Friday, January 21, 2005

Dear Bush Supporters...

Yesterday, I criticized the protesters who I felt were out of line at the inaugural. I didn't like it, but at least I could understand the motivation -- they lost and it's hard to lose.

But what the hell explains this?

Nor has the other side forgotten Kerry. When the former candidate emerged on the West Front of the Capitol yesterday morning and his smiling image was broadcast, the crowd booed and groaned. One man could be heard to call out, "Loser!"
You know, it's funny... All I hear from the mainstream media is how us Democrats lost in November because we're angry, mean, and hateful, while Republicans are honest, God-fearing, salt of the earth-type folk.

So I'd like to take this opportunity to personally thank all of the Bush supporters who vocalized their disgust with John Kerry at yesterday's inaugural for showing the nation some good ol' fashioned Red voter hospitality. Once again, what's the point?

posted by Scott | 1/21/2005 | |

Peggy Noonan Takes On Bush's Speech

When Dubya's lost Nooners, you know he's in trouble.

It's one thing for me to think that Bush's second inaugural address was overly vague, overly flowery, and full of meaningless platitudes. While listening to it, I often found myself wondering, yeah... who the hell would argue with the idea that freedom is a good thing? But I don't like the guy to begin with, so I chalked it up to bias.

Imagine my surprise when I found myself reading some of these statements coming from the pen of Peggy Noonan.

The inaugural address itself was startling. It left me with a bad feeling, and reluctant dislike.
The president's speech seemed rather heavenish. It was a God-drenched speech. This president, who has been accused of giving too much attention to religious imagery and religious thought, has not let the criticism enter him. God was invoked relentlessly. "The Author of Liberty." "God moves and chooses as He wills. We have confidence because freedom is the permanent hope of mankind . . . the longing of the soul."

It seemed a document produced by a White House on a mission.
The speech did not deal with specifics--9/11, terrorism, particular alliances, Iraq. It was, instead, assertively abstract.

"We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands." "Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self government. . . . Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation's security, and the calling of our time." "It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in the world."

Ending tyranny in the world? Well that's an ambition, and if you're going to have an ambition it might as well be a big one. But this declaration, which is not wrong by any means, seemed to me to land somewhere between dreamy and disturbing. Tyranny is a very bad thing and quite wicked, but one doesn't expect we're going to eradicate it any time soon. Again, this is not heaven, it's earth.
"Renewed in our strength--tested, but not weary--we are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom."

This is--how else to put it?--over the top. It is the kind of sentence that makes you wonder if this White House did not, in the preparation period, have a case of what I have called in the past "mission inebriation." A sense that there are few legitimate boundaries to the desires born in the goodness of their good hearts.

One wonders if they shouldn't ease up, calm down, breathe deep, get more securely grounded. The most moving speeches summon us to the cause of what is actually possible. Perfection in the life of man on earth is not.
So for those keeping score at home, that's "startling," "God-drenched," "this is not heaven, it's earth," and "over the top." If one of Dubya's best buds in the conservative elite walked away with these impressions, what did middle America think?

For me, this is the beginning of the affirmation of what I've been saying since November 3. The Republican Party, and the Bush administration in particular, are going to overreach. Bush won largely because Kerry failed to make the case for himself and now has one of the lowest post-election approval ratings ever. And yet, in every interview, at every press conference, he talks about his political capital and how his election win (the smallest re-election margin in history) was proof that the American people support him whole-heartedly. And much of his party seems to believe the same thing. It's a recipe for disaster.

What Noonan is saying in her column is basically the same thing. The ruling party is quite full of itself at the moment and can't quite seem to see the forest for the trees. They've convinced themselves that any and all criticism is Bush-hate and that it should not be listened to. They are determined to march onward no matter what the cost, no matter what the obstacles may be. It's one thing to keep an eye on the horizon, but you've got to keep an eye on the road as well.

It should be a very interesting four years.

posted by Scott | 1/21/2005 | |

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Dear Protesters...

I understand you don't like President Bush. I'm not a big fan, either. But standing up in the middle of his inaugural address to shout 'stop the war' and (my personal favorite) 'booooo'... I don't know, man. I just don't think you accomplished much beyond making yourself look like an ass, making anybody who opposes Bush look like asses-by-proxy, and making the 'FOUR MORE YEARS' crowd look reasonable.

Nice work.

Lest anybody doubt my commitment to the First Amendment, I had no problem with the 'Turn Your Back on Bush' protest. That's exactly the type of peaceful, somber, non-violent protest that is hard to assail from a 'not the way their parents raised them' angle.

But trying to shout down the guy during his inaugural speech? What's the point?

posted by Scott | 1/20/2005 | |

Gingrich On Social Security: "This Is Not A Crisis"

Hey, if Republicans can start citing reports issued by government bureaucracies, I can certainly cite Newt Gingrich.

Even Newt Gingrich, the Republican former speaker of the House of Representatives and a supporter of private accounts, says, "The combination of higher birth rates and more immigration makes the United States the healthiest of developed nations. This is not a crisis."
Wow. Who knew ol' Newt would be supporting our position when it comes to Social Security?

(Via Josh Marshall.)

posted by Scott | 1/20/2005 | |

Armitage: Regrets... I've Had A Few

Holy cow, is this guy honest.

In an interview with The Australian, outgoing Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was asked if he had any disappointments or regrets about his tenure in the Bush administration. Totally out of line with the administration's 'don't ask, don't tell' policy on all things negative, he actually had an answer. A few, in fact.

Not a lugubrious person, Armitage doesn't nominate disappointments spontaneously. But he'll answer a question honestly: "I'm disappointed that Iraq hasn't turned out better. And that we weren't able to move forward more meaningfully in the Middle East peace process."
Reading the article, you can almost hear Armitage saying, aw, screw it... I'm quitting anyway, before this next part.

Then, after a minute's pause, he adds a third regret: "The biggest regret is that we didn't stop 9/11. And then in the wake of 9/11, instead of redoubling what is our traditional export of hope and optimism we exported our fear and our anger. And presented a very intense and angry face to the world. I regret that a lot."
Whoa. Those happen to be my thoughts exactly, but... I'm not an employee of the Bush administration. And as Tim points out, "if anybody from the left had said it, they would have been denounced as a traitor and a classic America-hater."

I wouldn't be surprised if Armitage is branded as such by the right wing elites, anyway.

(From The Road To Surfdom by way of dKos.)

posted by Scott | 1/20/2005 | |

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Bill O'Reilly Sees Bloggers In The Bushes

It's time for someone to loosen the straps on his tinfoil hat.

They'll fabricate stuff, they'll make stuff up, they print it. Then they call up their contact at Any Newspaper USA, because they all have contacts in the straight media. Those people, usually in gossip columns, where they can run blind items, they don't have to source, then they print it. Then the Today Show, Good Morning America, all the cables, see it. They talk about it, talk radio sees it, they talk about it, all of a sudden it's true. ... So you've got a defamation pipeline right into Middle America.
Bill O'Reilly was referring, in this conversation with radio host Hugh Hewitt, to liberal bloggers. Neither of them, of course, offered any sort of evidence of this happening, but O'Reilly sees it. There's a vast network of us liberal bloggers, all on the take from George Soros and Hillary Clinton, just making up stories and feeding them to our "contacts in the straight media."

Believe me, Bill, I'd love to be so powerful. But please excuse me if I find this all a little hard to take coming from a published author and television/radio personality. I'm the one running "a defamation pipeline into Middle America"? Yeah. That explains the day job.

I'm with Kos on this. This isn't about liberal or conservative. This is about the media establishment trying to smother blogging in the cradle. By doing actual investigative reporting and by not being afraid to put our necks on the line for what we believe, bloggers are picking up where the safe, homogenized corporate-controlled media have dropped the ball.

Rather than accepting our challenge to do their jobs, many mainstream journalists have decided to view bloggers as a threat. I wish that wasn't the case, but I suspect the blogosphere is prepared to withstand the storm to prove its worth.

posted by Scott | 1/18/2005 | |

Social Security Crisis - Questionable At Best

It's probably not advisable for me to post such personal documents on this site, even as heavily redacted, CIA-style as these are. However, I think it's important to shed some light on the machinery that the chicken littles in the Bush administration are currently using to tell us that, when it comes to Social Security, the sky is falling.

Let's start with page one. So much for the White House promise that "the Social Security Administration would not be asked to promote President George W. Bush's plan to create private investment accounts."

This is, as you may recognize, straight Bush talking points on Social Security privatization. There has been much discussion on the topic of whether or not these talking points have any validity. I, for one, don't believe they do.

But Scott, you plead, how on Earth can you not believe the Social Security actuaries?

Actually, that part is pretty easy. Take a look at the Social Security administration's assessment of my personal financial situation:

Trust me when I say that, right now in 2005, I make way more than $14,269 a year. I know what that number is based on, but it's total rubbish, basing my taxable earnings per year on one very odd year. More importantly, the SSA refuses to take into account that I might... gee, I don't know... get a raise or something.

Here's how Josh Marshall puts it:

... you'll remember that Tim Russert today noted that in 1997 the Social Security actuaries predicated that the Trust Fund would run out in 2029.

Now they say it will run out in 2042, thirteen years later. As we've noted again and again, the forecasting assumptions upon which the predictions are based are fairly pessimistic. So it's not surprising that each time the SSA actuaries revisit their estimates they've pushed them further out into the future since each time there's a little more data that has come in that isn't as feeble as they'd predicated.
It's time for honesty here, people. If you believe Social Security should be privatized, just come out and say so. But please stop pretending there's a crisis. It's just not believable anymore.

posted by Scott | 1/18/2005 | |

Monday, January 17, 2005

Neither Tim Roemer Nor Martin Frost Are Fit To Lead The DNC

By now, you all know that I support Simon Rosenberg for Chair of the DNC -- I'm not going to belabor the point. Let me take a moment to review some of the reasons I absolutely do not support Martin Frost or Tim Roemer for the position.

At a forum held in St. Louis on Saturday by the DNC's Midwest Caucus, 9/11 Commission member and ex-Indiana Rep. Roemer became agitated discussing a memo being circulated around Democratic Party circles highlighting Roemer's anything-but-party-line voting record. He said that "negative campaigning and litmus tests" were to blame for obscuring the reasons he's seeking the chairmanship of the DNC. As outrageous and paranoid as that claim may sound, it doesn't touch this one:

Roemer said Democrats should learn from the Republican Party, which has allowed former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to play prominent roles. Both of them support abortion rights.

"Republicans have a big tent; why can't we?" he asked.
Hey, with money from cash cows like Schwarzenegger, Bloomberg, and Coors, of course they have a big tent -- they can afford it. All joking aside however, to say that "Republicans have a big tent" and that Democrats do not is ridiculous. Roemer is trying to imply here that the sole reason he's being opposed is that he's not pro-choice, and that such opposition means that the Democratic Parts is not inclusive. One wonders then, how Roemer would explain the fact that pro-life Sen. Harry Reid is the leader of the Democrats in the Senate. The fact of the matter is that, to the extent that there is a litmus test one must pass to become DNC Chair, it's not one's views on abortion -- it's that one must be a Democrat.

With that 'litmus test' in mind, how would recently redistricted-out-of-a-job Texas Rep. Martin Frost stack up? Honestly, sensing the redistricting coming, Frost could have probably switched parties and kept his seat. But he fought it out with Pete Sessions as a Democrat and unfortunately lost. I'd support Frost for Senate if he were to make a run, but as Kos points out, Frost doesn't have the solid Democratic credentials needed for a DNC Chairman.

Mr. Frost - running in a mostly Republican district - is trying to appeal to GOP voters in North Dallas.

Some of his campaign commercials show Mr. Sessions being in opposition to President Bush, while portraying himself as a tough, moderate Democrat.

He uses popular Republicans like Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and John McCain of Arizona to make his point. And one ad even casts fellow Democrat Ted Kennedy in the same liberal boogeyman role as some Republicans do.
It's one thing to say, as Frost did in 2004, that he was "proud to stand with President Bush" and against the Democratic Party when he saw fit. That shows independence and open-mindedness, which are damn fine qualities for a legislator. But attacking Ted Kennedy takes it one step further, and that step really disqualifies Frost as a potential DNC Chairman.

Here's Atrios' take on Frost and Roemer, which I completely agree with:

Whatever the job is, it's a job for a partisan. Partisan doesn't necessarily equal mean and nasty, but it does mean someone who doesn't propogate the other side's talking points about your team.
In other words, no Republicans for DNC Chair. Is that too much to ask?

posted by Scott | 1/17/2005 | |
social security
There Is No Crisis: Protecting the Integrity of Social Security
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