Green Voicemail

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Buffalo Soldiers

While the Washington Post discusses how brilliant Dean's organization is in Iowa -- his organizer is Tim Connolly, an ex-Army man who compared the setup of the volunteer network to putting together a Special Forces team -- other forces are at work later in the election.

Undoubtedly, the candidates who are behind -- Gephardt, Kerry, Lieberman, Edwards -- would love to have Dean's organization and his supporters . These "New Democrats" just don't want Dean, hoping they can dismiss Dean and take over both his support AND his organization. And who better to take over that organization than Wesley Clark, an ex-Army man himself?

Clearly, the candidate coming from behind is Wesley Clark, who is already ahead of Gephard, Kerry, et. al. despite coming into the race late. The only one ahead of him is Dean, and plans are being laid to snag Dean's feet later in the race.

Ever heard of the Buffalo Soldiers? No, not the 19th century Indian fighters who were black Civil War veterans. As McCain was ambushed in South Carolina by George Bush, the centrists are hoping to repeat history in the Palmetto State.

These Buffalo Soldiers are a group of black liberals that do political outreach to black communities, serving as ground troop organizers. They are led by Carol Willis, one of Clinton's former law students.

So who are these guys here to organize for? Wesley Clark. But was Clinton behind it all? Ask a Buffalo Soldier....

"While talking about Clark, Michael McCray, 35, a Buffalo Soldier from Arkansas, said: "We're just glad President Clinton asked us to work for the right guy.""

Of course, in the next paragraph, one of the Buffalo Soldier field captains said that this particular Buffalo Soldier was mistaken. I suppose the Buffalo Soldiers decided, on their own without any prompting, to suddenly head to South Carolina to organize for a political unknown. I find that hard to believe.

Trust me, Dean better have his scouts ahead of him. He might fight off this band of centrist Apaches in the cornfields of Iowa, but he might have another think coming when he crosses the Mason-Dixon line....

posted by Green Voicemail 1/10/2004 11:48:00 PM

Orwell's Future

While the cons crow about how George W. Bush's "get tough" policy supposedly forced Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi to give up his nuclear weapons program, one can't fail to notice that the French are using that skill that seems to have been abandoned by the United States....diplomacy. In Paris, diplomacy ain't just the name of a board game.

From Xinhua . It looks like Gadhafi, now looking for some kind of respectability, is going to turn to Europe. It makes perfect sense. The United States is hated in...well, hated in any part of the world that ISN'T the United States, and China is just too far away. Libya probably has more in common with Europe than with China or the US anyway.

With Bush's abandonment of diplomacy ...hmm. The cons have been whining like hungry kittens about being compared to the Hitler regime, but Republican foreign policy since 2002 seems to be less about Theodore Roosevelt than about Joachim von Ribbentrop.

Roosevelt was all about speaking softly, and diplomatically, but having a big stick to back it up. The foreign policy of the Nazis had several aims, the first being to fight the Communists and the second to get what it considered its possessions ("Greater Germany") back. The tool that would be used is intimidation: that enemies, neutrals, and even allies of the Nazis would be so frightened that the Nazis would get what they wanted.

Bush has clearly borrowed the policy of intimidation. Indeed, the cons are quite proud that they have intimidated Gadhafi into...something. I suppose intimidated him into giving up a nuclear dream that wasn't going to come into fruition, anyway. If Gadhafi WERE intimidated, it would be a plus in Bush's policy column -- and probably the only one. But for a man who is cowed shitless, supposely, boy is Gadhafi making nice with the Europeans, trying to clean the slate for the terrorist acts in Europe for which he was responsible.

Colin Powell is out, sooner or later. Indeed, Bush's foreign policy does not actually require a diplomat; the boys in defense believe that bullets and bombs speak louder than words. Expect someone like Otto Reich (what a name!) or John Negroponte to take over at state -- someone who, fundamentally, believes the same, that American foreign policy be "proactive" or whatever euphemism they'll come up with.

Instead of only one post war power after the collapse of the Soviets, there appear to be three: the United States, Europe, and China. The United States and Europe are in a virtual cold war. As for China/United States relations, right now the Chinese are neither our enemies nor our close friends . Note the final statement here from the China Youth Daily.

"But the Taiwan question is an exception. If the two sides fail to handle it properly, it is possible for China-US relations to go backwards on a full-scale level."

Diplomatic speak for, "if we move into Taiwan, and you try to stop us, you can expect us to become your enemies -- or to go to war with you, if we see that as most advantageous."

Meanwhile, China's relationship with the European Union was characterized in 2002 as the best in its history . China and the European Union are already working together on satellite technology and other information exchange. The United States has threatened to end technological exchanges at certain levels with Europe if Europe sees China as a tech partner.

My own fear is that Bush's policy of intimidation has not caused the world to back down from America's military might,to go along with whatever the United States decides to do tomorrow. Rather, it has caused the Europeans to turn away from our long alliance with them and form their own power bloc. Instead of one great democratic power, we now have THREE great powers. This is the world of Orwell in 1984, where he envisioned three totalitarian powers, Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia. The powers of 2004 are not totalitarian, but there are definitely three great powers now.

In his book 1984, there was a dark humor in that Eurasia would always end up teamed with one of the two powers against the other remaining power, and that the alliances shifted depending on the whims of the Party. Orwell did have some understanding of a three power game -- rather that the powers being involved in a simultaneous fight, it is much easier for two powers to team up against the third.

So where does China turn? To the United States, or to Europe? Right now, it looks like Europe is the answer. Furthermore, the unaligned countries are beginning to form alliances with the nearest great power in fear of American intervention. Libya has decided that it cannot develop nuclear weapons quickly enough. Instead, Gadhafi's plan is to repair relations with Europe and fall under the European umbrella.

War. Every day. All the time. And it won't stop with Iraq, and it won't stop in the Middle East. This the the neoconservative vision for the world, and it is this kind of world that George W. Bush intends to bequeath to posterity.

posted by Green Voicemail 1/10/2004 12:11:00 AM

Friday, January 09, 2004

And Speaking of Joe Klein....

Well, as I like to say, "even a blind pig finds a truffle now and then". Joe Klein, in this Time article about The Noble Futility of Holy Joe Lieberman , writes:

"Lieberman is the DLC candidate this time; he has offered solid policy proposals but nothing really compelling, which may reflect the emptiness of the New Democratic cupboard. The DLC has succumbed to a sadly familiar political disease: a reliance on polling rather than thinking."

Klein might have found that truffle, and it might explain why the Kerry/Gephardt/Lieberman/Edwards New Democrat group was flailing about while Dean so overtook them. "But tinheart", you might ask, "can you give a SPECIFIC example of New Democrats begin poll-driven?"

Well, let's take for example the New Democrats' "God, Guns, and Guts" event about how they were going to take the center from the Republicans on Gun Control. ( link here ). You'd think this was an NRA presentation, from the title. Read Sen Mark Pryor's remarks and his plea for the Democratic Party to appeal to angry white males again.

You can find the slideshow here .

Two major warnings:

a) It's a PDF file, and

b) I don't think a more poll-driven presentation exists. If there is, I haven't seen it.

posted by Green Voicemail 1/09/2004 12:46:00 PM

Excerpt from The New Yorker Archives

From the link :

But it is possible to sense a mood. There is a frustration with the mechanical, poll-driven, consultant-managed politics of recent years. The mood is particularly easy to discern in New Hampshire, a state that John McCain took by storm in 2000. "People have had it," Rick Katzenberg, a Democratic activist from the town of Amherst, said a few weeks before Election Day. "They've just been overwhelmed this year. They're sick of all the telemarketing—the phone calls to get out to vote, the opinion surveys, the push polls. I don't even trust polling results anymore, because people are so quick to hang up. The television ads have no impact, except to get people angrier. It’s a very tough atmosphere."

John Kerry understands the mood, and he particularly understands what his friend McCain accomplished in 2000.

Funny, looking at his campaign, you wouldn't think it. Hell, if you read the article, you'd never think that Kerry voted for Resolution 114. Bartcop never ceases to remind us that:

(He keeps using that cartoon over and over again. Of course, I don't expect Dean to repeal Resolution 114. We may need to fit both him AND Clark, Bartcop's dream candidate, with pink tutus by the time the year is over.)

So who wrote the above article in New York? It was written by a great writer, a man who really has his pulse on the hopes and dreams of the American people, a man whose rhetorical and intellectual brilliance have been nothing short of stunning.

Joe Klein .

posted by Green Voicemail 1/09/2004 12:22:00 PM

Good Morning, President Dean

The British Politics Blog has a very perceptive article about not only how Howard Dean COULD win the Presidency, but why you would want him facing President Bush during those debates as opposed to Kerry or Clark or Lieberman.

The link, and it is a good read, states that electability is basically a function of two variables: a) strength of campaign organization, and b) differences between your candidate and the opposing candidate. That is, if two candidates have the same positions, you pick the better organized one. If two campaigns are equally well organized, you pick the one with the most contrasting position to the other candidate.
Dean outstrips everyone on organization, and while Sharpton and Kucinich hold more progressive positions, Dean's organizational edge overcomes the bonuses that Sharpton or Kucinich bring in contrasting ideology.

Basically, it doesn't come down to "Is Dean Electable?", it comes down to "Is ANYBODY Electable?" (against Bush, that is) If the answer is "no", then it doesn't matter a rat's ass who we vote for, so we can all vote for who we want. Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

If the answer is "YES", then who do you want facing Bush? Lieberman or Kerry? If they attack Bush on the Iraq war, Bush can simply say that "you had the same position on the war that I did -- you agreed to the resolution in the Senate -- so we both made the same mistake". If Clark attacks Bush on social issues, Bush just says, "well, you voted Republican before 1992, and my positions are about the same as Ronald Reagans". If Bush CAN be beaten, you want to have a candidate that contrasts Bush. And Dean's attack style does just that.

Actually, all I've done is plagiarized the above article. Read the link, write the man, and give him the credit.

posted by Green Voicemail 1/09/2004 01:37:00 AM

What a Difference Ten Days Makes

Tomorrow off, and time for blogging.

It's odd that in about ten days we have the Iowa Democratic Caucus. As of this writing, Dean is ahead with about 29% of those polled saying they'd support him, followed by Gephardt with 25%, then Kerry at 18%, then...the rest. (Edwards leads 'the rest' at 8%. Clark is not campaigning in Iowa.)

Before this gets translated into a Dean victory, we need to keep a few things in mind. First, this is a caucus, not a primary election. In a caucus, delegates are elected county by county. There are also some bizarre rules that Iowa likes for some reason.

First, according to the rules listed here by friendly Iowans , it's a Democratic caucus really in name only. You can change your registration on the night before the caucus; wild-eyed Bush supporters could become Democrats for a Day and vote.

Second, delegates aren't exactly elected by majority vote. You can play link tag and figure out exactly how delegates are elected, but the rule is basically that you have to have a 15% threshold of the vote in a county to elect delegates. If Edwards were to get 8% of the vote in Kornfield Kounty, the voters could recaucus and redistribute their votes elsewhere.

However, the Iowa caucus has been a fairly accurate predictor. It's really only been important since 1972, when both the Democratic and Republican parties moved to a nomination system more responsive to primary results.

In 1972, Ed Muskie had the dubious distinction of winning AND losing the caucus. Muskie finished first and McGovern finished second, but the theory was that Muskie didn't win decisively enough. Carter popped out of nowhere in 1976; his win put him on the track to the presidency. In 1984, Mondale broke free from the pack in Iowa and in 1988, Dukakis won a close 1988 race. In 1992, Tom Harkin won...but then again, Tom Harkin was the Senator from Iowa. Most of the other democrats didn't bother competing.

Harold Wilson, the British Prime Minister, said that "A week is a long time in politics". Ten days is an even longer time that that. ANYTHING can happen in the next ten days, entire candidacies can turn around or collapse almost instantaneously.

Tinheart's prediction: Dean has to win by at least five points for him to keep his "mo". If Gephardt finishes at four points or closer, the pundits will say that Dean didn't win by enough, even though Gephardt has virtually camped out in Iowa. If anyone but Dean wins, that person becomes the automatic frontrunner, something like the AP College Football Ranking. If Gephardt finishes third or worse, his campaign will be pronounced dead by the pundits and whoever finishes second will have the "big mo" even if Dean wins decisively.

What happens on Monday, January 19th? We'll see...we'll see.

posted by Green Voicemail 1/09/2004 12:37:00 AM

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Warning -- Blog Not Abandoned

Just real life getting in the way. Oops. Have Friday, Sunday, Monday off so hoping to add a lot of material. Maybe tomorrow too if I get lucky.

posted by Green Voicemail 1/08/2004 12:00:00 AM

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Great Political Ads, Not

With all of the hubbub about there supposedly being two ads in a contest by MoveOn.Org comparing George Bush to Adolf Hitler (of course, Republicans would never tell a whole truth when a half one will do), it is worth your while to go to the Bush In Thirty Seconds web site, the font of these supposedly evil ads.

There were over 1500 entries in the contest to come up with a commercial that would sum up Bush's rotten administration in 30 seconds. Many of those ads made it to the web site for a vote -- including the two Hitler/Bush ads. Needless to say, they did NOT make it through.

What IS important are the ads of the fifteen finalists. You might think that I would say, "oh boy, these ads are brilliant!" Far from it.

A political commercial is a lot different from a fiery essay or cool comments on the Atrios board. In order to make an appealing commericial, you have to stay away from stereotypes. You have to avoid too much yakking -- video is a visual medium. And don't TELL the viewer what to think. You put enough pieces up there and have the viewer make the connections his or herself.

This is why commericals like the "Goldwater/Daisy" commercial in 1964 or the "Dukakis/tank" commerical were so successful, because of their visual images and for the most part, their lack of expository dialogue. So here are my three nominees for "Best Commerical" at the Bush in Thirty Seconds Site.

Bronze Medal- " Bush's Repair Shop " Woe be it to the consumer who takes his car to Bush's Repair Shop! While the car is being "repaired" by being sawed, dented, and having its headlights smashed out by the friendly staff of George and Dick, the narrator lists Bush's failures. The killer phrase: "It's not what you say,'s what you DO!"

Silver Medal -- " Child's Pay " Most of the commercial is the faces of children --running factory presses, manning check out lines, working on tire machines, sweet kids working some pretty heavy jobs reserved for adults. Why are these kids working? Well, guess which Americans get to pay off George W. Bush's Deficit...?

Gold Medal -- " Bring Em On " Three sets of images make it work. First, images of a grainy George Bush, retelling his untruths about the war in Iraq -- the mobile laboraties, the weapons-grade uranium, etc. In a small corner, the faces of deceased service men and women rapidly change, like a flipbook as Bush speaks. Third, the superimposed logo. "HE LIED," driving each lie home and letting the viewer know the cost of each of his lies. Bush's last statement, "Bring 'Em On", is revealed for what it really stands for.

posted by Green Voicemail 1/06/2004 12:17:00 AM

Monday, January 05, 2004

The Kurds Will Rise Again

It looks from this link that a government has been decided for the Iraqis. That government is federalism, and the only question is "how many mini-states will Iraq be split into?"

It could be anywhere from four to eighteen to an even greater number, depending on where you place the knife and who is doing the cutting. Among two advantages would be:

a) A federalist system will make sure that no one part of Iraq can overwhelm all of the others. (The idealistic view of federalism.)

b) A federalist system will allow something like an Iraqi senate, similar to the one in the United States. A stable body, slow to change, and, if a US puppet regime can be established, a bulwark against the will of the people so that Iraqi oil reserves can be tapped. (The realistic view of federalism).

However, there are going to be problems with federalism. Conservatives love to point out Germany as a wonderful example of federalism being imposed at the point of a gun. The problem is, however, that Germany had historically been divided into nation-states, so there was already a history of psuedo-federalism in place.

The BIG problem with federalism, however, is this: what happens when a federal state decides that it has more in common with other states than with the central government? (Remember our own War Between The States?) No matter how many states you split the Kurds into, those Kurdish states will look out for each other first. Conservatives might see this as the chance to divide (and conquer?) each of the ethnic divisions in Iraq, but the Kurds are sure to see through that?

Furthermore -- what can a Federalist Iraq give "Kurdistan" that the Kurds can't give themselves? They have their own army. They are already semi-autonomous. And they have wanted their independence for a long time. Are the Kurds just going to drop everything, say, "okay, we're all Iraqis now", and raise the Iraqi flag? I would be surprised.

I suspect federalism is another idea of this "local precincts" idea that the CPA will float to get Chalabi and Friends installed as rulers of Iraq. If it isn't, the Iraqis will assume that that is true and will reject the new government. (Frankly, any US-"assisted" Iraqi government has as much chance of survival as Weimar Germany.) What will happen in Iraq, most likely, is that either a) it will become a fundamentalist Islamic state, or b) a Sunni strongman will arise and unite Iraq, with guns and a lot of dead bodies. "Saddam, Mark II".

I am sure however, that wise, reasoned minds, can work with the Iraqi people and solve this conundrum. I hope someone like that shows up real soon, because there's no one like that in the CPA.

P. S. Note the comment by Jack Straw which implies that British forces would be staying until 2006 or 2007. Because it will take until 2007 to tap and refine Iraqi oil reserves. Looks like I was right after all.

posted by Green Voicemail 1/05/2004 08:46:00 PM

Sunday, January 04, 2004

Bush Voters in Uniform Unhappy

On Collective Sigh , there has been a discussion of the policy of Bush Jr. to cut back on military benefits. Tarheel Scott added his thoughts to a reply thread, namely, that we don't know too much about the way the military think, or vote, and that generalizations should be avoided.

His thoughtful comment prodded me to do some research myself. This comprehensive article from the Washington Monthly discusses the growing discontent in America's military. The article teaches some interesting facts -- did you know that it is ILLEGAL to poll military voters and ask how they voted? -- and specific reasons why the military is so unhappy. For progressives who want to reach out to the military, it is great reading.

posted by Green Voicemail 1/04/2004 11:16:00 PM

The Table Scrap Thread

Since I have no new great topics to blog about, I'll kind of roam about here.

1. Anyone know a good hotel in London, England to stay at? My wife and I are planning to go in March, any advice would be good.

2. Where the hell are my blog archives? Aren't I supposed to have blog archives. All my entries get bumped into the ether. What's up with that?

3. To Steve Bates . Boy, that process for syndication was absolutely undecipherable. Now if someone volunteers to set it up for me, fine, but it would take me hours to understand even the basics.
4. I didn't even know there was an Iowa debate today! What's wrong with me? Thanks to NTodd for the transcript. Geez, maybe I should stop reading things on the net all the time and pay attention to the TV a bit more.

posted by Green Voicemail 1/04/2004 06:30:00 PM

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