Saturday, May 07, 2005

Defining Torture Down

It never ceases to amaze me the ways the GOP tries to change the rules to suit their goals. The filibuster shouldn't be applied to judges. To qualify for overtime, you can't make more than $20,000 a year. For tax cuts, if you make $100,000 a year, you're middle class. For Social Security, if you make $100,000 a year, you're rich. The list goes on and on and on.

Take Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, for example. Gonzales is perhaps most famous for authoring torture memos, which say that torturing prisoners is just fine, as long as the prisoners are designated 'enemy combatants'. GOP apologists have always contended that the memos weren't really meant to condone torture, but rather to explain the legal ins-and-outs of condoning torture, if it were necessary. Or something like that.

Gonzales now seems to be running with the right wing blogosphere logic for condoning torture. Yesterday in Texas, he said that torture, or what many people think is torture, isn't really torture. This is the type of crap I expect from the crowd at Little Green Footballs, not the supposed upholder of the American Constitution. From the AP by way of Moxiegrrl...

"Congress intended a very high bar here in order to be prosecuted for engaging in torture," he said Friday during a visit to Houston. "There may be conduct that you may find offensive that falls far short of torture."
"This president has said consistently that the United States does not condone torture and does not as a matter of policy engage in torture, and if anyone is in violation of the president's directive or the law, they will be held accountable," he said.
I'd love to find out what they'd consider torture nowadays...

posted by Scott | 5/07/2005 | |

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The Next Big Thing

In 2004, there were a number of cool little internet tools candidates and campaigns used to their advantage. The most obvious was MeetUp, of course, but by the fall, the political scene had bled well into Friendster and MySpace as well.

It was only a matter of time before politicians found another website to exploit for fun and political profit. The blue ribbon goes to Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, who now has his own Flickr account.

While I've given Bayh mixed reviews in the past -- he's too much of a 'please everyone' moderate, but he's also stood up for progressive principles at key times when the chips were down -- I've got to say this Flickr page is one of the more ridiculous things I've ever seen a political candidate take part in. (Then again, I'm talking about people who flip flapjacks for crowds of farmers just to get primary votes, so is it really the most ridiculous?)

The photos are pretty standard campaign material fodder. Senator Bayh loves his kids! Senator Bayh loves the American flag! Senator Bayh cares about minorities! Senator Bayh is holding court in serious conversation! Senator Bayh plays sports! Senator Bayh is at home on the factory floor!

There's nothing wrong with that as far as campaign materials go, but for a Flickr account? Come on. Flickr isn't a site where you post a bunch of photos of yourself. If Bayh himself snapped a few digital shots of folks he meets around the country and then posted them along with some other photos of himself and his family, it would be much more effective. That would tell us that Evan Bayh is both a normal guy who actually cares about the people he meets and the stories he hears and someone who's hip to the newest technology. Sure, the David Brooks' of the world would argue that understanding of something like Flickr make one an elitist snob, but that's more condescending to rural red staters than anything Teresa Heinz ever said.

As it is, Bayh's site feels exploitive, fake, and plastic. There's no reason to use a tool like Flickr if you're going to strip all of the warmth and charm from it. Also, by loading up each photo with a huge number of tags like 'patriot', 'flag', and 'America', Bayh is quite likely turning off the very people he's trying to attract.

So while I give Bayh -- or rather, his people, since it's clear this isn't a homegrown website -- credit for being open to new uses of technology to reach out to voters, I have to give him a C- for execution.

Now I'd love to see what a guy like Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer could accomplish with a Flickr account...

(Cross-Posted at

posted by Scott | 5/04/2005 | |
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