Thursday, August 31, 2006

Now CONDI embarrasses herself before the American Legion

This is unbelievable, sheer insanity now.

Just two days after Donald Rumsfeld decided to excoriate the United States of America in front of the American Legion, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice ALSO decided to embarrass herself with yet another speech to the American Legion.

While Rumsfeld's speech could only have appealed to people who hate America and find brown shirts vaguely attractive, Condi's address could only appeal to those with the attention span of a gnat, and the intellect to boot.

But they appear to be written to work together--good cop and bad cop, says this could only be described as a sinister version of a Laurel & Hardy film called "Nazi Cop, Dumb Cop."

The transcript of the speech can be found at the Secretary of State's website--and it's a scary one as well.

I'm especially reminded of America's resolve in times of adversity, as we come upon the fifth anniversary of September the 11th. That day, America encountered the darker nature of our world, and our nation's course was profoundly altered.

Yes.  That's true.  You know that seemingly genial, kinda slow-witted guy who seemed like a good beer-buddy when 49% of Americans voted for him for president?  Turns out he's an aggressively belligerent dry-drunk sociopath with a theocratic megalomania complex and a gift for corporate cronyism.

Who knew?  The world's nature is dark indeed.

Consider the progress we have made: Five years ago, the members of al-Qaida were largely free to operate, to organize, to travel, to move money, to communicate with each other, and to plan attacks to murder innocent people. Today, however, five years later, America is leading a great coalition of countries in the fight against terrorists.

You know, when I think about the truly GREAT countries of the world, Britain, Poland and Costa Rica are the first ones that come to mind.  Absolutely.  I'm sure that most Americans would agree.

Together, we are seizing their money. We're closing their sanctuaries.

Sanctuaries like...Pakistan.  Have you seen the sheer number of troops we have in Waziristan right now?  Why, the number must be in the high two-figures!  The Taliban that originated in Pakistan, the terrorist network that the British liquid explosives guys went to in Pakistan--all being scoured as we speak by...umm....well, never mind.

We're hunting their cells. We're killing and capturing their leaders.

Lemme see about this.  Osama bin Laden?  Alive.  Ayman al-Zawahiri, his #2?  Alive.  Al-Zarqawi?  Dead--after three years.  The general Al-Qaeda network? Stronger, by all accounts, than it used to be.

Heckuva job, Condi!

Because we've gone on the offense, America is safer, but we are not yet safe, as we've seen just recently with the foiled terror plot in London.

Gee, ya think?  Two years later: "Because we've gone on the offense in bombing Tehran, America is safer--but we are not yet safe, as we've seen just recently with the spate of Iranian suicide bombings in Starbucks all across America.  As long as Republicans remain at the helm, you can trust that America will take the fight to its enemies.

By the way, Syria?  You're next.  Bring 'em on!"

We know that every day, each and every day, violent extremists are plotting new ways to do us harm.

That's true: President Bush himself said that he is always thinking of new ways to harm our country.  I know I'm scared of these violent extremists in the White House--I think most Americans are, too.

Today, five years after the attack on our nation, people still differ about what September 11th called us to do. On the one hand, if you focus only on the attacks themselves and believe that they were caused by 19 hijackers supported by a network called al-Qaida, operating from a failed state, Afghanistan, then the response can be limited.

Condi, on the other hand, believes that it was actually a Balrog of Morgoth from Transylvania who attacked us.  We, on the other hand, believe that 19 Saudi terrorists training in Afghanistan attacked us because we happen in live in a little place called reality.

But if you believe, as I do, and as President Bush does, that the root cause of September 11th was the violent expression of a global extremist ideology, an ideology that thrives on the oppression and despair of the Middle East, then we must seek to remove this source of terror by helping the people of that troubled region to transform their countries and to transform their lives.

Do you mean the sort of oppression and despair fostered by our Saudi allies?  The dictatorship of our Pakistani allies?  The bloody dictatorship of our Uzbek ally?

Meanwhile, I do agree with Condi on one point: bunker-buster bombs do wonders for transforming lives and the landscapes of troubled regions.  What greater transformation is there than "here today, gone tomorrow?"

The dream of some, that we could avoid this conflict, that we did not have to take sides in this battle in the Middle East...

What is she talking about?  Who is she talking about?  I'd like her to show me the American who thinks that we shouldn't have dismantled Al-Qaeda and killed Osama Bin Laden.  Where is that American, Condi?  We're angry because you HAVEN'T done those things, dimwit.

Under President Bush's leadership, the United States is now standing shoulder to shoulder with moderate men and women all across the Middle East.

That's good, because you certainly aren't standing with moderate men at home.

Five years ago, who could have imagined that a vibrant debate about democratic reform and economic reform and social reform would be raging in every country of the Broader Middle East, a debate not about whether to proceed with reform, but how to proceed? Who could have imagined the positive changes we have already witnessed in places as different as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait and Morocco, and Jordan? Sure, there have been many setbacks and step backs in each of these cases, but the steps forward are also taking place.

"Who could have imagined?"  She didn't just say that again, did she?  Seems to be an incredible failure of imagination by this White House, no?

And Earth to Condi: I think there have been more setbacks than steps forward.  Just possibly.

And who could have imagined that the people of Lebanon would stand up by the hundreds of thousands and call for the Syrian occupation of their country to end and for a new democratic future to begin?

That's right, folks.  Lebanon is one of the greatest success stories of our times.  That's how this Administration defines success.  Didn't you know?

In Afghanistan, the Taliban is terrorizing the Afghan people and trying to stop their democratic progress.

Oh yeah, those guys.  I thought we defeated them.  Guess not.  Given that we first invaded Afghanistan five years ago, the Taliban must have greater military capabilities than the combined forces of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.  Tough nut to crack, those guys.

But on the other hand, there are unsettling questions. Is success possible? Is it really worth the effort? Do the Iraqi people really want to live together in peace and freedom, the peace and freedom for which our troops have sacrificed so much. Or do they desire a darker path, somehow, of violence?

Well, let me answer that for you, Condi.  Success is NOT possible--not while you are the Secretary of State.  And yes, the Iraqi people desire a darker path of violence, as long as American troops are occupying their country.

See?  That was simple.  You asked questions, and I answered them.


And there's so much more where that came from.

I encourage you all to read the whole thing.  It's an encyclopedia of inane stupidity.

Which is apparently all they've got at this point: fascism and inane stupidity.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Why Does Donald Rumsfeld Hate America?

I wish this were snark.

Donald Rumsfeld came out with a vicious screed against mom, baseball and apple pie today, launching a vicious rhetorical assault on the United States of America.

In an especially candid interview, Rumsfeld compared Uncle Sam to a dim-witted Neville Chamberlain, stating that Americans were guilty of appeasement of fascists.

Of course, it's not suprising that Mr. Rumsfeld has contempt for Joe Sixpack, given his intellectual elitism that leads him to believe he has a better grasp on history than the vast majority of Americans.

To top it off, apparently Rumsfeld believes that Americans are deeply befuddled about themselves and the world--not only on an rational level, but on a deep-seated moral and personal level.

I'm not kidding.

Rumsfeld said all this in a speech today to the American Legion in Salt Lake City, Utah.  The transcript is not yet available, but certain quotes are, through releases in the traditional media.

As you read this, please keep in mind that a full 65 percent of Americans disapprove of Bush's handling of the Iraq "war".  

.  If this were a presidential election, it would be a landslide of epic proportions.

And yet Rumsfeld truly believes that sixty-five percent of America are cowardly, traitorous, dim-witted, morally confused appeasers.

Some choice quotes:

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Tuesday accused critics of the Bush administration's Iraq and counterterrorism policies of lacking the courage to fight terror.

That's sixty-five percent of America he's talking about.  He just called America a nation of cowards. Personally, from what I've seen of America, we're not a country to be messed with.  We pull pre-emptive strikes on other nations and stuff.

If I hated America as much as Donald Rumsfeld does, I'd be worried; after all, look at what we did to Saddam Hussein--and he never threatened us at all!


In unusually explicit terms, Rumsfeld portrayed the administration's critics as suffering from "moral and intellectual confusion" about what threatens the nation's security.

I do wish most Americans had Donald Rumsfeld's intellectual and moral clairvoyance.  Most Americans are too stupid and too sociopathic to see how our troops are being greeted as liberators, how Saddam had huge stockpiles of nuclear weapons, how the war has paid for itself in a few short months with Iraqi oil, and how Iraq is now a beacon of democracy for the Middle East.

Donald Rumsfeld has the moral vision and intellectual clarity to see it.  Why doesn't America?

Addressing several thousand veterans at the American Legion's national convention, Rumsfeld recited what he called the lessons of history, including the failed efforts to appease the Adolf Hitler regime in the 1930s.

"I recount this history because once again we face the same kind of challenges in efforts to confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism" he said.

My friends, this is NOT the same America that defeated Germany and Japan in World War II.  This is a cowardly nation, a defeatist nation--a nation quivering in terror at Islamofascism.  If liberals were in charge, we'd all be quivering in terror at airports, unable to bring personal possessions on a plane, and we'd be locking up, deporting, and denying entry to Americans simply on suspicion of being Muslim.  Thank God that Republicans are in charge, so that we don't have to live in liberal fear.

And frankly, since sixty-five percent of America apparently wants to live in Neville ChamberLand, I say, "to hell with America!"  I am glad that Donald Rumsfeld agrees.


"But it is apparent that many have still not learned history's lessons," he said, adding that part of the problem is that the American news media have tended to emphasize the negative rather than the positive.

There goes that liberal elitist intellectual paternalism  again.  These people think that regular Americans don't know anything, that we're stupid to figure out what's best for us.

Real Americans know that Iraq is a major front in World War III against IslamoFascists; that negative media images lost us the Vietnam War (thank God we hanged Walter Cronkite for Treason); and that pro-war propaganda was the only reason we won the Battle of Midway.

Of course, most Americans aren't real anymore.  They're fake Americans.  Sixty-five percent of 'em.


I just have one question for the right wing at this point: "Why does Donald Rumsfeld Hate America?"  He's an intellectual elitist snob who thinks that Americans are confused, cowardly appeasers who are voting against their own self-interest.

After all, if it's good for the goose, it's gotta be good for the gander.


[Cross-posted from My Left Wing]

Monday, August 28, 2006

It's Now or Never: Run Against Corporate America's GOP

They're down, but they're not out.  Yet.

It's time to put the GOP out of its misery this election cycle by standing up for REAL America, and against the GOP's Corporate America.

Don't believe me?  You think that running against corporate America is a bad idea?

Well, don't take MY word for it.  Take the word of Frank Luntz.  And the words of his Republican friends.

Lost in the already much discussed New York Times article about the Living Wage vs. Productivity gap are some flatly AMAZING quotes from the GOP side of the aisle.

But polls show that Americans disapprove of President Bush's handling of the economy by wide margins and that anxiety about the future is growing. Earlier this month, the University of Michigan reported that consumer confidence had fallen sharply in recent months, with people's expectations for the future now as downbeat as they were in 1992 and 1993, when the job market had not yet recovered from a recession.

"Some people who aren't partisans say, `Yes, the economy's pretty good, so why are people so agitated and anxious?' " said Frank Luntz, a Republican campaign consultant. "The answer is they don't feel it in their weekly paychecks." think, Frank?  Maybe if you keep helping enough voters believe that the Estate Tax is wrongly named, and call it the Death Tax instead to get it repealed, the average American will have more money in their pockets.  No?  You mean the billionaires are keeping it all and the little guy is getting screwed?  Unbelievable!  Where's the trickle down when we need it!?

But it gets even better.  Here's the money quote:

But Mr. Luntz predicted that the economic mood would not do significant damage to Republicans this fall because voters blamed corporate America, not the government, for their problems.

You hear that, you timid DLC Democrats?  You hear that, you populist-message-averse moral midgets of the "centrist" left?  That's the horsey's own mouth talking.

The horsey is letting you know in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS that the same Corporate America that is buying America lock, stock and barrel in a Hostile Takeover through the ventriloquist dummy of the Republican Party, is viewed completely separately from that Republican Party.

The same Corporate America that is lining the pockets of everyone from George Bush to Rick Santorum's lowliest staffer is going to get away with the wholesale purchase of the government, and the public isn't going to call them on it.

And the same GOP that has been trashing and ruining our Government by selling us down the river to the Corporate fat cats and then telling us, "See? Government doesn't work!", are going to get away with dissociating themselves the very government they created as if the disaster happened all by itself.

It's time to grow some balls (figuratively speaking) and TIE THIS ELEPHANT TO CORPORATE AMERICA--AND RUN AGAINST THEM BOTH.

There are two economies out there," Mr. Cook, the political analyst, said. "One has been just white hot, going great guns. Those are the people who have benefited from globalization, technology, greater productivity and higher corporate earnings.

"And then there's the working stiffs,'' he added, "who just don't feel like they're getting ahead despite the fact that they're working very hard. And there are a lot more people in that group than the other group."

Two economies: one for the working stiffs, the other for Corporate America.

And yet, according to Frank Luntz, the working stiffs will rail against Corporate America, while voting in their favorite God, Guns and Gays politicians.

And he's right.  They'll do exactly that.  Unless, of course, some progressive politicians with a fucking spine step in draw the connection for the voters.

I'll close where the article closes--with a quote from Treasury Secretary Paulson that would be hilarious if it weren't so tragic and infuriating:

"Many aren't seeing significant increases in their take-home pay," Mr. Paulson said. "Their increases in wages are being eaten up by high energy prices and rising health care costs, among others."

At the same time, he said that the Bush administration was not responsible for the situation, pointing out that inequality had been increasing for many years. "It is neither fair nor useful," Mr. Paulson said, "to blame any political party."

Oh...I think it's fair alright.  It's true that the disparities were also growing under Clinton--though slower than they are now.  Then again, Clinton's DLC policies allowed for NAFTA and a host of other anti-worker legislation.

But whether or not it's fair--and it is--I'll be damned if it isn't useful.  I can guarantee you Frank Luntz would use it.  Of course, the Bob Shrums and D.C. Democratic consultants have such a better track record than the likes of Frank Luntz, that I'm sure they know what they're doing.  They'll just come out with a fany slogan like "Six for '06" or "Let America Be America Again" and everything will be fine and dandy...

What are you waiting for, Reid and Pelosi?  A graven invitation?  

The GOP is running scared.  The door has been left wide open.

It's time get some balls and walk through it.  It's time to run an old-school, Huey Long populist economic campaign to go along with a national-security Withdraw from the Occupation of Iraq campaign.

It's time to draw the distinction between REAL America--owners of the DEMOCRATIC party--and CORPORATE America, owners of the GOP.

Or we can play timid and watch Frank Luntz laugh.

Your choice.

[Cross-posted from My Left Wing]

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

We're Just Not That Concerned About Him

Washington, D.C.--Eight weeks after a dragnet conducted in cooperation with local Thai authorities failed to catch John Mark Karr, the elusive mastermind allegedly behind the murder of JonBenet Ramsey and other serial child molestation charges, President Bush responded forcefully to critics of his handling of the issue.

Said Bush: "I'm just not that concerned about him.  He's hiding out and trapped in the jungle down there.  He's been marginalized."

Upon further questioning, he added, "I'm just not that concerned about him.  We'll get him eventually."

Parents of the aggrieved children, including the Ramseys, have been extremely critical of the administration's efforts in the case.  They have cited above all the administration's placing 90% of all available intelligence and Interpol personnel in nearby Laos to topple a dangerous tarantula-smuggling operation, and have demanded that Bush follow the recommendations of the Child Molestation FBI Panel to place more emphasis on child abuse prevention, and to place more agents on the trail of John Mark Karr.

Bush grew angry at such suggestions.  "People like the Ramseys simply want to cut and run.  We have an obligation to the Laotian people to put this tarantula-smuggling operation away once and for all.  We cannot let the tarantula smugglers win, or the John Mark Karr's of the world will bring their depraved molestation to America."

Asked what tarantula-smuggling and child molestation had to do with each other, Bush said, "Nothing!" and laughed.

When asked about his use of the words "Wanted: Dead or Alive" to describe the CIA's attitude toward the capture or killing of John Mark Karr, Bush called his previous language "unfortunate."  "Sometimes," said Bush, "I say things I shouldn't say.  Laura gets on my case about that.  Heh heh."

Rumors have spread that Mr. Karr has been seen around the outskirts of the Thai capital of Bangkok.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was asked why, if we knew the general whereabouts of Mr. Karr, the world's most wanted fugitive remains at large.  Responded Rumsfeld, "We know exactly where Mr. Karr is.  He is in the area of Bangkok.  And maybe east, west, north and south somewhat."

Throughout the conference, Rumsfeld maintained his good humor and good nature.  After a reporter asked Rumsfeld if he could be more specific about Mr. Karr's location, Rumsfeld joked, "Well, there are known knowns and unknown knowns, and unknown unknowns.  But if he's around Bangkok, we'll get him.  Sooner or later."

Added Rumsfeld, "Bangkok.  Hahaha.  Bang Cock.  Get it?  Haaha."

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

What Are They Hiding, Exactly?

American politics is a tiresome game: one side cheats, lies, and steals, while the other plays a pee-wee league game of special rules.

Case in point: NSA Warrantless Wiretapping.  The GOP lies its ass off, and the Dems play a gentleman's game and fall right into the trap.

Democrats are allowing the general public to believe that we think it's wrong to wiretap terrorists--and this issue is going to kill us unless we do something about it.

The usual conversation goes something like this:

GOP: We need to wiretap terrorists to protect America!

Dems: But Bush's wiretapping is an illegal invastion of privacy!

Gee, let me guess which argument the American people are going to agree with??  The one that makes them feel safer--the one that makes them sleep better at night.  The one that they trust.  The Republican argument.

In fact, most Americans find the so-called Progressive argument here pathetic--and rightly so.

If you need any further proof, here are three recent political cartoons about the NSA program:

It's high time that Democrats made something very clear to the American people: THIS IS NOT AN ISSUE OF BALANCING SECURITY VERSUS CIVIL LIBERTIES.  In a battle between Security and Civil Liberties, Civil Liberties usually loses.  ON THE CONTRARY: We think it's a great idea to wiretap terrorists--just get a warrant so that we know you're actually spying on terrorists.

This is so preposterously easy to frame that it defies belief that our national Dems aren't already doing so.

For starters, it's incredibly important to note that this is NOT the "NSA Wiretapping Scandal."  This is the "Warrantless Wiretapping Scandal."  Anyone who uses the phrase "NSA Wiretapping Scandal" without including the word "Warrantless" is essentially guilty of aiding and abetting Republican rule.

More importantly, however, if I'm a Democrat with a national voice, here's what I say: "The whole purpose of getting a warrant--and they're really easy to get--is to make sure that the person being spied on is really a terrorist suspect, and not a political opponent or ordinary American.  The ONLY reason NOT to get a warrant is if they wanted to spy on somebody who wasn't a terrorist.  My question is, what are they trying to hide?"

END OF LINE.  It's really that easy.


This is a question of TRUST.  All Constitutional questions aside, the reason that Democrats have a problem with the NSA program is because we KNOW that it's being used to spy on political opponents--we just can't prove it.  The reason Republicans have no problem with it is because they TRUST Bush is using it to keep them safe.

What we have to erode in the minds of the American public is TRUST.  And we don't do that by screaming about civil liberties or Constitutional niceties.

We erode TRUST by letting the American people know that the Republicans are HIDING something.  They're spying on ALL of us--if they weren't, why wouldn't they just get a warrant?  WHAT ARE THEY HIDING?

If the law as written weren't good enough, why wouldn't they just change the law?  WHAT ARE THEY HIDING?

Erode trust, and you win.  Whine about constitutional liberties, and you lose.


These are the questions that will turn this issue into a progressive victory; failure to ask them will turn this issue into a GOP club against Democrats.

It's time to come out swinging, get out of the pee-wee leagues, and get into the big leagues.  Ask the TOUGH questions, Dems.  The ones that will erode TRUST in the GOP.

[Cross-posted from My Left Wing]

The DLC couldn't beat my dead great-grandma

So, ummmm...Ned Lamont won.  Hooray for us, right?  Hooray for all those CT activists, right?

Well, yes.  The blogs helped support a groundswell of grassroots activism on the ground in CT, and lots of people worked their butts off to make this happen.

But gimme a break people.  We didn't do this--not the bloggers, and not the CT activists.

This was never our race to win.  It was Joe Lieberman's to lose.  More specifically, it was the DLC's to lose.

And, as usual, the DLC lost.  Again.  With that ever familiar 48% number staring them in the face.

Let's face some cold, hard facts, people.  We didn't do this, because what we supposedly DID was impossible to do--in any politcal climate.  

In one corner, you had a bunch of unpaid volunteers, Internet rabble-rousers, and an inexperienced politician whose highest post had been County Selectman.

In the other, you had the three-time Senator, former vice-presidential candidate, visible party statesman, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid, Barbara Boxer, the other popular CT senator Dodd, most of Organized Labor, the women's groups and the environmental groups, most of traditional Democratic party support, paid lobbyist support, paid armies of GOTV staff, the slick ad money, the top DLC consultants, and a 3 to 1 budget gap.

I'm sorry.  That's not David vs. Goliath.  This isn't even the NBA champions versus a rec league team.That's more like an ant vs. my shoe.

And the shoe lost.


But then, the DLC is an old shoe--and the most politically incompetent shoe I've ever seen.  The truth is that the DLC couldn't beat my dead great-grandmother.  Or yours.

They couldn't beat their own shadow.  So why did anyone think they could beat Karl Rove?


Honestly, the GOP doesn't need Diebold to win elections.  All it needs is to have the DLC as an opponent.

America underestimates just how far we've been sold down the river by these incompetent DLC clowns. Let me repeat this again:

A three-time Senator, former vice-presidential candidate, visible party statesman, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid, Barbara Boxer, the other popular CT senator Dodd, most of Organized Labor, the women's groups and the environmental groups, most of traditional Democratic party support, the slick ad money, the top DLC consultants, lobbyist support, armies of paid GOTV staff, and a 3 to 1 budget gap couldn't beat a freaking County Selectman and his unpaid volunteers.

In fact, all that DLC institutional support garnered THE SAME 48% AGAINST US THAT IT GARNERED AGAINST GEORGE W. BUSH.  The DLC had to turn the guns of 6 presidential candidates in a circular firing squad to bring down Howard Dean.

You see, I don't think Karl Rove's a genius.  I think that America has been served with the biggest bunch of political mental midgets it has seen since the Know Nothing Party--or since the Pennsylvania Greens, take your pick.

I think that these people who get paid the big bucks for no other reason than to WIN ELECTIONS, couldn't win an election for elementary school class president--especially given equal resources with its 5th grade opponent.

And the result of that is an bumbling, evil idiot for a president who should never have held a second term in the first place if we had had anything but total bumbling idiots for a political opposition party.

And a nation in shambles.


It's time to rout them ALL out, one by one.

Republicans have lies backed by money and power.  We have the truth, backed by unpaid energy, little money and no power.

The DLC has proved that no matter what advantage it begins with, it's incapable of beating either.

It's time to take them behind the woodshed and put the poor, useless creatures out of their misery and get some fresh blood in there.

Even my dead great-grandma's.  She'd be a better bet to get more than 48% of an election.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Where are the Youth? I'll Tell You Where They Are!

It seems that there is a cottage industry in the liberal blogosphere of questioning the patriotism and activism of today's youth.  You hear it all the time from baby boomers looking back wistfully at the 60's, wondering where the next generation of protesters and angry progressives went.

We've seen push backs against this meme in diaries like this and like this, basically admitting youth apathy, but saying that it's "really really hard" or that youth feel a "sense of hopelessness".

The trouble is that all of this is just pure bullshit.  And I'm going to prove it.

Exhibit A: The recent Bloomberg Poll linked to by Kos on the frontpage:

A Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll of Americans age 18 to 24 found Bush's approval rating was 20 percent, with 53 percent disapproving and 28 percent with no opinion.  That compares to a 40 percent approval rating among Americans of all ages in a separate Bloomberg/Times poll...

"Across a broad swatch of social issues, younger Americans see the administration as being out of line with what they believe." ...

"It's overly simplistic to say people hate Bush, people hate the war," Kirby said.  While "Republicans could do a better job" winning over young Americans, Kirby said, "Democrats aren't offering ideological vision for the future that's exciting to young people."

Democrats not offering a vision?  I've never heard anything like that before.  But it's important to note that Bush's approval among youth is HALF that of the general public.

Exhibit B: American Idol votes.  It is old hat by now that more Americans voted for the winner of American Idol than for President:

RONALD Reagan set a record when he received 54.5 million votes to claim the United States presidency in 1984. In 2004, George Bush broke it with nearly 62 million under his belt.

But in a new indicator of just how seriously America takes its elections - or, perhaps, how seriously it takes the post of president - a grey-haired soul singer from Alabama has eclipsed both by scooping an unprecedented 63.4 million votes to claim a far loftier title: the new American Idol.

Now, most detractors of this statistic point to the fact that those under 18 can vote on Idol, while they cannot vote for the election.  But how many young people, at least in the 18-24 bracket, are actually voting on Idol?

According to the LA Times:

Myth: More young adults cast ballots for "American Idol" than vote in political elections.

Truth: Only 21% of poll respondents ages 18 to 24 said they had voted for an "American Idol" contestant. But 53% said they had voted for a candidate for public office.

(Vince Bucci / Getty Images

That's right, people.  53% of 18-24 year olds said that they had voted for a candidate for public office; 21% for American Idol.  Now, the respondents could have been lying, but it does not surprise me, as a market researcher, than the demographic of youth who would respond to such a poll would have voted in a presidential election.

I wonder who is doing all the American Idol voting?  Perhaps it's the same people with 20 years' experience in marketing departments who are peddling this crap in the first place...


But why aren't they protesting in the streets, you ask, if they are so engaged, and so upset with Bush?

I'll tell you why.  For same reason they aren't going to the movies: in the overpriced and over-commodified society in which we live, they simply cannot afford to.

From the LA Times again, this time about movies:

Myth: Box-office receipts have suffered in recent years because the movies are bad and young people don't like bad movies.

Truth: The main reason young people give for not liking the theater experience is that tickets and concessions cost too much. Bad movies were ranked below moviegoers who talk during the feature and too many advertisements.

(Ken Hively / LAT)

And the rest of life is, well, slightly more expensive than your average $14 movie ticket.  Anyone who's been paying any attention knows that life is getting extremely expensive, especially for young people.

Nowhere is this case made more forcefully clear than in Tamara Draut's excellent book Strapped: Why America's 20- and 30-Somethings Can't Get Ahead.  From the Publisher's Weekly:

It's hard to believe: "Today's college grads are making less than the college grads of thirty years ago." In fact, men aged 25 to 34 with bachelor's degrees are making just $6,000 more than those with high school diplomas did in 1972. This is just one of the many shocking statistics uncovered by Draut, a think-tank adviser and media pundit, in this incisive and revealing look at why today's young adults find financial independence so difficult. With catchy terms such as "debt-for-diploma" and "paycheck paralysis," Draut shows why this age group's ability to accomplish the traditional adult markers of school, career and family is stagnating. Her presentation features the one-two punch of well-sourced data and a series of stories from a diverse group of interview subjects to prove her thesis that depressed wages, inflated educational costs, soaring credit card debt and skyrocketing health and child-care expenses present nearly insurmountable obstacles to young adults' success.

That's right, boomers.  Back in your day, you could go to college, trip out on acid, protest the war, get B and C averages, and still find a freaking job, without having to cover massive student loans and skyrocketing rents and mortgage costs.

For today's youth, a Master's Degree costing $120,000 has almost become a necessity for getting the 60-hour-a-week corporate job that will allow you to pay down that $500,000 mortgage in some crappy suburban sprawl-filled area of American Wal-Mart hell. And oh--you don't have a 3.5 GPA? Sorry, there are ten other candidates who DO ready to take your place.


But still, why not protest?

Well, perhaps you could start with the fact that everyone's lives are now an open book, and stuff you do in college reverberates to your life in the corporate world; to the fact that background checks are now instantaneous and automatic for any serious position.

But hey--nobody here is worried about that, right?  We're all brave progressives here!  In fact, let me just pull out the real names of some Kossacks here....oh, wait.  That's a bannable offense.

In fact, outside of some of the most famous bloggers here, my Real-Life (RL) identity is one of the few that you can easily find with a simple google search.  I don't hide it.

If you want to know why some of our progressive activists don't take too many risks, start by asking yourself why you use a clever username and don't put out any info that would identify you in real life.

It's about, you know, making a living.  Put yourself in the wrong situation, and you won't be able to pay off that college debt, or that rent or that mortgage.


Finally, there is the question of leadership.

Back in the 1960's, boomers had three presidents for leaders, each with incredible foibles, but each extraordinary in their own way: Nixon, Johnson and Kennedy.

Nixon opened up China and founded the EPA.

Johnson promoted the Great Society.

And Kennedy was, well, Kennedy.

Meanwhile, the best the boomer generation could come up with for presidential candidates to inspire America were...wait for it...John Kerry and George W. Bush.

Perhaps, instead of asking where the youth activism went, we should be asking where the leadership went.  Kossacks are proud to speak of the need for a Democratic Party that leads the people in progressive causes rather than putting their fingers to the popular wind; perhaps it's time for some real leadership from this great generation of 60's Activists that the youth hear about so often.


The truth is that there is no youth apathy problem.

We DESPISE Bush, and we turn out in elections like never before--in spite of the weapons of mass distraction peddled by our elders in this shallow consumer culture.

But we're doing exactly what YOU'RE ALL DOING RIGHT HERE: keeping our heads down and not rocking the boat too much so that we can afford to pay the freaking rent--because living expenses have risen versus wages by, oh, only a gazillion percent.  And just one small misstep can get us fired, or lose us clients.

Not that we've seen too many inspiring leaders to give us hope for the future, anyway: Ned Lamont, John Conyers and Russ Feingold aren't exactly household names.  George Bush, Dick Cheney, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry are, unfortunately.

Because if boomers want to know what's wrong with America today, they shouldn't look at the youth.  We're doing what we can.  They should look in the mirror.

[Cross-posted from My Left Wing]