Wednesday, February 16, 2005

And While We're At It

And while we're reframing the debate, here's a meme I never hear, and I don't know why.

According to the President's party, the economy is "strong and getting stronger." Things are going great, economically, for our country. Jobs, investments, wages -- all good.

So what's with the austerity budget then? Why in the middle of such a great economy are we looking at drastic cuts for virtually everything not going to Halliburton?

The President has proposed what can only be called an auterity budget, of the type one might expect to see in particulaly tough economic times. Why? Are we not doing as well as he says? Or is he just mean? Timmy, what say you -- wanna ask a question?

Real Talking Points -- All Aboard!

Over at Talking Points Memo, Josh surely has the right idea:

Shouldn't his critics just be saying over and over: level with the public? Tell
them what you want to do to Social Security.

So, bloggers, let's get on it.

By not demanding that the President put his cards on the table, aren't we taking the bait on this one? Anyone remember Wiley E. Coyote on the branch of the tree, sawing away? All our constant and detailed deconstruction of "privatization" is just giving the President a roadmap to success.

Here's a thought. How 'bout we shut up, and start demanding that Mr. Bush level with us. What is he proposing, exactly? Stop playing games, Mr. President, with our hopes and fears for the future, and come clean.

Here's an oratorical hint: imply that the President is hiding something (he is). Words/phrases that we should use: come clean, level, tell the truth, stop hiding, playing games, whack-a-mole, secret, hidden, agenda, deceptive, scare tactics, etc.

Our frame, if you will, is that this is another instance of the President taking a position which proves controversial, then reverses himself in face of political pressure. The flip-flopper. The poll-follower. (Back story: Providing health insurance to needy Texas children, nation building, stretching military too thin, Department of Homeland Security, 9/11 Commission, Condi Rice's testimony, finding bin Ladn, will seek UN vote, deficits are good/bad, etc.) Bush is weak, without principles, inept, hapless, utterly without a clue.

Surely this would be a great deal more fun than another 2,500 words on why the latest revisions from the Association of American Acturarials show that the trust fund won't hit the cashflow breakeven point 'til 2024, and not as we had thought 2018? We are totally bogged down in fighting a plan that the President can disavow, and can use to pivot to something else that he has clearly indicated he will pursue: raising taxes on the poor (which he calls "tax reform," a phrase we should be allergic to).

So from here on out, no more 'splainin' about how horrible the President's plan is. Mission accomplished, folks. Let's have a single meme out there on SS: Tell us the truth Mr. President: What are you proposing?

Let's use the power of the blogosphere to focus our fire on a single thing, and maybe we can move the debate (and our society) forward a bit.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Defeat on Page A8

The Washington Post lets everybody know that the President’s idea to invade Iraq was a bonehead move, as predicted by everyone with a brain:

When the Bush administration decided to invade Iraq two years ago, it envisioned a quick handover to handpicked allies in a secular government that would be the antithesis of Iran's theocracy -- potentially even a foil to Tehran's regional ambitions.

But, in one of the greatest ironies of the U.S. intervention, Iraqis instead went to the polls and elected a government with a strong religious base -- and very close ties to the Islamic republic next door. It is the last thing the administration expected from its costly Iraq policy -- $300 billion and counting, U.S. and regional analysts say.

In this Era of Accountability, it’s nice to know that when the President stakes his reputation on something, it doesn’t really matter because if he turns out to be tragically and needlessly wrong, it’ll go straight down the memory hole.

Thanks, So-Called Main Stream Media! Hope you guys sleep well!

Here’s the Reasonable Man Headline:

“Iraqi Election Results Doom US Goals for Military Intervention.”

And CNN could scroll: …Iraqi election results in Shiite government…Shiites aligned with Iran against the US…Iran already possesses nuclear weapons…US intervention appears to backfire grievously…

OK, that last one may be a bit over the top…But the rest? I don’t think so… You tell me!

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Most Lucid Man on the Planet Speaks

Matt Yglesias, the Most Lucid Man on the Planet, devotes another zillion words to proving to even the most unwilling mind that the President's Social Security Privitization scheme is bunk.

Read if you must.

My own view is that we have so thoroughly debunked the scheme, it's time to move into the "real agenda" phase. In other words, let's treat this like an investigation following what is an obvious cover-up. What is the President's real motive? What is he trying to do? Is it simply the destruction of a popular program that tends to create Democrats by the million? Is it an effort to destroy the creditworthiness of the United States of America so he can just legislate his debts away?

The President clearly did not like Saddam Hussein, and wanted to teach him a lesson for the benefit of all the guys the President did not like. That's my surmise of the President's "Real "Agenda" in Iraq. But here, for me at least, the jury is still out.

And I think it is way past time our discussion moved off the question of "just how bogus is this plan" to "why are our elected officials promoting a clear and obvious lie?"

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Dean's In -- Kos says Let's Get His Back.

If we're serious about victory, we need to give Dr. Dean a lot of money. If you have any, please give it to him. He'll use it to make Republicans appear as they are -- ridiculous.

It's the reasonable thing to do.

Contribution amount: $

Richard Clarke's Al Quaida Warning To Rice

What jumps out at me from Clarke's memo is his resisting the new administration's plan to review the threats to the US on a region by region basis. Clarke points out that this very template will be the cause of Al Quaida slipping through the cracks.

The reason this pops out at me is that it is indicative of the Bush administration's approach to its entire rule: they have a template for analysis, and we will make everything conform to that template, experts and evidence be damned. In their minds, it is how strong leadership is implemented, and to them (and me), the American people want just one thing from GWB: strong leadership. Policy and results be damned.

If you look carefully, you'll see this same approach over and over again. It is a way of being out in front of issues, rather than responding to them, which in Bush land is the weakest form of leadership -- and sadly for us, the Democrats specialty.

Bush & Co. figured out a while back that the public wants a government that seems to know what it's doing. When all we can do is react to unfolding events, they are setting a positive agenda. Until we start to do the same (but obviously in the name of good, not evil), we will remain in the opposition.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Maybe Not So Bad

It's a bright spring-like day here in NYC, enough to make one think that hope is indeed not gone.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Bush has got to be the worst financial advisor ever

From today's Krugman:

[T]he logic of Bush-style Social Security privatization: it is, in effect, as if your financial adviser told you that you wouldn't have enough money when you retire - but you shouldn't save more. Instead, you should borrow a lot of money, buy stocks and hope for capital gains.

There. That's pretty easy to understand, isn't it? Protect your future by buying stocks on margin.

Dear Dr. Dobson

Dear Dr. Dobson,

I am writing to let you know my views about you and your organization.

I take you to be a purveyor of hatred and bigotry. Your entire agenda depends upon protecting children and families from various threats. You set yourself up as victims of a press attack against “those of us who care about defending children.” Are there people somewhere that don’t care about defending children? Why would anyone attack you or anyone else for defending children. Obviously, you use phrases like “defending children” and “Focus on Family” to obscure your real message.

Which is a message of fear and hatred. You should be ashamed of yourself.

You claim to be unfairly maligned by being accused of saying SpongeBob is gay. And of course, that’s not what you said. Nor is that why you’re being vilified. You’re being vilified because you preach of philosophy of hatred – hatred of gay people, hatred of people who support and defend their fellow humans’ right to live as they wish, hatred of those who wish to ensure equality of the sexes, hatred of those who do not share your radical views on reproductive health, people who in general are full of love and respect.

Instead, you seem to embrace those who enforce a rigid ideology that can only be described a Puritannical. Dr. Dobson, we have had to live with fools (charlatans, really, as I bet a vow of poverty is not in your lexicon) since we left Europe 500 hundred years ago. Your kind have enjoyed intermittent periods of ascendancy, typically during dark periods where fear was prevalent. Unfortunately, our leaders have discovered how profitable it can be to spread fear, and there is quite a bit of it about.

But in the end, hope always prevails. If you look at our history – indeed human history – you cannot help but see that in the end, the forces of hope and love always triumph over the forces of fear and hatred. And the reason is simple: God’s love is in each and every one of us, and no matter how much you try to convince your followers that God doesn’t love gay people, or people who stand against oppression and unfairness, or who stand up for the least amongst us, your mission will fail. Indeed, I know that in your heart it is already failed: deep down, you know the truth. Gay people aren’t evil. Children raised by two loving moms or two loving dads will be fine, and our society’s need for population growth will be satisfied. Why, that’s what MTV’s all about!

I wanted to write you because, come the judgment day, I do not want it to be said that I sat idly by while the Pharisees peddled their hate. I want the world to know that at least I tried to call you to account.

For all the unhappiness you have created and brought into this world needlessly, I hope you reap what you sow.

Neocons Make me Crazy! My Letter to the Editor

There's a review today of something called The Neocon Reader. It sounds like its worthwhile reading, since I find the exact ideas of the neocons remain something of a mystery.

The review was written by someone who is a self-proclaimed neocon, even though she voted for Gore (can't quite figure that one). As I understand their idea, they seem terribly opposed to terrorists and dictators possessing WMDs, which they seem to think distinguished them from others, somehow. I'm not sure who. Even terrorists and dictators tend to think that other terrorists and dictators shouldn't have WMDs -- only them.

Any hoo, I wrote a letter to the editor, and thought I'd share it here. Here the link to the review (Salon is usually pretty good about keeping things up for quite some time)

Dear Editor:

I feel much better about liberalism in the US after reading this review. Ms. Marlowe's praise for the neocon philosophy confirms to me its inherent emptiness. The entire point of view depends on slamming imaginary strawmen (e.g., the left wing pundits so upset about not stopping the Afghan war -- all 4 of them). The fact that she seems to have a mostly emotional connection to politics and policy (Kerry tedious and boring, Bush somehow rebellious and punk) just shows that the current ascendenncy of the neocons is a hiccup -- if we're so convervative as a nation, why did Bush just deliver a speech as his SOTU that any Democrat could have given.

It's OUR ideas that lead the way forward. One may think our spokespeople dull (no real argument from me), or one may find the business of harnessing the power of collective action to better all our lives (i.e., governing) to be tedious. One may even find it really fun to lambaste those whose earnestness and sincerity seem so humorless. But the truth is that one side is interested in moving our society to forward to ever greater heights, while the other is content to take pot shots for kicks.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Attack Ad

Over at, (Attack Ad of the Day), I've posted my effort, which I'll post here as well:

OK, here's my attack ad of the day.

We open on a beautiful shot of an attractive older woman, probably close to 80. She's sitting in her lovely garden, on a lush spring day.

Grandma: Of course I remember! How could I forget. My parents, they worked so hard, and scrimped, and just tried to scrimp and save and put a little bit aside. But then, almost over night -- nothing. They lost everything. Wiped out.

We cut and see that she is talking with her 20 something granddaughter, who's holding a baby.

AVO: The Democrats created Social Security to ensure every worker would have a secure future no matter if they were winners or losers in the stock market.

We're cutting to the face of Granddaughter, and then Baby.

Grandma: I think it's crazy to take that away. Why would Bush want to jeopardize something we've worked so hard for?

Shot goes blurry. We see vaguely that Grandma is getting up, granddaughter is passing baby, Grandma is playing with baby, etc.

Title card comes up "Tell President Bush not to gamble with your future," with a URL, "Save Social" and an 800 number, "800-SAVE-SOC"AVO: Tell President Bush that our future is too improtant to gamble [play games] with.That's it. I'd put it on the air tomorrow. We have got to start an emotional conversation with our fellow Americans.

And I have a Message for You

“I have a message for every American who is 55 or older: Do not let anyone mislead you; for you, the Social Security system will not change in any way.” -- SOTU

Is there a journalist in the house who can ask the obvious question: Isn’t that another way of saying that Social Security is definitely going to be changing for everyone under 55? And not in a good way?

Just wondering…

It’s the Accountability, Stupid

I continue to believe that one of our core values has to be accountability. The current administration seems dedicated to creating a 100% accountability-free environment, where the broadest promises can be freely ignored without consequence. What’s our mission in Iraq? To disarm Saddam. Pre 9/11, is terrorism important? No, not really. What’s the best way to stave off recession? Tax cuts. The best way to get out of a recession? Tax cuts. The best way to create jobs? Tax cuts. Best way to trim the deficit? Tax cuts. Most comfortable chair to sit in for the Super Bowl? Tax cuts.

In the end, accountability is a form of credibility. When congressional candidate Bush swore on a stack of bibles that Social Security would be flat-broke, busted in just 10 years, and 1988 sailed by with no actual bankruptcy, this should diminish the guy’s credibility when he starts crying wolf 25 years later.

I can think of no more apt literary reference for the boy-president than the boy who cried wolf. Saddam! Gay marriage! Social Security collapse!

To say nothing of No 9/11 inquiry! No Condi testifying! No Me testifying! No increase in death benefits to those killed in combat! And so on.

One of these days, this guy is going to need us to believe him for real, and a whole bunch of us will have a hard time putting aside our oft-vindicated skepticism.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

An Hour with This Guy

I don't believe I will be able to get through much of the President's SOTU tonight.

I can recall getting my kids around the TV for President Clinton's SOTU's, telling them that this is an important and historic ritual in our nation's history.

Now, it seems obscene to observe this utterly and completely corrupt charade, brazenly designed to manipulate the electorate to increase the party's grip on power.

I used to think we were nearing a state like 1930's Germany. I now think we are undeniably there, and the road to normalcy will be a long and arduous one, which sadly is likely to lead through a horrible and bloody conflict in the Middle East.

I wish my fellow Americans could/would understand that the actions we are taking today are shaping our future, whether we think so or not. And that we won't have a happy future just by wishin'.