Archive for the ‘republicans’ Category

Bookends

Posted: 10 January 2011 in republicans, terrorism

The world changed the day that Christina-Taylor Green was born.  I’m sure every proud parent would love to say that, but maybe not in this case.  She was born on September 11th, 2001.

In the months following her birth, the nation made rapid knee-jerk reactions to the tragedy.   Lawmakers fell all over themselves passing a bill that gave sweeping and unprecedented powers to law enforcement.  Whole sections of the Constitution were ignored.  Two wars were launched without even having a target or exit strategy in mind.  Anyone who took a stand against it was branded a coward or pilloried as a traitor.  Even people in the same political party, regardless of how supportive they were of the direction the country was headed, were put on notice.

Just after Christina’s first birthday, and again when she was three, the country went to the polls and voted not only for the party that demanded that they were better able to protect us, but against the party that had been tarred and feathered as somehow coddling or, worse, collaborating with those that attacked us.

Finally, economic woes from years of mismanagement and deregulation caught up with the country, and in 2006, people seemed to forget about being scared and got back to thinking about their bottom line.  The “opposition” became the majority.  In 2008, they continued those gains.  But something curious happened: the people who had been telling us for eight years that we needed to give up our rights started talking about how we should stop giving up our rights, and that they were being taken from us.

Not the right to not have the government spy on us.  Not the right to not be held indefinitely without trial.  No, it was essential that we didn’t have those freedoms.  Essential to protect us, they said.  What we shouldn’t give up, they said, was the right to be unable to pay for our own healthcare.  The right to be dropped from our insurance because we lost our jobs.  The right to worry how we were going to put food on our tables after our company outsourced our job to China.  Those were the rights we were losing, and it was a problem!  Now, we’d heard all of this before, but they were saying it with such fervor, with such passion, with such… militancy.  Voting wasn’t going to be enough (but we should do that, too).  In four years, the terrorist-coddlers had done irreparable damage.  If it couldn’t be fixed immediately, we should “resort to 2nd amendment remedies,” and be “armed and dangerous.”  If, at any point, we experienced a setback, we should not “retreat,” but “reload!”

A constant stream of military and hunting analogies spewed forth by political leaders and commentators was appalling.  But even worse was the reaction from the rank and file.  People sent death threats to their elected officials.  People began openly carrying firearms at political events in displays of naked intimidation.  People began vandalizing government offices.  Simply put, the rhetoric helped stoke a wave of terrorism.   And that’s what it was: terrorism.  Threats and violence used to achieve a political end.  Fear as a political tool.  Terrorism.

Unfortunately, it didn’t stop at just threats and vandalism.  It was easy to see the escalation coming.  Toting an assault rifle at a political rally gave way to loading up and heading off to gun down people at a non-profit.  Fortunately, that shooter was stopped before he arrived.

But eventually, the violence became deadly.  Terrorism reared its ugly head again.  A gunman, probably not in his right mind but obviously driven by the violent rhetoric, targeted his local congresswoman.  He shot her in the head, and in the process managed to wound 20 people, killing a federal judge and five others.

Including Christina.

She was born in the shadow of a vicious act of terrorism, one that had a profound (and intended) effect on this country.  She died in the perpetration of a second one.

I can only hope that the end this terrorist was hoping to achieve isn’t reached.

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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.

Christine O’Donnell is a sack of hilarity, a veritable tea bag of chuckles.

O’Donnell complains of ‘character assassination.’

Of course, this would imply that she has a character to assassinate.  Helpful hints:  When you get in front of the camera and a) claim to have once been a Satanic witch and b) demand that people stop masturbating, don’t blame the “liberal media” for showing these videos.

In her latest ad, she says “I’m nothing you’ve heard.”  Considering all of the crazy shit I’ve heard about Christine O’Donnell has come from the mouth of Christine O’Donnell, I guess what she’s saying is “I’M A FUCKING LIAR PLEASE DON’T TRUST ME!”  Of course, she might be lying there.  Who knows?

Slacktivist has discussed and analyzed and dissected O’Donnell and her statements, and Jay Smooth has offered his take.  Here’s what bothers me about her: She’s so obviously ridiculous, yet the “liberal media” doesn’t seem to realize that they’re getting punked.  You’d think it would be obvious from her photo on Wikipedia that’s reminiscent of faked Bigfoot evidence.

We have here a candidate that rode a faux-populist anti-incumbent surge to knock of a moderate Republican candidate in the Republican primary in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 62%-38%.  She managed to convince about 10% of the voting public in Delaware that she was the better choice.  Her opponent in the primary was the generally popular Mike Castle, who was accosted by birthbaggers last year at a town hall meeting about healthcare.  Castle has Kennedy-level support in Delaware, and it was looking like Joe Biden’s seat was going to move to the other side of the aisle until O’Donnell came along.

The problem with O’Donnell is that the media treats her like an actual candidate and not the non-sequiter producing machine that the she is.

She’s an self-styled Evangelical Christian/Catholic who believes in abstinence and lived with her boyfriend in a house that she paid for with public campaign funds and was cited numerous times for letting the property deteriorate.

She’s said that she has classified intelligence that proves that China is plotting to overthrow our government.

She has stated that she believes that homosexuals have a personality disorder.

She believes that there’s more evidence for creation than evolution.

She’s a perennial Senate candidate who happened to get lucky in one primary.

Plainly stated, she’s a joke.  Hilarity should be ensuing.  The media should be pointing and laughing at her, but in the strange interest of “balance,” they’re treating her as if she was a legitimate candidate.  It’s like the episode of Family Guy, Running Mates.  One candidate is a serious, qualified, actual candidate, and the other is a buffoon.  Here’s a hint, “liberal media:”  O’Donnell isn’t being played by Lois Griffin here.

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.

Sometimes, when Mrs. Còmhradh and I are sitting on the couch, I’ll start getting one of our dogs riled up. She (the dog) is pretty easy to get going, and she’ll do the whole snappy-barky “knock it off!” thing that dogs do when you’re playfully annoying them. Then, when I’ve got her really good and miffed at me, she’ll turn and nip at Mrs. Còmhradh, presumably because I’m avoiding the gnashy-toothed snapping she’s attempting to lay on me.

Stan Huskey’s latest column reminds me of that. He gets himself all in a tizzy over our Congressman, Jim Gerlach (who defended his seat by 1000 and 3000 vote margins in the last two elections and is not polling well), layers in some froth about Obama and the IRS, and then, with no apparent connection, takes a swing at teachers.

Can I say no to this bait? Of course not. Here’s my response:

You really do have it out for teachers, don’t you? Right in the middle of a mish-mashed rant about Gerlach (which I actually can’t tell if you’re criticizing or defending him), the IRS and Obama, you wander off to take a swing at your teacher piñata before heading off in yet another direction. I don’t believe that I’ve ever agreed with you, Stan, but typically I can understand what your point is. The only thing I got out of this was “teachers aren’t accountable to anyone, therefore they are probably doing a bad job!”

I know I’ve given teachers a hard time in the past, but I really have no beef with a teacher who does an outstanding job.

But we all know there are teachers, just like there are people in every profession, journalism included, who simply don’t pull their weight.

My ears always perk up at this dog-whistle language. You attempt to come across as generous to teachers, but what you’re really doing is insinuating that since there’s no review process, it’s likely that most teachers are substandard. I’m sure you’ll raise a defense against that, but you’ve been nothing but critical of uppity teachers having the gall to demand 2% raises to offset the 4% increase in cost of living, the amount of money you personally have to pay in order to support them, and the teaching profession in general, so I’m in no way inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt here. You’re insinuating that since you don’t see a review process, the chances are good that any given teacher is probably “pulling their weight.”

I’m not going to argue that there is no review process after the first three years of a teacher’s career, and I fully support one, just like the NEA and AFT do. However, studies show that if you want better education, you don’t look at the teachers – you look at the average income of the people in the school district. The more wealth in the district, the better the test scores get.

So, Stan, if you want more to show for your tax bill, the solution is simple. Stop looking out for your own economic interest, and start looking out for the economic interests of your neighbors. The more money they make, the higher NASD students will score.

Obama didn’t say “mission accomplished,” but he did say that our troops completed every task asked of them in Iraq, which would indicate that they accomplished the mission that they were sent there to do.

Saddam Hussein was a very bad man. He was a murderous thug who repressed political opponents and other people he didn’t like using methods that get you sent to The Hague if you don’t happen to have a nuclear arsenal at your disposal. That being said, Saddam Hussein got the trains to run on time, if by “the trains” you mean “relative stability in the region” and by “run on time” you mean “not degenerate into an Iranian wonderland.”

Baathist Iraq was a functional country. Despite embargoes and sanctions, it was relatively westernized, had infrastructure reminiscent of a first-world country, had relative religious and personal freedom, was not a haven for terrorists, and was actually not being aggressive to its neighbors, at least in the last decade.

Of course, that was so 2003. Since then, Iraq has lost about 3% of its population to violence or the complete eradication of most of its infrastructure. Just because Arabs live in the Middle East does not mean that they can survive without food, potable water, or with no air conditioning in 120° heat. Additionally, around 15% of the population has been displaced, either over the border into Syria or scattered internally to where it is “safer.” The country is a virtual playground for terrorists or those looking to settle age-old scores. Religious and personal freedom is at an all-time low. Additionally, what government exists is a laughable collection of squabbling enemies that make Congress look like a bunch of well-socialized kindergartners who’ve been told they’ll get cake if they share and play nice. It is by no means a threat to Iranian influence in the region (or even to the lack of indoor plumbing, for that matter). At best, it’s headed by an unelected puppet, at worst, large elements of it are actually working against internal stability.

And now, having gone after the Pottery Barn with a nine-iron, we’re tossing a few dollars at them and striding off through the mall, intent on getting a new rug from that neat little shop that sells hand-made stuff and smells of patchouli. Of course, our rug is backordered because we set fire to that place about 9 years ago and haven’t bothered to put it out yet.

So, to reiterate:

If the mission was destroying a relatively modern country and reducing it to a nightmarish death-hole that now has more ties to terrorism than it ever did in the past, then Mission Accomplished. If, however, the mission was to remove one tyrant from power, then Mission Way Not Accomplished, considering we could have done that 7 years ago for less than .01% of what we’ve spent so far.

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.