Thursday, August 28, 2008


I have a lot to blather about. This is getting to be quite the election year!

Before I can really get back to you to do that, I need to finish loading a U-Haul full of my kids' stuff tonight, and then tomorrow I need to drive it to the town where they are going to college. We'll unload some of it tomorrow night, and then some friends will help us unload the bigger things Saturday. I'm guessing that by Sunday or Monday, if I can still move, I will have some really horrific things to say about Republicans. Also, for Pissed-Off Patricia of Morning Martini, I will post some cat pictures of Baby Mackie, Abby the Crabby Tabby, Zeva, and Zeke (aka The Zeaker, Phreaker, Schtinkenheimer, Schittenhammar, and Phreakie Deakie Doo!)

Have a fun few days! If I can still walk by Labor Day after all the lifting, then I should also be able to write some good inflammatory, emotionally-charged words about how Republican politicians are basically full of scheiese. About how they embrace fascism with open arms, how they goose-step, how they want to kill people who disagree with their politics, etc. It will be FUN!!! Even if I CAN'T walk, I'll write. See you then!

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Is McCain Another George W. Bush?
Tuesday 19 August 2008

by: Jack Cafferty, CNN

New York - Russia invades Georgia and President Bush goes on vacation. Our president has spent one-third of his entire two terms in office either at Camp David, Maryland, or at Crawford, Texas, on vacation.

His time away from the Oval Office included the month leading up to 9/11, when there were signs Osama bin Laden was planning to attack America, and the time Hurricane Katrina destroyed the city of New Orleans.

Sen. John McCain takes weekends off and limits his campaign events to one a day. He made an exception for the religious forum on Saturday at Saddleback Church in Southern California.

I think he made a big mistake. When he was invited last spring to attend a discussion of the role of faith in his life with Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, at Messiah College in Pennsylvania, McCain didn't bother to show up. Now I know why.

It occurs to me that John McCain is as intellectually shallow as our current president. When asked what his Christian faith means to him, his answer was a one-liner. "It means I'm saved and forgiven." Great scholars have wrestled with the meaning of faith for centuries. McCain then retold a story we've all heard a hundred times about a guard in Vietnam drawing a cross in the sand.

Asked about his greatest moral failure, he cited his first marriage, which ended in divorce. While saying it was his greatest moral failing, he offered nothing in the way of explanation. Why not?

Throughout the evening, McCain chose to recite portions of his stump speech as answers to the questions he was being asked. Why? He has lived 71 years. Surely he has some thoughts on what it all means that go beyond canned answers culled from the same speech he delivers every day.

He was asked "if evil exists." His response was to repeat for the umpteenth time that Osama bin Laden is a bad man and he will pursue him to "the gates of hell." That was it.

He was asked to define rich. After trying to dodge the question -- his wife is worth a reported $100 million -- he finally said he thought an income of $5 million was rich.

One after another, McCain's answers were shallow, simplistic, and trite. He showed the same intellectual curiosity that George Bush has -- virtually none.

Where are John McCain's writings exploring the vexing moral issues of our time? Where are his position papers setting forth his careful consideration of foreign policy, the welfare state, education, America's moral responsibility in the world, etc., etc., etc.?

John McCain graduated 894th in a class of 899 at the Naval Academy at Annapolis. His father and grandfather were four star admirals in the Navy. Some have suggested that might have played a role in McCain being admitted. His academic record was awful. And it shows over and over again whenever McCain is called upon to think on his feet.

He no longer allows reporters unfettered access to him aboard the "Straight Talk Express" for a reason. He simply makes too many mistakes. Unless he's reciting talking points or reading from notes or a TelePrompTer, John McCain is lost. He can drop bon mots at a bowling alley or diner -- short glib responses that get a chuckle, but beyond that McCain gets in over his head very quickly.

I am sick and tired of the president of the United States embarrassing me. The world we live in is too complex to entrust it to someone else whose idea of intellectual curiosity and grasp of foreign policy issues is to tell us he can look into Vladimir Putin's eyes and see into his soul.

George Bush's record as a student, military man, businessman and leader of the free world is one of constant failure. And the part that troubles me most is he seems content with himself.

He will leave office with the country $10 trillion in debt, fighting two wars, our international reputation in shambles, our government cloaked in secrecy and suspicion that his entire presidency has been a litany of broken laws and promises, our citizens' faith in our own country ripped to shreds. Yet Bush goes bumbling along, grinning and spewing moronic one-liners, as though nobody understands what a colossal failure he has been.

I fear to the depth of my being that John McCain is just like him.

SNAVE'S NOTE: I wish I could give credit to the blogger who said this, because I can't recall where I read it... but someone said in a blogpost or comment that electing someone in this day and age who doesn't know how to use a computer would have been like, in the late 1700s or early 1800s, electing someone who couldn't read or do math. I agree with Cafferty. I also fear that McCain is just like Bush in a number of ways.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


According to an article from Truthout, during an interview on Larry King Live, Nancy Pelosi was almost sounding amendable to getting Congress back together for a vote over offshore oil drilling.

Good grief, Nancy! You traitor! And... gasp... recently Barack Obama has said he might favor some offshore drilling as well. Madness? Maybe... but there may be some method to it.

The offshore drilling moratorium has to be renewed every year. The "news media" hasn't been saying much about it, so many Americans are not aware of this. The GOP can huff and puff all it wants, but it represents little more than posturing for political advantage. There isn't any way Congress can get out of this without a vote on it before the legislative year ends in September anyway, because the moratorium has to be renewed every year. Or, the moratorium can simply be allowed to expire. Democrats won't let that happen.

If the Republicans threaten to "shut things down", will it work for them or against them this time? The last time they did it, it backfired.

"The question for Republicans in 2008 is whether the politics of a potential shutdown have shifted in their favor. Polls do show that a majority of the public wants more land opened to oil drilling, and the GOP may be gaining traction by blaming Democrats for blocking it. But at the same time, a showdown over the CR won't just be a referendum on whether to drill offshore. It will also be a debate Democrats will frame as about whether Republicans are willing to cut off government services for the elderly, children, puppies and any other innocent bystanders you can think of.

"So will Republicans risk facing that charge to force a change in drilling policy? And would President Bush back them up by refusing to sign a CR that includes a drilling ban? We're exactly two months from knowing the definitive answers to those questions. Stay tuned, and just to be safe, start hoarding candles and canned goods."

This is what I think the Democrats need to do, at least regarding strategy for getting out of this one ahead of the Republicans:

I think the Democrats had better have some kind of compromise deal all ready to go. They need to steal some of the GOP's thunder on this issue. It would be a better strategic move than putting up a fight over something that has become an emotional hot-button campaign issue. Also, the Dems will need to avoid giving the GOP the chance to paint them as "capitulators" if some kind of agreement is reached.

Whether Congress is going to let the offshore drilling moratorium expire or allow it go to a vote, the Dems need to be sure there are some things included in any deal that will have an actual effect on lowering gasoline prices. Increasing offshore oil drilling isn't going to decrease gas prices for a long time, and neither is drilling in the ANWR. Saying that over and over to the public is probably not going to make much difference, because the GOP has the momentum on this one. They have already effectively framed this issue, painting the Democrats as against measures that will lower gas prices.

The Democrats must come up with some solutions that will bring the prices down more quickly and they must get such things included in an agreement in Congress. It will be essential that they do it in a way that shows it is THEIR elements of the plan, not those stressed by the GOP, that will bring down the gas prices.

The Dems need to say to the Republicans "Sure we will go along with SOME of what you want to do. Not ALL, because your approach will not provide immediate relief to consumers and it will not promote independence from foreign oil. We will agree to SOME of your conditions, but only if you include some of OUR conditions." It is a matter of necessity that they stress, repeatedly and often, that the position the GOP is taking will not lead to lower gas prices.

In this way, the Dems show they are willing to compromise a bit without totally capitulating to the GOP. Total capitulation in this case would mean political disaster, and the Dems know this. They need to be very careful, and remember that compromise is not capitulation. It may be so in the Republican Party dictionary, but most Democratic voters and many Republican voters know better.

This way, if the GOP says "If you don't do everything we say, we'll shut down the government", it paints THEM as the ones who don't compromise, and calls into question their real reasons for pushing more drilling (as they have been lately with such fervor) by pairing their approach with one of compromise and effectiveness. The Democrats can truthfully say "We are doing our part to provide immediate relief to consumers and to protect our nation's future. To achieve this we had to give in a little to the demands of those who are opponents of consumers, but we are proud to serve our country in this way."

I believe this is why Pelosi is not ruling out a vote on offshore drilling, and that it is also why Obama is saying he might be willing to support some of those activities. To do otherwise would be politically suicidal in such an important election year. Through a willingness to give up a little (i.e. allow some limited offshore drilling) in order to get something back that will have a more immediate political benefit by causing consumers to have more confidence in the Democrats than in the GOP, the Dems come out ahead.

Thursday, August 07, 2008


George Lakoff has long held the view that the Republicans control the national debate (they frame it) by always keeping the Democrats on the defensive. According to author Bonnie Azab Powell of the UCBerkeley News, the conservatives have spent years defining their ideas and carefully choosing the language with which to portray those ideas. And they have cleverly built a sort of infrastructure with which to communicate them. From his years of observing this sad truth, Lakoff and others formed one of the nation's only progressive think tanks, the Rockridge Institute.
It will take you a few minues, but please read and digest some of his comments.

Lakoff said, in an interview which appeared in the article linked at the end of this post:

"The conservative worldview, the strict father model, assumes that the world is dangerous and difficult and that children are born bad and must be made good. The strict father is the moral authority who supports and defends the family, tells his wife what to do, and teaches his kids right from wrong. The only way to do that is through painful discipline - physical punishment that by adulthood will become internal discipline. The good people are the disciplined people. Once grown, the self-reliant, disciplined children are on their own. Those children who remain dependent (who were spoiled, overly willful, or recalcitrant) should be forced to undergo further discipline or be cut free with no support to face the discipline of the outside world."

"So, project this onto the nation and you see that to the right wing, the good citizens are the disciplined ones - those who have already become wealthy or at least self-reliant - and those who are on the way. Social programs, meanwhile, "spoil" people by giving them things they haven't earned and keeping them dependent. The government is there only to protect the nation, maintain order, administer justice (punishment), and to provide for the promotion and orderly conduct of business. In this way, disciplined people become self-reliant. Wealth is a measure of discipline. Taxes beyond the minimum needed for such government take away from the good, disciplined people rewards that they have earned and spend it on those who have not earned it. "

"The background for Rockridge is that conservatives, especially conservative think tanks, have framed virtually every issue from their perspective. They have put a huge amount of money into creating the language for their worldview and getting it out there. Progressives have done virtually nothing. Even the new Center for American Progress, the think tank that John Podesta [former chief of staff for the Clinton administration] is setting up, is not dedicated to this at all. I asked Podesta who was going to do the Center's framing. He got a blank look, thought for a second and then said, "You!" Which meant they haven't thought about it at all. And that's the problem. Liberals don't get it. They don't understand what it is they have to be doing.

"Rockridge's job is to reframe public debate, to create balance from a progressive perspective. It's one thing to analyze language and thought, it's another thing to create it. That's what we're about. It's a matter of asking 'What are the central ideas of progressive thought from a moral perspective?' "

"Language always comes with what is called "framing." Every word is defined relative to a conceptual framework. If you have something like "revolt," that implies a population that is being ruled unfairly, or assumes it is being ruled unfairly, and that they are throwing off their rulers, which would be considered a good thing. That's a frame. "

"If you then add the word "voter" in front of "revolt," you get a metaphorical meaning saying that the voters are the oppressed people, the governor is the oppressive ruler, that they have ousted him and this is a good thing and all things are good now. All of that comes up when you see a headline like "voter revolt" - something that most people read and never notice. But these things can be affected by reporters and very often, by the campaign people themselves.

"Here's another example of how powerful framing is. In Arnold Schwarzenegger's acceptance speech, he said, "When the people win, politics as usual loses." What's that about? Well, he knows that he's going to face a Democratic legislature, so what he has done is frame himself and also Republican politicians as the people, while framing Democratic politicians as politics as usual - in advance. The Democratic legislators won't know what hit them. They're automatically framed as enemies of the people. "

"The phrase "Tax relief" began coming out of the White House starting on the very day of Bush's inauguration. It got picked up by the newspapers as if it were a neutral term, which it is not. First, you have the frame for "relief." For there to be relief, there has to be an affliction, an afflicted party, somebody who administers the relief, and an act in which you are relieved of the affliction. The reliever is the hero, and anybody who tries to stop them is the bad guy intent on keeping the affliction going. So, add "tax" to "relief" and you get a metaphor that taxation is an affliction, and anybody against relieving this affliction is a villain."

And how about that administration-coined term "time horizon"! You can bet that one came from a conservative think tank. (I like what Jon Stewart said recently, which was basically that the administration is using a term which by definition is athing you can see, but no matter how close you get to it, you can never quite reach it.)

Another good example of a think-tank term is renaming the Estate Tax "the Death Tax". Even though the Estate Tax affects only a minute fraction of one percent of Americans (the wealthiest of us), by calling it the "Death Tax" the GOP makes it sound like the Democrats will tax us all when we die! Or even after we're dead! And that is about as far as most voters are going to go in examining the Estate Tax...

I think what Lakoff describes is what is happening to Obama right now. The GOP is doing all the framing, and as a result Obama is constantly on the defensive. I declare that Barack Obama is now John McCain's official punching bag. It seems like the Democrats don't have a clue as to how to respond to McCain's attacks or about how to reframe issues in terms the press, and subsequently America, will gobble up.

The GOP, through its clever manipulation of language and its elaborate communication network, is convincing Americans that Barack Obama will "raise taxes", that he wants to "forfeit" the Iraq war, that he is "against lower gasoline prices", etcetera ad nauseum. Newt Gingrich is hinting that the GOP will force a government shutdown unless Congress gets back together to approve of more offshore drilling. The Democrats will respond to the GOP attacks by trying to use logic, and this never works.
Just watch... Congress will get back together and pass some awful offshore drilling legislation. Why? Because the Dems are scared. The Democrats don't have a clue about how to respond to the GOP's use of language that paints them as the bad guys, so rather than mount an effective response, they will roll over for fear of being perceived as the "bad guys". I think this is why they have continued to knuckle under to the Bush administration on such issues as war funding. It will be painful to watch them knuckle under once more, this time on energy.
Our "media" is way too quick to pick up on these GOP think-tank terms and use them in our daily "news". Is the media on the right wing's side? Sure it is. Is it because the media prefers McCain? Not neceessarily. Sure, the right wing media outlets (i.e. FOX, Washington Times, etc.) all prefer McCain. After all, there are something like 1,500 right wing radio talk show hosts in the country... But I think what is much worse than that is that the parts of the media that aren't flat-out controlled by the right wing have been suckered into unwittingly spreading the Republican message anyway. I'm sure many in the corporate media consider themselves savvy, but I would submit that in this case, "stupid is as stupid does".
I am sorry for being such a negatorian here, but I'm beginning to think it rather unlikely that Barack Obama will be our next president, for this reason more than any other: the GOP knows how to use language and how to control the national debate, and the Democrats simply do not. They don't have a clue!
If it looks like Barack Obama is not doing an effective job fighting off John McCain's daily attacks, whether those attacks are founded or not, it is because... he isn't! Sitting back and absorbing his opponent's blows until his opponent tires, like Muhammad Ali used to do with his "rope-a-dope" boxing technique, is not going to work for Obama in this election campaign. Waiting for the GOP to implode will only work if McCain proves to be completely addled and inept, and does himself in with some huge gaffes (and if such gaffes actually get reported in our national "media").
So far, McCain has been too good a fighter. And he has a great punching bag.

Here is the article from which I took Lakoff's quotes. There is much more here:
And I would be remiss to not include the link to Rockridge. Here it is, please check it out: