Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Why They Lost

Posted: 10 November 2010 in indecision 2010, politics, republicans

Apparently there was some sort of election a few days ago?

I spent the entire day stumping for my state representative, and despite the fact that his win in 2008 over the incumbent Republican was attributed to the Obama surge, he managed to win by a larger percentage against the same opponent this time around.   My polls had solid turnout for a midterm, despite the fact that the district is heavily Democratic.

Of course, what happened in my district apparently didn’t happen nationwide.  A look at the breakdown shows that blue districts where Obama won less than 55% of the vote turned red.  Plain and simple, Democrats failed to get people to the polls.  The narrative that Republicans poured out in droves doesn’t necessarily hold true – voter turnout was down nearly 20% across the board coming off of a Democratic wave in 2008.

So why did Democrats lose?  Why did their base stay away?  Why did Republicans retake the House?

Let me tell you, it wasn’t because they were too progressive.

Also let me tell you, it wasn’t because they were too centrist.

In fact, it had nothing to do with their policies – it had everything to do with message.

Starting in 2006, Democrats managed to seize control of the message, the basic political narrative.  Not necessarily that they were better able to handle things, but simply that Republicans had fucked things up so badly that the only possible solution was to switch parties.  Notice that there weren’t actually a lot of ideas coming out of the Democrats, at least not “Contract With America” style ideas.  Sure, they actually did have a lot of ideas, but they didn’t sell those ideas.  Democrats in 2006 and 2008 simply sold the idea that “Republicans broke this shit. Do you really want to let them keep at it?”

Unfortunately, the Democratic establishment saw that this message was a winner, and ran with it.  In 2010, Tim Kaine unveiled the “Don’t Give Them Back The Keys” campaign slogan.

No, really, that’s what they were trying to sell.  The problem is that after everything that they actually did (or tried to do), they couldn’t even come up with a cohesive “this is why we deserve your vote and they don’t”  message.  They didn’t actually control the message, they just jumped into the stream as it bent toward them for a bit.

Republicans have effectively dominated the political narrative for well over a decade.  They understand the concepts of political theatre, misdirection and blatant falsehood as tools for the maintenance of power.  Sure, those weren’t very effective in 2006 and 2008, but upon closer inspection, they actually were.  Like a bear going dormant, the ass-kicking that they received those years didn’t serve to change them, didn’t serve as a refutation of their message – it simply served as a way to burn off some fat and come out hungry.

Democrats dropped the ball almost as soon as it was handed to them in 2006.  Nancy Pelosi unveiled her “100 Hour Plan,” which was actually a big success, except for the branding and follow-up marketing.  Sure, the House passed all of the legislation she’d promised.  Of that list, five (lobby reform, deficit reduction, 9/11 Commission recommendations, minimum wage hike, and ending tax subsidies for oil companies) went on to get Bush’s signature, while the other three (lower drug prices, stem cell research, more college funding) died in the Senate.  A 63% success rate for the first 8 pieces of legislation that the Democratic tide was elected to enact is pretty amazing, but did they campaign on that?  Marginally.  2008 became a referendum on Bush, which, to be honest, is how the Republicans probably would have played it if it had been the other way around.  The problem comes in 2010.

This year’s campaign was dominated by a single narrative that will sound familiar to voters in 1992:  “It’s the economy, stupid!”  Gone were the Democrat’s salad days of winning through blame.  They’d have to stand on their own record!  Unfortunately, they declined.  Obama and the Democratic Congress have actually achieved a lot that has been good for the economy, but they couldn’t be bothered to tell us about it.  The best they could muster was “they caused this, don’t let them back in!”

Letting the Republicans dominate the message with completely wrong-headed narratives like “we should cut spending in a recession!” is what lost them the election, but the fact that they let the Republicans any manner of control after January 20th, 2009 is what lead up to that.  It was obvious from the very beginning that Obama was going to get nothing but sabotage from the Republicans.  He asked for their help on health care and received ideas from them that were quickly shot down as soon as they were incorporated.  Republicans actually filibustered their own ideas and pinned them on the Democrats.  That Obama, Reid and Pelosi didn’t get the message by May 2009 is what cost them the House in 2010.  Political theatre, Republican Style, could have prevented this, and here’s how:  Filibuster.

Republicans took their 41% majority and used it to control the Senate, requiring every bill to have 60 votes.  Unfortunately, Democrats only had 59, and sometimes members would go rogue, dropping their vote count all the way down to 55.  Every single time this resulted in failed legislation.  They ceded control.  They should have taken it.  If the Republicans wanted to kill legislation with the threat of a filibuster, the Democrats should have called their bluff.  Let Jim Inhofe stand there with a phone book for five hours in order to stall climate change legislation.  Democrats should have been rolling in cots and taking turns talking to any camera they could get in front of about how Republicans were obstructing the people’s business.  Do that once, it’s theatre.  Do it twice, it’s annoying.  Do it correctly three times, and suddenly, America is looking at the Republicans like they’re the asshole that just barfed in the sink.  They either back down, or they start loosing support.  Once numbers get bad enough, they’d have flinched.  Then the real work could have begun.

If there had been actual control of the Senate from May of 2009, health care would have been done (and done better) in August.  Works projects would have been underway.  Spending would have gone up, but the economy would have recovered faster as people got back to work.  Jobs numbers would have started to look less grim.  The Tea Party could have been reduced to a squawk box simply by showing real improvement and a path to deficit reduction.

Democrats also failed to comprehend that Republicans had turned America into a bunch of dimwits.  Anti-intellectualism dominated the landscape.  Therefore, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid were not the best choices for getting the message out.  Grab some Southern Democrats and push them in front of a microphone with this message:

“So, Republicans want to cut spending in a recession.  Sure, that sounds like the right thing to do, but we’re talking about unemployment benefits here.  Employment is the engine that drives the economy.  If your car blows a cylinder, and you’re strapped for cash, do you not figure out a way to fix it in order to get to work?  Do you quit your job because you can’t get there?  No, you suck it up and spend money you might not have, because if you don’t, you’ll have no money at all.  Republicans want to let that car rust in the driveway and let the kids starve.  What we’re doing might not seem perfect, but we’re going to get that car moving again. We’re going to fix this engine, because it’s time to get America back on the road!”

Hammer it home.  Adapt it to “Do you sit in the pit with a blown engine or do you fix it and try to win?” in the NASCAR areas, but don’t let go of that narrative.  Whenever a Republican talks about “belt tightening” and “deficits” and “smaller government,” respond with “you can’t drive to work with a broken-down engine, and it’s not going to fix itself for free.”

Economics and narrative.  That’s what it boils down to.  Now, the Democrats have a smaller margin in the Senate and have lost the House.  There’s only two ways to change that in 2012: change up.

Demand the filibuster, and either take credit for the economy rebounding or blame the Republicans if it doesn’t.  Chances are, it will show remarkable improvement by this time next year, so it is imperative that Democrats do not allow Republicans to claim it was their changes that cause the turnaround.

Will Democrats do that?

Probably not.


Apparently, my citation of facts was too much for Stan Huskey, and he had refused to approve my comment.  I guess it just didn’t fit into the mold of his echo chamber.

This exchange between myself, two of my friends, my sister-in-law, and her husband, happened on my Facebook a few weeks ago. Submitted as-is with only names changed to protect my anonymity.

Còmhradh thinks that if we’re going to demand that Muslims can’t build a shrine in Manhattan (never mind the one that’s already been there for 40 years), then we should demand that there be no Lutheran churches in Jersey City because of the Black Tom incident in World War I that killed 7 Americans, because Wilhelm II was a Luth…eran, and therefore all Lutherans are enemies of America, right?

Friend 1 – On the other hand, America’s been building ‘Ground Zero’ within a couple blocks of mosques all over Iraq and Afghanistan for years now.

BiL – It’s not the fact that they are building it in Manhattan itself. It’s the fact they are building it practically right on ‘Ground Zero’. It’s not about politcs or who is wrong and right with this one. It’s about the 3000 people who died there by Muslim extremist. And being a firemen I wouldn’t want it there to begin with. It’s a slap in the face and not to mention it will cause TONS of issues in the long run that will make it a very bad idea. Our ignorant moron Governor even offered free state land for them to build it on but they won’t do it (the only good thing hes done.) So… yeah… Its a BAD idea and its a slap in the face… Take it down the block away from ‘Ground Zero’

Còmhradh – @BiL – so, you’d feel that strongly if there was a proposal to build a church right a few blocks from Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta or near the site of the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City?

Còmhradh – @Friend 1 – but that’s their fault for living in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Friend 1 – ‎”Yeah, I have a delivery here for Iraq. Can Iraq sign for it? It’s a large box of freedom. …Oh, I’m sorry, I meant explosions. The freedom’s on back order.”

SiL – they just HAVE to build near the world trade center? no sense of remorse for these people that died and those that died to save our those in need. no wonder most of america is against….per CNN

SiL – babbling facts does nothing to justify why they are doing it….thats just senseless facts

Còmhradh – So, the 62 Muslim victims of 9/11 don’t count? Were they also responsible for the attacks simply because they were Muslim? Does that mean every Christian is responsible for the Centennial Olympic Park bombing in 1996?

BiL – I honestly don’t care what most of America is against. Most of America has been against some crazy shit in the past, like women’s suffrage, alcohol, interracial marriage, Catholics…

SiL – neither do i….but thank god most of america has their head on right about it

Friend 1 – There just isn’t enough manufactured controversy out there. It’s a real shame America’s so focused on educating its young people, caring for its veterans and elderly, keeping the work force employed and providing medical care for its citizens. We really need more mosque arguments and video game outrage, because wouldn’t it be terrifying if this privileged, rich, powerful and obnoxiously vocal country actually did something beneficial and useful for its citizens for a change?

Còmhradh – I don’t think anyone’s actually addressing my point here – If we’re going to rage about a “mosque” near Ground Zero, why should we not get up in arms about churches near sites of Christian-based terrorism?

Friend 2 stuff that’s also “right on top of ground zero”

BiL – You want to know why? Because this is the United States of America. You are American before anything else and the freedom you have is what the Muslim Extremist are trying to take away. Ground Zero is a American spot where we lost over 3000 people in an attack that was senseless. Unless of course you agree with that. And putting the Mosque right on top of that heartbreaking spot is ARROGANT and full of IGNORANCE.

BiL – @Friend 2 that stuff was there this is ‘aftermath’ of them building this… ITS A INSULT and as a New Yorker and a Fireman its PATHETIC and I don’t give a shit who I offend with this but if you are for it…. you… are Pathetic

Friend 2 i’m sorry. Iv’e actually read and believe in the constitution and the bill of rights.

Còmhradh@BiL – Yes, and in the United States of America, we have the freedom to place any manner of religious shrine on private property we own, regardless of what other people think. Unless of course you don’t agree that we should have freedom of religion.

BiL – What is arrogant and full of ignorance is this perpetuation that this is a mosque (it is not), lumping all Muslims in this country together with the extremists who attacked us (they are not), and thinking that it’s OK to strip certain groups of people of fundamental rights simply because you don’t like them (it’s not).

Còmhradh@BiL – calm down, sparky. We’re having a rational discussion here.

Friend 2 – way to make my point there sparky.

BiL – First. Fuck Muslims. I don’t give a shit about them after what happened. Second. Believe it or not, this is not about you, this is about the people who died and their families. Its a slap in the face and the Muslim community is trying to make a point……..

Còmhradh – @BiL – if you can’t behave, you don’t get to chime in.

BiL – I am not calm about this @Còmhradh. Its full of liberal idiocy and its a insult to me. So I won’t stop being pissed about this until the subject is closed and the Mosque is elsewhere.

Friend 2 – hey @BiL, it’s not about you. its about freedom and what it means to defend freedom. _THIS_ is what it means to defend freedom. not blowing up some third world country.

BiL – How about not calling me Sparky @Friend 2 since you don’t know me, and I don’t know you. And @Còmhradh…. Don’t post something ridiculous if you don’t want comments and thoughts.”

Còmhradh – I want comments and thoughts, not racist bigotry. We were having a nice discussion before you jumped in and started throwing elbows.

Friend 2 – oh, and freedom and non government interference with private property and religion is ridiculous now is it? Wow. just wow. Do I get to use the “America love it or leave it” line yet?

BiL – The war is needed and I stand by that. Bush did the right thing. All the liberals can’t eat a bull of crap. And the Mosque don’t belong where it is going… Period.

Còmhradh – @BiL – what exactly has either war accomplished?
We’ve been in Afghanistan for almost 9 years and have succeeded only in killing civilians and further destabilizing a nuclear-armed Pakistan.
We’ve been in Iraq for 6 1/2 years and only succeeded in making Iran the dominant power in the region.
If that’s your definition of “necessary,” then it is absolutely necessary that I’m given a giant robot to stomp around downtown Sheboygan.

BiL – And your saying the Muslims who killed 3000 people in NYC arnt racist? Yes they are. Prove to me they arnt. This is America and a Mosque don’t belong on hollowed ground. Move it away from the spot and make people happy

Friend 2 – Liberals and Liberty have the same root. sorry don’t believe in living in an authoritarian theocracy. going into afganistan was the rightmove, the facts have been quite clear about who’s been eating the bull for Iraq.

Còmhradh – @BiL – The Muslims who killed 3015 people on 9/11 are dead. They also killed (besides themselves) 62 Muslims. Are you spitting in the faces of their relatives by calling them racists for getting themselves killed?

BiL – My definintition of Necessary is I support what Bush did. I support being in war. I support our troops. And I support defending this homeland.

Friend 2 – defending the homeland by making us piles more enemies? how about defending the homeland by not dismantling it from the inside out?

Còmhradh – @BiL – that doesn’t really answer the question. You support the war, which has only served to create dead troops, but you support the troops. These two things are completely contradictory.
I support the troops by opposing continually useless wars that only get them killed and create more enemies for us, which will only ensure that even more troops get killed.

Friend 2 – Re muslems: so do lots of christians and jews.

BiL – The Muslim extremist are racist and most Muslims have this idea that they are the higher power and they are living the right life. All thought that is there opinion look what it did on 9/11. All i am saying is move the Mosque away from Ground Zero. And @Còmhradh… 62 Muslims killed is nothing compared to over 2,500 that weren’t Muslims.

Còmhradh – ‎@BiL – so… Muslims lives aren’t as important as non-Muslim lives?
“The American extremists are racist and most Americans have this idea that they are the higher power and are living the right life.

BiL – LOL @Friend 2…. dismantling it? Wow…. You are obviously blind to what is really going on.

Friend 2 – I don’t know @BiL, revoking personal and religious freedoms for he sake of mob rule seems pretty contradictory to what this country’s about.

CòmhradhBiL – @Friend 2 isn’t the one advocating a repeal of the First Amendment here.

BiL – I support the troops because its the right thing to do. They are over there fighting for our freedom. If you don’t support them how would that make them feel? Protesting is not a good thing for them to see.

CòmhradhBiL – America hasn’t fought a war for American freedoms since 1865. The troops are over there fighting for our economic interests. They’re not even fighting for *someone else’s* freedoms.

Supporting troops is in no way the same as supporting the insane mission they’ve been tasked with.

BiL – LOL OK… enough…. seriously…. You guys have no argument. You believe in OBAMA when he is the worst President in US HISTORY! And will be a 1 term guy. But you follow him EVEN THOUGH HE IS TRYING TO MAKE THIS COUNTRY A SOCIALIST SOCIETY! YOU ARE RIDICULOUS! —-MOVE THE MOSQUE—- ITS A INSULT

Friend 2 – wow, way to bring up random unrelated topics. we have an argument obviously or you wouldn’t be backing out.

Friend 1 – Re: the war: “There is no instance of a nation benefiting from prolonged warfare.” – Sun-Tzu
Re: the mosque: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” In other words, demanding that the free exercise of a religion be impeded by any sort of decree is unconstitutional. PERIOD.

BiL – Backing out? Not going anywhere!

Còmhradh@BiL – a) I don’t “believe” in Obama, b) You need to look at James Buchanan and Warren G. Harding before you start judging Obama, c) you have no idea what socialism is, and everything I’ve ever heard you say about socialism just sounds like a good idea that Obama has consistently *not* done. This is America. You don’t have the right to not be insulted. I find the fact that there are people who would surrender our rights at the drop of a hat to be an insult, but I’ve still got to live here.

Friend 2 – well then bring some substance other than hurt feelings and baseless opinions.

Friend 2 – clearly you don’t because there’s nothing even remotely socialist going on in the obama administration.

Friend 1 – @BiL – You’re not going anywhere? Or I’m not going anywhere? The lack of subject in that sentence fragment has me confused. Could you please try to make your thoughts more coherent and well-formatted? The last time I heard rhetoric this vocal and broken it was coming from a podium in Nuremberg in the early 1940s.

BiL – LOL @Còmhradh… you are so blind…. And I do know what Socialism is

CòmhradhBiL – Please, describe socialism, and how letting tax cuts expire while expanding programs implemented by Republican presidents is in any way akin to it.

BiL – Hurt feelings? LOL @Friend 2 you are pathetic and obviously don’t know how to read. Everything I am saying has substance and NOT everyone agrees with you believe it or not. And it’s funny how over 60% of America is for what I am saying.

Friend 2– wind and crying isn’t substance and that all you can come back with is “pathetic” tells me more about your argument than it says about mine. sparky.

BiL – Ok… be a bitch… or are lesbians not Bitches? Not sure how this works. And @Friend 1…. Big words don’t make you “right”… And @Còmhradh… Socialism………. look at Obama’s presidency and thats my definitions/ . If you don’t like my views/Thoughts/views… DONT RESPOND….

Còmhradh – @BiL – we really can’t parse out what you’re saying other than “I hate Muslims and Obama,” and I need to see the polling that suggests that 60% of America agrees with that.
Interestingly, 62% of Americans think we should get out of Afghanistan, so I guess you’re not with the majority there.

Còmhradh – @BiL – We’ll take that as an admission that you’ve got nothing left to say, have admitted defeat, and want to no longer participate in this or any further discussions. Thanks for stopping by.

And then my brother-in-law and I unfriended each other, my sister-in-law unfriended me (because I was being “hypocritical,” which I still don’t understand), my brother-in-law unfriended Mrs. Còmhradh, and Mrs. Còmhradh’s sister didn’t speak to her for a week.

Candidacies I’d Support

Posted: 26 August 2010 in politics

Given the idea by PersonalFailure over at Forever In Hell, I’m suggesting the Slacktivist / Gin and Tacos ticket.

FRED/ED 2012 – Because, seriously, America, we need actual ideas for once.

I want to regain my First Amendment rights. I want to be able to say what’s on my mind, and in my heart, what I think is helpful and useful without somebody getting angry, some special interest group deciding this is a time to silence a voice of dissent, and attack affiliates and attack sponsors.
-Laura Schlessinger

“Doctor Laura” is ending her long-running radio cesspool after repeated and pointedly repeating “nigger” on the air by way of defending the fact that she is not racist. Seriously, there wasn’t a laugh track.

When she explained why she was ending her radio show to Larry King, it wasn’t because her distributor had very nicely agreed to let her not renew her contract, it was because she wanted to regain her First Amendment rights.

I’m guessing she didn’t mean freedom of religion. She’s probably talking about freedom of speech and freedom of press. Which is really interesting, because at no point in this diatribe was she either censored or subject to any sort of criminal prosecution.

So, what she really means is “I want to be a raging bigot without ever hearing people call me a raging bigot.”

Anyone who professionally comments on politics of this nation should have, at the very least, a solid grasp of the Constitution. There may be fundamental differences in opinion, but someone who styles themselves a doctor should know that the First Amendment guarantees you the freedom to spew whatever hateful rock-dumb bigotry you choose, but it does not mean that people are then restricted from calling you a hateful rock-dumb bigot.

Freedom of Speech is not Freedom of Social Consequences of Speech. Carrie Prejean isn’t in jail for her incoherent anti-marriage verbal hemorrhage, and Laura Schlessinger isn’t going be be paying a hefty fine for being a screaming racist. Neither of these rot-brained lunatics has been denied their First Amendment rights, which is in itself ironic, considering both of them are in favor of First and Fourteenth Amendment rights being denied to other people.

What’s the difference between 20 Warren Street and 51 Park Place in Manhattan?

One of them has a masjid, an Islamic house of prayer.

The other has plans for a cultural center that would also contain a masjid.

Both of them are within 3 blocks of “Ground Zero.” The first one, at 20 Warren Street, has actually been there since before the World Trade Center was built.

A masjid is not technically a mosque. To give a little terminology that Christians can understand, it’s more a chapel than a church, or, to be more accurate, more a chapel than a cathedral. It is a small place of worship. A mosque is a very large place of worship.

The point here is that no one has plans to build a mosque near the site of the World Trade Center, and, in fact, there’s already a house of worship there, so all the mouth-frothing just makes the frothers look like larger idiots than they already do. Of course, there are plenty of churches there.

So, Harry Reid’s spokesman Jim Manley says “The First Amendment protects freedom of religion. Sen. Reid respects that but thinks that the mosque should be built some place else.”

Shorter Harry Reid: “The Constitution’s for us Christians, fuck the rest of you.” The real kicker is that Reid is himself a Mormon, and should know a thing or two about having the shit kicked out of you just because you’re not swinging with the majority. But now that he’s the Majority Leader, well… shit flows downhill, eh Senator?

This anti-mosque outrage is pure bigotry, and anyone who thinks that it isn’t is either a liar or a moron. I can straight-up guarantee that the outcry surrounding a church being built within three blocks of Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta would be non-existent, even though that was a blatant act of Christian extremism.

But hey, the majority doesn’t need to move. Rights are fine unless someone you don’t like tries to exercise them.

I saw a cluster of Tea Party protesters outside the local mall today, and as I drove by, I made a point of laughing hysterically at them, because really, when you get right down to it, they’re hilariously stupid.   The tax burden is the lowest it’s been in 60 years, and they have the nerve to demand that they’re over-taxed.  Sure, sure, right.  Scratch the surface, and what they really mean is “I hate that Obama won.”  There’s really nothing more to it.

That being said, I think that the best way to combat them is to resort to their tactics – pick a narrative, and refuse to deviate from it.  The narrative I propose is that they hate Jesus, and, by extension, America.

They will, of course, deny this, but there are so, so many passages in the Bible to toss at them that you may as well just chuck the entire book at their head – and then claim, when they duck, that they can’t stand the touch of the Bible and that is therefore proof of their demonic nature.  Just do what they do – turn everything that they say or do into support for your argument.

“Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s,” Jesus said, which means “Pay your fucking taxes like a good citizen.”  They don’t want to do that, so they must hate Jesus.

Jesus said that if you don’t help the sick and the poor, you’re not helping him.  They hate the idea of healthcare and welfare, so they must want Jesus to starve and die.

It doesn’t get easier than this.  The Tea Partiers hate Jesus.  And since they insist that this is a Christian nation, and they hate Christ, they obviously hate America, too.