Saturday, June 30, 2007

Why Impeachment Isn't Happening: It's Not What You Think

What do you do when even the boldest actions necesssary for the salvation of the Republic are seen as nothing more than banal political games?

It has become clear by now that there is currently an enormous groundswell of support for impeachment proceedings throughout the progressive blogosphere, as traditionally "pragmatist" opponents of impeachment are falling one by one by one. The shift in sentiment towards impeachment has been especially strong in the face of a couple of crystallizing events, most notably Cheney's late fourthbranch defense and the White House's adamant refusal to obey subpoenas.

Predictably, the failure of Congressional Democrats to make serious moves toward the submission of Articles of Impeachment--and no, neither Leahy's subpoenas nor the support of eleven representatives count as serious moves--has ignited a firestorm of criticism from all corners of the blogosphere.

Typically, the blogosphere's critiques of both our progressive and not-so-progressive Democrats in office focus on their supposed cowardice in the face of the Bush Administration and their Republican opponents. These Democrats are supposed to be risk-averse DLC-infested reeds in the political wind, taking the least controversial stands possible in the hopes of winning elections by the backdoor of the Republicans' own political suicide. And certainly, it would appear that this portrait of ineffectual and pusillanimous "leadership" was on full display during the so-called Iraq Supplemental battle in which Democrats pretended to stand against Bush's illegal Occupation, and then caved for fear of being seen as failing to "fund the troops." Our Democratic leadership does have a history of betraying its own base and even a majority of the American People in order, it would seem, to avoid making waves.

But there is another explanation besides simple weakness and aversion to risk that explains the Democrats' stance on both the Occupation of Iraq, and on Impeachment. Fear of the Bush Administration itself is hardly motivating Democrats: we know that Bush has lost all credibility with even his base, much less the American public. Fear of policy-centered counterattacks from Republicans in congress and their corporatist allies in the media is somewhat more compelling--but even this is not so scary, given that the public supports the Democratic position on every major policy issue. And Democrats like Rahm Emmanuel are not afraid to take otherwise strong stands against such abuses as Cheney's FourthBranch arguments with brilliant counterattacks.

More than anything else, it seems, the Democrats are afraid of being characterized as playing petty politics with critical issues of governance. When we distill the arguments against defunding the Occupation and against submitting Articles of Impeachment down to their core, the same fundamental arguments always rear their ugly heads. On Iraq, everyone knows that the Surge is a disaster; everyone knows that the public has soured against it; everyone knows that the "flypaper defense" is discredited. But the argument that stops defunding in its tracks is the one in which Democrats are accused of playing politics with the lives of our troops.

On Impeachment, it would seem that this argument would be harder to make. How, after all, could the grave and solemn process of the impeachment of a sitting Commander in Chief (and/or his Vice President and/or Attorney General) be seen as a game of petty politics? How could anything be more important and worthy of discussion than an argument over whether the nation's leading official and so-called Leader of the Free World has violated his oath of office and trampled our sacred Constitution? How could such a grandiose undertaking pale in importance compared with any other piece of business considered by the Legislature?

It is in the answer to this question that we see the rotten fruits of the Republican effort to impeach Bill Clinton for trivial sexual escapades based on a long-running and hugely wasteful investigatory witch-hunt. Just as the Ann Coulters and Bill O'Reillys of the world have soured the American appetite for political debate and lowered the bar for political discourse to nearly subhuman levels, so too has the Republican slash-and-burn way of doing politics trivialized and cheapened even the most monumental decisions made in representative government. Impeachment today is seen not as political capital punishment to be prosecuted only under the direst of constitution-threatening circumstances, but rather as just another toy in the partisan political sandbox.

American distaste not only for Republican rule but also for partisan games is at an all-time high right now. We have a record number of Independent-affiliated voters, while both the Presidency and the Congress both have shockingly low confidence ratings indicative of a broader crisis of confidence; meanwhile, the candidacy of a relatively unknown New York corporatist billionaire is attracting far more public support than it otherwise should--even as partisan members of both parties look to candidates not currently running (Gore, Thompson) to save them from the current crop on both sides. Obama's rhetoric of Purple Power is attracting otherwise non-political voters all across America.

It is the great tragedy of the Clinton years--and of the failure by Democrats to stand adequately strongly against Republican abuses of political processes during the '90s and beyond--that Impeachment itself has come to be seen not as an essential tool of accountability for an executive run amok, but rather as another distasteful partisan ploy.

Most incredibly, what we are seeing from various sources in conversation with officials ranging from Nancy Pelosi herself to House staffers is that Democrats see a greater opportunity for boldness and political impact in the passing of legislation--even in the face of vetoes from Mr. 26%--than in moves toward impeachment. To the minds of those who purport to represent the American People, actually passing effective legislation after years of Republican misrule is considered more novel and less like politics-as-usual than the most momentous actions possible in defense of the United States Constitution. Impeachment is not being avoided due to its boldness, but rather (shockingly enough) due to its banality.

So what do we do?

With all due respect to Major Danby, a good friend whose opinion I greatly respect, a minimalist impeachment agenda is the worst of all possible worlds. It's not that the Overton Window doesn't need to be moved on the subject of impeachment; it does. But it needs to be moved in a way that most progressive bloggers aren't currently considering. The problem isn't that the American Public does not oppose the Bush Administration strongly enough to make impeachment politically viable; they do. It's that impeachment itself is seen as too petty and partisan for what currently ails the country. Attempting to make impeachment palatable to the American Public and to fence-sitting Democratic legislators through a gradual, minimalist stance focusing on obstruction of justice will not work, because impeachment is already seen as too petty and political an action for what ails our democracy. Moreover, a minimalist approach to impeachment will not serve as adequate warning to the next out-of-control President who chooses to arrogate to him/herself Bush's theory of Executive Power.

If we want impeachment to work, we have to throw the book at these people in a way that is not currently being done at the highest levels. If we want the public to understand that impeachment is a necessary duty to hold Bush and his allies accountable for deeply criminal actions rather than a cheap political ploy, our legislators must not be afraid to accuse them of deeply criminal action. We must make it clear to the American people that we are not defending some idealistic notion of the defense of Constitutional Principles, but rather opposing an Administration responsible for villainy and criminality unprecedented in modern American History. The Articles of Impeachment themselves must look less like Fitzgerald's case against Scooter Libby, and more like Thomas Jefferson's case against King George III.

Most importantly, our legislators must be made to see not only the necessity of impeachment itself, but of not mincing their words when it comes to describing Administration activities. They must not be afraid to use the words "liars", "blatantly illegal and unconstitutional", "criminal activity", "unprecedented abuses of power", or even "treason". Until we see our legislators actually using these sorts of words and phrases, we will know that they do not consider the state of affairs in America desperate enough to require impeachment. More importantly, the public will not be inclined to see the Bush Administration as dangerous enough to our way of life to merit the necessity of impeachment as a means of national self-defense, rather than as a petty partisan tool.

The hard work is just beginning. If we want to defend our Constitution and our country, the political discourse is going to have to get worse before it gets better. If we want our legislators and the American People to see impeachment not as a partisan move for naked political power but as a bold move for freedom, we must first convince them of its sheer necessity through some fairly ugly (if painfully accurate) words. If impeachment is to become extraordinary again rather than banal, we must convince the people that the times themselves are extraordinary.

Obviously, we still have a great deal of work to do.

Also at MLW


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Wtih Enemies Like These, Who Needs Friends?

Republicans and their allies just don't seem to get it. Nothing that they do actually works. Don't get me wrong--they can be successful in the short term at winning elections and enriching their fat-cat friends. They can scare and defraud enough people into voting them into office a couple of times; they can stop American action on global warming for a decade or invade non-threatening countries in the hopes of delaying peak oil.

But like a CEO who manages only with an eye toward better stock prices for the next quarter, everything that Republicans and their allies do is counterproductive over the long term--not only to the American people, but to their own interests as well. This is not only true of their self-destructive policies (the immigration disaster being chief among them), but even of their political tactics.

There's an old saying in politics: "You meet the same people going up the elevator that you do on the way down." The message? Be honest but civil; be direct but courteous; don't stab people in the back or subvert your alliances.

It's a message that has been completely lost on Republicans during the Karl Rove/Tom Delay era--presumably because they had themselves convinced that they would never be coming down that elevator again as they ascended toward a permanent Republican Majority. Unfortunately for them (and fortunately for the rest of us), the price of ignoring that wise dictum has been that their own greed and hubris has ensured the arousal of an activist, motivated population just itching bring them down a notch and see them fail. Now, like desperate villains trapped in quicksand, their every frantic move only hastens their own demise.

Nowhere is this more true than in the tactics of hatred, division and greed that they have used to earn their short-lived and ill-gotten gains. What used to work so well for them in the past now only brings them misery.

Three cases in point stand out most obviously:

1. The Joe Lieberman Fundraiser.

Republicans have been eager to use pathetic old Joementum as a wedge against Democrats. Joe's eager willingness to betray Democrats not only on policy but in the media has been legendary, and led to his eventual expulsion as the Democratic nominee in the Connecticut Senate race and his electoral rescue by the Connecticut Republican voters. The GOP and Lieberman apparently thought it would be a good idea for Joe Lieberman to host a fundraiser for the embattled Susan Collins, one of the two Republican and supposedly moderate Senators in Maine.

It was a severe miscalculation. Instead of turning into fundraiser gold and an opportunity to show the division among Democrats and the supremacy of Broderist/Mickey Kaus-style Centrism, it turned instead into a show of force by the progressive netroots for Collins' Democratic challenger, Tom Allen: by the time it was all over, had raised over $355,000 for Allen, while a 24-hour ActBlue dkos fundraiser put on by multiple kossacks including myself netted over $23,000.

While no tally is available for the actual Lieberman-Collins fundraiser, it obvious that the event totally backfired on both Lieberman and the GOP, raising substantially more money for Collins' challenger than for Collins herself.

2. Coulter's vicious attack on John Edwards

By now everyone has heard of Ann Coulter's latest idiotic and nerve-wracking statements about John Edwards. First she famously called him a "faggot". Then two days ago in an interview which can be seen here, she said the following:

Coulter: Oh, yeah -- I wouldn't insult gays by comparing them to John Edwards. That would be mean. --laugh-- But, you know, around the same time, Bill Maher was not joking when he wished Dick Cheney had been killed in a terrorist attack. So I've learned my lesson: if I'm going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I'll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot. --laugh--

Now, we can argue about whether this constitutes an actual threat to John Edwards or not. What is inescapable and unarguable, however, is the new publicity, positive imagery and fundraising ability it has given the Edwards campaign. John Edwards' much-beloved wife Elizabeth got the opportunity to attack Coulter on TV with much more restraint than I could have mustered; CNN has the story up on its front page; and the Edwards campaign is using Coulter yet again in fundraising letters as a method of propping up and increasing what would otherwise have been a middling Q2 report.

To make a long story short, the more Coulter and her ilk attack Edwards, the more likely they are to be saluting him as their next Commander-in-Chief.

3. The Money Game

Republicans have long been instrumental in ensuring that as much money as possible sloshes around Washington--the better to ensure corruption and hand-outs to their corporatist paymasters.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the Capitol: conservative mismanagment of government has combined increased political activism made possible through the Internet and the appearance of increased numbers of small donors (as well as some very concerned big donors) to change the balance of power of money game.

Today, Democrats are not only outpolling the GOP in every way, we are also (with the lone exception of the RNC/DNC battle outraising them by substantial margins. As Markos says:

It's not just the DSCC kicking ass anymore. The DCCC is also running ahead of its Republican counterpart -- $26M to $23.6M. Throw in debts, and the NRCC is at negative $5M while the DCCC has nearly $7M -- a $12M advantage for the good guys.

Meanwhile, at the DSCC, the advantage is also big $22.7M versus $12.4 raised this year. And taking debts into consideration, the DSCC has about $9M compared to the NRSC's $4.3M.

Of course, one can hope that once Democrats are fully in power, we will drive the money out of politics through publically financed elections. Until that day comes, however, the Republican insistence on putting big money into elections has only helped ensure that Americans rich and poor alike are donating as much as their beleaguered wallets will allow toward the removal of said GOP operatives from public office.


Every day and in every way, it seems that the noose grows tighter and tighter around Republican necks. Worst of all for them, they don't seem to know any political tactics beyond those of hatred and division. Those twin tactics have now played themselves out to the point where every time they are used, they do little but backfire on their own kind, just as has happened with the deadly immigration football. Every political action they take generates as much blowback domestically as have their foreign policy actions in the Middle East. Just about everything they do, in fact, just puts them further and further into a corner.

I say, with enemies like these, who needs friends?

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Monday, June 25, 2007

To Impeach or Not to Impeach: That is NOT the Question

As I have reluctantly stated before, I am in favor of impeaching the President, the Vice-President and Alberto Gonzales. Of course, I am not alone in this opinion; in fact, I came to it rather late. And certainly, it appears that more and more people are getting comfortable with the idea of impeachment--so many, in fact, that the impeachment drive can no longer be ignored by the traditional media. The Bush Administration's radical reinterpretations of the definitions of the Office of Vice-President as an island of government, and the range of authority of Executive Orders as not applicable to the Chief Executive will certain add even more fuel to what is becoming a raging Impeachment wildfire.

Of course, the "Impeach Now" crowd is not the only one capable of reasonable Progressive thought. Well-meaning, intelligent progressives may also come down on the side of what they see as Pragmatism; I myself was proud to be a member of this camp until not very long ago. Markos himself has been and may continue to be of this opinion (he hasn't written much on the subject lately). So-called Pragmatic arguments against Impeachment come in a variety of forms, including that:

  • Democrats have a chance to frame ourselves and what we will do for the country--and that given a limited amount of media oxygen, the Party will not be able to walk and chew gum simultaneously.
  • Partisan recriminations will only further divide an already deeply divided nation.
  • Above all, bitter impeachment proceedings won't help accomplish the primary goal stated in the DailyKos FAQ: to help get more Democrats elected.

The oft-cited counterargument, of course, is that in the face of an out-of-control executive that believes it has imperial powers overriding all judicial and legislative authority, impeachment is the only pragmatic recourse. The counter-counter argument is that America has largely weathered the Bush storm; we only have 18 months of this bastard left; our democracy is largely intact and Democrats just need to prove themselves the competent party of adults who can get things done rather than play partisan games. And so the wheel of question-begging arguments turns round and round.

Both sides of this argument, however, are missing the only point that really matters. Both sides are right--right in the sense that impeachment is the only way to restrain the Bush Administration's mad lust for power, and in the sense that Bush is essentially a lame duck with little time left to play Oval Office demi-god, and is already being cast to the wolves by members of his own party, while Democratic victories in 2008 are the paramount objective. But both sides are also wrong. Both sides are wrong because they are both asking themselves the wrong questions. The question at hand is not "What Do We Do About Bush?" or "How Do We Move America Forward in a Progressive Direction?" or even "How Do We Put Bush Behind Us and Create A Lasting Democratic Majority?" The real question at hand is instead "How in the world did this happen in America--and more importantly, how do we stop it from ever happening again?"

As evil as the NeoConservative agenda has clearly been, as utterly deficient in competence and moral compass as the Religious Right has been, as predictably disastrous as placing a formerly cocaine-addicted sociopathic dry drunk with a silver spoon in his mouth and serious daddy issues has been, and as monumentally insane as having former Nixon protégés be in charge of Executive secrecy and power has been, it should still shock Americans with a sense of civics and history how easy it has been for a nutso Commander-in-Chief and his morally-challenged cronies to subvert the Consitution, the will of the American People, and the very foundations of Democracy in a few short years. Had you told me back in 1999 that this could have happened in America even with the worst of leaders, I would have laughed in your face. I had confidence in the power of our structural institutions back then that I utterly lack today. For me, the key question--indeed, the only question--is how to effectively stop even the worst of madmen from ever having the power to wreak such havoc again.

Because, you see, impeachment does not answer that question. If that blessed day does finally come when Bush, Cheney, Rove and/or Gonzales are finally held to account for their crimes in House and Senate impeachment proceedings, it will not stop such abuses from happening again. As much as we would like to throw the entire book at President George just as Thomas Jefferson did to King George before him, that is not likely to happen. Instead, impeachment is likely to hang on some relatively minor crime of obstruction or other. In the context of an administration that has deceived the American people into the disastrous military occupation of a non-threatening nation, obliterated checks and balances, eliminated habeas corpus, enshrined torture into our interrogation practices, and assumed the ability to invade privacy without a warrant (among a host of other crimes), nailing George Bush for covering up the real political reasons for the firing of a few U.S. attorneys he appointed (a crass, damaging and unprecedented though not illegal move in and of itself) would seem even more hollow and anticlimactic than jailing Al Capone for tax evasion.

Most importantly, impeaching Administration officials for one offense or another will only serve to warn the next administration to avoid that offense on which the impeachment proceedings were based, rather than the entire Unitary "we create the history you'll write about later" theory of Executive Power that is the source of the trouble. Instead, rightly or wrongly, the next Administration is likelier to learn in the wake of consecutive impeachments of Clinton and Bush that an Executive who loses control of Congress is at risk of losing his/her job in an overtly rancorous and hostile political climate--perhaps leading to increased attemnpts at Executive power consolidation.

Neither, however, does the anti-Impeachment side have any better answers. Even the most optimistic political observer knows that there is a pendulum in American politics that usually works in fairly regular cycles: Democrats and Progressives won't be in control forever. God forbid, in fact, that we should create permanent institutional majorities, else we would soon need yet another revolution to rid ourselves of the Pigs who took over Manor Farm. Further, authoritarianism comes not only in the red flavors of fascism, but in blue Stalinist ones as well. Simply ensuring the election of Democrats does not and will not ensure that Bushist theories of executive power will not rise from the dead yet again.

Preventing the nation from being torn asunder through vicious partisan strife will not rescue us from an actually competent Straussian Philosopher-King removing our liberties for own good in his/her infinite wisdom.

And finally, enacting progressive policies such as guaranteed universal health care, publicly financed elections, marriage equality, progressive taxation, corporate regulations, privacy protections and the like, will do nothing to prevent the next authoritarian freak and his merry band of cronies from replaying this sordid history like an unwelcome recurring nightmare.


No, the great challenge for American democracy is neither impeachment nor corporate corruption: it is the curtailment of the power of the executive branch itself. America can survive the depradations of Republican legislators and jurists; it cannot so easily survive many more years of maniacally out-of-control chief executives and their lieutentants. That challenge will remain with us regardless of whether Democrats win in '08, or whether George Bush is impeached before then.

From this moment onward, the Presidency of George W. Bush must serve not only as a monstrous enemy to block and stymie at every opportunity, but more importantly as an object lesson: What we have witnessed here must never happen again so long as we have memories to share, eyes to see, and the will to fight.

From this moment onward, our primary political focus must not only be on passing progressive legislation in the traditional sense, but more importantly on codifying the balance of powers in such a clarion way that not even the love child of Samuel Alito and Dick Cheney could possibly mistake it for a fragile bird to shoot down with a stroke of their "Unitary Executive" pen.

From this moment onward, the specter of George Bush must hover over our government as an ever-present reminder of the frailty of our institutions, and the clear and present danger imposed not only by Republican ideology, but by unchecked Executive Power itself.

From the 2008 election onward, Progressive Policy must be defined as much by its explicit curtailments on executive power as by its work on behalf of the beleaguered middle-class and underclass.

Let us, therefore, impeach if and when we can. Let us work to elect Democrats. Let us work to pass progressive legislation.

But let us also remember that to impeach or not to impeach is not the question over which our slings and arrows should fly at one another. Because the question that should drive us, keeping us awake at night on our computers, is instead How do we stop even a mad hatter like Bush from ever sending us down this rabbit-hole again?

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Interview w/ Raven Brooks of YearlyKos' UnConventional

For the Kossacks among my readers

If you had the misfortune of missing last year's YearlyKos Convention, words alone cannot describe the magic of the experience: the extraordinary panels, wonderful people, political and blogging celebrities, eye-opening workshops, inspiring speeches, lavish parties, and just all-around fun. Describing the experience would take an amalgam of words, photographs, personal stories, recountings of the events day by day, and insights from some of your favorite Kossacks. It would take, in a nutshell, exactly what has been done in UnConventional, the official and unparalleled chronicle of the first of what promises to be a long series of exciting gatherings of bloggers and political activists. UnConventional first came out in e-book form last year, but has just become available in print form: you can either have it shipped to you sometime in late July, or simply pick it up at the YearlyKos 2007 Convention in Chicago if you are coming (and I hope you are--if not, register today!).

Best of all, any and all proceeds from the sale of the book go to help fund the YearlyKos convention--so not only do you get a great book, you also get to contribute to a good cause (I myself purchased two e-book copies and two physical copies!) As it says on the UnConventional website:
YearlyKos: Citizens, Focus and Action, an in-depth book covering the first YearlyKos convention is available NOW. A team of four brilliant photographers led by Mona Brooks along with an editorial staff led by Hunter of Daily Kos fame, documented every aspect of the convention, from caucuses to keynote speeches, from volunteers to political heavy-hitters, so many Kos bloggers, and more.

The 292 page book combines complete convention coverage with personal essays about why so many of you are here--Kossack personal stories about what being a progressive means (with beautiful portraits to boot, so you can finally see how fabulous the people you communicate with on dKos look in the reality-based world!).

All proceeds from the sale of this book will go to funding future YearlyKos conventions, so buy this gorgeous book today and secure the future of this (UnConventionally) important movement! (Also available in ebook format.)

UnConventional was put together with the help of several photographers and editors--Hunter had chief editorial duties, and Raven Brooks, former president and founder of the now-defunct, had the job of photographing (with help from four other great professional photographers, including chief photographer Mona Brooks) the Kossacks included in the book and putting those photos into book form. clammyc and I had the good fortune of talking to Raven at the convention during our photo sessions for the book--and now that Unconventional is available in print format, we had the opportunity to interview him about the book on our blogtalkradio show Political Nexus.

Some of the issues we discussed:

  • What makes UnConventional so special

  • Discount, pickup and shipping options

  • The self-publishing process for the book (including help from Jane Hamsher's and Markos' Vaster Books

  • The experience of photographing the Kossacks and politicians at the convention, and putting the book together

  • What's in the works for a chronicle of YK2007

Check out the interview online at Political Nexus--and more importantly, please consider buying this fantastic book and helping out a good cause at the same time.

Hope to see all of you in Chicago!!!

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Join in the anti-Lieberman fundraiser

Joe Lieberman (Douchebag-CT) is holding a fundraiser for endangered Republican Susan Collins of Maine. The netroots are trying to show him where he can shove that.

See here for details, and donate to Tom Allen of Maine!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Major Crisis of Confidence in America

Reading partisan blogs can often be a painful and depressing experience. Each side engages in "gotcha" blogging, attempting to catch some figure or other from the other side in a contradiction. Each side nitpicks the traditional media for some little piece of news that is supposedly of great importance, but then dies into oblivion a week later.

Most recently, the progressive blogosphere and the wingnutosphere have been engaged in one-upsmanship to see who can laugh hardest at the other guy's sinking approval/confidence ratings. We progressives cheer with derision at George Bush's atrocious all-time low 26% approval rating; meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, the wingnuts applaud with contempt at the 14% all-time low confidence rating of congress.

But what should frighten members of both parties is the shocking loss of confidence that Americans have in any American institution right now, devoid of partisan significance or repercussion.

While the wingnuts merrily tout the low confidence ratings for Congress in the new Gallup Poll, Americans of any political stripe should be shocked at the overall trendlines showing that confidence in Congress has fallen right on pace with confidence in every other major public or private institution polled. And while it is true that Congressional confidence ratings are at the bottom of all institutions polled, that is nothing new: Congress has had consistently low confidence ratings for years, largely due to GOP demonization of government. Also, while the wingnuts proudly tout the high comparative confidence ratings for the military compared with other institutions, what they fail to point out is that the military, too, has lost clout with the American people at almost the same rate that Congress has. In fact, Congress' confidence ratings seem to be falling slower than those of many other institutions.

The confidence rating numbers are below (it's simpler to read in graph format at Gallup's site, but I'll present the numbers in a table):

InstitutionJune '06June '07
The Military73%69%
The Police58%54%
Church/Organized Religion52%46%
The U.S. Supreme Court40%34%
Public Schools37%33%
The Medical System38%31%
The Presidency33%25%
Television News31%23%
Criminal Justice System25%19%
Organized Labor24%19%
Big Business18%18%

Indeed, if any partisan conclusions can be drawn at all from this poll, it is that most insititutions considered more in line with Republican support have been falling faster than those more in line with Democrats: organized religion has fallen by 6%; banks by 8%; the medical system by 7%; the Presidency by 8%. Meanwhile, the television and newspaper media have lost major credibility as well to the tune of 8% each.

But what these numbers say more than anything is that neither party has large reason to rejoice: the truth is that Americans are sick and tired of the status quo, and they don't believe that anyone is working in their best interests right now--not the schools, the courts, the churches, the government, business, the media, the police, not anybody. That is fundamentally a very scary thing because our entire society runs on trust in major public and private institutions: without that trust, democracy, representative governments and entire economies fall into ruins. While we Democrats laugh at Bush's low approval ratings and the Republicans laugh at Congress' confidence ratings, America is falling into grave danger of a crisis of confidence in itself and its ability to maintain a functional society.

But there is still hope--at least for Democrats willing to govern and run as progressives--especially on the issues of Iraq and the middle-class economy. According to another Gallup poll just released, Iraq remains the most important problem for the Gallup by a wide margin--more than double that of the next most important problem, immigration (though it is important to note that the numbers for immigration are artificially high due to its recent coverage in the news). A whopping 70% of the country also says that the economy is getting worse--largely due to healthcare costs and wages that have not kept pace with productivity or inflation.

The message is clear: the American people are upset about the situation in Iraq. They're upset about job insecurity and low wages. They're upset about illegal immigration--largely because they feel it impacts their wages and jobs. They're upset about healthcare costs. And they don't think anyone out there is helping them or doing anything about it.

Thankfully, because these issues are fundamentally Democratic issues to make progress on and Republican issues to obstruct, the opportunity for political gain is enormous and one-sided in our favor. Unfortunately, our Democrats in Congress are wasting that opportunity by being timid and risk-averse, passing mostly pointless legislation and refusing to take a chance on standing up for causes that might make Americans actually believe in their government again.

Democrats in congress have nothing to lose by growing a spine: their own confidence rating can't get much lower, the American people are quickly losing trust in any of the public institutions that make this country great, the public policy wildfires are burning out of control, and the opposition party is stuck in a deep political ditch.

The American people, meanwhile, are stuck in a burning building with no way out. The
Republicans are not only incapable of putting it out--they're the arsonists who started the blaze. The Dems have the power to put out the fires and rescue the people, but are too afraid to do it lest they get singed. So both parties are standing there, laughing at how close the licking flames are coming to torching their opponents' hides. That is a sad state of affairs that can end only in tragedy.

The time for action is now. Because when confidence in all of our institutions is weakened beyond repair, there won't be anything left to save.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

An American Capacity for Evil

How could this have happened in America? How did we get into this horrible mess? Why is there not more outrage from the American people? Why is the traditional media so compliant? Why are the Democrats so timid?

As the full rotten fruits of the Bush Administration's contempt for democracy, constitutional process, human rights, international law, middle-class economics and just plan basic human decency become increasingly apparent with each passing day, coherent and convincing answers to these questions become increasingly necessary. It should be deeply troubling to anyone who cares about America as a nation and the principles upon which it was founded that our institutions could have become so easily subverted, and our national will so broken that we not only did nothing to prevent these disasters, but failed to act decisively to right the wrongs once they had become so appallingly obvious.

It is these questions that Al Gore attempts to answer in his outstanding book Assault on Reason. Gore's answer in a nutshell is that representative democracy only functions based on a two-way conversation between its government those being governed; that in the days of pamphlets and the written word such communication was commonplace and easy (at least for the bourgeois); and that radio and especially television have broken down that communication into a one-way street from government to the people, with an ever decreasing attention span.

Al Gore is right about all this, of course--yet as I turn it over in my mind, it is clear to me that this explanation alone does not suffice to explain how we got to such a dreary state of affairs. America has a long history of horrific corruption, appalling deficits of accountability, and immoral acts of oppression and war that predates radio and television. Slavery, the Trail of Tears, Andrew Jackson's final "victory" in the war of 1812, the massacres of Native Americans at Wounded Knee and elsewhere, the brute aggression of the Mexican-American War, the Confederacy on the wrong side of morality and history, the lies of the Spanish-American war, the social injustice and government corruption of the Gilded Age and robber baron eras, Jim Crow and the White Man's Burden of Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson--all of these took place well before the advent of radio and television. And nearly all took place with the fairly quiet consent of the governed.

No, the answer lies deeper. While America's ability to project might, together with the secrecy and corruption made possible by the unprecedented power of multinational corporations, has ensured that the Bush Administration's misuse of both capacities will earn it the award of Worst Administration Ever, the uncomfortable truth is that the difference between Bush and many of his American predecessors is not one of quality, but rather of quantity. One shudders to think what sort of damage might have been done by a President Jackson, President Grant or President Nixon, given Bush's military power, post-9/11 national cohesion, and pressure from corporate interests. Bush and his Republican corporatocratic cronies do so much damage because they have the power to--not because they are a uniquely destructive breed.

But even that is not enough. Regardless of the power that can be wielded by an unholy alliance of religious dogmatism, military-industrial complex influence and corporate power, there still remains the question of how the American people, its media, and its supposed opposition parties could have remained so compliant for so long.

The answer, I believe, lies in the fact that most Americans simply do not believe their leaders and their government to be capable of sheer evil. Certainly, we as Americans acknowledge the past sins of slavery, native exterminations, Jim Crow and the like--but we view these actions as a product of inadequate social enlightenment at the time, simply reflected by our leadership. And certainly, we believe our politicians to be venal consummate liars who are inherently corrupt and self-serving. But we are incapable of allowing ourselves to admit that we as a nation are capable of playing an utterly immoral role on the world stage.

Most other industrialized nations do not have this problem. The nations of Europe learned the lessons of colonial exploitation, empires established and lost, and brutal world wars fought due to greed and stupidity. Japan (in spite of its official refusal to acknowledge it) understands and is fairly contrite for the negative role it has played in military and economic exploitation of its neighbors. Russia certainly is sadder but wiser for its experiences with state-run Communist Empire. Even China has a storied history of imperial cruelty and rebellion from such--though its lessons tend to be internally rather than externally directed.

But America has not yet had its often heavy hand slapped by the forces of karma. The impossibility of the maintenance of both military colonial empire and domestic democracy have not yet become apparent to the average American. In fact, most Americans are still sitting on the laurels of overtly beneficial military campaigns overseas in World War II and in Korea--perhaps the only truly just wars America has fought since the war of 1812 (with the possible exceptions of Kosovo and Gulf War I). Even when our actions are overtly aggressive, Americans have always found a way to justify them to ourselves.

Perhaps the best example of the philosophy that most Americans hold when it comes to foreign policy is presented by Trey Parker and Matt Stone in their 2004 comedy Team America: World Police. Apologies for the crudeness here, but the words are Parker's and Stone's. Shortly before the following speech in the film, the American heroes have foiled a plot of world domination by North Korea's Kim Jong-Il, who has made unwitting allies of the Hollywood celebrities the Right loves to hate (unless their running as Republicans for president, of course):

We're dicks! We're reckless, arrogant, stupid dicks. And the Film Actors Guild are pussies. And Kim Jong Il is an asshole. Pussies don't like dicks, because pussies get fucked by dicks. But dicks also fuck assholes: assholes that just want to shit on everything. Pussies may think they can deal with assholes their way. But the only thing that can fuck an asshole is a dick, with some balls. The problem with dicks is: they fuck too much or fuck when it isn't appropriate - and it takes a pussy to show them that. But sometimes, pussies can be so full of shit that they become assholes themselves... because pussies are an inch and half away from ass holes. I don't know much about this crazy, crazy world, but I do know this: If you don't let us fuck this asshole, we're going to have our dicks and pussies all covered in shit!

As clammyc and I will be discussing tonight on our radio show Political Nexus, this speech, crude and filled as it is with misogynist sexual politics, underlines the American theory of domestic and foreign policy: we may be over-the-top sometimes, but our hearts are in the right place. Our leaders stand up, we believe, to evil wherever it is--and sometimes some weaklings get hurt and offended in the process--but if it weren't for our strong decisive leadership, all those weaklings would get abused by those evil people in the world. This ethic applies just as much to our law-and-order attitude towards drugs and a variety of other crimes (leading to horrific incarceration rates) as it does to our foreign policy in Iraq. In the minds of most Americans, we can always be overly aggressive dicks--but never assholes. And the worst thing we could possibly have, we believe, is a President who is a "pussy". Indeed, it would be difficult to surmise how dickish an American president would have to be for us consider him/her enough of an asshole to actually impeach.

And that is why Chris Matthews can't believe Americans don't like George Bush. That is why the idea of impeaching George Bush for war crimes and crimes against the American Constitution is so distasteful to so many Americans. That is why our Democratic candidates have such difficulty saying that occupying Iraq is wrong, or that Bush deliberately lied to get us to invade; instead, they say their vote was a "mistake", that they wish they had "known then what they know now", that we were "misled". That is why Americans were so utterly shocked by Abu Ghraib, and why they did their best to forget about it just after it happened. That is why Americans were so utterly shocked by the callous and incompetent response to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, and why they did their best to forget about that, too, just months thereafter. That is why it takes a Michael Moore to say explicitly that American healthcare isn't just in need of adjustments, but is structurally bad.

In sum, Americans cannot hold George Bush accountable for his evil actions if they refuse to acknowledge the possibility that any American president could be capable of using our power towards evil ends. So long as conventional wisdom dictates that no politician or major media figure can speak badly of his/her country's position on the world stage, no politician will truly be able to speak badly of the leadership that put us in that position.

This is why Al Gore cannot decide whether or not to run for President. As an outside figure, he can hold George Bush's and America's feet to the fire for dragging its feet on global climate change, and for abusing the awesome power of its military might. As a politician, however, he knows that doing so is the kiss of death.

As Americans, we deserve the leadership that we get. So long as we are incapable of admitting evil of ourselves, we will be incapable of having principled leadership like Al Gore is demonstrating today. At best, we will get the calculated platitudes of a Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama; at worst, we will get the utter depravity of a George Bush or Dick Cheney.

If we want to save our country, however, we will need to admit the truth. We will need to be able to call a spade a spade, and acknowledge that great evil has indeed been done in our names. I only hope that we as a nation can do so before it is too late.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Interview with Armando/Big Tent Dem posted

It was a fantastic discussion. Download it here at the On Topic page for Political Nexus.

Look for our next Framework show recording on Monday June 18th.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

You've seen Armando/BTD Spout Off on Iraq: Now Hear Him Roar!

Say what you will about former DailyKos frontpager Armando/Big Tent Democrat, you cannot dispute that he he has a razor-sharp intellect, an acute understanding of Democrats need to do to win important political battles, and an outsize personality not afraid to mix it up with those who disagree with him.

What many in the progressive blogosphere may not know is that, in the wake of the kerfuffle that led to his 2nd departure from Daily Kos, he has been doing outstanding work on Iraq, Libby and a host of other issues over at TalkLeft. Together with fellow contributors and attorneys John Wesley Hall and T. Christopher Kelly, Armando has been scathing in his coverage of GOP criminal and moral malfeasance, and of the weak-kneed Democratic enablers who fail to adequately stand up to it.

And today you have the opportunity to listen to him spout off on my and clammyc's radio show On Topic at Political Nexus. The show will begin tonight at 5pm PST--those who wish to listen live can do so at the "On Topic" BlogTalkRadio page (the only show currently listed is the one we did with MSOC on abortion; it will appear when the show goes live.) Otherwise, you can access the archives of the show either at Political Nexus or at the BlogTalkRadio On Topic page.

Among the topics we'll be discussing during the half-hour show include:
  • What was the Democratic strategy on the Iraq Supplemental going in? Was the capitulation always in the works, or was it the product of an inability to secure enough votes from conservative Democrats?

  • Regardless of the actual consequences for Iraq and our troops, why was the capitulation bill such a bad move politically?

  • Democrats are currently banking on the "helpless bystander" theory that the Congress has no power to curb the Executive on Iraq. Will this fly with the American Public? If not, why not?

  • If we could force the Democrats to vote any way you wanted, would we have them simply defund the Occupation?

  • Where do we go from here? What should the Democrats do come September--and what do we expect them to do?

  • How will the Republicans handle all of this? Can they get out in front of Democrats to oppose Bush on Iraq? Will they even try?

So feel free to join us for what promises to be a fascinating discussion on the most important political topic of the 2008 election. I'll close this piece today with a quote from BTD himself:

Certainly pinning Bush on the GOP helps the Democrats, but political grandstanding alone will not cut it for the Dems now. They control the Congress. They can end the Iraq Debacle. And if they do not, the GOP will try and neuter them on Iraq by saying they did not - Dems were all partisan bluster and no action. And the GOP would be right.

As Greg Sargent points out, Dems hold a 20 point polling edge on Bush on Iraq, 54-34. But if Dems do not do anything about ending the Iraq Debacle, then why SHOULD the American People trust Democrats on Iraq? snip

Come 2008 -- when faced with the question "What did a Democratic Congress do to end the Iraq Debacle?", when the answer is nothing, what do you think the voters are going to say?

Spineless Dems ALWAYS lose. Always.

I still think that. More than ever.

Amen, my friend. Amen. Keep roaring, and hopefully the world will begin to listen.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Gallup: 7 in 10 Republicans don't believe in Evolution

Gallup has just released a scary new poll that indicates just how much work still lies before us as a nation--and just how frightening is the prospect of Republican rule. The majority of Americans are still likelier to believe in creationism than in evolution--with an amazing 7 out of 10 Republicans holding fast to their literalist beliefs.

Most depressingly, the figures for the American people in general have not moved significantly since 1982--both according to the Gallup polls and a number of others. The fantastic site Polling Report has a rundown of the major polls on just about every major sociopolitical issue, including evolution and politics. The numbers are anything but encouraging: in 1982, 38% of Americans thought that human beings were created over the course of millions of years, but God guided the process; 9% thought God played no part; and 44% said we were created by God in our current form (9% stated "other"). In 2007, those numbers have shifted only slightly, with 38% for divine guidence, 14% for no divine role, and 43% for creationism. A 2005 Harris poll showed 6% fewer Americans believing in human evolution than they had in 1994.

While the overall numbers for Americans are depressing, the political divide is nothing short of astonishing. As Gallup says:

The majority of Republicans in the United States do not believe the theory of evolution is true and do not believe that humans evolved over millions of years from less advanced forms of life. This suggests that when three Republican presidential candidates at a May debate stated they did not believe in evolution, they were generally in sync with the bulk of the rank-and-file Republicans whose nomination they are seeking to obtain.

Independents and Democrats are more likely than Republicans to believe in the theory of evolution. But even among non-Republicans there appears to be a significant minority who doubt that evolution adequately explains where humans came from.

The partisan numbers are 68% creationism to 30% evolution among Republicans, and 57% evolution to 40% creationism among Democrats. Of course, the divide between those who attend church regularly and those who do not is far larger (74% creationism to 24% evolution among those who attend church weekly, compared with 71% to 26% the other way), but that is largely to be expected. It is also important to note that many Americans appear to hold somewhat conflicted and contradictory beliefs. As Gallup goes on to say:

The data indicate some seeming confusion on the part of Americans on this issue. About a quarter of Americans say they believe both in evolution's explanation that humans evolved over millions of years and in the creationist explanation that humans were created as is about 10,000 years ago...

It might seem contradictory to believe that humans were created in their present form at one time within the past 10,000 years and at the same time believe that humans developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life. But, based on an analysis of the two side-by-side questions asked this month about evolution and creationism, it appears that a substantial number of Americans hold these conflicting views.

While I have no direct evidence to support this claim, I think it stands to reason that more moderates, independents and Democrats are likely to hold contradictory beliefs on this issue: I know several religious Democrats who stick to the principle that science and faith are entirely separate, and willing to live with a contradictory dichotomy between the Bible's literal words and the scientific evidence. Such contradictory beliefs are not generally in keeping with the dogmatic views of the fundamentalist Christians who tend to reject scientific evidence entirely.

Most interesting and underreported in stories covering this issue, however, are the numbers among independents: a full 61% of independents believe in evolution, compared to 37% for creationism--a higher belief in evolution than among Democrats. Factoring in the stunning increase in the number of voters who call themselves Independent (32.9% of the population), this is but another example of a strong majority of "swing" voting population moving away from bread-and-butter Republican beliefs in some pretty fundamental issues. It is a scary thing for a rightist political party when Independents actually stand to the left of the bulk of the Left's party constituents.

Gallup sums it up nicely:

Being religious in America today is strongly related to partisanship, with more religious Americans in general much more likely to be Republicans than to be independents or Democrats. This relationship helps explain the finding that Republicans are significantly more likely than independents or Democrats to say they do not believe in evolution. When three Republican presidential candidates said in a May debate that they did not believe in evolution, the current analysis suggests that many Republicans across the country no doubt agreed.

To me, the upshot is this: we have an increasingly hostile ideological divide in this country between the two parties, with one side avowedly in favor of Luddite ignorance when it comes to evolution, and the other with a solid majority of more reasoned (if often contradictory) beliefs. And while the views of the American public at large in this deeply divided country have not shifted dramatically, the views of Independent voters have swung sharply in the direction of Democrats--and on a fundamental issue that is not subject to prevailing political winds or current events.

Once again, we have a situation where the differences between the two parties could not be more clear; where the Republican Party is showing itself to be increasingly irrational, dangerous, and in hock to the extreme Christianist right; and where the Democratic Party has little to lose with crucial swing voters by standing strong on its principles.

Because to put it bluntly, in the year 2007, a party accountable to constituency with a supermajority of believers in Biblical literalism simply cannot be allowed to rule. We have seen the consequences of such willful ignorance for the last 6 years, and we can no longer afford to be patient with it.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Panicked White House Posts on RedState, Lies to its Base

I never thought I would see the day when the White House would be so panicked at the derailment of a particular bill by its own base that it would feel to need to post about it on the front page of a conservative blog in its own name.

I also never thought I would see the day when a respected community blog would simply allow a White House official to post on its frontpage--not even a promoted article or quote from an email, mind, but an originally authored piece.

Finally, I never thought I would see the day that George Bush had to defend himself from Republicans on charges of letting terrorists into America unsupervised and uncontrolled.

Apparently, I was wrong. Apparently, a fractured corporatist/xenophobic base can lead to some seriously strange results: a mendacious takeover of a right-wing blog by the very White House it was supposed to be holding accountable.

Case in point: today's frontpage post by Kerrie Rushton of the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives with the amazingly defensive title, Are Convicted Criminals And Terrorists Barred? Yes!

Wanted to take a moment to clarify what is in the bill regarding the Z program and convicted criminals and terrorists. The contention that they are not barred from the Z program has been making the rounds today.

The range of crimes that disqualify applicants from the Z program extends into the thousands and includes any felony (murder), any three misdemeanors (theft, although felony theft would be covered in the prior category), any aggravated felony (rape), any serious criminal offense (assault), most crimes involving moral turpitude (fraud), and any violation of a law relating to a controlled substance. These bars are not waivable by anyone -- period. You can view the bill language on this provision on pages 282 to 284.

Terrorists are not eligible for the legalization program. Period. And this bar is not waivable by anyone. Period. Again, this is spelled out on pages 282 and 284 of the bill, without ambiguity or room for debate. The bill also contains a whole host of new tools to fight criminal, dangerous, and terrorist aliens.

Kerrie Rushton
White House Office of Strategic Initiatives

Of course, today is ground zero for the White House on this bill: George Bush desperately wants it to pass to please his corporatist, cheap-labor-loving base. Karl Rove and other GOP strategists desperately want to pass it in the hopes of winning the hearts and minds of the growing Latino voter population. Harry Reid, meanwhile, is taking a standoffish approach and calling it George Bush's bill--a brilliant political maneuver that leaves Republicans in a lose-lose situation. With a second cloture vote coming up tonight in the wake of the first failed cloture vote and major arm-wringing going on behind closed doors, it's now do-or-die desperation time for the bill's White House backers.

And the xenophobic base isn't buying. Most of the angry comments in response to this post point out that many undocumented immigrants have probably broken a number of laws ranging from trespassing to tax evasion to the use of fradulent government documentation such as social security numbers and driver's licenses that would not show up on the government's registry. Further, others point out the improbability of all of these background checks' occurring within the 24-hour period mandated by the bill. Yet others make the obvious declaration that terrorists are already barred from citizenship in any case.

While many of these comments skirt around why this propaganda effort on the part of the White House is such a lying bamboozle, none of them really get to the heart of the matter. The one major overlooked key to this is, as many of the wingnuts point out, the fact that only convicted terrorists are excluded from the "amnesty" provisions of the bill. What it doesn't exclude from this process is that uniquely Bush Administration status so often defended by these very same wingnuts: the suspected terrorists on the vaunted Terrorist Watchlists.

Some of you may remember my writing about Senator Lautenberg's brilliant legislation entitled "Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2007", granting Alberto Gonzales the direct authority to prevent those on the terrorist watchlists from purchasing firearms or explosives. This legislation was crafted in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings and was met with strong uproar from the gun nuts, putting Republicans in the uncomfortable situation of either dismissing their gun nut base, or seeming to to be unconcerned with suspected terrorists' access to high-power weaponry.

This little legislative loophole in the immigration bill has the same effect: the White House is only disbarring convicted criminals from obtaining Z-Visas, while saying the bill contains tough anti-terrorism measures--all while insisting that terrorist watchlists, Patriot Acts and warrantless spying on Americans are necessary for the nation's very survival.

Regardless of the fate of this immigration bill, the Bush Adminsitration must be called on this two-faced, lying hypocrisy. Either strict use of the terrorist watchlists is necessary to defend America or it isn't. Even if this bill dies in the Senate today, the desperate pleading on behalf of the White House to conservative bloggers to ignore the issue of terrorism as it relates to immigration in spite of its past horrendous authoritarian overreaches in name of "keeping America safe", provides the single best wedge since the Dubai Ports Deal to drive between the Republicans' twin corporatist and xenophobic bases.

Meanwhile, the comments on the part of the RedStaters border on the furious--both towards the White House itself and towards the RS editors for allowing the White House to post onto the front page:

Regardless, the bill is by jyaklin
Regardless, the bill is terrible and does significant damage to the country. Prove you can fix the crossing problems and maybe then we'll listen. As for Bush, it's too bad the Democrats won't impeach him.

With all due respect to the REDSTATE staff... by ChiefMinion
I'm curious as to how this post ended up on the front page. If some White House hack states that this is not "amnesty", is that going to get posted as well?

With all due respect by Achance
and we can argue about what respect is due, what on Earth would make any sane person think that the federal government could not only do something right, but do it right in 24 hours? This is a sham and the Administration is playing the American people for fools. Anyone who believes that the US will make even the slightest attempt to enforce the border crossing and criminal acts pieces of this bill is so stupid as to be fit only for slavery. The Bush Administration and the Republican leadership have ZERO credibility on this subject, so write away. Do appreciate the time you took to try to give us a snow job, though.

Pass the popcorn, because things are just starting to get interesting...

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Dem Debate much more-watched than GOP Debate; Drudge owns self

It's official, folks: the American people are far more interested in Democrats right now than in Republicans. It's not just that Republican Party identification at an abysmally low 30.8%; it's not only that Americans trust Democrats more than Republicans on every major issue; it goes beyond the fact that Dems have a huge generic ballot lead as well as strong likely voter stats. We now learn from just-released numbers that well over 800,000 more people watched the Democratic debate on CNN than watched its GOP counterpart.

The numbers from the Democratic debate are over at Media Bistro:

Debates: Dems Get 2.78 Million Viewers On CNN; Most-Watched Debate Yet
CNN's Democratic debate averaged 2,783,000 million total viewers on Sunday night -- "more than any other presidential debate of this election season," the network notes.

Now, while it is true that the Fox News GOP debate garnered 2.55 million viewers, it is also true that Fox News' ratings as a whole are higher than any other news network (though their numbers are in decline), which makes the comparison somewhat akin to the proverbial apples and oranges.

According to Drudge, on the other hand, last night's GOP debate received a scant 1,974,000--a comparative deficit of 809,000 viewers.

In a piece of comic relief, however, Matt Drudge attempts to put his best lipstick on this pig by not comparing the two debate's numbers side by side (though he had reported the Dem debate numbers only two days earlier), but rather breathlessly comparing CNN's debate numbers with those of O'Reilly's on Fox:

O'REILLY BEATS CNN REPUBLICAN DEBATE... O’Reilly at 8pm on FONEWS CHANNEL averaged 2,291,000 viewers -- more viewers than CNN’s entire debate from 7-9pm which had 1,974,000... MORE... At 9pm, Fred Thompson’s appearance on FNC HANNITY/COLMES out-rated CNN/Anderson Cooper’s analysis of the Republican debate --- FNC averaged 1,628,000 viewers to CNN’s 1,178,000 from 9-10pm...

While it is commonplace for Drudge to make a big deal out of every time Fox beats out CNN for viewership in a desperate attempt to continue to pretend that America has a silent majority of conservatives in spite of every poll to the contrary, this particular bit of propaganda is extremely amusing. First, it doesn't speak well of the Republican base's intellectual curiosity or of the GOP candidates themselves that more Republicans would prefer to watch Bill O'Reilly blather on about the topic of the day with commercials and all, than watch their own candidates in an uninterrupted two-hour debate. Second, it should surprise absolutely no one that Fred Thompson's H&C appearance should garner more viewers than Anderson Cooper's post-debate analysis: Fred Thompson is another candidate getting free airtime! I myself switched over to watch Fred--not out of any great love for Republicans or Fox News, but because it was actually new information on the 11th perjurer-pardoning, torture-loving wingnut for president.

The irony of Drudge's pushing these numbers wasn't lost on some Freepers, either:

To: rednesss
Goes to show that O’Reilly’s fans are not conservatives...

Most conservatives would choose to watch a GOP debate over O’Reilly tooting his own horn.

In fact, most conservatives would rather watch paint dry than O’Reilly tooting his horn.

10 posted on 06/06/2007 3:27:48 PM PDT by pissant

Hannity gave Fred close to half an hour. Way more exposure than he would have gotten on a stage with 10 stiffs in a row. At least we got to see how he responds and he sure did not duck questions or answers.

7 posted on 06/06/2007 3:26:02 PM PDT by lexington minuteman 1775

At this point, the Matt Drudges of the world can't spin the bad news fast enough to even make Freepers take the bait. And the bad news for them is this: It's not just that America doesn't like Republicans; America isn't really even interested in Republicans.

It's a good day to be a Democrat right now--and just think how much better it would be had it not been for the Capitulation bill. The debate numbers and desperate spin attempts of the rightwing media hacks are yet another addition to a mounting pile of evidence leading to one conclusion: Democrats have nothing to lose by acting like Democrats. It's what the people want. It's what the people are looking for. It's what the country needs. And as long as we stick by our principles, I don't see the Republicans' being able to do anything to stop us.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Bush at 36% in Rasmussen (ALL-TIME LOW); Independent Voters Increase

This post won't be as substantive as some of my others, but I figured I'd give everyone a whack at the new numbers to come out of Rasmussen.

Bush's approval rating has always been higher in Rasmussen than in other polls, largely due to discrepancies in weighting methodologies. Today, however, Rasmussen reports that Bush dropped another 3 points in the month of May to an all-time Rasmussen month-over-month low of 36%. This drop comes as a sharp tumble from his previous all-time low of 39% set in April.

Not only that, there is an increasingly large discrepancy in the extremes: the number of those who strongly disapprove of Bush's performance is almost triple that of those who strongly approve. As the report says:

During the month of May, President George W. Bush’s Job Approval rating fell to the lowest level ever recorded by Rasmussen Reports--36%. That’s down a full three points from April’s 39% which had previously been the lowest rating for the President.

During the full month of May, just 16% Strongly Approved of the way the President has performed his role and 45% Strongly Disapproved. Both those figures are also the worst ever recorded for the President who lost ground across all partisan and demographic groups.

However, not everything is coming up roses for Democrats: a separate Rasmussen report states that Republican party identification seems to still be dropping (now at 30.8%, down from 31% at the end of April)--and has been in a freefall since the 2004 election--but at a slower rate than Democratic party identification, which has dropped to its lowest total in seventeen months (to 36.3%, still a good five and a half points higher than the GOP). The number of those who are registered as independents has skyrocketed, however, to a full 32.9%--with possible implicatons for a Bloomberg candidacy. As the article says:

A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of 15,000 adults in May found that just 30.8% now say they’re Republicans. That’s down slightly from last month and down more than six percentage points from the GOP peak of 37.3% during Election 2004. The number of Republicans has been falling fairly steadily since the middle of 2005.

However, the survey also found that the number of people identifying themselves as Democrats has fallen to its lowest level in seventeen months (since January 2006). Democrats gained about two percentage points of support during 2006 and peaked at 38.0% in December of last year. Since actually taking control of Congress, Democrats have given back most of those gains. Today, 36.3% say they belong to Nancy Pelosi’s party.

As a result, the number not affiliated with either major party has jumped to another all-time high—32.9%. That’s up nearly nine percentage points since Election 2004 and means that there are now more politically unaffiliated adults than Republicans...

My personal take on this is as follows: the Republican Party is continuing to bleed support from independents who are seeing through the ineptitude of conservative ideology put into practice. What was a mass exodus is now a steady trickle. Bush's support, however, is drying up very quickly among his wingnut base that still considers itself Republican, partly because of his failure in the Occupation of Iraq, but more importantly because of his push on the immigration bill which is driving his base absolutely insane. Even so, the Dems gained many new voters in the run-up to the '06 landslide election on their promises to end the occupation of Iraq or at least hold Bush accountable; their failure to do so has unsurprisingly resulted in an exodus of voters in frustration.

Nevertheless, American still trust Dems more than Republicans on all ten of Rasmussen's key issues, including a three-point lead on the issue of national security and a five-point lead on taxes (!):

Democrats are currently trusted more than Republicans on all ten issues measured in Rasmussen Reports tracking surveys. Democrats even have slight advantages on National Security and Taxes, two issues “owned” by Republicans during the generation since Ronald Reagan took office.

On National Security, 46% now trust Democrats more while 43% prefer the GOP. On taxes, the Democrats have a five point advantage, 47% to 42%. Democrats enjoy double digit advantages on ethics and government corruption, the War in Iraq, Immigration, Education, Social Security, and Healthcare.

The Republicans are within single digits on Abortion and the Economy.

Meanwhile, Dems hold an 11-point lead in the generic ballot.

The upshot? The GOP is bleeding support; Bush is losing even those few xenophobic die-hards who used to support him; Dems are losing support because of their failure to hold Mr. Record-Low-Approval-Ratings' occupation of Iraq in check; there are a lot of frustrated independent voters out there eager for a change; most of those voters trust Democrats in general more than Republicans; and every single issue of importance breaks the Dems' way.

In other words, we should be holding our ground and standing strong on every issue. There is no downside to opposing Bush at all opportunities; the only way we lose support at this point is by caving in. Above all, it's going to be critical to stand for our ideals strongly enough that no Michael Bloombergs or Unity '08 candidates can steal what should be Democratic thunder and siphon off our votes in the 2008 elections.

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