraq for an indefinite period.

We are not sure about his claim, since Congressman Dennis Kucinich seems to be advocating that all American troops be removed from Iraq, but the one advantage that his proposal has is that it is very simple to understand. Ambiguity in politics can be fatal since it clouds the message a candidate is trying to deliver. Hillary Clinton, for example, appears to be trying to have it both ways as she calls for a deadline for American military involvement in Iraq but also seems to favor keeping troops in Iraq for an indefinite period of time.

One thing about Richardson is that he isn't serving in Washington. Unlike Clinton and Obama he is not subject to influence by the Beltway mentality. That mentality seems to believe that the United States can't just pull all its troops out of Iraq because of the "horrible" things that will supposedly happen if it does. Anyone proposing such a pull out is not treated seriously by the Washington pundits.

Interestingly, the same thing happened in 2004. Howard Dean, who repeatedly pointed out that the Iraq War was a huge mistake, was berated by the national press headquartered in Washington. John Kerry, who was ambiguous about the war, was promoted by the press over Dean. The Dean position, though, would have given Bush more of a problem in the general election, especially as compared to Kerry's "I voted for the bill before I voted against it."

Out of Iraq and On the Border?

Maybe its time to get our troops out of Iraq and put them on the border and use them to enforce security at our nation's ports. It is a legitimate function of the military to protect the borders of our nation. If, as some have alleged, our borders are too porous to stop the flow of illegal immigrants, then the solution isn't to just throw up our hands and wail. The solution is to work to make our borders more secure.

According to the Mayor of Yuma, AZ, the use of National Guard troops on the border between Mexico and the United States has cut the number of illegal immigrants coming across at the Yuma area by 50%. He is basing this on the number of illegal immigrants that have been apprehended since the National Guard has been used compared to the number apprehended before the National Guard was used to patrol the border.

One criticism of the recent immigration bill is that the United States government hasn't been serious about border security. Opponents of the bill argue that until the Federal government becomes serious about border security, there shouldn't be changes to the legal status of illegal immigrants. Using the military to patrol the border counters that argument.

Not only should the military be used to patrol the border between Mexico and the United States, but it should also be used for port security in our country's seaports. Using the military to guarantee port security is a legitimate use of the military's power.

None of this can be done, however, as long as our troops are tied down in Iraq. We simply don't have the manpower. That's why some Democratic candidate should adopt the slogan: "Take the American Army out of Iraq and put it on the border."

Thoughts on the Cavalier-Spurs Game

If you are really upset about the Cavaliers losing Game Two, then your life must be going very well. You must have a good job, good health, your kids must be in good health and doing well, you must have a strong marriage, or be in a good relationship. In short your life must be okay if you can get really upset about a professional basketball game. If, however, the other areas in your life aren't going so well, then maybe you need to pay more attention to them.

Bush Administration Keeps Corrupting the Rule of Law

As this article from the Washington Post makes clear, the Bushies are appointing partisan hacks to be immigration judges. This is a quote from the article:

At least one-third of the immigration judges appointed by the Justice Department since 2004 have had Republican connections or have been administration insiders, and half lacked experience in immigration law, Justice Department, immigration court and other records show.

The rule of law can be corrupted so many ways. An obvious way to corrupt the rule of law is for judges to take bribes. Another way is to apply the law in ways that favor one group over another. A third way is shown here: appoint unqualified people as judges because of their party connections.

Deep down inside Bush doesn't believe in the idea that the law should be applied equally to everyone. He is a person who has benefited from a system that rewards those who are born into the right social class. He was raised by a mother and a father who truly believe that the rich are better than the rest of us. Then, he couldn't get into law school at the University of Texas. Not exactly Harvard or Yale. No wonder this guy hates people like the Clintons, people who got into Yale Law School on their merits and not on their connections.

Because Bush really doesn't believe in the rule of law, he doesn't mind trashing the system by appointing unqualified judges. Alberto Gonzales, being a sycophant and all around Bush butt kisser, is more than willing to help him carry out the politicization of the Justice Department. This administration can't end fast enough and when it is over, Americans are going to have to do major repair work on the Department of Justice to remove the taint of corruption that Bush and Gonzales will have left behind.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

What Do Paris Hilton & Illegal Immigration Have in Common?

Here is a question: What is the link between Paris Hilton and illegal immigration? No, it's not the argument that the Hiltons use illegal immigrants to take care of their California home. It is the fact that both cases represent a sense by Americans that others don't play by the rules. With Paris Hilton it was her sense that somehow she is being treated unfairly. With the recent immigration bill it was the sense of millions of Americans that illegal immigrants were being given unfair advantages.

Americans have long prided themselves on the idea that all citizens are equal before the law. Obviously, given the issue of slavery in this country followed by the unfair treatment of Afro-Americans, this ideal was often violated. (Indeed, cynics could argue that the reality was that white Americans with access to good lawyers were equal before the law, and the rest of Americans, including poor white Americans, had to take their chances.) The fact, though, that a cultural belief may be a myth doesn't mean that the belief doesn't have power.

The idea that Paris Hilton should somehow receive special treatment ticked off most Americans, including the judge who had sentenced her. The idea that a young, rich, and beautiful Paris Hilton shouldn't have to go to jail even though she had violated the terms of her suspended sentence didn't sit will with Americans. In her case, Americans apparently believe that the rules apply to everyone, including the rich and infamous.

Likewise, Americans opposed to the immigration bill seized on the word amnesty to describe the bill's provisions to allow illegal immigrants a way to get American citizenship. To such opponents, these provisions would allow illegal immigrants a way to "jump ahead" of those who have entered the United States legally. These provisions were seen as giving an unfair advantage over those who came to this country legally and played by the rules.

Paris Hilton didn't receive the support of even her fellow Hollywood celebrities when the judge put her back in jail. As the Washington Post article linked to above shows, Paris is learning quickly from her recent experiences. Now she is telling us, through her public relations staff, how much she is "learning and growing" from her experiences. It is still an open question whether the supporters of the recent immigration bill will be as quick to learn as Paris.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

No, This is Not a Parody: Ann Coulter Attacks Hilton Judge

The judge who sentenced Paris Hilton back to jail is attacked by Ann Coulter. Of course, that makes sense. After all, products of upper class homes have to stick together. Ann can identify with Paris and that's why she thinks she shouldn't be in jail. Some poor woman, though, facing a jail sentence wouldn't get a second's thought from the right-wing's own "Queen of Mean."

MCDAC Newsletter for June 8, 2007

Help MCDAC Print and Distribute Common Sense

MCDAC is preparing to print the first issue of Common Sense, Medina County 's only Democratic newspaper, for 2007. Over the past three years, MCDAC has increased the number of copies of Common Sense distributed in Medina County . In 2004 the first issue of Common Sense had a publishing run of approximately 10,000 copies. In 2007 we published and distributed over 90,000 copies of Common Sense.

This year we are looking to expand the coverage of Common Sense. We are going to do this by inserting Common Sense into local Medina County newspapers. We hope to publish and distribute 50,000 copies of Common Sense per issue. We believe that using this method of distribution will increase the number of voters reading Common Sense.

This is an ambitious project and to accomplish our goals we need your help. Every $100.00 in contributions to MCDAC will allow us to publish and insert approximately 1000 copies of Common Sense. MCDAC depends on support from three different sources. One is advertising revenue, another is contributions from the Medina County Democratic Party, and still another is contributions from Democrats like yourself.

You can donate to Common Sense online using your credit card. To make an online donation, please click here: You may also send donations to MCDAC, P.O. Box 1213 , Medina , OH 44258 .

MCDAC looks forward to your help.

Joyce Kimbler,

MCDAC Blog Entries for June 1-June 7, 2007

Do you believe in the doctrine of American Exceptionalism?

Liberals should encourage Ron Paul to run as an independent

Why media doesn't like Al Gore or John Edwards

Washington Post survey shows historical unity by Congressional Dems

Clinton maintains lead over Obama and Edwards

Why do Democrats think like we do about campaigns?

Ohio soldier killed in Iraq had become disillusioned with the war

Political reporters talk the talk but don't walk the walk

Now GOP Senators want bi-partisan approach to Iraq War

Republicans are trying to flee from Bush but we shouldn't let them.

Obama's plan to fight urban poverty

If you have any suggestions for items to post on the MCDAC Blog or are interested in becoming a contributor, email and put "MCDAC Blog" in the subject line.

The MCDAC Newsletter is produced by:
The Medina County Democratic Action Committee
Joyce Kimbler, Treasurer
P.O. Box 1213
Medina, OH 44258
On the World Wide Web at

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Glenn Beck is an Idiot & Jealous of Dennis Kucinich

According to this PD article, Glenn Beck recently attacked Congressman Dennis Kucinich and his wife. Being a true radical right-winger, Beck didn't base his attack on political philosophy. Instead he launched an ad hominem attack on Kucinich by comparing him to Gollum from Lord of the Rings and suggested that he must have given his wife a "date-rape drug" to find him attractive. (By the way, this kind of juvenile talk passes for wit among the radical right-wingers who make up Beck's fourth in his time slot cable tv ratings.)

Now, here is a question: have you ever noticed how Democrats' sex lives are a source of fascination to radical right-wingers? Think about how Ken Starr focused on Bill Clinton getting oral sex from Monica Lewinsky, or about how radical right-wingers like to talk about whether Bill and Hillary Clinton sleep with each other. Now we have Beck talking about "date rape drugs" and Kucinich. What is going on with these people?

Here's our suggestion for Beck: take a couple of Viagra pills and see if that helps improve your obvious intimacy issues.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Obama's Plan to Fight Urban Poverty

You can click here to read about Barack Obama’s plan to fight urban poverty. Check it out.

Republicans Are Trying To Flee From Bush, We Shouldn't Let Them

This article from Huffington Post about the Republican Presidential debate in New Hampshire shows how Republicans running for president are trying to run from Bush. The reason why is pretty obvious given his low poll numbers, a war that seemingly has no end, and an immigration debate that is dividing the Republican Party's social conservative and business wings.

For Democrats this is fun to watch, but we shouldn't be blind to what they are trying to do. These same candidates were singing Bush's praises just a couple of years ago and bitterly attacking his Democratic opponents. Somewhere there must be a lot of clips of these candidates supporting Bush and his war. Democrats should make a concerted effort to locate these video clips and get them aired on sites like You Tube. Don't let them run away from Bush. Make sure they have to live with their former support.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Now GOP Senators Want Bi-Partisan Approach to Iraq

This is interesting: a group of Republican Senators are calling on the Bush Administration to adopt the Baker-Hamiliton Committee recommendations as the official policy of the United States. Why? Because they realize that Bubble-Boy's war jeopardizes the GOP in the 2008 election. This is a quote from the article:

But Bush's insistence that he decide when to take the next step in Iraq is unlikely to sit well with many Republicans. According to GOP aides, the goal for many members is to step out ahead of Bush in calling for change and prove to voters they are not in lockstep with his politically unpopular policies. They also want to ensure combat missions wind down by next spring, as members head into the 2008 elections.

This concern is why Bush enablers such as Senators Gregg of New Hampshire, Collins and Snowe of Maine, and Alexander of Tennessee are pushing this idea. They want to put some distance between themselves and BB on the war. The fact that over 3400 American soldiers have died in this war doesn't mean as much to them as saving their own political hides.

Political Reporters: They Only Talk the Talk & are Afraid to Walk the Walk

If you click on the link in this entry's title, you can read the cynical writings of some idiot named Tom Watson who is just soooo bored with covering presidential debates. This is a sample of this guy's writing:
Ah, the Democrats. So much promise, and yet they remain Democrats, at heart—and therefore perfectly capable of blowing the historic opportunity before them.

Now, here is the point this jerk is missing: unlike himself every one of those candidates, Gravel included, are putting themselves on the line in front of millions of their fellow Americans. Unlike this guy, they are willing to walk the walk instead of just talk the talk. Maybe, just maybe, someone who is not willing to put themselves in that position should have some respect for those who do. Maybe, just maybe, this idiot should drop this pose of above-the-battle, world-weariness, and get on the field.

Look, we not saying that everyone has to run for office who is interested in politics. What we are saying is that if you are interested in politics and don't have the stomach to put yourself out there as a candidate, at least be aware of the fact that those who do are different from you. Not necessarily better, but different and that difference is essential for a democracy.

Reporters who cover politics are like sports writers: they love a game that they know they can't really play. It does strange things to your head. That's why they love Bush so much. They can tell themselves that he had advantages they didn't have and they can still feel superior to him.

Ohio Soldier Killed in Iraq had Become Disillusioned with War

The Cleveland Plain Dealer has a story about a Lorain County native who was killed in Iraq. According to the article, Sgt. Bruce Horner had become disillusioned because the Iraqis he was supposed to be training for police work had no idea what they were doing

The article quotes his parents, Edward and Betty, as follows:

“I have so much respect for the troops. I’m just opposed to the war. I don’t know why we’re over there.” She said her son also began to wonder.

“He was starting to get fed up,” Douglas Horner said. “He was starting to realize that no one really wanted us there anymore, even the people we were trying to help. We had worn out our welcome. He was becoming disillusioned.”

Monday, June 04, 2007

Why Do Democrats Think Like We Do About Campaigns?

Drew Westin, a professor from Atlanta, has written a book called The Political Brain. In this book, he argues that Democrats insist on campaigning as if voters respond to political arguments on an intellectual basis. He has a recent article in the American Prospect about gun control. Here is an excerpt from that article:

The vision of mind that has captured the imagination of Democratic strategists for much of the last 40 years -- a dispassionate mind that makes decisions by weighing the evidence and reasoning to the most valid conclusions -- bears no relation to how the mind and brain actually work. When strategists start from this vision of mind, their candidates typically lose.

Democrats typically bombard voters with laundry lists of issues, facts, figures, and policy positions, while Republicans offer emotionally compelling appeals, whether to voters' values, principles, or prejudices. As a result, we have seen only one Democrat elected and reelected to the White House since Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Bill Clinton, who, like Roosevelt, understood how to connect with voters emotionally) and only one Republican fail to do so (George Bush Senior, who ran like a Democrat and paid for it).

Now, the question that Westin doesn't answer in this article is why Democrats think like they do when it comes to political arguments. Why do Democratic consultants adopt the dispassionate mind model while Republicans, according to Westin, adopt the emotional mind model?

Part of the answer may come from the fact that Republicans are a lot more willing to use business advertising techniques than Democrats. This may come from the fact that Republicans are more familiar or comfortable with business than Democrats.

If you think about business advertising, especially TV advertising, very little is about giving you information on which to make a rational decision. Most of it is designed to invoke a particular emotional response. This is done by identifying the product being advertised with sex, love, warmth, manliness, womanliness, wealth, success, and so on.

Think about memorable political ads. Probably the ones you remember most are the ads that invoked a particular emotional response, not ads that presented a factually compelling argument.

What Democratic candidates should do is start using ad agencies that do primarily business ads and stop using agencies that do primarily political ads.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Clinton Maintains Lead Over Obama & Edwards

The Washington Post has an article in the Sunday, June 3, 2007 edition, about Clinton maintaining her lead over Obama and Edwards. Edwards has lost ground since the last Washington Post poll. What this poll shows is that Clinton has a sizable advantage because of her name recognition.

In the past, Democrats have been reluctant to nominate people who ran and lost presidential elections. Not so the Republicans. Nixon was on three national tickets before he won in 1968. Reagan ran in 1976 in the primary against Gerald Ford and then came back to win in 1980. George H.W. Bush ran for President in 1980 in the primary, and served as Vice-President before running for President in 1988. Dole was Ford's VP in 1976 before running for President in 1996. Finally, George W. Bush had the advantage of the Bush name when he ran in 2000. This means that Nixon was on five Republican tickets; Dole was on two; George H.W. Bush was on four; and Reagan had run before running again in 1980.

Contrast this with the Democrats. Johnson was on two tickets, 1960 and 1964. Humphrey was on two tickets, 1964 and 1968. Carter was on two and Mondale on two before he ran and lost in 1984. Clinton was on two and Gore was on three before he lost in 2000.

This advantage in name identification has been a big plus for Republicans, one that most Democrats who read political blogs like this one don't appreciate. A ticket with Clinton on it, though, would probably be a ticket which would be up against a relatively new Republican ticket. In that case, the Dems should have the name identification advantage.

Click on this entry's title to read the Post article about the poll results.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Washington Post Study Shows Historical Unity by Dem U.S. House Members

If you click on the link in this entry's title, you can read a study that was done by a Washington Post reporter showing that Democrats in the House of Representatives are voting together about 94% of the time. The previous record was held by the Republicans during the first two years of Bubble-Boy's first term. Then the GOP members voted together about 90% of the time. What makes the Democrats' unity even more remarkable is that they don't have a president who is setting the agenda. It would seem much easier for Representatives to stick together when they are following one person's agenda.

Of course, you still read stories about how much in disarray Democrats are over the war. Such stories became common place when the Democrats were in the minority over the 12 years between 1994-2006. When you don't control the majority, it is much harder for party members to stay united.

If Republicans lose the White House in 2008 and stay in the minority in 2008, you will start to see Republicans splintering and not staying united. This will be especially true of Republicans from "blue" leaning areas. Depending on the result of the 2008 presidential election, such Republicans might come from Ohio. With redistricting on the horizon, a Democratic governor, and a Democratic president, Republican House members might want to show that they can work with Democrats.

Why Media Doesn't Like Al Gore or John Edwards

Over at Talking Points Memo, Reed Hundt, who was on the FCC during the Clinton administration, has a post about how Gloria Borger and Gwen Ifill on the PBS show "Washington Week in Review" or whatever it is called now were dissing Al Gore.

Over at Daily Kos this past week, there was a post about how the media is attacking John Edwards for his supposed hypocrisy because he wants to help the poor and lives in a big house. That followed the attacks on him for his haircut and the attacks on him for consulting with a New York hedge fund.

These attacks are happening because Gore and Edwards are attacking the traditional media (Gore) and the way America treats the rich compared to the poor (Edwards). This makes the major corporations which own the media companies very unhappy. This in turn is going to be known to the reporters who work for those media companies, which will lead to negative stories about Edwards and Gore. Such stories will, ironically, prove Gore's point that he made in his book "The Assault on Reason."

The traditional media realizes that it is under attack from the left. Reporters are used to being attacked from the right, but these attacks from the left are really ticking them off. Just look at the reactions of people like David Broder of the Washington Post to bloggers. People like Broder realize that more and more readers are using the Internet for news and leaving traditional media like the Post.

The Post, for example, is suffering a decline in readers even though its only competition in D.C. is the Moonie paper, the Washington Times. Its not that the Times is picking up readers at the Post's expense. More than likely younger people, and Washington is a pretty young city demographically, are using the Internet and not the Post for information.

This lost of readers to the Internet threatens the Post's parent company's bottom line, which impacts Broder's salary. It also threatens the self-image of the Post, which prides itself on being one of the nation's premier papers. The Post's self-image, in turn, is probably important to Broder's self-image. It is hard to maintain that self-image if the Post is losing readers to bloggers.

There will be more such attacks in the future. Any politician, like Gore, who is seen as supporting the use of the Internet in public discourse runs the risk of being the subject of such attacks. Maybe what Democrats should do is create a website where such attacks are listed and any candidate who is not being attacked by the traditional media shouldn't be supported by Democrats.

Liberals Should Encourage Ron Paul to Run as Independent

Salon Magazine has an article about Representative Ron Paul, the libertarian who is running for the GOP nomination by being against the Iraq War, the Patriot Act, the No Child Left Behind Act,advocating the United States out of the United Nations, the phasing out of Social Security, and a return to the gold standard for American currency. According to Salon Magazine, Paul is driving the power brokers of the Republican Party crazy. Not surprisingly they have already lined up a challenger for him in the 2008 Republican primary for his Congressional seat.

Interestingly he has a growing presence on the Internet. An example is support for his videos on You Tube. His videos have been viewed over 980,000 times. That is more than Romney, McCain, or Giuliani, all of whom are the top three in most polls Republicans. He is attracting support from young people who are interested in his views on the Iraq War. He is also unconventional, appearing on the Bill Maher show and scheduling an appearance on the Jon Stewart Show.

Now, this guy is not going to win the Republican Party nomination, but clearly there is a market for his message. Liberals and progressives should find a way to fund this guy and encourage him to run as an independent. He would probably pull about 1 or 2% of the vote, much like Nader. Like Nader, however, if he pulled that 1 or 2% in the right states, say Florida, Ohio, or perhaps Virgina, he could shift those states to the Democratic victory column.

That was why, of course, that Republican donors supported Ralph "It Doesn't Matter If a Democrat or a Republican wins" Nader. That resulted in Florida being lost to Bush and that resulted in the terrible mess that we are in with Iraq. Maybe its time for liberals and progressives to return the favor.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Do You Believe in American Exceptionalism?

One of the appeals that conservatives make to the American public is that of "American exceptionalism." "American exceptionalism" is defined in Wikipedia as follows:

American exceptionalism (cf. "exceptionalism") has been historically referred to as the perception that the United States differs qualitatively from other developed nations, because of its unique origins, national credo, historical evolution, or distinctive political and religious institutions. The difference is typically expressed as some categorical superiority, to which is usually attached some rationalization or explanation that may vary greatly depending on the historical period and the political context. As Ross (1991) has argued, there are three generic varieties of American exceptionalism:

1.supernaturalist explanations which emphasize the causal potency of God in selecting America as a "city on a hill" to serve as an example for the rest of the world,
2.genetic interpretations which emphasize racial traits, ethnicity, or gender, and
3.environmental explanations such as geography, climate, availability of natural resources, social structure, and type of political economy.

When Ronald Reagan referred to America as a "shining city on a hill" not only was he using a phrase that had biblical overtones, but also one that explicitly referenced the idea of American exceptionalism. Indeed, one of the problems that the left has had with American voters over the last 30 years has been the since that liberals and progressives are too quick to recognize America's faults and refuse to recognize her virtues.

Liberals and progressives need to reclaim the doctrine of "American exceptionalism" and free it from the militaristic and imperialistic overtones that conservatives and right-wingers bring to it. America is exceptional, but not for the reasons that Bush and Cheney think.

America is exceptional because it has a heritage of tolerance for different ethnic and religious groups. Does this mean that America is perfect or has ideal racial and ethnic relations? No, but it does mean that we have managed to create a society that has a lot of different cultures and races living together relatively peacefully.

America is exceptional because it believes in the rule of law. One of the proudest boasts that Americans use to make is that the United States is a "nation of laws, not men." We take justifiable pride in our legal system.

America is exceptional because it developed the idea of separation of powers, because it developed the idea of three branches of government acting as a check on each other.

Along with the idea of separation of powers, America developed the idea of an independent judiciary. One of the biggest threats to the rule of law is a judiciary that is not independent of the executive branch of government.

America is exceptional because it accepts immigrants from other lands. Not every society does this. Sure, we are having a debate, sometimes bitter, about immigration, but most of us have ancestors who came from other countries.

Now, here is the thing about the above examples of "American exceptionalism". They are all under attack from radical right-wingers whose idea of "American exceptionalism" is based on notions of cultural, political, military, and/or economic hegemony. Yet, most Americans would agree that the above things make America exceptional. It is time to reclaim the idea of American exceptionalism from the right and make it part of the language of the left.