Saturday, January 15, 2005

Got Your Values Right Here

Dividin' not Unitin'--

"Most of our families don't look to Hollywood as a source of values," Mr. Bush told audiences during his final campaign swing.
The Washington Times, November 4, 2004

Hollywood, Music Celebrities Tapped For 'Tsunami Aid' Concert
January 15, 2005

Anybody know when the tsunami aid special put on by Rush Limbaugh, Michael "Savage" Weiner, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, James Dobson, Gary Bauer, Pat Robertson, and Jerry Falwell is on?

Friday, January 14, 2005

In Their Own Words

Selections of conservative thought from Media Matters:

Pat Buchanan: "[W]e [the South] wouldn't lose" the Civil War "the next time out"

Ann Coulter: Canada is "lucky we allow them to exist on the same continent"

"Liberals love America like O.J. loved Nicole"

David Horowitz: Democrats, media are "getting Americans killed in Iraq ... because of their
pathological hatred of George [W.] Bush"

G. Gordon Liddy: listening to Hitler "made me feel a strength inside I had never known before"

Pat Robertson on RU-486: "lo and behold, people are dying"

Michael Savage on the tsunami: "I wouldn't call it a tragedy. ... We shouldn't be spending a nickel on this"

Feel the love

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Where's my lunch pail?

There's a recent post over at Pandagon that basically readdresses the issue of how Republicans have exploited cultural or "heuristic" issues, as Ezra says, in wooing rural and low income white voters to their party while pursuing economic policies that are adverse to the working class needs of these constituents.

The other day, or yesterday, I posted something about how I hope our next presidential candidate embraces more liberal rhetoric and policies and avoids the same mad, futal dash to the "center" that the punditry constantly urges us to do, which I think is counterproductive to building a long term progressive movement, whatever the temporal results of particular elections or public opinion polls would indicate. At the same time I suggested there was evidence to support my view that liberal ideas were more popular than the word "liberal" would indicate, given the general basis of support for universal health care coverage, a fairer, more progressive tax structure, increased aid for disadvantaged groups, etc.

But the counter to that view is that while many voters may in general support liberal policies, they are either not very passionate about them or may hold different conclusions about how these policy goals should be attained or may not understand even in an elementary way what our current policies are and how the party platforms would affect them.

All of this is to say that I think the notion of bringing about a successful realignment in American politics (and I think that's what we're really talking about now, given Republican dominance in all three branches of government as well as in most states) will likely depend on more than a more charasmatic candidate speaking liberally.

While I'm optimistic in some ways about how changing demographics and economics potentially favors Democrats (see Ruy Texeira's book "The Emerging Democratic Majority"), I also have to concede that the Republican message of exclusion and punishment, be it in the form of patriotic rhetoric and symbols, wars and rumors of wars, "less government", affirmative action or whatever the latest gimick is, has a certain appeal, too, that we would be negligent in doubting. Singling out an appropriate "out" group or the "other" in politics has always had its share of adherents. I doubt this strategy will backfire on Republicans until the mess they're making begins to come more to fruition.

So as to the state of the party, if I can insert a football analogy, a comment attributed to Dallas Cowboy coach Bill Parcels is that "you are what you're record says you are". So, if for instance your record is 7-9, there's little basis for qualifying it by claiming such things as "well, we lost four games by five points or less", or "we didn't have our second receiver for three games" or "we won three of our last five". So while I think Kerry performed reasonably well given the circumstances, unfortunately the circumstances are that the party is in bad shape in many places, both geographically and rhetorically. We remain defensive about our policy preferences and are reluctant to play a challenging role when events seem against us. So, we are down a bunch of seats in the House, are approaching dire conditions in the Senate, and have no real spokesperson or message seemingly waiting around to be used to orchestrate our revival.

I've also been thinking about the party's past. It probably would be an exaggeration to say that the progressive movement really didn't start or achieve anything until the Great Depression, given the establishment of some regulatory agencies and the income tax early in the 20th century and the popularity of such figures as Theodore Roosevelt (aka, the Bull Moose). So it probably would be an exaggeration to claim that liberals didn't achieve success until 1932.

But I'll say it anyway. Progressives really didn't get their start until the New Deal, after the conservatives (Republicans in the north, Democrats in the south) had basically run the ship of state into the ground. The economic structure built during the New Deal and later years served to provide a considerable ground of support for the emerging middle class, and consequently, in due time, has been gradually removing the earlier inhibitions of growing centralized private power in the form of corporations and the preferences granted to them, and the dismantling of the welfare state in its broadest form (including direct government assistance as well as more "hidden" forms of welfare through the tax code).

If it took the Great Depression to give progressive policies a platform--and that even with considerable opposition in the south and from Wall Street--there may not be a whole lot of mileage in trying to convince people that the Republicans are screwing them if they don't actually experience it directly in the form of tragedy, which can be linked to the policies their supposed conservative benefactors have been working on behind their backs. Hopefully things won't get to the crisis point, [uh, oh, I'm using a Bush word] before more rational people can be elected and more rational policies implemented. But it's hard to see how the Republican policy of tax cuts forever anywhere and everywhere can continue before we're basically running the government on credit and history, sadly, repeats itself to those who won't remember it. As the private welfare state of subsidized employer health care and retirement pensions declines, people may actually start fretting about the status of the visible welfare state.

So what does all this mean? Should we be willing to embrace a Democratic Party that moves more and more to the right (that's where moving to the "center" will lead) anyway, with the thought that at a minimum moderate, centrist Democrats can at least prevent the passing of the worst stuff from the other side until such time as real changes can be made? Or can we or should we be more bold in our attempts to change the dynamics, despite the disadvantages of doing so?

I'd like to say we should keep up the good fight if for no other reason than to be able to say later that "we tried to tell you so", but that seems a bit hollow. For what its worth, I still hope a leader or set of leaders emerges to challenge the reigning orthodoxy. There's an illuminating passage from the movie about the Cuban Missile Crisis "Thirteen Days" where Kevin Costner's character says to JFK and RFK after a meeting with the military and former Secretary of State Dean Acheson, all pressing for immediate air strikes and an invasion of the island: "everybody thinks there's some wise old men out there who know what to do in these situations. Well, there is no wise man, there's just us." Maybe that's our situation as well, that there isn't and won't be any leader or leaders that will emerge. Maybe there's just us. We of the web. Hubris? Maybe. But there isn't right now.

The Sky is Falling

Now that Dean has officially declared for the DNC Chairman race.

Remember the cries from staunch Democrats like Joemomentum Lieberman about Dean's leftishness and opposition to the Iraqi war and how unfit he was to represent the party and lead the country? Well, now that rhetoric's back as Dean seaks to lead the DNC. But before getting into all that, let's go back, shall we, to the days after Saddam Hussein's "capture" in December 2003. The Saddam statue had been toppled, freedom was on the march, and while a few rebel attacks were causing some disruption, we were assured they represented backenders and that with the capture of Hussein, the U.S. was "turning the corner" in Iraq. Well, we've had a few more corner turning events since then. But anyway, here's our fearless Democratic establishment responding to Dean's dismissal of the importance of finding Hussein:

Lieberman said that if Dean doesn't think Americans are safer with Hussein in custody, "he has climbed into his own spider hole of denial." Lieberman [also] said the former Vermont governor "has made a series of dubious judgments and irresponsible statements in this campaign." Those statements, he said, "signal he would in fact take us back to the days when we Democrats were not trusted to defend America's security."

Now, back to the present. Bulworth knows you've heard this story already, but here it is again, courtesy of the Washington Post--lead drum beater for invading Iraq--just so the wingnuts at NRO, LGF, Powerline, Reynolds and Faux and our Democratic officeholders can be reminded. No weapons. And that's actually the good news from Iraq. Bulworth would hate to imagine what would be going over there if Iraqi insurgents had the chemical and biological weapons we sent to Saddam when he was our buddy at their disposal.

Regardless of the situation in Iraq, Dean is still a problem for some Dems, who are very comfortable losing elections, thank you. Here is some new commentary from Lieberman's spokesperson on Dean's DNC candidacy:

"I think Dean did a tremendous job in the primaries -- energizing people, making statements of principle -- and that he has a lot to contribute to the debate," said Dan Gerstein, former press secretary to Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.). "That said, I think he would be a disastrous choice to head the party because of the image he projects on national security."

"Statements of principle." Yeah, let's not have any of that. Somebody might get upset. The Republicans might not like us, if we go around "making statements of principle". Faux might not invite us on their "fair and balanced" shows if we are too busy "making statements of principle" that are contrary to the Republican Administration's and the conservative media's world view and talking points. Rush certainly won't like us, and we need to try to get on his good side. Then "...disastrous choice...because of the image he projects on national security." I'll give you a few minutes to consider that choice of words. "Image" and "national security." What sort of "image" on "national security" does our gang in DC have now? As my man, The Rude Pundit, declared in October "The world is burning...Do you #$%@& get that!"

Finally, the sky is falling, because as everyone and their neighbor's uncle knows, Democrats need to "overcome the values gap with Republicans". I don't know where to begin to go with this. "A values gap with Republicans."

These values? Or these? How about these? Or we could adopt these values. And what about these?

I wouldn't be discouraged if Rosenberg gets the position, but really, Roemer, Lieberman, Frost, at long last, sirs, have you no shame?

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

More on '08

Kevin Drum links to this semiserious piece in the Washington Monthly talking up Democratic prospects for '08, from the global, corporate, entertainment and political benches.

What the hell. I'm willing to be unconventional. And it's not like we're loaded with charismatic, clean up hitters who deserve their turn. One stipulation I have, though, is that he or she agree to not run away from the word "liberal". As Ezra says:

We don't need to turn out our base, we need to enlarge it. We need to make liberalism safe and attractive, and we need more Americans to demand more progressivism in their candidate. When Barry Goldwater turned the hell out of his base, he lost by one of the widest margins in American history. His base was too small. When Reagan turned out his base, he won repeatedly. Reagan made conservatism attractive, he made his base -- theoretically the same one Goldwater had -- huge. Which is why the whole idea of bases as monolithic groups is dead wrong, they're amorphous, they fluctuate in size. And they're not the answer. When liberalism is ascendant and its spokesperson appealing, our base will be huge. Until then, it'll never be large enough.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Conservative Traditional Values

Whiskey Bar is back with a great summary of U.S. complicity with the "death squads" in El Salvador during the Reagan Administration.

Thanks to The Poor Man for the link.

What Other Troops?

Kevin Drum makes a good point about the potential for adding more troops to Iraq.

Of course, one option would be to. have. a. um. draft. or something.

Livin' in the 80's

I loved the '80's. I graduated H.S. in the '80's. The '80's station on digital cable's music choice is my fav. Ferris Bueller came from the '80's.

Which is why I don't understand all the fuss being kicked up here and here over recent Newsweek reports indicating the Pentagon plans on or is already using the old '80's Latin American foreign policy model of "death squads" in fighting insurgents in Iraq.

Me, I'm totally '80's, dude, so, should it's reporting prove to be truthful, I welcome this innovation in policy tactics by the Bush Administration. I hope it leads to the killing of more nuns and Catholic priests, like it did last time. While they're at it, I hope they see fit to kill all those other people too, especially the ones that might eventually agitate for land reforms and other democratic changes in the new government. Halliburton won't be successful until the country is ready and prepared for corporate rule. I know there have been some soft heads around here that think the Iraqi civilian population just loves us being over there and all the schools were building for them and all, but the truth is, they're all just a bunch of terrorists and deserve to be appropriately turtured and incinerated. I know some people will claim that "innocent" people will be killed in the process, but really now, we've already killed thousands of them anyway, so what's a few more going to hurt?

Yes, this new policy of aggressive anihilation will be the final step to ensuring that the U.S. military and it's allies can turn the corner in Iraq and protect us all from terra.

Fox Review

Although Bulworth is sick of end zone antics in the NFL, he got a chuckle out of Randy Moss on Sunday. Naturally, Moss's move drew severe criticism from the munchkins on Fox's post-game gong show, Terry Bradshaw, James Brown, and Howie Long. Collectively, they claimed they were "disgusted" and that Moss had no "class". Really? They must not watch much Fox TV.

Speaking of which, anybody watch "24"--Fox's terrorist-busting fantasy drama--last night? Well, the brown-people-terrorists are back, and they've kidnapped the Secretary of Defense, and his daughter, Jack Bauer's new squeeze. Anyway, there's a scene where the Sec of Defense pays a visit to his son, who it turns out is about to participate in a public protest of his father's and nation's militant and self defeating policies. When the son--who by the way is appropriately dressed down with long stringy hair and unshaved--offers his critique of those policies, the father responds by labeling his attitude as being "sixth grade, Michael Moore logic". I guess this was Fox's attempt to continue the smearing of Michael Moore and his likeminded supporters--and we--who question Our Country In A Time Of War.

But the Fox charicature here is muddled. When the son reminds his dad about how our enemies were once our friends, the Sec Defense father tells the son that the world is "more complicated than that", a position seeming at odds with the morality of "good and bad", "right and wrong" emenating unchallenged from the Administration and its mouthpieces. In addition, the Sec Defense confusingly critiques his son's "logic". You mean there's "logic" in the War on Terra? I thought we were in the new era of empire where the Administration concocts its own reality?

Don't know if I'll watch it tonight, where another two hour episode is airing. Last night was eyes-glued-to-the-tube suspense, but the whole matter left me feeling pretty dark. Where's Nicolette Sheridan when you need her?

More "Center" Nonsense

Here's Broder.

And here's a WashPost article about Virginia Gov Mark Warner. Notice particularly Warner's statement--

"There are a lot of people within the Democratic Party who believe the party needs to
reclaim the center," Warner said in an interview on the eve of his last General Assembly
session, which begins Wednesday. "There are a number of figures who can help move the
party in that direction."

Notice he doesn't say "move popular opinion" or "move the political debate" to the center. No, it's "move the party" to the center. And what will the outcome of such a strategy be? A "center" that moves futher and further to the right.

No thanks.

Dear Democratic Officeholder: How about a little less talk about the illusionary "center" and a little more talk about reasserting liberal values and priorities such as civil liberty protections and economic fairness, which we know are more popular in opinion polls than readily acknowledged, and more importantly, are right and necessary for ensuring freedom and justice in an age of militant reactionism and religious conformity.