Saturday, April 15, 2006

Open Letter to MaryScott OConnor


I contemplated writing this in a private email, but I decided to go public.

I love you to death, MSOC. And I love your rants. And I don't want this to come across as insulting in any way. But we need to realize when we're being used. And MSOC, I hate to say it, but you're being used.

There's a reason, MSOC, that John Gibson sets you up to be the radical left on a staged "blue-on-blue" debate, and then says that the entire Democratic Party gets its talking points from you. In this artificial "debate", MSOC, you did extremely well. You spoke with calm clarity, armed with the truth. But unfortunately, it didn't really matter whether or not the "moderate Dem" had agreed with you or not, because as Gibson wrote to his supporters, the upshot was that it's the "angry left" voice that controls the party. As if anybody controls the party, right?

That was a good showing, MSOC. But this Washington Post article? This is a completely different kettle of fish. I love you to death, MSOC, I really do. But I simply can't see how you can possibly view this WaPo article on you as anything other than it really is:


It's a hit piece, MSOC. It's a walking front page attack ad. It portrays you as the spiritual leader of a vicious, vacuous, religion-hating online community that can think of nothing better to do other than discuss creative ways of watching Bush die. For the love of everything that is both sacred and profane, all you need to do is look at the quotations that the author cited.

There is no creativity here. No sense of purpose. There is mention of a vague, unspecified rant about the outrage of Darfur which, by implication, is long on ire and short on effect. And commenters who do nothing but parrot back the angry phraseology.

The Washington Post ran this attack ad front and center, MSOC, and it's no secret why. We've humiliated the Washington Post on numerous occasions, so it's no surprise that they're doing their absolute best to discredit our sphere.

And that's exactly what they tried to use you for, MSOC. Almost all Democrats who read that piece in the Post and had no idea what we were all about is going to get an impression of our community that is a 180-degree turn away from the truth. Any politician who reads that article as their first introduction to Daily Kos and MLW certainly won't take us seriously.

MSOC, you may agree with everything in that article. You may agree with every characterization of yourself in that article. But please, please, I hope you and others have the ability to see no matter how you may like it, this "profile" is a declaration of war against our power and purpose.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Grandma to McCain: "You have no excuse"

Perhaps, as we seek for ways to energize the base and convince people to vote, and vote for Democrats, we should take a lesson from a particular grandmother in Concord, N.H.--evidently a fiscal conservative fed up with the current manifestation of the Republican Party.

The Hartford Courant reports that Jean Diamond challenged McCain at a town hall meeting on the commitment of Republicans to the principles of fiscal conservatism.

I'm not getting anything I really need and my grandchildren are getting saddled with $9 trillion in debt," said Diamond, a Keene retiree. "Why should I vote Republican?"

McCain gave a lame, snide answer:

Because, McCain replied, Democrats have also voted to increase federal spending. "Maybe," the Arizona Republican suggested, "you should vote for the vegetarians."

Diamond was not amused:

"Republicans are in charge of three Houses," she snapped back. "You have no excuse."

And then McCain overtly expressed regrets that he didn't resort to Bush-style town hall tactics:

"I knew we should have cut this thing off."

I point this out for a variety of reasons. The primary implication of this exchange, of course--as well as the rest of the Courant article, which I encourage you to read--is that McCain will certainly have a hard time maintaining his "maverick" image while overtly kowtowing to the "tax cuts, guns, and rich butterfat" policies of the "brand W" base.

But the second implication--and one I find far more compelling beyond the immediate realities of McCain's 2008 bid--is that in this, I find a response to the question of how we get people to vote Democratic:


That one phrase has a lot of power. They've been in charge of the Senate, the House and the Presidency combined for 6 YEARS. Now, they even control the judiciary. But they have accomplished nothing for America. "Brand W" has been ready, willing, and unfortunately, very able to blame its failures on Democrats. Their failed war policy is the product of our much-belated dissent. Their failed economic policies are the product of our refusal to submit to their plutocratic reform plans. Their failed security policy is a result of our opposition to the PATRIOT Act. Their inability to pass sensible immigration reform is the fault of one man named Harry Reid. Their inability to deal with energy is the fault of our caribou-loving, America-hating wacko environmentalists who oppose ANWR drilling.

No matter where you go or what policy you're looking at, Republicans have successfully blamed the Democrats for blocking the implementation of what would otherwise, in their view, have been successful policies. And it has worked because they have said so, and we have not stopped them.

We don't even spend our time talking about the issues any more. We talk about scandals. We talk about Plame. Niger. Delay. NSA wiretapping. Iraq intelligence. Every single other scandal that has come down the pipe that I hope you'll forgive me for not mentioning.

That's all well and good. That's fine. The public deserves to know. We need to have investigations of these issues. But these issues alone won't convince the electorate of the need for a groundswell revolution that puts Democrats into power. Instead, what we've actually seen is a scandal fatigue that saps the electorate of its enthusiasm for the political process at large.

These scandals won't carry us. But I think that this message--YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE FOR VOTING REPUBLICAN--actually has a shot.

Imagine a unified message from our Democratic candidates and leaders:

They have controlled the executive and legislative branches for 6 years straight, and they have accomplished nothing for America. Nothing on education. Nothing on immigration. Nothing on energy policy. Nothing on healthcare. Nothing on security. Nothing on fiscal responsibility. Terrorism has increased, not decreased. Nuclear proliferation has increased at a rapid rate. The debt is at $9 trillion dollars. You can't even contemplate that amount of money. and all of it has happened under a Republican President, with Republican majorities in both houses. The Republicans have no excuse. And if you care about these issues, you have no excuse for voting Republican. They haven't led on these issues, but we will, and here's how:

(insert DNC security strategy here)

Imagine if our leaders came out and said that. We all know that if you care about sensible immigration reform that protects children, if you care about healthcare costs, if you care about terrorism, if you care about proliferation, if you care about our national debt, if you care about our economy--IF YOU CARE ABOUT OUR COUNTRY AT LARGE--you already know that there is no excuse to vote Republican.

So why doesn't the rest of the country? I don't know. Why don't you all go tell them? And tell them this way. Because I think it'll work.

[Cross-posted at Daily Kos]

"A well-trained sheep"

That's what Hunter at RedState called me in response to my entry concerning the article by Hitchens.

Here's my reply:

you don't even know me, and you all do yourselves a disservice to believe stuff like this.

What do you really think? You really think that Kos, or Mary Scott O'Connor, gives us marching orders, and we all fall in line? The only thing that point of view shows, Hunter, is that you don't spend much time in the liberal side of the blogosphere, because if you did, you'd understand that we don't do marching orders.

I actually use my brain to write. Need I mention what happened with the GOP Blog, Ken Mehlman, and the phrase "prive retirement accounts"? It's your side that needs all the message control it can get. And to be honest, our party would probably do better if we were all trained sheep that focused exclusively on the same message, but that idea would violate the fundamental ethic of what we're about, which is why it will never happen.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

CA-50: returns

Go here.

I don't think Busby will get 50%. I'm expecting 44% myself.

Hitchens, Iraq, Niger, Uranium, Wilson and RedState

Christopher Hitchens is apparently taking advantage of his increasingly infrequent periods of sobriety by continuing to write articles for Slate justifying his initial support of the Iraq War. In his latest he argues that Iraq did, in fact, seek to purchase uranium from Niger in the form of yellowcake.

The good folks at RedState, led by Mark Kilmer, are using this as evidence to promulgate their JoeWilsonLiedAndOutedHisOwnWife™ worldview.

So what's really going on here?

First, let's start off by quoting Hitchens' article.

In February 1999, Zahawie left his Vatican office for a few days and paid an official visit to Niger, a country known for absolutely nothing except its vast deposits of uranium ore. It was from Niger that Iraq had originally acquired uranium in 1981, as confirmed in the Duelfer Report. In order to take the Joseph Wilson view of this Baathist ambassadorial initiative, you have to be able to believe that Saddam Hussein's long-term main man on nuclear issues was in Niger to talk about something other than the obvious. Italian intelligence (which first noticed the Zahawie trip from Rome) found it difficult to take this view and alerted French intelligence (which has better contacts in West Africa and a stronger interest in nuclear questions). In due time, the French tipped off the British, who in their cousinly way conveyed the suggestive information to Washington. As everyone now knows, the disclosure appeared in watered-down and secondhand form in the president's State of the Union address in January 2003.

How many problems can you find in this paragraph? I'll name you a couple.

Problem 1: If you're interested in clandestinely purchasing material with which you intend to build a nuclear bomb under the nose of U.N. inspectors, I find it highly unlikely that you would send your top envoy with nuclear expertise on a multi-day official visit with a country known for nothing but uranium ore. This leaves us with two options: either the Ba'athists were not concerned about secrecy, or they weren't there to negotiate a uranium purchase.

Problem 2: "the disclosure appeared in watered-down...form in the President's State of the Union address." Did it now? Because last time I checked, the only thing Christopher Hitchens came up with is that Zawahie went to Niger. I didn't see Christopher Hitchens proving that there was an attempted purchase, much less an actual agreement. And yet, those famous 16 words in the SotU address were:

"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

Say it with me loud and clear: CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS IS LYING.

Let's move on to another part of Hitchens' continuous act of desperation--the forgery part.

A NATO investigation has identified two named employees of the Niger Embassy in Rome who, having sold a genuine document about Zahawie to Italian and French intelligence agents, then added a forged paper in the hope of turning a further profit. The real stuff went by one route to Washington, and the fakery, via an Italian journalist and the U.S. Embassy in Rome, by another. The upshot was—follow me closely here—that a phony paper alleging a deal was used to shoot down a genuine document suggesting a connection.

OK. In that case, then, where the heck is the genuine document? It's hilarious to me how the Conservatives factions ridiculed the "the document is fake, but the content is real" meme that was used for the Bush TANG documents, only to have Hitchens pull this one right here. Notice how Hitchens very carefully says "a genuine document about Zawahie." He doesn't mention what the document says or what it proves--nor does he mention why, if the "real stuff went to Washington" as he claims, the real stuff hasn't turned up yet--because given Bush's declassification of the NIE, you can bet that anything at all that our government had that could be used to disprove Joe Wilson's editorial would have been leaked to the public at some point.

But everything I've written about Hitchens here, despite how repulsive it may be, doesn't get to the heart of a larger question: Why are we talking about yellowcake from Niger at all?

You see, Iraq already had several hundred tons of low-enriched uranium yellowcake within its borders just 30 miles south of Baghdad at Tuwaitha. After the 1991 Gulf War, the IAEA decided that this material was so dangerous that they...LEFT IT IN IRAQ UNDER SEAL FOR SAFE KEEPING. Why? Because--let's not get too technical here--it's damn hard to get bomb-ready fissile material from yellowcake. You need a variety of sophisticated equipment, none of which Iraq had or was allowed to get. (Your other option for why the IAEA left the material in Iraq is because they hate America and want to see the world destroyed--but I'll leave that decision up to you.

So, the point remains once again: given that Iraq already had 500 tons of yellowcake in their country, why the heck would they have needed more from Niger? And if they did want more from Niger for some reason, why go about it in such a stupid fashion?

And as a last little parting shot--while Christopher Hitchens and his merry band of neoconservative followers invaded Iraq and got over 2,300 of our soldiers killed, tens of thousands of Iraqis killed, and spent hundreds of billions of precious tax dollars getting us bogged down in an occupation based primarily on the speculation of what was discussed on an envoy's trip to Niger--while all that was going on, a nation that engages in "death to America" protests every year on the anniversary of its revolution has started enriching uranium right under your noses--and the posturing of the neocon PNAC crew has left us powerless to do anything sensible about it.

So in conclusion--thank you, Christopher Hitchens. What spectucular colossal foreign policy failure would you like to try your hand at justifying next?

[Cross-posted at Daily Kos]

Prodi Wins!

The parliament is still being decided, but it looks like Prodi will be Italy's new PM.

The fact that a challenger could beat an incumbent when the incumbent owns all the TV stations is an amazing fact in and of itself, but I'll save that analysis for those who actually know something about Italian electoral politics. What I'm waiting for is for the American conservative right to go talking to Berlusconi, telling him not to harm and divide his country by asking for excessive recounts, telling him repeatedly and insistently to get over it because Prodi is the new Prime Minister, and to stop being a sore loser in general.

Oh yeah, I forgot: just like Rossi and Gregoire in the Washington gubernatorial contest, recounts are good if they can help the right, because the people deserve the truth, but bad if they can help the left, because then--and apparently only then--they divide the country and create unnecessary acrimony.

Pejman Yousefzadeh is a plutocratic twit.

Check out his entry on RedState, wherein he takes Kevin Drum to task for complaining about the exponential increase in rates of CEO compensation vs. employee compensation.

Pejman's take?
If CEO compensation has gone overboard, I trust the stockholders to do something about it."

First off, CEO compensation is most certainly already overboard, when compared with the share the workers take home. But furthermore, when you have an incestuous board of directors that feeds at the same trough, and a great bulk of the shares are owned by the big brokerage firms, what power does your average private shareholder really have to effectuate change?

Pejman just doesn't seem to get that an unregulated free market is manipulable by the collusion of powerful interests. Or maybe he does understand it, and he likes it that way, so that it can be him if he ever gets there.