Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Schrock v. Ashe: Schrock steps down!

Via Matt Stoller at BOP News:
[Virginia] Republican Congressman Edward L. Schrock resigned because of the work of this blog. Well, he's gay, hard-right, and cosponsored the FMA, but it was Blog Active that broke the story.

UPDATE: The Washington Post says it's 'unspecified allegations that have "called into question" his ability to serve.' Like gayness.

I HOPE this is a pick-up seat...I don't know if the GOP can airlift a cherry-picked Alan Keyes to run against Ashe, but we'll find out in the next few days, I suspect. Virginia's Republican Attorney General, Jerry Kilgore, recently established that the rules for getting on the ballot don't apply to friends of the GOP.

In the meantime, this story is a testament to the power of cannon-fodder candidates.

You'll note that Ashe has until now been rated as a "David vs. Goliath" candidate by ActBlue. In fact, Virginia's 3 incumbent Democratic Congressmen are all rated as "favored" or "stronghold" -- while ALL of the 7 challengers are "David vs. Goliath." (Virginia has 11 congressional districts but the Democrats have not run a candidate against Joann Davis in the 1st Congressional District.) The difference in the races has nothing to do with the caliber of the candidates and everything to do with redistricting. As Samuel Issacharoff, of Columbia Law School, has stated: “Voters no longer choose members of the House; the people who draw the lines do." Despite the steep odds created by redistricting, a well-qualified, well-backed, well-funded Dem with a commitment to shoeleather politics can still win in Virginia if he/she started far enough in advance.

Running Democratic candidates in 10 out of 11 congressional districts, in addition to Gov. Warner's groundbreaking campaign in 2001 and the Virginia state Dems's historic pick ups in 2003, have combined to put Virginia in play this year for the presidential race. The big payoff in Virginia will be when all of the field data from the Democratic Congressional races (especially party ID's) goes towards Democratic Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine's campaign for governor in 2005. In the short term, we're forcing the Republicans to spend money in Virginia that they'd rather divert to other races in swing states, and we're turning out the vote for Kerry. And, again, with real grassroots politics some of these campaigns have a longshot to actually win this year.

This one will be exciting to watch: in terms of how the GOP tries to bend the rules, and how the race effects presidential results in Virginia.

Picking up the 2nd Congressional District seat would be a major coup for Virginia Democrats. And everything I have heard about David Ashe supports that he is a superb human being who would do an excellent job of representing his constituents in Congress.

Go help Ashe!

Or click here to contribute to the Ashe campaign!


Virginia Campaign Training Sept 5

Latinos for America will be holding a Campaign Management Training in Northern Virginia on Sunday, September 5.

I took this training in July when I spoke at DemocracyFest and it is hands down the best campaign training I've ever come across.

Please spread the word, invite your friends and family, and if you belong to a Young Democrats club at school (or are starting one), make sure to get your club out!


I deleted the press release; the event is passed and for some reason the press release text was making the site difficult to read in IE.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Watch out! more Stealth Weapons of Mass Democracy

Via the Canadian Press:
Scores of Canadian activists set out Saturday to join anti-war demonstrations at the Republican National Convention in New York, saying the conflict in Iraq concerns them even if they aren't U.S. voters.

..."While we may not have a vote in the American election, the actions of the American government affect us and the communities that we are part of."

...[Nowar-paix organizerJessica Squires]rejected the suggestion that chaotic protests could feed public insecurity and boost support for U.S. President George W. Bush.

"If we were to concede to the fear that the authorities have been putting out we would be participating in the censorship of democracy."

As I have pointed out previously, Canadians represented a tremendous and largely untapped progressive labour pool that is HIGHLY motived to get Bush out of office.

I would love to see some of the great progressive field operations like Driving Votes or America Coming Together to find a way to tap into this talent.


The US does not have a monopoly on crazy politicians.

Delegates from the Parti Quebecoi, aka the Quebec Separatist Party, are in Quebec City this weekend working on the new party platofrm:
The [Parti Quebecois'] strategy also calls for a three-party coalition to be formed to oversee transition when the sovereigntists win the referendum vote.
Okay, Landry et al, let's get this straight once and for all:

  • Yes, Quebec suffered gross indignities at the hands of English Canada--GENERATIONS ago. The separatists at this point are either political fossils completely out of touch with the electorate, or else a younger generation of opportunists who believe they can gain person power by hitching their wagons to the PQ political machine. Take away PQ-generated hysteria and contemporary Quebecois, and most especially the allophones (aka recent immigrants), do NOT want to separate from Canada. You may not have noticed, but after umpteen referenda on separation, no matter how much you rigged the working of the question, people are still voting NO. This is not about the will people of Quebec, and hasn't been for decades.

  • The traditional separatist roadmap has been to "leave" Canada--but retain Canadian passports, currency, military, international alliances and trade partnerships, and federal infrastructure investments. That's like threatening to run away from home and asking your mom to pack you a peanutbutter sandwich. It's all or nothing folks: if you separate, you are on your own. Quebec's economy has been atrophying due to the multi-decade anglophone exodus (not so much the exit of individuals, but more importantly the relocation of corporate head offices), and is based on dying industries like furniture manufacturing. Quebec can not survive without Canada, while Canada can survive without Quebec.

  • Which brings us to the next point: Canada lives next door to a rogue state, currently (and let's be honest: for the foreseeable future) piloted by a warmongering fundamentalist madman. One day the US is going to realize that we have oil, power (not that California pays its power bill as it is) fresh water, and other primary resources (water will be a big issue sooner than later if hydrogen fuel cells are pursued as part of an alternative fuel economy--of course a Bush White House would buy us 4 more years of grace, there). And if the US wants our resources, there is an increasing chance that they may pre-emptively liberate us, too. At which point, Quebec may be happy to be part of a slightly larger country. Just maybe.

  • In any other part of the world, ANY part, you would all be shot at dawn as traitors.

  • While one has to admire, in a way, the unfettered-by-reality optimism of the PQ...I will be glad when the generation of PQ fossils die out and we can finally get on with things.

    And I have a question for any Canadian constitutional lawyers who may be passing through: why does a NO vote on a referendum only last until the next PQ government decides to hold a vote again, but a YES vote is binding for all eternity? Isn't there some way we can get a decisive NO and put an end to this?

    NY Bomb Plot Foiled

    From the CBC:

    NEW YORK - Police arrested two men Saturday in connection with an alleged plot to bomb a subway station in midtown Manhattan.

    Police say there is no evidence that the men were attempting to disrupt the [Republican National] convention.

    How long before the RNC spin-machine and Big Media transmogrify this into "democratic-sponsored anarchists try to kill the president?"


    Live RNC Coverage

    BOP's very own Matt Stoller and a host of other progressive blogging luminaries are covering the RNC from the Tank in NY.

    You can follow their coverage and get the inside scoop on the RNC with David Alpert's RNC protest blog aggregator.


    Defection Report: Jesse Walters

    I have decided to highlight and share these stories because they instill such hope and joy in me. Still debating whether they should be "defection reports" or "profiles in moral courage" -- "profiles in patriotism" is just too jingoistic for me. Any votes?

    And now to your main attraction:
    Congressional Quarterly reported Friday that after attending four previous conventions, Philadelphia's Jesse Walters was chosen as a delegate to this year's GOP convention in New York only to resign the position, saying he could not support Bush and expressing concern with the rightward move of the Republican Party.
    Mr. Waters called the decision one of the hardest in his life and said he will be voting for Kerry--the first time he has ever voted for a Democratic president.


    Saturday, August 28, 2004

    The arrests have begun


    Josh Bearman has a report from the ground on police tactics on Friday night, along with pictures, and explains that it didn't have to go down that way.

    Via BOP News.

    FRIDAY: NY Police arrest 250 peaceful protestorsposter of police officer holding collapsed man and shaking fist, with slogan 'You want some of this? Protesting: It's just un-American. A Message from the Ministry of Homeland Security'
    Nearly 250 bicyclists were arrested during a mass protest that passed New York City's Madison Square Garden on Friday night, the first major police crackdown on demonstrators just days before a wave of activists are expected to descend on the city for the Republican National Convention.

    ..."I think they (police) want to set a precedent for how they want people to protest," said cyclist Jennifer Brustein.

    "This is a big time for us to show that we won't be intimidated."


    THURSDAY: 21 arrests on Thursday
    The events yesterday offered a preview of what delegates may expect when they actually arrive this weekend: spontaneous acts at high-profile locations meant to draw maximum attention.
    Via King of Zembla

    Friday, August 27, 2004


    cartoon of rifle-toting American solider, admonishing Muslim in mosque, while pointing at a burning oil barrel

    Translation: "You have to respect these Holy Sites."

    I can't read Arabic. Can anyone confirm the translation?

    Thanks to The Angry Arab via Youngfox Canada.

    Follow the Money

    Headline in today's security news:
    The United States led the world in the sale of conventional weapons
    for the eighth year in a row, according to a report yesterday from
    the Congressional Research Service.

    "From 2000-2003, the United States made $35.8 billion in arms
    transfer agreements with developing nations, in constant 2003
    dollars," according to the report, which also noted that overall
    arms sales declined substantially in 2003.

    The CRS report, authored by analyst Richard F. Grimmett, is revised
    and published annually. It is based in part on unspecified U.S.
    government data.

    "Grimmett's annual report is a definitive source for basic statistics
    and analysis of trends in global arms transfers," said Matthew
    Schroeder of the FAS [Federation of American Scientists] Arms Sales Monitoring Project.

    CRS reports are not made directly available to the public. A copy
    was obtained by FAS.

    See "Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 1996-2003,"
    August 26, 2004 (94 pages, 2.4 MB PDF file):


    VIA Project on Government Secrecy by the Federation of American Scientists.

    Let's connect the dots. Who stands to gain financially by destabilizing global politics and aggravating terrorism?

    Wednesday, August 25, 2004

    Happy Birthday

    Blogger celebrates its fifth anniversary today.

    In a related note, I just discovered that the Blogger built-in spell-check does not include the words: blog, blogger, blogging, or blogosphere.

    Er...someone should really tell them about blogging. You know, the stuff we've been doing on your platform for 5 years.

    At any rate, congrats and thanks to Blogger for democratizing self-publishing and contributing to the tech infrastructure of the Germinating Progressive Machine.

    The Female Loop

    Well-behaved women rarely make history.

    - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
    Des Femmes, newly launched, is doing a great job of exploring the gender politics of language in progressive blogs.

    As part of a multi-post, multi-blog discussion (here, here, here and here) about women bloggers and getting women more involved in political blogging, Des Femmes brought up the concept of "the female loop"--by which I understand her to mean female-authored blogs with a high female-readership. (Des Femmes, please correct me if I'm mistaken here.)

    What a great concept.

    On one hand, I really make a conscious effort to diversify my reading (on- and off-line) including making sure I read other women. I've found some outstanding women bloggers that I've blog-rolled, including:
    Body & Soul
    Cathie from Canada
    Suw Charman's Chocolate & Vodka
    Martha Bridegam's DemiSemiBlog
    Echidne of the Snakes
    Respectful of Otters
    Shameless Agitator (PS Thanks to Andrea for the Ulrich quote)
    Sinister Girls
    Trish Wilson's Blog
    and the newest addition, Des Femmes,
    not to overlook the female voices on multi-author blogs like Abby Vigneron, Ellen Dana Nagler, Kathy Paur, Marcy Wheeler, and Zephyr Teachout on BOP;
    Simone and the other girls of C101;
    Leah of Corrente;
    and the fabulous Amy Sullivan of Washington Monthly.

    (My heartfelt apologies for any omissions or gender misassignments! Just let me know and I'll set things to rights.)

    On the other hand, most of what I read in politics is still authored by men. Hmmmm.

    What is the female loop?
    If there is a female loop, why not deliberately and strategically cultivate it as a girl's blogger network to help each other out. I want to do my part to support other women in the progressive political blogosphere. Please let me know who else is blogging and I'll highlight them here and add them to my blogroll. Surely my puny list above is NOT indicative of our footprint. Let me know!

    What are the missing pieces?
    For other women bloggers (or would-be bloggers), what obstacles do you face or perceive, if any, for "getting into" the political blog world? What kind of help/support would you like and what have you already received? How are you helping other bloggers?

    Gentlemen, if you have experienced your own hurdles to getting into political blogging, or your own mentoring experiences, please share your insights.

    I don't want to celebrate the problems (to borrow a phrase from Steve Ybarra), but I think together we can come up with some creative solutions.

    Blogging Craft Question for Bloggers & Readers

    Thank you to everyone who has replied to my question about blogger eating my posts. I really appreciate your advice and suggestions. Plus, it has just plain warmed my heart to see comments on the blog.

    Which brings me to my question: how do you get people to comment on your blog?

    Blogging in the dark is lonely, and not that productive. I would far rather get conversations going than just post random things in a one-to-many format. Many-to-many is where it's at.

    I notice that there are few comments on many of my favorite blogs, with the notable exception being BOP news. I read through my blog roll regularly, and I'll be more dilligent in commenting because you are all doing fabulous work and I'd like to know that.

    I actually have lots of questions.

    When do you comment? When don't you? Is there a pattern? What makes you more likely to comment?

    What kinds of posts/ wording / strategies elicit the most comments on your blog?

    Is anyone not getting comments that would like some? (Let me know and I'll write you comments.)

    Is there a definitive answer to this?--is it a critical mass question about site traffic or building up a community of people who perceive a virtual relationship?

    I am curious both from a theoretical and pragmatic standpoint.

    Sidebar: The spectacular Canadian comedienne Sandra Shamas used to do a routine about getting into her thirties or forties and the visible signs of aging, and she'd say, "And then, you know, one day you notice that one really dark hair beside your nipple," and the audience would go DEAD silent; and then she'd make a coment along the lines of "don't leave me out here to dry, don't pretend I'm the only one," and *then* everyone would laugh. (I love the subversive power of comedy.)

    Don't tell me I'm the only one who would like comments. Don't make me the only one who admits to the dreaded hair. I know you're out there. :)

    Monday, August 23, 2004

    Anyone else getting posts eaten by blogger?

    Blogger just ate two of my posts, two days running.

    It is there, I press publish, it disappers.

    Or, I toggle between edit and compose, and the post disappears.

    I am cussing up a blue streak over here. Anyone?

    War by The Numbers

    Jeff Johnson's provactive poster makes the deathtoll in Iraq visible.

    poster that catalogues in raw numbers the human toll from the ongoing war in Iraq

    ...it catalogues in raw numbers the human toll from the ongoing war in Iraq. It notes that, as of July 14, 2004, 1,014 soldiers from the U.S.-led coalition had been killed in combat. More strikingly, it then goes on to deconstruct the carnage in exhaustive physical detail: 3,042 pounds of brain matter, 380,422 teeth, 983 tons of flesh and bone, 131,180 fingers.

    As Steve Ybarra of Latinos for Democracy says, it's all about visibility.

    Read about how the Minneapolis Star Tribune censored Jeff to keep the truth about the war invisible.

    Via Political Puzzle.

    Bush v Veterans

    This about sums it up...

    picture of marines raising US flag at Iwo Jim with the words 'thank god these brave men never ran against George W. Bush'

    Thanks to Political Puzzle via Esoterically.net.

    Sunday, August 22, 2004

    A Little Help for Our Friends

    Now all of us can elect "the leader of the free world" (sic)...

    Stéphane's post from Cybermilitant My On-the-Fly Translation
    Les élections étatsuniennes
    pour le reste du monde
    American Elections for the Rest of the World
    Selon la World Peace Society d'Australie, ce que le reste du monde pense des prochaines élections étatsuniennes est pratiquement évident pour tout le monde, sauf peut-être pour les Étatsunien-nes. Consacrez une minute pour voter et une autre pour inviter vos ami-es et connaissances à faire de même. Pour que cette action soit significative, nous avons besoin de milliers de votes. Pensez combien il serait "cool" d'aider les Étatsunien-nes dans leur choix présidentiel, eux qui "aident" d'autres pays à choisir leurs présidents!According to the World Peace Society of Australia, what the rest of the world thinks about the coming US elections is practically evident to everyone, except perhaps for the Americans. Dedicate a minute to vote and another to invite your friends and acquaintances to do the same. To make this action significant, we need thousands of votes. Think how "cool" it would be to help the Americans choose their president--the Americans who "help" other countries choose theirs.
    tiré du site de Cybersolidaires.orgVia Cybersolidaires.org

    While you're punching your chad, vote for Jon Stewart for President in the "US Presidential election we should have had".

    Note: if your internet access is through a US-based ISP, you can't vote in the "for everone else" election, but everyone is welcome to vote (for Jon Stewart!) in the alternative election.


    Political Career Women

    From the Daily Beast: Col. Cordier and his wife have hosted the annual dinner for the Dallas Republican Career Women in their home for the past two years.

    Um...if everyone purports to care so much about women as single voters...why don't we have Democratic Career Women chapters all over the country?


    The Company We Keep

    Great flash movie about the history between the US government and 40-year CIA asset Saddam Hussein.

    I assume the information here isn't common knowledge...or we couldn't possibly be at war with Iraq.

    Via All Day Permanent Red

    Saturday, August 21, 2004

    Bush/McCain past resurfaces in 2004 Campaign

    The new ad released by the Kerry campaign on Saturday, August 21 shows Senator John McCain and George Bush at the Feb 15, 2000 GOP Presidential Debate on the Larry King Show.
    Senator John McCain

    Click the picture to view "Old Tricks".

    'Old Tricks' Transcript
    TITLE: George Bush is up to his old tricks.

    McCAIN: But what really went over the line [is that] Bush had a event and he paid for it and stood next to a spokesman for a fringe veterans group. That fringe veteran said that John McCain had abandoned the veterans.

    Now I don't how you, if you can understand this George. But that really hurts...

    BUSH, interrupting: yeah

    McCAIN: ...that really hurts.

    So, five Unites States Senators, Vietnam veterans, heroes, some of them really incredible heroes, wrote George a letter, and said, apologize.

    BUSH, interrupting: (unintelligible)

    McCAIN: You should, you should be ashamed.

    Zoom to Bush.

    TITLE: America can do better.

    McCain claims anti-Kerry attacks "re-open old wounds"

    On August 5th, Senator John McCain condemned ads by Bush surrogate group Swift Boat Veterans attacking Senator Kerry in an interview with The Associated Press.
    Republican Sen. John McCain, a former prisoner of war in Vietnam, called an ad criticizing John Kerry's military service "dishonest and dishonorable" and urged the White House on Thursday to condemn it as well.

    "It was the same kind of deal that was pulled on me," McCain said in an interview with The Associated Press, referring to his bitter Republican primary fight with President Bush.

    ...The ad, scheduled to air in a few markets in Ohio, West Virginia and Wisconsin, was produced by Stevens, Reed, Curcio and Potham, the same team that produced McCain's ads in 2000.

    "I wish they hadn't done it," McCain said of his former advisers. "I don't know if they knew all the facts."

    Asked if the White House knew about the ad or helped find financing for it, McCain said, "I hope not, but I don't know. But I think the Bush campaign should specifically condemn the ad."

    Later, McCain said the Bush campaign has denied any involvement and added, "I can't believe the president would pull such a cheap stunt."

    The White House and Bush-Cheney campaign did not address McCain's call that they repudiate the spot, though a Bush spokesman said the campaign does not question Kerry's highly decorated war service. McCain is co-chair of Bush's campaign in Arizona.

    In 2000, Bush's supporters sponsored a rumor campaign against McCain in the South Carolina primary, helping Bush win the primary and the nomination. McCain's supporters have never forgiven the Bush team.

    McCain said that's all in the past to him, but he's speaking out against the anti-Kerry ad because "it reopens all the old wounds of the Vietnam War, which I spent the last 35 years trying to heal."

    "I deplore this kind of politics," McCain said. "I think the ad is dishonest and dishonorable. As it is, none of these individuals served on the boat (Kerry) commanded. Many of his crew have testified to his courage under fire. I think John Kerry served honorably in Vietnam. I think George Bush served honorably in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War."

    On one hand, Senator McCain continues as the Bush campaign co-chair for Arizona. On the other, he has made it clear that he will cross party lines to defend his fellow veteran:
    McCain recalled that he had worked with Kerry on "POW/MIA issues and the normalization of relations with Vietnam" and wanted to stand up for his war comrade because "you have to do what's right." Speaking of Kerry, McCain said: "He's my friend. He'll continue to be my friend. I know his service was honorable. If that hurts me politically or with my party, that's a very small price to pay."
    McCain has been specific and consistent in framing his defense of Kerry as a veterans issue, not a partisan issue, and a need to put the ghosts of Vietnam behind the country and move forward.

    However, when McCain says he's speaking out against the Kerry smear campaign because it " reopens all the old wounds," he may just as well be referring to the 2000 Republican presidential primary.

    Bush v McCain 2000

    The exchange between McCain and Bush shown in the Kerry ad does no begin to convey the extent of Bush's negative and personal attacks against John McCain in the 2000 Republican presidential primary.
    Bush Supporters Called McCain "The Fag Candidate."
    In South Carolina, Bush supporters circulated church fliers that labeled McCain "the fag candidate." Columnist Frank Rich noted that the fliers were distributed "even as Bush subtly reinforced that message by indicating he wouldn't hire openly gay people for his administration."
    (Washington Post, 2/18/00; Rich op-ed, Austin American-Statesman, 2/29/00)

    McCain Slurs Included Illegitimate Children, Homosexuality And A Drug-Addict Wife.
    Among the rumors circulated against McCain in 2000 in South Carolina was that his adopted Bangladeshi daughter was actually black, that McCain was both gay and cheated on his wife, and that his wife Cindy was a drug addict."
    (Ivins column, The Nation, 6/18/01)

    Bush Campaign Used Code Words to Question McCain's Temper.
    "A smear campaign of the ugliest sort is now coursing through the contest for the presidency in 2000. Using the code word "temper," a group of Senate Republicans, and at least some outriders of the George W. Bush campaign, are spreading the word that John McCain is unstable. The subtext, also suggested in this whispering campaign, is that he returned from 5 1/2 years as a POW in North Vietnam with a loose screw. And it is bruited about that he shouldn't be entrusted with nuclear weapons."
    (Drew op-ed, Washington Post, 11/19/99)

    Bush Supporters Questioned McCain's Sanity.
    "Some of George W. Bush's supporters have questioned Republican presidential candidate John McCain's fitness for the White House, suggesting that his five years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam drove him insane at the time."
    (Lansing State Journal, 11/23/99)

    Bush Supporters Spread Racist Rumors About McCain's Daughter.
    Bush supporters in South Carolina made race-baiting phone calls saying that McCain had a "black child." The McCains' daughter, Bridget, was adopted from Mother Teresa's orphanage in Bangladesh. In August 2000, columnist Maureen Dowd wrote that the McCains "are still seething about Bush supporters in South Carolina spreading word of their dark-skinned adopted daughter."
    (Time, 3/6/00; Boston Globe, 3/4/00; Dowd column, New York Times, 8/9/00)

    Rove Suggests Former POW McCain Committed Treason and Fathered Child With Black Prostitute.
    In 2000, McCain operatives in SC accused Rove of spreading rumors against McCain, such as "suggestions that McCain had committed treason while a prisoner of war, and had fathered a child by a black prostitute," according to the New Yorker. (New Yorker, 5/12/03)

    After Rove Denied Role In McCain Whisper Campaign, Reporters Concluded He Was Behind It.
    A December 1999 Dallas Morning News linked Rove to a series of campaign dirty tricks, including his College Republican efforts, allegedly starting a whisper campaign about Ann Richard being too gay-friendly, spreading stories about Jim Hightower's involvement in a kickback scheme and leaking the educational history of Lena Guerrero. The article also outlined current dirty tricks and whisper campaigns against McCain in South Carolina, including that "McCain may be unstable as a result of being tortured while a prisoner of war in North Vietnam."
    (DMN, 12/2/99)

    After the article was published, Rove blasted Slater in the Manchester, NH airport, "nose to nose" according to one witness, with Rove claiming Slater had "harmed his reputation," Slater later noted. But according to one witness, "What was interesting then is that everyone on the campaign charter concluded that Rove was responsible for rumors about McCain."
    (The Nation, 3/5/01)

    Rove Was In Close Touch With McConnell, McCain-Feingold's Chief Opponent.
    Senior White House adviser Karl Rove was in close contact with Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) during McConnell's effort to fight the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Bill in the U.S. Senate. According to Newsweek, though Rove and Bush have publicly kept their distance from McConnell on the issue, "sources tell Newsweek that Rove is, in fact, in close touch with McConnell as GOP experts study the bill for hidden land mines."
    (Newsweek, 2/25/02)

    Bush Campaign Accused of Using Push Polls Against McCain.
    College of Charleston student Suzette Latsko said she received a telephone call from a woman who identified herself as an employee of Voter/Consumer Research, and that the caller misrepresented McCain's positions and asked if Latsko knew McCain had been reprimanded for interfering with federal regulators in the savings and loan scandal. Voter/Consumer Research is listed as a polling contractor on Bush's Federal Election Commission filings; the Bush campaign has paid Voter/Consumer Research $93,000 through December 31, 1999. Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer denied the call was a push poll, but said it was important that the Republican Party remember McCain's role in the S&L crisis.
    (Houston Chronicle, 2/8/00)

    Bush Campaign Acknowledged Making Phone Calls.
    Tucker Eskew, Bush's South Carolina spokesman, acknowledged the Bush campaign made such calls, but claimed they were not "push polls." Eskew added, "Show me a baseless comment in those questions."
    (Post and Courier, 2/8/00)

    Bush Used Fringe Veterans Group to Attack McCain as "Manchurian Candidate."
    "In the case of Ted Sampley, the same guy who did Bush's dirty work in going after Sen. John McCain in the 2000 Republican primaries is doing the job against Kerry this year. Sampley dared compare McCain, who spent five years as a Vietnam POW, with 'the Manchurian Candidate.'"
    (Dionne op-ed, Washington Post, 4/27/04)

    Sampley Called McCain a "Coward" and a Traitor.
    "Sampley... accused McCain of being a weak-minded coward who had escaped death by collaborating with the enemy. Sampley claimed that McCain had first been compromised by the Vietnamese, then recruited by the Soviets."
    When John McCain says of the attacks on Kerry that "It was the same kind of deal that was pulled on me," the "kind of deal" he is referring to means attacks on his wife, attacks on his daughter, defamation of character, and out and out lies.

    "It reopens old wounds." Indeed.

    PBS has a full transcript of the Feb. 15, 2000 debate, from which the ad text was excerpted. While the ad only shows John McCain's remarks, the transcript reveals how Bush responded.
    SEN. JOHN McCAIN: You should be ashamed.

    GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: Yeah, let me speak to that.

    SEN. JOHN McCAIN: You should be ashamed. Now, if you want to hear...

    LARRY KING: Is he responsible for what someone else says?

    SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Well, this same man... He stood next to him, it was his event... This same man had attacked his father viciously.

    GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: John, I believe that you served our country nobly, and I've said it over and over again. That man wasn't speaking for me. He may have a dispute with you...

    SEN. JOHN McCAIN: He was at your event.

    GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: Let me finish, please. Please.

    SEN. JOHN McCAIN: He's listed as your--

    GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: let me finish. Let me finish. (Laughter)

    LARRY KING: Let him finish.

    GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: The man was not speaking for me. If you want to know my opinion about you, John, you served our country admirably and strongly, and I am proud of your record just like you are. And I don't appreciate what he said about my dad either.

    SEN. JOHN McCAIN: You paid for an event... (Applause) ...You paid for an event and stood next to a person. And when you were asked if you would repudiate him, you said, "no."

    GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: No, John, what I said... What I said... Let me say what I said...

    SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Let me tell you what happened after that...

    LARRY KING: But I want Alan to give me one thing. If you have a surrogate making a speech for you today, are you responsible for what he says?

    ALAN KEYES: I... I really am sitting here wondering, because I said we were going out to 202 countries. And is this kind of pointless squabbling really what we want them to see? (Applause) We're talking about electing the President of the United States; it seems to me, we could let their ad people get in the back room and fight it out and let the American people hear what they've got...

    SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Let me just finish up, okay?

    GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: Let me say one thing about all this business, John.

    SEN. JOHN McCAIN: I told you, I pulled them all down.

    GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: You didn't pull this ad.

    SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Yes I did.

    GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: This, that ended up in a man's windshield yesterday. It questions my... This is an attack piece.

    SEN. JOHN McCAIN: That is not by my campaign.

    GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, it says paid for by John McCain. (Laughter)

    SEN. JOHN McCAIN: that is not by my campaign.

    GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: Well then, somebody's putting stuff out -

    SEN. JOHN McCAIN: I called that off.

    GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: I agree with you.

    SEN. JOHN McCAIN: ..But you're putting out stuff that is unbelievable, George, and it's got to stop. And your answer's got to stop.

    LARRY KING: Well, let me put... Il end it now. Are you going to pull anything?

    GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: I'm going to see about what I'm putting on TV. And what I put on TV was looking in that camera and saying, "you can disagree with me on issues, John, but do not question... do not question my trustworthiness, and do not compare me to Bill Clinton."

    LARRY KING: We want to thank Senator McCain, Ambassador Keyes and Governor Bush. Thank you very much for joining us. Good night.
    In 2000, Bush's response was also to change the subject and refuse to repudiate the attackers--the same m.o. that he has refined and resurrected in the 2004 campaign.

    Republican Verbal Legerdemain

    In the 2000 primary, Bush deflected the question of his campaign's ad hominem attacks on John McCain's relationship with Veterans to the Bush campaign official narrative, that McCain had breached his trust by comparing Bush with Clinton. (I have to ask: who, today, could imagine comparing George Bush with Bill Clinton?)

    Bush's answer deftly reframed Bush as the innocent victim and McCain as the aggressor and transgressor.

    The official Whitehouse response on August 19 to McCain's calls for Bush to denounce the attacks on Kerry are a structural replay of the 2000 debate.
    Q On the Swift Boat ad, Kerry is saying that the President is relying on front groups to challenge Kerry's war record. Why won't the President
    denounce this particular ad? McCain asked the President to do so, and every day that you don't condemn it, it just leaves the door open for the issue to continue.

    MR. McCLELLAN: Well, first of all, Pete, I think there's a little bit of a mischaracterization there. Senator Kerry knows that his latest attack is false and baseless. The President has condemned all of the ads by the shadowy groups. We have called on Senator Kerry to join us in calling for an end to all the unregulated soft money activity that is going on in this campaign. And the President has stayed focused on the issues and the choices that the voters face. That's what this ought to be about. There are some clear choices that the voters face for the future. This should not be about the past, and we've made that very clear.

    Q But don't you think you could put this matter to rest if you would just condemn this particular ad? That's what Kerry is asking.

    MR. McCLELLAN: And the President has condemned all of the ads and condemned all of the soft money -- unregulated soft money that is going on. Senator Kerry should join us in calling for an end to all of this soft money -- unregulated soft money activity. Senator Kerry has declined to do so. The President has been on the receiving end of more than $62 million in negative, false attacks from these shadowy groups that exist. The President thought that we got rid of all of this kind of soft money activity when he signed the campaign finance reforms into law. Apparently Senator Kerry was against this soft money activity previously, too. Now he appears to be for it, as long as it benefits his

    Q There are the ads, and then there's the charge within the ads. Last week at one of the "Ask President Bush" events, a voter stood up and repeated the charge that Senator Kerry had self-inflicted wounds in Vietnam. The President didn't say anything. What does the President think about the charge?

    MR. McCLELLAN: Terry, the President thinks that we should get rid of all of this unregulated soft money activity by these shadowy groups. It's not known who is contributing to these groups. The President believes that there ought to be full disclosure and rapid disclosure of contributions. He's called for that previously. He has set an example by doing that himself.

    This campaign has focused on the future, not the past. We have focused on debating the issues and debating the candidates' visions. The President has talked about the clear choices we face on the important priorities, such as the war on terrorism. And there are some clear differences there. There are clear differences on how we go about supporting our troops while they wage the war on terrorism. Senator Kerry has voted against supporting our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, when last year he voted against the $87 billion appropriation. So there are some real differences on the issues, where this campaign ought to be
    focused. And that's what the President will continue to do.

    Q Well, the charge, though, has been made not just in advertisements, but it has now been made directly to the President.

    MR. McCLELLAN: And there have been a lot of false, negative charges made against the President by these shadowy groups. So if he would join us, we could get rid of all of this unregulated soft money activity.

    Q Let me ask it this way: The President has said and believes that John Kerry served honorably in Vietnam, right?

    MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, he's made that very clear. We've made it very clear that we will not make his -- will never raise questions about his service. We haven't, and we won't.

    Q This advertisement raises questions about his service, and in fact concludes that he served dishonorably. So the President thinks this ad is false, right?

    MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the issue here is these unregulated soft money groups that exist. The campaign finance reforms were passed in order to get rid of this kind of activity. Yet there is a loophole in the law, and the FEC has refused to address it. We think that all of this activity should be stopped.

    Q Could I follow on that? Because what Terry seems to be getting at, what's clear from this event that Bush had last week --

    MR. McCLELLAN: Well, let's not be selective here. Let's look at the overall activity that's going on by all of these shadowy groups. I think we're being a little selective right now. And Senator Kerry is being -- is trying to have it all ways, yet again. He says one thing, while his campaign goes out there and does another thing.

    Q Well, even given your belief that it's selective, the President on the one hand will say --

    MR. McCLELLAN: Well, is it not? I mean, the President has been on the receiving end of --

    Q I'm asking the questions right now. The point is that the President has let stand these charges, even made by a voter at one his events, as Terry says, doesn't say a word about it when he quotes these charges, just lets it go. It seems like the President, while he has certainly called his service noble in the Vietnam War, is happy to let all the rest of the charges sort of fester.

    MR. McCLELLAN: No, actually I disagree fully with you, David. Senator Kerry is the one who has given his tacit approval to this kind of unregulated soft money activity by shadowy groups. He can join us in condemning all of this activity and calling for an end to it, and then we can move on to really focus on what this campaign should be about, which is about the differences on the key issues, the differences on the war on terrorism, the differences on how we go about strengthening our economy, and the differences on how we go about supporting our troops when they're at war.

    Q You just don't want to get into the business of making a judgment about one ad, is your point.

    MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that it's important that we recognize that there is a loop hole that groups are exploiting. And we should end all this activity. That was one of the purposes of the campaign finance reform.

    Q Do you and the President agree that John Kerry served dishonorably in Vietnam?

    MR. McCLELLAN: We've already said that. The President has already said that, we've already said that, we've made that clear, that -- the President said that he served nobly.

    Q Do you believe it's fair game for allies of the President to be charging that John Kerry served dishonrably?

    MR. McCLELLAN: Well, ultimately in any campaign the voters are going to make the ultimate decision on all the issues. But this goes to the issue of shadowy groups that are funded by unregulated soft money. That's what this issue is about.

    Q By not condemning this ad, you are leaving the impression that you support the contention that John Kerry served dishonorably.

    MR. McCLELLAN: We condemned all the ads, Dana. We condemned all the ads. The President condemned all the ads. You heard from him just recently. Why won't -- why won't Senator Kerry join us in calling for an end to of this activity, when we've been on the receiving end of substantial amounts of money of this kind of activity.

    Q Forget about the ads. Why won't you disassociate yourself from the charge that John Kerry served dishonorably in Vietnam?

    MR. McCLELLAN: We've never questioned his service, and we never will. So I think we've made that very clear.

    Q So he earned those medals?

    MR. McCLELLAN: Again, we're not going to question his service. We have not, and we will not.
    In the Whitehouse briefing, McClellan is recast in George Bush's role from the 2000 debates, with the press in McCain's role--without Alan Keyes or Larry King to let Bush off the hook.

    McClellan, to his cynical credit, stays "on message" throughout this section of the briefing. (When did "on message" become a euphemism for obfuscation?) He reframes the issue as a debate on the "problems" of 527's, or soft-money organizations:
    Senator Kerry knows that his latest attack is false and baseless. The President has condemned all of the ads by the shadowy groups. We have called on Senator Kerry to join us in calling for an end to all the unregulated soft money activity that is going onin this campaign.
    He refuses to answer to the charges or address the substance of the questions. At the same time, just as Bush did in the 2000 debate, he reframes Bush as the wronged party and Kerry as the as the corrupt politician and aggressor.

    When McClellan states, "We've never questioned his service, and we never will," it would be more correct to say that Bush and company have never done their own dirty work, and never denounce their surrogates.

    Deals with the Devil

    While Bush consistently refuses to denounces his surrogates, he has not been that discriminating about his bedfellows. Back in 2000, Bush was happy to deal with a man who had tried to cost Bush's father his presidential election bid.

    In the Feb. 15 debate, McCain said this about Bush's relationship with his attack dog: "Well, this same man... [Bush] stood next to him, it was his event... This same man had attacked his father viciously." McCain is talking about Ted Sampley, who attacked George Bush Sr, accusing him of dooming his fighter pilot crew to their deaths. Sampley's lies, which surpass the pathological towards the utterly outrageous, have been well-documented.

    However, despite the relationship between Sampley and Bush the elder, Bush the lesser was happy to use him as an attack surrogate. Or perhaps it was because of Sampley's credentials as a zealot, a vicious attacker, and a blatant liar.

    It seems that little Bush held a different standard for Ted Sampley than for Saddam Hussein.

    Ted Sampley has, like so many other bits of Bush dirty laundry, resurfaced in the 2004 campaign, as the creator of Vietnam War Veterans Against John Kerry. This time, however, the Bush family is quite assured of his integrity and veracity.

    Breaking the Code

    The Kerry campaigns new ad is powerful because it alludes to all of the history detailed here, far more than 52 seconds can convey directly. The ad redirects the 2004 campaign debate adroitly from a question of military service to a question of personal character.

    The history of Bush's attacks on John McCain speaks loudly to 4 key groups in this election.


    Veterans are a highly courted constituency in the 2004 campaign. The subtext of this ad, even more loudly than the ad itself, conveys the message to Veterans that:
  • George Bush has no respect for veterans.
  • George Bush does not understand the nature of service or military culture.
  • George Bush will knowingly malign veterans for his own gain.

    McCain Supporters

    While Bush and the neocons have reached out to the most conservative elements of the Republican party, John McCain's moderate supporters have not forgotten Bush's 2000 attacks that robbed McCain of a shot at the presidency. They, too, remember "old wounds." The ad conflates the attacks on McCain with the attacks on Kerry, and by extension, conflates McCain with Kerry himself.

    The message to McCain supporters is that Kerry virtually *is* McCain: they are both decent men and heroic Vietnam Veterans, under vicious and wrongful attack from George Bush. Instead of presenting Kerry as "anyone but Bush," the ad frames Kerry to McCain supporters as "almost McCain"--and a vote for Kerry is almost a vote for McCain. At the very least, a voter for Kerry is a vote against the man who devastated John McCain and his family with malicious lies in 2000. The implied message to McCain supporters is that voting for Kerry redeems McCain's tribulations--and as the success of Bush's "born again Christian" narrative demonstrates, stories of redemption resonate strongly with the American people.

    The pretext of the message to the Democratic base is, "Bush is doing this again," but the subtext is two-fold: on one hand, it conveys a non-chalance to the base that these attacks are nothing new, nothing suprising, and nothing that John Kerry can't handle--they are merely recycled tactics. On the other hand, the ad reminds the base that the Bush attack machine defeated McCain in 2000 and must be stopped. At a time when voices on the left are starting to express concern that smugness about polling data and a projected election victory will demotivate Kerry campaign volunteers, a good antidote is to tell the grassroots that the Bush attacks are a serious threat. The message: "McCain was the better man, but he lost: get busy." The ad is ultimately a call to action for the base.

    Swing Voters

    The Bush campaign has gone to great lengths to depict Bush as a "regular guy" (reminiscent of Bartlet's re-election opponent Robert Richie on the West Wing), a "good guy," and a "man of the people." This ad shows, rather than tells, swing voters, without any partisan tactics or spokespeople, that George Bush is a monster that will stop at nothing to win. John McCain's voice in the ad is heart-breaking, while Bush can barely restrain a smirk. Most Americans wouldn't want to be associated with the kind of man Bush is revealed to be in this footage, let alone elect him president.

    McCain, Bush, and the Kerry Message

    On August 19, John Kerry gave a speech to the Boston Firefighters that included a new theme: George Bush owes the American people an answer.

    The new ad picks up where the speech left off: Bush owes McCain an apology...and by extension, Republicans, Veterans, John Kerry, and the American people. George Bush owes the American people an apology.

    And, the ad clearly states John Kerry's appraisal of George Bush: "America can do better." Better than a man who lies and cheats to win, better than a man who'll draw your wife and child into the fight, better than a man who denies responsibility for his actions, better than a man who says one thing to your face but does another behind your back. American can do better than George Bush.

    The ad also takes a lesson from the GOP and radically reframes the debate. Ever since the Swift Boat Veterans resurfaced, the 2004 election has been distracted by a manufactured debate on Kerry's war record. The ad turns the debate into a discussion on the primacy of American values of fairness, honesty, decency, and fair play. In other words, the Kerry campaign just brought the debate to a place where, on a level playing field, George Bush can't compete.

    Distributed Democracy

    Kudos go to the Kerry campaign for stretching their limited campaign dollars. The ad should have cost next to nothing to produce out of existing footage and minor editing, and is costing nothing to distribute.

    The campaigns is not airing the ad on TV (note the non-standard length of 52 seconds). On August 21, the campaign emailed the ad to 200,000 veterans activists as well as the entire Kerry online community. Kerry is bringing in the people (Joe Trippi, they are finally listening!), and counting on the help of supporters and the power of viral marketing to spread the ad.

    This new ad is light years ahead of anything we've seen yet from the Kerry Campaign so far. Maybe Mary Beth Cahill reads blogs after all.

  • |

    Vote with your Wallet: Build the Progressive Machine

    One of their slogans is "Building Community Through Responsible Business" so you know I'm going to be all over this one...

    The Progressive Book Club is launching this fall as an antidote to the Republican Big Hussle that Matt Stoller had documented in his research on right-wing screed artist Michele Malkin.

    The concept: support progressive authors, make progressive books accessible to a wider audience, and promote progressive ideas.

    The nuts and bolts: The pre-launch special offer is buy "3 for $3 + 1 for free." In exchange, you agree to buy four books over the next two years. Monthly selections will be advertised by email--sounds more efficient and far less aggressive than the Columbia Record Club.

    The good part: Discount prices, plus proceeds go to progressive causes.

    The Progressive Book Club's stated mandate is to "push back against the conservative domination of America’s political culture."
    We intend to serve the progressive community in every way we can—as a source of new revenue, as a way to attract new members, and as a means for engaging progressive Americans in national discussion.
    What's not to love?

    The Progressive Book Club's has the potential to provide a critical and missing piece in the left's political coordination machine.

    I'm a great proponent of money-where-your-mouth-is politics. Let's get on board early and support this worthwhile endeavour.

    The project doesn't officially launch until this fall but you can sign up now (do it! do it!).

    McGill blogs!

    McGill university logoUmair Haiq of Bubblegeneration and I just discovered that we are both McGill alumni.

    Are there other bloggers from McGill out there? We'd love to hear from you.

    Seriously...I'll put together a list here (and hope that someone will step up with the tech savvy to make us a snazzy index like BlogsCanada).

    The Ad Hoc McGill Blog Index

    Surely we aren't the only two. Who else is in?

    I don't get comment notifications from HaloScan, so feel free to send me an email.

    Psst! Canadian bloggers--spread the word, won't you? Thanks!

    Calling all progressives

    On BOP, Matt Stoller takes the measure of the germinating political machine and analyzes where we're at and where we should be going.

    There's a great list of progressive websites and organizations.

    Read the whole thing and get in on the discussion of how we want progressive infrastructure to develop.


    Friday, August 20, 2004

    Guerilla Activism

    A banner, propelled by balloons, against the tall ceilings of NY's Grand Central Station, that reads 'No Bush Lies Wars'

    New Yorkers Launch Huge Anti-Bush Banner
    with Balloons in Grand Central Station

    (and walk away unhassled, amid cheers)

    On Thursday, a group of New Yorkers released a 15-foot banner suspended by helium balloons in the main concourse of New York’s Grand Central Terminal.
    The action was conceived as a peaceful visual message of protest against the
    Bush administration: Its exploitation of fear and uncertainty in the wake of
    9/11, its lies, and the wars it has engendered.

    ...The protesters chose Grand Central Terminal because it is a main artery of
    New York City, which will soon be infiltrated by a Republican Party that,
    through the President and its majority in Congress, has made this country
    and the world more ruthless and dangerous places.

    ...Today’s action is part of a groundswell of visual, non-violent protest
    against the Bush administration that has surfaced despite the repressive
    climate this administration has fostered.
    See also IndyMedia article here and more photos here.

    This protest is a prime example of my favorite kind of guerilla activism: peaceful, visual, subversive, irreverent, and funny. Bravo to the anonymous NY guerillas!

    Let's hope we can indeed look forward to much more of this kind of protest.

    And as Scout points out, anyone can do this anywhere that has a high ceiling. (Hint, hint)

    Thanks to NewsGrist via I'm Voting and And Then.

    Marriage 101 for Virginia Legislators

    Amanda at XX has a brief review of White Weddings by Chrys Ingraham and goes on to deconstruct the right-wing case against same sex marriage.
    There is a dual reason that conservatives talk about preserving “traditional” marriage from the onslaught of legalized same-sex marriage. One is that it’s a great rhetorical trick that allows them to address marriage as an institution and completely avoid talking about the actual human beings, the gays and lesbians that their policies are out to harm. The other reason is that they mean what they say, that they want marriage to be “traditional", that is, take it away from the growing conception of its potential to be an egalitarian institution and return it to its traditional use as the predominant way of perpetuating male dominance over women.
    I'd strongly recommend both the post and the book to Virginia Legislators who voted for HB 751. You know who you are.

    Strategy Analysis

    Two very different reads on the Kerry Campaign strategy:

    Joshua Marshall on Talking Points Memo explains how Kerry is getting a smackdown in the Republicans' Bitch-Slap theory of electoral politics, but Steve Gilliard thinks Kerry picks his fights like General Sherman would.

    I just hope Steve Gilliard is correct.

    Steve Gilliard link via Bark Bark Woof Woof.

    Just what flavor is that kool-aid?

    Now we know:

    'wrangling bush berry' flavor kool-aid package, with slogan 'Quenchin my thirstitude since I found Jesus'

    See the whole disturbing collection here.

    Wrangling Bush Berry is possibly bested by Retro Reagan.

    'Reagan' flavor kool-aid packet with slogan 'I am god'


    Thanks to FrontierNet via Gotham City 13.

    Then and Now

    Words of wisdom from George G. Bush in his acceptance speech at the RNC on August 3, 2000:
    "A generation shaped by Vietnam must remember the lessons of Vietnam: When America uses force in the world, the cause must be just, the goal must be clear, and the victory must be overwhelming."
    Thanks to Kick the Leftist.

    Now with shrapnel!

    New Kerry campaign ad refuting the trumped up GOP attacks on his military record here.

    Er...is this the best the Dems can do?

    The ad ends with "Today he still has shrapnel in his leg from his wounds in Vietnam."

    Um, folks, that's a talking point, not a selling point.
    Vote for Kerry: now with Shrapnel!
    The right wing are going to have a field day with this.

    This is NOT an effective ad. But, the GOP have been effective in turning their attack surrogate Vets into a border skirmish to siphon off Kerry's limted funds...to pay for this ineffective ad.

    Dammit, dammit, dammit.

    Close but no cigar, folks. And the stakes are too high for amateur productions.


    Stagecrafting the Olympics

    IOC officials, worried by the television images being flashed around the world of athletes competing in near empty stadiums, have told the Athens Games organisers to give tickets away for free if necessary.
    ...because we don't want reality in front of the cameras. Perhaps Rove has been consulting for them.

    Via NewsMeat.

    Dr Strangeware or How I learned to stop worrying and love Microsoft

    Americans love to ask "why do they hate us?"

    Could it be for this kind of gross lack of multicultural savvy"?
    Another social blunder from Microsoft saw chanting of the Koran used as a soundtrack for a computer game and led to great offence to the Saudi Arabia government. The company later issued a new version of the game without the chanting, while keeping the previous editions in circulation because U.S. staff thought the slip wouldn't be spotted, but the Saudi government banned the game and demanded an apology. Microsoft then withdrew the game.

    The software giant managed to further offend the Saudis by creating another game in which Muslim warriors turned churches into mosques. That game was also withdrawn.

    <>The exports of Microsoft, Hollywood, and MacDonalds et al are the face of America for much of the world. Look at the face we're putting forward.

    Also note the influence of the Saudi government. Somehow, if the Canadian gov was complaining to Microsoft about a game that turned maple trees into missiles, or zambonis into armed humvees, I can't see Bill Gates pulling the game.


    Unerasing Bush's Lies

    Click here for map of US deaths in Iraq Occupation.

    Blogging Best Practices

    Simon at BOP is talking about best practices on some of the nuts and bolts of blogging.

    Birth of a Meme

    George Bush owes the American people an answer.

    That's what John Kerry had to say yesterday to the International Association of Fire Fighters in Boston.
    The situation in Iraq is a mess. That is the President’s responsibility and he owes the American people an answer.

    America is on track to lose more jobs than it’s gained under George Bush and he supports a tax code that rewards companies for shipping jobs overseas. He owes the American people an answer.

    Health care costs have exploded out of control. The President has done nothing and he owes the American people an answer.

    The middle class is paying a bigger share of America’s tax burden. The President needs to answer to the American people why that is fair.
    This is a new meme on the campaign trail and an exciting one.

    American political campaigns seem to fail to understand (or ignore at their peril) the importance of the Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Successful marketers know that your USP distinguishes your product (candidate) from your competition (opposition), and a strong USP is an incredibly potent sales and marketing (persuasion) tool.

    "The Real Deal?" -- tells us nothing about Kerry and could be used just as easily by Bush. Oh, and it sounds like he's selling hamburgers.

    "Help is on the way?" -- good rah rah rhetoric for the convention (only someone please coach Kerry and Edwards on how to deliver the line in a way that cues the audience to chime in, their timing could use some real work), and a nice stump speech flourish, but NOT a USP, which means Bush could use this just as well.

    "Turning the corner?" -- no USP, and clearly no one did their Popperian falsification homework on this one: the Kerry campaign has tidily turned the trope against Bush with press releases about how the Bush admin is "turning the corner to higher profits for Drug Companies". (I hope we will see more of this trope on the campaign trail as well.)

    The Kerry campaign has truly hit a home run, with "Bush owes the American people an answer:"
  • The phrase has a strong USP that distinguishes Kerry from Bush.
  • It makes a negative attack on Bush based on his policy choices, not personal character.
  • It puts the Bush campaign on the defensive.
  • The viral potential of the meme is fabulous.
  • It offers an opportunity to subliminally counter-program the media.
  • And finally, it redefines the terms of the debate.

  • Oh, and coincidentally, it's true. George Bush does owe the American people a lot of answers.

    Many thanks to Andrea at Shameless Agitator for posting the quote.

    Now THIS is journalism

    The Bush campaign has denied Senator John Kerry's charges that Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (sic) is "a front for the Bush campaign"

    Well, today the New York Times maps out Bush attack surrogate Swift Boat Veterans for Truth's (sic) "web of connections to the Bush family, to high-profile Texas political figures and to President Bush's chief political aide, Karl Rove."
    A series of interviews and a review of documents show a web of connections to the Bush family, high-profile Texas political figures and President Bush's chief political aide, Karl Rove.

    Records show that the group received the bulk of its initial financing from two men with ties to the president and his family - one a longtime political associate of Mr. Rove's, the other a trustee of the foundation for Mr. Bush's father's presidential library. A Texas publicist who once helped prepare Mr. Bush's father for his debate when he was running for vice president provided them with strategic advice. And the group's television commercial was produced by the same team that made the devastating ad mocking Michael S. Dukakis in an oversized tank helmet when he and Mr. Bush's father faced off in the 1988 presidential election.
    Don't miss the graphic display of the connections between Bush and the Swift Boat Liars for Bush.

    Via Shamless Agitator.

    As you know, campaign laws contain a number of "invisible boundaries" delineating just who can and can't collaborate with whom during a federal election.

    Democrats tend to follow these rules assidulously.

    And Republicans? Well, "rules" is defined in the GOP playbook as "something the other guys will use to obstruct themselves."


    Thursday, August 19, 2004

    the Jews for Hitler games have got to stop

    Democratic Sen. Zell Miller to Keynote 2004 Republican National Convention

    At what point do we kick his ass out of the Democratic party?

    colluding in our own doom

    Philip K. Dick explains how we achieve the current state of cognitive dissonance:
    The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words. George Orwell made this clear in his novel 1984. But another way to control the minds of people is to control their perceptions. If you can get them to see the world as you do, they will think as you do. Comprehension follows perception. How do you get them to see the reality you see? After all, it is only one reality out of many. Images are a basic constituent: pictures. This is why the power of TV to influence young minds is so staggeringly vast. Words and pictures are synchronized. The possibility of total control of the viewer exists, especially the young viewer. TV viewing is a kind of sleep-learning. An EEG of a person watching TV shows that after about half an hour the brain decides that nothing is happening, and it goes into a hypnoidal twilight state, emitting alpha waves. This is because there is such little eye motion. In addition, much of the information is graphic and therefore passes into the right hemisphere of the brain, rather than being processed by the left, where the conscious personality is located. Recent experiments indicate that much of what we see on the TV screen is received on a subliminal basis. We only imagine that we consciously see what is there. The bulk of the messages elude our attention; literally, after a few hours of TV watching, we do not know what we have seen. Our memories are spurious, like our memories of dreams; the blank are filled in retrospectively. And falsified. We have participated unknowingly in the creation of a spurious reality, and then we have obligingly fed it to ourselves. We have colluded in our own doom.
    Via Bubblegeneration.

    Weapon of Mass Distraction

    Looks like Nader puts the "N" in Weapon of Mass Distraction:
    "The key is keeping his name off the ballot,'' said Democratic strategist Dane Strother. ``If he makes the ballot in one or two or three swing states and siphons 3 or 4 points off Kerry, it's harmful."
    From the International Herald Tribune:
    The Pennsylvania effort is one of the most extensive and gives a glimpse into what it takes to mount such a challenge.

    “The amount of time that has been devoted to this is easily in excess of 10,000 hours,” Booker said. That includes the work of more than 100 volunteers in Pittsburgh for at least eight hours a day for a week, and 8 to 10 lawyers in his firm working at no charge for 80 hours a week for two weeks.

    The lawyers may end up working on the case for six more weeks before it is resolved.

    Okay, we all know Nader contributed to the 2000 fiasco, particularly in Florida.

    But 10,000 hours? In just one state? I don't know that we have those kinds of resources to waste. And recent polls are showing Nader bleeding swing votes away from Bush as much as Kerry...

    I think we may have won the battle to lose the war: we've done such a splendid job of mopping up tired old Ralph, but where is the fight against Bush? You know, the president. That guy who's sitting in the White House.


    Wednesday, August 18, 2004

    support your local Taliban


    Dollars for Bloggers

    Umair Haque has just launched Blogversations, a service that matches advertisers with bloggers to sponsor blog discussions as paid ads.

    I would be very wary if most people other than Umair were beyind this, but it looks like a promising concept:
    1) We match advertisers with bloggers
    2) Advertisers choose a topic or question (not an advertorial)
    3) Bloggers discuss the topic or question, and place a link to the discussion on their blog's front page
    4) Advertisers truly engage audiences without doing evil; bloggers get paid for doing what they do best - blogging!
    I've signed up to give it a try and I'm interested to see how it works. Both Bloggers and Advertisers can sign up or find more information here.

    ignorance begets ignorance

    During the 2004 session, the Virginia Legislature passed House Bill 675, dubbed by right wing home schoolers as the Homeschool Freedom Bill. Virginia Law formerly required that a homeschooling parent hold a minimum of a Bachelor's degree to qualify, minus a range of exceptions. The new law, which passed along party lines, lowers the bar down to a high school diploma.

    Virginian right wing home schoolers and their friends in the GOP don't want children to get too educated and uppity. Lawd knows if they could read, or think, they might vote Democrat.

    . . .

    The Home School Legal Defence Association (HSLDA), presents itself as a home school lobbying group. It is repudiated by other members of the home schooling community for a conservative agenda that is pro-guns, anti-gay, anti-choice lobbying, as well as misreprestations of facts, and its strong-arm, scare-tactic sales techniques.

    The HSLDA has launched Project Joshua, to mobilize home school students as grassroots workers to campaing for Bush and other religious right candidates.

    And thus, all of those little home schooled republicans will be coming back into Virginia state politics next year to campaign for the likes of Jerry Kilgore and Ken Cuccinelli.

    Unless Virginia cleans up its error in the 2005 session.


    GOP Politics of Race

    Via UggaBugga.

    Link Tools

    News to me: the NYT Link Generator.
    This is a nifty thing that supplies a permanent archive link that will always take you to the full article, even after it has expired. So, if, for example, you want to link the latest Paul Krugman article, Saving the Vote, but you want to make sure that even people who only read your page once every couple of months will be able to get straight to it, you go to the link generator and get the blog-friendly link to the same page. (Of course, since this is Paul Krugman, you could do your readers who are still on dial-up a favor by going to the unofficial Paul Krugman archive's Columns list, find the article, and use the nice clean low-bandwidth link.)
    Via The Sideshow

    And, for other sites, there's TinyUrl:
    Are you sick of posting URLs in emails only to have it break when sent causing the recipient to have to cut and paste it back together? Then you've come to the right place. By entering in a URL in the text field below, we will create a tiny URL that will not break in email postings and never expires.

    Nuts and Bolts

    America Coming Together Polling Director Andy Grossman details some interesting electoral nuts and bolts that may play a factor on November 2:
    In Missouri in 2000, a greater percentage of African Americans voted than did whites.

    Nevada has seen the highest population growth of any state – and 65% of the population lives in the Las Vegas area.

    In 2000, Gore won New Mexico by 366 votes. New Mexico has the largest Latino population in the country – but it is not an immigrant population – the Hispanics in New Mexico have been there for over 300 years.

    Ohio has seen the largest number of jobs lost since 9-11 in any state besides New York and California.

    In Wisconsin, Minnesota, and New Hampshire, you can register to vote at the polls on Election Day.

    In Oregon, there is not just one Election Day, but 18 days of voting, through an extensive vote-by-mail program.

    Senior Citizens are currently the most affluent Americans.

    Maine splits its Electoral College votes. Currently, the only other state to do this is Nebraska—but if a ballot initiative passes in Colorado, it will be the third state able to divide its Electoral College votes.

    John Zogby is a registered Republican.
    My question is, why didn't I know Zogby was a registered Republican?

    Oregon hardly seems exceptional in the Vote by Mail category--I think I'm missing something.

    My translation reads:
    Watch for major racial voter suppression campaigns in Missouri.

    Dems should pick up swing voters in Ohio--if we can overcome the Fox/Rush factor.

    Watch for "votes for beer" and other scams in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and New Hampshire.

    Republicans will fight the Colorado ballot initiative like hell.
    Did I miss anything?


    More viral marketing

    ...because I'm fascinated by the creativity and innovation of online political "ads."

    Mundo Creepy Bush

    Via The Reality Stick

    Press Ban

    The US Chamber of Commerce is hosting an Intellectual Property Rights Roundtable, in progress as I type this, where government officials from the Department of Homeland Security are speaking today about matters of public interest relating to intellectual property.

    The session is free.

    Except...they've banned the media. From the website:
    **This Event Is NOT Open To The Press.**
    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce decreed that it's only for copyright and other IP lobbyists.

    After all, why would the public want to know what government officials are saying or

    Via Declan McCullagh's Politech Digest.


    Finally got around to share the good news that I am also writing for BOPnews, a/k/a The Blogging of the President, thanks to a generous invitation from Matt Stoller.

    I am also working with the alumni of Campaign 101 to get our new blog off the ground, the eponymous C101.

    Three blogs, one insomniac. I'm not sure yet quite how this will work.

    My "serious" posts will go to BOP, anything related to young voters or particularly process-oriented will go to C101, and so far anything frothy or Virginia-specific will stay here on Tsuredzuregusa.

    Blogger offers a built-in spell-check and I haven't found one yet on the back-end of BOP, so I'll probably be mainly composing on Blogger and cross-posting.

    Probably. We'll see.

    If any veteran multibloggers have advice (where is Suw Charman when you need her?) I am all ears.

    And, if are aren't already familiar with BOP or C101, please drop in and take a look.

    the wisdom of small furry creatures

    From the Hamsters for Kerry FAQ:

    What's the key non-hamster specific issue to you in this election?

    The economy. It effects everybody. How are families supposed to put food on the table when there are no jobs to be had? When hamsters can't find food, they eat their young. You people might have to do the same thing if the economy has to suffer four more years of Bush's tax cuts and deficit spending.

    New blog launches

    Seth Godin has launched ChangeThis, a blog "on a mission to spread important ideas and change minds." Exciting new model of information distribution.

    Via Matt at BOPnews.

    And, Strengthen the Good launches
    as the nexus of a network of bloggers committed to raising awareness for small charities around the world.
    Every three weeks this space highlights a new “micro-charity”—a small, inspiring charity, one with a real face and where $1 makes a difference—and the bloggers in the network link to that post, sending traffic, and awareness, the charity’s way.
    STG's current project is raising money for Florida Hurricane Victims.

    Via Bubblegeneration

    Monday, August 16, 2004

    Girlie Man Redux


    Girlie Man

    Musings of a Philosophical Scrivener examines how Bush and Kerry handle crowd control, and proposes a new google bomb:
    Melanie Matson at Just a Bump in the Beltway presents an interesting point/counterpoint: two articles about campaign appearances by the two candidates:

    John Kerry: has hecklers in his audience; Kerry and his wife (introducing her husband) actually trade barbs with the pro-Bush hecklers.

    George W. Bush: restricts attendance at his rallies to his own supporters, and herds protesters into "free speech zones" located as far away as he can arrange.

    There's only one conclusion you can make, and you can make it either by comparing these campaign vignettes, or by comparing their military service (or in Bush's case, his "military service").

    John Kerry has balls. George W. Bush is a craven coward.

    Or to borrow a turn of phrase from Ahnuld, George W. Bush is a girlie man.

    In fact, because I'm a glutton for punishment who wants to wallow in his own insignificance for a bit, I'm going to propose a new Google-bomb. You can guess where that link to girlie man goes. Let's see if anyone else picks up on it. I'm betting not....

    But I'm used to being a nobody.

    Via rlrr.

    Best Campaign Ad Ever


    Via Dohiyi Mir and rlrr.


    Ooh...possibly one-upped by this one. (Warning: strong language)

    Via BOPnews.

    Who are these people?

    Althought the GOP won't release the names of delegates, they've put out their list of convention entertainers.

    Just think, if you can snag a blogger pass to the RNC you'll get to hear big stars like "contemporary Christian musician" Michael W. Smith...and a bunch of other people I've never heard of.

    The Joke on Wallstreet

    Katrina vanden Heuvel quoted on SoonerThought:

    Here's a joke which was circulating among Wall Street
    traders last Friday:

    "Fewer jobs were created in the US in the entire month of July than the number of people who will be inside Madison Square Garden for the GOP convention at the end of August."

    Via Liberal Coalition.


    Wednesday, August 11, 2004

    Data, Lies, & Political Motivations

    Julius Civitatus at JuliusBlog has put together a chart comparing Bush approval numbers to the timeline of terror alerts.

    click here to view the 'Bush Approval v. Terror Alerts' chart

    Julius notes the following data correlations in his own analysis of the chart:
  • Whenever his ratings dip, there's a new terror alert.

  • Every terror alert is followed by a slight uptick of Bush approval ratings.

  • Whenever there are many unfavorable headlines, there's another alert or announcement (distraction effect).

  • As we approach the 2004 elections, the number and frequency of terror alerts keeps growing, to the point that they collapse in the graphic. At the same time, Bush ratings are lower than ever.
  • Please take note that Julius is remarking on data correlations here, and not drawing general conclusions about cause and effect. Correlation does not prove causation.

    However, Julius notes in an update:
    We are sure a considerable amount of these alerts were legit and caused by real and immediate information of potential threats. What is important to note is that many of these "immediate" terror alerts were later on discredited (in some cases they used old data, in other cases the announcements were less immediate and less urgent that we were lead to believe, as the press reported.) Those are the cases that could be interpreted as politically motivated, especially when they seemed to coincide with political news and events unfavorable to the administration.
    Opportunistically-timed, "immediate" alerts based on faulty data...yes, it does seem reasonable to consider political motivation as a possible factor at play.

    Suspicions of political motivations for the latest terror alert are being loudly voiced in the British press, not that their statements are being reported in the US media.
    Writing in a London newspaper on Aug. 7, the British counterterror chief asked acidly: "Is that really the job of a senior cabinet minister in charge of counter-terrorism? To feed the media? To increase concern? Of course not. This is arrant nonsense."

    According to press reports, the Bush administration's closest allies in the Blair government were "dismayed by the nakedly political use made of recent intelligence breakthroughs both in the U.S. and in Pakistan." The Brits simply didn't believe there was any imminent threat justifying a public alert.
    Thankfully, thee Brits currently demonstrate a higher resistance to cognitive dissonance than we do on this side of the puddle.

    In the most frightening moment in this saga, to bolster their questionable claims for the heightened terror alert, the Bush administration outed their Al Qaeda informant--a double agent working for the US inside Al Qaeda.
    There is no question about who perpetrated the leak. On Aug. 8, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice admitted that the administration had disclosed Khan's arrest to The Times "on background." Experts around the world are still astonished by this reckless decision.

    "The whole thing smacks of either incompetence or worse," said Tim Ripley, a security expert who writes for Jane's Defense publications. "You have to ask: what are they doing compromising a deep mole within al Qaeda, when it's so difficult to get these guys in there in the first place?"

    ...In a war against terrorist groups that have proved nearly impossible to penetrate with human agents, the loss of such a well-placed turncoat could prove tragic.
    The Bush Administration is on record here: there is zero question that they outed a valuable intelligence asset and sabotaged not just our own investigations but also intelligence operations by Britain and Pakistan. New York Senator Charles E. Schumer has called for an investigation into the Whitehouse-initiated security leak.

    Terrorizing the American citizenry for political gain is more than arrant nonsense. It is a form cynical exploitation and power profiteering. BushCo's "War on Terror" is happy to make friendly fire casualties out of American civil liberties, truth, and now even national security...as along as BushCo comes out on top.

    Crossposted from BOPnews.