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December 04, 2005


yeah, I've got a question. When are you guys going to have a podcast? All this reading hurts my eyes.

Oh, hey! I could do that! I'm a good reader. Just ask my kids. ;)

here's my favorite byte of news: Intelligent design meets its maker. I guess we're not in Kansas anymore.

'pockets, I'm terribly sorry. I'll try to make the Open Threads less wordy and ponderous.

"ponderous" is an awful wordy word, isn't it?

Heh. Me make Open Thread shorter.

Part 1. "Culture of Corruption." When that is hammered home, look for Part 2. How corrupted K Street Project Republicans are costing the American taxpayer. It's a smart strategy. It reaffirms the public's basic views that the GOP is too tied to big business interests and also reaffirms the "asshole Republican" image that "compassionate conservatism" was designed to mute. It also brings to the forefront one of the long-running beliefs about that Dems (that provides contrast with the GOP)... the Dems are for taking care of others. It allows Dems to re-cast the "Mommy party" stereotype as the "good neighbor" party.

Your thoughts?

Newsie, well-put. I hadn't thought about it but I think somewhere between "kinder and gentler" and "restore honor" the asshole Republican stereotype got lost. I remember a joke during the Reagan years: "Have you heard that KFC is coming out with a new Republican chicken bucket? It's only the right wings and assholes." As apt now as then.

(See guys? This is podcast gold!)

I'm too young to remember the Reagan years, but that joke doesn't ever go out of style...

I think the asshole Republican stereotype came back with the very obvious partisan witch hunt against Clinton.

Newsie's formulation is great. It also gets us off this awful idea that the GOP current corruption is no different from the Dems in 1994.

The K Street Project sowed the seeds of its own destruction--any fool can see that today, with hindsight. But it has been incredibly corrupting. The idea that only reason the Dems aren't in it too is that they have no power ignores the fact that they never tried such an audacious scheme.

But "they all do it" absolves the press of doing the kind of serious coverage needed to really explain the K Street Project and its corrupting effect. Kind of like just regurgitating the Bush propaganda means not having to critically evaluate the arguments for war.
But "costs the taxpayer" is easy to understand. money for Halliburton means less money for schools. tax cuts for the wealthy means the non-wealthy have to support the gov't, or we just go into debt and have the kids pay for it.

We can amplify the "cost of corruption" impact by highlighting "Operation Offset" cutbacks taken up in this Congress, at the expense of ordinary Americans, and passed on narrow margins -- margins that would not have held is corrupt elected Republicans had been removed sooner.

And then we can pound home the big object lesson: There's no Compassion in Conservatism.

"Compassionate Conservatism" is a fig leaf ... a comforting conceit ginned up to deny the evident cruelties of selfservatism.

The big message: "We're on your side". The Democratic Party ("The Party of the Common Man") used to know how to say this, and mean it ... convincingly.

As to the KFC joke, it's employed just as much with left wings and Democrats ... and the once-commonplace understanding of patrician R's and plebian D's is greatly eroded.

Love that headline, "Intelligent Design meets its maker."

-- Rick

One of the reasons I strongly supported Edwards in the primaries last time was his evident committment to sweeping campaign finance reform. The way he sold it was exactly right: "(paraphrase, obviously) I will stand on the WH lawn regularly and tell the American people, in dollar amounts, what the legal corruption of our campaign finance system cost them lately". It's the same approach as newsie's, and just excellent. Not only does this flick down the lazy-eyed 'they all do it' meme, but it undermines bogus and/or expired liberal CW, much of which is currently met with bovine acceptance (including by liberals sometimes! gak!).

George Bush's line, 'it's your money' was very very strong; like most of his stuff, it was a gobsmackingly cynical con. But the line is good and very popular - for good reason. One liberal canard is that liberals (Democrats) want a 'nanny state' which will kill individual initiative (the lack of which was the only problem about Katrina, after all!). But the reality really doesn't jibe with that. Democrats actually want a fair tax code. Rare, these days, would be the vital exponent of American liberalism who wouldn't want regular working people to have more money in their pockets, or to actually get their money's worth for what they pay out. Republicans have ceded consensus (Eisenhower) conservatism to liberals, and (civil) libertarianism, too. The 'party of ideas' isn't really about anything anymore. A weakness, to put it mildly.

Focusing on what all this corruption - legal and otherwise - actually costs people is not only urgently needed good policy, but it's very good politics, too. What you choose to run on says a lot about you, and people are totally hip to that; it doesn't even necessarily matter that the goals you ran on aren't reached (kaff kaff, republicans, kaff - in fact, all the better for the gop that theirs aren't reached)! By choosing to highlight this stuff, the dem party would really be saying more than 'we're against corruption'. It would also be quietly saying: The Federal Government cannot, and does not want to, live your lives for you. We want to get down to brass tacks. We want to make sure you have more choices, but it's up to you what to do with them. The government's job is to honestly steward our national wealth. Corruption costs you personally, and costs the nation. It's your money.

I had a harrowing experience this weekend - a close encounter with the War On Christmas! I won't go into detail, but it involved watching the pathetic Jackie Mason on O'Reilly's show, and degenerated into blind, senseless, rage (not from me!). I was yelled at in the ugliest, most personal way for seeming to have the wrong opinion, and it all almost came to blows. (I'm definitely not a 'come to blows' kind of guy, unless I'm getting mugged). It shook me. These were friends. I've never experienced anything like it. It was blind cultural rage - fear, in other words.

People have so much anxiety these days. Weird as it may sound to some of us, some people really ARE worried about the government 'taking over their lives'; about LAWYERS wrecking everything (they don't consider that the representitives they support are being bought off by the companies who hire those lawyers); the War Against Boys; the war against the little guy and simple American values. You can find plenty of hypocrisy and absurdity about this stuff, but that doesn't dispatch the fact of this partially warranted fear, doesn't deal with it. I myself understand a lot of this anxiety, although I usually identify very different culprits. People want control over their lives, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. They get manipulated by shameless pimps like O'Reilly and politicans, but that doesn't mean that the anxiety itself is invented.

The problem with the current feedback loop is that Culture can mostly never be worked out legislatively, but repubs always run on cultural issues (for obvious reasons). Gay marriage and parental notification and ID and Schiavo are symbols more than central cultural issues, and these 'conservatives' have an endless supply of symbols. The Democrats have to be about: 'it's not the government's business to regulate morals or religion or culture or anyone's private life. Yes! Get the government off your back!' I know some liberals might not like that tack (vis a vis gay civil rights, for instance, which I strongly support); but, let's face it, the American People as a whole aren't particularly intolerant; their politics have been hijacked by cynical hucksters who stoke their fears. The conservatives are going to lose the 'culture wars' post-Bush anyway, so why not run to lead the WHOLE country, to take care of the big things? Like money! All this Kulturekampf stuff - as defined - is so symbiotic; and it's no upside for us, no downside for them. What I'm suggesting doesn't mean betraying liberal values, it means changing the basis of the conversation - which is remarkably easy to do if you have guts/nerve. It's an exposed flank we can attack if we ever figure out how to lighten up a little, be less literal.

ok, now that I've made this nice, quicksilver thread clotted...one more thing, since it's an open thread:

Via Eric Martin and the essential blog formally know as Liberals Against Terrorism (now called American Footprints), a must read essay by Yahia Said, the best thing I've read about Iraq in a long time. Every Democrat, every liberal should read it, IMO. It's on Democracy Arsenal, and I bet many have already, but...just in case.

Interesting about the TIME poll. It has him at 41, higher than most recent polls, but still his all-time low in that poll (42 in early September).

-- Rick

He's going to be at his all time low in all polls except rasmussen. That one can't decide what to do.

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