Saturday, August 23, 2008

Off to Denver

-- by Dave

Will be in Denver for the DNC. Hope to drop in some posts, but I can never be certain about these things.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Leave John McCain’s Houses Alooooooooone!

[Cross-posted at Firedoglake.]

Hey, ask any Republican: John McCain is just a good ol’ average Joe Six Pack. Ask the Assrocket dude:
I can relate, though. For example, if a reporter asked me how many ties I own, there’s no way I could answer. Just like McCain, I’d tell him he has to ask my wife. Likewise if someone wants to know how many Wii games my kids have.
Because, you know, most of us just change our houses like we change our ties. Toss around the domiciles like so many video-game cartridges.
The truth is that McCain isn’t out of touch with "ordinary people" because he’s rich, he’s out of touch with his own domestic arrangements because he cares little about material things, and for many years has devoted his extraordinary energies not to enjoying his wife’s money, but to serving the American people.
I’m sure this is true. In fact, mebbe we ought not to go so hard on McCain.

After all, he doesn’t own any of the houses. He never has owned any of the houses. His wife is the one with the money, she’s the one who owns everything. She is the business man in the family. She wears the pants in the McCain family.

John has never had to make business decisions, buy a house, know what gas costs, or really know anything about managing money; his wife takes care of all that for him. I’m sure that it’s tough to keep track of all those houses under those conditions.

Like I say, just an average Joe Six-Pack.

UPDATE: The media (experts in Joe Six-Packdom themselves) want you to leave him aloooooone, too.

[H/t to bmaz.]

Thursday, August 21, 2008

When Progressives Fight Back: Object Lesson In Washington

[Cross-posted at Firedoglake.]

 For years, progressives have been at a singular disadvantage when it comes to the money/media infrastructure needed to wage effective political campaigns. Here in Washington state, we’ve seen that manifested in the free ride afforded the building-and-development industry’s lobbying arm, the Building Industry Alliance of Washington, which has run amok waging negative smear campaigns against Democratic candidates and bolstering their own hand-picked Republican, Dino Rossi.

This year, progressives are fighting back. They’re armed with $2.4 million in cash.

And oh, the mewling that’s resulting makes Doug and Wendy Whiner sound thick-skinned.
Today’s Seattle P-I carried a report about it:
Independent from Gov. Chris Gregoire’s campaign, the newly formed Evergreen Progress PAC is flooding the airwaves with attack ads designed to tear apart Rossi’s carefully crafted public image.

"We have a pretty hard-hitting message about Dino Rossi, about what he’s done in the past, what his record is and what we think that translates into in terms of policy on issues that people care about," Evergreen Progress Committee Chairman Rick Desimone said.

Up to now, the Building Industry Association of Washington’s committee ChangePAC has been the major force behind gubernatorial independent expenditures, but with $2 million contributed thus far this election cycle, it is a runner-up to Evergreen Progress.

"It makes us look like a Chihuahua," BIAW spokeswoman Erin Shannon said.
Desimone said Evergreen Progress is a direct response to the BIAW’s independent political actions — nonstop attacks on Gregoire.

Evergreen Progress is funded with money from the Service Employees International Union, the state employees union and the state teachers union, among other sources.
It’s the union’s involvement that has the right up in arms. Because, you see, whoever is governor is going to be negotiating state labor contracts.

Nevermind, of course, that whoever is governor is also going to be setting environmental standards, revising tax codes, and handling a multitude of issues that are the BIAW’s meat and potatoes too.
It’s only when their interests are at stake that negative campaigning is allowed, evidently.

The best thing about the Evergreen Progress ads: They’re not nasty — unlike the BIAW’s ads. They’re factual (which also distinguishes them from the BIAW). And they’re effective. (Ditto.)
When progressives fight back — and especially when they do it well — they win. As we saw in Tuesday’s primary, Rossi is not gaining on Gregoire at all, but rather losing it. And these ads probably have a lot to do with it.

One’s heart bleeds for the BIAW, too. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of folks.

So much for that 'respectful campaign'

-- by Dave

One thing I, in all my travels here -- Americans want a respectful campaign. They do, they want it. Now, people say, well, negative ads move numbers. They may. But do we have to go to the lowest common denominator? I don't think so.

John McCain, July 2008

So the latest WSJ/NBC poll (the same one showing Barack Obama's lead slipping away) also shows that Americans think John McCain is running a negative campaign:

By a nearly six-to-one margin, voters say Republican presidential candidate John McCain is running a negative campaign against his Democratic rival, Barack Obama, according to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.

Nearly three in 10 voters, 29%, pointed to McCain as the candidate running a negative campaign, compared to just 5% who said Obama is running a negative campaign. McCain’s 29% rating is the highest of any one candidate in the previous two presidential elections according to the WSJ/NBC News survey.

Know what? They're right. It's not just their opinion. It's a quantifiable fact.

The other week the Boston Globe created a word pile (click on the graphic to see it full size) analyzing the words being used by the two campaigns and teasing out which were used the most, and in what connotation. Obama's campaign, as you can see, is largely about Obama, and it's overwhelmingly positive. McCain's campaign, like a mirror image, is likewise all about Obama, and it's overwhelmingly negative.

It wasn't exactly by accident that his high-school classmates dubbed him "McNasty."

[H/t to Silent Patriot.]

[Cross-posted at Firedoglake.]

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Good signs for Darcy Burner

-- by Dave

Darcy Burner didn't quite get the victory in Washington's primary election last night she was hoping for -- but it was close: Dave Reichert outpolled her only 48-45 percent.

Two factors were at play here, and both are good signs for Burner's campaign going forward:

  • This was a low-turnout primary, and in those conditions, Republicans have traditionally outperformed the general-election results in this district.
  • There were more total votes cast for Democrats (Burner had two opponents) than for Reichert.

Indeed, it has to be deeply discomforting for any incumbent congressman -- especially one in a district that has never elected a Democrat to Congress -- to look at those results. Anything under 50 percent in a primary means that he's losing serious ground.

Indeed, out of the 94 congressional races in this kind of primary in the state between 1982 and 2002, incumbents missed the 50 percent mark only 10 times. Out of those 10, seven went on to lose in November.

As the P-I reported this morning, all signs point to another razor-thin margin in the 8th District this year.

On the other hand, the fact that Burner didn't outpoll Reichert clearly tells her -- and everyone -- that she has her work cut out if she wants to win in November. It will be an uphill battle, and it'll take a supreme (and supremely smart) effort on everyone's part to get her on the winning side of that thin margin.

Go to Darcy's Blue America page to help if you can.

‘Audacious’ Is The New ‘Presumptuous’, Formerly 'Uppity'

[Cross-posted at Firedoglake.]

A few weeks ago it was "presumptuous." Now we’re seeing "audacious" as the new word of choice among the wingnuts to describe Barack Obama.

It’s kind of clever, really — take a keyword from the title of one of his books and use it to call him "uppity" without actually saying it. But then, the dog-whistle components of this campaign, as we’ve seen, are becoming increasingly sophisticated.

David Fredosso
at The Corner uses it to counter Obama’s attack on the smear merchants peddling the "Obama is a baby killer" theme. Evidently, he’s "audacious" for calling a pack of liars exactly what they are.

Even better was James Taranto’s wielding of the term in his attack on Obama in today’s WSJ. According to Taranto, Obama showed "amazing chutzpah" in his effort to call on John McCain to reel in his vicious attacks on Obama’s patriotism and acknowledge that both of them have worked over the years for America’s security and place it atop their priorities. Here’s what Obama said:
I have never suggested that Sen. McCain picks his positions on national security based on politics or personal ambition. I have not suggested it because I believe that he genuinely wants to serve America’s national interest. Now, it’s time for him to acknowledge that I want to do the same.
And Taranto?
Of course, if Obama were to accuse McCain of picking his positions on national security based on politics or personal ambition, everyone would laugh, because it obviously is not true.
Oh, we’re laughing all right. I’m sure last week’s display of McCain’s militarism — particularly the "We’re all Georgians now" speech — had nothing whatsoever to do with politics or the Georgian lobbyists with whom McCain surrounded himself.

Chutzpah indeed.

Hannity Thinks Those Evil Liberals Think Conservatives Are Evil

[Cross-posted at Firedoglake.]

 We’ve already gotten a preview of David Zucker’s attempt at right-wing humor in the form of the fall movie American Carol. If the preview at right is anything to go by, it’s going to be about as funny as Mallard Fillmore. Or cancer. Take your pick.

It’s also a preview of the main theme we’re going to hear come October, just in time for the election: liberals hate America, Democrats can’t be trusted to stand up for the country. In fact, they just oughta be slapped silly at every opportunity. Or perhaps worse.

So last night Zucker was on Fox’s Hannity & Colmes program, whining about how liberals all think conservatives are bad people — because evidently this somehow justifies making a film depicting liberals as bad people. And out of Sean Hannity’s mouth came this nugget of wisdom in response:
HANNITY: I think — I think they think we’re evil. You know, I mean, if you read, you know, the things — it’s funny because there is this double standard out there in both radio and television.

You know, if I were to say on my 530 radio stations or right here on the FOX News Channel half the stuff that liberals say about me, lies told on a regular basis — and I don’t really pay attention to it because I don’t care — I would be probably thrown off the air, targeted for boycotts.
Quoth the author of Deliver Us From Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism and Liberalism.

Quoth the guy who thinks it’s just peachy for right-wing rock stars to announce death wishes for liberal politicians from the stage.

Quoth the host who agrees when his guests compare Obama’s black church to the KKK.

Quoth the man who called Harry Reid a "propaganda minister for our enemies."

Well, I could go on all day, but you get the idea. Sean Hannity thinks liberals think he’s evil, though he’d have to go dig up some anonymous e-mails to prove the point (and we’re sure he will).

Meanwhile he authors a book, and spends every one of his Fox broadcasts, declaring liberals evil.
Projection: Not just for theaters anymore. Indeed, as we’ll see this fall, it’s a concrete political strategy.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Who Is Orson Swindle And Why The Hell Should We Believe Him?

[Cross-posted at Firedoglake.]

orson-swindle.thumbnail.JPGThe exquisitely named Orson Swindle has stepped up to claim that he remembers John McCain telling the "cross in the dirt" tale back in the early ’70s, even though the earliest appearance of it in any speech of McCain’s is in 2000. The wingnutosphere invariably is describing him as "a fellow POW." But as usual, he’s much more than that.

Of course, this is all about people claiming to be eyewitnesses to certain events, and the only evidence is their say-so, which makes their credibility paramount.

How credible, exactly, is Orson Swindle? Well, consider, for instance:
Swindle served as executive director of "United We Stand, America", and spokesman for Ross Perot‘s 1992 presidential campaign.

Swindle is a Senior Policy Advisor at the lobbying firm of Hunton & Williams in Washington, DC. …

Swindle is also on the board of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), an independent political advocacy group that seeks to eliminate waste, mismanagement, and inefficiency in the federal government. Throughout its history, CAGW has been accused of fronting lobbying efforts of corporations to give them the appearance of "grassroots" support. In part, this is because CAGW has accepted donations from Phillip Morris, the Olin Foundation, the Bradley Foundation, Microsoft, Merrill-Lynch, and Exxon-Mobil. CAGW also has ties to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. While CAGW describes itself as non-partisan, it has endorsed John McCain for president and donated $11,000 to his campaign or groups controlled by him.
OK, so here we have a lobbyist — one of many on McCain’s support team — who’s also a right-wing Republican operative with a history of setting up sham "grassroots" organizations that do the bidding of business and corporate interests. He’s pouring thousands of dollars into McCain’s campaign and lining up thousands more.

And you want us to take his story backing up McCain at face value?

Sure we will.

This sort of "eyewitness account" brings to mind Bill Calhoun. You may remember him: He was the former Alabama National Guardsman who claimed to have spent time with George W. Bush in the early 1970s; it turned out, of course, that Bush wasn’t at the base at all at the times Calhoun claimed to have met him.

It’s possible John McCain really did have the "cross in the dirt" experience exactly like Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s. It’s also possible that little fairies encapsulated in lightly scented bubbles fly out his ass when he farts.

But until the McCain campaign comes up with a more credible witness, you’ll have to pardon us if we choose not to swallow this one. Because the scent suggests otherwise.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan notes that Swindle had quite another version of their discussions in May. 

Meanwhile, another former POW who served with McCain writes that he won’t be voting for McCain, and why.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Why Democrats Face An Uphill Battle In The Suburbs

[Cross-posted at Firedoglake.]

Matt Stoller has been out canvassing in my onetime stomping grounds, the suburban precincts of the greater Seattle area’s Eastside — specifically, Mercer Island — trying to help get out the vote for Darcy Burner, who’s running against Republican Rep. Dave Reichert in Washington’s 8th District.

He came away with a keen insight into the uphill fight Democrats face on the ground this year, despite their many surface advantages:
All of this is to say that walkable neighborhoods and public spaces are very good for politics. As most of the country is suburban, it is very hard to find public spaces where politics can be conducted. Robocalls, TV ads, radio ads, direct mail, and phone banks are all proxies for a lack of civic culture, in which pestering voters with jackhammer-like messaging screaming IRAQ or TAXES takes the place of engaging with people in real conversations. This kind of politics is literally built into the fabric of the suburbs, which is one reason why certain types of authoritarian messaging works really well in both the Democratic and Republican parties. The web functions differently, based on varying levels of trust, but that is not how relating to the general electorate operates.
One of the realities I recall from my years of working on the Eastside as a reporter and editor (at the old Bellevue Journal American, where I was the news editor) was that it was not unusual to send a reporter out to talk to neighbors of someone who had made the news (usually through some tragedy or crime) and come away empty-handed. Neighbors often did not know each other at all; the preferred lifestyle in many of the suburban neighborhoods was simply to roll into their fortresses at the end of the workday, roll the garage door behind them, and retreat to their little patches o’ heaven.

And as I explored a bit in my book about a slice of the Eastside’s history, Strawberry Days, suburbs like these were essentially founded as exclusively white enclaves, and predicated on providing homeowners personal security, away from the crime of the cities. So making political appeals in these districts entails finding ways to break through the barriers they build around themselves — while still reassuring them that you intend to help keep their "way of life" intact.

For Democrats, it takes a special awareness and finely tuned framing. You have to speak in their language. Candidates like Burner have their work cut out for them — especially when their opponents are paternalistic authority figures like the former sheriff.

Tomorrow is Washington’s primary election. Burner has built up terrific momentum so far — she’s out-raising Reichert by a wide margin (inspiring a certain desperation on his part) and closing the gap in the polls. She’s even managed to overcome the loss of her home to fire, thanks to the outpouring of support from around the country and her district.

But on Tuesday it will be up to voters on the ground in the 8th District to make that momentum real. Getting a majority of the votes in the primary won’t mean anything concrete, but it would provide an important psychological boost, as well as change the narrative in the campaign.

Once again, regional media are pretending that Reichert is a "moderate Republican," and Darcy is being dismissed as a netroots darling. It hasn’t been pretty. A primary win could alter that narrative for good.

So for those of you who are voters there, remember at the least to make sure you make it to the polls today. And for those who can, sign up to volunteer for Darcy today. You can make a difference in getting out the vote.