Friday, December 29, 2006
Bad guy of 2006: President Bush. Good guy of 2006: President Bush. When people were asked in an AP-AOL News poll to name the villains and heroes of the year, Bush topped both lists, in a sign of these polarized times.
1. If you were asked to name a famous person to be the biggest villain of the year, whom would you choose?
- George W. Bush, 25%
- Osama bin Laden, 8%
- Saddam Hussein, 6%
- President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, 5%
- Kim Jong Il, North Korean leader, 2%
- Donald Rumsfeld, 2%
2. If you were asked to name a famous person to be the biggest hero of the year, whom would you choose?
- George W. Bush, 13%
- Soldiers/troops in Iraq, 6%
- Oprah Winfrey, 3%
- Barack Obama, 3%
- Jesus Christ, 3%
- Bono, 2%
3. If you had to choose, which of the following celebrities would you say was the best role model this year?
- Oprah Winfrey, 29%
- Michael J. Fox, 23%
- George Clooney, 12%
- Angelina Jolie, 8%
- Brad Pitt, 2%
- Tom Cruise, 2%
4. And, if you had to choose, which of the following celebrities would you say was the worst role model this year?
- Britney Spears, 29%
- Paris Hilton, 18%
- Mel Gibson, 12%
- Tom Cruise, 9%
- Michael Richards, 6%
- Nicole Richie, 5%
The Associated Press-AOL News poll on who people think were the villains and heroes of the last year was conducted Dec. 19-21 and is based on telephone interviews with 1,004 adults from all states except Alaska and Hawaii. The poll was conducted by Ipsos, an international polling firm.
Results were weighted to represent the population by demographic factors such as age, sex, region, race and income.
No more than one time in 20 should chance variations in the sample cause the results to vary by more than plus or minus 3 percentage points from the answers that would be obtained if all people in the U.S. were polled.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Amarji - A Heretic's Blog: Democracy vs. Engagement!: "In the aftermath of 9/11, democracy became a catch-word that was repeatedly enunciated by various American officials and commentators, from the President down, and brandished as some kind of magic weapon that can help make the differenced in the Global War on Terror. In the process though, Democracy was reduced to a single aspect of it, namely elections that, more often than not, produced undesirable results by empowering inherently non-democratic actors thus complicating the Administration’s push for greater political openness and reforms in the region.many comments....
This much has already been established, and criticizing the Bush Administration on these points is understandable, legitimate and necessary, especially considering the fact that we have still two more years to go in which much can still transpire, both positive, if new more nuanced approaches are adopted, or negative, if current tactics continue to be deployed unrevised.
But criticisms in this regard, however justified, will remain hollow and unproductive, if no clear and realistic alternate policy approaches are put on the table. To simply introduce a new catch-word on the scene, namely: Engagement, might make for some good sound-bites, and might indeed work within the context of the American electoral processes, and perhaps, Israeli ones, still, this is quite insufficient to help tackle the serious and critical problems involved in GWOT.
Indeed, engagement, with its current reduction to pure pragmatic containment, will likely prove even more naive and disastrous than the democracy approach of the last 5 years, to the extant that muddling through using the current policies of the Bush Administration might make more sense."
Ammar: "While the Democracy Faith seems to have been based on the assumption that authoritarianism and corruption in the Broader Middle East and North Africa Region seem to play a role in encouraging international terrorism, the Engagement Faith is premised on the assumption that authoritarian regimes are much more capable of cracking down on terrorists than democracies can."
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Call to Action: Google-Bombing the ElectionJames Joyner:
According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, the number one way that voters use the Internet for political action is to search for information on candidates. During the final two weeks of the election, it is reasonable to expect that as many as twenty million voters will be searching for information on candidates online. During this key time, this project will help push the most negative article written by a non-partisan media source on all key Republican candidates to the forefront of any search for that candidate. The negative article will appear both high on all Google searches for the candidates, and as an advertisement that appears whenever anyone searches for that candidate. By giving this article two prominent locations on Google searches for the candidate, and because it will come from a non-partisan source, it will increase the likelihood that the article will be seen and trusted by those searching for information on the candidate.
The campaign will proceed as follows:
- Step One: With help form readers at Dailykos and MyDD, I will compile a list of seventy article, one for each targeted race. Every article will focus on a different Republican candidate, and will be written by as generally trusted a news source as possible. It will also present as unflattering a view on the Republican candidate as possible. All of these articles will be placed into a database that I will maintain with the help of willing volunteers.
- Step Two: Once the database is complete, BlogPac will purchase Google Adwords that will place each negative article on the most common searches for each Republican candidate. Simultaneously, I will produce an article on MyDD that embeds that negative article into a hyperlink that names the Republican candidate. I will then send a copy of that post out to as many bloggers as possible, who can also place the post on their blogs. One posting of this article will be enough.
- Step Three: All further discussion of the Republican candidates in question on all participating blogs should include an embedded hyperlink that will increase the Google search rank of the article on the given candidate.
Canada phone cards India phone cards France phone cards Russia phone cards UK phone cards USA phone cards Bizon phone card Jupiter calling card Mozart calling card Continental calling card
This will be an interesting test of the theory that search king Google’s leftist owners are using their market leading power to intentionally skew search results and news content. Given that this plan to game the system has been publically announced on a very prominent website (Google PageRank 8) and is being widely publicized elsewhere, it should be a simple task for Google to not only thwart this plan but to ban the participants from their metrics.
- Step Four: Sharks with lay-zers on their foreheads.
- Step Five: Take over world.
Friday, August 04, 2006
Today Comcast - the nation's largest cable company - announced they would broadcast ImpeachPAC's TV ad criticizing Joe Lieberman in advance of Tuesday's primary in Connecticut.
The ads will appear first on New England Cable News (NECN), the largest regional news network in the country, which serves more than 3.5 million homes in more than 1,021 communities throughout New England. ImpeachPAC is waiting to hear from Comcast Cable, who had refused to air a previous ad by ImpeachPAC because they thought it was too inflammatory.
The ad features lies by Bush, Cheney, and Lieberman. Each lie is separated by a photo of an Iraqi child who has died because of these lies. It then quotes John Kerry as he declares, "Our policy is not 'cut and run.' Their policy is 'lie and die.'"
Monday, June 12, 2006
It never was - It is a representative free Republic
Our nation (the USA) was created as a Constitutionally Limited Representative Republic. Today it is much more of a Democracy.
In a Republic the rights of the minority are protected from the whims of the majority. In a Democracy it is mob rule.
In theory, yes. We elect officials to represent us in Washington. The question is, when they get there, do they represent us, or are they representing other interests (lobbyists, their party, etc.)?
Have you ever tried to talk to your representative? I have. The closest I got was his office clerk, even though he was in his office.
edit:The United States is a republic. Our form of government is called a representative democracy. Did any of you go to high school civics class? Magic Gatherer
gives a pretty good history lesson for those who missed that class. But the question is about the government, not the country.
In a "true democracy", every issue is voted on by every citizen. In a representative democracy, the representative elect people to vote on issues, cutting out the "common people" from matters of state.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
June 7, 2006
At dinner a few weeks ago, a well-placed Republican political operative was oozing confidence about GOP prospects in the November elections, not because the voters were enamored of George W. Bush but because the Democrats and liberals had done so little to improve their ability to reach the public with their message.
By contrast, he described to me a highly sophisticated Republican system for pouncing on Democratic “bad votes” and verbal gaffes and distributing the information instantaneously to a network of pro-Republican media outlets that now operates down to the state, district and local levels.
This huge conservative media advantage has now contributed to dooming Democratic hopes for snaring the vulnerable suburban San Diego seat of imprisoned Republican congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham.
In the June 6 special election, Republicans reported a last-minute surge of support after conservative media outlets trumpeted a verbal blunder by Democrat Francine Busby, propelling Republican lobbyist Brian Bilbray to victory by about four percentage points.
Near the end of a lackluster campaign in which Busby followed the advice of national Democratic consultants to avoid controversial positions, the candidate blurted out to a mostly Latino audience that “you don’t need papers for voting” before she clarified her meaning to say “you don’t need to be a registered voter to help.”
But conservative radio and TV talk show hosts across southern California seized on Busby’s verbal slip and began accusing her of urging illegal immigrants to vote. Busby then spent the last several days of the campaign apologizing and backtracking. [Washington Post, June 7, 2006]
In explaining Busby’s defeat in this bellwether special election, national Democratic consultants will likely point to failures of Busby as a candidate or the fact that the Republican Congressional Committee pumped more than $4.5 million into the district.
But the one point the Democratic consultants almost never mention is the giant media advantage that Republicans have created from years of investing in media outlets – from newspapers, magazines and books to cable television, talk radio and the Internet.
Yet, it is this conservative messaging capability – in coordination with the Republican national political operation – that has proved decisive in election after election, even in disputed contests such as Florida in Election 2000 when the conservative media quickly portrayed Bush as the legitimate winner even though Al Gore got more votes.
One of the reasons that the Democratic consultant class neglects this glaring problem is that the consultants don’t profit from building media infrastructure or from other nitty-gritty aspects of prevailing in the national “war of ideas.” Even in losing, there is money from consulting contracts and ad buys.
Obviously, during election cycles, Democratic consultants encourage wealthy liberals and progressives to funnel money into campaigns or into allied groups where Democratic insiders also get a cut of the ad buys. Then, in off years, the Democratic “consultariat” directs the money into “think tanks” where other friends and insiders hold down high-paying jobs but don’t really do very much.
Then, when elections roll around, the Democratic consultants are there to help pick the candidates and counsel them in expressing safe “themes” that have been tested before focus groups arranged by other consultants. Next, the tightly managed candidates are guided through campaigns designed less to inspire than not to offend.
Inevitably, however, the over-coached, tongue-tied candidate blurts out some stupid remark – even a polished candidate like John Kerry made a clunky ill-timed comment about Dick Cheney’s gay daughter – and the Republicans immediately go for the throat.
The Busby defeat was a kind of microcosm for this pattern of Democratic failure.
Given the conservatives’ huge media advantage at both national and local levels, the Republicans demonstrated how easily they can still set the defining issues of a race, despite the country’s general dismay over Bush’s presidency.
In the Busby-Bilbray race, the Republicans made immigration the hot-button issue and Busby’s clumsy remark soon was reverberating through the giant echo chamber of right-wing talk shows, right-wing blogs and right-wing columnists.
Lacking the media artillery to fire back and having had her fighting spirit leeched out of her by the consultants, Busby chose not to go on the offensive and accuse the Republicans of using their old tactics of division, racism and smear. Instead, she followed another favorite piece of Democratic consultant advice: apologize and retreat.
“This is a classic case of how the Democratic consultariat class loses an election,” said Brent Budowsky, a political analyst and a former aide to Democratic Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Rep. Bill Alexander.
Budowsky said the Busby race again revealed the national Democrats’ failure to match up with the Republicans across the board, from their campaign spending to “their aggressive commitment to every aspect of the election machinery and a convincing message necessary to win.”
“I hope this creates an uprising of Democrats all over the country demanding a party that will take a courageous case to the country and will fight the fight worthy of the crisis that America faces,” Budowsky said. [For more on Budowsky’s thinking, see “Vote 2006: For Whom the Bell Tolls.”]
Sometimes, when I talk to or e-mail with Americans around the country, they are perplexed as to why Democratic candidates always seem to turn to the same national consultants who lead the party to defeat time and again.
The answer, I think, is that it makes the candidates, especially novices, feel less susceptible to ridicule when they put themselves in the hands of a big-name Democratic consultant. The thinking seems to be that these guys must know best and at least the chance of a total fiasco will be minimized.
In other words, the Democratic candidates end up competing less to win than to avoid being embarrassed.
But after the Democrats have done all their careful polling and tested how to “frame” issues with focus groups, the overall impression left behind by their consultant-managed candidates is that these people don’t really believe in much of anything and inevitably they still get beaten up. By election day, the Democratic base is usually demoralized and the Republicans are energized.
A similar pattern applies to the dwindling number of Democrats who manage to win and go to Washington. Given the clout and cruelty of the conservative news media – and the me-too conformity of the mainstream press – many Democratic officeholders feel that to be “taken seriously,” they must hedge or “triangulate” their views even between elections. That’s how they get onto the Sunday talk shows and are treated with “respect.”
On the other hand, Republicans harbor no similar fears and indeed seem to relish taking the fight to even mildly skeptical mainstream talk show hosts, who, in turn, must fear for their careers if they are targeted as “liberal” by angry and well-organized conservatives.
Yet, as the Busby defeat has again demonstrated, the national Democrats don’t seem to have any clue how to break this cycle.
The conservatives keep building up their media infrastructure; the Republicans exploit this advantage with an instantaneous message machine that keeps them plugged into their backers and the broader electorate; the GOP then puts into play a powerful wedge issue in the weeks before the election; the missteps of the Democrats – no matter how minor – are blared out to voters.
Conversely, the liberals/progressives continue to shun any major funding for media content and outlets; the Democratic consultants spend the bulk of available money on devising strategies to finesse the conservative dominance, mostly by filtering campaign “themes” through focus groups; Democrats then deploy ads that leave even their core supporters uninspired; and the candidates usually stumble to defeat.
Breaking the Cycle
Another question I’m often asked is how can Americans, who are alarmed by the drift of their country, change this dynamic. Not surprisingly, my answer is usually about the need to build an honest media infrastructure that will engage the American people with well-reported information on issues that are vital to the country.
But given the current media imbalance to the Right, there is also a desperate need to level the playing field by having more media outlets that present views more from the Left side of the political spectrum.
Liberals and progressives simply cannot count on the mainstream news media to act as a counterweight to conservative news outlets. That is not in the job description of mainstream journalists, who understand that their careers will be better served if they tilt Right and avoid getting stuck with the “liberal” label.
Since 2004, the Left has benefited somewhat from the creation of Air America Radio and the emergence of progressive talk stations around the country. But those cash-strapped start-ups never had the strong backing of wealthy liberals and thus have been forced to skimp on advertising and production of original news content.
In the book, The Road to Air America, Sheldon Drobny, one of the liberal radio network’s founders, described the resistance he encountered from “limousine liberals” in California and elsewhere while trying to raise money for the project. “It was too risky an investment for most people’s taste,” Drobny wrote.
Another problem was that wealthy liberals were listening to the same Democratic consultant class that had led the party to lose control of the entire U.S. government – from the White House to Congress to the courts. Like political candidates, wealthy liberals felt safer giving money to operations run by “credentialed” Democratic operatives.
This “consultariat” mostly disparaged investments in media and directed money instead to “think tanks” where the consultants and many of their friends were kept in high-paying jobs. They apparently are awaiting a Republican crackup like the one in 1992 when Ross Perot siphoned enough votes away from George H.W. Bush for Bill Clinton to slip into the White House.
So, instead of investing in promising Internet sites or improving the “progressive” content on radio and TV, liberal money flowed overwhelmingly into the hands of the same ol’ Democratic consultant class.
Perhaps, the Busby defeat finally will serve as a wake-up call to the Democratic Party to throw off the consultariat’s cold hand of failure and turn to candidates who are not afraid to address the pressing issues of war and democracy now confronting the United States.
Perhaps, money will be redirected to groups and institutions that are leading these fights – and away from the “think tanks” and consulting firms that have a vested interest in maintaining the Democratic Party as little more than a junior partner in a Republican one-party state.
Perhaps it is still not too late for Election 2006 to be a meaningful referendum on where George W. Bush’s authoritarian form of government is leading America.
Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at Amazon.com, as is his 1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth.'
Friday, May 05, 2006
By Tom Regan
With the G-8 summit in St. Petersburg only three months away, the United States has warned Russia that the summit could turn into a fiasco unless Russia demonstrates a solid commitment to democracy in the coming weeks. The Washington Post reports that this position was reinforced by Vice President Dick Cheney during a democracy conference Thursday.
At a European democracy conference in Lithuania yesterday, Vice President Cheney accused Russia of "unfairly and improperly" restricting the rights of its people and using oil and gas as "tools of intimidation or blackmail" against neighboring countries. "Russia has a choice to make," Cheney said. "And there is no question that a return to democratic reform in Russia will generate further success for its people and greater respect among fellow nations."The Post goes on the report that the White House is concerned that President Bush, whose promotion of democracy around the world has been one of the central themes of his presidency, will be attending a meeting of the world's leading democracies in a country that has seemed to turn in the other direction. But Mr. Bush has been loathe to push Russian President Vladimir Putin, even as Mr. Putin has overseen the dismantling of a free press, and the use of oil rights to threaten other countries in the region.
The UK's Daily Telegraph reports, however, that Mr. Cheney's tough remarks show how far the relationship between Bush and Putin has deteriorated since they embraced like old friends during their first meeting in 2001.
Even by the standards of one of President Bush's foremost hawks, the comments were astonishing in their bluntness. One western diplomat described it as the most abrasive speech directed at Russia since Ronald Reagan visited the Brandenburg Gate in 1987 and called on his Soviet counterpart, Mikhail Gorbachev, to "tear down this wall".The Russian news website Kommersant reports that the Cheney speech was similar to one given by Winston Churchill 60 years ago, known as the Fulton speech, where he made the famous comment about a "cold war" between the then-Soviet Union and the West.
Mr. Cheney has spearheaded a review of US policy towards the Kremlin in recent months as the White House has become increasingly concerned about Russia's direction under Mr. Putin.
The theme of the Cold War ran throughout Cheney's speech. That phrase, first spoken exactly 60 years ago by Winston Churchill at Fulton, was used by Cheney three times. He named the heroes of the Cold War who, in his opinion, made the greatest contributions to democracy: Andrey Sakharov, Lech Walesa, Vaclav Havel, Pope John Paul II, Natan Sharansky and Ronald Reagan. He mixed interspersed that list with the names of the "heroes of our time": Mikhail Saakashvili, Viktor Yushchenko and Alexander Milinkevich, the Belarusian opposition leader who is now jailed in Minsk. Cheney's words practically point to a renewal of the Cold War, only now the "front line" has changed. "The spread of democracy is irreversible. It is to the benefit of al and poses a threat to no one. The system that has provided hope on the shores of the Baltic Sea can bring hope to the shores of the Black Sea and even farther," Cheney said. "That which is applicable to Vilnius is applicable to Tbilisi and to Kiev, and it is applicable to Minsk and Moscow as well."The site reports that the Cheney speech basically seemed to say that either Russia should fix its democracy problem, or risk becoming an enemy again.
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