Friday, October 27, 2006


Open Thread

You've been relatively quiet this week (both Bill and Madscribe have been MIA -- is it possible they could actually be the same...nah, no way!).

Anyway, chat away. Since Ed didn't post NFL picks this week, maybe people will want to leave their predictions in the Comments section?

Mark is chatting with an RNC telemarketer as we speak.

I'm off to Maryland for a wedding. I'll drop by as time warrants.

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Another Take on the "Fawlty" Approach

Daniel Drezner addresses the odd flipping of the Iraq War's domestic political paradigm:
For the past five years, Democrats have been vulnerable on national security issues. Bush and the Republicans projected a clear image of taking the war to the enemy, and never yielding in their drive to defeat radical Islamists. The Democrats, in contrast, projected either an antiwar position or a "yes, but" position. The former looked out of step with the American people, the latter looked like Republican lite. No matter how you sliced it, the Republicans held the upper hand.

The recent rhetorical shift on Iraq, however, has flipped this phenomenon on its head. If Bush acknowledges that "stay the course" is no longer a statisfying status quo, he's acknowledging that the Republican position for the past few years has not worked out too well. If that's the case, then Republicans are forced to offer alternatives with benchmarks or timetables or whatever. The administration has had these plans before, but politically, it looks like the GOP is gravitating towards the Democratic position rather than vice versa.

If this is what the political optics look like, then the Republicans will find themselves in the awkward position of being labeled as "Democrat lite" in their positions on Iraq. And in elections, lite never tastes as good as the real thing.

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Help For Mr. English's RNC Calls

Mark shared with us his frustration with the RNC calling him at awkward times to raise money.

This might be helpful to him in the future dealing with these situations.

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Thursday, October 26, 2006


RNC: Please Leave Me Alone [J. Mark English]

Everyday I dread looking down at my cell phone when it vibrates and seeing the words "unknown caller". Who ever could it be? Could it be a sales rep? A Verizon bill collector? My boss blocking their number?
No. Its the Republican National Committee. Do they call during normal business hours? Nope! They call at night, during the weekends, early in the morning. I'll be in a movie, at a party, in the middle of dinner...and the vibration begins.
I pick up the phone, and there is some young college age GOP do-gooder on the other end saying "hi I work with the RNC and we're looking for your support, can we put you down for a pledge."
I realize that he is just doing this as a volunteer, but of course I'm in the middle of something and I do not have time to talk or committ to anything over the phone. I tell the lad that I would rather recieve something in the mail.
"Okay, great, but first lets get you down for a pledge. $25, $50, $75...what will your support be? We can handle this over the phone right now."
I remind this GOPer that I do not have time for this and would you please just let me go and send something in
the mail.
"Yes of course, but first lets get you down for a pledge, we can do this right now for any amount. What can you pledge?"
Whats wrong with this person? Do they not understand that I have to get off the phone?
This happens every time I get a call from one of these money suckers.
The most recent time I decided to flat out lie as to what was the reason I could not speak.

"Hello, this is the RNC, can we get your support?"
My response was that I was at my Dad's funeral, and I cannot do this at this time.
"I understand, what pledge will be able to get from you?"
I almost lost it...I'm telling him I'm at a funeral (okay I'm lying, but still)...and he keeps pushing!
I'm now thinking about never giving to the RNC again. PLEASE LEAVE ME ALONE!
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Humorless Liberals

So, Markos Moulitas posts a clip from YouTube that shows a big, bad Republican speaking ill of the AARP and the NAACP.

Kos readers have to explain to their fearless reader that the Republican was using the seemingly offensive word in a, you know, ironic way.

Come on, Kos, your side is having a pretty good campaign cycle. Lighten up, eh?

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More "Fawlty" Reasoning

As we noted a few days ago, the Republicans have become the "Fawlty Towers" party. Note the difference between senators Chuck Schumer and Bill Frist:
Iraq is not only a potent issue in its own right, but is also a resonant metaphor for doubts about the competence and accountability of the Republican Party.

In the most competitive races, Iraq echoes in varying ways, but almost always for Republicans it is a problem to be navigated and for Democrats a stick to be brandished. In Ohio, it helped put incumbent
Sen. Mike DeWine (R) on the efensive. In House races in Pennsylvania and Illinois, it gave three Democratic war veterans and novice politicians an opening.

"We are telling our candidates not to be afraid to talk about it," said
Sen. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "Who would have thought two years ago the Democrats would be affirmatively putting ads on television about Iraq and Republicans would be avoiding it?"

Showing how the tables have turned, Senate Majority Leader
Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) told interviewers in New Hampshire this week that Republican candidates should steer away from the war.

"The challenge," Frist said, "is to get Americans to focus on pocketbook issues, and not on the Iraq and terror issue."
Yeah, right -- focus on domestic issues and ignore all that awkward, icky, foreign-policy stuff! That trade-off worked so well for the Democrats in the last couple of elections, didn't it?
(Though, to be honest, I'm not sure if it's exactly accurate to say that Democrats are "affirmatively" putting Iraq on the air. They are, to be accurate, assertively placing negative ads on the handling of the war. But, hey, why quibble?)

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A Rush 'n' Fox

Keith Olbermann plays Rush Limbaugh's jabs against Michael J. Fox's stem-cell research ad.

Limbaugh, as you may have heard, dismisses Fox's Parkinson-derived herky-jerky movements as "acting" or intentionally "not taking his meds". The Olbermann show has videotape of Limbaugh mocking Fox's movements.

There are two truths here:

1) Once someone jumps into the political arena, they should expect to get some criticism for their stand from the other side. That's the way the game is played. Whether someone is a "victim" or a member of a certain "class", does not make them immune to criticism.

2) If Rush Limbaugh doesn't know exactly how a given disease works its way through someone's body, he should shut up. This is the second-most embarassing long-distance medical "diagnosis" from a Republican/conservative leading light (the most-embarassing would be Bill Frist's eagle-eyed observation of Terri Schiavo's cognitive abilities last year).

It would have been perfectly all right for Limbaugh to say that Fox is wrong on the facts of the stem-cell research issue (arguing the merits of embryonic vs. adult stem-cells) or that the federal limits don't prevent research funding at the state level (as has occurred in California). Limbaugh could have done that. Instead, he has to attack Fox's physical ailment and demonstrate his ignorance of how Parkinson's actually affects those stricken.

Limbaugh has made conservatives and Republicans look not merely heartless, but clueless, as well.

Just what the GOP needs during this season.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006


"The Daily Show" Meets "The View"...

...and takes a sharp right turn!

My friend and occasional partner-in-crime in conservative comedy, Julia Gorin, teams up with some like-minded co-conspirators!

Check out "The America Show." Possibly coming to a real, live cable station near you!

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Breaking Nudes News!!!


I'm simply shocked at these findings!!! Thank goodness the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction at Indiana University spent all this time and money to reveal these controversial findings!

In fact, one could almost, uh, what was I talking about...?

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GOP Minority Outreach Implosion?

Well, that didn't last too long.

Black and Latino religious organizations -- wooed over the last couple of years --
already tiring of the GOP?

A major effort to draw Latinos and blacks into the Republican Party, a central element of the GOP plan to build a long-lasting majority, is in danger of collapse amid anger over the immigration debate and claims that Republican leaders have not delivered on promises to direct more money to church-based social services.

President Bush, strategist Karl Rove and other top Republicans have wooed Latino and black leaders, many of them evangelical clergy who lead large congregations, in hopes of peeling away the traditional Democratic base. But now some of the leaders who helped Bush win in 2004 are revisiting their loyalty to the Republican Party and, in some cases, abandoning it.

"There is a fissure, and I doubt it will be closed in this election," said the Rev. Luis Cortes Jr., a Republican who founded the annual National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast that has featured Bush every year since 2002. His Philadelphia-based Esperanza USA boasts a national affiliate network of more than 10,000 churches.

The Latino backlash has grown so intense that one prominent, typically pro-Republican organization, the Latino Coalition, has endorsed Democrats in competitive races this year in Tennessee, Nebraska and New Jersey. The coalition is chaired by Hector Barreto, the former administrator of the Small Business Administration under Bush; its president is a former strategist for the Republican National Committee.
I worked with that president, Robert de Posada, several years back at the RNC. He is quoted as saying that it would be a "miracle" for the GOP to get 25 % of the Latino vote this year.
Causing new wrinkles in the White House relationship with evangelicals is the Kuo book, "Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction," in which he describes top White House aides embracing religious conservatives in public while calling them "nuts" behind their backs.

One leading black evangelical who has been a White House guest, Bishop Harry Jackson Jr. of the Hope Christian Church in Maryland, wrote of a similar incident this month.

Jackson railed against senior administration officials who, he said, had insulted clergy at a meeting this year by dismissing their contribution to Bush's reelection in 2004. He also complained about "the GOP's failure" to react speedily to the House page scandal involving former Rep. Mark Foley.

Jackson still supports some Republicans, including Michael Steele, an African American candidate for Senate in Maryland. But in an essay on the website, Jackson offered a caution for the party: "Evangelicals must ask themselves if we can work in harmony with a group that takes us for granted and compromises on major moral principles."
In 2004, Bishop Jackson's profile was definitely on the rise. He seemed to be positioning himself as a true conservative answer to Rev. Jesse Jackson -- without coming across as well, to be honest, slightly nuts like the "other Rev. Jesse" -- Jesse L. Peterson, favorite of Sean Hannity, but someone who can't be taken seriously.

Unlike Peterson, Harry Jackson actually had a real, live, congregation -- and seemingly the wearwithal to become a true political player among religious conservatives.

This apparent souring on the party is diturbing, to say the least.

A serious implication of this minority unrest is that it creates the opposite effect of what Dick Morris and Eileen McGann mention in their latest column -- the "coming home" factor. The writers say that the election is moving back into a "toss-up" on whether the GOP can hold onto the House because Republican voters are "coming home" to the party. If, however, this LA Times story is correct, it would suggest that, after a few years of flirting with Bush and the Republican Party, the handful of apostate minority voters are also "coming home" -- back to the Democrats.

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Have You Smeared A Ford Lately?

It's interesting that, in a Republican ad where Rep. Harold Ford is accused of being easy on terrorists, supporting higher taxes and taking money from "porn movie producers", the main focus of ad critics is that it is racist.

Well, I report, you decide:

By the way, this part of the story doesn't make sense:

"I won't even entertain the premise" that the ad is racially offensive, said Danny Diaz, a Republican Party spokesman. He said the allegation was "not fair and not serious and not accurate."

Diaz said the ad was an "independent expenditure" produced by an arm of the Republican National Committee that is legally prohibited from coordinating with Mehlman. Because of this, Diaz said, Mehlman did not see or approve the ad before its release.
The ad can be an "independent expenditure" produced by the Republican National Committee that would be prohibited from coordinating with Ford's opponent, Bob Corker or it could be produced by another GOP committee (the National Republican Senatorial Committee, for example).

But it is impossible for one "arm of the" RNC to produce an ad that Mehlman would not be able to view or approve of ahead of time. He might not have seen it, but there is no legal prohibition blocking the chairman of the RNC from approving an ad produced by the RNC.

UPDATE: Chairman Mehlman continues the idea that he has no control of the Ford ad. Again, coordination rules -- as I understand them -- control coordination between a committee and an individual campaign, not within a committee itself.

UPDATE II: The people writing in to Josh Marshall seem to read campaign finance law the same way I do.

UPDATE III: Adding here something I put in the Comments section. The racial angle definitely is a factor, but I'm not sure if that is the main point. What I think this does is also work into the fact that Ford is young, handsome -- and single. It is portraying him as a "playa" -- and unserious for the role of senator. The fact that he is black is a "bonus." Ironically, I think the most racially offensive line in the ad is not the one with blonde bimbo, but the one at the beginning with the black woman who says that he "looks good on TV -- isn't that enough." It suggests that the black woman is taken in by his good looks as well -- and doesn't think about politics seriously. Her view is then counterpointed by all the others (predominantly white) who dramatize Ford's position as worthy of mockery. Again, the idea is to play as much to his youth and unmarried status as it is to his race.

By the way, objectively speaking, it is also a devastatingly effective ad. You can tell because when an ad's target's supporters start complaining about how "unfair" an ad is, they are off their own message. Note the Swift Boat campaign and what it did to John Kerry.

UPDATE IV: An interesting analysis of the non-movement in this race by the Survey USA polling group. According to these guys, it may come down to the black vote.

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Ranking the NFL

With the Raiders win over the Cardinals, I no longer have an "ugly" category. Of course, the Raiders are still "bad", in the literal sense.

BEARS: A bye week always helps keep you at the top of the list.

PANTHERS: Losing a close game to the Bengals is not necessarily a bad sign.

SAINTS: Bye week.

BRONCOS: No change here. They should beat Cleveland, and they did.

COLTS: Sure they are undefeated. But can they go into Denver and win this week?

BENGALS: This team may be ready for the next level after their win over the Panthers. We shall see in the next four weeks, with games against the Falcons, Ravens, Chargers, and Saints.

CHARGERS: Their loss to the Chiefs tells me more about K.C. than San Diego. However, there may be rough times ahead as they lose two of their star linebackers for awhile.

EAGLES: It would be hard to downgrade the Eagles when they lose to a decent Tampa team on a 62 yard field goal at the end.

PATRIOTS: Yawn. Buffalo roadkill.

SEAHAWKS: When they lost to Minnesota, that proved they are not anywhere near the "elite" category.

GIANTS: Beating the Cowboys in Dallas was impressive, but still not meaningful in the rankings.

RAVENS: Bye week.

FALCONS: The Falcons didn't LOOK like the Falcons in their win over the Steelers. Mike Vick looked like a quarterback instead of a running-back-playing-quarterback. But can he keep it up? Highly doubtful.

STEELERS: The Steelers ought to be ashamed for making Mike Vick look like Dan Marino.

CHIEFS: The Chiefs proved they are better than I gave them credit for with their win over the Bolts.

BUCCANEERS: Even though the Bucs are coming off a win over the Eagles, and they have had a tough schedule, it takes more than a 2-4 record to be considered "good".

VIKINGS: Beating the Seahawks proves they are good. Their loss to the Bills proves they are bad. That leaves them squarely in "average".

COWBOYS: The NFC East is a tough division to be average.

JAGUARS: I should have paid more attention to that Redskins loss several weeks ago. Losing to Houston proves the Jags are merely average.

JETS: They lose to good teams (Pats, Colts, and Jags) and beat bad teams (Titans, Bills, Dolphins, and Lions). They are still the definition of average.

RAMS: Bye week.

REDSKINS: They SHOULD lose to the Colts. And probably a lot of other teams too.

BROWNS: Their loss to the Broncos only reinforces the fact they have the most brutal schedule in the NFL.

BILLS: Being roadkill for the Patriots only further proves this is a good spot for them.

TEXANS: Beating the Jags soundly only proved the Jags were over-rated. But it does prove the Texans are getting better.

49ERS: Bye week.

PACKERS: So they are better than Miami. They still suck.

DOLPHINS: You know you have problems when you lose to Green Bay. In Miami.

LIONS: A loss to the Jets was to be expected.

TITANS: Thank God for bye weeks!

RAIDERS: Thank you Arizona for proving there IS a worse team than the Raiders.

CARDINALS: They only beat the 49ers, and lost to the Raiders. Forget the Bears game: THIS is the worst team in the NFL.

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