Saturday, February 12, 2005

The Doctor Is In

Wow. Just... wow. I backed Simon Rosenberg for DNC chair over Dean, but I'm still glad a Reform Democrat won in the end over a laundry list of entrenched Washington insiders and other sundry knuckleheads.

The Republicans are laughing loudly at our pick, either pretending to sympathize with our folly or downright believing it. One way or the other, they're dead wrong about Howard Dean. As I've written a million times at this site, Howard Dean rose to prominence as a strident critic of the Iraq war, but as Governor of the rural Vermont, he was nothing but a pragmatic centrist, cooperating more often with his state's Republicans than its strong third party Progressives. The media have done a bang up job of making Dean look like a loon, but the fact of the matter is that he was a Democrat for balanced budgets way before it was fashionable and, on Iraq, the American people have since come around to his position as well.

Here's Dean today in his own words:

Standing up for our beliefs... organizing... and transforming our party into a grassroots organization that can win in all 50 states: That's how we will rebuild the Democratic Party.

We will rebuild our Party because only we are the party of reform. Republicans can stop progress, but only Democrats can start it again.

And we will rebuild our Party because our greatest strength is something the Republicans can and will never match — the diversity represented in this room.

Look around — we look like America. We are America. Republicans stop progress, but only Democrats start it.

It's going to take a lot of work. And I'm going to be asking a lot of all of you. It is not my chairmanship; it is ours.

Election by election... State by state... Precinct by precinct... Door by door... Vote by vote...

We're going to take this country back for the people who built it.
I, for one, am excited to be here for the party's rebirth, and I wish Chairman Dean all the best.

posted by Scott | 2/12/2005 | |

Friday, February 11, 2005

Meaningless Numbers

Was anybody polling this early in the '04 cycle? How about '96, since that was the last time a sitting President could not be re-elected the next go 'round? I have no idea. All I know is that these numbers from Gallup are virtually pointless this early on.

Hillary Clinton leads the Democratic pack with 40%, followed by John Kerry with 25% and John Edwards at 17%. And that's it. No Mark Warner, no Evan Bayh, no Joe Biden, no Russ Feingold, no Bill Richardson. (By the way, I forgot to mention the other day, Richardson wants to run.) Hell, not even Barack Obama, who won't run anyway, but since when does the media care about reality?

For the GOP, equally stupid numbers. The homosexual-loving, Kerik buddy Giuliani at 34%, the by-then-72-year old John McCain with 29%, because Americans love a dynasty Jeb Bush at 12%, and the-more-boring-than-John Kerry Bill Frist follows up with 6%. Again, no Chuck Hagel, no Richard Lugar, no Condi Rice (not that I think she's going to run), no George Allen, no Tim Pawlenty, etc. (Excuse my extreme sarcasm on this side, as it's not meant to be mean -- I'm only trying to point out that this candidate pool isn't very well thought out. The Democratic list isn't either, but at least their picks for our side sort of make sense.)

These pollsters should either stop joking around with this popularity contest crap and include some serious contenders or just stop polling all together until this race comes a bit clearer into view.

posted by Scott | 2/11/2005 | |

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Gannon/Guckert And The White House Media Machine

Have you all been following this story? It's absolutely nuts. I tend to gloss over really ubiquitous stories because you don't need me telling you things you already know. However, the Jeff Gannon/James Guckert story is a frightening example of just how sick our media scene has truly become.

Atrios did a pretty good job of summarizing the story thusly:

Partisan operative with no background in journalism, whose work frequently involves passing off RNC press releases as his own stories, is allowed to be a part of White House press briefings day after day, operating under a pseudonym, providing a regular lifeline for Scott McClellan and making it difficult for other reporters to get answers to serious questions.
As he also points out, it's been exposed that Gannon/Guckert has also been involved with military-themed gay pornography and/or prostitution at some point in the not-too-distant past. Now, the bloggers have had a bit of fun with this, as the 'conservative reporter by day'/'gay porn peddler' by night dichotomy is inherently ironic. But the media is making way more of that angle than anyone of the left has. (Go figure, a juicy political sex story makes the news.)

Aside from the fact that Scott McClellan and the White House communications team was clearly using him as a press stooge, the real question from our side is how 'Jeff Gannon' received press credentials with a fake name. He was in the White House, walking around with a pass with a fake name. So the idea that the White House somehow wasn't aware of Gannon being a fraud... not really so believable. (Just ask conservative columnist Bruce Bartlett). And to the extent that their protestations might be in earnest, then it's just downright scary from a security point of view.

Anyway, pick up the coverage at Salon, CNN, New York Daily News, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Media Matters, and the hard working Susan G's diary at dKos.

Oddly, Drudge has no mention of the story.


What an idiot. Gannon/Guckert went on TV today claiming that a small army of obsessed liberals have been following him to church. As Atrios points out, his real identity wasn't made public until Monday night, so unless he was going to church on Tuesday morning... he's lying.

For those who might offer the Ash Wednesday explanation, Atrios has that covered as well:

Now, we could imagine that he's Catholic and one of those two holidays is Ash Wednesday, but Ash Wednesday happened after he announced that he quit, so, it's hard to imagine that people following him to church after he quit was the reason he quit...
Duh. Just... duh.

By the way, since I forgot to mention it above, Gan/Guck was also involved pretty heavily with the Valerie Plame outing, which would mean that a pretty high-level White House official had to have given him a copy of the Plame/Wilson memo.

Again, either they knew he was a stooge or they didn't know they were giving classified material to someone in the White House under a false identity. Either way, it's not good.


Drudge finally has the story, characterizing the situation as "liberal media activists... feigning outrage." Ummm... Why would we be 'feigning' it? It's pretty outrageous.

Feigning outrage over, say, our look-the-other-way policy towards Saudi Arabia? I can maybe cop to some 'feigning' there. After all, I don't know too many fellow Democrats who would like Bush to invade Mecca.

But there is no 'feigning' going on with Gan/Guck.

If there's one silver lining to the whole thing, it's got to be that I've never seen Drudge let his bias show this blatantly. The only reason I can figure he would be this riled up is that he perceives this to be a liberal assault on a fellow gay right-wing new media hack. But who knows...

posted by Scott | 2/10/2005 | |

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Sen. Dayton Not Running For Re-Election

This is big news, for sure, but not necessarily bad news...

Minnesota Sen. Mark Dayton, a first-term Democrat atop the Republicans' 2006 target list, said Wednesday he won't run for re-election next year.

"I do not believe that I am the best candidate to lead the party to victory next year," Dayton told reporters on a conference call. "I cannot stand to do the constant fund raising necessary to wage a successful campaign, and I cannot be an effective senator while also being a nearly full-time candidate."
The fundraising stuff, while it sounds good and noble, is BS. Dayton was likely going to lose. And that is why I say that Dayton not running for re-election is not necessarily a bad thing.

Minnesota has a long progressive history and the state's voters still lean Democratic on the issues. However, with the Democratic message machine sputtering over the course of the last few years and its Republican counterpart running at full throttle, seats that should be blue have gone red. In Minnesota specifically, this trend began with the death of Paul Wellstone in 2002 and his opponent (and former Democrat) Norm Coleman's victory over last-minute replacement, former Senator and Vice President Walter Mondale. In 2006, Dayton definitely would have contributed to this worrisome trend.

By not seeking re-election, Dayton is doing Democrats a huge favor. The GOP was prepared to dump millions into this race, blasting Dayton for a variety of reasons, some fairly legitimate. Now it will be a race for an open seat. The only question is who the Democrats are going to run.

Hmmm... I wonder what Mondale's been up to lately?

posted by Scott | 2/09/2005 | |

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

The American Conservative Drops The F-Bomb

No, not the four-letter F-bomb. The one that's much, much worse -- the seven-letter one. Fascism.

But Rockwell (and Roberts and Raimondo) is correct in drawing attention to a mood among some conservatives that is at least latently fascist. Rockwell describes a populist Right website that originally rallied for the impeachment of Bill Clinton as "hate-filled ... advocating nuclear holocaust and mass bloodshed for more than a year now." One of the biggest right-wing talk-radio hosts regularly calls for the mass destruction of Arab cities. Letters that come to this magazine from the pro-war Right leave no doubt that their writers would welcome the jailing of dissidents. And of course it's not just us. When USA Today founder Al Neuharth wrote a column suggesting that American troops be brought home sooner rather than later, he was blown away by letters comparing him to Tokyo Rose and demanding that he be tried as a traitor. That mood, Rockwell notes, dwarfs anything that existed during the Cold War. "It celebrates the shedding of blood, and exhibits a maniacal love of the state. The new ideology of the red-state bourgeoisie seems to actually believe that the US is God marching on earth—not just godlike, but really serving as a proxy for God himself."
I'm not 100% sure what I make of this, but the idea that people on the right are in the least bit worried about this does indeed freak me out quite a bit.

posted by Scott | 2/08/2005 | |

Monday, February 07, 2005

The Bush Budget

I'm pretty much stunned. All this time, I've been wondering if Bush was an economic libertarian Republican, cutting taxes because he thinks it's the right thing to do, or a starve-the-beast, kill the New Deal Norquist Republican, cutting taxes to cut revenues to choke spending on public services.

I'm sad to say that, just a few weeks into his second term, we now know that he's the latter. Need proof?

The spending cuts Bush is proposing amount to six percent of the budget deficit. By contrast, Bush's tax cuts make up fifty percent of the deficit.

I'm absolutely speechless, but I'll try to muster up some words later on this week.

posted by Scott | 2/07/2005 | |

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Jonah Goldberg Is An Ass

I'm not a big fan of the, "hey, you support the war so why aren't you fighting it?" argument. It's not because I don't agree with the fundamental logic of it, because I do. It's really more a matter of there being many reasons a person might not want or be able to join the military in a combat capacity. For example, I have an oddball blood disorder that would make me somewhat of a liability on the battlefield. So I have a tendency to give people the benefit of the doubt.

There's a somewhat high-profile (for the blogosphere, anyway) dust up between Middle East expert Juan Cole and right wing commentator Jonah Goldberg over Cole publishing a reader e-mail that wondered why Goldberg's "sorry ass isn't in the kill zone" if he's such a supporter of the war. Typically, I'd shrug and move on to a real issue, but Goldberg's answer is particularly insulting.

As for why my sorry a** isn't in the kill zone, lots of people think this is a searingly pertinent question. No answer I could give -- I'm 35 years old, my family couldn't afford the lost income, I have a baby daughter, my a** is, er, sorry, are a few -- ever seem to suffice.
For my money, that doesn't even come close to sufficing.

Already, examples are pouring out of the woodwork of thirty-something parents fighting and dying in Iraq. Atrios features just one of these soldiers, 31-year-old Spc. Eric Ramirez. Ramirez was killed in a RPG and small arms assault on February 12, 2004. He had two children, a two year old daughter and a two month old son.

From my state of New Jersey alone, I was able to find information about four servicemen in their thirties who were killed in Iraq, leaving children fatherless back home. Thirty year old Army Captain Michael Yury Tarlavsky, father of a 10 month old son, was killed in Najaf on August 12, 2004. Thirty-six year old Marine Sergeant Alan D. Sherman was killed by roadside bomb on June 29, 2004, leaving behind two sons, ten and seven. Army Sergeant First Class Gladimir Philippe, thirty seven, was killed in action almost exactly one year earlier, on June 28, 2003. His son should be about twelve years old now. And thirty nine year old Army Staff Sergeant Terry W. Hemingway was killed in action on April 10, 2003 and is survived by his three children, one eleven year old son and two daughters, nine and seven.

Last May, the LA Times ran a story on the financial difficulties National Guardsmen serving in Iraq were facing:

The deployment of citizen soldiers is the largest such effort since World War II; it is also one of the longest. Today, reservists and guardsmen are facing tours in Iraq as long as 20 months, as well as repeat deployments.

As a result, many soldiers have drained their savings to support their families while they are gone. Some have lost their homes. Others have lost their jobs at small businesses, which say they can't afford to keep the positions open — even though they're breaking the law. And numerous small-business owners have shut down their companies or have had to declare bankruptcy.
Desperate for help, reservists and National Guard soldiers have flooded state and federal agencies with questions about bankruptcy protection, loan programs and rights in the workplace.
It's just an educated guess, but I'd imagine Jonah Goldberg is far more well-heeled than your average National Guardsman. If his family "couldn't afford the lost income," how does he think others can?

Goldberg's defense also makes me think about my sister-in-law's best friend. She is a single mother in her thirties. I have no idea what her political take on the war is, but I do know that she's been in Iraq for months now, doing her duty away from her life in the states, away from her child. Thankfully, she's very much alive. I seriously doubt she's one of the only thirty-something parents left in Iraq.

Were Jonah to have said, 'hey, I'm a writer, not a fighter', this would be a complete non-issue to me. But this 'but I'm in my thirties and I have a baby and the military doesn't pay enough' excuse is a total load of selfish crap.

Quite simply, Jonah Goldberg is an ass.

posted by Scott | 2/06/2005 | |
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